Community and Perspective

IMG_2887Today I triumphantly summited a mountain over 14,000 feet high.  Here is Colorado, we call them “14ers”.  The view was amazing and the company fantastic!  My climbing partners included 2 neighbor moms and a daughter.  This was the daughter’s first  14er.  What struck me on this particular climb was the impact that community had on this sweet child.  Each mom took a turn encouraging and walking with this precious girl reminding her that she could in fact climb the mountain…that she was in great shape…and that the view from the top would definitely be worth it. We stopped so she could rest; we reminded her to eat and drink, and we enjoyed her fantastic smile when she reached the summit.  Community.  Every mom desperately needs a healthy community to raise her kids in.  Now I would bet that the moms in my hood might have a few disagreements about how we raise our kids, but on the big stuff, we definitely agree.  When the kids play at each other’s houses, we remind kids to use kind words, make prudent choices, have polite manners at the dinner table.  We have all put band-aids on each other’s kids, rewarded those who pooped in potties, wiped tears and noses, and even broke up a few fights.  We have had to confront one another, always in love and with kindness, when our kids blow it.  I remember when my son had a temper tantrum at my neighbor’s house and she put him time out and then sent him home.  He never had a temper tantrum at her house again. I am grateful for neighbors who help me raise my kids.  I am grateful for Godly moms who speak life and truth into my kid’s hearts.  I am grateful that as I climb this mountain of parenting that I have a mom tribe so that I am not alone.  Invest in community.  Find one or make your own.  Never underestimate the power of another mom in the life of your child.

Undeniably, the best part of the climb is the view from the top.  My neighbor filmed herself at the top for her kids screaming, “I am on top of the world!” The people making their way up the mountain look like ants and one can barely see the cars in the parking lot. The summit gave me a little perspective and reminded me that sometimes I focus too much on the little things in parenting and not enough on the big ones.  Perspective.  We all need perspective in  our parenting.  We are going to blow it as parents.  My kids did not come with instructions.  Did yours?  Some days, I tell them too much about life and other days, not enough.  I yell when I should whisper; I am sheepishly crass when I should be eloquent and some days I actually talk with food in my mouth!!  But I ferociously love my kids and I pray over them relentlessly.  I love the Bible because it reminds me of the bottom line in parenting: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love God and Love Others.  My favorite neighbors are the little ones in my house.  And on those days, when the mountain of parenting is too steep, remind yourself, that the view from the top is worth every step…every late night up with a crying infant….sleepless nights with sick kids….discipline after discipline…heart to heart talks….all of it is worth the joy of getting to raise these special, glorious, little people.

TIP:  Find a good community to raise your kids…. a church, neighborhood, or school.  Invest some time in the life of someone else’s child.  Don’t forget perspective on those hard days of parenting.

Posted by Amy in Sex Education

 

Educate and Empower Kids With Knowledge

 I would like to highlight a couple of wonderful books that I received and reviewed for free at a conference I attended recently.  The author Dina Alexander, is founder of Educate Empower Kids.  She and some buddies wrote several books, two including How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and 30 days of Sex Talks.  You can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/educateempowerkids/ and also at their website at www.educateempowerkids.org.

I love the information in these books.  They are not books that you read with your kids aloud, but  they does provide conversation starters.  She answers several questions that I think are crucial.  Question #1: “If I talk to my kids about pornography, won’t that give them ideas”?  Question number 2: “Won’t talking about pornography create a unhealthy curiosity that was not there before”?  I am just going to quote what Dina states on the topic. Dina’s answer is “yes, I was giving them ideas and she wants to give your children the same ideas.”  “Give your kids the idea that you are a great source of reliable, honest information.  Let them know through your words and actions that you can speak calmly, comfortably and rationally about human issues that affect all of us, namely curiosity, and sexuality.  As you initiate discussions about these topics and pornography, share  your personal experiences, spiritual values, and expectations kindly and thoughtfully, and your child will soon get the idea that his parents are  human and make mistakes.  They will also see that you are ready to talk about tough topics and more importantly, listen to them.  I promise that as you answer questions openly and sincerely, your kids will come back to you for your wisdom and empathy.” (Dina Alexander, guest blogger on FamilyGoodThings.com)

As a teacher, I talked unashamed about sexuality with the girls I coached, giving them logical and loving reasons for why God has the “rules” in place that he does.  I tried to be kind and thoughtful with these beautiful girls as they were growing and learning about their own sexuality.  I was absolutely sincere and now those girls are wives and moms and to this day, I have a relationship with many of them.  I have the privilege of seeing their kids on social media and am proud to call them friends and fellow mamas.  So yes, I agree with Dina, be sincere and answer their questions honestly.

Dina goes on to say, “I also want you to give your kids the idea that there is nothing shameful or “awkward” in asking questions about and discussing one of the most amazing experiences available  to human beings: true intimacy expressed through sexuality.  By discussing the positive aspects of sex, you can help them know that sexual intimacy is good, beautiful, and enjoyable.  Follow this up with a discussion about healthy sexuality’s opposite….pornography.  Take time to explain how  porn is the opposite of intimacy, can be addictive, can condition the brain, harm relationships, and damage a person’s ability to relate and empathize with others.  Finally, if you continue these discussions at each age of development, your child will get the idea that curiosity is a God-given gift. He will get the idea that his feelings and questions are normal and natural when you let him know that any question is OK and that you will not judge him harshly for asking anything.”  (Dina Alexander, FamilyGoodThings.com)

When your kids are elementary age, they need to know what porn is, where you find it and what to do when they see it, and why it should be avoided.  You can read other posts under the Category “pornography” on this blog for more information.  When your kids are teens, they need to know that culture is targeting them in this area.  They need to know porn is addictive and damaging to society.  Porn destroys love and relationships and can destroy marriage.  However, there is redemption from pornography.  Again, check out other Pornography posts on this blog.

Please check out Dina Alexander at http://www.educateempowerkids.org.

My daughter just turned 12, I am getting ready to go through Educate and Empower Kids Book, 30 Days of Sex Talks with my daughter.  Thanks, Dina!  And if you ever come across amomtribe.com, be a guest blogger!

TIP:  Give your kids the right ideas, not the culture’s ideas.  YOURS.

Posted by Amy in Pornography and Sex Education

Pornography and Your Teen/Tween

clipart-heart-clip_art_illustration_of_a_red_heart_with_a_white_swirl_0071-0904-2000-1163_SMUApproximately 51% of Americans seek out pornography regularly.   Teenagers spend up to 10 hours a day on media of some sort.  Google is teaching teenagers about sex.  Teenagers seek out porn for 3 main reasons: arousal, boredom, curiosity.  Millennials seek out porn for arousal, curiosity, and to get ideas for their sex lives. The pornography industry is expanding and porn is affecting the church.  Sound dismal?? Thankfully, there is good news.  There is a growing awareness in the Christian community about the porn problem our culture is facing.  Many teens are expressing mixed feelings about porn, including guilt.  And while Christians are definitely struggling, it isn’t to the same degree.  Even millennials are speaking out against porn.  An April issue of TIME magazine had a featured article about young men who grew up with porn are speaking out against it.   (TIME, Vol. 187, NO. 13, 2016)

When talking to your teens and tweens about pornography, I think it’s important to remind them of our make up.  We are not just bodies.  We have a soul made up of our mind, our will, and our emotions; and we have a spirit.  Pornography affects all of ourselves.  In this post, I will specifically address the body. Later posts will address our mind, will, emotions, and spirit.

Pornography often leads to self-gratification which can lead to impotence and porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED).  This makes the body physically incapable of responding to the opposite gender sexually, in a natural way.  Pornography changes how your brain releases Dopamine, the reward chemical.  Dopamine is also the imprint chemical, allowing the brain to imprint on the hand (self-gratification) and also the picture.  This is dangerous because the brain is imprinting on fantasy and not a real person.  Cyberspace is not real.  During the act of sex between a man and woman, the brain releases five chemicals.  Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Oxytocin, Protacin, and Seratonin.  Time for a brief science lesson!  Norepinephrine gives us the rush during sex with a long lasting memory, but can have no personal connection. It is the chemical released during the climax of sex which makes sex so enjoyable, but without a personal connection, the brain seeks out whatever or whomever to bring about the next sexual “high”.  Oxytocin is the bonding chemical.  This is released during bonding…moms to babies, dads and kids.  It helps us “fall in love”.  It gives you that twitter-pated feeling you get when you hold hands with someone you like or kiss a person you are interested in.  Unfortunately, the brain will use dopamine and oxytocin to “link” sex to whatever is causing those chemicals to be released.  If it isn’t a person, the brain links to a picture or a hand or whatever the stimulus.  Protacin works to stop dopamine and is released after orgasm.  It Leads to rest and relaxation and is released four times higher with heterosexual couples.  Seratonin is the sleep aid released that helps people fall asleep after sex.  Sadly, during self gratification sex, not enough Protacin is released to counter the Dopamine and Norepinephrine, so the brain isn’t satisfied.  This causes the addiction and eventually changes how the brain releases the chemicals altogether.  I can’t really talk about the dangers of porn without talking about how it affects the body and the brain, not to mention pornography destroys intimacy with God and a spouse.

When I was growing up there was commercial about drugs and brains.  The narrator held an egg in his hand and said, “This is your brain.” Then he cracked the egg into a  sizzling hot pan and said, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” Pornography is more addictive than alcohol and cocaine.  Your kids need to know.  Information, not ignorance is the key.  Teach them how their brain works.  Grab a copy of Good Pictures, Bad Pictures.  Read it with them and then explain the chemical part too.  Teenagers appreciate logic.  We don’t need sexually confident kids.  We NEED sexually competent kids!

TIP:  Teach your kids to sexually competent.  Teach your kids to be culturally discerning.

NOTE: Statistics are from The Porn Phenonmenon, a Barna Report produced in partnership with Josh McDowell Ministry (a Cru Ministry).

Check out fightthenewdrug.org for more on how your brain responds to pornography.

Posted by Amy in Pornography

Showering and the Shock Factor

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Many well meaning moms (and even dads) shower with their kids without thinking about it.  Some do it out of convenience.  It’s easy peazy to pop the kids in with you when they are toddlers and save time and energy. Some moms take baths with their infants for bonding and relaxation.  Others shower with their elementary age kids with the intention of letting them see that all body types are beautiful, big or small, round or thin. Thinking that she may curb some future self esteem issues, a mom might shower with her daughter to let her see that there is no such thing as a perfect body.  I would like to propose some thoughts on why I think it’s better not to shower with your kids after they are about one.

We live in a sexual culture where our kids are bombarded with sexual innuendos, commercials, advertising, and pornography that is just a click away. The world is waiting to squeeze your kids into its mold of fantasy of every kind. Each time your kids see you naked, the shock factor of nudity goes down.  For example, let’s say that your 7 year old son has been showering with you from birth. He gets exposed to soft porn, who does he compare the image to? You.  Do you want your son’s brain to imprint on your naked body? He may look at the image of the woman in her bra and panties and think, “That just looks like my mom.”  There is a de-sensitation that takes place in their brain.  Soon, seeing something nude doesn’t shock them anymore and it becomes “normal”.  The sexual exploitation of women in the porn industry is never “normal”. When your son gets exposed to porn for the first time, you want him to be shocked by it, even repulsed, not compare it to your body. There is no need for boys to shower with their dads either.  It invites an unnecessary comparison and curiosity to dad’s private parts.  Showering with your kids isn’t educating your kids on their sexuality.  I want my son’s brain to imprint on his future wife’s body, not mine.

A mom came up to me at one of my talks and said that her daughter had an infatuation of looking at herself naked in the mirror and even doing little dances.  I asked the mom if she showered with her daughter, and the mom said yes.  That mom is certainly not alone.  Many well meaning moms shower with their daughters.  Sometimes showering with your kids gives them an over-infatuation with their bodies, a mini obsession.  They want to check out all their private parts regularly and they nearly become obsessed with their naked bodies. They might want to play naked games with friends or siblings and in our own “well meaning” intention, we invite our kids to become nearly obsessed. Teach your kids modesty and start by having private bath times.  Once kids are about 4, they shouldn’t bathe with same gender siblings either.  My daughter took baths with her brother till he was about one.  She was three.  Another biggie for me with the showering thing is predators.  Remember, people who prey on your kids are not strangers.  They have done their homework on your family.  The perpetrator may use showering as a ploy to get to your kids.  Indiscreetly, they may say something like, “Don’t you shower with your mom or dad?  This will be just like that.” Believe me, it happens, more often than we would like to think. Don’t let nudity become so familiar in your home, that there is no shock factor.

What is the conversation to have with your kids? Maybe you have showered with your kids and now you understand some good logic why not to shower with them.  Here is what you can say, “Mom and Dad have learned some new information and we have decided that because you are older now, it is time to stop showering with us.  Bath time is good time to practice modesty and privacy.  Now that you are older, it’s time for you to have your own private shower time.”  That’s it.  Keep it simple. Remind them to ask you if they have questions.  Kids understand the whole learning new information too..they are always learning new things so they will be relieved that you learned something new too!!

TIP- Maintain the shock factor in your home. Don’t let nudity become so familiar in your home that your kids become de-sensitized.

Posted by Amy in Sex Education