How To Have Little One-minute Sex Talks With Your Little Ones

How do I talk to my little one about sex?

So often, parents of young children come to me with their fears surrounding the question: how do I even begin to explain sex to my young children?! Do I need to? What do I do?!

One of the very best parts about this is it means that I get to hear a lot of great stories. So to each and every parent out there who has ever dared to ask for help around this topic: good for you! While ‘having the conversation’ may seem daunting and intimidating, I believe embracing moments as they arise and having mini conversations with your young children can be extremely beneficial in building a solid relationship between you and your child.

Here are three suggestions for parents of little ones to keep in mind as those little sex-talk moments arise.

1. Whatever you do, do your best not to panic or freak out. Fear can bring unnecessary stress on you as a parent and our kids can sense our fear from a mile away.

One night, a mother was giving her son a bath. It was the little boy’s birthday, and when he looked at his body in the bathtub, he told his mom, “Look mommy—my penis is a birthday candle, blow it out!” Rather than turning and running in the other direction or ignoring or suppressing the boy’s comment, this mom affirmed her boy’s creativity and imagination, then treated it as a playful and fun moment.

2. Give your child age-appropriate language to help them create a connection between body parts and their sexuality.

One evening, a father and his daughter were locked in the power struggle about bedtime. Running out of patience, the father kindly, yet firmly instructed his daughter that she must go to bed, because he is the boss of her. His daughter responded, “Well, you can tell me to go to bed, but you can’t tell my vajayjay to go to bed. I am the boss of my vajayjay!” And what could he do? After all, him and his wife had repeatedly affirmed to their daughter that those were her beautiful and wonderful body parts—no one else’s. In this particular moment, the father once again affirmed his daughter in being the own boss of her body, but concluded that he was in fact the boss of bedtime. Rather than creating fear, the father created a language for his daughter to understand.

3. Remember to see your child’s questions through their childlike innocence and wonder.

A mother and her son were in the grocery store. Her son had just learned about his genitals, and was excited to apply what he had learned while they shopped. As they passed another female shopper, the boy leaned over to ask his mom, “Mommy, does she have a penis too?!” His mom, unsure of how to respond, mumbled something like, “Yes! Yes, we will buy the peanuts!” The honest and real-life truth is often, we as parents totally miss the moment. But the good news is, there will be more opportunities. So the next time you find yourself in a potentially awkward situation, try to remember to look at your child through the lens of innocence. As parents, it is our important job to honor and protect this innocence and wonder.

Honoring our kid’s questions

So often, anxiety can come from the fear of not having the right answers, but it’s important to remember to honor your children’s questions. It’s natural to ask questions about our body—especially for a child who may be asking the questions for the very first time! When I sit with parents and smile and laugh about these stories, I can’t help but ask myself: What would it be like to raise a generation that sees their sexuality as good and from God?

Sexuality is something that should be protected, but not in a way that it has a barrier around it. Our sexuality is deeply intertwined with our identity in Christ, and asking questions is the first step of a beautiful journey to discover more about who we were created to be.

Parents, I would challenge you with this question: Are we making space to have a one-minute sex talks with our kids? In the grocery store, the bathtub, or wherever else they might arise? Can we slowly begin to change the stigma surrounding sexuality for this next beautiful generation?

It’s worth our best try, wouldn’t you say?

~ becky

Does God See My Desire As Good? A Lesson From Cain and Able

The first date kind of desire

A few days ago, I was sitting in a bar at a little restaurant near my home when I witnessed a beautiful scene: a first date between two strangers. They met online through a popular dating site (ok, maybe I was eavesdropping a bit) and as the date progressed, I heard them ask questions and confirm things they had already shared with one another online.

“You like fishing in the winter?”
“You actually ate alligator?!”

As they opened up and shared with one another, I noticed their body language change. They moved closer and closer together. I believe they were experiencing desire.

Desire – “a feeling that moves one towards something, to strongly wish or want something.”

In the Christian environment I grew up in, desire was rarely talked about positively. Instead, it was labeled as something to suppress, capture, control, and even kill. I grew up thinking desire was a den of destruction bent on destroying us. But over the years, I have slowly, slowly began to learn that desire is simply something that moves us towards something we want. You see, desire moves, pulls, and causes us to seek out something that’s stirring us to action.

The Cain and Abel kind of desire

The Cain and Abel story is a classic tale of desire. Never thought of it that way before? Let me explain. In Genesis 4 we hear about two brothers who bring their own individual offering to God. The text says,

Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the first born animals of his heard, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.

God’s response seems a little harsh, doesn’t it? But instead of looking at the offering itself, God is looking at the heart behind the offering. When we read the story, we see two offerings with unequal responses, but God sees two hearts with different intents of desire.

Abel’s offering is brought with his desire to share his very best with God. Cain’s offering is brought with his desire to keep his best possessions and only… kinda give God… just some of it… since he has to. Though it’s easy to judge Cain for his desire to keep his best to himself, I can’t help but notice all the times I too bring God just some of the fruit. Like when I say to another, “I forgive you, but…”

See, the kind of desire that causes us to look inward is desire that’s about what I need, how I can get what I need, and how I can protect myself. I am consuming something because I absolutely need it. When I experience desire and look up knowing the desire has the power to overtake me, I am seeking to be in communion with another.

Desire is not the enemy, it has a purpose.

Can my desire move me toward the Creator?

While I was stealing glances at the first-date couple next to me, I saw him rest his hand casually on her knee. This is the perfect example of desire in real life and in real time! As I continued to sit near them, I felt the anticipation and the desire of these two to be near one another.

If we are created to experience desire and move towards another, could that actually be good?

The longing to be near, to touch, to be with, to be seen, and to be held is not bad. The desire to move towards holds so many deeper meanings. When a man and woman experience the rush of desire together, the desire moves them towards each other.

When experiencing desire, maybe the more important questions are: What if our desire for another actually has something to teach us about desiring God? How do I engage with desire?

Desire that is squashed, denied, or suppressed allows attitudes of anger and selfishness to flourish. Desire that is acknowledged, felt, and expressed will create an ongoing dialogue of engagement.

When treated with respect, desire can be the avenue through which we learn to engage with one another vulnerably, authentically, and with integrity. Desire can lead one to either consume—like we see Cain doing—or be in communion with another, precisely what Abel is doing by offering God the very, very best of what he had.

At the core, desire is meant to move us toward our Creator in order to be more fully alive with all that God created.

One Night Stands: 3 Surprising Ways Your Brain is Affected

Does casual sex exist?

Countless times I sit across from men and women as they share their sexual portfolios—they mention choices that mean nothing and are completely in the past. As I watch the same people wrestle with trust, forgiveness, and commitment, I can’t help but wonder: do those choices really mean nothing? Are they truly in the past? If they are meaningless, why do I continually see people struggle with the ramifications many years after the choices have been made? 

Do one night stands last more than one night?

The truth is, one night stands and casual sex leave an imprint that’s carried with us long after the morning after. When we try to convince ourselves that sex is a casual act, we are going against God’s intentional design for sex. Our brain, and our body, gives us cues to God’s original purpose for sexual union.

  1. Men and women can have different emotional attachments after one night stands

Each person takes away a different emotional attachment. For men, their sexual drive leads them into a physical attachment, which then turns into an emotional one. For women, the possibility of an emotional attachment leads them into a physical one. This can create greater feelings of guilt and depression in women after they have a one night stand because their initial reason for having a one night stand is immediately broken.

  1. One night stands can damage our ability to bond with one another

When two people have sex, the brain releases a neurochemical called oxytocin, a chemical that creates feelings of bonding between two people. When we have casual sex with multiple partners, our brain becomes confused and puts up barriers in order to protect itself. Initially, the brain will continue to produce the neurochemical due to its natural drive to do so, but over time the brain will harden itself to the chemical in an attempt to protect itself from the emotional pain of losing that bond.

  1. Our body remembers things we often seek to forget

When our body is inflicted with pain, a scar or mark is often left as a result of the incident. Long after the initial pain is forgotten, a mark is left as a reminder of the pain that occurred. In the same way, there are chemicals in our brain that carry imprints of what our body has experienced. When we exercise, our brain releases dopamine, and our brain becomes conditioned to remember that exercise. If you were to stop working out for a period of time and then return, your brain would remember the pathway it created and you would remember how to complete the exercise. When we have an intimate relationship after a period of making sexual choices that “mean nothing,” our brains can remember something that happened years ago and trigger a negative memory.

Our brain is the largest sex organ we have and it is crucial to understand its workings in order to have a fulfilling and intimate sex life. If you ever find yourself looking for a safe place to speak further about past choices you’ve made, I’d invite you to reach out.

~ becky

Fifty Shades of… What Exactly?

What are romance movies really teaching us?

In its first weekend, 50 Shades of Grey raked in over $81 million in ticket sales. Labeled as a “dark, romantic adult fairy tale,” the movie has prompted an onslaught of articles responding to the graphic sexual content in the book.

For the past few weeks, I have seen article after article saying the same thing:

“Don’t watch 50 Shades of Grey because it’s bad,” “Stay away because it promotes abusive relationship,” “Definitely don’t watch it because it’s extremely offensive.”

So then why are so many people watching it? What’s behind the desire to watch a movie like 50 Shades of Grey?

Confronting desire

A movie like 50 Shades of Grey promises passion, desire, and romance—things that are good in and of themselves and we are wired to crave. However, when we seek fulfillment in pseudo-romantic material, are we creating a pseudo-connection? Seeking fulfillment by recreating something that’s not real can create something else: tension between us and our spouse. After 35 years of being sexually active and engaged within my marriage, I can tell you three things:

  1. No lyrical and slow-tempo music crescendos occur when making love

Movies tend to portray sex as the culmination activity of every heated or intense moment in a relationship. From the observing point in a theatre seat, we feel the tension building, the music slowing, and the heat in our bodies rising. Yet in real life, there’s no music playing when the tension and stress of kids, bills, and dishes appear. Romance movies tell us to expect something sexy that crescendos, but real life does not have the carefully cued music and scripted dialogue. Can we differentiate this when viewing a film or does viewing something like this create a disparity between what we see and what we have?

  1.  Developing a passionate love life is work

There are many different stages in developing a passionate love life that have longevity. It’s both work and pleasure—literally! Intentionality, vulnerability, and risk are all essential parts of this kind of relationship.

What if God created the intense, rip-your-clothes-off, I-want-to-have-you-now moments? What if God created the slow, methodical, I-want-to-explore-every-inch-of-you moments? What if God created the chosen risk of allowing another to hold you body, mind, and soul?

Each of these moments offers us a choice: 1) to reach toward the other to consume them, or 2) be in communion with them. I believe one of the deepest gifts of sexual engagement is knowing that this one with whom you are vulnerably sharing your body with is willing to risk being together in the “suffering” that is a part of life. A pleasurable connection with my spouse reminds and anchors me to the one who will journey with me in all intimate areas of life.

  1. Great sex in a relationship does not preempt struggles in relationship

When we engage and seek fulfillment in romance movies, we risk measuring our own sexual engagement against something/someone who is not real. We define “great sex” by something that doesn’t have the real-life struggles of learning how to engage with another human being in real time and with real differences. There are no two humans who are the same, and therefore no two sexual connections are the same. If we let movies define what “great sex” is, we are losing the opportunity to create something from discovering another human being.

Is 50 Shades of Grey bad?

When people ask me if I think it’s good or bad to see this movie, I pause. I cannot make a blanket judgment statement about this movie. Instead, I will continue to seek to engage with discovering more of what love really is and what helps men and women discover true passion that helps them create a love life with real longevity.

Conversations About Sexuality: How to begin when you’re (just a tiny bit) unsure

Unpacking our emotions around sexuality

Today I was having a conversation with a friend and it reminded me of this amazing music video about the soul returning and hearing the Creator. I’m sure most of you have heard this song by Mumford and Sons like a bazillion times, but today, as I returned to this song, I heard the lyric’s invitation in a new way.

As men and women, what rises in us when we think about having a conversation about sexuality with someone we love? Worry? Anger? Resignation? Excitement? Fear?

What emotions impact our conversations about sexuality? What is it that we really want to say?

What the Scriptures tell us

As I continue to study and dig through the Scriptures, I am more and more certain that our Creator wants us to experience our sexuality as good. Our sexual drive is something created with a purpose and with intention, but it also has an incredible power to create havoc in our lives.

If we are going to engage in conversations about sexuality, we must remember we are spiritual and sexual beings created by the hand of God. And this is “…good, very good!”

Do we remember who we are?

If we have have fallen asleep to this fact, forgotten this truth, or perhaps you are hearing it for the first time — I want to do nothing but encourage you.

Learning to have open and healthy conversations about sex takes work. A lot of work — trust me. It certainly doesn’t just happen overnight. As a sexual being you have something to share with your sexual partner and it’s important to learn to find language that can empower a deeper sexual connection between the two of you.

If you take a minute to watch this video, I encourage you to notice what rises up in you. What does it feel like to think about having a real conversation about sex with someone you love?

Our sexuality is designed by God for the intention of us experiencing the fullness of God’s love.

Maybe this truth might be hard to take in, but I do know one thing: it’s never too late to experience the soul being awakened and it’s never too late to let go of the shame that hides us in silence.

It’s never too late.

~ becky

Photo credit.

What Stress Fractures are Teaching Me about Sexuality

First my left foot…

I have to talk about stress fractures because they are entirely transforming how I walk – literally!

The story goes that I began a training schedule in February with the goal of a half marathon in June. On March 26th, while running on the side of the road, I stress fractured my left ankle. And to be completely honest, I didn’t know what I had done, but the pain prevented basic walking without an extremely exaggerated swagger that resembled the hunchback of Notre Dame.

After a trip to the emergency room, an X-ray, lots of ice, and Advil, I received a less-than-exciting prognosis that ushered me to an uninvited threshold – would I learn to walk again?

Let me be clear, I did not see this as a threshold or an invitation into something new. Nope, instead I took my usual optimistic stance, “It will heal, I will hit the pavement again quite soon and all will be well.” Because isn’t that what typically happens with bones? They break and then they heal?

But what I didn’t realize is that subtle fractures can also injure the other bones around the fracture which makes the healing different when it’s not a clean break.

…And then my right foot.

Well mid-summer hit, my left ankle had healed, and I began running again and three weeks later, out of no where, I stress fractured my right ankle.

Great.

As one of my friends said, “Get really mad at God – this sucks.”

Ok, maybe I did get mad, but when you have two major stress fractures within 5 months of each other, a whirlpool of fear opened up for me. Will I ever be able to run again? Or even walk without pain?

Vanity and my deep love for shoes even led me to mournful thoughts for the cute shoes that I might never again be able to wear.

What does this have to do with sexuality? Great question – I thought nothing, until the other day while in the pool doing some swimming therapy exercises, the only thing running through my head was:

 “This is not where I want to be, nor where I thought I would be.”

I mean here I am in the water, and this familiar realization, “Wait, I have been here before, I KNOW this feeling of wanting to ignore pain or even to deny there is any pain.”  And I knew, just knew, deep inside that one of the reasons there is so much disordered sexuality is that we have experienced a stress-fracture to our truest identity as men and women.

When God made man and woman it was with intention, with purpose – the genders hold a glimpse of who God is and our differences are not something we need to “fix” but some we desperately need to explore.

Inadvertently, we take something that God designed as good, our sexuality, and often innocently and unknowingly our sexuality gets a “stress-fracture.” But we keep limping, changing relationships, partners and family structures trying to find a way to make the “pain” normal.

What does a sexuality “stress-fracture” look like?

  • defining our identity through how much sex we get…
  • crude jokes that devalue men or women…
  • physical or emotional use of someone as a sexual object…
  • entitlement to sex in marriage…
  • entitlement to sex outside of marriage…
  • using pornography as a form of intimacy…

Pain, what pain? I am not in any pain. The list could go on and on.

Healing from our stress-fractured sexuality

So how do we heal our stress-fractured sexuality?

Our God will use everything we experience in our life for one purpose – to draw us closer towards seeing fully our Creator.

My ankles are healing (at least now I have calcium deposits that show up on the MRI – they tell me that’s good). I cannot see the healing, it’s a process. And I must experience it.

~ becky

Next blog let’s talk about what it look like to numb the pain and keep going. No really, I do this. Does anyone else?

Want to Listen to the Marriage, Sexuality and Human Relationships Podcast?

Remember a couple weeks ago I shared with you about being on the panel at Transform Minnesota? Well, you can listen online to the podcast, thanks to the fine folks at Transform MN. As always, please pass along any thoughts, ideas, questions you might have as a result of this discussion. I’d love to hear.

~ becky

Marriage, Sexuality and Human Relationships – For Part 1 click here

The Evangelical Leaders Forum is presented by Transform Minnesota and is a leadership gathering for inspiring conversations. In Part 1 of this Forum panelists Joel Johnson, Jeff Heidkamp, Becky Patton and Dr. Bill Doherty share their perspectives and ideas for healthy conversations about “Marriage, Sexuality & Human Relationships.” Be sure to listen to Part 2 for extended discussion and audience Q&A.

Sexting: teens & cellphone privacy

When I was a teen, there was a central line coming into the house. There was one phone. We all shared it. Raise your hand if you remember these days and the phone being connected to the wall… by a cord… that was continually getting twisted. It might have looked something like this:

(I think the kids are calling this vintage nowadays.)

Any hope for some phone privacy meant maneuvering and stretching the phone cord all the way into the closet down the hall. Everyone in the house knew you were on the phone and usually who was on the other end of the call. Super private.

Today privacy, when it comes to phones, looks a little different. Phones have become more like fashion statements with absolutely no cords to be found. We bedazzle our phones with jewels, accessorize them with slogans or personalize them with special ringtones. And quite often we guard our phones with a little security code for extra privacy.

Phone privacy for those of us from the “phone-cord generation” was non-existent. But what about for our teenagers now? Is there too much privacy out there for our teens? How do we seek to parent our kids well so they can make wise choices for themselves in this area?

Facts and Numbers

Recent reports show an increase in what is termed sextinga play on words that indicates sexually explicit photos or videos being sent via texting.

Parents, we need to recognize and think hard about how we engage with our teen and their phones. What does “privacy” really mean and how do we empower our teens and not abandon them to this world of electronics? It is important to know some of the facts regarding teenagers and phones:

  • 19% of teens ages 13-19, have sent sexually-suggestive pictures of videos of themselves via email, cell phone, or other electronic means
  • 44% of these teens were asked to send the photo/video
  • Older teens are much more likely to send and receive “sexts”
  • 17% of teens who pay for their own phone bills are more likely to send sexts versus just 3% of teens who do not pay for their cell phone bill
  • Teens with unlimited-text messaging plans—75% of cell-phone owning teens—are more likely to receive sexts

Now there’s no need to automatically jump to the conclusion that every teen is in the 19%. But, hey I do believe we can expect good things from our teens, help them learn to make those good decisions and a part of that will happen if we as parents continue to stay informed.

Boy! In our day, sexting and a rotary dial just weren’t compatible, were they? Remember how long it took just to dial your best friend’s seven-digit number?

Have any tips you’d consider offering other parents for learning how to best help our teens manage these electronic devices? Please do share!

~ becky

Was Jesus Too Holy For Sex?

Have you heard or seen the headlines this past week, about Jesus being married?

While the fourth-century fragment of papyrus is being tested and retested to determine IF it is authentic, the possibility holds a dramatic flare.

Let’s be clear right away, I am not wanting to create a debate on the issue of whether or not it’s true. No, honestly what I am most surprised and interested in noting is the reactions and responses of some of the religious leaders.

In one article Too holy for sex? The problem of a married Jesus states that:

“If Jesus is a normal human being and he is sexual that’s the real fear…”

Wait really? Why are we afraid of this? Are we afraid of Jesus being a sexual being? Or afraid that He might of had a wife? Do either of these things change the truth of Jesus being Jesus?

The foundation of the Christian faith is based on the fact that God sent Jesus to earth through a human woman – her name was Mary. She conceived and carried him within her womb for nine months and ultimately birthed Jesus in a stable. He lived and breathed and walked among us, revealing God to us.

I once heard a great Christian leader of our time, J Phillip Newell say,

“Jesus didn’t come to show us who he was, but rather to show us what we are capable of being.”

And wouldn’t we all agree that sexuality,of all places, is one where we most definitely need to have direction and need to know what we are capable of being? I would say so.

Ok, I know I am treading on delicate ground here and that no one wants to think about the fact that Jesus – yes Jesus – he did have male genitals. I am guessing that he also was daily engaged with his genitals for bodily functions, like men often are… are you getting the picture here? Jesus was fully man and he was also fully holy. So does it make us nervous to think of Jesus as fully human or that in being fully human he was also sexual?

James Tabor a biblical scholar from University of North Carolina remarked,

“You can’t think of Jesus as that (sexual), he’s too holy.”

Jesus too holy to be sexual?  Why do we think that having a wife and assuming they had sex, would some how make Jesus less holy, unless we believe that sex cannot be holy.

There can be discomfort in reexamining our deeply held beliefs about sex and yet the truth is, God created sex and we were created as sexual beings! Who better to know and understand the mystery of integration between physical, emotional and spiritual, than the one who created it?? And do we believe, at our very core, that ALL God created is holy, including sex?

I believe at the core of our spirituality is an invitation to experience our sexuality as something holy, something filled with wonder and exploration. Who better to show us the path to discover holy sexuality than the One who created it?

At some point there will be tests of this piece of papyrus, conclusions will be reached and ultimately this “did Jesus have a wife” question will fall to the background for awhile. Whether or not this drama holds any real evidence about Jesus, it sure has done one thing. It has definitely revealed some core beliefs about how sex is viewed among many religious leaders of our time.

~becky

photo credit can be found: http://bit.ly/P64G53

Bringing Life, Together

THE MAN SEES

She is sweating…

The pain is rising…

She squeezes my hand…

Looks deep in my eyes…

I hear the swish of a heartbeat, though I am not sure if it is mine, hers or this new life she is releasing from her body. Everything within me wants to take this pain away, release her from having to do this very physical element…birthing life.

She cries out with a sound that I have never heard uttered from her lips. It rips through me revealing how helpless I am to do anything that would relieve her. I feel alone and yet we are together.

She pants….

She utters words that make no sense…

Water, she wants water…

I bring ice chips hoping that they will give her some relief, hoping she can see how much I want to help, but instead the clinched teeth, the intense eyes, the irregular breath she pushes in and out of her lungs greet me.

How can this thing we call making love produce this kind of intensity in pain that is mixed with expectant joy?

What part do I play when I cannot rescue?

How do I love her now?

THE WOMAN SEES

He stands beside me…

He holds my hand…

He brings me ice cubes and rubs my back…

The contraction begins to build and my body clenches and wants to run. The nurse coaches me to not fight this pain, but rather to ride with it, let it teach me how my breath can find the ancient rhythm that women have shared for thousands of years.

I connect with the women of my past–mother, grandmother, great-grandmother… to the ancient days of women assisting women in childbirth. My body knows how to do this.

At this moment I feel stronger than I have ever felt, alive within the pain, listening to the life that is seeking to be born and asking my body to yield to this rhythm. Do not separate me from this pain, I am invited to go through it.

Can I join my life with the women who have carved the path before me?

I close my eyes…

I open my heart….

I breath with him next to me….

The cry of life being brought forth calls me forward, it tucks my pain into a place that is both ancient and near, but it asks me nothing more than to nurture this little life that together we created in love and together we will care for.

I feel alive….

I feel strong…

WE SEE

Childbirth has taught us both that we cannot do for another what we are called to do ourselves. We each held unique portions of this birthing process and we are different. In an effort to honor and respect these differences we need to acknowledge them and nurture them.

What if God designed this whole experience of birth to bond us rather than separate us?

Could the life of another have something to teach us about our own life?

Are we willing to see differences and the value they have to tutor us?

~ b