It's a scene that will forever be embedded in my brain: the demeanor of my 11-year-old daughter when I explained to her the secret of life. She wins the prize for the best poker-face ever!
My normally bubbly, expressive little girl was extremely quiet and still when I gently went over the basics of "where babies come from." As I scanned her face, struggling for signs to help me determine what I should say next – like how much detail to add or what words to use – she gave me absolutely no guidance. Throughout my 20-minute gut-wrenching lesson (I was as cool as a cucumber on the outside!) she said but one word when I finished, "Yucky."
I expect Kristin and I will laugh together about our memories of "the talk" someday.
To be sure, I would much rather have waited until later to explain the mystery of procreation. But in today's world, I knew time was against me. Our children are bombarded with sexual information – there's no escaping it in our modern culture. What a shame that we have polluted their innocence with images and false information about love and human sexuality.
According to recent research, our children are paying with their bodies for the pathetic reality that adults have failed in our role to protect childhood innocence. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that almost 20 percent of children have had intercourse before their 15th birthday. One in seven of these sexually active girls became pregnant.
Having sex at such an early age leads to many problems, the study notes. Sexually experienced children were far more likely than virgins to engage in other risky behavior. They were six times more likely to drink at least once a week. They were three times more likely to smoke and four times more likely to use marijuana. Worse, only about a third of parents were even aware their children were putting their health in jeopardy by having sex.
Parents and kids alike often squirm in conversations about sex. But the truth is kids need to hear from you about the beauty of sex in marriage, and they need you to protect them from images that say otherwise. It is a constant but worthy battle that must be waged on many levels every single day.