1. Can you share a story of a real conversation with your kids on the topic of God and our value to Him?
If you haven’t already, consider THE conversation’s “I am a Gift” curriculum to be used at home or Sunday School. This curriculum provides lessons, including activities and discussions that provide and facilitate conversations about God’s design of human persons as body-selves as well as our inestimable value and the inestimable value of others.
You might also find our Downloadable Conversations helpful, specifically, “Your Reflection of the Image of God” or “Image of God for Elementary.”
Other practical examples of actual conversations I’ve had and use often in order to consistently reinforce (there really is something to be said for repetition):
Example 1 (We actually borrowed the central piece of this conversation from an example that a pastor at our church shared):
Parent: “Jane, do you know why I love you?”
(Give child the chance to answer. It usually sounds like a characteristic or ability or, “Because I’m your daughter.”)
Parent: “I love you because you are, Jane. Nothing you can do will make me love you less and nothing you can do will make me love you more. I love you because you are you.”
*This is helpful because, while not mentioning God, it builds a foundation for children to experience unconditional love and unchanging value of the person. This informs the picture of God’s love a child has in his or her mind.
Child: “I love you.”
Parent: “I love you most. And God loves you even more than I do, even though I don’t understand how that’s possible.”
*Speaks to value. To a child it is powerful to know that God loves me even more than my parents love me.
Child: Expresses negative view of self.
Parent: When appropriate say something like, “Honey, you were created by God on purpose. He purposefully created you at this time and in this place. My intention is not to put pressure on you. I’m telling you this to remind you that He made you because He wants you and loves you and wants to love others with you and through you. He loves you for who you are. Your value to Him doesn’t change on the good days or on the bad days.”
*Speaks to God’s intentional design of a person and the unchanging value of a person.
In the midst of meltdowns, choose to sit with a child and rub his back, or just be close. When the tantrum is over and the two of you are talking about what happened, be sure to say something like, “Even during the times that you feel unlovable, God and I are loving you and want to be with you. The way God sees you and the way I see you doesn’t change based on what you do or do not do.”
*Speaks to unchanging value of a person.
Look for any opportunity to remind your child or a child you know:
Adult: “When I’m with you or when I see you, I see this amazing person that God created. He created you in a way that was different from His creation of any other person. He will never create anyone like you again! Who you are, your entire self, shows me parts of God that I have never seen or experienced before. You show me parts of Him when you, _______________________________ and when you ____________________________________.”
*Speaks to God’s intentional design of a person.
Recommended reading that can also promote real conversations that reinforce this concept regardless of age:
You are Special by Max Lucado
You are Mine by Max Lucado
God Thinks You’re Wonderful by Max Lucado
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (this theme is revisited throughout the books)
2. My kids don't necessarily believe that because you are single that you remain celibate. How do I respond to that?
I think one aspect of this conversation would sound very similar to the answer to Question #1 in our previous blog, regarding talking with kids who are already engaging in sexual activity.
In addition, I would approach this topic from a different angle. I would begin to share with my kids about ways that God can satisfy all of our desires (we have a worksheet that can help facilitate this conversation on our Downloadable Conversations page). Eventually we can help our kids identify the desire for sexual intimacy as a desire for connection, love and for ecstasy. God can satisfy even these desires. Share with your kids your own experiences of God meeting you in your own places of desire. If you feel hesitant talking about ecstatic experiences with God, do some research and discover Brother Lawrence, Teresa of Avila, Charles Spurgeon, and even old hymns that describe these. You can say something like, “I was doing some research and I found these really interesting stories of peoples’ experiences with God. What do you think of this?????”
We want our kids to understand in no uncertain terms, that a life as a single celibate person is not a life that is “less than” or a life of deprivation. In fact, the apostle Paul says that he prefers it. And in fact, Jesus Himself shows us the way to live an abundant embodied life as a single and celibate person in communion with God.
3. If we can live a fulfilling life being single, why do people long for communion and togetherness with each other?
In our workshop, we talk about the source of our creation as the eternal exchange of love that flows between the persons of the Trinity. We were made from the love of God. We were made for the love of God. And we were made to be an overflow of God’s love through our lives into the lives of others. In other words, our lives are all about communion and togetherness from the very beginning. Marriage is one way to live out our calling to communion and togetherness. It is not the only way. We can also live out a calling of single celibacy, giving and receiving love as we unselfishly give of ourselves to others and our community in non-sexual ways. The fifth and sixth sessions of our workshop help us to teach our kids ways to expand our understanding of love into the big picture of giving life and love to others in our world. This big picture life brings freedom to understand that we can fulfill our calling in beautiful ways outside of marriage, much like Jesus did.
4. What support is available as I/we step into the foundational concepts and the talk because more questions will come up as we step into that responsibility?
We are so glad this question was asked because support for parents or mentors who field questions in daily life is so important. It’s the reason we started THE conversation Workshop in the first place! The attractive quality of a rules-based approach is that we don’t need to step into big foundational concepts and that questions can be answered with what appears to be quick and clean responses. The problem is, that without the foundational concepts that THE conversation Workshop teaches, the “rules” don’t make much sense and what felt effective in the moment (in reality what reduces my anxiety as a parent answering difficult questions) does not really support our children in their life-long journey towards flourishing. We get that THE conversation’s approach is one that feels new and maybe unfamiliar. You’ve got this and we want you to feel supported! THE conversation offers support in the following ways:
1. Get your questions answered! If you have been stumped by a child’s question or comment, or wonder how THE conversation might approach a certain topic, please reach out. By asking your questions and reviewing our Q&A page, you help other parents who are wondering the same thing, AND you help us to know how we can best serve you.
2. Attend a workshop for further depth of understanding and to be able to explore tough questions with other parents and mentors. THE conversation Workshop is both big picture and practical and really starts to solidify with repeated exposure. Whether attending for the first, second, or third time, you will make new connections and have new and helpful discussions with others that are learning along with you on behalf of kids.
3. THE conversation’s podcast and blog exist to support you. Listen, read, share it with friends, and keep learning how to bring these foundational concepts into your talks with kids about the body, relationships and sex.
4. You might want something to review or return to for “the Talk” if you’d like your conversation to be in line with THE conversation’s approach that includes a Theology of the Body perspective. If you haven’t already, please visit our Downloadable Conversations page, provide your email address, and a pdf for “the Talk” as well as the pre-teen version of “the Talk” (a kind of pre-Talk talk) will be emailed to you along with other pdf resources.
5. Feel free to contact us directly if you have a question or are feeling the need for further support: firstname.lastname@example.org