There are a good many things to report about the state of homeschooling in this generation. The resources, curriculum, acceptance, and success that homeschoolers have attained have finally given the rest of the world a reason to see that maybe it’s not as bad as they once thought it was. I cannot wait to homeschool my kids, as the resources that are now available to homeschooling families are vastly better from what they were when my parents were in the pioneering generation of homeschooling parents. (God bless them, they did the absolute best they could have, but I am glad my kids won’t be doing Alpha Omega curriculum!)
Parents now have the ability to be more hands on (handpicking their own curriculum, researching techniques online), more hands off (the public school systems K-12 online program makes it easy for parents who want their kids at home, but feel inadequate to grade and oversee all they are learning), and in between (there are a lot of co-ops that provide classes for kids that parents may feel intimidated to teach, although the parent still does most of the schooling). Homeschooling has gone from being stereotyped solely as for people who are introverted, live on farms, dress their daughters in prairie dresses, and give their sons the unforgivable “HOME HAIR” haircut. (Though, many people still think this is what we are, a topic for another day. It gets me pretty heated that people are still so ignorant.) Homeschoolers are now hip. Mom’s share their experiences and tips on popular “Momblogs,” homeschoolers are not just Christians anymore, there are a lot of parents from different religious, agnostic, and atheistic backgrounds, that are taking charge of their children’s education. Homeschoolers have friends. Homeschoolers have support groups. Homeschoolers don’t have to hide like they once did. We have come so far in the world of homeschooling. But, there is one thing that I feel seems to be severely lacking in home education, and it’s a topic that many feel uncomfortable teaching. Sex.
Oh no, the “S” word. The big S-E-X. This is not a word conservative families like to discuss, homeschoolers or not. And it is evident! You have conservative parents (homeschooled and public schooled alike) who are in an uproar and outrage over how the public schools are teaching sex ed. They are angry, they picket, they lobby, they complain. These are their rights, and it is true, the way the public school system is teaching it is wrong. Schools are introducing these topics at too young an age, in too graphic a manner, with too cavalier a spirit. Our bodies are sacred. They are beautiful, and amazingly designed. We are not animals who simply have sex as an act of procreation. We were made to enjoy the sexual experience (yes, I believe this, WITHIN the confines of marriage). We are sexual beings. We form connections with people. Our bodies produce these fantastic pheromones and we are attracted to people who are sexually compatible with us. We create relationships. We have been created to not just see sex as a function or an animal desire, but as a way to connect with another person on a level of intimacy that goes beyond what animals without souls experience. Our anatomy is beautiful and designed perfectly. Our bodies were designed and created by the Master Mind.
So, yes, I can see why conservative parents get upset about how sex education is taught in public education. I can see why they may be concerned about how human anatomy and biology is taught in schools, because it is taught from a perspective we believe to be skewed. So, yes, get up in arms. Have your protest, write letters to your superintendents and principals, congress reps and PTA leaders. Do your part to make your voice be heard, this is America. We can do that kind of stuff here.
I hear a lot of parents saying that it is the parents’ job to educate their child on sexual education. That it is not the job of the public institution to be teaching their children these things. I couldn’t agree more! But if you’re gonna play that card, you had better be prepared to do your half of that deal. Oh wait. We can’t just tell the schools to not teach sex ed, and then forget to talk to our kids about it, because its awkward or uncomfortable? Okay, time to wake up moms and dads. Yeah, you have a job, and you aren’t doing it.
I was fortunate to have a mother who felt important to keep open communication with her daughters about this important topic. And no, saying “We are close, they’ll ask questions if they are curious” is not keeping open communication. You have a duty to take an active role in this matter. My mother gave us “the talk”, yeah like BEFORE puberty, so we weren’t in shock when our bodies changed. There is no magical age, and she was smart enough to realize that. I think we all got “the talk” at different ages. I probably got it the latest in age, because I never asked questions. Frankly, I was that kid who was oblivious, didn’t give a second thought to the differences between a child’s body and an adult’s body. I was not exposed to pornography as a young child, as so many kids are. I had no desire or interest to learn. But my mom didn’t say, “Well, she hasn’t asked questions, we’ll wait til she is going through it, or shows an interest.” She knew she had a duty to do for us what wasn’t done for her, and that is to properly instruct on the human body and how it changes. I didn’t get “the talk” all in one fell swoop. It was a process. She knew I wouldn’t have been able to handle hearing that soon I’d have to wear deodorant and also the nitty gritty details of sexual intercourse. When I was ready for the next step, she knew. I don’t really know HOW she knew, considering I never asked questions, but I never felt like anything was sprung on me too early or too late. She didn’t want to miss anything, so she found this book called “You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” I think, or something like that. She would have me read a chapter and ask questions. Of course, I didn’t. But, she still made the information available at the right time, in the right way, and would start the dialogue since I wouldn’t. The book was kind of hokey, but it talked about everything from deodorant and the beginnings of puberty to homosexuality to pornography and babies. This was a part of my education. Did everything turn out perfectly on my journey to womanhood? No. Did I treat sex with the respect I ought to have as a college aged girl? No. Were there still surprises to find out about my own body in my journey to adulthood? Yes, of course. But I was overall given the tools I needed to be comfortable in my own body and to know how it functioned.
Unfortunately, what I have observed and heard from homeschool, private school, and kids of more conservative parents is devastating when it comes to how they found out about sex/their bodies, or worse yet, how they still don’t know. If you don’t take an active role in teaching your child on an important topic, chances are, they will still find out, but it may be in a wrong manner. The information they find may not be the best information, or comprehensive, or helpful. What do I mean? Okay, here are some specific ways people have shared with me how they found out about the birds and the bees or the anatomy of the human body and that it is different from the opposite sex’s. Pornography, scrambled channels, babysitting and stumbling across playboys, Cosmopolitan at the dentist’s office, Men’s Magazines, their friends, googling (often looking for the right answers, and finding the wrong ones), movies, being sexually abused, or the sad case of the girl who starts her period at a friend’s house and thinks she is hemorrhaging to death, because no one warned her what was coming. I don’t see how these are seen as effective measures for your child’s well-rounded education in the matter of their bodies. These are terrifying, detrimental, and ultimately start your kid on a slippery slope of a wrong view of their bodies and of sex. This is how kids feel dirty about sex or about their bodies. This is how sex becomes something to talk about in hushed tones at slumber parties and giggle about with red faces. This is how young boys keep their pornography addictions a secret, for fear of getting in trouble about their curiosity. This is how girls begin to think it’s okay to let her body be treated as nothing more than an object for sex, and how guys take advantage of those stupid assumptions. Oh and then when they get married, and have kids? Yeah, they don’t tell their kids either, because they remember what an embarrassing experience the first introduction to the reproductive system, their bodies, or sex was for them, and that trauma ends up getting passed to the next generation.
On the flip side, I know of young couples who get married, and did not find out from Cosmo or Stephanie, the oversexed babysitter about sex, and you hear horror stories of how wrong everything went. Men who are completely shocked and disgusted to find the female body as it is. Confused because they don’t know how the female body works. Freaked out at how her body functions. Women who weren’t aware of how the male body works. Being so afraid of sex, that the marriage isn’t consummated for months sometimes (I am not making this up… It’s sad, but it most certainly happens.) Quite commonly, another really sad outcome from not properly educating your child on sex, is that they develop an idol of sex and when they get married they are really disappointed that it wasn’t everything it was hyped up to be, namely because they weren’t given an accurate picture of what it is.
Dear, wonderful, Parents who are concerned for their kids to get a well-rounded education: Yes! Teach them Greek. Teach them how to diagram sentences, teach them algebra and calculus, and about the American Revolution. Teach them to dissect a frog, and get straight A’s and accepted to Harvard at age 16. Those are great things. But there are things that will help them become well-rounded and healthy minded and bodied individuals that will assist them just as much if not more than a 4.0 GPA. Give them the tools they will use most in life. Teach them about being good citizens, how to be responsible for their actions, how to love their families, how to respect other people, and for goodness sake’s teach them about their bodies. I do not have the answer for how you should do this for your child. Like I said, every kid is different, but don’t wait until your son is struggling with porn addiction, or your daughter informs you she is pregnant. Take an active role in protecting them from what they don’t need to know at too young an age, and informing them on what they need to know before it’s too late. Chances are, if you show them that their bodies are not gross, that sex is not sinful (once again, within the confines of marriage), that their interests and desires are normal, that everything that happens to their bodies during puberty has an amazing purpose, and that you are not afraid to discuss these things with them, they will be less likely to go about their self-instruction of sex ed in the wrong ways. You may just save them a lot of heartache and confusion by getting over your fear of an awkward conversation.
If you want to educate your child, then DO IT. No, really.
Note: As this is a delicate topic, I wanted to make it clear that I had my husband read this before I posted it. We are in agreement on the importance of this subject!