By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
The time for the “talk” has arrived. You know the “talk,” the birds and the bees, puberty, and sex, ugh! I’ve taught this topic for years at church, but I’m still caught off guard when my own children begin to transition from a child to an adolescent.
When I started working as a children’s pastor 14 years ago, I didn’t even have kids yet. Then one day, my boss told me I’m going to be teaching 5th grade boys about puberty, body development, and purity. “Whoa, what?” Let’s just say I was not prepared for this topic. While thoughts of looking for another job went through my head, God did something remarkable. As I was praying about this topic and researching everything I could, He reminded me of my life during this transition. I remember being confused, clueless, embarrassed, and misguided. All the anxiety, the fears, worries, and poor choices flooded my mind. My parents never gave me the “talk” and school only provided the basics. I recall most of my education on this topic was from friends and cable TV. I can only imagine how kids today can add the internet to that misguided search for knowledge on this topic.
In that moment, I became aware of the importance of equipping and empowering preteens to embrace their identity in Christ as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence and teen years. I decided that I could overcome my own triggers and taboos about this subject and figure out a way to provide Godly wisdom around body development. I realized that not only are kids changing physically, but their whole way of thinking, feeling, and behaving are changing as well. In a sense, adolescence is a transformation process of a child becoming an adult. I was caught up on the physical aspect, but all aspects of a child change during this process.
Over the next few years, my colleague and I taught group after group of 5th graders. Then, a few years ago, as my oldest entered 5th grade and I realized that I, as a parent, have the most influence and impact on my child. I’ve established a life-long relationship with my children and created an atmosphere where they can be honest, ask questions, and share their struggles. From this epiphany emerged a workshop where parents and their child can learn about this topic together with a facilitator presenting content and fostering discussion through activities. Also, a resource library and workbook were developed so parents had the tools they needed to have the “talk” with their child and work directly with Scripture to reinforce God’s truth, values, and identity.
As a parent, I know how easy it is to be caught off-guard when adolescence occurs in your child. I know how difficult it is to broach this topic. I know what it feels like to be ill equipped and not have any reference point from previous generations. I know the denial of wanting your child to stay a child and to remain naïve to this topic. I know the fears of the unknown and of uncertainty. I know the fear of my child’s faith being squashed by the temptations of this world. I also know the fear of my daughters giving their heart to another man.
Yet, these are all reasons why we should prepare, share, and care. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” As children of God and followers of Christ, we have the weapons we need to fight through temptation, discouragement, and deceptions, but do our children? By opening the door to discuss the “talk,” we can begin training our children to use the same tools we’ve been given. Then, as they traverse those tumultuous adolescent years, they will have you as a confidant, an ally, and an advisor instead of keeping you out of the loop. We also have the opportunity to reinforce their identity in Christ. By reminding our children of God’s love, teaching them how to use God’s Word, and staying connected to Christ, they can embrace the same spiritual weapons that God has given us. Our efforts can create a worthwhile legacy to equip and empower children as they transform in body, thought, emotions, and actions to become an adult.