My sons turned 8 and 12 recently. At these crucial stages, their friends and the internet expose them to so many new things. It is an age of curiosity.
One of my sons is in his 3rd grade. He talks about his friends sending love notes to their girlfriends during class. When I was in the 3rd grade, I knew I was into mischief. But girls were not a topic we discussed among friends.
When my 12-year-old son went back to school after the pandemic, his friends had a new “colourful” vocabulary. He was at home those 2 years and the only “curse word” he heard was when his sister called him a “silly goat.” Sometimes, “dumb goat.”
The rate at which kids are exposed to “information garbage” makes every parent shudder. I have no idea how to navigate all the complexities of raising boys but I was determined to be intentional.
This year, I decided to take each of my boys out for an overnight stay at a hotel for their birthdays. I wanted to talk with them about the facts of life.
I Wanted My Boys to Hear the Truth From Me First
I am pretty sure they have heard subtle hints about sexuality and gender through their favourite shows. But I wanted to be the first to explain the facts of life to them.
So I sat them down and went through “the talk.”
This involved the human body, girls, sexuality, and gender issues in a way they could understand. The amount of detail depends on the age of the child. But as a parent, I wanted to start having those conversations soon.
I Wanted to Remove Any Shame
I kept reinforcing the idea that God has made us in unique ways as boys and men. Then I told them that some of the changes they will experience around this age are normal and nothing to be ashamed about.
I encouraged them to talk to me and ask me any questions about anything they learned through their friends or over the internet. If anything was confusing, I told them I would be happy to explain it to them.
I Wanted Them to Remember This Talk
I did not want this to be just another talk or just another birthday but a memorable one. Even decades later, my hope is that they will remember this trip.
I want them to know that, as their father, I took this step of being vulnerable and honest with them. Hopefully, I modelled something that can shape their future life.
This is not a one-time talk but needs to be an ongoing conversation. The first one is the most difficult but if you cross this hurdle, you have set the tone and culture for future conversations.
We mostly played games, watched a movie, got dinner and breakfast together, and explored the neighbourhood. But at some point during the day, I sat them down and interacted with them for an hour on these crucial topics.
As a father, it is not a matter of how much you know or how well you explain things but how intentional you are with your boys.
Both my boys appreciated the trip. My 8-year-old even told me, “I will never forget the trip, especially the talk we had.” It was awkward, a little expensive, and time-consuming. But that one line made it all worth it.