Since I’m getting emails and PMs about the girl side of things, I’ll address the girl side of things here.
So, I used to teach Sunday School for 6th Grade girls. When I took on the responsibility, I thought I was going to be–I don’t know what I thought I was going to be teaching, but it was NOT sex. I started reading through the lesson book, and halfway through BLAMMO sex/pregnancy/abortion. Uh…
I worried about a few things:
- I would accidentally warp these children.
- I would say something that would make concerned parents take up pitchforks against me.
- That the church hadn’t thoroughly vetted my thoughts on sex/pregnancy/abortion before handing their 12 year old girls over to me.
- What if one of the girls had been bad-touched, or was already sexually active and I said something that made her feel like a monster?
I worried most about the pitchforks.
At the time, I was single, had never been married, had no children of my own, and hadn’t been all the way around the block, so-to-speak. I had been bad-touched and was sensitive to that, and I had ducked down some of the block’s back alleys. I knew enough to be dangerous.
I knew enough to know that anything I said, could and would affect these girls for a long time, and I didn’t want to hurt any of them, and I didn’t want my words haunting them in regard to choices they might make in the future. We all do stupid things sooner or later. I wanted my words to be building blocks for them, not stumbling blocks.
So…I didn’t talk specifically about sex/pregnancy/abortion. I talked about choices, redemption and the Proverbs 31 Woman.
Because here’s how I feel: My job as an adult guiding children (or now, as a parent) is to help them learn to navigate rough waters by teaching them to reason, think, and adjust course. My job isn’t to give them marching orders (as a parent, my job is definitely giving marching orders along with instruction on the how and why.)
So, first I wanted those girls to know that they had autonomy, and they got to choose their futures. I wanted them to understand that good choices led to better futures, and good choices were things like eating well (I tried to touch on eating disorders because you never know), getting good exercise (because healthy bodies help promote healthy minds), doing your homework and reading for pleasure (because intelligent, educated women have a better chance to make good choices), working toward a goals in small increments (a good test, a good report card, honor roll, head of the class, etc.), and having a hobby or something fun to do, just for the love of it (because well-rounded women have their own interests.) And, I told them to make good friends because good friends are the best things in life, and good friends will keep you out of trouble. I have excellent friends, by the way.
Next, I wanted those girls to know that if they slipped up somewhere, it wasn’t the end of the world. Get a bad grade? Study harder/ask for help/do better next time. Hurt someone’s feelings? Apologize/learn from your mistake/don’t do it again. Eat a whole cake by yourself? Oof/see above.
And I told them that when they were focused on proper nutrition, their health, their studies, their hobbies, their goals, and their friendships, everything else would fall into place. When they were well-rounded people, they would attract the right kinds of attention. Predators are afraid of self-confident girls. Losers don’t try to smack around Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton. No one crosses Wonder Woman–and no one ever tries to butt grab her, no matter how hot her pants are.
Then, I told them that wanting to have sex, or having sex didn’t make you a bad person. (Pitchforks!) I told them that purposefully hurting other people was what made a bad person. I read them the definition of the Proverbs 31 Woman, and asked them, first, if she seemed pretty awesome. She’s got her own house, runs a staff, dabbles in real estate, has a garden, has a fabulous wardrobe, people respect and like her… Sounds pretty good to me. I asked them if that was a woman who seemed focused on her looks, her hair, her boyfriend, or her popularity, and I asked them to consider what it would take to have your own home/business/amazing closet.
We talked about the choices you need to make to be a spectacular, independent woman, and we talked about what might set you off course. I told them that is why they should wait to have sex. Because they had dreams, and plans, and goals, and wanted houses, and cars, and jobs, and careers, and having a baby before you were ready would mean putting all that on hold, or putting it aside all together. And, I told them that an STI can really slow you down, or kill you, too.
I wanted them to understand I wasn’t trying to protect their chastity. I was trying to teach them how to protect their ability to make choices. Having sex too soon can rob you of your autonomy, and rob you of choices. (Then I quit teaching Sunday School because I was mentally exhausted. I went and taught Adult Singles, thinking that because I was one, it would be easier. Ha!)
That’s what I would tell my own daughter, repeatedly. And when the hormones kicked in and she couldn’t hear me through the throbbing in her loins, there would be that little voice in the back of her head saying, “Guh! I know Harry Styles is so hot! But I don’t want to be just his back-up singer. I want my own band! And he can fall in love with me because I am so awesome and independent, not just because I’m fawning all over him.”
I know that because that’s what kept me off the tour buses I got invited onto.
I didn’t need AIDs or a baby.
So, when it came down to selfies, I would ask my daughter why she wanted to take them, and if they helped her further her goals/dreams/aspirations. If they didn’t, I’d ask her what she thought they did do. We’d talk about it, and if she didn’t come the right conclusions, I’d take away her access to cameras and stuff some cotton in my ears to muffle the wailing. Because I’d still be the parent and you don’t let a kid drive on the wrong side of the street just because it seems like a good idea to them.