Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV
I’ve been thinking lately on about what I let my children read – I have friends who don’t let their children read parts of the Bible because they are “bad”, or they don’t let their children read a book that may mention sex, or something else that they have deemed their child is too young for.
I must issue a disclaimer, I may have friends thinking “oh, she’s talking about me” – no worries – I’ve talked to many a mom about this and this post isn’t about one friend or one mom – it’s a conglomeration, some who agree with me, some who don’t and some who are on the fence. So to my friends who I know in real life, please don’t take offense I’m not singling anyone out and know that this is something I’ve been thinking on for awhile and also struggling with and sometimes I can say what I’m thinking better if I write it out than if I say it.
I get that and I’m all in agreement of sheltering our children and protecting their minds from things that they need protection from – I’m not going to have a full out talk with my son about marriage relationships, but it is different for my daughters who are blossoming before my eyes and turning into young women. They ask questions and I answer, or do my best to answer.
Just recently I gave my oldest daughter the book I reviewed titled Grace Unplugged which had a part in the beginning where the dad gives his 18 year old daughter a purity ring and they mention premarital sex. **Gasp** My daughter came to me and said “um, mom what about this?” and I looked at her and said or something like this “I know you know what that means, I’ve read the book and the book is great and I wouldn’t give you something I thought would be bad for you.” So she read it, she liked it. I liked it. And I had peace about giving it to her.
I’m not saying this to tell you that you should let your child read a book that has all adult themes, I hold tight to the verse I posted above from Philippians, BUT what I am saying is that our children should be told about things, in an age appropriate format and their questions should be answered. If I hadn’t answered my daughter’s questions at 6 and 7 then she would have probably been quite freaked out at age 8 1/2! At first when my husband and I were confronted about where babies come from, we’d just say that the mommy and daddy loved each other a lot, got married and God gave them a baby – however that no longer suffices for a child who is 11, especially when the child picks up that there are single moms – where is their husband? single dads – where is their wife? and of course today’s culture with seeing two men or two women being able to adopt….leads to more questions.
My children have heard the word rape, assualt, homosexual, sex, sexy, and more – they are going to hear it in the store, on the radio, on the T.V., from family who don’t have the same morals we have – but I want them to know from us what the Bible says. Sex is a good thing – inside of marriage – and if giving my 11 1/2 year a book that mentions premarital sex once and opens a discussion and lets her know what God intends then great. I recently lost a Facebook and IRL friend because she recommended I let the same daughter read a series of books, I have read them, and I disagreed as there were too many details that I was uncomfortable reading let alone my oldest daughter. She might call me a hypocrite for allowing the other book, however the other book gave no details, it didn’t go into an in depth discussion and so it was not the same as the series (no I won’t mention it).
As a mom and a homeschooler I love the fact that my children come to me for their facts – we are getting away from the slang terms for body parts – and I like that. My children understand and respect privacy and modesty. We talk – I don’t want to keep them in the dark, I want them to know the nitty gritty of the Bible, yes, even the incest, the murder, the rapes, the prostitutes – because that shows God’s love, God’s forgiveness and hope. We discuss why we don’t dress like the men and women on the magazines in the grocery store. We discuss why they can’t go outside unless we are watching them, even if I’m inside on the couch in the front window – they know there are people around us who would take them, do bad things to them and even kill them. They also know that we will answer their questions, again in an age appropriate manner, whether it’s about what is for lunch or what is happening to their bodies.
Some may quit reading my blog after this, some may disagree – that’s fine. This wasn’t an easy post to write. It isn’t easy thinking that my children are growing up and I pray one day my daughters meet a wonderful godly man to marry and that my son marries a wonderful godly woman. I don’t want to launch them into the world unaware of what they are going to encounter – I know that by talking to them at home, night and day, and as the Bible says (and yes I know this is about God’s commandments but easily fits what I’m talking about):
You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 11:19
If I teach my children what God says about spousal abuse, about sex, about any of that at home while they are here then they will be able to refute that when they are in the world without me, because they know they can go to the Lord and they’ll know what He says. There are books some say they’d never let their child read – of course I’m not handing my children a copy of The Hunger Games or 50 Shades of Gray – but I do let them or read aloud books that others may think aren’t ‘Christian’ enough – we discuss them in light of Scripture (of course, my 7 year old and even my 9 year old aren’t always privy to these books).
If our children go through life thinking life is a bowl full of cherries and nothing is wrong (there is nothing wrong with our children being sexual creatures as God made them to be inside of a monogamous marriage) and then we turn them out into the world – they will be eaten alive. If our children don’t see or hear of persecuted Christians, don’t hear of what horrors some missionaries encounter, think sex is bad or taboo, if we don’t teach them, then someone will – and while it may sound cliche that someone is going to teach them things you don’t want them to know – just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we are immune – we have interaction with others who aren’t Christian – and they need to know how to combat that.
I can’t be with them when they take an extracurricular class in the summer surrounded by children who aren’t Christian and are immersed in the public school culture. Do you want your child to learn about sex from another child who has already experienced it? Don’t fool yourself, children are having sex younger and younger. Do you want your child to learn about sensitive topics from someone who isn’t grounded in the Bible or from you, who can guide them as you are guided by the Lord and His Holy Word?
Let me reiterate, I’m not saying our children should know EVERYTHING, because they shouldn’t. What I am saying is this: in age appropriate language and at age appropriate times we should not hide the truth from our children. My 7 year old son has already asked why I have to buy certain products at a certain time of month and I’ve explained to him that as a woman God has made it so we bleed and it prepares us for babies. That’s it. With my almost 9 year old I tell her what it’s called menstruation or a period and what it does. If done in an age appropriate manner and in a matter of fact tone (don’t giggle or blush or worse, tell them we’ll talk later) then they’ll take that information and know that mom or dad will talk to them honestly. My son has never asked again – he’s probably forgotten.
So, if you’ve chosen to hide things or keep things secret, remember what the Bible tells us about things done in secret, they are usually bad – that is between you, your husband or wife and God. I’m not judging you – just asking you what you hope to do with keeping things secret. Will your child resent you later? Will they be fearful? Will they act out because they want to know what drugs, sex, alcohol will do to them? Ask the Lord to show you how to talk with your child about these sensitive topics – ask Him to show you if you should hide them – ask Him. I won’t lie, it’s uncomfortable talking to my children about these things, but as I learned growing up if a parent won’t talk about them they will find out from someone else and that someone else may not be who you want them talking too.
(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws