Prior to the summer between fourth and fifth grade, boys were just playmates. I never thought of them as different from girls, except that they were a better competitor in the outdoor sports available to us in our Eastside neighborhood. The children in my age group for play, other than my own sisters, were boys, so to play outside meant to play what they wanted to play. Since I loved the outdoors and sports, there was not a problem. But, as my own body began to change from the little girl into the pre-adolescent, I noticed that it mattered to me what a boy thought of me. I did not really want to beat him at football or hit the baseball farther than he did. I wanted him to succeed and to do even better than I did sometimes, depending on just which boy. The physical and emotional attraction between the girls and the boys when I was growing up had nothing whatsoever to do with sexual experiences. It didn’t even cross our minds to go to bed with another fifth grader! When a sixteen-year-old girl “got in trouble” everyone was shocked that she was “doing that”, as much as that she was going to have a baby. It just was not the norm.
Instead, the girls and boys of late grade school and middle school age were just interested in getting to know the members of the other gender. It was meaningful for each side to be noticed by the other but there was, certainly, no expectations of sexual performance in the immediate future. It was a very relaxed time compared with today’s expectations. Our clothing was modest because that was what was comfortable; the styles matched our ages, usually. The skirt lengths started rising and there were some parental conflicts as a result but plunging necklines were just not a part of middle school wardrobes. It was all part of that transition process God had designed for us.
Who can forget the very first time a boy took hold of your hand? He was so nervous that he probably had to work up the courage for touching your hand during the entire time of chowing down on those burgers and fries. In my own case, on the way home, his hand just slightly slid past mine and the next time it slid, it didn’t pass by but slipped into mine. Neither of us said a word but looked straight ahead as though to speak or look at each other might make the moment even more awkward than this one already was!
The saying “Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed” was a reality for many girls and boys. In fact, it was not uncommon for the event of the sixteenth birthday to be that very day of the first kiss from the current Mr. Wonderful. How different things are for today’s teens and tweens!
God intended the maturing process to be one of joyful exploration of our own changing body and emotions but a much slower transition than is currently the mode. Today’s media and promotional hype of all kinds has set that transition process on fast forward and our kids are suffering as a result. Kids don’t get a chance to know their own bodies before someone else is pressuring them to let their body be explored. The media makes the kids think that this is the norm and they are uncool if they don’t want to have sex. They lie and tell them that everyone is doing it by the time they are twelve and to not be involved in sexual relationships means that no one cares about you.
The cold, hard fact is this: Everyone is not doing it! Two days ago I listened to a pediatric report that just came out on adolescent sexual practices. Whatever the media, or some of the kids, are saying, the fact is that not everyone is doing it. Only one-third of the high school kids are involved in sexual relationship or have ever been. That means that the majority, two-thirds, has not and are not involved in sexual relationships! The stats are even lower for middle school kids but that isn’t what they think. More than one youth pastor has told us that his middle school kids refuse to sign the Focus on the Family purity vow because their friends tell them that they will not be popular if they don’t have sex in middle school and high school. One thirteen-year-old erased her name from the Purity Vow card she had already signed because no one else in her youth group at church had signed it. Another girl of the same age lied to her classmates when they asked her if she was having sex because she didn’t want them to think she was un-cool. The fact is that she was a Christian and just didn’t think it was the right thing to do but if everyone else was doing it… she would just not do it but lie about her abstinence.
I just want to climb on the tallest soap box and yell as loud as I can to every child in school: Everyone is not doing it; they are lying to you! How I long for the children of the present generation to know how much God loves them and understands the pressures they are under. He can help them resist these lies and stay healthy, physically and emotionally. God can help them grow up and have both sex and babies at the God-ordained time and in the God-ordained relationship that will care for the new life they will bring into this world. They can wait until they are grown up; they don’t have to give away their childhood!
****EOD Transitions: Attire, Questions and Answers… Coming Tomorrow