Question: I was walking by my daughter’s bedroom and over-heard a conversation between her and a friend. The conversation was about sex and I distinctly heard her say, “This is the year I want to lose my virginity.”
I was shocked! She is 17 and just graduated from high school. Believe it or not, I was a virgin when I married, so premarital sex is totally out of my realm of understanding. I personally believe making love should be between two people who love each other and not just for the heck of it.
My question is, should I talk to her? I wasn’t eavesdropping – I just happened to hear the conversation. And, if I talk to her, what do I say?
~ Distraught Mom
Dear Distraught Mom,
To quote Kahlil Gibran, “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and the daughters of life’s longing for itself.” We tend to think that our children are somehow “a chip off the old block” or a “spitting image” of their parent. Children have their own agenda. Some manifest that earlier than others.
What you believe or what your own past experience is does not play into what is going on in your daughter’s mind when she says such statement.
Seventeen is the time when beginning sexual feelings are hugely important to the developing human being.
Here is a question for you: Have you spoken to her about sexual feelings, desires, hormones and love? You know – the talk that is so hard to have because you may not be comfortable with the subject you may not have the language and you may not be in the practice of talking seriously to your daughter about things of this nature.
You are her mom. Whatever feelings she has when you do talk will have the chance to dissipate over time. She will appreciate your concerns and your openness. She needs to know about how it is – not just sex but something very deep involving her body and her health, both mental and physical.
Touch her arm and ask her to be aware of your energy. Give her a chance to imagine what it would be like to be touched deeply within and how intimate that would be. It is not just a sensation; it is a profound experience that might even change her. She will begin to understand how sacred that is and learn to value it differently. Sex is not something to be afraid of yet one must be aware of the power that it wields.
Sex, in its most holy and exalted form, is about touching and being touched deeply by one who cares for you, is known to you and has proven themselves to be worthy of completely letting down your defenses to connect in the sanctuary of physical and spiritual union. This must be explained to a daughter who does not have the life experience to know this quite yet.
It is okay to tell her you overheard her. You were not eavesdropping. You are talking to her because you care about her inner life and her soul experiences. You are her mom who wants her to be well and happy and live a good life. She is lucky to have you.
Rabbi Janet Bieber
Dear Distraught Mom,
I’m sorry you’re confronted with this scary situation. Can I begin with some perspective framing observations?
1. It’s late in the game for this conversation. Your daughter has been bombarded with this for years. Thank you, Beyonce, et al. How could you not suspect this already anyway?
2. Thank God there’s a difference between what we say and what we mean.
3. These days, there is comfort that this statement by your daughter happened at 17 instead of 13. Our culture so thoroughly bullies girls into becoming sexually active as early as possible.
4. Are you saying your husband was the first guy you ever loved? Really? You were a virgin when you got married (thank God for that – let that be a joy to you forever). You said: “I personally believe making love should be between two people who love each other and not just for the heck of it.” What if your daughter falls in love this year? Should she not make love? What if she loves him, like you said? If she loves him, doesn’t that make it all right? According to the standard you’ve given here, isn’t she supposed to have sex at 17 then?
I say this because it’s important to get this nailed down in your thinking before you talk to your daughter about this, which you must. What do you truly believe about this? Didn’t you have one standard for yourself back then and another for your daughter today? It’s been years since Tina Turner sang, “What’s love got to do with it?” And Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” The sexual revolution is old now. We discovered it didn’t work well. The popular music of our culture is a constant drumbeat to get girls to pull their pants down. Have you ever heard a hit song praising the virtue of waiting till marriage? Of course not. You never will. Virginity is mocked in America today. Is this what you want for your daughter?
So are you saying your daughter should do what you did and wait until she’s married? I do. After years of listening to couples, I know three things:
1) Men and women are at their dumbest when dealing with each other.
2) The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. (This is in the Bible.) It lies to you about love. (Love whispers “Wait.” Hormones shout “Now!”)
3) Moses and Jesus say that a man will leave his father and mother, join his wife and then the two shall be one flesh. Notice the progression? Leave. Join her. Then become one.
This is what you did. This is God’s design. This is what gives a baby two parents, a family.
You better do better than just talking about love. Love her and tell her the truth. Tell her just how single-minded and focused men can be about … Just. One. Thing. Ask her how she feels about STDs or being a single mother. Ask her how she feels about following her mom’s godly example. Ask her how she would feel about being able to give her young husband something she’s never given anyone before.
Our godless culture world preaches that we’re really just animals – mate and move on. God knows better. So do you. Tell her.
Rev. Jon Karn
Light on the Corner Church
Question: My husband just received an offer to work overseas. If he accepts the offer from his firm, which has numerous locations worldwide, his income would double. The problem is we have one pre-teen daughter and a son who will be graduating from high school in 2017 and they don’t want to go. We’ve been trying to save to buy a house and something seems to always come up to dip into our savings. We crunched the numbers and if he accepts the assignment and we stay four years, we’ll return to the states with a hefty down payment on a house.
We’ve received all kinds of opinions from friends – some say don’t go and others say kids are flexible and will make new friends in addition to having an international experience. This is a take it or leave it offer and not one we can wait a year to decide. We seriously don’t know what to do.
~ On-the-Fence Parents
Dear On-the-Fence Parents,
Concerning your offer to work overseas, I believe a few factors should be prayerfully considered, knowing there will be consequences either way you decide. First, the impact of either decision on your children and your life-long relationship with them should be openly discussed, including them in the discussion. However, one should not hold the discussion in a manner that makes the children feel like they are the decisive focus. You could discuss the pros and cons of each decision, letting the children know you will consider their feelings and thoughts, but will make the best decision for the family. You cannot make the decision to stay in a manner that causes the children to feel like they are in charge or you will find them misusing their position in time. They need to be assured your love for them supersedes anything, regardless of what decision you make.
On the other hand, making a decision based on financial progress can be refreshing and bring relief as long as it does not create a harmful riff in the family. While one may struggle economically, it is not the worst challenge that families live with and, depending on your perspective of life and God, this offer is probably not the “one and only” good offer you could receive in life.
Making this decision with much discussion and prayer can help avoid family pain, regardless of the choice you make. Make sure you approach this process with a truly open heart and mind, willing to go with what you discover is the best move for the long haul, economically and relationally.
Pastor Terry Neven
Dear On-the-Fence Parents,
First of all, congratulations on this wonderful opportunity your husband has received! I understand such an offer does not come by easily nor to just anyone. It speaks to his ability and quality of his work performance at what he does.
However, it is unfortunate that your family is caught in such a dilemma with two children who do not want to go.
More than giving you an answer to your inquiry, I would like to give you questions for you to ponder with your family to help navigating into making a decision.
1. What is your family’s priority? Know your priorities. Is it your marriage or buying a house, or education for your children, etc.?
2. What are your long-term and short-term future goals for your family?
3. List pros and cons of your situations.
4. Are there other options? Think creatively. Such as, can you find a way for your son to stay behind to finish up high school?
5. Seek God together as a family and lean on His higher power. Where is God calling your family to be in this season of your lives? Stop and reflect on God’s plan. Regardless of income, or security of a job, unless it truly merges with God’s will, unrest will persist in your lives.
Deciding as a family can be complicated and time consuming. But transitions such as moving overseas can be life-altering change for your kids as much as it can be for an adult. No matter how attractive the opportunity appears nothing is worth more than meeting the inner needs of your family.
With that, I like to make one more comment on the danger of choosing a path based on salary: “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
Rev. Elaine Hisu Cho