Most parents do not look forward to the time when their little boy or girl starts on the road to maturing as an adult! This first stage usually occurs between 10 and 14 years old. While parents may want to avoid any acknowledgment of little Johnny or Susie "changing," changes are a comin' whether you admit it or not! While boys and girls grow and mature at different rates and times, "tweeners" (kids ages 9-12 years old) are caught in between--not yet "a teenager" and definitely not "just a kid" either! Tweeners are trying to make sense of their world while their body, thoughts and emotions are on the roller coaster ride of puberty! Truth be told--this will not stop until about the age of twenty-five when the frontal lobe is fully formed!
So what is God's plan for a child becoming a tweener, then a teenager and eventually, the Lord willing, an adult? This time of change is as confusing for parents as it is for their tweeners! How is an adult to explain the changes going on in the body God gave their tweener without being embarrassed or worse yet, embarrassing their child? There is an answer! One great resource from the United Methodist Church is called, "Created by God; about Human Sexuality for Older Girls & Boys" by Dr. James Ritchie http://archives.umc.org/interior.asp?mid=11362.
The Rev. Dr. James H. Ritchie, Jr. is a clergy member of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and pastor of Center UMC in Natrona Heights, PA. As Executive Director of Faith Span Ministries, he developed the "Created by God" program as a church-based Human Sexuality Education Experience for Fifth and Sixth Graders and their Parents. There are sessions for students only and for parents and students together! Sessions include; 1. Change - God's Son, Adolesence and Families Change; 2. The Marvelous Creation of the Male and Female; 3. Inside Out - How Change Comes About; 4. Being Male, Being Female, Being You; and 5. A New Life Begins. Parents are given the book when registering their student for the class. They are expected to read the book and then give it to their student with a special note inside encouraging them in this next phase of their life. After reading, "Created by God," the students and parents should discuss the content of the book prior to coming to class. There is even a helpful "question and answer" section in the back of the book. The leader guide and materials are well thought out and easy to use to lead the class.
At my church home, Bear Creek United Methodist Church bearcreekumc.org, the students attending ranged from 5th grade to 7th grade. It was a mix of boys and girls and the sessions ran over the course of a weekend and concluded on Saturday afternoon with a reception and certificate of completion. Some of the comments about the book and course from the students included, "I liked the games, I liked learning about my body and spiritual things about God too, it helped me understand things I didn't know about..." Some parent comments were, "I really enjoyed doing the closing session with my student," and, "the class was excellent - well planned and executed!" Parents are encouraged to continue the dialogue long after the course is over, it is definitely not a one shot deal! Lisa Coltharp, parent of one student said, "We are grateful for the church offering this course and for those that led the course. It was a great supplement to the discussions we have already had. We hope you continue to offer such meaningful programs for our youth."
Humans were created by God! Human sexuality is a part of who we are! Tweeners need to know that a joyful and abundant life can be had when in relationship with God! We are a part of His plan and when students can learn about their own sexuality in a safe and loving environment, the rewards are tremendous. The church should be an advocate when it comes to teaching such vital and important topics. And our job as parents is to make sure that we work with God and our churches to help students in each phase of their spiritual, physical and emotional lives!
For more on the "Created by God" program go to http://www.rfsministries.com/cbg.htm