“Mama… is S-E-X with a Y (sexy) a bad word?” asked my seven year old daughter this week.
My stomach sank. Dread set in. Here goes…
When it comes to questions like this, I don’t necessarily dodge them. I just try to figure out how to answer them appropriate to her age. I know that she is old enough to start learning more about things regarding sex. And I don’t want to close off the dialogue by not answering or dodging her questions. So I usually throw more questions back at her to try and figure out her perspective. And what she already knows. And pray that I don’t warp her mind in the process. Or mine.
ME: Where did you hear that word?
CurlyQ: From my friend.
ME: How was it used?
Curly Q: She told me that her mama wouldn’t let her say it because it was a bad word. She also told me it was in a song, ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It.’ Some people say it is a bad word and some people say it just means you are pretty. What do you think?
UGH. What do I think? Well, let’s re-wind to when I was around her age and first asked my mom about S-E-X. I really caught her off guard. We were riding down the road and stopped at a red-light and I just asked her, “Mom, what does s-e-x mean?” She was pretty smart and asked where I had heard that word. (I learned my approach from her…can you tell?) I had just started reading and sounding words out and had read it while we were in line at the grocery store, likely from the cover of Cosmo.
My point is this, the things that I am dealing with in the world of parenting and filtering the sex-filled culture that we live in didn’t just start when I became a parent. My mom dealt with it too, and I am sure that her mom dealt with it when she was girl. The channels are just different. And everywhere. And on. All the time.
The kids were going to watch TV while I fixed dinner last night and I had to run in to change the channel because the news channel that the TV was left on was replaying footage of the Myley Cyrus debacle. I couldn’t put it on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fast enough.
We deliberately don’t watch the news around the kids because there is no filter there, either. Sex, violence, horror, too much real life. Yes, those things aren’t necessarily happening in our little town – but to my kids it is happening right in their living room when the TV is on. So we don’t go there. Within our walls, we are able to protect and love our children in the way that we choose.
Maybe I am sheltering my kids. I don’t believe I am. I just don’t want my innocent little girl thinking that she needs to be sexy.
I want her to be the child that she still is. Rainbows, princesses, unicorns, peace signs, pretending, playing, making friends.
It is a tough job.
I can’t even take her clothes shopping without dealing with trashy clothes. My daughter is very tall for her age and is in sizes much bigger than her friends. I recently did a search on Amazon for clothes in her size. This is what I found:
All I can find are trashy clothes and shoes that are very inappropriate. Of course she loves them. They are sparkly and lacy and shimmery. But there is no way I am letting her wear clothes like this.
I can see that my job in the modesty and self image department regarding my children has barely begun. It is a war that I am going to fight valiantly. It is a conversation that I really hope stays open between me and my children. I made a ton of mistakes trying to figure things out on my own when I was a teenager because the line of communication between me and the adults in my life wasn’t open enough. In their mind they had already had “the talk” with me, so my questions were answered. Sex is so much more than the mechanics of what happens between two people. And I pray that I am approachable when those questions come.
Back to my daughter’s question about the word sexy… My response to her question was that it is a word that really doesn’t apply to a person until they are older and more able to understand it.
And that just about any word could be a bad word if it was used in the wrong way.
And like I tell her about anything – you should never use a word that you don’t understand and then you don’t have to worry about getting into trouble.
And she was OK with that answer. For now.