On Saturday, we went to a conference entitled Raising Sexually Healthy Kids. Now, if you're like me, you think that sounds like a long name for a conference about how to put stuff on your computer to keep teenagers from accessing porn. Since our kids are young, I figured I would take a bunch of notes and revisit them when my sons turn... 21 and become interested in sex. (Ha.)
As it turned out, only one small session talked about actual computer/device protection, and the speaker admitted up-front that he was going to talk more about research and strategy in that session than actual techniques because, as he put it, "there are twelve new apps coming out as I'm saying these words and I can't possibly tell you how to analyze, block, or filter them all." Good point. Things are changing fast!
I plan on blogging about this conference several times, so for today, I want to focus on two things:
- The biggest stand-out point of the day
- Our first conversation with our son on this topic
What was my biggest takeaway from the day? My kids aren't too young to begin
worrying researching, strategizing, and planning ways to protect them. As the speaker put it, "Your kids might not be looking for porn, but porn is looking for them." Sound dramatic? Maybe not. When I was six, no one handed me a book where half the pages were porn and half the pages were stories for me and walked away, hoping I wouldn't turn the wrong page accidentally. Meanwhile, I hand my kids a tablet or a phone and walk away, assuming they won't accidentally see something that isn't for them. Huge eye-opener when you realize the porn battle isn't to corral some wayward teenager but rather to protect the eyes, hearts, and mind of my very young sons. The enemy is out there and looking for ways to hurt them. (1 Peter 5:8)
In light of the realization that we're late to the party for this conversation, I wasn't sure how our first conversation with our six-year-old would go. Sexuality etc. is a topic that hasn't come up much at all, other than when we have privacy and body-safety conversations.
One age-appropriate question suggested by the conference speaker was to ask a child his age about what it means to be a man or to be a woman. Now, you have to understand our all-boy household is full of Nerf darts, battleships, Darth Vader masks, and... well, a thousand wars a day fought with anything the boys can imagine to be a gun... they even fired their candy canes at each other at Christmas. I did worry, honestly, what my son's impression of masculinity would be. I kind of didn't want to ask.
But I did. We sat down, and my husband and I started off by vaguely pointing out that boys and girls are different and our bodies were made differently. Our son noted a few things like men are usually taller and woman often have longer hair. Then I took a deep breath and asked him, "What do you think makes someone a man? A good man?"
He waited a moment, but when he opened his mouth, his answer really surprised me.
"Love," he said.
"Really?" I replied. "What do you mean?"
"The good men I know are loving," he said.
"Great!" I said, pleased. "What else?"
"Safe," he said. "The men I know make me feel safe. I think being a man means making the people around you feel safe."
So, be still my heart, and thank you Jesus for the wisdom that my six-year-old has learned from his loving Daddy and the other wonderful men around him who makes him feel safe.