No Shame Parenting..

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You cannot be on guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Your children will be exposed to things that horrify you…probably not on your watch, but maybe.  They may play games in your house that are not OK and you didn’t stop them because you didn’t know.  They may try things that make your stomach hurl…things you warned them about even.  Occasionally, they may let you down. (But more likely, they will let you down often.)  This week alone, three parents contacted me feeling shame that their kids saw pornography.  I have some simple advice: Stop It!  Seriously, stop feeling shame about things that are out of your control. I know it isn’t easy and we feel guilty when we can’t protect our kids all the time.  Of course, the statistics are not in our favor. One in three girls is sexually molested before 18. YUCK! 72% of males, not practicing Christians, are checking out porn monthly ages 13-24.  Gross! 41% of males, practicing Christians are monthly checking out porn ages 13-24. This should not be!   Thankfully, 25 years and up, the statistics get better. Whew! But our teens need guidance and our littles need warning.  Did you know that 56% of kids (ages 13-24) think that people who don’t recycle are sinning while only 32% think that looking at pornography is wrong. WHAT?? The sexual exploitation of women ranks lower than trash!  No wonder our world is in trouble.  SO, rather than feel shame and guilt, armor your kids. Today we sat in a coffee shop as a family and discussed the moral foundation of our family so that WHEN our kids come up against the ugly world we live in, they have a standard of measure.  (Contact me if you are more interested in our discussion and I will send you some tips.) We are not perfect parents but we understand that in this world, the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but we know where Life comes from and we believe in teaching our kids truth.  Our ultimate source of truth comes from the Scripture not society or culture. Where does your source of truth come from? Remember, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

When your kid gets exposed to pornography accidentally or by someone else, your conversation may go something like this: Mom is so sorry that you had to see those pictures.  It is not your fault that you had to see them. I wish I could have protected you from them. Let’s talk about how you feel and what to do in case it happens again. (Teach your kids to walk away; bounce their eyes.)

When my daughter was a toddler she crawled up the stairs and accidentally got her leg stuck between the railings. Then she lost her balance.  She fell down the stairs, breaking her tibia and her fibula.  My husband was mortified because he turned his back for a split second and it happened.  Surprisingly, this sort of fracture is quite common, but it didn’t lessen the sting my husband felt in his heart for her.  Night after night, he slept on the floor next to her crib in case she awoke in pain.  He felt responsible.  He felt negligent.  His heart was broken. And yet, it was an accident.  When something happens to your child that is out of your control, stop attacking, criticizing or shaming yourself.  Instead, get up, dust off your boots and get back on the bull of parenting. Abraham Lincoln said it best, “It’s not the years you live, but the life in your years.”  Don’t waste time and years shaming yourself. Because when it’s all said and done, the ride will only feel like 8 seconds!

TIP:  Practice no shame parenting.  Don’t blink, because kids will be gone before you know it.

Note: Statistics are from the Barna Report, produced in partnership with Josh McDowell Ministry, a Cru ministry.

Posted by AMY in Sex Education, Pornography, Abstinence.

Powerful Dad, Powerful Daughters

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Make no mistake that incredible, involved, intentional dads produce confident daughters.  Today’s culture entices girls to grow up too fast and our little dollies are stumbling upon challenges for which they are totally untrained and unprepared.  Eating disorders are on the rise at alarming rates and girls as the age of 10 are dieting, some as early at five or six years old! Pop culture is warping girls on how to dress and treat boys. Brazen girls are sexting boys in junior high pictures of themselves topless or bottomless! What about television, the Internet, music, radio, advertising?? Today, if you haven’t had sex or plastic surgery by the time you are 21, you are a loser. Our society is at war with good parents who are trying desperately to protect their kids from the damaging, destructive, detrimental world around them.  Because of parents who are overworked, distracted, exhausted, and uninvolved, the lives of our future families are in the balance!  Who can fix this?? D-A-D, that’s who!  A daughter’s self worth specifically depends on a caring and affirming father.  Girls never take their dads for granted. “They hopelessly wait for dad’s attention and some wait in frustration and others in despair.”(Dr. Meeker, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters).  Fathers have the ability to change the course of their daughter’s lives and can even save them.  And get this, her future sex life and whether she can fully trust her husband in the bedroom comes from the confidence she received from a dad who played a crucial role in helping her stay pure.

The best advice I have read is simply this….”Work at building your daughter’s self-concept throughout her childhood. Tell she is pretty every chance you get. Hug her. Compliment her admirable traits. Build her confidence by giving her your time and attention. Defend her when she is struggling. And let her know that she has a place in your heart that is reserved only for her. She will never forget it.” (Dr. Dobson, Bringing Up Girls).

Because good parenting almost always requires sacrifice, a good dad will forfeit the game on TV to have a tea party with his daughter.  He might make his run 30 minutes instead of 45 just so he can help his girl learn to ride her bike.  He might even take a job that offers less money but gives him more time with his kids.  He will stop his yard work to wipe her tears and put a bandaid on her owie.  Treat your daughter like a lady with respect and honor.  Be modest around her and encourage her to be modest in her dress.  I had a wonderful dad and on my wedding day just before he walked me down the aisle, with tears in his eyes, he told me, “It’s not too late to run. My car is parked right outside.”  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!!

Note: Some of the information in this post comes from the book Bringing Up Girls  by Dr. James Dobson

TIP:  If you have a daughter, encourage your husband to read this post.  And act on it.

Thank you to my amazing husband for loving me and our girl and to the best grandpa out there!

Posted by Amy in Abstinence and Sex Education

The Sex Lady, “The Talk”, and Telling Boys About Periods

mom and kidsFor the past 8 years, I have taught a Sex Education class at a local high school.  Affectionately known as the “the sex lady” my reputation preceded me and the students were always thrilled when I came for the 4 day seminar.  The genders were combined in the classroom so even the boys learned about periods! While serious, I added a lot of humor to my presentation and it always had great reviews by the kids, but just giving “the talk” is never enough. In fact, without small doses of information along the way, “the sex talk” with your kids can be rendered ineffective for several reasons.  One, the information can be embarrassing and if you haven’t been talking about it their whole lives, then your teens might not be interested in hearing it from you.  Two, chances are that your kids have heard a whole lot more than you think so you both might be uncomfortable. Three, there is a lot to cover in just one “talk” and it might not all sink in.  The point is…give out small bite size pieces about sex, abstinence, purity from the time your kids are born until they leave your nest.

When they are tiny, call their sex organs by their proper names from the start. I remember when my son was circumcised, the pediatrician rambled on and on about my son’s penis, testicles, scrotum…he never called it junk (my personal slang favorite), or ding-dong, or weenie.  And don’t think your son is off the hook learning about periods just cuz he won’t ever menstruate. If he has a sister, do them both a favor and teach him about periods. Plus you might even earn extra points from your daughter in law someday!  He doesn’t need all the information you gave your daughter.  (Check out the last post on my blog about talking to your daughter about periods.) Here is your homily: Every month, God gives a girl a chance to have a baby.  Her uterus (the place where the baby lives) fills with nutrients and blood.  (Actually the lining of the uterus fills up with blood and nutrients.) If there is no baby, then the blood comes out her vagina.  It gets “caught” by a pad or tampon.  That’s all you need to say.  Be sure to ask if he has other questions about it.  Remind him that you are the expert and that you are happy to talk about it. There is no magical age to tell your son.  In fact, it might depend on your family structure.  My son has an older sister so he will learn it sooner than if he had an older brother. Leave your box of tampons on the stairs and maybe he will ask about the box and that can start your conversation. Our kids are smart; they know when we are cranky so tell your son about PMS when you have it.  One day this past spring, in the middle of our home school day, my son barked out, “Mom, I think you are about to start your period cuz you are so crabby right now!”

TIP: Tell your sons about periods.  Weave sexuality talks into daily life. Often.

Posted by AMY in Sex Education

 

Talking About Periods and I Don’t Mean Punctuation.

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I think telling stories is a fantastic way to introduce a topic to your kids.  When it comes time to talk about periods, tell your daughter your experiences and your first period. Talk about if you were an early bloomer or late bloomer and how you felt about it.  Tell funny stories about yourself and your friends and any embarrassing moments.  Use this conversation as a time to grow closer to your girl.  This conversation needs to happen about 5th or 6th grade.  If your kids are in public school, they have “the talk” in 5th grade and I think you should beat the school and have it first with your kids.  Once your daughter hits 100 pounds, her menstrual cycle is on its way. So get ready! The development of pubic hair is another sign that her period is around the corner.  If your daughter is an athlete or very thin, her period may be delayed due to lack of body fat.  Genetics also plays into the process. If you were an early bloomer, she may be too. Remember, your husband’s genes play into the process as well.

Here is your lingo…Every month our body gives us a chance to have a baby.  The lining of our uterus gets real thick with blood and nutrients for the baby.  If there is no baby, then the blood and nutrients have to come out.  The reason why this is called the menstrual cycle is because like a circle, periods never end!! Ha!  Not really. It’s a cycle because it happens monthly (mensus means month).  Before a period occurs, ovulation happens first. Ovulation is the process by which an ovary drops an egg into a fallopian tube.  You have two ovaries which look like strawberries.  Ovaries contain the female seed called egg.    Your ovaries alternate each month dropping an egg into the corresponding fallopian tube.  It takes the egg about 3 days to travel to the uterus and get expelled.  You can’t feel your egg fall out because it’s microscopic. About 14 days after you ovulate, your period begins.  Unfortunately, periods last 3-5 days and can last up to 7 days for some women.  They can be heavy and include cramps.  Yuck!  Explain the difference between pads and tampons (cardboard vs. plastic).  Demonstrate how they work.  She does Not need to see you put one in your body, but you need to show her how to use one.  Pretend you start your period on June 1st.  About 14 days later, you would ovulate and then 14 days after that, your period begins again.  That’s how the 28 day cycle occurs.    If you want to talk about pregnancy then, do it, or wait and have another conversation.

I ran into some gals at church today, and they asked what my next post would be and I told them that is would be on periods.  So right there in church, we talked about periods.  And why not, they are part of God’s design in a girl’s body.  Each gal admitted that their moms didn’t teach them about tampons and that they had to learn it from their friends.  I encourage you to tell your precious girlie about her body and its development.  My daughter and I talk about it often and because we do, it isn’t weird.  I was blessed with horrible periods, sometimes PMS, heavy bleeding, and cramps.  My daughter and my son know about periods because of it.  Use your own menstrual cycle to start the conversation.  When you are on your period, talk about it.  Leave a tampon on the counter to help ignite a conversation.  My dog helped me initiate the period conversation when he took a used tampon out of the trash and dragged it to his bed!!

TIP: Talk about your period with your daughter when you are on yours.  Think like a scientist when you talk about it.

Posted by Amy in Sex Education

 

Playing Doctor…in the Nude…

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Several years ago I nonchalantly walked down to my basement playroom to check on my son who was playing with our next door neighbor.  To my surprise, I found the two boys completely naked with the toy doctor kit pieces flung around the floor.  Calmly, (but inside I was trying not to blow a gasket), I said, “What are you boys up to?” “We are playing doctor,” they innocently replied in unison.  Have you caught your kids playing naked games yet?  It’s probably going to happen so don’t freak out.  In fact, kids have a natural curiosity for their bodies, but that doesn’t make naked games appropriate play. I always start with logic and science when I explain things to my kids and then because we are people of faith, I tie in our faith convictions. So I proceeded with a candid conversation with the boys that went something like this: You know those doctor tools that you are playing with are not sanitary.  They have been on this basement carpet which isn’t clean either.  We need to keep our private parts clean so that your urethras don’t get an infection and cause a bladder infection. At that point, their eyes were big like flashlights, because they didn’t want no urethra infection!! Second, your private parts are private and when you have them out in the open for everyone to see, they are not so private anymore.  Even when you go to the doctor, they keep your parts covered with a little sheet. And when the doctor or nurse checks you out, your mom is always in the room too.  Finally, God made those parts of our bodies that our underwear cover up  exceptional and because they are so special we need to take extraordinary care of them. Our private organs are one of the ways boys and girls are uniquely different from each other.  We are not going to play any more games without clothes on.  Your underwear always has to stay on.  The doctor tools are going in the dishwasher and we are going to play upstairs where I can see you.  If you play in a bedroom, the door must remain open.  Then I called the mom next door, who happens to be a labor and delivery room nurse, and looks at private woman parts all night long, and we chatted about our boys’ inappropriate play.  Good communication is the key in these situations, both with kids and the other parent involved.  There’s no need to involve shame because the curiosity is natural.  Make it a teachable moment and then move on.  Remember the more modest you are in your home, the less likely they will be inclined to play inappropriate play.

TIP: Don’t blow a gasket if you catch your kiddos playing naked.  Just address it, teach them why it’s improper and move on.

Posted by Amy in Sex Education