I will never forget the drive from church one Sunday, then five, when Mister said, “Mom, did you know so-and-so is getting a new baby brother?” I said yes, I knew that. Then he said, “‘Mom, he said the baby is IN his Mom’s belly.” I said yes, I knew that she was pregnant. He went silent for a moment, and I asked him what he was thinking. He said, “Mom, I told him that’s weird, we just go and get our baby’s.” I had to chuckle. At the time, Mister knew that Sister was adopted and we were awaiting the birth of Little Miss, who would also be adopted. “Well, you know, baby’s do have to grow in a belly before they are born,” I told him. He smiled and said, “Well, duh, Mom.”
We’ve always believed that teaching kids about intimacy should be an ongoing conversation and not just a once in a lifetime sit down with “the talk.” We’ve always used anatomically correct terminology. We answer their innocent questions accurately, without giving more information than they need at their age, and we’ve had the “our privates are private” conversation. As they are getting older, and puberty looms on the horizon, their questions are becoming more curious, and I’m sometimes at a loss for how to answer the questions in a way that is honest and that honors God. Did you know that girls currently begin puberty between ages 9 and 11, and boys between 10 and 13? That just seems so young! Anyway, when I received an opportunity to review Growing Up God’s Way, I was intrigued. As responsible Christian parents, we want our kids to learn the facts of life from us, not from their peers or anyone else, and we know that our conversations will soon become much more frank in nature. Let’s face it, though, it can be awkward.
I knew that Growing up God’s way is a colorful, fully illustrated book available as separate versions for boys and girls. It is intended for children approaching or experiencing puberty, typically represented by the 10-14 years old age range. The artwork has been specially produced for the book and includes accurate biological drawings as well as cartoon illustrations to keep the young reader interested. Most importantly of all, the Bible is the constant reference point, so that what the Bible has to say about the matters dealt with is always front and center. The result is that this book conveys essential biblical ethical teaching as well as the facts about puberty.
Both books are broken up into the same chapter format as follows, tailored for the gender it is aimed at…
- An introduction to puberty
- Puberty and how it starts
- How your body changes (gender specific to boys/girls)
- How the body changes in (opposite gender) girls/boys
- Physical intimacy
- Changes in the way you think
- Going out and beyond
- Preparing for the future
As you can see, the first two chapters cover puberty and marriage. Teaching our children about the changes that take place when they begin to mature, and the biblical expectation of intimacy is important to us. Furthermore, teaching our children that puberty and adolescence, and all that comes with it, is a gift from God is also important. We want them to know what to expect, and to welcome the changes they will face. Chapters three through seven dive into what to expect as the body matures through puberty. They discuss the physical, emotional, and relational changes that take place and cover everything from zits to mood swings to beginning stages of attraction. The eighth chapter discusses the stages of an opposite sex relationship from dating to marriage. Finally, the ninth chapter gives practical tips for how young girls and boys and prepare for their future spouses by living for God and saving themselves sexually for marriage.
I think both of the books are a bit more than what we need at the moment, but I am glad that we’ve added them to our arsenal. When they are a bit older we’ll read them with our kids and use them as a means to keep the conversation open and encourage dialogue.