This is the fourth and final part of a chapter from the book I'm working on called "Sooner." At it's core, the book is a call for parents to talk about sex and relationships with their kids earlier, more often, and in more detail than they ever imagined.
In this chapter, I suggest that many of the opposite sex relationships we allow our kids to enter into put them into emotional situations where they are in way over their heads. And it is emotional intimacy that leads to sexual intimacy. All of it has the potential to mess up their ability to connect with their marriage partner.
If this is your first encounter with this post, I encourage you to scroll down and read the four parts in order. They will certainly make more sense to you.
Don't Give Plutonium to a Preschooler - Conclusion
Because these heart issues are so clearly in front of us, and their long term-impact is so obvious, parents must embrace their responsibility in helping to guide and protect their kids from the “serial dating” so prevalent in our culture. While I am not advocating an extreme, legalistic position as some do, I want to challenge parents to consider what their role is in guiding their kids to not carelessly give their heart away before they are mature enough to handle the emotional and physical dimensions of a relationship. This is a critical role of parents that many have ignored.
We can see an illustration of the way God gives His people this same type of covering and protection in the writings of the prophet Ezekiel. In chapter 16, God gives Ezekiel a story to tell about how He has cared for his people. It goes something like this:
In Ezekiel 16, the prophet describes how God has cared for his people in this way. He tells of a baby that was born in secret and then abandoned in a field. The baby girl was left alone to die; unfed and uncared for, writhing around in pool of blood. God saw that the baby was unloved and alone and had intense pity for her. From that moment, God took responsibility for her life and her well-being, speaking life and blessings on her, just as a good parent naturally does. The story goes on that the girl eventually matured sexually. The Bible says that her breasts were formed and her hair grew long and beautiful, yet she was still naked. Then I love what it describes in verse 8: “Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body.”
God models for parents the kind of care and protection that our kids need. When their bodies begin to mature and their hearts begin to awaken to love, our children need safeguarding, not unbridled freedom to explore their new reality. As these new emotions begin to stir within our kids, there are a few practical ways that we can provide a covering of protection for them.
First of all, this is one issue that parents would be wise to begin talking about sooner than they think they need to. If our kids know what to look for and expect in their hearts before it hits them, they will be more prepared to deal with it. A great book to read with the youngest of girls is Jennie Bishop’s “The Princess and the Kiss.” This was regular required reading at the Johnson house.
Secondly, be prepared to turn feelings of attraction that your kids might have into teachable moments. Never label God-given recognition of the opposite sex as “bad.” Instead, turn the affections that are stirring in your kids into conversations. Ask: "What do you like about him or her? What types of qualities does that person have that you might look for in a spouse one day?"
Third, be mindful of your kids’ friends and their perspectives and values regarding the opposite sex. If your daughter’s friends are all of a “boy crazy” mindset, you shouldn’t be surprised if your daughter gets caught up in it as well. I’m not suggesting that you need to end those friendships, but you will probably need to prepare her for the reality that your family is going to operate by a different set of values than most everybody else.
Finally, as the growing, maturing heart of a teenager has a greater and greater desire to connect emotionally, strive to push them into a deeper emotional relationship with Christ. God has placed in each of His followers a longing to know Himself. Sadly, many of us fail to look to Christ to fill our deepest needs. Instead, we look to others to meet our needs for love, security, and self-worth. This is particularly true for teenagers. Wise parents will be diligent to encourage their kids to find their identity in Christ during those early years where they are becoming more able to know and be known by Him.
While emotional purity is harder to define than physical purity, it is just as critical in helping our kids to be prepared for marriage one day. Parents must believe that and begin to act on it. Again, you wouldn’t give plutonium to a preschooler. He simply does not have the maturity and understanding to know what he is dealing with. In the same way, you shouldn’t encourage young people who are just awakening to brand new feelings to explore them without close parental guidance. Even though they may not know it, our kids desperately need us in this way.
As a parent, what are you doing to protect your kids from the emotional and sexual situations that they are not yet ready for?