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Two people in love

My mother and father when they were engaged to be married – 1948

My mother once confided in me that until she got married, she thought you could get pregnant by kissing. This led to unnecessary feelings of guilt and fear. I’m sure her wedding night corrected this faulty information, because nine months later I was born!

By the time my sister and I had boyfriends that we were kissing, she worried whether she had told us all we needed to know to keep from getting pregnant before we were married. For sure, she hadn’t told us much. She had bought a book for teenage girls written by a recommended Christian author and told us each to read it. She never talked with us about it. Maybe she thought if we had questions, we’d come to her. The basic explanations in the book did clarify some things but also got my imagination going and made me more curious; but somehow I couldn’t bring my questions to my mother.

As you can tell from the photo above (of my mom and dad just before they were married), she was a fun and loving person. But I doubt if her parents had taught her much about the “facts of life.” Maybe folks back then assumed the kids would pick up the necessary facts by being around farm animals. And maybe the adults didn’t want to “put ideas” into the kids’ heads. Or maybe, in their own shame, discomfort, and lack of information, they were too uncomfortable to talk about “it.”

I can’t say I did a whole lot better with my children. And now they have children who are preteens and need loving explanations and guidance. There’s such a fine balance between not wanting to give them more information than they’re ready for, but giving them the answers they need at each stage of their growth.

When it comes to teaching children about sex in marriage, I think the best teaching parents can give is by example. As a teenager, lying in my bed with my bedroom door closed, sometimes I could hear my parents down the hall of our small house, in bed behind their closed door. And they would be laughing, murmuring, giggling, obviously enjoying each other.

That didn’t sound like anything to be ashamed or afraid of. It sounded like companionship, mutual affection and pleasure, something right and good. And I knew that was what I wanted.