Talking to your children about the birds and bees can be an uncomfortable scenario for many Mennonite parents. Usually we just send them off to school and cross our fingers that they’ll figure it all out somehow. However, while that may have worked for our generation, the kids of today may require a more direct approach. So, the Daily Bonnet has consulted with pastors, Sunday School teachers, farm hands, and other experts in the field, to create this sex education guide for Mennonite parents. We hope you, and your children, will find it more than a little helpful.
- Refer to all body parts by their proper Plautdietsch name. Talking about sex is not easy for Mennonites, so if you have to revert to your mother tongue once in a while that’s fine. Here are some body parts that may come in handy: en Hinjarenj, en Bossem, en Lenj, en Footjelenkj. Make it very clear that none of these parts are to be used, touched, or seen at any time.
- Wait until your children are the right age: 40. You don’t want to scar your children by giving them the talk too young. Wait until they’re good and ready. It may vary for each child, but usually a Mennonite is mature enough for this conversation sometime in their 30s or 40s. Approach them after milking one day and say, “Nah, Peter, I think it’s time we had a little chat yet.”
- Use plenty of farm animal analogies. Remember, you’ve got to make the topic relatable. Some of the things you’ll be discussing will sound like crazy talk to your children, so take it down to their level. A tour through a nearby farrow-to-finish barn is a great idea! Not only will they learn about reproduction, but they’ll also answer that age old Mennonite question: “Mommy, where does farmer sausage come from?”
- Defer to the wisdom of Elder Stoesz. Every Mennonite church has a lifelong bachelor who’s a self-proclaimed expert on marriage, sex, and child-rearing. This is the man to consult if you have any questions. He’s knowledgable, eager, and easy to find as he’s usually milling about the lobby after the service just waiting to tell some young people what to do. What a valuable resource!
- Choose the right location. I know you’re probably thinking the tractor is the best place for every serious conversation, but not this one! When having a shocking and traumatic conversation like this you need to stay clear of any heavy equipment. It’s important to find a place that’s private and safe. Find a time when the MCC store isn’t very busy, then head to the change rooms and get yourselves neighbouring stalls and speak just loud enough so your child can hear you through the wall. It’s almost like Catholic confession. Very discreet!
- Use as many detailed personal examples as possible. No need to be shy. You can start by saying something like, “when your mother and I were first married, we didn’t know what we were doing either, but we…” and then fill in the details from there.
- Calmly reassure them that all their feelings are completely unnatural and need to be repressed. A young person may be confused about their changing bodies, so it’s your job to pass on the Mennonite tradition of repression, bewilderment, and the feeling that everything about the human body is sinful. Have them repeat the Mennonite sex education mantra: “Don’t look. Don’t touch. It’s all from the Devil.”