Monday, September 24, 2012

The Birds, the Bees, and Boys: Teaching Your Boys About Sex -- Part 3, a Book Review

     In  The Birds, the Bees, and Boys: Teaching Your Boys About Sex Part 1, I discussed how to form and model a healthy, Biblical view of sexuality, tips on talking about sex, and other topics leading up to puberty.  Then, in The Birds, the Bees, and Boys: Teaching Your Boys About Sex Part 2, I explained the "nitty-gritty" of puberty:  physical and emotional changes, the importance of fathers, and the continual need for a mother's love.  Finally, I want to share a book that may help you as you introduce your son to how he is changing.
     When our oldest was still pretty young, my husband and I decided we needed a good book to introduce our son to puberty and sex.  I asked other mothers of boys, did internet searches, and bought a few, but I didn't find one that my husband and I liked.  Then, by God's providence, I came across this one, and we have been very pleased with it.

How You Are Changing:  For Boys Ages 10-12
Book 3 of the Learning about Sex Series for Boys
from text originally written by Jane Graver, 
updated and revised

     This book is a gentle introduction to puberty that goes into, in my opinion, just the right amount of detail.  The book is filled with Scripture, has a prayer at the end of each chapter, and encourages young men to embrace themselves as creations of God.  Other books show pictures that would make most boys uncomfortable.  For example, in Before I Was Born (for ages 5 to 8) by Carolyn Nystrom, published by NavPress, there is a somewhat realistic drawing of a mother giving birth.  I realize that some families choose to have older children present during childbirth, but for young boys who have not had this experience, this picture (see below) and others like it could make them feel uncomfortable.  
From God's Design for Sex Series, Before I Was Born,  Book 2, Ages 5 -8, by Carolyn Nystrom, NavPres.
This drawing and others like it would make a young boy going through puberty uncomfortable.  
Notice that the recommended age range for this book is 5-8.  

In contrast, How You Are Changing uses more ink-type drawings that do not have a realistic feel but are instructive.  
From Learning About Sex for the Christian family, How You Are Changing, Book 3, For Boys ages 10-12, Concordia Publishing House. The entire subject will make boys uncomfortable, but the pictures in this book offer enough information to be instructive without the realism that impedes the point.

    How You Are Changing is only 56 pages long and contains 8 chapters.  My husband asked my son to read about a chapter a week when he was 12 years old.  Then they would discuss the chapter together at McDonald's or at home when little brother was in bed.  The age range for this book is 10-12; however, I don't think he would've been ready at age 10.  Age 11 and a half probably would have been fine.  However, your son may be different.  If he is in public school and has heard some things in the locker room or has friends who have shared with him some juicy tidbits, then it may be time to go ahead and read the book together.
     The tone of the book is light yet serious.  After reading it, your son should come away feeling like he knows what to expect and that it's new and different but part of God's plan.  This series also has a set of books just for girls.
     Below is a brief summary of each chapter.  

Chapter 1.  You Are Wonderful
This chapter is about how God created your son to be male.  It goes on to discuss how girls and boys are different physically -- but also in other ways, such as emotionally.  It emphasizes that no sex, male or female, is better than another.  It encourages your son to remember:  You are special, you have talents, and God loves you very much.

Chapter 2.  Male + Female + God's Gift of Life = BABY
Using appropriate pictures, this chapter show how the bodies and reproductive organs of men and women are physically different. Then, the chapter discusses how a brand new person is made:  "When a sperm cell from your father met and united with an egg cell in one of your mother's fallopian tubes, your life began.  In that instant, the question of whether you were going to be a boy or a girl was decided.  ....The egg cell and the sperm cell did more than just stick together.  Following God's design, the two cells changed into one new cell -- the beginning of a brand-new person!  That tiny life has all the DNA factors that make a person unique -- that make you you." (p. 18)
     Later the chapter discusses family as a gift from God and the subject of difficult families, followed by God's plan for families.  The book describes intercourse on page 22:  "At times, a husband and wife will want to express their love for each other in a special way called sexual intercourse.  At those times, they will go off by themselves.  They will hug and kiss each other and touch each other all over.  The husband's penis will become firm and hard, able to fit inside his wife's vagina.  This is a private act between husband and wife."  Finally, the book discusses how it is God's plan for only a husband and a wife to "make love in this way" (p. 23)

Chapter 3.  God Took Care of You ... Right from the Beginning
This chapter explains how a baby starts out smaller than a dot and then miraculously becomes a baby.  Later, the chapter addresses where babies come out  "...the vagina and vulva stretched to let you come out between your mother's legs."  (p. 28)  

Chapter 4.  You've Grown!
Chapter 4 uses a dialogue format and answers questions and concerns such as:  "Some kids think sex is dirty":  "As we said, some people have mixed-up and sinful ideas about sex.  They might be embarrassed by using the right words for penis and vagina, for instance, so they use slang words instead.  Or they get their information from jokes and made-up stories instead of from an adult they can trust, like a parent.  We are reminded in Matthew 15:19 (ESV) that 'out of the heart come evil thoughts...sexual immorality'"  (p. 36).  Other concerns are discussed such as being embarrassed to talk with parents about sex and wanting to be alone. 

Chapter 5.  Next Step:  Adolescence
This section discusses "How Boys Change" -- weight, height, hair, testicle growth, erections, voice changes, wet dreams, etc. in under 2 pages, then moves on to "How Girls Change," about a page in length and covers period, menstruation, breasts, etc.

Chapter 6.  Am I Normal?
This chapter addresses boys of different shapes and sizes, circumcision, different rates of growth, and weight gain.

Chapter 7.  Feeling Good about Your Sexuality
Written as a dialogue between a teen boy and the author, this chapter broaches such subjects as inappropriate tv shows, watching girls, sexual abuse, smoking, drugs, and alcohol.

Chapter 8.  It's Great to Be Alive!
This final chapter is an encouragement to young, growing boys that it is special to be human and that God has a special love for his human creations.  Furthermore, the author describes "God's good gift of sex" as a means to bring other wonderful children into the world.  "God's love can make sex a wonderful part of your love for another person.  Guided by Him, you can choose a wife who will share your life.  The love you have for each other will be extra-special if God lives in both of you."  (p. 55)

     Overall, this book is an encouraging, unabashedly Christian discussion of male sexuality written in a light, easy-going manner.  I highly recommend it.