“The awkward turtle” is a gesture you make with two hands (it looks like a turtle) when someone has raised a very, well, awkward topic in a conversation and you want to move out of it quickly. If you could see me now, I am using the awkward turtle because this article briefly addresses the often-uncomfortable issue of sex education.
Preteens (children ages 10-12) are entering their pubescent stage where they undergo their greatest physiological development. As their voices crack and body odor becomes more apparent, they also begin to…take a deep breath parents…recognize the opposite sex! Obviously, this is a good thing because God wired us this way. But there are dangers. Movies and Internet provide plenty of “sex sells” type advertising and pornography is a thriving industry still in the United States. Here is a fact we need to accept…YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE EXPOSED TO THESE REALITIES…so why not beat the world to the punch?
I have one simple suggestion in this article: be the first one to discuss the difficult topics of dating, sexuality, drugs and alcohol, etc. with your children. If they are going to hear/see/think about it because of the world, we might as well have the first shot at telling them about God’s purpose for our lives and our bodies before the world says otherwise! You are the best judge of when your preteen is ready, but typically around 5th or 6th grade you want to at least begin having those conversations with your child.
According to a recent survey conducted by A.C. Nielson Co., “The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.” This is an amount that needs to be raised. I understand that church, sports, music, extra-curricular activities, and 4 other people in the house pulling different directions make it more difficult for family mealtime to happen. I didn’t value family dinnertime while I was in Jr. High, but now I most definitely value the time that I had with my family as I think back to the memories that were made around the dinner table. These memories that ranged from Chicken Kiev exploding all over my dad’s glasses as he made the first cut into the chicken and my older sister declaring that she was having pizza at her wedding because she was such a picky eater.
The truth is, family dinner gives you time at the end of the day to stay in communication with your son or daughter for more than the average amount per week. It gives you the chance to pray together, share stories from the day, share what was learned that day, and last, but certainly not least… laugh together!
Here are a few fun dinner ideas to try with the fam:
- Let a different person choose the menu for each night of the week.
- Have a picnic!
- Talk while cleaning the dishes.
- Allow your son or daughter to occasionally invite their friends.
- Discuss what’s been going on in the lives of everyone around the table… I know that this is vague, but it’s a good reminder that this isn’t just time for one person to consume the conversation.