Thursday, March 9, 2017
Innocent or Ignorant? Part 1
Dear family and friends,
I have often posted material that is based on my experiences with my children. I mostly post dialogues about conversations regarding sexual topics. Usually, my intent as the author of this blog is to inform through personal experience. Sometimes, though, I feel compelled to do something more....This post is about something more.
I love talking about sex with other adults (in the teaching sense, how we talk to our children about sex and what other parents are dealing with in their children's experiences with exposure to sexual topics). It it fascinating for me to see how parents respond to their children's experiences and exposures and what these parental responses might be teaching their child.
It seems that when I am in a group setting, teaching a workshop or talking with friends, I have often come across a phrase that causes me some concern. The phrase is something similar to, "I want to keep my children innocent from sexual things," or "My kids are innocent." On the surface, this appears like a really good desire. I understand the premise behind this desire for innocence. Many parents, especially religious parents, want their children to just experience childhood and to not be introduced to adult things until they are adult. These parents also want their children to remain untainted by worldly influences. Many parents also feel they are burdening their children with adult responsibility if they talk with their children about sex. They feel they are "robbing" their children of their innocence if they talk with them about sex. I understand these reasons for wanting to keep children "innocent." I've also met a few parents that are still assuming their children have not encountered inappropriate sexual stuff, or that their children don't understand what's going on in an inappropriate situation and that protects them. BUT, you knew there was a but, here are a few questions to consider:
1. What is innocence?
First, I think we often misuse the term innocence. We assume that innocent means our children DON'T KNOW about something. They don't know about sex, therefore they are innocent. However, innocent means "freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil" (merriam-webster). Is sex evil? You better answer NO! Knowledge of sex is NOT being acquainted with evil. Sexual SIN is what robs us of our innocence, not KNOWLEDGE of sex. Knowledge is actually being acquainted with God. He is the one who created our bodies and spirits. He is the one who commanded us to have sex in a marriage for procreation and pleasure, the greatest connection with our spouse. Children are absolutely capable of knowing about sex and continuing in innocence. I'll give you an example; our son has complete knowledge of proper names of body parts. He has respect for these parts because of the way we have taught him. A couple years ago, kids at school were teasing about their penises and using made-up names that were inappropriate and unfamiliar to our son. He asked me about these names. He was INNOCENT because he wasn't engaged in a sin by disrespecting his sacred genitals or acquainted with the evil of disrespect. AND, he still had KNOWLEDGE about body parts and sexuality that allowed him to truly understand why we don't talk that way about our body parts. Read about the whole story here.
On the other hand, ignorance means lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. The scriptures clearly state in D&C 131:6, "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." How can a child properly combat the world and worldly influences if he or she doesn't even have knowledge of godly principles? They are actually MORE open to losing innocence because if parents aren't acquainting them with godly principles of sexuality, then the world can acquaint them with worldly principles of sexuality. Assuming your child is not going to hear things or wonder about what they hear because they are "innocent" is leaving them WIDE OPEN for the world to fill them with tainted and sinful views. Children crave knowledge and are learning every day. Are you filling them with the proper knowledge to keep them truly innocent, rather than encouraging ignorance?
Another example: Our children know that smoking is harmful to their body. We have been teaching them this since they were little. First, we were just teaching them that smoking hurts your body. Now they are old enough to talk about addiction. Are our children not innocent anymore because they know about smoking and what it does to a body? Absolutely NOT! They are innocent because they haven't been tainted by the sin of smoking. In fact, this KNOWLEDGE about smoking is helping them STAY INNOCENT! This is exactly how teaching children about sexuality keeps them innocent. They learn proper names of body parts, then add more information as they grow older (seriously, by 8 for intercourse). This knowledge will help them STAY INNOCENT as they encounter pornography and homosexuality and other sexuality topics at home/school/work/play/internet/with friends...........
Just a note: I hate using the smoking analogy because unlike smoking, sex is something good, but that is the best illustration for staying innocent.
So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance
Stay tuned for part 2.....