I am in the “letting go” years of motherhood. I know Alzheimer’s disease is considered the long-goodbye, but having teenagers feels as much so. Except instead of forgetting precious memories, I am flooded with them: story times at the library, field trips to the zoo, class parties, countless baseball games, first dances, and ordinary moments that have aged into extraordinary memories.
It is often said of parenting that the days are long but the years are short. I would only add that the years get successively faster like a racing heart sprinting toward the finish line. The teenage years are propelled with a momentum that has little to do with parenting but is filled with our children’s pursuits. We no longer set the pace of their days. Instead, we race to keep up or merely watch their projection as they shoot off like a ball in a pinball machine: hither and yonder, to and fro, until they finally land in their beds at night. Still. Safe. Ours.
But the truth is they were never ours to keep. They were trusted to us by an ever-generous God for what suddenly feels like too little time. Somehow, he put us together knowing that we will each learn from the other. We are shown we could love more than seemed physically possible and that we can stretch beyond what we once considered strong to a surprisingly soft place of resilience. I can’t think of anything else that compares to the ways it has broken me, built me anew, and taught lessons that only love could teach.
While my teenage son was at youth group one Sunday afternoon, I was on the computer researching a new television show marketed to teenagers called “Sex Education.” It shows male and female nudity including close-ups of genitals. It has teenage characters not only having sex, but also abortions. The Netflix series is described as a comedy, which in my opinion, is laughable.
I can’t think of anything funny about watching teenagers have sex while I nosh on popcorn like I am watching an episode of the “Andy Griffith Show.” I know some teenagers have sex. I also know there are physical and emotional consequences that they are not mature enough to handle. I could rattle on about this – the science of it, the immorality, and the struggle of trying to feel whole after giving away a part of oneself intended to unify two souls in the context of love and the bounds of marriage. But I would just be another moralistic adult preaching to the choir. It wouldn’t change the fact that some teenagers are going to have sex anyway. They had it long before sexting, internet porn, and the legalization of abortion.
What has changed is the horrific way teenage sex is being normalized by mainstream media to the point that it is considered entertainment. Teenage sex as television entertainment. It’s incredulous. Parental responsibilities to teach about the sacred nature of sex have been disregarded — outsourced to Netflix despite the completely irresponsible premise of a “comedy” teaching the many dimensions of human sexuality. The reviews of the show are generally positive as the characters are described as endearing and empathetic. I even read reviews by teenagers who say that it is a realistic depiction of what teens struggle with. Maybe so. Yet by normalizing teenage sex as something to explore, we are ignoring the spiritual component that is more complicated than its physical counterpart. By debasing sex to something to share as freely as a stick of gum, we exchange the wholeness of the person for a fraction of carnal pleasure. Teenagers are left to sort broken pieces of themselves – feeling more confused than ever as to why something that was marketed to fill them has left them empty. Is Netflix going to create a show to help with that? Read more