Question:

Hello, here is my question:

I have a young son. We take him to church and talk about the Bible with him. I don't let him watch television, except for videos like Barney, Sesame Street, and the like. As he gets older, I know he will be influenced by his friends, media that is outside of my control, even books and instruction from the public school system -- such as when they hand out condoms without telling parents. I want to teach him along the way to be in control of his body and to resist temptations of this age. I am already concerned about puberty! I am looking for general guidance.

Not a rush, but thank you, in advance, for your advice.


Answer:

"It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth" (Lamentations 2:27).

When someone is raising an ox to plow his field, he doesn't wait until the ox is full grown to start training him to pull a plow with a yoke. As soon as the yoke is placed on the ox's shoulders, he will seek any means to remove the irritant. So the farmer starts when the ox is young. A small, light yoke is placed on the ox's shoulders and he quickly becomes use to its presence. As the ox grows, the size of the yoke is increased until the ox is full-grown and bearing a full yoke. Then pulling a plow is not a major change for the ox.

The same is true for children. Youth is a time for fun, but that fun is lightly restricted along the lines of what will be expected of a child when he is an adult. You are establishing habits that will stay with him a lifetime. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Though a child is innocent and doesn't care what he does or does not wear, you have him dress properly because that is what you want him to feel comfortable in when he is older. When he is playing with friends, you insist that he treat others better than he is being treated. Limit his exposure to stories or games that have sexual themes or immoral principles. As he gets older, read the books he reads and ask him about the decisions the characters make in the story, whether they are right or wrong. Help him realize that he is responsible for his decisions and that not every choice is the right one. When he makes the choice, punish him, but make sure he also understands why the decision he made was bad. When he makes a good choice, praise him.

Even in seemingly safe shows, like Sesame Street, there are teachings that are not godly. For instance, I remember when my son was young seeing a segment where they encouraged the children to stomp their feet when they were mad to get their anger out of their system. But that is the opposite of how God wants us to behave. "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32). Can you imagine adults stomping and yelling when something doesn't go their way? Then why would we tell children to do that? It means you need to monitor what your children learn and when it is wrong, explain why it is wrong and what is a better way to deal with the issue.

Teaching self-control is not just about sexual issues. When you teach a child to wait until dinner to eat, you are teaching self-control. When you instruct him how to manage his anger, you are teaching him self-control. When you teach him to control his mouth, you are teaching the greatest lesson in self-control. "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). When a child learns not to give in to personal desires and controls his responses, he is in good shape to learn to keep his sexual desires under control in his teenage years.

Discussion of sex or reproductive organs should wait until he asks. Answers should be brief, factual and simple. When he reaches puberty, then his father or some other trusted male should discuss with him what is happening and his responsibilities. Do not trust the school system to address these issues properly. If you need material, you can find mine at: Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys.