I watch my son’s eyes lock onto the activities of bikini clad teen girls as we enter the pool. His face a mask, but his eyes telling a full story. Large, curious, drawn to skin and curves and giggling, absorbing the activity of the young men engaging the girls.
Short of walking ahead of my son and covering pictures or yelling for modesty from all who may be present as we arrive, I wonder how to deal with the sexually explicit world he is encountering. How do I instill in him the importance of purity, or even what that means, and discourage lust – or even define that for him? How do I convey the motives behind girls’ desire for attention, that the needs they crave fulfillment for are not for his entertainment? That his curiosity and attraction is God-given, but requires the art of self-discipline, honor and respect in order to fulfill what will one day be desire in the manor God intended?
“Son,” I gently pull him aside, “they are pretty, aren’t they?”
He doesn’t even need to ask me what I am referring to. He nods with a sheepish, questioning grin.
“It’s good that you can appreciate them, but I need you to do something for me. Will you practice not staring at them?” I wait. He looks up at me, searching my face to see if I am displeased. He nods, satisfied that I am not upset, smiles and jumps into the pool.
Throughout our swim I watch him. He plays with boy-ish zeal. Then the group of teens comes closer and his eyes are drawn, as if magnetically, to the girls. Innocently he stares. Hardly blinking when he is splashed he wipes away water from his face, glued, watching every move. Like a transe being broken, he turns away and continues to play. I can almost feel the effort it took on his part, and my heart soars with pride. He glanses back several times, but faithfully, if such a deep sentiment can be applied to a six-year-old, goes back to playing.
“Son,” I call him to me long after we are home and dressed, “I saw you watching the girls at the pool,” I pause, seeing his attention snap to my face with intensity, “And I want you to know that I am very proud of how grown up you handled your eyes.”
“It’s hard to look away when they are so pretty and not very dressed isn’t it,” I ask. I see a flash of embarrassment cross his face as he nods. “My son, that is how God created you. And I am pleased that you are exactly the way you were created to be.” I pause again, seeing that I have his attention back.
I lower my voice, he is interested, “But He also wants you to learn self-discipline, and to save your looks for one girl, when you are ready to marry her,” he nods. I continue, “The way you feel around those girls is a gift God has given you, and right now, as you are a boy growing up, He wants you to learn how to use His gift the way He intended it for you.”
He is intent on my face now, curious, waiting for me to go on.
“To begin with that means that you practice not staring even when you feel really really curious. A man makes wise choices about what he sees and how he feels. Can you do that?” I wach as his chest puffs up, and his chin juts out. “Yes,” is his resolute answer, enveloped in all of his 6-year-old might.
And I wonder. Did I handle that right? Does he really understand? Do I really understand? Did I go too deep? Did I go deep enough? And I pray. I pray for his heart, his mind, his eyes. I pray for understanding. I pray for wisdom. I pray for strength, for us both. After all, I am only his mother and he is learning the ropes of becoming a young man…