Our daughters are getting older and so far, I have had discussions with both of the oldest two about changes they will see coming in their bodies in the near future. I have had THE talk with my oldest (just turned eleven). But that really centered around what sex was and how it worked and all that stuff. So the other day, I mentioned I had an NFP Awareness poster to put up at church and Sarah says, "What is NFP?"
Well, honey, I'm so glad you asked! Or am I?
I have an opportunity to help my daughters understand their bodies. I have this glorious chance three times in a row to help my daughters be knowledgable and powerful about the decisions they make in their lives. I can present all the information I did NOT have at my disposal as I was navigating the crazy waters of teen-to-young-adult life.
I plan to discuss this soon with my oldest (she asked "What is NFP" in the van while we were about to leave and go somewhere, so it really wasn't the time or place to give her the low-down). Through what I envision to be multiple/separate discussions, here are some points I hope to cover...
- Changes in her body that can help alert her to the fact she may begin menstrual cycles
- High-level discussion re: changes in boys' bodies (i.e., boys' bodies mature into mens' bodies, etc)
- How she can protect her body and keep it healthy both in generally and reproductively
- Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 - and how she can pay attention to how she is feeling in each phase, and how it works together with the information she already knows (how a baby is made)
- Charting -- I emailed the lady mentioned in this blog post by Simcha Fisher, but never got anything...I will probably need to call her. But I really want to get those charts for girls (I mean, who wouldn't love to have a spot to chart that they were craving pizza!?!?)
- Discussion on chastity, making good choices
- High level -- what forms of contraception are, how they work, various reasons people think they should use it
- What sexually transmitted diseases are
- That I will probably start taking her to see my doctor instead of the pediatrician whenever she needs a doctor visit
My own confidence will see me through these discussions. I'm glad I know what's going on with my body. I feel good about telling her how to handle the coming changes. I'm grateful for my faith-based view on these things. But more than that, I am thankful for the science of the matter. The information at my disposal to pass on to her is so rich in objective measures and ways to help it all make sense. I don't have to simply attempt to scare her into abstinence - giving her all kinds of horrible scenarios of what might happen to her if she has sex outside of marriage. I can explain why it makes sense to reserve sex for marriage (avoid STD's, have maturity to discern the right time for children, etc) but give her the tools to see the natural purpose for sex played out in charts where she can see her body preparing to conceive each cycle, make it through the fertile phase, and being able to predict the day her cycle will end and a new one will begin. I can reinforce that she doesn't need a pill full of hormones to make her body into something it wasn't designed to be.
I am grateful for NFP because I can show my daughters a better way.
As we close out this NFP Awareness week, I really do hope that if you are part of a couple that hasn't tried NFP, that maybe you'll try to overcome your fear. I hope that you will think about it and perhaps agree to give it that honest-to-goodness try. I bet if you do, you have a good chance to find that your body will thank you. One big benefit just might be that you will have a fresh perspective to educate your children and give them the power through the knowledge to make positive choices for themselves.