You are currently viewing Curiosity: Judy Blume Answered Our Questions, Google Answers Theirs

Curiosity: Judy Blume Answered Our Questions, Google Answers Theirs

“We must—we must—we must increase our bust!” I grew up reading Judy Blume books. This line from Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret lives on as part of my permanent memory. In the book, Margaret gained insight on who she was as a person and hit puberty in the span of 192 pages. She and her friends resolved to look like the women they saw in Playboy. They vowed to increase their bust size while exercising and chanting this memorable mantra, “We must—we must—we must increase our bust!” Throughout the book, each acquires bras and comes of age by finally getting her period, the ultimate sign of womanhood.

I learned a lot from Judy Blume while coming of age myself.

Judy Blume taught me about periods, masturbation, and sexual intercourse. I learned about flirting, relationships, and breakups by reading Deenie and Forever. I still recall Deenie trying on her back brace for the first time, and Katherine and Michael’s first attempt at making love in Forever. I also remember how their relationship didn’t last forever. Instead, they broke up by the end of the book.

I read these books because I was curious.

Normal and Natural

Curiosity is normal and natural. I still process my surroundings by asking questions throughout the day. I wonder why my husband left his shoes in that spot or why a neighbor planted that particular tree in their yard. If I spend a few minutes asking questions and clarifying their responses, I discover a wealth of information as well as build deeper relationships.

Many parents answer the “Why?” question all day long. From the time they can speak, children ponder why rules exist or why items work the way they do. Some sound like a firing squad, spitting “Why?” at us so often we can’t wait until they fall asleep. Others quietly consider the whys of life and how the world functions. And parents do their best to answer these questions and help their children understand the ins and outs of life.

So why are we surprised when preteens and teens are curious about sex, sexuality, and how bodies function? Human beings have emotions and chemical reactions which cause us to be attracted to and desire others. Again, normal and natural. Of course they want to understand why and figure out how to respond to these feelings.

Curiosity and Pornography

The average age of first exposure to pornography is between 8 and 12 years old. Most stumble across it accidentally, but many find it because they’re curious. And they do what most of us do when we have questions. They look for answers. My generation had Judy Blume. They have Google.

They’ve observed us using that online search box so many times, their automatic response to the “Why?” question is to Google the answer.

What do breasts look like? Google it.

What does sex feel like? Look it up.

Where do babies come from? Why do people have sex? What’s masturbation? Is touching myself normal? What does ____ look like? Is this ____ behavior normal? The list goes on.

I was shocked to learn my son had seen pornography. But in hindsight, it’s not so shocking. Porn lurks online waiting for a child to type in the correct combination of words. Then it jumps onto their computer screen. When a child wants an answer to their innocent questions and asks Google before running to mom or dad, porn is there to satisfy their curiosity . . . and then some.

Rather than assume our children wouldn’t dare look it up (or hang out with friends who would show them), let’s be prepared. Let’s protect our households by adding filters to our Wi-Fi and devices and using parental controls. Let’s prepare our children by starting conversations about these topics and answering their questions honestly and directly. Let’s be their walking encyclopedia, and caution them about turning to Google for anything and everything.

And when they do see pornography, let’s respond in love. Be available. Listen. And help them process their feelings. Assume their motives were pure and their first exposure was innocent. They need our wisdom, support, and unconditional love.

Barb Winters

Barb Winters is a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, author of Sexpectations: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Healthy Relationships, and founder of Hopeful Mom.