(This is the first post of a series on how and why to teach your children about sex. This first post will be a good summary and the other posts will be more detailed and include many quotes from the books I’ve read on the topic).
The past couple of years I’ve really wrestled with trying to figure out how in the world to raise my boys (age 6, 4, and 3) to be sexually pure, flee lust, avoid pornography at all cost, and prepare to be a godly husband. I mean, in today’s world, with so many images, how can I keep my son’s heart pure?
Well, seek and ye shall find! I finally got my hands on a couple of good books and I feel completely confident and equipped now! It really is possible! Here is what I’ve learned…
The Short Answer: Talk early. Talk often. Be completely honest.
There never needs to be some big, shocking talk at age 10-12. Besides, all the information about sex can’t be covered in ONE talk anyway. And who can retain a high amount of information from one talk either? It happens 5 minutes here, 30 seconds here, 2 minutes there, 1 minute 45 seconds there. We can answer questions as they come up. We can be open and honest and discuss the subject of sex like we would what we’re having for dinner tonight.
Your child can learn from a young age that God created our bodies so wonderfully. We don’t need to let the world’s messed-up opinions on sex make us feel like we can’t tell our children about how God designed their bodies. It’s natural, it’s normal. We can talk about sex like we do any other conversation, with a perfectly regular voice. The best time to start is before the child is even old enough to be embarrassed about it! It’s usually the parents that are more embarrassed about it, and that ought not be.
Some people say, “My child isn’t ready for ‘THE TALK’ yet.” It’s most likely that the parents aren’t ready for the talk yet. Children are ready from the earliest ages! Here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept!
They are ready! Little by little, you can be open and honest so there’s not this awkward mystery about it. It can be open conversation around your house. Your child can feel comfortable asking you all of their questions instead of running to their peers, tv, internet, or billboards. You can be an easy, trusted source for them! They don’t have to feel shame or embarrassment in asking you about sex. It can be part of regular conversation!
If sex is all some big secret, some mystery that mom and dad never discuss, then the child’s natural curiosities might (will) lead them to get information from sources that will most likely be perverted or just plain wrong.
If you don’t give them honest answers, but instead cover up parts of the truth, your child will lose trust in you and you’ll no longer be the source for information, they’ll seek information elsewhere.
We can use phrases like…
“Boys grow up to be men like their Daddy’s. They get hair on their face called a beard. They get hair under their arms, on their chests, and around their penis area.”
“Girls grow up to be women like their Mama’s. They also get hair under their arms and also around their vagina area. They also grow soft breasts. After they have a baby, they can use their soft breasts to nurse their baby, to give their baby healthy milk.”
We can explain pregnancy and how a baby grows in the womb. Then we can explain how a baby is born. We can tell our children that Mama’s body works to push a baby out. “Sometimes it takes a long time, maybe a whole day. The uterus, where the baby has been living, starts to contract to squeeze the baby out. The baby comes out of the vagina, first the head and then the rest of the body comes out quickly. The baby is born and everyone is so happy!”
“People say “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” How do you think they knew? That’s right, baby boys will have a penis and baby girls have a vagina.”
We can explain the wonderful gift of marriage and that only a Dada and a Mama together can make a baby. We can explain to them that sex is God’s gift for you after you get married, that you have to wait until then.
Just like adoption, starting young and making those words a part of regular vocabulary around your house is way better than some shocking talk at age 10-12. Or worse yet, letting them hear all about it from school or internet. It’s the parents privilege to be the trusted source of information on this topic.
I found a children’s book called “Before I Was Born” by Carolyn Nydstrom (this is where I got many of the phrases above to use to talk to your children). If you’re not sure where to even start or how to word things, you could just read this book aloud to your child. Read it like you would any other children’s book. No queasy voice! Stop after each page and discuss! There’s also a version of this book for ages 3-5, but I don’t think it gives enough information. You could start with that one though.
Honestly, I knew starting early and making it regular conversation was the way to go, but I’ve been so tainted by the world (ahem, public school) that I didn’t know the best godly way to word everything. This book really opened up great conversation for us! When I first read it, I was a little intimidated by a couple of the pages. But after reading it a few times, I could see the benefits of including the details that they did.
Boys are going to be bombarded with images. I want them to be fully in the know before those feelings even arise. I’ve already taught my boys to look away from ‘nakedness’- girls showing too much chest, thigh, belly, etc. I do this so they get in the habit of protecting their eyes, protecting their heart. If it’s habit while they’re young, it may not be such a huge struggle when all the hormones hit, this was advice I got from another mom with grown children. My 3-year-old (at the time) even told me, “Last night at that festival, I looked away because I saw nakedness.” I about lost it laughing (because he was so cute telling me, but I held it in!), I had no clue, but he already knows to protect his little heart! And he knows that it’s not good for him to see that. The Bible says to guard our hearts, and that’s what I’m trying to teach them by looking away.
You know what, I want to be open and honest and not treat the subject like it’s taboo. I want my children to know that they don’t have to feel shy or awkward about it, that I can be an easy, trusted source for information. That they don’t have to seek other avenues later on to find answers to their curiosities. The world has ruined what God meant for beauty. God made our bodies perfectly, there’s no shame! There’s no reason why we should feel awkward talking to our kids about it! I’m glad I’ve opened up the discussion and we can just carry on like it’s normal business from now until they’re fully grown! That’s how I want it. I don’t want it to be awkward and off-limits.
It’s just too dangerous of a subject to not have the parents fully on the offensive side. Be open with your children and talk! Don’t you want to be the first and most trusted source of information to your child about sex?
(I will share more in the next posts, but to give credit where credit is due, I learned the bulk of this information from “Straight Talk With Your Kids About Sex” by Josh and Dottie McDowel. I don’t agree with everything in this book, but for someone who was kind of lost on the subject of when, what, why, and how to talk to your kids about sex, this book has really equipped me well and I’m excited about my children’s future because their Mama read this book!)