Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why View Pornography After Marriage?

Our 11-year-old son is beginning to transition from reading the Friend magazine to reading the New Era. He was reading an older issue we had at the house one day from February 2017.  You can view the article he was reading here.

He came and asked:
K: "Mom, why would people look at pornography after they are married?"
Me: "Wow, that's an excellent question. I'd like to answer that one with your dad. Can we wait to answer that until tonight when he's home?"
K: "Sure."
Me: "Can you tell me where this question is coming from?"
K: "Yea. I was reading this article about a father who viewed pornography. I just don't know why a married adult would want to look at pornography when he has sex with his wife."

I spent the day thinking about the best way to explain this concept to an 11-year-old. I took the main idea about feeling/thinking brain from the book, "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures." Then, I sat in the shower and stewed over how to explain this. I talked with my husband a little when he got home. This is what we came up with and our conversation with our son.

I had him ask his question again, then dived in to the conversation.

Me: "So, I was talking to dad about this. Do you know a little about how the brain works? Do you remember that video we watched about pornography that the church put out about your thinking brain and your feeling brain?' (You can see the video, What Should I Do When I See Pornography?)
K: "Yeah."
Me: "So, in your brain you have all sorts of different pathways. So, you have a thought and it goes from one part of your brain to another, like your brain is constantly moving and connecting ideas. Or, a thought can create a feeling. So, there are these little pathways in your brain and I'm not going to give you technical terms because that's a lot to remember, so I'm just going to say this is a pathway in your brain. (This picture shows my "pathways" using Qwirkle blocks upside down.) So, Heavenly Father has given us the desire to have sexual experiences, right?
K: "Yeah."
Me: "We know why? Is that correct?"
K: "Yeah, for babies and bonding."


M: "So, we're not going to talk about sex for babies right now because your question focuses on desire and bonding. I'm going to put this Lego guy here (the bottom boy). We'll say this is your sexual desire. We have a connection from your sexual desire to the actual experience you are having. Bonding is a chemical reaction in your brain. When you bond with someone you connect with that person and that's called bonding. So, when we talk about sex being a bonding experience in a marriage between a man and a woman it means that there are these chemicals that are released in the brain that allow you to feel a connection with that person. Those chemicals are released during those experiences. So, there's a pathway in your brain that goes from the desire (Lego man) to the thing you are bonding with (Lego girl). Does that make sense?"
K: "Yeah."
Me: "So, when you view pornography, we're going to make a pathway that goes off this way. Pornography you usually view with a screen, so I'm going to put this little Lego screen right here. What happens is you have your sexual desire right here and you are moving off this path, having a bonding experience with a spouse, to bonding with a screen or a picture. If you are viewing pornography before you get married then you can get used to this track (pointing to the pathway to the screen). Have you ever had the experience at school where you have to write a date in your planner and the year changes, what happens when you get to January 1st?
K: "You have to write a new year?"
M: "Do you find yourself still writing 2017 instead of 2018 without thinking?
K: "Yeah."
Me: "I do too. That's because it's a habit and your brain pathway has been trained to write 2017 for 12 whole months. You have to consciously think about writing the new year. What happens in your brain with sexual experiences is that if you keep using this pathway for sexual experiences, whether it's a screen or pictures or videos, things like that, then your brain wants to go this way (again, pointing to the path to the screen). So, even after you are married and able to have this kind of bonding experience (pointing to the path to the Lego girl), your brain is still trying to go this way because it's so used to going this way. Because of that, you can still be married and have a hard time with pornography.
K: "Oh. I see."

video

Me: "Now, even people after they get married may have something pornographic introduced to them. Our brains like new stuff, so if something pornographic is seen, your brain is seeing something new and wants to look at it. So, even though this pathway is available to you (pointing to the path to the Lego girl), you may find your brain going off on this path (pointing to the path to the screen). Does that make sense?
K: "Yeah."
Me: "So, it's better before you are married to not even have this pathway because the habit to take that path is hard to break. And, after you are married you have to be careful about what you allow yourself to watch and see because this path is easy to form since the brain likes new things. That's why we're teaching you about pornography now so you don't have to worry about fighting to stay on the right path in your brain. Right now and during puberty your brain is going to be used to just having that desire, and when you are married you get that bonding experience and build that pathway and connection to your spouse. You're not trying to fight it going off on a different pathway. It just stays here because that's the path it knows. 
Dad: "It's one of those things that people say is hard to give up because males especially are visual. They like images, pictures. Girls are more emotional. They like the touchy, feely stuff. It's one of those things that once you view pornography it's really hard to stop. 
Me: "It rewires the way your brain thinks, so this pathway doesn't even have to be there if you never start viewing it (pointing to screen path). You told me that one time you saw images when you were looking up information from that Brandon Mull book about "naked agony" that you couldn't get them out of your head."
K: "Yes!"
Me: "That's because your brain wanted to start going on this pathway. It immediately wanted to start going on this pathway. That's why I was glad you told me about it because we could work on ways to stay off that track before your brain get too used it. We can push it out of the way. You can keep on this pathway (to Lego girl) so your desire stays right here until you're ready to have those bonding experiences in marriage. Do you have any questions?
K: "No."
Me: "Well, if you have any questions later, you can always come ask. Did we fully answer your question?"
K: "Yeah."
Dad: "Notice in the article that it says this girl's dad wasn't a bad man (referring to the article he read that stimulated this question). He was a good man. This is just a challenge that he has."
Me: "And he was trying to do what's right. And that's why we have repentance."
Dad: "That's true, and if you ever have this issue with what you're seeing don't beat yourself up. You can always ask Heavenly Father for help and He will help you. It's just better not to get into it at all. It's just everywhere."
Me: "Yeah. It's good to talk about it and let us know when you do see things because we can help you."
Dad: "Yes. We love you."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What Was Corianton's Sin?


Our oldest son had the lesson in church a while back about Corianton. One of the students in the class asked what Corianton's sin was. Well, you can totally expect that question from a group of 10-year-old boys. The lesson specifically states, "Note: Do not teach the specific content of Alma 39:3-6. Simply summarize it by explaining that Corianton committed a very serious sin while on a mission among the Zoramites. If the children ask about the nature of Corianton's sin, suggest that they discuss it with their parents." So, the teacher followed the manual and told the children to go home and ask their parents. Of course, our oldest came home and asked......(see the lesson manual here)

K: "Mom, in the lesson today, Alma's son did something really bad, but the teacher told us we had to ask our parents what he did. What did he do?"
Me: "Well, let's read in the scriptures." We read from Alma 39:3-6: 
"And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel. 

Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted. 

Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost? 

For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable ; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness ; yea, I say unto you, my son,... "

 "Do you understand what any of that meant?"
K: "No."
Me: "A harlot is someone who has sex for money or other things. Corinaton was having sex when he wasn't married to this girl. The ministry also means he was on a mission."
K: "Oh, that's bad."
Me: "Why was that bad?"
K: "He shouldn't be having sex when he's not married."
Me: "You're right, but why shouldn't he be having sex if they aren't married?"
K: "Well, sex is good for a marriage. That's what God made sex for, right?"
Me: "Right, that's one of the reasons. Corianton was not doing what he was supposed to be doing, teaching the gospel as a missionary. Instead, he got caught up doing inappropriate things with a girl named Isabel in a place he shouldn't have been." What does that mean for you? What do you think this scripture is trying to teach you? You aren't on a mission right now. 
K: "I guess I should stay in places I'm supposed to be."
M: "Right, when you stay in good places, or places you are supposed to be, God will help strengthen you to do what's right."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Confession of a Public School Parent


I hear so many reasons about why parents home school their children. I rarely hear why other parents choose to put their children in public school. But, it is a choice. For my husband and I, it's an important choice that we don't take lightly. I'm sad to see my children leave me for hours every day when summer ends. But, I feel like they are also gaining the experiences they need for their own growth and development. Our daughter has had opportunities she wouldn't have at home, like helping a peer with their morning work. She was also able to present information in front of her class about research she had done. She learned how to deal with a student who was stealing things from her. Our son has learned to stand up for what he believes in front of his peers. Sometimes it's easy to give that answer in Family Home Evening, but it's altogether another things when actually faced with doing it. 

There are great reasons to put children in the public school system, but there are also drawbacks. 
There are certainly great reasons to home school, but there are drawbacks as well.  There is no perfect system for educating our children in a well rounded way. I am very grateful for the wonderful teachers my children have had in their schooling. I may still home school at some point if it ever feels right. But for now, I have a confession...............I am a public school parent!

I hope you realize that these are very personal for me and my husband and our children. Every parent needs to decide what is best for their child and some children may have different needs than our children. 

Six Reasons My Husband and I Choose to Put our Children in Public School

6. Exceptional Examples

In the school system, there are a lot of children who often make poor choices and/or have poor behavior. Then, there are children who regularly make good choice and have good behavior, but make poor choices regularly as well. Last, there are children who rarely exhibit poor behavior and make good choices often. Our children are not perfect. However, they generally have good behavior and make good choices, especially when they are at school.

As representatives of Jesus Christ, we encourage our children to make choices that reflect our beliefs. Our oldest son had a peer in 3rd grade who was often in trouble with his teacher. He was also not very nice to other children. My husband and I talked with our son and decided that maybe the boy was jealous he didn't have any friends and didn't know how to appropriately make friends. Our son befriended the boy. Over the course of the year, the little boy's behavior in class improved, as did his interactions with his peers. He did not become an incredibly great child in class. He still misbehaved and taught our son a few things we had to discuss. But, ultimately, we felt like our son had been a good example for this boy. Our son was also able to see the effect of his example on a peer.

We want our children to understand what it's like to be a good example for others and recognize bad examples. We talk about it at home and church, but we feel our children's experience with example is most noticeable in the school system. They can be an example to their siblings, but our children mostly get along. They also see only a limited number of behaviors that their siblings may emulate (whether good or bad). They interact with many children at church who are all making an effort to exhibit similar examples. In the school system, our children have been able to see a wider variety of bad examples and choose not to follow those. They have seen a wider variety of good examples and learn from those. They also have been able to be a good example and see how they can affect those around them for good. The examples they set for their peers are also different every year as they have learned and grown. In the public school system our children see how a variety of people are examples, whether good or bad, in a variety of circumstances. We want our children to understand how they can learn from those around them and influence those around them. We feel this experience is more salient for our children when they are surrounded by a wider variety of ideas, a wider range of people from different backgrounds, thus a wider variety of examples to provide our children with a practical understanding of how to interact with and learn from others.

5. Balancing Boredom

I have never been in a job in my life where I have been entertained or busy the ENTIRE job, including meetings. I have been incredibly bored at times in my life. When I worked at Subway as a youth, there were slow times with no customers and an already spotless kitchen, serving area, and dining area. I am a busybody, too. I have to be working. I don't know how many times I scrubbed the floor at Keva Juice when I worked as a night manager there because I was bored. Meetings, though necessary, can be incredibly boring at times. Some classes in college were boring................very boring...........to the point where I celebrated when I was able to stay awake the entire class period. There are even times when............gasp..............I'm bored at HOME! Certainly there are things to be done, but I'm bored of cleaning and laundry and cooking and planning............

We want our children to learn how to be effectively motivated by boredom. Some children may get in trouble more often if they are bored, but I don't find that to be the case very often. Our children have rarely been in trouble at school, but often have times they tell me they were bored. I've also seen children in classrooms (I volunteer a lot in my children's classrooms) where the teacher has something for the children to do that is important learning work, but the children are off misbehaving. They weren't bored, just misbehaving because that's the choice they were making at that time. We want our children to realize when they are bored and be able to refocus if they are in an important learning time. We also want them to be able to figure out how to effectively use their time. If they get all their work done at school, they are able to read or find something to do to keep themselves occupied. They are much less likely to get bored at home because they are more free to move from one activity to the next when they feel done with something, thus giving them significantly fewer opportunities to figure out how to deal with boredom effectively. This entire summer I only remember our children occasionally saying they were bored.  

When our children get a job, we want them to be able to be self-motivated to find things to do if they find themselves getting bored. We feel that at home, it's harder for them to be self-motivated. At school, they can't always ask the teacher what they can do when they're bored. They have to figure it out for themselves! They also learn to think ahead by bringing a book from home or looking around at school for something effective to do, like getting ahead on homework. 

4. Incalculable Intelligence

My husband and I, like most parents, want the best for our children. We want them to be smart and successful. We do feel like our children would progress more quickly through the subjects they are learning if we home schooled them. But, intelligence, or IQ, is not the greatest predictor of success. Check out this 6 minute video from Angela Lee Duckworth - Ted Talks on "Grit." One of the greatest predictors of success in life is "grit." This is perseverance, passion, stamina, and so forth. Our children may progress more quickly at home in their intellectual understanding of subjects, but I don't know that it's the place our children are learning the most "grit." 

Our oldest son is a natural at perseverance. He does what it takes, how long it takes, to reach his goals. He doesn't quit when things get hard. He tries harder. Math especially does not come easy for him, but he works hard until he understands. At school, he has to use more perseverance as he learns math because it's not one-on-one. He struggles with math in a group setting. When I teach him at home and help him with his homework, he catches on more quickly. Of course we want our children to grasp difficult concepts more easily and have one-on-one time, but we also feel that they need to be able to learn how to work hard and persevere when things are more difficult. This last school year, math became a strength for our son. He really struggled with it in the beginning of the year. I helped him a lot. As the year progressed, he began to learn how to pay more attention to the teacher at school during math instruction. He had to learn how to learn in a new way. Once he figured out how to learn from this teacher, he excelled. He has been able to figure out how to learn from many different teachers in his life and that will help him adapt in a career, college, and other pursuits. 


Our daughter is more easygoing. She doesn't quit easily either, but can sure learn more about perseverance. School work comes more easily to her. At home, with the student-teacher ratio of 3:1, our children wouldn't have to wait so long for help or try to figure as many things out for themselves. When I teach them at home, I try my best to let them do things on their own. But, if they came across a problem that is difficult to solve, they are more likely to come to me more quickly than their teacher at school, who has 18+ students to help. They learn to try harder on their own at school before they ask for help. When they really can't do it, they ask their teacher or bring it home for me to help them. 

We don't feel like our children are geniuses or better than average in their intelligence. But, I do know that our kids have a greater likelihood of success in life as they learn to persevere. Our children are learning to persevere in greater degree in the course of a regular day at school than they would at our home. We feel that if we believed our children were too smart for school and we wanted to focus only on their educational intellectual-IQ type growth, we would be depriving them of other types of intelligence, like social intelligence and other behaviors exhibited by resilient children. We feel our children's success is measured not only by IQ, but also by social and interpersonal skills, and other valuable characteristic traits like perseverance. It's much more difficult for our children to develop some of these traits at home because neither my husband, nor myself, excel at everything and can only be an example for a limited range of characteristic traits. 

3. Empowering Exposure

Our children live in a society rich in inappropriate things. Some children are very disrespectful at school. Some talk about things that are inappropriate in a school setting. Some use inappropriate language. Belonging to a church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) with a unique perspective on appropriate and inappropriate adds extra challenges. Our children often hear language that is okay with many families, but not with ours. They hear discussions about sex or other topics we believe are appropriate in a family setting, but not in a public setting. They see children being incredibly unkind to other children. They hear endless talk about things we believe are a waste of time, but are fine with other families (e.g. video games for hours and such). They hear students talking back to adults. There are a lot of inappropriate things that happen at school.

We don't like it. But, we also believe it's been beneficial for our children to see the world as it is. We have been commanded to be in the world, but not of the world. We want our children to be able to know how to navigate the world around them and decipher which roads and voices to follow, or how to lead. Now, if the environment they are in is too pervasively negative that they aren't able to function, we would certainly pull them from that environment. But, some negativity and inappropriateness are opportunities for our children to develop positive qualities. Heavenly Father even tells us that he allows bad/hard things to happen to us for our growth and learning. We certainly don't want to put our children in situations where bad or inappropriate things can possibly happen, but we know as we're prayerful about the decisions we make in behalf of our children Heavenly Father will help us. Heavenly Father allowed Satan to do some awful things to Job. These trials made Job stronger. Last year, our oldest son had a kid in his class that was highly inappropriate. He was discussing such inappropriate things about sexuality that I was concerned for the child himself and wondered if his mother knew what was going on. It felt like he was involved in pornography or someone had abused him in some way. Our son didn't like the way he was talking and just tried avoiding him at recess and lunch. When that didn't work, he finally told the boy not to talk that way around him. Our son is incredibly non-confrontational. He doesn't like conflict and it's very difficult for him to stand up to his peers. He usually sits quietly on the sideline and doesn't get involved, or tries to ignore. He came home so excited that he had found the courage to stand up and state how he felt to this boy. The boy stopped talking that way around him too. He realized how empowering it felt to stand up for his beliefs and feelings. Our son came home so excited that he was able to stand up to his peer, even though he didn't even know yet that the boy was going to stop talking about inappropriate things. He also learned that through speaking up, he can make changes in his environment. 


Last year, I posted about another event where our son learned something about himself. It was hard for us to allow him to suffer through this 4th grade year, but we felt he needed to stay where he was. During the course of the year, a friend in his class did something inappropriate. Our son stood up for the right and told the teacher. He lost a friend for a time, but he also learned something important about himself. He learned that he could do the right, even when it wasn't popular, and the consequence was feelings of confidence and joy. He also learned what a true friend was. (If you're interested in reading the whole story about this event with our son click here.)   

Even if our children are exposed to some pretty terrible stuff at school, we feel like the things they have gained from these experiences have made their spirits stronger. As I watch our oldest son begin middle school, I can see a change in him from things he learned last year. He's already being proactive in his search for appropriate friends. He also recognizes when he should help someone in need that is being mistreated by another student. Our daughter has gained confidence as she has helped those that needed an extra hand. With all the inappropriate exposure our children experience at school, they are also exposed to the true nature of who they are and what they are trying to become. 

2. Discover Diversity

My husband and I try hard to be open and loving to those around us. We befriend our neighbors and truly enjoy our neighborhood and community. However, even though we try hard to be involved with a variety of individuals, our circle still seems to lack some diversity. We have a few friends that believe differently from us and even fewer friends of various races. In essence, we are surrounded by like-minded people. We don't believe this is bad. We like to surround ourselves with people who enjoy the same things we do. But, we feel that our children also need to experience more diversity: of religion, race, language, ethnicity, thought, political views, socioeconomic status, teaching style, personalities, and so forth. The circle of people we surround ourselves with provides only minor opportunities for our children to interact with people in varying circumstances. Chances are, they will have to interact with a wider variety of individuals as they go to college, serve missions, and begin a career. It will be much easier for them to integrate into diverse situations if they have experience interacting with a variety of individuals.

It makes me think of Christopher Columbus. He was surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals. They all thought the world was flat and he was crazy. No one would fund his quest for a long time. If our children believe the world is flat and are surrounded by people who think the world is flat, they are missing something! Our son had a black teacher for first grade. He'd hardly had any interaction with blacks until that moment in his life and was quite afraid of her for a short while. She turned into one of his favorite teachers. Our daughter just had the same teacher without any of his initial fear because our circle was widened and she saw her brother's experience. As our children encounter different ideas at school, they bring them home and discuss them with us. We're able to regularly talk about respecting other's ideas and beliefs. We are also able to discuss what we believe and how what they learn fits into the circle of their widening world. Our children also have to learn about different teaching styles and how to learn in a variety of ways. They also learn how to interact with a variety of personalities as they are placed in groups for group work. Our daughter had to learn how to work in a group with a child that misbehaved. Our son had to learn how to work in a group with a child that didn't want to do work. These kinds of things will happen in the workforce as our children grow and get jobs, or they may have these experiences in college. These experiences in grade school will give our children experience to know how to handle these types of situations. We believe our children need this diversity and we just don't have ample opportunities within our regular circle to provide that for them. 

1. Spiritual Sense

This is the NUMBER 1 and MOST IMPORTANT reason my husband and I have chosen to put our children in the school system. Every year, we pray about what is right for our children. Should they stay in the public school system, or should we home school them? Every year we have felt that they need to be in public school. This year is hard because our son is entering middle school! Our daughter had an incredible year last year with an incredible teacher, but we also feel she could progress more quickly at home. Every time I've prayed this year about our children going back to school, I have felt peaceful. Our kids have something else they need to learn within the public school system. So for now, I am a public school parent. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Swayed by Swearing


For summertime, we are those crazy parents that set a limit on how much television/screen time our children get. They get 1 1/2 hours a day and can save up if they want for a bigger movie day, or veg out rainy day.

Our 11-year-old son has always been into documentaries, especially dangerous animals. He loves dangerous reptiles. On Netflix, he has watched just about every appropriate documentary available.

He was watching something a couple days ago and I came up behind him to ask him a question. He snapped at me. He can get testy sometimes, but this was a little strange. Later, he was watching another episode and his dad walked in. He snapped at his dad. I asked him what was wrong.

Of course, he said, "Nothing!"

I pointed out that he was only snapping at us when he was watching the show. I told him I wondered if there was something in it that was driving the spirit away. I left it at that and walked away. He has always been very trustworthy on his electronics. Plus, I can always check what he's watching in the netflix viewing log.

He wasn't watching anything that would cause me concern. 

A few hours later, he came to me and said:

"Mom, you know when I snapped at you while I was watching that show?"

Me: "Yes."

K: "Well, it said some cuss words and I was worried that if you heard the cuss words in it you would think it was bad. It was rated G."

M: "Oh. What did you decide to do?"

K: "Well, I figured if I was worried when you came in and didn't want you to see me watching it that I shouldn't watch it. I found another documentary that doesn't swear. I like the ones from the Smithsonian Channel. Those are always really interesting and don't have anything bad in them."

I had a peaceful feeling, like this was why I didn't worry about his choices in movies. I told him that this morning. I felt like he was very responsible in what he chose to watch. 

My kids have heard cuss words, LOTS. They are at school, the park, with friends........Not everyone we hang around keeps their language as clean as we expect our children to keep theirs. In fact, we have watched movies with the kids that have an occasional cuss word. The fact that he could recognize that his choice was making a difference in his spirit was wonderful.

It may seem that this is extreme, to worry about cuss words in movies when that is the norm now. This was NOT ME as a parent telling him to not watch something because of the language. We have taught him to use clean language and try to ignore or request others to use more respectful langauge if needed. HE was the one that figured out what the problem with the movie was that was affecting his thoughts and behavior. 

This kid has so much more understanding than I ever did at his age.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Naked Agony



So, I really like the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. Our oldest son, 11-years-old, loves them too. He recently read "Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary." One day, he came to me:

K: Mom, I was reading that Fablehaven book and I came across a couple words I didn't understand.
Me: Oh good. What did you do?
K: I tried to look them up, but I couldn't figure out what it meant. When I typed them in, inappropriate pictures came up. I closed them out really quick. I'm telling you because I can't get those pictures out of my mind. I've tried all those things we talked about before, singing a hymn, saying a prayer, listening to a song I like. I still can't get them out.
Me: I'm glad you came to me. Remember how we talked about the mind always wanting to think about something?
K: Yeah.
Me: We should do something that keeps your mind busy for a while to keep your thoughts away from those pictures.
K: That's a good idea.
Me: I would love it if you would tell me next time this happens, even if you don't have a problem getting pictures out of your head.
K: I will.
Me: So, what were the words you didn't know?
K: "Humid stench" was one. I know what humid is and stench is smell. I don't know what they mean together. (He showed me in the book.)
Me: Literature sometimes uses different words to describe something in a particular way. Humid stench in the story means a really heavy, sticky smell. It's a smell that surrounds you and you can amost feel it because it's so strong.
K: Okay. I get that now. The other that pulled up inappropriate pictures was "naked agony." I know that naked means no clothes. What's agony?
Me: Agony is a lot of pain. Naked agony would mean that everyone can see your pain. It shows on your face and in the way you walk and talk.
K: Okay. I get it now. Why do authors use language like that?
Me: It's to use really descriptive words. They want you to feel like you're there, so sometimes they use words in a different way than we expect to give you a better feel for the scene in the book.
K: Okay. I really like this book. It's a good one.
Me: I'm glad you like it. If there are more phrases you don't understand, you can ask me if two or three words together don't make sense to you.
K: I will.
Me: Oh, and try to use the dictionary app instead of the internet next time you just need a definition of a word. That might prevent this kind of thing from happening.
K: I didn't think of that. I thought that app was only on the other iPad.

At first, I sarcastically said to my husband, "Thanks to Brandon Mull our son was exposed to pornography." After a day for me to realize that our son was highly resilient and this opportunity gave us a chance to talk about pornography in a real setting, rather than hypothetical, I was grateful. I would rather have him exposed to a quick picture and learn how to deal with it than leave him to experience videos that pull him into addiction later.

We had another conversation later.

Me: I know that pictures of people without clothing can be interesting because we usually keep those parts covered. When you were looking up those phrases from the Fablehaven book and saw those pictures, were you curious and interested in looking?
K: No; I knew what it was, so I just wanted to quick get rid of it.
Me: All right. If you are ever tempted to look, you can let me know. I love you.
K: I love you too.

I didn't realize the significance of this conversation at first because I was assuming I was going to have a conversation about how pornography can be interesting. I was prepared to talk about how pornography can be engaging and tempting. I was surprised at his answer. Then, I was pleased. I remembered the talk by Joy D Jones at the most recent conference entitled, "A Sin-Resistant Generation." She said, "Being sin-resistant doesn’t mean being sinless, but it does imply being continually repentant, vigilant, and valiant. Perhaps being sin-resistant comes as a blessing from repeatedly resisting sin. As James said, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." This is a situation where our son demonstrated that he is learning how to become sin resistant. He's certainly not perfect, but I felt inspired by his determination to do what's right.  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Innocent or Ignorant? Part 4


After a bit of a haitus, I am finally finishing my last point with keeping children innocent or igorant. I had kids with the flu (the real stuff, not the stomach bug). Then, I got sick with it. Then, it was Spring Break. Then, I just got busy. 

Here is another thought in my continuing quest to explain keeping children innocent or ignorant of sexual things. I've discussed the definitions of innocence and ignorance and the idea of "robbing" children of innocence. I've also even included a point about the inadvertant messages children get about their bodies from keeping them "innocent." Now............

4. Does your child use the internet AT ALL (for school, homework, computer games, etc)?

The average age for first exposure to pornography was age 11 in the 2005-2010 research range. It has now decreased to age 9. How old is your child? Did you know that 90% of children ages 8-16 have seen pornography (and that it happens most often when doing research for school work)? That means 9 OUT OF 10 children have seen pornography by age 16, which means ONLY 1 in 10 has not seen pornography (possibly). It's hard to get real statistics about this stuff because some kids won't admit to seeing it. With all the new technology and social media, research also doesn't catch up to "real" time. A study published this year would have been doing the actual surveying or whatnot to get the statistics a couple years ago. This means, I believe, that the percentage of children exposed to pornogrpahy is actually higher. Also, the age could be younger. Hmmmm, scary thought.

You may pat yourself on the back and say, "that's my child, that last 1 out of 10 that's still 'innocent.'" But, I'm not willing to risk it. If my doctor says I have a 1 in 10 chance of living from a disease, I would be pretty scared. Would you get a flu shot if it was only likely to be effective in 10% of the population, 1 in 10? That's ridiculous. I want my children armed with knowledge (did you know that is one of the ways to put on the armor of God, with the girdle of truth? Well, you can't have truth if you don't have knowledge). The prophets and apostles have told us to be prepared. We can't be prepared if we don't know what we're preparing for. I'm preparing my children to understand the proper place for sex in a marital relationship. I'm preparing my children to enter the temple. I'm doing the best teaching I can because I know when my kids are teenagers they need to be prepared for the world. They also need to be prepared for it NOW. Even if you try to hide your kids in a box, something can break that box. I want my kids to live outside the box and learn how to navigate properly, to find the right roads. Then, they are able to freely move and know which roads are safe to travel to escape if needed.

Our children are growing up in a world where homosexual marriages are allowed by law, transgender individuals are fighting for use of any bathroom, and cohabitation is the means to marriage or how you live with your loved one. Not matter how you try to put your child in a box, they will have to live in the world. Even if you homeschool, they will one day be working with someone who may be very different from the values you want for your child. You may think, well, my child will be able to deal with that when they are older, but for now they need to be innocent. That is not innocence; that is ignorance. If you don't start a dialogue young, you are missing your opportunity. Keep them innocent by teaching them the gospel and sexuality's role in it; NOW. Innocence is not a measure of not knowing, but knowing enough to understand their own values and follow them, to shun the world!

So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance
2. Not Robbing Childhood, but Giving Wisdom
3. Not Closing Communication, but Being Accessible
4. Not Taking a Chance, but Developing a Plan

Monday, March 13, 2017

Innocent or Ignorant? Part 3


Here is another thought in my continuing my quest to explain keeping children innocent or ignorant of sexual things. I've discussed the definitions of innocence and ignorance and the idea of "robbing" children of innocence. Now............

3. What messages are you sending about your child's body when you don't talk about sex in an appropriate time frame?

Ummmmmm, who wanted to talk with their parents about sex for the first time after about age 11 or 12?????? It was uncomfortable, like TOTALLY EMBARRASSING! My parents never talked with me about sex and I remember being mortified to ask my mother about anything when I thought I had started my period (I had learned about periods at school in a special health lesson, so I wasn't ignorant about what it was).  I finally went to my older sisters and they helped me. I was 12.

Lack of teaching to keep kids "innocent" is still teaching something. When you don't teach your children about sex, they are learning that it's not okay to talk with you about their body and bodily functions. They also learn that there is something secret and mysterious about sex that makes their parents clam up. This usually leads kids to believe sex is bad. Most things kept "secret" are things that are bad. I want my children to find me totally ACCESSIBLE. I want them to also realize that sex is okay to talk about in the proper context. I want them comfortable enough with talking about sex that they can talk to their future spouse about sex and feel comfortable with their body and all its functions.

Lack of teaching also inadvertently teaches kids that sex is all about babies. By not saying anything, parents are missing opportunities to teach kids about sex's role in a marital relationship as a strengthening and bonding agent. By the time you get to adolescence and try to talk to them about sex, even just talking about sex as a creation process is going to be uncomfortable. You aren't even going to get to the part about relationships. You may think your kids are different and you will be able to talk with them, but, to be honest, they aren't. Even teenagers I know that have great relationships with their parents don't feel comfortable talking about sex with them when the conversations started after age 11 or 12. These parents thought they were keeping their kids innocent too. Most of these kids respond to sex as "eewwwwww gross," rather than respecting it's sacred role in our lives.

One final point here.......talking about sex is not a one time occurrence. To truly establish a habit and pattern of OPEN COMMUNICATION about sex, conversations have to start before sex becomes totally relevant in a child's life (ie the body changes and is ready for sexual experiences.....puberty; also note that puberty readies the body for sexual experiences, but there is still a proper time for it). For example, before you send a child off to kindergarten, you prepare them. They already start learning how to count and recognize letters. They learn patterns and shapes. You want them to attend kindergarten ready for the experience of blending sounds into words and other skills. Now that your child's cognitively ready for reading, the preparation you have done ahead of time in teaching them letters gives them an advantage to understand how to read. You can't skip learning letters and try to teach a child to read by just giving them words. The pieces come together when the time is right. In teaching sexuality, you have to give your child all the pieces, one at a time. Then, when puberty hits, the pieces come together. Children learn pieces about sexuality, like body parts, respect for the body, pregnancy and birth, sex for making babies, sex for pleasure and bonding........and so forth. As an adolescent, when puberty hits, they understand each piece well enough that they are able to comprehend the whole.....desire and how to channel that desire............dating and how to act.............choices about sex and those affect your spirit and future................more salient things than just the pieces. If you wait to teach the pieces until adolescence, understanding about the more salient things will suffer as they try to learn both at the same time. It's like learning letters and learning to read words at the exact same time......pretty difficult.

So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance
2. Not Robbing Childhood, but Giving Wisdom
3. Not Closing Communication, but Being Accessible