I am blogging all week about the best questions I received last Saturday when I spoke at a parenting conference at Northridge Church, just outside of Detroit. It was a great day of dialogue and the parents were full of insightful questions. Here is another below.
“It seems like I am running into more and more tweens and teens who say they plan to experiment not only with sex, but with genders. They are not sure which gender they prefer to marry or to engage in sexual activity. It’s a bit frightening—how do I counsel my kid? I don’t want to sound judgmental, but I wonder if this is just a fad today where kids are exploring new things. What do you think?”
This issue is coming up more and more today. Let me begin by saying I am not a psychologist; I am a leadership trainer for the next generation. And, I am just one voice. However, with this in mind, let me respond.
To be honest, I believe some teens are simply playing into the cultural norm to “experiment” with sexual partners. However, there are other factors that aid this sexual confusion. For instance, for several years now, scientists have known about chemicals, like BPA, that are in our plastics and our water. When BPA enters the human body, it mimics estrogen, the female hormone. This is impacting both girls and boys in Generation iY, born since 1990. Girls are moving into puberty faster than ever before, as early as eight years old, instead of twelve or thirteen. And boys are seeing a drop in testosterone levels in their body. According to Dr. Leonard Sax, M.D. and PhD in Psychology, boy’s testosterone levels are half of what they were in their grandparent’s day.
I wonder if part of the reason for kid’s sexual confusion is the chemicals they’ve ingested. BPA will obviously affect kids differently, based on their natural levels of estrogen and testosterone. But culture and home environment (on the outside) as well as chemicals inside of them can impact their perspective and sex drive.
Consequently, we must handle this experimentation with grace and mercy. Keep talking about the issue with these tweens and teens. We believe what’s key to their sense of identity is to help them identify their God-given gifts and play to them. This actually builds strong self-esteem. In response, perhaps some of the inward need to experiment with their identity can be reduced if many of their emotional needs are met through the affirmation that comes through employing their gifts and strengths. This seeming unrelated issued may lead to healthy choices. It’s just a thought. Remember, I am no psychologist. Just a leadership trainer for the next generation.
What do you think? How do you respond when you see students struggle with this issue?