Teaching and Equipping Our Children for Life
By Joe Keim
August 28, 2013
Having children and raising a family is not an easy thing to do, particularly these days. It takes time, patience, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, prayer, and lots of teaching and mentoring. As parents, we know we only have a limited amount of time ---- perhaps 20 years ---- before the child is fully grown and ready to go on his or her own.
During that limited time, parents will do their best to teach each child to refrain from lying, stealing, swearing, or fighting with their siblings. Most parents will go to great measure to teach their children how to work hard, be responsible, get an education, eat right, follow God, and go to church. Why? Because our goal is to prepare them to make it on their own one day.
Sadly though, many parents within the Plain culture stop short of teaching their children anything about sex, pregnancy, and newborn babies. To some parents, these topics are forbidden outside a closed bedroom door and should only be discussed between husband and wife. To others, using the word "sex" in front of a young single adult is almost as bad as swearing.
For these reasons, I would like to challenge you to think differently:
1. Most children will hear about sex and having babies before they are 15 years old. Where do they get their information? From friends who heard it from other friends. In most cases, it is treated as a big joke, and everybody laughs about it. Most of the time, they only learn half the truth; the rest is twisted, misunderstood, and ridiculed.
2. Sex is a special gift from God. If kept within God's guidelines, it can be a pleasurable bonding time between husband and wife. However, God's gift of sex can also turn into pain and shame when used outside of His guidelines. Some readers know what I'm talking about, because they have been there and are paying the price now. John Regier says, "98% of couples who come for marriage counseling had sex before marriage." Most, if not all of these couples were never taught rightly about God's gift of sex. They only knew partial and twisted truths, which they learned from friends.
This leads me to share something personal with you that took place in our own family. What I am about to tell you goes right along with the other article I wrote in the September issue of the Amish Voice, called Love, Dating, and Marriage. I hope you read it.
When our children turned seven years old, Esther and I sat down with each one separately and read and discussed The Story of Me (Book 1). When they turned eight or nine, we read Before I Was Born (Book 2). By the time they were 12 years old, our children knew everything about God's design for their bodies, sex, and how babies are born. Not one stone was left unturned.
The books I describe are listed on our web site, in order to give you an opportunity to have your own set. They are Christian-based and were used as a guide to lead us into discussions of how certain changes would start taking place in their bodies and in their minds as they approached their teenage years. We even discussed the fact that God's design has always been for children, at a certain age, to pull away from Dad and Mom and become the persons God intended them to be. We said, "When that happens, Dad and Mom will want to hang onto you and not let you go. However, as normal children, you will continually seek to pull away."
We spent a great deal of time discussing and brainstorming ways that we as parents and children might handle those times of pulling away and holding back. At one point, I remember our son Jonathan bursting into tears, fearing that things would turn out badly between him and us.
I can say, dear reader, the books and discussions were one of the best things we ever did as a family! It drew us together and strengthened our relationships in a way nothing else could have. It gave both parent and child the feeling that we could discuss anything, and while doing so, feel comfortable and at ease.
In conclusion, it is important to once again state: our children did not hear half-truths about the sex, growing up, and having babies. They did not hear it from their friends. They heard it straight from Dad and Mom, just as God intended.
I would suggest that if you choose to follow our pattern, consider Moms going through the books with her daughters and dad going through the books with his sons. Let it be a time of bonding and growing together in life. You will be glad you did. I promise! - Joe Keim
1. To order the books described in this article, click here
2. To read a similar article, called Love, Dating and Marriage (written by Joe Keim), click here
- Joe Keim
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