I used to think my education about sexuality and reproduction was sub-par, but this woman who wrote in to the advice column Ask Amy [Note: article not online anymore] takes the cake, cookies, and the whole damn tub of ice cream.
Dear Amy: My husband and I are devout Catholics. We have chosen to protect the innocence of our 7-year-old son by not educating him about the “facts of life” until he hits puberty.
We have told him that the Virgin Mary puts a baby on your doorstep if you pray for one. He is in a Catholic school, so we don’t have to worry about “sexual education.”
My sister knows about our choice, but she does not approve of it. She is pregnant. Recently, she wore a “Baby on Board” T-shirt when visiting.
Our son asked about it, but I did not know what to tell him! What should I do if a problem like this arises in the future?
— Worried Mom
And then I nearly peed myself.
This is ridiculous even for Catholics. This poor child—who will undoubtedly discover the magical powers of his penis before his parents even admit he has one—can only be defined as a victim. His parents’ efforts to shelter him from all knowledge and curiosity will fail miserably thanks to his friends, television, the internet, and print media. They may be Super Catholics™, but they don’t live in a bubble.
I can understand the desire to protect your children from the more crude and basic aspects of life as much as possible, but by blatantly lying about something as obvious as Mary “the Stork” Mother of Jesus and the fact that babies grow in a mother’s womb they are also killing his trust in them later once he finds out they deceived him. Why should he listen to anything they have to say about sex or the bible when they lie about something so innocent?
One of the main thrusts of Catholic morality is to wait until marriage to have intercourse. If this boy doesn’t learn that babies are a natural consequence of intercourse, he will be even more likely to go out and have sex early on, won’t he? And what a surprise it would be to have a young girl pregnant and the parents hearing their son say, “But I didn’t pray to Mary for a baby. Why did she bring one?”
Don’t even get me started with the mother’s offense at a “Baby On Board” t-shirt.
Oh, but let’s not forget the columnist’s response! Here’s what Amy said [Note:article not online anymore]:
Dear Mom: You could ask your son’s teachers or clergy for guidance, but because you’re asking me, I’ll respond by asking you: Isn’t an essential element of the drama of Jesus’ birth that he was born of a human mother?
In the biblical version of “Baby on Board,” wasn’t Mary “great with child” when she and Joseph stumbled into Nazareth?
A baby isn’t a newspaper, left on the doorstep by an omnipotent delivery person.
All animals and humans give birth to babies, and even if you don’t want to explain how babies are conceived, it is both truthful and religiously defensible to tell your son that babies grow inside their mother’s bodies (or “tummies”) until they are born. If you want to fabricate the story of how they got there, go for it.
Bravo, and I hope she gets some sense knocked into her.
P.S. The image in this blog post is from Wonderfully Made—an amusing children’s book about families from the point of view of the 1960’s Catholic church. Check it out. Classic gold!