“Oh, we haven’t had ‘the talk’, but I’m dreading the day he asks,” a friend recently lamented. I was at a loss for what to say. You see, I think we dumb down the wrong things for our kids and focus, instead, on the silly things.We’re quick to buy that ticket to “Magic Mike” or plunk down $20 for 50 Shades of Grey – no embarrassment there. In fact, we take pictures, tweet about it and make it our Facebook status. Yet, when asked to talk to our kids about sex, we clam up like we have nothing to offer on the subject. We fear (gasp) that the conversation will be too awkward.
How awkward will it be to take your 16-year-old to the OB/GYN to confirm her pregnancy? How awkward will it be when your teenage son contracts a sexually transmitted disease? How awkward will it be to discover pornography on your home computer or evidence of sexting on the family cell phone? If you don’t take the initiative to share the beauty and sacramentality of sex with your children, then the secular world will warp it and showcase the ugliest side there is.
Sadly, our house has seen the ugly side. Yet, we decided that we weren’t going to let the secular world take hold in our house. We prayed, took control and invited the Holy Spirit to guide our actions. Two months ago, my husband and I began teaching Theology of the Body (TOB) for Middle School to our soon-to-be sixth-grade son. It has been transformational—both for our marriage and for him. On Sunday evenings, after the younger children are in bed, we fire up the DVD player and settle in for a great lesson with him. It’s part interactive DVD, part prayer and part dialogue. It is worth every penny.
I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that the same time we started TOB, we began working with an engaged couple in our parish through the Sponsor Couple program. Every week, as we answered and discussed questions with them, our internal shift moved from how we would answer the questions to, how would our children answer them? It’s given us pause to think about the kind of family of origin we are creating for our children.
Will they love people and use things or use people and love things?
Will they see sex as sacramental or recreational?
Will they love the soul of the person they marry or just the appearance of their spouse?
Will they desire a chaste life because they want it or because we want it for them?
We’re quick to get our children ready for baptism, first communion, first reconciliation and confirmation. But, what happens to matrimony and holy orders? Do those just teach themselves? Hardly.
I say, give it to them straight. Begin the dialogue when they’re young and continue it throughout the teenage years and beyond. Without a doubt, I believe our kids want answers and they want them from us. Shake off the embarrassment, relish in the sacrament and say a few Hail Mary’s. You’ve got this. Your kids deserve the best, so give it to them.