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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Books about Puberty and Sex Education for Christian Families

Talking to my kids about big subjects is easier when the author of a good book starts the conversation for me. There are A LOT of great books on this subject, but I have not read them all.  Below are the books I have used myself , or were recommended personally to me by trusted friends. If you have any others, please comment and share!

Sex education with your children should NEVER be just one conversation that begins at puberty, many call it "the talk".

 Kids start learning about reproduction as they see animals  at the zoo mating, start with those conversations. Don't shy away, keep it simple with "That is how babies are made".

 Age appropriate organic conversations build on themselves so that when they are ready for the mechanics and emotions of sex, close to puberty and beyond, they have a foundation of communication and trust with you. Sex is a wonderful and beautiful creation from God.

You should be talking to your kids about sex early and often because:
  • It helps your children to prepare and be on guard against the fight of pornography by equipping   your children to know what true love and sex are meant for, instead of the world's view. As preteens and teens you need to discuss little more because in a world of Porn in your pocket smartphones, children need to know when to say no to the new drug. See Fight the New Drug for more information.
  • It helps their future marriage by taking away shame and fear. Sex is a made by God and is a wonderful thing to be enjoyed. See my post on how to talk about Song of Solomon with your kids


God Made All of Me: Helping Children Protect Their Bodies 
Read it with children as young as 2 or 3 years old, up to late elementary and junior high. This book is NOT about mechanics of  sex, but about private parts and how children can protect their bodies, which is an essential part of the sex education. This amazing book not graphic, but teaches children that no part of them is shameful.

Learning healthy and appropriate boundaries for the private parts is your first step in sex education.  I honestly am not sure there is even an age limit on this book because I read it with my TWELVE YEAR OLDS and they learned something new. The information for parents in the back of the book is priceless.

The Story of Me
With age-appropriate language and illustrations, this book explains to young children the marvelous body God gave them.

For Boys Ages 3-5 -Why Boys and Girls are Different: 
The first in the newly revised Learning About Sex Series for boys, will guide you in the often difficult task of introducing and explaining human sexuality. Through simple, age-appropriate text and pictures, boys ages 3 to 5 discover that the similarities and differences between boys and girls are created by God for specific reasons."


(Ages 6-8 years old)

For Boys Ages 6-8   Where Do Babies Come From? 
The second in the newly revised Learning About Sex Series series for boys. This book, the second in the newly revised Learning About Sex series for boys, will guide you in the often difficult task of introducing and explaining human sexuality. Through simple, age-appropriate text and pictures, boys ages 6 to 8 will better understand how a baby develops and discover that each person is special and important!

For Girls Ages 6-8Where Do Babies Come From? 
The second in the newly revised Learning About Sex Series series for girls.

The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made 
I was thankful for this books gentle approach to a very difficult subject of the mechanics of sex. I would not recommend just giving it to your child, but really take the time to read it one on one with each child.
It has alternating pages, one for a young reader and then for older children or the adult. Have your child read the young words and you read the older reading level.  It is starts the best conversations.
My favorite part of this book is that it doesn't just end with an awkward note of reproduction, but on the redeeming note of adoption.  It really was a wonderful and essential resource for every family.

(9 to 12 years old)

Conversations about Sex and Puberty MUST BEGIN BEFORE PUBERTY BEGINS. Conversations about puberty need to be preparatory, not reactionary.   Build trust and open communication with them before their brains and bodies fill with confusing hormones.

For Boys 9-11- How You Are Changing
How You are Changing is the third book in the Learning About Sex Series series for boys. The book explains to 9- to 11-year-olds that these changes are normal and are a part of God's perfect, unfolding plan for their growth and development. God knows His children and is with them every step of the way!

 For Girls 9-11- How You Are Changing
How You are Changing is the third book in the Learning About Sex Series series for girls.

Guy Stuff- Body Book for Boys
This is not a Christian book, but it is very very well done.  We bought it when my boys were in 6th grade, and they read it often. Every issue your boy will encounter in puberty is covered, from late bloomers to shaving, to pimples.
There is no morality issues or mechanics of sex discussed, but deals mainly with the  physical changes that accompany puberty. It deals gently with sensitive topics, like public hair and how to clean up after a nocturnal emissions.
The book also has great emotional help, like how to control your temper as your hormones surge.   See more and pictures inside the book with the review I already wrote on this great resource.

The Care and Keeping of You for Girls
This the girl version of GUY STUFF, by the same authors. I have friends who have read this book with their daughters and highly recommend it. 

We listened to these as a family. They are not all about sex, but the puberty CD that discussed sex was, in my opinion, very well done.
It covered the biological aspects of puberty that will enable girls and boys to eventually become parents. Boys AND girls need to know about menstruation, and Dr. Dobson covered it in a very age-appropriate way. He also conveyed that sex is not just for making babies, but for also for pleasure.
I appreciated he also talks about hormonal driven masturbation in these years, with helpful practical advice  on how to respond as parents. This opened up conversations for my husband talk to my sons about healthy non-shameful sexual urges they will experience as a young adult versus harmful lust of pornography. I would recommend listening to these as a family, not just giving to your child to listen to. They spark great discussions.

(13/14 years old)

For Boys: Ages 14 and up Sex and the New You
MY HUSBAND IS READING THIS ALONGSIDE MY SONS, so they can have good conversations and discuss questions. This book, the fifth in the newly revised Learning About Sex series for boys, will help young men ages 14 and up learn to respect their sexuality and honor God. Love, Sex & God addresses issues such as pornography, dating, and premarital sex, answering young men s questions in a simple and accurate way and always reminding them of God s never-ending love.

For Girls: Ages 12 to 14 Sex and the New You 
This book, the fourth in the newly revised Learning About Sex series for girls, helps young women ages 12 to 14 build confidence as they continue to mature not only physically but also emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Sex & the New You will answer young women s questions in a simple and accurate way, reminding them that they can trust in God s perfect plans for their lives.


How to Confidently Talk to Your Children about Sex
How to Talk Confidently with Your Child about Sex can help you teach your child a Christ-centered understanding of God s precious gift of sexuality. This parent guide also addresses challenging issues that older children and teens will likely confront, such as pornography, dating, and premarital sex, discussing relevant topics candidly and with a biblical worldview.

 Straight Talk with your Kids about Sex 
by Josh and Dottie McDowell. I personally think there is WAY TOO MUCH shame around the topic of sex in the Christian culture. You can read about my thoughts on how to share about sex with your kids in my post  Sharing Song of Solomon with your kids.  Josh give practical ways to open up this discussion with your kids in this book.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Preschool Discipline, Preventing Power Struggles

Many of you know me for my home school materials, but you may not also know I am Preschool Teacher.  I recently spoke to a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group about Preschool Discipline.  I have a degree in Early Childhood and have worked with preschoolers in some capacity or another for the past sixteen years, my entire adult life.

The information I shared was well received by the MOPS group, so I wanted to share it with you.  The video is a little long because it was a lecture I gave, but I truly believe it is worth your time to watch. Maybe listen while you cook dinner or fold laundry. The realistic expectations and and strategies I describe in the video have saved me from COUNTLESS power struggles with preschoolers (my child and others included).

Some topics in the video include:
  • How to find balance in the power of parenting 
  • Unrealistic Expectations of preschoolers that lead to power struggles 
  • Language of Choice= 4 steps to preventing and dealing with power struggles

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Your subscription helps me keep this blog going!

Monday, October 21, 2019

What is truth? Teaching Critical Thinking Skills with History

What is truth in regards to studying history? How can we determine what book is telling the "right" version of history?  Our study of American History has brought to foreground the need to teach my children how to discern truth in a textbook.

Our curriculum, My Father's World (MFW), provides three different books to read for each time period of History. Some days we read all of them, and some days we only read one. The ability to read history from different view points and resources is one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling. As you read multiple books on the same subject, it becomes almost easy to teach about historical bias to your children.

One of the books MFW provided for our past few years of American History is Exploring American History by D.H. Montgomery.  It has such an obvious bias that it stopped me in my track a few times. In some cases the writing went from subtle bias to flat out untrue. The overall theme of the bias is teaching American legend over American fact.

Page 91 Exploring American History

In the above passage Washington "never heard a complaint" from the brave men crossing the Delaware even though it was freezing and they had no shoes. This is an obvious example of teaching legend over fact. In every other book we've read about this time period, we learn how Washington spent most of the war dealing with deserters who were very vocal in their complaints of no shoes.

I almost stopped reading this book entirely after we encountered more of these faulty sentences, but I have chosen to use this book as an opportunity to help develop our critical thinking skills.

We read it with discerning eyes and alongside other resources, which is how all history books should be read. There is historical fact in this book that we need in each chapter but almost every chapter has a few sentences so obviously and opinions that it is hard to miss. These obvious biases are perfect opportunities to teach my children discernment and critical thinking skills.

I don't want my children to live in an echo chamber like most Americans today. I don't want them to see historical bias and a.) run from it or b.) accept it as fact.

The critical thinking skills we are developing are more important to me than the dates we memorize.

As I was discussing my concerns of this book with another homeschool mom, she asked,
"How in the world do you know what is true and not true? It's too much and I just get overwhelmed and give up."
The fact is we can't find objective "truth" in history. We were not there. We CAN discern what is subjective opinion verses objective fact.

To help our children develop critical thinking skills, focus on less on "finding the truth" and more on discerning fact from opinion.

Even as an adult, there are sentences I can discern as opinion only because it differs from my own. Everyday I have to work on my own discernment. The key to critical thinking is discerning an opinion, even when the opinion is yours.

I developed an activity to help my children discern historical opinion from historical fact.
I asked my children to skim a chapter of every history book we have, looking for any opinion sentences. I then challenged my kids to rewrite those sentences as a fact statement.

This was a challenge my high school newspaper teacher used to assign with the whole class, and it helped me develop a more discerning eye to news. She would give us current event news articles and we had to find the opinion sentence(s), and rewrite them as fact.

Page 136 Exploring American History 

In the above picture, I asked my children to find the opinion in the sentence, "The Battle of Tippecanoe did much good because it prevented the Indian tribes from uniting and beginning a great war all through the West."

The phrase "did much good" changes this sentence from a fact to an opinion. I challenged my boys to rewrite the sentence as fact, and all they had to do was take out those three words. Changing just a few words can change a sentence from fact to opinion.

My kids can spot the obvious opinion sentences, but these activities are helping them spot the much more subtle opinions that are throughout our books.

Later on in the book Exploring American History, we read that after the Civil War, "Both sides now shook hands and  became friends."
Page 168 Exploring American History 

My sons correctly pointed out that the word "friends" is an opinion. What makes a friend? This was a good time to teach the vocabulary words of subjective and objective.

The context in this case helped my children spot the subjective sentence. The following sentence about Lincoln's assassination is quite contradictory because friends don't murder each other.

After reading several other history books on the same time period, we came back to the "became good friends"  sentence and rewrote it as fact: "The south surrendered to the North and Reconstruction began."

Sometimes a historical opinion is taught in the more subtle form of legend. The most obvious examples of when legend is favored is in regards to the American founding fathers.

American Founding Fathers did do great things, and that is important to remember, but what definition of great are you using?

When you use the definition of "great" that means distinguished, these men did great things. Christopher Columbus did the great thing of distinguishing himself from the beliefs of his times, leading him to Europe's discovery of a New World. He also made many decisions in the New World that horrifically injured entire people groups.

To reconcile these opposing historical facts, I ask my children,
 "This figure may have been a great man, but he was he also good man?"
And I follow up this question with, "Figuring out if he is a good man is an opinion. It is a fact he did these great things [insert facts of whatever historical figure you are talking about]. It is an opinion if he was a good man or not."

These types of discussions will get your kids to engage in history, and eventually with current events, in a discerning manner.

I hope these activities and questions will lead to productive conversations with your children!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

We are not a drain to your church

My husband and I attended Caring Well Conference, a conference from Ethics and Religious Liberty Commitee, designed to care well for survivors of abuse in God's church.

I met a woman named Mary during a break, and I knew she was involved in the conference in some way because I'd seen on stage, so I told her I was praying for her. We chatted and she was lovely person. After she left I looked her up so see how she was involved with the conference, and then I realized I had been speaking with the amazing author of "We Too", Mary Demuth.

Mary was one of the last speakers of the week, and she shared a profound truth that God knew I needed to hear.

"We [survivors of abuse] are not a drain on your resources, we are a gift to you" -Mary Demuth
I have never been told that my story as a survivor of multiple forms of abuse was a GIFT to the church before. I've been told His glory is made perfect in my weakness,  but it was never worded that my weakness and trauma are actually an essential part of God's church.

I've always subtly felt that the people in church really liked my story, but only when I share the healing, the tidied up part that is wrapped in a bow of closure. When you share the pain that ends normal conversations, it is uncomfortable.

Thank you Lord for letting me know I am not valuable to your church IN SPITE of my abuse stories, but BECAUSE of my past.

I am NOT drain to my church. I am not a drain to my husband or my family. I am not a drain to my friends. I have believed this lie for too long.

Not only in my weakness is God strong, but in my weaknesses, others are made strong. When we walk with broken, we walk in the sacrificial love of Jesus. When we listen well to deeply uncomfortable pain, we walk in the groaning and grief of the Holy Spirit. When we get angry and advocate on their behalf, we walk in the love of a Father who hates the evil being done to his chosen children.

Welcome the broken into your church not because it helps THEM, but because it is how God has chosen to make you more like his beautiful beautiful son.