Around the age of 11, when our kids begin going through puberty, we take one-on-one time with them to discuss what they're going through. Usually I'll talk with the girls and make it a special time out with mom -- we may go for lunch at their favorite place -- and I'll explain to the girls about this new season of life and how exciting this is, because they're entering womanhood.
We talk about how their bodies change and their menstrual cycle, what it's all is about and what it means, and how as time goes on it will get more regular for them. I tell them that they'll feel more at ease with it, but at first it's a new experience.
We also talk about the boy/girl feelings that come along with this season of life and how that is a special time and you want to guard your heart to make sure that you are keeping your affections where they need to be and not giving away parts of your heart by emotionally getting attached to individuals, because your future spouse will be the one who you want to give all of those things to.
I also go to the store with the girls and we usually get a makeup bag and fill it with lotion, some pretty perfume, and a little face powder -- just an acknowledgment that they're entering a new season of life. We'll go to the area where we get their feminine products and I explain the different products to them ahead of time.
Talking with the Boys
With the boys, my husband, Jim Bob, usually will talk with them. There are so many changes going on in their bodies and minds as well, and it helps them to know this is normal; you're not weird; you're not strange and that all young men go through this, and that this is a good thing.
Jim Bob has said to them, " When you were a little boy, you didn't even think about girls except for the fact that you probably were either just enjoying them as a friend to play with versus someone that you're looking at and saying, 'Hey, this person is different than what I thought when I was a kid climbing trees.'"
So it's important that they get a perspective of viewing women not as an object for their pleasure but really realizing that in the future God's going to bring a special one for them that will be their soul mate, the person that they're going to spend the rest of their life with and love. And in the meantime, you treat all women with respect and kindness and don't lead women on. Don't show wrong, inappropriate actions to others who may not be your future spouse.
We encourage the kids to be open and communicate with us about how they feel. A few times when my girls have been getting ready to go out they've said, "Mama, will you pray for me, because I know I'm going to be around some boys and I just want to keep my heart right. I want to have the right response and to not be flirtatious or not have any wrong motives but to really keep it on a friendship level."
I'll pray for them, and I think that talking about it helps the girls to understand that these feelings are normal, that this is a part of life -- you're not strange! This is just the way it is, and all through your life, you have to learn how to deal with these emotions and all these changes that are going on. And I tell them it does get easier as time goes on. But especially at that very beginning stage, it's just so awkward and you think you're the only one who feels these feelings or has these struggles.
It's about being accountable with dad and with mom, talking openly about the temptations and the struggles that come in this time of life, because we tell them we've been there before:"We were once your age, and we know what it's like to go through that season of life and we want to be there for you, to pray with you and to walk with you through that time."
We explain to them that communicating about what you're thinking, what you're feeling, what's going on with you, is an important part of the lifelong lesson of being open and sharing. And that when you open up and share you become a better communicator, and that all of this is going to be transferred one day to your relationship with your spouse.