When I was eleven, I heard some kids at the skate park talk about “jacking off together” (which, now that I think about it, I hope just meant that they were talking about jacking off, together, and not jacking off together). Then later on a girl in fifth grade gave me a lap dance to Christina Aguilara’s “Genie In A Bottle” at our Christian school right before we lined up for Chapel, so you know the teachers were doing a great job.
Later on, when my dad decided that it was time for us to have “the talk”, I felt my legs wobble a lot and wondered how awkward it was going to be, and if I would have to tell him about the kids at the skate park who jacked off together. My dad planned a whole “father/son” weekend for us to spend far out into the mountains east ofAlbuquerque,New Mexico, complete with ATV four-wheeling, wood-chopping, and fire-making in a cabin with no electricity. It was a man’s weekend. I’m not completely sure whether or not I remember if my dad actually told me what we were going to be talking about on said weekend, but when I saw some Dr. James Dobson’s Focus On The Family publication on adolescence mounted on the bookshelf in the office, my heart pounded a little bit harder than it had been previously, and I knew what I was in for.
On the way up to the cabin, we got stuck behind some miserable pickup truck in the middle of nowhere with a crotchety old man behind the wheel who would have been driving forward faster if he had been driving backward. When my dad tried to pass him, however, the old man put a shotgun out the window and fired off two rounds which sparked against the hazed backdrop of the sun setting into the mountains, so we decided to stay where we were.
When we got to the cabin, it was already dark and I distinctly remember peeing all over the toilet seat and maybe in the trash can because I could not see a single thing (you know, the way the majority of “potty trained” adults urinate all over the place in public bathrooms because by “potty trained” they meant that their parent’s told them to swivel their hips and point their penis everywhere but down into the toilet water). I’m slightly embittered towards public restrooms.
Anyway, I think we just went to sleep that night, which was fine, but added to the foreboding sunrise when morning’s rays pierced through the window and seared holes into my eyelids as I woke up to immediate anxiety about the conversations to follow: puberty (crotch hair and nipple rocks), masturbation (where I only vaguely mentioned the skate park conversation, and subsequently began searching for loopholes on practicing orgasm to the glory of God shortly thereafter), marriage (with a relatively awkward explanation about my dad having sex with my mom), and manhood (which I’m still working on figuring out).
So we talked about sex and drove ATVs around. At one point, I got to drive the ATV around by myself, which I crashed into a tree, probably providing the perfect analogy that I was ready for neither.
As I suspected, we went through a Focus On The Family cassette tape presentation on all of the topics that we covered, almost like a private seminar where we listened to topical teachings and then discussed their applicability to the upcoming years of my life.
Regardless of how awkward this whole experience seemed to me, at the time, I’m sitting here, now, reminiscing of it as invaluable time spent with a father that cared for me enough to push through any inhibitions he might have had, and educate his son as a loving example and picture of Christ. My dad made himself available to me for anything, regardless of the topic. He always told me that there was nothing that I couldn’t bring to him. Rather than allowing all of my pervert friends and / or pornography to build up my initial thoughts on sexuality, he manned up, swallowed his embarrassment, and brought me up “in the wisdom and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
This built the framework for trust in the years to come, as well. I remember one particular day, after being completely consumed by guilt at having masturbated for the four millionth time, convinced that God was sending me to hell, where I walked into my dad’s office, kindly asked my mother to leave the room, shut the door, and proceeded to weep uncontrollably while bumbling incomprehensible words that probably sounded like they were in a different language. I told my dad, quite convinced, that God was sending me to hell. He smiled comfortingly and began to explain how the first time he had an orgasm was in middle school gym class while he was climbing the rope. He said that he had no idea what was going on but decided that he actually quite enjoyed climbing the rope after that, and so he went back to the gym when school was out to try it again. I have since concluded that he only told me that story to make me laugh because years afterwards I realized that it had absolutely nothing to do with the predicament at hand.
The point is that my father was a good and trustworthy man who had a sense of humor and, now that he is in heaven, hopefully laughs with God about that story and tries to figure out why it was appropriate or applicable at all. He was a father that built timeless relationships with me, hilarious memories, and provided Godly insight, instruction and discipline.
The point of saying those things is to conclude with this: I count myself blessed that my father was able to mix wisdom, humor, experience, and love into this topic when he addressed it with me. And I count myself blessed that it was my father who told me at all. I know that not many young men are as blessed, and I also know many young men that are, but completely disregard or abhor the idea of speaking to their father about it. Do not be foolish, especially those of you with Jesus-loving parents who take their parenting commissions from Scripture seriously. In a country where a heartbreakingly massive percentage of children grow up without a father, it is insanity not to learn from the man that brought you into the world.