Amy McLean: Sexuality from the Highchair UNPACKED

So, I’ve gotta come out swinging again before I can get light and recap some of the wisdom Amy imparted on us.

Some people struggle hearing Amy because they are fearful. They hear things like sex trafficking, predatory behavior, pornography and they flinch. “My kid isn’t even two yet, I don’t need to be going to such dark places.” “No, my child WON’T be exposed to pornography by the age of 8- so I’m going to just put that out of my mind.”

I want to tell you with love that this kind of putting off, or thinking these things don’t yet apply- is what has landed our society in such a sexually broken place. I feel bad for my parents that they weren’t equipped with the proper tools in their own childhoods that could’ve helped them equip my siblings and I. There’s a reason I was given a promise ring at 16 and received it completely dumbfounded. I was molested as a little girl and lost my virginity at 14 and for a long time I didn't see how they couldn't have known? As a teenager I was allowed to bring boys into my room with the door shut just to come down later with my cheeks flushed. My mood swings and cutting were a lot more than puberty and hormonal changes. That was a 15 year old grappling with sexual sin because she hadn’t been given the tools ahead of time to avoid it all together- and one who didn’t yet have Jesus to help her redeem what had already transpired.

Trust me, nothing good comes from looking the other way insisting that our children will remain innocent or by putting it off for another time.

Rant over. Lets get practical now.

Last year Amy explained that with boys in particular, you need to exercise their self control muscle. She says one of the earliest ways to encourage this is in their eating. Hence... “sexuality from the highchair.”  She encouraged that for all children, but especially boys, they should be seated when eating. No snacking on the run (literally), no food as a distracter or pacifier. They should know that with food, there is a time and place and as we’re teaching them, if they are to get up before they’re done- they lose their food. She explained that this incentivizes self-control and that the area of the brain that regulates their relationship to food is the same area that regulates their relationship to sex.

The concept I had a harder time with was how to reason with a child to keep them from touching themselves. Sidenote: this is an unpopular opinion when you discuss these things with moms in the world- a lot of parents believe that it is not only okay but that it’s healthy for children to self-gratify so long as it’s in an appropriate, private place. Thank the Lord for Amy McLean who just doesn’t care if she offends someone who disagrees. I approached her after she spoke at foothills and said I was still struggling with how to explain to a child “I know it feels good but you can’t do it.” She pretty simply said, “do you like fancy, sweet coffees?” To which I almost puked because…. first trimester probs, but I got the idea and said “sure.” She said “They taste good but that doesn’t mean you drink 7.” How beautiful that we would introduce this idea to our children when they’re young. That the world is going to fly at them with shortcuts. Do this, avoid pain. Take this, escape. Wear this, enjoy the attention. Touch that, it feels good. Rather than pointing them back to the source of all good and pure things. God, and the road to disciplined and healthy living… self-control.

As a girl who was not given boundaries, whose beautiful Mom thought she did best by empowering her sexuality (#feminist) and a dad whose puritan ideals were no more than that… far-fetched ideals he didn't ever live out because of his own generational sin patterns…. empowering our children by way of gospel feels like a giant sigh of relief and it’s exactly what we are to do- in all things, not just sex.


But when it comes to sex we go to Joseph and Potipher’s wife, Samson and Delilah, Bathsheba and David, just as Amy said. We use the tools given to us by our own creator to help instill a healthy pattern and relationship of sex for our children.

 

Some other notes from Amy:

Device stuff.
As hard as it is, in these early years, try to be careful about handing your phone to your little kid to settle them down. Even with the most innocent of intentions, this inadvertently teaches them that a phone or tablet will appease their needs or boredom. Go armed with suckers and books to the grocery store and while errand-running. You can call this a leap but I would gladly take a cavity in my 5 year old over my 20 year old being diagnosed with Erectile Dysfunction or a personality disorder as a result of his inability to function apart from technological stimulation.  

Driving time.
Drives are your prime time for awkward conversations (with your older kids.) Eye contact is not always imperative. Take advantage of long car rides to ask hard questions or rehash lessons or conversations that weren’t fully covered. (we do this with Brady a lot.) The piece I loved for Banks was taking advantage of the car being “brain rest” time. The gift of pregnancy has me taking shortcuts I wouldn’t take ordinarily and Banks has experienced a lot more screen time than I’d like to admit. Since Amy spoke, I have loved looking back at Banks in his carseat and seeing him silent in thought. The car is good for brain rest- especially for our littles who are so constantly stimulated. Get the devices away from them during car rides. Remember, just as our children grow when they’re sleeping, their brains develop while they’re resting.

 

More hormones are released when looking at pornography than are released when engaging in sexual intercourse. That right there makes me want to drop the mic and walk off stage. THINK about the effects of that. I won’t go belabor the point but MAN, the enemy has his claws in deep when it comes to our sexuality.

Live in the moment, think about what’s ahead.
Elementary years- modesty. So we set it up now in the toddler stages. Bikini- why are we putting our girls in bikinis at 5? Step back and think about that? Is it cute to them? Are we assimilating them to the world at such a young age? Graduate slowly. If we keep them in one-pieces longer, then we get to graduate to tankinis and two pieces later.

Modesty:
Come to find out, we as women still have some things to learn about modesty. Especially on social media. We have somehow in our woman power day and age, come to believe that it is 100% a man’s responsibility to control himself and that we should be able to wear as little as we want. Don’t get me wrong- a man SHOULD control his actions. Any man saying “she made me do it because of what she was wearing” or “she was asking for it.” Heck no techno. I will cut you. BUT how cruel is it for us to not help protect the MINDS of our brothers, to be conscious of their wiring. It’s biblical, don’t do anything that causes your brother to stumble. If you’re wearing a shirt with your boobs hanging out, or you like to make post-gym selfie posts in your bra… don’t be surprised if you’re treated in a way that reflects that, or no offense, if I unfollow you. A good rule of thumb is not to do things that you'd be upset by your husband seeing another woman do. 

Just as it applies to our middle school girls. They desire to dress provocatively because there is something they WANT. Amy encouraged us to help our daughters figure out WHY they want to do these things and set them up, in advance, to know better. But sadly, you still see this among our friends. Bra photos from women saying “Proud that this body made three babies.” I encourage you to step back… are you proud? Because when you post it on the internet, it just looks like you’re wanting to make sure other people agree.

As Moms- we need to be mindful of being modest in our own homes. We don’t want our boys imprinting on our bodies and we don’t want them so familiar with the female physique that the first time they encounter pornography they’re not even stunned. You want your sons to be shocked. Being half naked will desensitize our kids.

Modesty cover it at pool, sports events, playgrounds. Doesn’t have to be in a judgmental way but ask “what do you think about what she’s wearing? Do you think it’s okay? Why or why not?” Be matter of fact about things. Waterworld- we will go until your brother is about 12 because at that point there it too much to ask him to avert his eyes from.

Additional quotes:

"You can be really smart and not wise. I’m raising someone’s husband, and I’m raising someone’s wife." 

"Capitalize on questions- how did the baby get out? God designed women with a very special hole… refer to women’s seed and men’s seed and when they come together it makes a baby."

"God’s design for families is that we have a mommy and daddy and they’re married but sometimes people don’t live by God’s design. Just like when you whacked your sister with the tennis racket, that wasn’t God’s design."

"At ages 2,3,4,5,6 hands in pants, correct it. Say we don’t put our hands in our pants. At this age there isn’t brain connection between touching and good feelings but at 10, 11, 12, there is. You don’t want kids forming bad habits. Pastor Chad doesn’t adjust during church, you don’t adjust in public. Teaching this self control is what can help them resist touching because it feels good, pornography, etc."

"Take advantage of every single teachable moment. If you dont know an answer or don’t have time to cover it say “Mom knows the answer to this but we need to talk about this later tonight.” Go research the answer or call a mentor mom to help you answer in a Godly way and go back and reopen the conversation, REGARDLESS of the topic or question. Anytime we say “We dont talk about those thing” that translates to kids either 1) mom doesn’t know or 2) it must be sinful."

Don’t shame anything. And don’t put off anything because this is what translates to children asking their friends about sex. Don’t elaborate if it’s not timely or appropriate but always cover the question.

This is already WAY too long and I haven't gotten through most of what she said.

My advice: go back and listen to one of the recordings posted on our page if you want to rehash some of her lessons.
I can’t say enough about Amy McLean. Last year, her talk and the brief conversation I had with her 1:1 catalyzed a lot of personal growth. Its cool because I feel like she is in part, responsible for some of the content I cover when speaking about sex. Not only did Amy help me start a journey through my own hurts regarding pornography- she gave me ammunition and tools to begin combating the world’s attempts to thwart my little boys. Unbeknownst to Brady and Banks, Amy has influenced some of the ways they are being raised by providing safeguards and conversations I didn’t feel equipped to have before hearing her speak.

Remember: Fuse conversations with God’s design and the most important factor in this is that you know it- which you can only do by spending time studying it. Get in the bible, spend time with the Lord.

Bottom line, you can agree with or disagree with whatever you choose BUT- I personally will always be a proponent of educating children by way of gospel, honesty, and conversation. The more we involve ourselves and set ourselves as the authority for our children’s information- the better off we can be. For too long topics such as sex, molestation, or pornography have been met by heads buried in sand, over education bordering on empowerment, and trusting the schools to have the conversations we felt were too awkward. This has done a massive disservice to our children when the tools have been ours all along.

Use the bible, use truth, use God’s design and the love that he wired within you toward your children to guide them to a healthy relationship with sexuality.