Saturday, August 10, 2013

10 Reasons Not to Home School #6


Reason #6 To Avoid Sex Education

   When you hear parents talk about reasons for keeping their kids out of school, something that almost always comes up is mention of being able to avoid sex education. Conservative Christians as a whole tend to uncomfortable with this personal and highly sensitive subject. For people of faith, sex isn’t just an awkward or embarrassing topic to explain to kids, it has significant spiritual ramifications. They believe the subject is far too important to let ‘just anyone’ to instruct or influence their child.

   Many parents want desperately for their children to choose purity and restraint in a culture that openly celebrates sex and choice in almost any and all forms. Unfortunately some of them seem to think that with holding all information, or avoiding the subject altogether is the best way to achieve purity and chastity, as if knowledge will automatically encourage action.

    Ignorance does not equal purity.  Ignorance breeds worry, fear and choices made without any foundation in reality or knowledge.

For this reason I believe Christian parents should be the best sex education teachers ever.

   So when did you figure out how babies were made? How long did you wonder before you knew?

Ok. So today I’m going to get personal. I am not suggesting everyone should do things this way, I am just sharing my experience.

    Sex ed is an area where I feel my mom did a great job. I was probably around 6-7 when I started asking some serious questions about how babies were made. At the time I realized she must be nervous, because she kept convulsively giggling, - but she methodically answered my questions with honest, straightforward answers.

    I found out that she had thought as a little girl that maybe making and having babies had something to do with kissing and belly buttons (a theory I had been considering- what else are belly buttons there for?) and that when a little boy had kissed her unexpectedly she was worried for weeks that she was pregnant. She said that she thought it was important for me to know the truth so I wouldn’t worry about that, but also told me that it was a pretty private topic, and not something that was polite to discuss with others.  

    That was TOTALLY fine with me, especially since it was pretty much the grossest thing I had ever heard.  I was pretty shocked that my parents had been willing to do that (I mentally counted) FOUR times (baby sibling #4 was on the way) to get such cute, adorable BABIES(which I loved) , but figured that it was just another thing I didn’t have to worry about until I was grown up. I also decided, I probably wouldn’t have any children unless I adopted them.

   The mystery gone, I don’t remember really thinking much more about it.

    A couple years later my mom sat down and gave me a slightly different talk.  She said I was growing up and there was more I needed to know.  I came away from that talk feeling incredibly proud and empowered. A woman’s body is amazing!! I felt a strong sense of ownership and came away from that talk keenly aware that the choices I made with my body were important and were incredibly significant, (not from just from a religious viewpoint) but simply from a biological one.

    Even though contraception and std’s were not covered beyond very  basic overview (one area I plan to elaborate more on with my own children) they were discussed and I came away from that talk not just armed with knowledge but also with the comforting thought that if I had more questions, I had someone who cared about me to guide me in the right direction.
  In my pre teens I had a friend that went to public school who invited me up to her room one day and showed me a large decorated box full of different items and print outs that she had gotten in school at their sex ed class. 'Do you know what THIS is!?" She asked dangling something in my face, looking for reaction. 'Yah, my mom already told me about all that." I was bored. We agreed that some things in life were gross, and soon the topic changed.

   Interestingly, while I am sure it must have been mentioned, I don’t remember talks with Mom  being overtly ‘purity’ concerned conversations. I already knew what my parents believed about purity, I already knew that they believed there were things that they believed should be reserved for marriage. I had grown up immersed in church teaching and scripture reading at home. I knew we tried to live our lives honoring to God and in a way that pleased him. Bible teaching was pretty clear about sexual activity outside of marriage and it was something I willingly accepted.
   Talks I had with my Mom enforced for me the idea that sex and reproduction were not dirty or shameful. Maybe some what odd and embarrassing, - but certainly normal, natural and good. I can’t thank her enough for giving me what I believe is a healthy view of a wonderful part of life.
   Unfortunately I discovered in my teens and later on, that this is not the experience of most conservative home school girls. Countless girls I talked to said that even the word sex was 100% completely taboo in their home. In some cases, not just the word sex, but any word that had anything to do with the topic at all, including anatomically correct references to body parts. (Another thing my mom did right, from the beginning we knew the correct name for our parts.)
    I’ve been floored by the number of women who were home schooled  I’ve talked to who didn’t even receive cursory information about their monthly cycle, let alone any teaching at all on the topic of sex. Human anatomy seems to be a subject highly censored also, and in some cases completely ignored. Just go to amazon today and look at comments of homeschool Mom's rating basic anatomy books as 'too explicit'.
    In many cases, the oldest daughter in a family ‘figured things out’ on her own, (often through peers) and then passed on the information to each successive sister, or cousin, or friend. Obvious irony considering that these parents did not want others teaching their child about sex and reproduction but effectively gave their curious offspring little alternative other than to look up the information (from whatever source they found) or rely on whichever person (no matter how poorly informed) they felt comfortable asking.
    In talking to these adults, it is interesting to me to note the sense of guilt they felt in even wondering about this normal and naturally curiosity causing topic. Kids love babies. Babies obviously get inside stomachs somehow. But how?
It is a straight forward honest question every child on the planet asks and it deserves an honest, straight forward answer.
   I know the reason WHY so many parents chose to avoid giving their children knowledge and information. So the question is ‘did it work’? 

    Is avoiding the topic of sex and teaching about reproduction (including pregnancy prevention and STDs) the best way to have young adults stay pure? This question is still hotly debated by those in public schools, with advocates from both sides staunchly defending their way of thinking. A little research online can give you both sides along with facts, statistics and studies galore. I would encourage you to do some looking.

      Addressing this debate fully is beyond the scope of this post, - but for the purpose of my list I wish to make two observations.

  #1) If you as a parent do not actively educate your child about their body, how it works, what is healthy and what is not, - and above all, -  what sex is,( healthy and not)  - they WILL eventually get that information, and it will NOT be from you.

   If you want to influence your children on the topic of sex; you will have to talk about sex.

And I mean actually talk about it, - not just quote them a bible verse.

 Information about what sex is, and how our bodies work can and will be easily learned with or without you.

Knowing what to do WITH that information is why children need parents. 
Your child is going to learn pretty quickly if you believe this is natural healthy part of life OR is something of which they should be ashamed. You hold SO much power to inform and protect your child.

 #2) I wish I had thought to put a question in my survey, - but looking around to my home school peers I would guess that(conservatively) 30 – 50% of home school grads are sexually active before marriage. And that is a very conservative guess.  I know home school grads who talk of first kisses, body exploration and much more happening AT home school group meetings WITH other home school kids.  And never mind consensual activity.  Current studies say that 1 in 3 girls are sexually molested, and 1in 6 boys.
   My series is a list of reasons that should NOT be your motive for home schooling your children.
Avoiding sex education is NOT a good reason.  
Your child WILL be naturally curious.
Your child WILL develop sex organs of their own and wonder why they are there. 
Your child WILL face exposure to sex at some point from others and have to decide how to handle it.
 If nothing else, the president may have an affair and the words ORAL SEX may be in every newspaper and radio show daily for a year or more.... The late 90's was an interesting time to be a sheltered home school kid, (say WHAT?? Oral Sex? You mean the President actually French kissed a woman that wasn't his WIFE???) sigh.

The real question is if YOU  are going to be a part of your child’s education in this area or if you are leaving them to figure it out on their own.
  Where your child learns to read and write has nothing to do with how you handle this incredibly important topic.  No matter what school your child attends, - you will have to chose how you will handle this.  Will YOU have any impact in your child's thinking?
By the way. . I was thoroughly educated in human anatomy.  I had more open communication with my mom on this topic than any other home school girl I know. I can barely remember a time when I didn't know to some basic extent what the act of sex was, and yet, I chose to wait and share it with my husband.
  My choice was made in full and free knowledge, rooted in my personal faith and relationship with God. I share this with hesitation because while I am still happy with my choice, I do not believe I have any more value or worth as a woman because I was a virgin in a white dress. (That is probably another topic for another time.)

    My goal for my children is not that they remain perpetually 'innocent' and unaware.
My desire is that they realize that God created an amazing, wonderful thing called sex that can be awesome. And like everything else he created there are healthy wonderful ways to enjoy its goodness. Like any good thing, it can be turned and used as a means for hurt and destruction.

  
 Note.
   I strongly urge anyone who has suffered sexual abuse, no matter how long ago to seek professional counseling. It is never to late for healing.
   It is very rare for a person who has suffered sexual abuse to have a healthy view of sex, or to be able to enjoy something designed to be wonderful when it has been a part of such pain in their lives.
   I am convinced that many parents are at a complete loss as how to approach this topic because of the shame, guilt, and fear that are associated with sex in their past.
  With statistics like those above, - at least 1 in 3 mothers are likely to have suffered deeply from abuse in her past. Please Momma, - you deserve to heal, your daughters need your voice.
 
   So. Did your parents take an active guiding role in helping you have a healthy perspective on sex and your body? Were you on your own?
With that in mind, what have YOU found helpful in teaching this sensitive subject?
Do you regret not doing more to teach your children? Do wish you'd done less?
Do you have a favorite resource?
What about you home school grads? Do you wish your parents had done things differently? Why?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for such a piece that can somewhat resonate with everyone. I was educated in a small christian School, and thought I would have children of my own, but God had other plans for me. I was to become a stepmother to a 13 year old, but in his amazing blessing, yes we have talked about this topic off and on. very very candid.

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  2. Thanks Sarah! I am thrilled to hear that you've kept communication open with your (step)child - What inspiration that you were able to step into that role and cover a topic that is hard even for us who've had time to 'gear up' for those conversations!! Great job!!

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