Parenting is a minefield. You’re walking along a nice path, enjoying the day and thinking everything is going pretty smoothly. Then, BOOM!! Suddenly you’re thrown into a mass of confusion, and what-the-hecks, and what-do-I-do-nows. One minute you feel like you’re doing this whole mom thing pretty well, and then your nine year old daughter asks you on the way home from church what the right age is to start kissing boys.
Why is she asking that? What has she been watching? What has she been reading? What has she heard, or seen or been thinking about? I’m not ready to have “the talk” with her. I have all of these books about it in my Amazon cart, but I haven’t ordered them yet! She’s only NINE, for goodness sake! I thought I had plenty of time.
After a mutual look of panic between me and her father, I decided to suck it up and step into the breach.
Me: Why do you ask?
Layla: I heard somewhere that it’s 13. Is it true you’re not supposed to kiss boys until you’re 13?
Me: Here’s the thing about kissing. You know how when you’re with your best friend and you share pieces of yourself with her? You share your secrets and your feelings and the things that are important to you?
Me: Well, when you do that, when you care about someone, you give them a piece of yourself. Kissing is like that. When you kiss a boy, you’re giving a piece of yourself to him. You care about him enough to share that piece, a piece that you won’t get back. Just like choosing good friends – friends that can be trusted to take care of the pieces of you – kissing should only be with a boy that you can trust to take care of a piece of you.
Layla: Ok, I understand that.
Me: Well if you think about it, some day when you get married, you’ll be giving yourself to your husband, right? He’ll be your best friend, the one that you give all your kisses and all of your pieces to. If you’ve given away a lot of pieces to different boys along the way, you’ll have less to give to your husband.
I don’t know if that was the right answer, but it seemed to satisfy her for the moment. There’s so much out there these days. So many books, movies, shows and opinions. There are magazines, music videos, pictures and gossip among friends. I’ve realized that I need to be on my A-game. I can’t just assume that she won’t start thinking about things like this now just because I didn’t at her age. It’s true that kissing is relatively innocent, but it sure does lead to things that are far less innocent. The world has changed, and our kids are exposed to so much stuff that I had no clue about when I was growing up. If I want to make sure my children get the right answers, I need to be prepared now to give those answers to them. I suppose I’ll be emptying that Amazon cart tonight.
Update: I talked to a good friend about this not long ago. She mentioned that as she grew up in the church, she experienced a lot of guilt and condemnation around things having to do with intimacy and boys. I would say, in response to that, that it’s important to make sure you have a relationship of grace with your children, and that you emphasize the amazing gift of grace that God gives us. I wouldn’t want my daughter to think that if she kisses a boy too young or even if she kisses one not her husband that she is then unclean or unforgivable. I don’t believe that is true at all. You can’t read the gospel and believe that. However, I do think we need to be up front and honest about the sacredness of true intimacy. We need to tell our children, even from a young age, that it’s important to give meaningful thought and consideration about the people that we allow that close to our lives – whether it’s a friend, mentor or boyfriend.