I have been working with the amazing Dr. Erik Fisher on helping young people respect and cherish their bodies. Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to spread this message in a relevant, interesting way to kids and teens so that we were not being preachy or missing the mark.
We decided to write a short series of posts on this topic for our parent readers. Dr. E’s first article , is an introduction to the Your Body is Not A Disneyland Message:
“Your Body is Not a Disneyland: Throughout time, people have treated their bodies like amusement parks, sometimes letting almost anybody take a ride at any cost to their self-respect. Whether it is in the name of experimentation or being a free spirit, your body is your temple, and how you and others treat it is, in some way, a testament to your feelings, beliefs and attitudes about yourself. The issue of how we treat our bodies doesn’t begin or end with us as adults. This has a trickle down effect to our children. They are always watching and listening. If we don’t begin to see and understand this issue, our children and ourselves will likely continue this self-depleting pattern. Why and how do we develop our attitudes and beliefs about sexuality, and how can we and our children learn to respect our bodies and our souls?”
While thinking about my take on this concept, I remembered a comparison that my health teacher made to me in 5th grade that has always stuck with me.
“Your body is like a car,” she told me.
“What do you mean Mrs. Brown?” I asked.
“If you knew you had one car for your entire life what would you do when you got it?”
This was an easy question, “I would take really, really good care of it.”
She nodded. “Would you give it the best quality gasoline?”
“Yes, definitely,” I responded.
“Would you wash it, clean it regularly and take it in for check-ups?”
“I would take it in all the time just to check and I would make sure that people cleaned their feet before they got in.” I responded, reconciling having only one car my whole life and my messy friends.
“I bet you would be careful who you let in it and who you let drive it too?” She sat down.
“Oh my goodness yes. I would only let people I really, really trust drive it.”
“Have you ever thought that your body is like getting one car for your entire life?”
I had not, but now I was getting the comparison. Here are the tips that changed how I treat and think about my body, I challenge you to share them with your family:
1. You only get one, so treat it very carefully.
2. Take preventative care. Make sure to protect the outside and the interior with sunscreen/carwax, vitamins/leather cleaner.
3. Get regular check-ups.
4. Have fun too, but always make sure you are safe.
And the most important one…
5. Only let people you really trust and love get into it.
Dr. Erik’s second and third installment addresses love head on, from a global, scientific and even historical perspective. I thought I would add to these angles by bringing an example that many kids understand in real terms. They would never let someone they did not know or trust drive the only car they get for their entire life. It is the same thing with loving relationships and with sexual relations.
I hope that you can talk to your kids about treating their body more like a once in a lifetime car, and less like a Disneyland.