Why is it that the arrival of spring is associated with an increase in romance? Though the answers to that question are varied and interesting, none of them help prepare parents to deal with the behaviors that can happen when a young person’s fancy turns to love.
We all know that love is one of the most powerful emotions known to humankind. The Catechism tells us that love is the most fundamental passion. It is aroused by an attraction to the good. People in love sense a desire for the missing good and the hope of obtaining it. Romance + Hope + Desire create an emotionally powerful cocktail that can motivate a person in love to do almost anything to possess the good.
When children awaken to the reality of “the good” that another has they become a bucket of feelings. Often they experience the chemistry part of attraction; the nervous excitement and giddiness that overwhelms their senses. These feelings convince them that the other feels the same way and that a lasting bond has formed between them. Because of this bond, they believe that they must commit everything to the other. Before you know it, they have lost all sense of reality and logic. They are convinced that they have found true love even though you know it is their first crush.
Youth who are convinced they have found their prince charming or sleeping beauty are in need of intentional guidance by their parents. When the love bug bites, parents should become keen observers of their children’s interests and behaviors. They can do this by asking good questions about what is going on at school, in the neighborhood and during extracurricular activities. They should also heighten their awareness of their child’s social media involvement, becoming more mindful of on-line interactions. And, they should strive to be more present at home; especially after school and in the evening.
Most importantly, parents should ready themselves to share the beauty and awe of God’s plan for love and human sexuality. That’s right. Parents need to prepare themselves to share God’s plan for life and love with their offspring.
If you are like most parents, the thought of teaching your offspring about human love and God’s gift of fertility may be terribly frightening or confusing. With no experience from which to draw, you may find yourself feeling totally incompetent. Your dread may even drive you to think that anyone other than you is better suited to talk with your children.
Take a breath and relax. In God’s eyes, you are the one that needs to talk with your children about love, relationships and the physical changes that every person goes through as they move from childhood into adulthood. Because you are the parent, you are the one best suited to share the truth and beauty of human sexuality with your kids. And preparing yourself to have a knowledgeable and wise discussion about these matters is easier than you think.
Believe this; your children want to hear about love and life from you and not from their teachers or from some blog site. They want to be able to come to you with their questions and their concerns. They long to hear the truth from you even if they roll their eyes and seem to shy away from these conversations.
Here is something else to believe; if you don’t provide them with the right information, they will find it somewhere else. The drive to understand passion and attraction is very powerful. It has led many to seek unhealthy and harmful information about love, relationship and human sexuality in dark places like porn sites and the deep web.
Take heart, Mom and Dad; you can do this and you can do this well. To help you equip you to have the needed conversations with your youth, we suggest a simple three-fold process. First, take the time to learn about God’s plan for love and life. Secondly, pay attention to your children so that you will know when the time is right to begin talking with them. Finally, commit to talking with your child over the course of several conversations rather than just one big talk.
There is an outstanding program that provides parents with the skills they need to confidently talk with their children. The Teaching the Way of Love program contains a broad array of topics and practical suggestions that can be easily adapted to your situation and help you guide your kids through their relationships. Begin at the Teaching the Way of Love website: www.twl4parents.com. The site offers a multitude of learning aids (26 learning segments) that help you define the right approach to use when addressing the topic of human sexuality. It also provides learning aids that can be used when it is time to talk with your children (look for those under the Fertility Appreciation tab.)
Additionally, several parishes offer live presentations for their parents and their children. Check in with your parish to see if a seminar is scheduled close to you.