For several years I have been somewhat of a coach to parents of young children…giving them a strategy to introduce the subject of sex to their children before the culture does.
Because we live in a sex saturated society, these conversations can occur sooner than parents think…and that can be overwhelming. But step by step I encourage parents to seek out conversations with their pre-k and early elementary children to talk about God’s design, and to wonder and marvel about how babies are made and how they are born. Talking about sex with young children may sound crazy, but talking about seeds and eggs is simple. Let’s go for simple in the early years. Nothing very complicated…just the most basic biology coupled with the values and beliefs of the parents. My goal is to help parents connect with their children on this amazing subject (which I believe is much easier and more effective before the hormones kick in!).
When children reach the ‘tweens’ stage, however,parents need to be ready for some more-than-basic conversations. So what’s next?
One tool I give parents is called the Time Line.
It will help tweens and parents do 3 things:
LOOK BACK, LOOK FORWARD, and LOOK OUT!
Take some time when just the two of you can be together. Dads of course can be included…but the best situation is for there to be no other distractions.
The first step is to LOOK BACK on the life your tween has lived so far…all the special memories, friends, talents, accomplishments, and momentsthat are meaningful from birth to age 12 (or so). Run the highlight film of what has been significant to them.
Then LOOK FORWARD to the far future…if they could write the script of their life, what roles would they play? What are their dreams, and when do they want them to come true? From ages 22-100….or so.. Of course we don’t know how long their life will be, but for the purpose of this exercise, we are considering a long life. When they are an adult, how do they want their life to look? Do they want to get married? Have children? When?
Now, let’s LOOK OUT to the next few years…the teen years…a launching time for their life ahead.A time to be aware of choices, risks, and consequences. This short amount of time can have lifelong implications.
For this conversation; you will need some very high tech tools:
Take the 2 pieces of paper, tape them together, and make a long line.
Put enough notches on the line to include their whole life (Dave and I gave our kids 88 years)
Then use the highlighter to mark years 13-21.
Here is what you get:
With this, your child will easily see that the next stage in their life is actually a short part of their life. What we want them to understand is how crucial it is.
There is one more important tool….don’t forget the pencil, because you will want your tween to write down all of the things they are saying. Write them according to the year that relates to that event. If they hope to go to graduate school, or travel to Argentina, or be the next Food Network star…have them write that down on the timeline in the year they would like for that to happen.
Together you have looked back at the life they have lived so far. You have dreamed the dream of their life to come. Now it’s time to LOOK OUT for what is next in their life. They are about to go through some very important changes physically, emotionally, and socially as they transition from childhood to adulthood. It can be a very wonderful time in their life, and we want them to have a positive attitude, but what does your child need to LOOK OUT for?
They must LOOK OUT for the unexpected things that can trip them up. Look out for things that sound like fun, but can ruin their dreams. An unexpected pregnancy, or a sexually transmitted disease or a criminal record will stay with them the rest of their life.
On a more positive note, what can they be doing during these adolescent years to better prepare themselves to reach their dreams? What do they need to practice? Who could be their role models? Looking out for opportunities is also an exciting part of the teen years.
We have had the most incredible feedback from parents who have used this little tool, and I hope it helps you, too! Please join me on my blog for some other ideas at www.maryfloblog.com or for more information about my talk and other resources for parents you can check out www.maryflosimpletruths.org