Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pinching my Paperback

While I was teaching workshops in Utah, my oldest son got a hold of one of my books. He had asked to read my book a couple weeks prior to my leaving. I told him that the book was written for adults. It would be hard for him to understand some of it and some of it he would learn as he got older. He could always come ask me or his dad if he had a question about sexuality.

After I left, he found a copy I was saving for a friend on the top shelf of our tall bookcase. He put it in his backpack and was reading it at school (imagine if the teacher saw that book!). I found out because his backpack tipped over one afternoon when he got home from school and the book fell out. Here is our conversation:

M: Woah, that's my book!
K: Yeah. You weren't supposed to see that.
M: Why is it in your backpack?
K: I wanted to read it.
M: We had this conversation. I told you it was for adults. I'm always ready to answer your questions if you have any.
K: I know. I was just curious.
M: Did you read any of it?
K: Yes. The first chapter.
M: (I'm thankful he only got through the first chapter because that was mostly the temple perspective and not into the teen stuff he's not ready for yet). Did you understand it?
K: Not really.
M: You know, I didn't tell you not to read my book because I wanted to keep information from you. I told you it wasn't for your age group because it has language adults understand. It's written in a way that adults will learn, but kids don't understand that language or the concepts yet. Do you have any questions you want to ask?
K: No.
M: Are you just looking for more information about sex?
K: Yes. I just want to know.
M: Well, let's do this. How about when I go to the library next I can check out some books about sex that are your age level. Then, you can look through them and see which one you like best. Then, we can buy that one for you to reference when you want more information.
K: That sounds great! When are you going to the library next?

To bear my soul.....I was devastated that he had gone behind my back when we've been so open with him. I felt betrayed somehow by my oldest son. I had a moment of doubt, that maybe I've been too open with him. My husband was also feeling heavy with the responsibility we have as parents to teach. We counseled together about what had happened. That evening, as I knelt down to pray, I asked Heavenly Father if I had been too open. I asked if there was another way I should approach sex with our oldest. I felt an incredible amount of peace. As I was praying, I realized that many children my son's age are dealing with this, but their parents don't know about it. They are curious and seeking information, but many parents don't know. I felt the need to be grateful that I had been so open with him and knew about his curiosity so I can appropriately guide him. I remember my little brother gawking at pictures of JCPenney catalog bra models when he was about 9 or 10 years old (our son will be ten in about 6 weeks). My parents didn't know about it, even though his siblings did. He struggled with pornography as a teenager. No adult knew what was going on. Therefore, no adult could guide him. I want to be that guide for my son.

I recently went to the library and brought home lots of books for him to choose from. We let him pick 2; one about sex and babies; one about puberty. He was very excited. He asked his dad to help him pick a puberty book - the "one that would have helped dad when he was a kid" (as K put it). He asked me to help him pick his sex and baby book. It actually turned into an incredible experience. I went from doubt to gratitude. He knows now how to ask for help in looking for more information, even if he doesn't have a specific question. He knows we will help him pick appropriate movies, websites, books, and other media. He knows curiosity is okay and there are appropriate places for him to find good information. He knows we will be calm in the face of a poor choice and help him figure out how to make a better choice.

I knew in the moment of seeing my book slide out of his backpack that my reaction would determine the outcome of some of his openness with me. If I reacted, instead of acted, he probably would have continued seeking information elsewhere because my reaction would have indicated I was not okay with him being curious and finding other information. It would have indicated that only the information I was ready to give him would be what he would get. But, by staying calm, he knows that I understand I won't be the only source of information. We can seek information and we can seek appropriate information.

I believe I was inspired in the moment to realize what his true need was - more information. I realized that he took the book because he didn't know what questions to ask next. He was curious, but didn't have a specific question. It helped me get past the deed - pinching my paperback! He's at an age where he realizes that there is more to sex than he already knows, but doesn't exactly know what questions to ask. Hopefully now, with open parents and a couple books, he will feel his curiosity ebb as he feeds his mind.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Diary of a Wimpy Pal.....

Our oldest son LOVES the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. My husband and I saw the movies a long time ago, but hadn't read the books. When our son got into the books, I thought about the movies again. Greg (the main character) is not a very good friend. I certainly didn't want our son getting the message about how to be a terrible friend. But, he also loves the series and they didn't really have inappropriate things in them (like drugs, sex, and cuss words). So, I determined that I was going to read the books with him (well, after him) and have some conversations about being a good friend. I pick one scenario in each book where Greg is treating his best friend, Rowley, in a demeaning or unkind way (or a situation with his older brother Rodrick). This has turned out to be a fantastic way for us to talk about good friends and how to recognize and be a good friend (WITHOUT dealing with bad friends like this personally). Now I love the series because it gives our son and me opportunities to talk about things I want to discuss, but where I haven't had a lot of teachable moments. I think he's better armed to recognize the kind of people with whom he wants to associate. I am going to post our conversations about each book in the series. If you haven't read the books, I'll give a brief overview of the scenario in the book I chose to start a conversation.

Book One: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Greg and Rowley sign up to be crossing guard helpers for the kindergarten children to safely cross the street. One day, Rowley was not able to help with the kindergarteners. Greg wore Rowley's coat while taking the kids across the street. He teased them by chasing after them with a worm because it had been raining. A neighbor saw him "torturing" the kindergarten children and called the school. She recognized Rowley's coat and the whole incident was blamed on Rowley. Greg recognized the mistake, but decided to let Rowley take the fall for it. Rowley was taken off kindergarten guard duty and punished. It took Rowley a while to figure out what had happened. When he realized Greg had done something, he wanted Greg to make it right. Greg wouldn't do it because he didn't want to lose his privileges and he figured Rowley could just "take one for the team."

Here's my conversation with our son. I had already established which part of the book I was asking him about:
M: How would you feel if you were Rowley and your best friend did this to you?
K: I would be mad.
M: Why would you be mad?
K: Because I wouldn't have done anything wrong, but I would have gotten in trouble because my friend wouldn't tell the truth!
M: Why do you think Rowley is still friends with Greg?
K: Because he doesn't have any other friends.
Me: What would you do if you didn't have any other friends? Would you still be friends with Greg so you could have a friend?
K: No.
Me: What would you do?
K: I would look around in my classes and see if there was another kid that didn't really have anyone to play with and ask him to play at recess.
Me: That's a good idea. Do you think Rowley knows Greg isn't a good friend?
K: Maybe. He does get mad and won't talk to him for a while after that happened.
Me: Why is Rowley such a good friend?
K: He's always kind, even when Greg is mean to him.
Me: So, you think kindness is a good thing to look for in a friend.
K: Yeah.
Me: What else?
K: Well, he's like a little kid and doesn't care about what other kids think; like he got a pink diary in one book and he didn't care that it was pink and the other kids might think he was like a girl. He was just happy.
Me: So, you think being happy and not caring about what others think are good traits to look for in a friend.
K: Yeah.
Me: Good. So, what kind of friend do you think Bob is?
K: I know he's not a great friend. I hope he's not in my class next year so I won't have to tell him I don't really want to be his friend.
Me: I think it's kind of you to consider his feelings, but you can always tell him you don't want to play in a nice way.
K: Well, I kind of did the other day. At recess we were playing a game and another kid wanted to come join our game. Bob said, "No way." I said there was no reason we couldn't add another kid to our game. We had lots of ways he could play. Bob wouldn't play anymore, but we played with the other kid and he was really nice.
Me: How did that make you feel?
K: I was happy that we got to play with the other kid, but I was sad Bob decided he couldn't still play too. It was kind of weird. I don't see why he wouldn't play with just one more kid. It was fun. I thought it worked out.
Me: I'm glad you felt good about the choice you made. I think that was a wise choice too.
K: Yeah. I just hope Bob isn't in my class next year.
Me: What kind of friend do you want to be?
K: I want to be like Rowley.
Me: Why? (Of course he was going to say Rowley; I don't care about the textbook answer, I just want him to think about WHY he gave that answer).
K: He's a great friend. He really cares about Greg. He is always doing nice things for him and sticking up for him. He doesn't care about what other people think and he's just happy all the time.
Me: I think you already do some of those things as a friend. What do you think you can try that's more like Rowley, but you don't already do as a friend?
K: Ummmmmm..........I can probably do more nice things, like help them with their school work or be a good example.
M: Good. I like that.

The goal of this conversation was to get him thinking more consciously about what makes a friend and what kind of friend he wants to be. I didn't encourage him to set any goals to change or push this topic anymore. I just want for him to start thinking about the kind of people he's around and if they are really the kind of people he wants to be around all the time. Eventually this will turn into how friends influence each other and how we can actively seek good friends, not just have friends happen by circumstance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Friend Obsessed With S-E-X: Part 2

A little while ago, I posted a conversation I had with our son on the way to karate (I think there's a theme here with karate). The conversation was about a friend that was obsessed with sex. You can read that conversation here. I didn't add one of the comments he made during my first post because I was focusing on one part of the conversation. There was another point we were able to discuss during the course of the conversation. I often only post part of a conversation because I feel like there's a point I'm trying to make and part of the conversation isn't relevant to that point. Here is the other part of our conversation:

K: Bob is obsessed with sex. He says he wants to have sex with everyone.
Me: Well, what do you think?
K: I don't want to have sex with everyone. I want to wait until I find someone to marry.
Me: I think that's a great idea. Why do you want to wait and only have sex with your wife?
K: It wouldn't be special if I had sex with everybody. I want it to be special.
Me: I think that's a perfect goal. God wants us to be happy in families. Sex is a wonderful part of being a husband or wife. It helps you feel connected to each other in a way no one else will be able to connect with you.
K: Yeah. Plus, I don't want that many girls to see me naked.
Me: (Smiling) I can understand that too........

I don't ever recall having a specific conversation with him about not having sex with lots of people so it can be special. We have definitely been teaching him that sex strengthens the relationship between husband and wife. I was very happy to see that he was learning something that I would like him to know, but I didn't teach it directly to him in that way. Somewhere along the way, he must have had an "aha" moment where the spirit could teach him something more than my husband and I were teaching him. It was relevant to the discussions we've been having, but he made a connection that wasn't taught by us; it was taught by the spirit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Handsomeness vs Homosexuality

Again, driving our 9-year-old to karate, I asked our son about a question he had brought up a few nights ago. That conversation led to this exchange.

K: There's a lot of talk about gay. Like, that's so gay.
Me: Do you remember what gay means?
K: Yeah, it means not cool.
Me: Do you remember what else it means?
K: Yeah, it means a boy likes a boy.
Me: Yes, or a girl likes a girl.
K: Mom, I think Cory (name changed) is handsome. He's going to have a lot of girls like him.
Me: Do you think that might be what gay means?
K: Yeah.
Me: Actually, gay is more like if you are a boy and want to kiss a boy. Or, you are a girl and want to kiss a girl.
K: Eeewww.
Me: Well, some people feel that way. If you think a boy is handsome without wanting to do something like kiss him, then you are just noticing he's nice looking. That doesn't mean you are gay. I notice when girls are beautiful. But, I don't want to spend extra time with them or kiss them. I just appreciate how beautiful they are. God made our bodies to look like his and we can notice how beautiful or handsome God made anyone. That's different from wanting to kiss and marry someone that's a boy.
K: Okay. That makes sense.
Me: God's plan is that our bodies were designed to be boys or girls for a reason. Boys and girls' bodies are made to fit together and be together to form strong, happy families. Some people don't believe the same way we do and we need to be kind and respectful to them. But, we can also live the way we believe by creating a family. If you ever feel like your body is telling you to be one way or another, you can come talk to me about it. I love you.
K: Okay. Thanks.

He seemed relieved. He was probably unsure of what it meant for him to think someone was attractive that was the same sex. This is a HUGE hurdle for children in our modern world because it's becoming "cool" in middle and high school to be homosexual. But, most of them don't really understand what it means as a tween or early teen. Some older teens may even struggle to really understand what it means. This is a time when they are searching for who they are and what they want to become. They worry that just because they are checking someone out that's the same sex to see if they are developing like others of the same sex means they might be homosexual. Or, they notice someone is attractive that's the same sex. These conversations about homosexuality always need to be filled with positive values, like reinforcing the Plan of Salvation. But, they also need to be free of judgment against homosexuality because your child needs to know they can talk to you if it turns out they do have homosexual feelings.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cherished Children

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To combat some of the negativity surrounding bearing children, we decided to tell the children the stories of how we decided to have each of them. I have also started to consciously tell the children how much I love having a family. I admit that it can be hard, but I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. Any job is hard, but there are so many moments of joy. There are some things that I like to keep sacred and personal, so I'm not going to share the details of how we decided it was time to try for each of our children.

I will share a recent experience at my house where I was inspired to point out to my children how wonderful a family is.

My husband is the early morning seminary teacher in our area. Our bonus room is a playroom/television room/seminary room. We have a long table set up for seminary. It's up all the time because seminary is every morning, bright and early. It's Fall Break here, so the kids have a week off school. They've actually been playing really well together. I'm trying to keep them busy with activities so they don't start fighting a lot. My husband is gone to a professional conference and one morning I decided to move the seminary table so we could have more space to play. In the process of moving it, I decided to just put one side down and use it as a slide for our little one's tractors, cars, and trucks. I was sending a truck down I wondered if a person could slide pretty easily. I sat on the top and slid down, much to the amazement of my children. After we had played on the slide for hours - and the next day - I asked:

Me: "So, do you think I would have just put the seminary table down like that and slid on it if I didn't have you kids?"
K (our oldest): "No Way!!!!"
A (our daughter): "I don't think so."
Z-man (just laughs - he was having tons of fun with this)
Me: "You're probably right. Having kids is a lot of fun, even if it's hard sometimes. I get to do things I wouldn't think of otherwise. I'm so grateful to have you kids. You make my life a lot more fun and interesting!"

I do believe this was a moment of inspiration because I wouldn't normally ask my kids to consciously think about the awesomeness of having a family. But, because I've been concerned about the kids not desiring families when they get older, I've been able to feel inspired at different moments to point out the beauty of being part of a family and choosing to have one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tub Talk

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Our two younger children were in the tub yesterday, our 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. They were playing around when I heard our 3-year-old say, "Ewwww, gross!!!!" I poked my head in the door to make sure nothing was totally amiss. Nothing seemed to be problematic, so I asked what was gross. "That!" He was pointing to a generic place on his sister's body, a knee or something. There was no gross sore or anything. I was confused.

Me: "What? What's gross?"
Z-man: "Sister's body!"
Me: "Where?" (I'm still confused).
Sweet Az: "He thinks my body is gross."
Me: "Oh. Z, why do think Az's body is gross?"
Z-man: "It's different!"
Me: "Oh. Who made her body?"
Z-man: "Ummmmmm...."
Me: "Heavenly Father made her body. Would Heavenly Father make your sister a gross body?"
Z-man: He started to nod (he likes being silly), but then his expression changed and he shook his head.
Me: "Is your body gross?"
Z-man: "No way!"
Me: "That's right. Heavenly Father made all of our bodies to look just like him. That makes both of your bodies pretty awesome. He loves you so much he wanted you to be just like him. That included giving you a body like His that can do lots of cool stuff."
Z-man: "Yeah."
Sweet Az: Smiling - love this girl's spirit. "I already know that!"

The whole point of this was to change the spirit of the reverence surrounding his comment about his body (or lack of reverence). I don't think it would have been totally detrimental if I would have left them alone and not addressed this. He would have given it up pretty quick and moved on to playing with the bubbles. But, as I shut the door, the whole spirit of the bathroom had changed from one of mild disgust and disrespect to one of loving reverence. They were happy and playing nicely in the water in both cases, but I left them with a better understanding of the sacredness of their bodies. I could feel the difference in the spirit of the room as I left and I could tell by their expressions that they felt the change too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Friend Obsessed with S-E-X

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Our 9-year-old son wanted me to drive him to karate because he had something on his mind. He wanted to talk. I know I've said before how much I love having a drive with just him because it's a good opportunity for him to open up. Here is the conversation:

K: Mom, Bob (friend's name has been changed) is obsessed with S-E-X.
Me: Really, what makes you say that. You can say the word, too. You don't have to spell it. (He's already starting to feel that discomfort that comes with this age. I'm so glad we've already had some of the "tougher" conversations. Although, they don't feel tough when we're in the moment, discussing them at home. They feel right.)
K: He wants to talk about it all the time.
M: Oh. Does he talk about it a lot at recess (that's the only time our son interacts with this particular friend)?
K: Yeah, and at lunch. We play this baby game (where they pretend to be babies and have a "mom" who takes care of them. I bet they make annoying babies....). One day he started talking about how you make babies (boy am I glad we already had this conversation with him). He said that the penis goes in and out of the girl's part.
M: Well, yes. The penis does kind of rub to encourage the sperm to come out. That is probably what he's talking about because rubbing would be going in and out.
K: Oh. Okay.
Me: How did you feel talking about this with Bob?
K: I didn't like it.
Me: Why not?
K: It felt like the wrong place to talk about it.
Me: Yeah. It's something that's very special. Was Bob talking about it in a special way?
K: No.
Me: I'm glad you asked about it.
K: Yeah, me too.
Me: Has Bob ever showed you pictures or videos about sex?
K: No.
Me: That's good because that wouldn't be appropriate.
K: I know.
Me: What can you do if you're uncomfortable? Do you know that you don't have to keep playing the game or can ask your friends to do something different.
K: Yeah.
Me: That uncomfortable feeling is the Holy Ghost telling you that you need to do something else.
K: Yeah.
Me: Sometimes it's hard to tell your friends you don't feel comfortable, but you can always say you don't want to do something and suggest another game or idea.
K: Yeah. I can try that.

Note: We have talked a lot about choosing good friends. This particular friend moved away this week. K recognized that he wasn't a great friend, but wasn't sure how to end the friendship. He still missed him because he was a friend, but we've talked about other kids in his class that he might be able to make friends with and how to decide who might make a good friend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Let's Find an Answer!

I had a great time last night teaching at Bingham Creek Library. Thanks to those who came! We answered questions like these!! Tonight I'll be teaching in Davis County, Centerville LIbrary at 45 S 400 W Centerville, UT. (6:30-8 pm).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sex is the Sugar

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This summer I was able to go to Girl's Camp with the youth at our church. I was asked to speak about dating and chastity. I love teaching about these topics, but I usually teach adults. I came up with some ideas for the youth. One of the analogies for sex, relationships, and dating used cookies. I had all the ingredients to make cookies, plus homemade chocolate chip cookies as an example of the end product. I started off by asking the girls which they would rather have:

A cookie or plain sugar?

Of course, 99% of the girls chose cookies.


Because cookies are more satisfying! I'll keep the analogy simple here because my point is beyond the analogy.

The analogy was that when we date, we gather all our ingredients for our cookies (or the traits we want in a marital partner). We learn what we like best and what traits go best with our goal (like finding all the ingredients for our favorite cookie). Then, when we're ready for marriage, we mix all the ingredients together and find that one person that creates our most satisfying relationship (the cookie!).

Well, I used sex as the sugar in our cookies. After the presentation one of the adults told me I should have used vanilla as the sex part of our cookie analogy because it smells good, but doesn't taste good. I disagreed.

Here's my point: Sex is the SUGAR!!!!! It does taste good by itself (just like sex feels good, even without a relationship. Our bodies were meant to enjoy this particular type of touch). But, just like cookies are more satisfying when the sugar is mixed with other ingredients, we are more satisfied in our spirit and body when we are able to enjoy sex within the context of a marital union. We can eat sugar all by itself, but most people don't crave sugar; they crave the desserts that are enhanced by sugar. We can have sex all by itself, without a relationship, but most people crave the long lasting relationship that is enhanced by sex.

I fear that often we teach youth that sex is not good, unless it is in a marital relationship (rather than that sex is good when it is used to enhance a marital relationship). Then, they wonder why they are so overcome with cravings. They wonder why they are sexually attracted to another person or fear they are being unrighteous just because they are having feelings of sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is not the sin. Arousing sexual feelings in another person or yourself is the sin. Sex is good, but it is designed to enhance the marital experience. These feelings are GOOD! They just need put on the counter until all the ingredients are in place to make the most wonderful dessert that is sweet AND satisfying. Keep the tone positive for our youth! Sex is the SUGAR!!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How Does it Know?

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I can't imagine telling our oldest everything he's been learning about sex and relationships in one sitting, let alone him remembering it all. I was going to sit the kids down for a pre-school discussion about some age appropriate sex topics. For our daughter, this is going to happen in the next week or so (she's 6 years old, almost 7). It's not so pre-school at this point, but I am waiting for the right moment with her.

Our son (9 years old) has been asking a lot of questions and I realize he already remembers most of the facts about sex and babies. We're moving on to other topics and questions that are more in depth. We've decided that he is asking a lot of questions on his own now. They show his understanding of previous concepts and processes. He's learning line upon line. So, we are not going to have a sit down conversation with him at this point. We feel like he is bringing us moments and we will use those now to guide our discussions. I love having the questions come from him. I know what he's thinking and wondering about when he starts a discussion.

Yesterday, he came to me.

K: "Mom?"
Me: "Yes."
K: "I have a question."
Me: "Okay."
K: "It's one of those private questions."
Me: "Okay. Let me check on your brother and sister and then we'll go to my room."
K: "Okay."

I love that he understands this information is not secret, but private. He knows his sister will be learning some of it soon, but that he is privileged to know more right now, as he is older. He takes this privilege seriously and has not shared the information with his sister, but is allowing our conversations to be between him and us.

Me: "What's your question?"
K: "You know about babies, how they are born?"
Me: "Yes."
K: "Well, how do they know it's time to come out?"
Me: "Are you wondering how babies know it's time to be born?"
K: "No. You know how you pee and you feel like you need to pee. Is that the same way for the sperm to come out? How do they know it's time to come out?"
Me: "Oh. I understand what you are asking now. That's a really good question. Yes, it's a little like when you feel you need to pee. You know how sometimes your penis is soft and small and sometimes it gets a little bigger?"
K: "Yeah."
Me: "Well, when it's soft and small, it's usually used for peeing and your body tells you that you need to go to the bathroom. You can feel that you need to pee. When it's bigger and feels a little different, there's a time when your body knows it's going to let out some sperm. It feels a little different from peeing, but it's kind of the same idea. Your body tells you it's going to happen."
K: "Okay."
I could tell he was ready for more information and in a moment where I could teach him something a little more, so I took the opportunity.
Me: "You know how we talked about how a woman has two little balls that are called ovaries and that's where the eggs live before they come through the tubes into the uterus?"
K: "Yes."
Me: "Well, there's a special place in a boy's body where sperm are made. You have those testicles, or sometimes I call it your sack."
K: "Yes."
Me: "Those sacks make sperm. There are little tubes that take the sperm up from the sack into the penis. Then, they come out when it's time."
K: "Oh! That's neat!"

I can tell he's really understanding all this information. It isn't gross. It's interesting to him. It doesn't make him more interested in participating in sex right now because he doesn't have the drive for it yet, but he is fascinated with the process. The questions he's asking are showing that's he's understanding previous information and is ready to build on what he's already learned. We've been having more discussions in our home about the blessings of having children and why they are important to us too. This is adding part of the relationship component to the physical and biological processes. I feel so empowered being able to be the one to have these conversations with my children. I don't have to fear what the world will teach them because I am the one doing the teaching!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cookies or Sugar?

Which would you rather eat, plain sugar or cookies? I will be posting a related commentary along these lines, but I need responses! Which would you rather eat? WHY? Post to the facebook page - Teaching Children about Sex Using the Temple as Your Guide.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pregnancy Principles for Pre-Teens

As a family, we enjoy watching "Full House." It was a wonderful part of my growing up years, as well as my husband's. We have studiously watched every episode in consecutive order through season 4 as a family. We enjoyed watching Jesse and Becky get married. At the end of season 4, Becky finds out she is pregnant, but is worried about Jesse's response. She is nervous to tell him and the whole family knows she is pregnant, except her new husband. 

A couple weeks after watching this episode, our 9-year-old son approached me in the morning, right before we were getting ready to leave. 

K: "So, if it takes a man and woman to make a baby, how did Jesse not know that Becky was pregnant? They both had to work together to make the baby."
Me: "Why yes, yes you are right. Good question. That will take a little while to explain. Can we talk about that tonight when we have a little more time?"
K: "Sure."

So, I didn't realize I would be teaching him about a female cycle until he was closer to puberty, but that was the only way to honestly answer this question. I was glad we were leaving so I could have time to think about an appropriate way to answer his question. I wanted to answer the question and give him enough information, but not too much. That is a tricky balance. I like to let the kids guide the discussion as much as possible, but I also know I need to be prepared for more than I'm thinking I'm going to share if questions are asked that go beyond the original question. 

M: "I'm ready to answer your question about Jesse and Becky now."
K: "Good." (VERY emphatically)
M: (Laugh - I have to laugh - he really wants to know....I put a balloon, two pens, and two balls on the floor; I grabbed what was easy to work with).  "Do you remember how we talked about how the uterus is like a balloon?" 
K: "Yeah."
M: "So, how is it like a balloon?"
K: "Well, it has an opening. It gets bigger.It can get smaller again, too."
M: "Yes. Those are important similarities. So, what happens during sex, which is how a baby gets started?"
K: "Well, the man puts his penis in the woman's part. I forgot the name."
M: "Vagina."
K: "Yeah."
M: "That's like the opening in the balloon. The penis goes in the vagina, like the opening here. When the sperm is released, it goes into the vagina and uterus."
K: "Okay. I know that."
M: "Well, here are other parts of a woman that help make a baby. The sperm comes from a man's penis. The woman's egg comes from this ball here. It's called an ovary. A woman has two ovaries, that are like little balls. One time a month, an egg leaves the ovary (pointing to the ball) and goes through these tubes (pointing to the pens). These are called Fallopian Tubes. The egg then goes into the uterus. Somewhere along that journey, the egg and sperm meet and a baby can get started. A woman doesn't always know when the egg is going to be released from her ovary."
K: "She doesn't know."
M: "Most women don't really know when it's released  because we can't feel it."
K: "Oh."
M: "Any questions so far?"
K: "What are these called again (pointing to the balls)?"
M: "Ovaries."

K: "Okay. And these (Pointing to the pens)?"
M: "Fallopian Tubes."
K: "Okay. So, how does she know when she's pregnant?"
M: "Well, every month, if the sperm and egg don't meet to make a baby, the uterus gets rid of the stuff it has been saving to make a cushiony and safe place for a baby to grow."

K: "What? The uterus does what?"
M: "Every month the uterus starts preparing to help a baby grow. The sides of it get thicker. If a baby doesn't start to grow, the uterus needs to get rid of the extra stuff it's been saving because it doesn't need it to help a baby grow. Does that make sense?"
K: "Yeah. It actually does."

M: "So, every month if there's not a baby growing, the extra lining comes out of the uterus and it's kind of like bleeding, just a little. That's how a woman knows she's not pregnant."
K: "So, if she doesn't have that stuff come out, she knows she is pregnant."
M: "Well, mostly yes. She goes to the doctor to make sure she's pregnant. That's why Becky was talking to the doctor on the phone. The doctor told her for sure that she was pregnant."
K: "Oh. I understand."
M: "Then, when the baby is born, it comes out the same opening in the vagina."
K: "Yeah. I remember that."
M: "Any more questions?"
K: "Hmmmmm....not right now."
M: "Well, you can always come ask if you think of something."
K: "I know."

I was so happy to hear that he knows I am here if he has questions....and he's been asking a lot of questions.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Indifferent to Inquisitive

Part 2 of the Touchy Club - 

If you didn't read part one, this is what happened:

Hubby walked into the bathroom to find our two youngest with their pants down. Our 6-year-old daughter quickly pulled hers up. The 3-year-old didn't care that he was half naked. Our 9-year-old was in the bathroom with his clothes on. Wow! I have a fantastic hubby that calmly asked what was going on. Our 3-year-old said they had a secret touchy club. My husband talked to them about respect for bodies and why we keep our bodies clothed.
Later, I had separate conversations with each child. I started with our six-year-old (part 1). Here is my conversation with our 9-year-old:

Me: What gave you the idea to start a touchy club?
K: I don't know. 
Me: (I just kept waiting......I knew he had a reason and wasn't ready to tell me yet. I figured if I just waited, he would tell me. 
K: Well, we were bored and didn't have anything to do so we made a secret touchy club.
Me: Do we have secrets in our family?
K: Not really. 
Me: We have surprises, where someone is going to find out soon. We don't have secrets where no one is ever going to find out. 
K: I know. 
Me: Are you interested in what a girl's body looks like?
K: Not really. Well, what are those (pointing to my breasts. I didn't realize it had been so long since I was breastfeeding and that was a regular topic in our house). 
Me: Those are my breasts. Do you remember what they are for? 
K: For feeding babies. 
Me: (At this point I knew he really was interested in a girl's body and he was just not sure it was okay to be interested.) It's okay to be interested in other people's bodies. It's okay to be curious. 
K: Oh. 
Me: Every body is different and girl's bodies are different from boy's bodies. Do you know why they are different? 
K: So we know which one is which? He thought about it for a minute and said, "Oh, so we can have babies!"
Me: Yes, absolutely! Those parts of our bodies that are different from each other are special because one day they will be used to create babies. We keep them sacred by showing reverence for them and covering them. 
K: Okay. 
Me: If you are ever curious about a girl's body, you can ask me or your dad. 
K: Okay. What are those little parts on the outside? 
Me: (I knew he was talking about the female genitalia.) The bumpy part with the crack in the middle?
K: Yes. 
Me: Those are called the labia. 
K: Labia. Oh. 
Me: Any other questions (boy did I get an earful!)?

This simple question turned into a barrage of questions, some had to do with sexuality and the body and others did not. Here is a sample:

Why do people date?
How long do they date before they get married?
How does a baby taste in the uterus?
Do smoking or drinking hurt a baby in the uterus?
How do drugs affect a baby in the uterus?
How long is a baby in the uterus?
How do I know what age of girl I should marry?
What is God's plan if I don't get married?

I'm not going to put all these conversations and answers here because that would be a long post. I can tell you that since he finally decided to be inquisitive, rather than just absorb everything we've said, I ask him a lot more often if he has any questions. He has started asking me a lot of questions and I realize that he is getting ready to understand puberty in more detail. He will be 10 years old in a few months and we will begin those conversations as we feel he is ready and the timing is right.

Touchy Club

We had some good talks recently with our 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. It started like this:

Hubby walked into the bathroom to find our two youngest with their pants down. Our 6-year-old daughter quickly pulled hers up. The 3-year-old didn't care that he was half naked. Our 9-year-old was in the bathroom with his clothes on. Wow! I have a fantastic hubby that calmly asked what was going on. Our 3-year-old said they had a secret touchy club. My husband talked to them about respect for bodies and why we keep our bodies clothed.

Later, I had separate conversations with each child. I started with our six-year-old.
Me: How did you feel about the secret touchy club?
A: I didn't like it.
Me: Do you know why you didn't like it?
A: No. I just didn't like it.
Me: You body is very special and who can look at and touch your body?
A: Me and you and dad and the doctor.
Me: Why is your body special?
A: Because our body is a very special temple for our spirit and certain parts need to stay covered.
Me: Yes. I know you love your big brother. But, you can always say no to something that makes you uncomfortable, even if it's someone you love that asks you to do it.
A: I won't play that game anymore. I don't like it.
Me: Has this game ever happened before?
A: One other time at Anna's house (name changed; this was an adult's house where my husband and I were spending time with our friends and the kids were in another room playing this game. It was only our children. As I had other conversations with our children we figured out what was happening. Our oldest came up with this game and it wasn't anything beyond "playing doctor." I do have to say that I was a little concerned that someone had done something to him to start this game. It turns out, he's just starting to get curious about girls' bodies. This is normal for this age, but he now knows how to appropriately ask about girls' bodies.).
Me: How did you feel about playing the game there?
A: I didn't like it there either.
Me: How do you feel now?
A: I feel a lot better now that you know and I don't want to play it again.
Me: If someone asks you to play it again, what will you do?
A: I will ask to play a different game.
Me: What if they don't want to play a different game?
A: I will play something else.
Me: By yourself?
A: I guess.
Me: It's better that you play by yourself than a game that's inappropriate.
A: Yeah.
Me: You also should tell mom or dad if someone asks you to play a game like that, even if you didn't play.
A: Okay. I feel lots better now.
Me: I'm glad. I love you.

Stay tuned for Part 2.........Talking with the 9-year-old culprit!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Standing Up

Yesterday our daughter was having her dance pictures taken. On the way home we were talking about the friends she has made in her dance class.

Me: You have some new friends you've made this year in your dance class. It looks like you have lots of fun with Sarah (name changed).
A: Yeah. All the girls in my class are nice, except sometimes Ariel
(name changed) tickles me and I tell her I don't like it. She doesn't stop.
Me: What do you do when she doesn't stop?
A: She does it all the time. One time I told the teacher. She had to sit out from some fun stuff.
Me: It's hard to tell the teacher when someone does something that you don't like, especially when it's a friend. I'm glad you stood up for yourself.
A: What does that mean?
Me: Well, it means you tell other people what you do or don't like in a nice, but firm way. You say, "I don't like it when you do that. I need you to stop right now" ( I said this in a firm tone, not yelling, but an "I mean business tone." For those of you that know our daughter, she is so sweet and soft spoken. It's a stretch to get her to use a tone like this.)
A: I don't want to be mean!
Me: If you really don't like something, or someone is hurting you, this is not a mean voice. You are not yelling or saying unkind things. You are telling them that you really mean what you say.
A: Oh.
Me: It's unkind for them to not listen to you when you are telling them you don't like something or something is hurting you.
A: I only told the teacher one time.
Me: I'm glad you told her that one time. I hope you keep trying to let this friend know you don't like it in a firm way. You can always move away and tell her you will stand by her again when she listens to you.
A: Yeah.

Appropriate touch click here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Little Child in a Bikini

This was a question from a friend: "With summer here and friend coming over to swim and play in water. How to go about immodest swim suits. They come down and shift when slipping and sliding and make my boys and myself and husband uncomfortable. I feel like when I state our house rules of no belly showing. And offering tank tops I still make them sad. They are little so are not offended but more maybe ashamed."

My response:

These girls ARE little (knowing the age of my friend's children - probably anywhere from 2-8 years). They are not necessarily choosing their swimsuits. They may pick a bikini or inappropriate swimsuit because these are the choices they are given. They like the fabric or color or style. But, that is because this is what they have seen. They don't know any different. They are not trying to make you uncomfortable.  They are so little that they are not trying to sexually stimulate anyone. You may have house rules for your own children and there are certain things that are absolutely not allowed in the house (like alcohol or something), but these girls are being introduced to the gospel and modesty through your example. If they ever come over in modest clothing (not just a swimsuit), point out what you like about it. Children are much more responsive to positive comments than negative ones. Find what you like about the child as a person. People are WAY more IMPORTANT than clothes, especially at this age. They are more than their clothing and swimsuits. Focus and help your children focus on the good parts of the child's personality. You can still reinforce what you believe about modesty with your own children (because your house rules definitely apply to them and modesty is important), but also realize that they are going to live in a world with half naked pictures of women and men. Humanize people by helping them focus on the character and personality of people, rather than their clothes. Your children are going to be learning how to sift through everything they see. If you only focus on clothing and immodesty and not people, you teach your child to never see past the clothing. This is part of why pornography is so impersonal - the focus is on the body (lack of clothing) and not the person. You never know, these children might be influenced by your example and remember it at a later time in their life. You will want this to be a positive example and feeling for them. So, when the swimsuit slips down, you can politely help them adjust and say, "That's better. Are you having fun?" Children don't need shamed into wearing modest clothing when they don't understand or have the same rules at their house. It's a tough balance to find the right measure of "house rules" and allowing others who don't understand our beliefs to interact with us. I suggest a lot of prayer and gentle kindness. You can even add to your prayers that the children might know what to say to their friends. "I" statements are great. For example, "I like my swimsuit because it covers my chest and belly and private parts." Then, other children don't feel attacked or ashamed when they don't understand what we believe about modesty. They may pick up on the I statements and one day choose to have a more modest swimsuit when give the choice.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Relationship Ratio

I believe that many parents are so worried about teaching their children about sex that they get too focused on the actual act of sexual intercourse. Here is a breakdown of some things children need to learn about sex before they start dating:

1. Pregnancy (how a baby grows, what it does, how it's born, how it got started with sperm and egg)
2. Sexual intercourse (for making babies and marital cohesion)
3. Puberty
4. How to make and be a good friend
5. How to say no to inappropriate touch
6. How to show respect to others, including opposite sex, same sex peers, people from different backgrounds, and so on
6. How to listen
8. How to communicate effectively
9. How to discern what makes a healthy friendship and relationship
10. How to accept or reject dates appropriately
11. How to negotiate kindly and effectively
12. How to compromise
13. How to be empathetic
14. How to be sympathetic
15. How to be selfless
16. How to be supportive
17. How to say "I'm sorry" and mend a wrong, or many wrongs
18. How to look for someone else's strengths and focus on them
19. How to handle a difference of opinion (aka how to fight fair)
20. How to show love
21. How to give and receive service
22. How to give sound advice
23. What the spirit feels like
24. How to follow spiritual promptings

I could go on.......but, you get the picture. There are only three processes we teach children when it comes to sexuality- pregnancy, intercourse, and puberty. EVERYTHING else they need to know is about relationships (because sex is part of a relationship). To be honest, pregnancy is actually fun for me to discuss with my children. They love learning about how a baby grows because they are still growing and understand it so well. It's also a process that most of us find beautiful and rewarding. It's not so hard to talk about...........Puberty, well, going through it is harder than discussing all the changes. All that's left is intercourse. Intercourse......ONE so hard for many parents to discuss that they end up focusing on it too much, or avoiding the topic of sex altogether.

I'll describe it this way. Think of making a cake (or cookies because I'm not a big cake person). If we focus too much on the sugar and add too much, we've made terrible cookies and all you can taste is the sugar (which is good, but not so much by itself). You need the right blend of ingredients to make the cookies delectable. Well, a relationship only focused on sex is a terrible relationship. There is an intricate blend of ingredients to make a relationship work. You need a bit of all the 24 things I've listed, plus some more. You can't take sex out of context because, you know, sugar doesn't really do so well by itself.

So, when you think about teaching children about sex, remember that you are just giving them one ingredient that, when mixed well with everything else, creates a healthy view of sex and relationships.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gym Games

K (our 9-year-old son) was riding in the car with me on the way home from karate (I can't stress how much I love this 20 minute drive because we have the most interesting conversations).

K: Mom, what does gay mean?
M: I look back at him at the stop light and he is playing a game on the iPad that has a word that looks like guy on it. "Do you mean guy?"
K: "No, gay. At school a kid said, 'That is so gay.' What does that mean?"
M: "Oh. It's a slang term, like people say, 'oh my goodness!' But, when people use this term it usually means something uncool or not kind."
K: "Oh."
M: "What was happening when you heard this?"
K: "I'm trying to make a rocket with the physics app."  pause.......... "We were in gym and the teacher was explaining our game. We had to take a ball and pass it over our head to get it from the person in front of us and under our legs to the person behind us. Bob (name has been changed) said, 'That is so gay."
M: "What did the teacher say?"
K: "Nothing."
M: "Oh. Well, it's a not nice way of saying something is not cool. You know how mom and dad love each other in a romantic, marriage-type way?"
K: "Yeah."
M: "Well, there are men that love men in a romantic, marriage-type way. They are called gay. When Bob said, 'That's so gay," he was saying that it was acting like those men to get so close physically to someone else to give the ball to them. You know how mom and dad like to hug and kiss and cuddle close?
K: Yeah.
M: "Well, gay men like to get physically close in a way like mom and dad do. Bob was saying that in a mean way to show the teacher he didn't like the activity you were doing. Some people aren't very nice to gay people, who are men that love men in a romantic, marriage-type way. We believe that men and women should have that romantic, marriage-type love, but that doesn't mean we should be mean to people that think differently. We should respect everyone, even if we believe that a man and woman are designed by God to love and marry. Everyone is able to make their own choices."

Friday, April 24, 2015

School Scenes

Last night hubby was putting our 6-year-old daughter to bed. I had already said my good-nights and moved on to the boy's room for kisses and hugs. When all the good-nights were said, I found my hubby relaxing on the couch reading a book.

H: A (daughter) said that Bob (name is changed) pulled his pants down at school today and showed everyone his butt. Did she tell you that?

M: No, she didn't.

H: She said the teacher didn't know or something. I'm not sure.

M: I'll go talk to her.

M: Hi sweetie. Daddy said that you told him Bob pulled his pants down at school today.

A: Yeah. At lunch he showed everyone his butt. I told my teacher. He bumped down to black (the worst punishment at school - principal's office and a call to parents).

M: I'm so glad you told dad about that.

A: I forgot to tell you. I'm sorry.

M: I'm glad you told dad. You could have told me too, but dad is just as good at helping you as I am. I'm also glad you told your teacher.

A: No one else told her.

M: Well, I'm glad you told her about something inappropriate. When something just bothers us we don't always need to tell. But, when something is inappropriate, it's important to tell. How do you feel?

A: I felt better when I told her. I feel happier now that I told you and dad.

M: I'm glad you feel that way. I love you. Good night.

A: Good night.

My intent in going to talk with her after she had already reported to her dad was to see if an adult knew about the situation or not. My husband told me what she had said, but his conversation with her was very brief and he seemed unsure about whether an adult knew. She must have been telling him that her teacher had not seen what happened. But, she did report it (which I will be sure to verify). As I talked with her, I wanted to just acknowledge that she had done the right thing. When something really matters, it's good to reinforce that type of reporting. I also knew that I didn't really need to call the teacher and let her know what had happened so the parents could be informed.

I have had some friends that have taken their children out of school because of an incident like this. I will give you my thoughts on a situation like this. First of all, this could happen at a friend's house. It is age appropriate behavior (not appropriate behavior, but behavior that can be expected at this age). This child was not doing anything that would have been atypical for his age. Also, the teacher took care of it. She took the matter to the principal and the parents. If the behavior would have been directed at my particular child, I would have expected a phone call. Again, I'm grateful for little moments like this where I can reinforce an idea I've been trying to have with my child. Reporting is incredibly important because it is the greatest tool children have if they are ever molested or abused. I don't really like that this stuff happens, but it's a very mild thing that I can use as a teaching tool.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Telling about Touching

I recently read an incredibly sad article about a 13 year old boy who was abused by his uncle. He had loved this uncle and looked up to him. His uncle took him on a campout in a tent and then began sexually abusing him. The uncle was living with him at the time, helping his mother at home. His uncle threatened to hurt him if he told him mother. So....he never told.....until he was older and found his voice.

Because of this article, I felt I needed to have a chat with our six-year-old daughter (and soon will with our nine-year-old son). Here is our conversation:

M: Hey sweetie (I was tucking her into bed). I know sometimes I don't always listen to you very well. I get busy and it takes a long time for me be able to answer you. Did you know that I want you to still be able to tell me anything?
A: Yeah. I love you.
M: I love you too. If you ever need to tell me something really important where your heart is hurting, you just tell me it's REALLY important (because she always tells me what she needs to say is important).
A: Okay.
M: Has an adult ever told you to keep a secret?
A: Yeah. You did when we bought daddy's birthday present.
M: Right. Did daddy ever find out about it.
A: (Giggles) Yeah, we gave it to him for his birthday.
M: We did. Did you know that secrets are like that? Good secrets are when we are going to tell someone about them at a certain time, like a birthday. Some secrets, when a person doesn't want you to ever tell are not good secrets.
A: I would tell you if someone told me something bad and I shouldn't tell you.
M: What if the secret was something you felt you did? Would you still tell me?
A: Yeah.
M: Even if you feel like you did something bad, I will always love you and want you to tell me. I am here to help you figure out how to make things right. I want to know.
A: That's good because I love you.
M: Remember when we talked about appropriate touch?
A: Yeah. I will tell you if someone touches me inappropriately.
M: Good. What if that person was someone you love?
A: I would still tell.
M: What if it was your grandma or papa or grandpa or grandmommy? Would you still tell?
A: Yes.
M: Good. These people love you and probably wouldn't hurt you, but I want you to know that I want to know if anyone touches you inappropriately.
A: Okay. I wouldn't want to be touched inappropriately. I would tell them to stop.
M: Good. And if they don't stop what do you do?
A: Come find you or daddy as soon as I can and tell you about it.
M: That's a good idea. What if that person told you that if you ever told me or daddy they would hurt you or hurt someone else you love like Z (little brother)?
A: I would still tell you.
M: I know you could feel scared and upset if that ever happened to you, but I want you to know that even if someone tried to threaten to hurt you, daddy and I would be able to find a way to protect you as long as you tell us, even if it's someone we love.
A: I understand. I love you.
M: I love you too!

This was a hard conversation for me because I don't want her to ever think other adults are scary or bad. She didn't seem to be upset at all. She seemed to understand that I was just letting her know that if certain things happen, she can absolutely come to me, no matter what it is. Hopefully, this was because I was praying for the spirit to speak to her. We have to be careful not to make children afraid of people in general, but also give them the tools they need to speak up if necessary. Now, I just need to find an opportunity to talk with our older son about it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pippin Probe: Part 3

After a couple of days, I was feeling like I should answer one of our son's questions about Pippin a little more thoroughly. I didn't feel like the answer we gave him was adequate. We want our children to really understand what it means to follow the spirit. It is absolutely appropriate to go back and respond to a question that you've already answered if you feel you need to clarify something, or add to it. Here is the question we revisited:

K: Yeah. Well, didn't you have a feeling beforehand that the show was going to be bad? (WHAT AN EXCELLENT QUESTION!!!!!)
M&D: You know, we did our research and tried to figure out if it was appropriate. We didn't get a feeling while we were getting the tickets, but we definitely felt like we should leave during the show.

On the way home from church one day, I had my moment to bring it up. We were talking about what the kids learned at church. Our 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were telling stories they learned. Our daughter had talked about baptism. I knew this was a good moment to talk about the Holy Ghost and re-answer our son's question.

M: K and A ( our six year old daughter), remember when we were talking about Pippin and you asked about if we got a feeling before the show that it was bad?

K and A: Yes.

M: Well, I feel like I should give you a better answer. (I should have asked what they remembered from the previous answer, but forgot). When we are baptized we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. That's why you asked the question. You want to know how the Holy Ghost works and Heavenly Father. Well, mom and dad aren't perfect, but we try hard to follow the gospel. We did everything we knew how to do to figure out if the show was appropriate. Heavenly Father knows that. He also knows who we are and what we'll do. Heavenly Father knew that we wouldn't like the show and wouldn't be tempted to do anything bad by seeing it. He allowed us to make a mistake to learn. We learned that we are strong enough to leave an inappropriate show, even when we're with our friends. We also learned that we can have fun and get the spirit back by not allowing a mistake to decide our evening. What are you thinking?

K: Even adults make mistakes. I will try not to go to anything inappropriate.

M: That's great, but if you do you can repent and fix it.

A: I would leave an inappropriate show. I would ask my friends to come with me. If they didn't I would leave anyway and wait for you to come.

M: That would be a wise choice.

To other moms and dads......I wouldn't want anyone to go out and experience this for the sake of having a discussion with a child, but I feel like one of the greatest blessings that came from this experience was the opportunity to have such an incredible teaching moment (many moments and little lessons, really) to share with my children.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pippin in the Evening: Part 2

To continue our conversation with our children about media choices, which started with a bad media choice by my husband and me, we had a Family Home Evening lesson about media.

First, we read a story in the March 2015 issue of the friend called TV Trouble. To read the article, you can click here.

Then, we had a discussion about what to do if our children were faced with a media dilemma. This is not our entire conversation. Our 6-year-old daughter had some wonderful answers, but the extra experiences our son has had recently will probably be more helpful for this post. Our daughter is understanding all the "right" answers (not just lip service, she really seems to understand the gospel with her heart). She just hasn't had many experiences with it yet.

Mom: K (our oldest son), remember when your friend was over and he turned on the cartoon "Total Drama?"
K: Yeah.
M: How did that show make you feel?
K: I wasn't sure how I felt.
M: I wasn't feeling totally comfortable with it, especially since your little brother (3 years old) was watching with you. It didn't seem very appropriate for him. Do you remember what we did?
K: Yeah. We gave him suggestions of others shows we could watch. He wasn't interested in any of them.
M: Then what happened?
K: Well, we went upstairs and looked at our movies and he found a movie we could all watch.
M: Did it all work out?
K: Yeah.

Then, we asked the kids some questions about what else they could do when confronted with a situation that included an inappropriate media choice. Both our 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter had great answers (call home, say a prayer and ask for help, ask the friend to change the channel, ask the friend to do something else, leave if the friend doesn't want to change what they are doing, etc). We felt confident that they knew alternatives to watching something inappropriate. The hard thing is actually doing it. My husband and I talked about Pippin again and how we didn't know how our friends felt, or how they would react when we left the show. But, we let the kids know how wonderful it made us feel afterward. We felt empowered by the spirit.

The lesson seemed to be really effective for all our children.

Then, we got THE QUESTION! Our 9-year-old is trying to decipher what the spirit feels like. He's starting to ask harder questions, like:

K: Mom, I'm confused.
M: Oh, what are you confused about?
K: I don't know when I'm feeling the spirit. How can I tell?
M: That is an excellent question (as I'm trying to think of a good way to answer this amazing question). You know how when you do something good, you feel happy inside?
K: Yeah.
M: When we were volunteering with daddy at the Hospice place yesterday, how did that make you feel?
K: Good. It was fun.
M: It was fun, but it was also good for your spirit. It made us all really happy to be helping others. That's the spirit telling you that you've done something good. Have you ever been around anything that made you feel uncomfortable?
K: Yeah, when kids at school say bad words.
M: Those kinds of feelings are when the spirit leaves. It will take a lot of practice and you'll have to keep listening and trying, but you will learn how to be able to tell when the spirit is helping you feel something and when it is leaving because something is not appropriate.
K: Oh, okay.
M: It's okay that you don't have it all figured out now. Just pay attention to how you feel when you are at home, on the bus, at school, with friends. You will be able to tell what you feel when the spirit is with you.
K: Okay. I can do that.
M: Does that help you? Are you still confused?
K: That helps. Thanks, Mom.

During the course of the conversation, I could tell that he was relieved to know that he didn't have to have it all figured out right now. He seemed worried that he wasn't listening or something because he can't always tell when he has the spirit with him and when he doesn't. It appeared to comfort him that it's okay for him to still be figuring things out.......And, let's be honest......I'm still learning this as well..........

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pippin the.......Pornographic Musical?!?!?!?! Part 1

My husband and I recently went to a broadway show called Pippin the Musical. Before we bought our tickets, we tried to find reviews about the show. All the reviews raved about how great it was. The Pippin website said,"Pippin may be inappropriate for children 8 and under." We had a hard time finding the storyline, but the trailer and pictures gave every indication it was a show about a circus. With it being appropriate for our older children, according to the website, we decided it should be appropriate for us. Well........the show did have circus tricks. However, the storyline was overly sexual. There were innumerable sexual innuendos, which made us uncomfortable. The second act (from the booklet they give you at the musical, which we couldn't find online) seemed like it might be more tame than the first. So, we began the second act. We were shocked to see that it was worse than the first act. When they had a bedroom scene on stage, we left. We should have left sooner. I couldn't believe broadway could be so pornographic. There were kids at the show.

The next day our 9-year-old son, who knew how excited we were to go on a nice date, asked about the show. Here is our conversation:

K: Did you have fun last night? How was the show?
M&D: Well, we had fun on our date with our friends, but the show was very inappropriate. It had a lot of sexual stuff in it that made us uncomfortable. We ended up walking out.
K: Really?
M&D: Yeah, it was hard to get up and leave because we didn't know how our friends were feeling and what they wanted to do, but we felt better when we left. The show was just really inappropriate.
K: That's disappointing.
M&D: It was very disappointing, but we still had fun with our friends. We didn't let it ruin our night. We got to talk and have a good time.
K: Did they leave too?
M&D: Well, some of them did, but the others stayed in because they were afraid of walking that close to the balcony in the dark (one of them had surgery on her legs the day before and was unsteady on her feet. She was afraid she wouldn't be able to walk steadily in the dark. We were on the first row on the balcony and it was a long way down). She said she would have left if she felt she could walk safely.
K: That's good.
M&D: Yeah, did you know that you can leave something anytime if makes you uncomfortable. We paid a lot of money to see that show, but we didn't let that or our friends stop us from leaving when we felt like we needed to go.
K: Yeah. Well, didn't you have a feeling beforehand that the show was going to be bad? (WHAT AN EXCELLENT QUESTION!!!!!)
M&D: You know, we did our research and tried to figure out if it was appropriate. We didn't get a feeling while we were getting the tickets, but we definitely felt like we should leave during the show.

We felt like this was such a good experience for us (the conversation), that we decided to take it further and have a family home evening lesson using an article in the Friend this month. I am going to put a series of posts related to this musical we used to teach our children. This was Part 1........

Friday, March 20, 2015

Experience the Electronics

I finally had the conversation with our oldest (9-year-old) son about images and the power they have on our brain. Hubby and I have been preparing for this conversation for about two months. This will definitely be a series of conversations, but here is our first one. I need to start with a sub-story that I refer our son to during our conversation.

A few months ago our son read a superhero comic book. There was a cuss word in it. One night as he was going to bed he called me to his side.

K: "Mom, I can't get a bad word out of my head. I've tried and it won't go away."
M: "Oh, where did the word come from?"
K: "It was in my comic book. It didn't even need to be there, but I saw it and can't get it out of my head."
M: "Have you tried saying a prayer?"
K: "Yes, and I still can't get it out of my head. I've tried thinking of other things, but I can't.
M: "Have you tried singing a Primary song in your head? You love that Gethsemane song. You could try that one."
K: "Okay."

Now, on to our conversation about the power of images......

First of all, our son recently acquired a DSi. His friend is moving and has three, so he gave one to our son. His friend's version has internet, but the one he received from his friend does not have internet access. Our son knows the rules and that he may be able to have an electronic devise with internet when he turns 12, if he completes his Duty to God requirements.

K: "Mom, B's (his friend) DS is really cool because it has internet. Mine is still cool, but it doesn't have internet."

This was my big opening. I've been waiting for a moment like this to discuss this with him. His father has been waiting too, but this was the right moment.

M: "That would be neat to have the internet. Do you know why me and your dad don't want you to have internet on an electronic devise yet?"
K: "So I don't see bad stuff."
M: "Yes, that is part of it. We also want to make sure you know how to properly deal with bad stuff if you do come across it."
K: "Like turning off the computer and telling you if I see something that's not appropriate."
M: "Absolutely. Also, we want you to be able to know how to get rid of images, or pictures, in your mind that you may see on the internet. Do you remember when you read that comic book with the swear word?"
K: "Yeah."
M: "You couldn't get the word out of your mind."
K: "Yeah."
M: "Well, pictures are that way. Once you see a picture, your brain remembers it. It can be hard to get that picture out of your mind, like the swear word."
K: "Oh, that makes sense."
M: "What would you do if you couldn't get a picture out of your head?"
K: "Ummmmmm, I would tell you."
M: "It's really good for me to know if something like that is happening, but what if I wasn't there?"
K: "Ummmm, I would try to think of something else."
M: "That's good. To get rid of your brain thinking about one thing, you should fill it with something else. What if it's hard to think of something else. Remember, it was hard to get rid of that swear word and think of something else."
K: "I could say a prayer."
M: "Great. Heavenly Father definitely wants to help you get rid of inappropriate images. What else?"
K: "I could sing a Primary song."
M: "That's great too. It's good to try a couple different things because if the first thing doesn't work you can try something else. Hey buddy, did you know that you should tell me if you saw inappropriate pictures, even if you were looking for them? I love you and want to help you. If you were ever interested in something and looked it up, even if it was inappropriate I want to be able to talk to you about it."
K: "Oh, yeah, I guess."
M: "What do you do if a friend wants you to look at something inappropriate?"
K: "Not look."
M: "But, what if you don't know it's going to be inappropriate until you begin to see it?"
K: "Tell him to turn it off."
M: "That's a good start. You can always walk away and do something else too if he doesn't want to turn it off."

I could tell he was hitting his max information, so I stopped there. I wanted to keep the conversation going as long as I could because I know we will have to repeat some information and our next conversation will be going into more detail about peer pressure. I'm also going to look for some opportunities to point out good spiritual feelings and moments when the spirit is absent.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It Grows!

Our little boy that just turned 3 years old. He's been potty training for the last little while, so is in various stages of undress a lot. He has taken an interest in his penis because it has been so exposed lately. This is absolutely normal and nothing to be concerned about. In the last week we have heard various comments, such as, 

"Daddy's penis is big." 
My response, "Daddy is bigger than you, so he has bigger hands, feet, and penis." That totally satisfied him. 

Last night he said, "My penis gets bigger when I touch it." My response, "Yes, it does. Sometimes it's small and sometimes it's big." 

He's not overly concerned or fascinated with his penis and leaves it alone most of the time when I respond calmly like this. It doesn't draw special attention to it, but I do have to remind our other children to take their laughing elsewhere. Then, remind them later that the body is sacred and it's not appropriate to laugh at a sincere comment from their little brother.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Marry Miley?

I had a conversation in the car about relationships with our 9-year-old. Bonus! I usually get to have these conversations with our 6-year-old daughter.

K: Why would anyone want to marry Miley Cyrus? She's not cute.
M: Well, she has lots of money and she's famous. That might be what some people look for in a wife...........What do you want in the person you marry? I know you want someone you think is cute, but what else?
K: Well, smart.
M: That's a good trait, intelligent. What else?
K: Someone who is kind.
M: That's a really good trait too. Do you think daddy is smart and nice?
K: Yeah. Well, nice sometimes.
M: (Smile). Those were two things I wanted when I married someone too, kind and smart. I also wanted someone who was a worthy priesthood holder. Daddy has a good testimony and I wanted that in a husband.
K: Yeah. That's good too.
M: I wanted someone who could take me to the temple.
K: Oh course!

Now, we've been working on kindness toward women and especially his sister. Having this in mind, I continued the conversation. He was a captive audience because he had asked the question first and we were stuck in the car on the way home from karate.

M: Do you think mommy is smart?
K: Yeah.
M: Do you think mommy is nice?
K: Well, sometimes.
M: (Smile) I know. I have to give you consequences sometimes. That's not very fun. What about A (sister); is she smart? Is she smart for a 6-year-old (he likes to base everyone on his age group)?
K: I don't know. I don't know what 6-year-olds know.
M: She is pretty smart for her age. Is she nice?
K: Yeah.
M: If A is smart and nice, do you think you should be treating her like you would treat your future wife?
K: But I can't marry her.
M: You aren't going to marry her, but you should treat her like you would your wife. Someday someone else is going to marry her and you'll want him to treat her with kindness and respect. You can help her learn what it feels like to be treated right by being a kind brother. Also, it's good practice for you. You can practice treating other women with respect and then you will already be that way for your future wife.

He had no idea this was coming! But, this is the first time I feel like some of what we've been trying to teach him actually was processed in his brain. I love my alone time in the car with him. We have some really good conversations.