When to Have that Little Talk
It is a mixed blessing when our children reach puberty. Our children are growing up. They are moving on to adulthood, leaving childhood behind. Soon all we will have left are memories and a few photographs. There are many dangers that our children must face, which require parents to teach about -- well, shall we say -- delicate subjects. Let's face it, I have a hard enough time talking about sex with my dear wife. The thoughts of instructing my own children is less than appealing. Yet, if I don't do it, who will?
Puberty is the time when our children develop reproductive capabilities. They are experiencing desires that they cannot describe because they never felt them before. Their bodies are rapidly changing from child to adult form. The very changes are often awkward to handle. And everyone wonders, "Is this normal?" The common parental response is to avoid the topic as long as possible. Why embarrass yourself any sooner than you need to? But if we teach our children as they experience these changes, we can give them peace of mind. More importantly, we can guide them to follow the proper path to adulthood. Perhaps they can avoid the pitfalls that many of us took in our ignorance.
God certainly did not leave us in the dark about our sexuality. There is a wealth of information throughout the Scriptures on a wide variety of issues. The details of what needs to be discussed with your child, I have put in a separate book, titled Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls and Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys.
However, one question that I have been asked is "When is a good time to start discussing these things with my child?" Most parents recognize that we don't want to start too soon. Small children have no concept of sexual relations and don't need such a concept to function in this world. However, if we wait too long, our child might be caught off-guard in an embarrassing or possibly dangerous situation.
When children are small, there is a natural curiosity about where they come from. Usually, a general answer is enough to satisfy their curiosity. For example, babies grow inside a special place in the mother's tummy. When the baby is old enough to live on its own, it is born. If they want to know how the baby got into the mother, explain that babies start when a father and a mother decide to have a baby. A seed from the father joins with a seed from the mother to form the baby. This is usually enough for most children.
Sometime shortly before puberty, children suddenly become aware of their bodies. They become shy about letting anyone see themselves without clothing. This is a normal part of growing up. You may notice that some children become a bit chubby again. It is almost as if they are putting on baby fat again. This is the body's preparation for growth. Growing takes a lot of energy and a child's body will store up fat to supply some of that energy. About this time, it is good to mention that they will shortly be changing from childhood to adulthood. These changes will include a lot of body changes. For both boys and girls, mention that one of the changes is a rapid change in the size of their bodies. While the growth happens, they will sometimes get clumsy as they readjust to their new size.
For girls, moms should talk to the girls about periods. Talk about the monthly blood flows and instruct them on how to wear a sanitary napkin. It would also be good to have them carry one with them since you never know when the first period will take place. This may bring up other questions, which you can address. If a question doesn't come up that you know you need to talk about during adolescence, save it for later. Make sure your daughter understands to let you know when her period has started. Once it has, plan on taking some private time when you can go into details about the responsibilities of being an adult and the additional desires and temptations your daughter will be facing.
For boys, dads should talk to their boys about erections and wet dreams. These are usually the first indication a boy notices that they have entered puberty. Both body functions can be embarrassing when they happen. Tell your boys to let you know when these events happen and you will teach them about the responsibilities of being an adult, the new desires they will have, and the additional temptations they will be facing. Talking about growing up will probably bring up other questions that your son has been wondering about. Answer each one as simply and as openly as you can, but don't be surprised if some of the things you know you need to talk about does not come up. Save these topics for when your son has started growing and can understand sexual desire first hand.
After your child has gained the ability to have sex, make sure you have a detailed talk with your child about sexual desires, the need for controlling those desires, and the dangers of Satan's temptations before they begin dating. In this corrupt time, you should also discuss the sin of homosexuality shortly after your child has entered adolescence. Many corrupt people know that children are easy targets for perverse sexual practices during early adolescence. They take advantage of the new desires in teenagers, who do not have the experience, to lead them into sin.
Do you need study material?
Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
One of the questions I get repeatedly is "How tall do you think I will get?" While each individual is unique, there are calculations available to make fairly decent guesses as to a child's final height. Several methods are available on the "Adult Height Predictor for Boys" and "Adult Height Predictor for Girls" pages.
Related to this are questions regarding "Will I grow any more?", "When will I be able to grow a beard?", and the like. All such questions can be answered if a person knows what stage of development a boy or girl has reached. To help, there are two pages "Developmental Stage Calculator for Boys" and "Developmental Stage Calculator for Girls" which asks a series of questions about a child's development so far and then comes up with an estimated number for the Tanner Stage the child is currently at.
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