Don't Give Plutonium to a Preschooler - Part 1
I haven't written much original stuff here at INFO for a while. But it's not because I haven't been writing. It's just that I'm writing something else.
Over the past several years, God has been stirring in Jenifer and me a conviction about the way that parents today are dropping the ball in the area of guarding and protecting their kids' sexual purity. Specifically, most parents aren't talking about sex, aren't coaching their kids about opposite sex relationships, and are generally oblivious to the significant impact that the choices their kids are making today will have on their married life later.
Anyway, I'm about 40% into a book project on that subject. I've written about 25,000 words worth of content designed to challenge parents to talk about sex and relationships with their kids more often, in more detail, and at an earlier age than they would ever imagine. The working title is "Sooner." Until I come up with something better, I think that best captures the answer to the question that every parent asks: "When do I talk to my kids about sex?"
Answer: "Sooner than you think."
As I write, I feel a great conviction that this is a message that the people of God need to hear. But I would love to know your thoughts on the subject.
For the next few days, I'm going to post a chapter or two from the book. I'll do it in very small bites so you can read a bit at a time. Let me know if it stirs anything within you as a parent...
Don't Give Plutonium to a Preschooler, Part 1
Being a part of a large church means that my kids are involved in a lot of student ministry activities. They go to youth camps, on mission trips, and participate in lots of small group meetings. It affords them lots of opportunities to interact with a variety of teenagers from a lot of different backgrounds. I have found that you can get a pretty good snapshot of where kids are when “sharing” is encouraged.
You know what I’m talking about…
On the first night of Disciple Now: “Share what you are struggling with.”
On the last night of a retreat: “Share what God has done in your life.”
In the evenings while on a mission trip: “Share what God is teaching you.”
While this is often a great chance to hear stories of how God is moving, it can also serve as a startling window into the relational lives of teenagers. It gets particularly interesting when you separate the genders as the girls’ stories and perspectives have a certain raw emotion to them.
What I am most troubled by is how common it is to hear the girls, some as young as 12 or 13, share the trauma and hardships of their current relationships. As they describe what they are going through and what they are feeling, it is apparent (at least to any adults who are listening) that they are in over their heads. One is crying a river of tears over a clueless 14 year-old boy who had no idea that breaking up via text message was not appropriate. Two other girls, who used to be best friends, are not speaking to one another because one of them talked to the other’s boyfriend at a party last weekend. On the other side of the circle, a girl is sobbing because she can’t believe that the boy she likes chose someone else. Unfortunately, their peers seem to be encouraging the emotion via an endless supply of hugs and tissues. What was intended to be a time of sharing about Christ quickly becomes a support group of girls with boy problems. It’s ridiculous, but it’s real.
Maybe the culture our girls are living in is expecting them to grow up too fast. Just maybe.
Tucked within the pages of Song of Solomon is a wonderful piece of advice that would serve our daughters well. In this sometimes racy book that shares the intimate words sung between lovers, Solomon writes on three different occasions: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
While he may have simply been telling the “daughters of Jerusalem” to let his bride sleep late, I think there is a deeper meaning here. The entire book is devoted to describing the intense love and passion that is being experienced between the two lovers. It is like a wild beast that, once awakened, cannot be tamed. In that context, Solomon is both describing the powerful force that he and his bride now know AND he is warning the other girls not to go there until they are absolutely ready to handle it. The emotion is so powerful, intoxicating, and life-changing, you better not unleash it until you are ready. Because once you awaken it, it’s near impossible to turn it off.
Regrettably, our culture encourages our daughters (and sons) to awaken it as soon as possible…and as often as possible.
From what I have witnessed, the result is that our teenagers are forced to grapple with the complications and challenges of giving their fully-awakened hearts away, only to see them trampled on by the carelessness and self-centeredness of others. They just don't have the maturity to handle the circumstances that relationships of that nature typically throw at them.
It is like giving plutonium to a to a preschooler and telling her to go play with it in the backyard. She’s just not equipped or ready to handle it with the care that is needed. And while nuclear materials certainly require an intense level of safekeeping, the reality is that the hearts of our children and adolescents are equally as fragile.
...Part 2 tomorrow.