I am a blessed man. I have a wonderful wife that God gave me as a life partner some forty years ago this month. We were blessed to have three great sons born to us within the first ten years of our marriage. I love being a husband to Debbie. I also love being a father to my sons, too. The rewards of being a parent have far outdistanced the trials that Debbie and I have had to endure along the way. Of course, the good times have been a lot more numerous than the bad.
One of those “good” times occurred when our boys were much younger. I believe their ages were 11, 9 and 7. Debbie being the perceptible mother had begun to notice to a growing curiosity developing with our oldest child in matters pertaining to the opposite sex. We realized that he was approaching puberty, and as such would soon have some normal changes start taking place physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Trying to be good parents we wanted to help him with these natural changes by being open and honest with him. We also wanted to be pro-active by teaching him God’s plan about sexuality instead of what he would learn from other kids or less attractive means.
We determined that I should be the teacher to my son since I was the dad, after all. Deb wanted to do her part. So, she found us the perfect place for a father-son retreat to take place. A dear friend had a place on a private lake near the Delta region of Mississippi. He parents owned the cabin there, and they were more than willing to allow us to use it. Plans were made.
As time drew near for our retreat, Debbie suggested that it might be more beneficial if we included our other two sons in our father-son get-a-way. Her reasoning was that the younger brothers would end up finding out what when on from their older brother. She also brought up the fact that they might already be getting too much of an “education” from other sources even at their age. She convinced me that it would be better for the boys to hear it from me altogether instead of individually as they in turn approached puberty. I knew she was probably right, but three against one! Now I’m going from being nervous about “the talk” to becoming downright paranoid. But, hey I’m a man! I can do this!
As you can imagine, my prayer life increased over the next few weeks as we approached the big weekend. The boys were all excited about going. It was just the four of us men going to a cabin with a lake in the middle of nowhere. We could fish, hike, stay up late, and just generally do what guys do. I was the only one nervous! After all, they had no idea what dad really had in mind.
The weekend finally arrived. The weather was glorious. The lake was really not for swimming, but there was a boat and we made use of it. We fished a little and played a lot. We ate hot dogs and burgers along with whatever mom had packed for us specially. We played board games at night when it started to cool down in the evening. It was a special time.
I said a little prayer and began to share about the real reason for bringing them to this place for the weekend. I let them know that no question was off limits for purposes of the discussion. I wanted them to feel free to ask me about anything they might be curious about, or were confused about. I then asked them to explain what they knew about a range of things concerning the birds and bees, the word “sex,” differences between the anatomy of men and women, etc. At first I got a lot of sheepish grins, giggles, and uncomfortable looks from all three. Then, my middle son opened up and started asking if what one of his classmates said about where babies came from was true. That was the spark we needed. All of a sudden they forgot about being uncomfortable with the topic. They had someone who would answer questions that were on their minds. Dad was willing and able to help make some sense for them in matters that normally are discussed in secret or beyond the hearing of adults.
I don’t remember how long we talked. It was quite a long time, it seems. I found that they knew more than I expected, but understood less about what they knew. As with most children, they had been hit with the highlights, but were too young to understand the real meaning of most of what they had been exposed.
When I explained to them that God created sex for the enjoyment of a man and woman in marriage as a gift from Him, their eyes lit up. In their minds, sex was a dirty word. Now, they were being shown how God made it a good thing. When they finally were able to wrap their minds around the fact that sex was natural as long as it was practiced as God intended. They became somber and their questions became even more serious. I was then able to make them see that they were living proof of God’s love shared through their mother and me.
I ended the session by letting them know that they should come to me with any other questions or concerns they might have going forward. I wanted them to understand that no question was unimportant. I wanted to ensure they knew I would answer them honestly without judgment. As the years have passed they have taken me up on my offer.
I thank God for that weekend with my sons. The memory of it always elicits a smile. I can still see their eyes in my mind. They were so innocent. I grappled with sharing with all three of them at once because of the age difference. However, I now believe it was the best thing to do. My youngest son could not have understood all the technical aspects, but he did understand that he was hearing it from his dad. He knew he could trust me; just as I had to trust my father in heaven to guide me with the lives of my children.