Society & Culture:Relationships
Episode 12 - Topics to Cover for Ages 6-10
In this episode, Dr. Gilbert continues to discuss the micro-conversations we should have with our children when they are between 6-10 years old.
Dating and Boyfriends / Girlfriends — Be intentional about developing a frame work of thinking about dating and relationships that they can own as they mature.
What is the purpose of dating?
What does boyfriend / girlfriend mean?
What is attraction, desire, and lust?
How do they manage these weird feelings?
Prepare them to say “NO.”
Prepare them to question a culture that deems them broken or same-sex attracted if they do not lose their virginity in their teens.
Inspire them with a desire for a marriage that will go the distance.
More Descriptive Anatomy and Human Reproduction Lesson. This is the time that you need to be sure your child has a good grasp of basic anatomy. They need to understand the human reproductive system so that they know the effect of bringing a penis and vagina together.They need to know the “why’s” and “why nots” of sexual activities before their hormones are raging and their decision making becomes further impaired.
Help them become protectors and leaders of a healthy sexual ethic. As they live amongst peers that have a very different sexual ethic, my hope is that our children would treat others respectfully and show themselves to be people of honor. This is a huge win!
Teach your daughters — and sons — about menstruation. Your daughter especially needs to know what to expect and what products are available to her. Your sons need to know that this is NOT something to tease a girl about and how to react when a young female peer has a clothing issue during their period.
Help them know how to process visual stimulation that is arousing by normalizing it. Explain to them that their thoughts and feelings should NEVER be their guide — this is usually unreliable data.
The “M” Word — This is a real issue. My first word of advice is NOT to be a parent that fuels shame. Be a redemptive voice. Almost all boys — and even many girls — will engage in this behavior. Be ahead of the curve and prepared by talking about it. It is okay to express your feelings and opinions, but be careful to refrain from pure judgment. This subject is covered in greater detail in chapter eight of I Can't Say That!.
Help your children to set boundaries. The family system invites this activity continually. Conflicts between siblings and parents require the implementation of boundaries. However, we as parents often do not model appropriate boundaries. For some of us, we deem setting a boundary as unloving, when it is quite the opposite. When this activity is simply operating in the background of our minds — like an operating system — it is less helpful.
The goal is to bring this out into the open via dialogue. Express where appropriate boundaries are with different individuals. You will most likely see improvements in your own boundaries at home and elsewhere. Discuss options and make decisions about what to do when boundaries are crossed.
It is not too early to talk to them about pornography. We discuss pornography at the dinner table and it comes up almost every day in some form or fashion. It is a normal point of conversation. We want to have talked about this so much that they have an almost automatic reaction when the door to porn opens so that they are able to close it. Expose it. Talk about it.
Help your son and daughter see for themselves why this is damaging to their future selves. You cannot protect them for long. You can try things like filters and avoiding all screens, but this only protects them if they are at home on your monitored devices and networks.
Pornography works. It sucks us in because we are naturally and healthily drawn to nudity and beauty. Create an ethic and ETHOS that is redemptive and not punitive.
Remember that the door to pornography, once opened, can rarely be shut permanently. I’ve often wondered why God chooses NOT to remove this temptation ten or twenty years down the road and have come to believe that it serves as a reminder of our humanity and need for a Savior. We cannot do this alone.
If your son or daughter has opened this door — and the average age is between six and ten — be a listening ear and a place of love, compassion, hope, and care. DO NOT punish or shame them for their behavior. Please do not do that. The voice of the enemy is already at work in your child’s heart telling them that they are dirty, broken, irredeemable—that no one will be able to look past this. That will need to be addressed separately. Prepare them for the REAL world they will face today and in ten years so that they can leave your protective nest and soar.
Sexual Identity — Many children between the ages of six and ten are beginning to question their gender identity because they hear what others are saying about them and they believe what they hear. We must be attentive as these questions tend to be internally processed and traumatic.
You can help them by painting a realistic picture of masculinity and femininity that does not tie activities to gender. Help them see that they are their biological sex, and this isn’t tied to the activities they enjoy or personality traits. The longer they linger on questions of identify the more they will question everything.
For some children, this confusion often centers on attraction to the same sex and they are wondering what they are supposed to do with these feelings. For others, it is a personality quirk. This may become a battle for some as they get older and wonder why they have never had a date or even wanted to go out with someone of the opposite sex. This is real.
Many, many, many preteens and teens will question their sexual identity. Most will settle it quietly and without worry or concern. Some will struggle. Many will be severely affected by these emotions and thoughts.
Help them take these out of the mind — out of the dark — and process them out loud. Many will not want to talk to their parents about this either. This is a critical place to bring in a trusted mentor and friend with a similar biblical sexual ethic who is willing to have these hard conversations on your behalf and offer your child guidance.
Several books have been written that can be of help to youth pastors and teens as they navigate these troubled waters. Do not do this alone. Seek counseling from a trusted, trained Christian counselor. Become knowledgeable by reading the work of those committed to a biblical sexual ethic, or attending conferences or lectures. I highly recommend resources from Godly examples such as Mark Yarhouse, Preston Sprinkle, and Wesley Hill to families facing these issues.
Love them with the long game in sight. We want to raise them in the way they should go, but for some, we may not see the fruit today or in the next twenty years. This is a sobering reality.
Encourage them to always seek God’s will for themselves by knowing His word. Help them to separate fact from feelings and identify thoughts that are intrusive so that they can consciously and intentionally decide for themselves. I know this sounds like we are talking about a twenty-year-old, but I have had conversations with parents whose children are between the ages of six and ten and they are questioning themselves and their attractions and desires at this tender age. It happens all too often. Prepare yourselves (and them) for this possibility.
Dignity / Modesty — We are teaching our sons and daughters about modesty and dignity every day and we can be intentional as we make wise decisions. Teach your sons and daughters to honor others and themselves — this is dignity. Help your children grow up aware of the impact of ALL their decisions.
Teach your sons to be respectful regardless of what a girl is wearing. Teach them that they are fully responsible for their actions and thoughts.
Teach your daughters when they are young to think ahead. Teach them to honor their brothers with their choice of clothing. This is not popular, yet still so important. We choose how we decide to raise our sons and daughters regarding dignity and modesty, and how those are defined.
Abuse / Trauma — Many parents — more than we realize — must deal with abuse and trauma in their children’s lives. The best parents, even those that are aware and involved, will miss something. Harm comes in all shapes and sizes.
How do we prepare our children? You do this by giving them a voice. By giving them tools.We also give them the awareness that even trusted people may not always do good things. This is a hard concept to grasp at this age. Prepare them with skills they need to fight or flee, so that they will not freeze when faced with danger. Run through drills.
It is key that you do NOT put too much emphasis on what your children say, since they will often tell us what we want to hear. However, we want to capture their hearts as that is what will ultimately guide behavior and the choices they make.
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