Extra Virgin :: Talking to Your Kids About Sexuality
One of the most common questions I get is how to talk to kids about sexuality. Recently I had a great conversation with two mothers of elementary aged boys on the subject and it reminded me once again what an important subject and parenting issue this is. Here are some of the best resources and principles I’ve found on the subject ::
Ground Children in Their Identity As Those Created By God
Nearly everything we need to know about godly sexuality can be found in Genesis 1-2. Teach your kids that God created them, that he created them well and that he loves them. Your child’s body and gender and personality have been crafted by God on purpose and with a purpose. Thus, they should take care of their bodies and thank God for them; there is nothing shameful or bad about the way God created them; they should define themselves not based on what others say about them, not even on what they think about themselves, but based upon God’s Word and how he has created them.
Answer Kids Truthfully and Appropriately
Make sure to educate and familiarize yourselves with anatomy and healthy sexuality so that you can truthfully and age-appropriately answer all of your children’s questions. Instead of putting a lot of pressure on “The Talk” or coming-of-age rituals, let your kids develop a healthy concept of their bodies and their sexuality through countless conversations that they have with you over the years prompted by their own natural curiosity. When your young daughter asks about male anatomy, teach her the word “penis”. (It goes without saying that she should know words like vulva, vagina and breasts.) When your son asks where the baby comes out, tell him babies live in a woman’s uterus and come out of her vagina. Don’t make up nicknames for sexual body parts while still calling a foot a “foot” and a nose a “nose”. Don’t laugh or look shocked when they ask you questions about their sexuality, but instead answer truthfully.
If this happens, they will begin to believe that when they come to you with questions they will be met with real answers, no judgment and an open conversation. This will be incredibly important as they get older and will start having more and more complex questions. You will want them to be used to coming to you and other trustworthy adults when they have questions instead of going to their friends or the internet where the information is often not accurate and potentially damaging.
Give Them a Script for Tricky Situations
As your kids get older, they will be exposed to more complex situations and conversations. In one great article, a woman talks about giving her sons a “script”—an invaluable tool for them to use at these times. For example, your elementary aged son may have no idea what pornography even is, but you want him to be prepared for when (not if) he sees it for the first time. Teach him that if anyone ever shows him pictures or videos of naked people he should say, “I don’t look at porn,” and then that he should go tell a parent (or a trusted adult). Once he knows the script, practice with him (even role-playing the situation) until he knows it well. Other situations that may be helped by having a script: when a girl gets propositioned for a naked or revealing photo, getting invited to a sleepover (depending on whether you allow this or not), or being touched inappropriately by someone.
Teach Them a Robust Theology of Sin and Grace
The truth is that your kids will sin and eventually they will sin sexually. No amount of preparation or good parenting will prevent this. Make sure that you yourself have a biblical perspective on sin and grace and that you teach this to your children. Sin is wrong, but God’s grace is big. Don’t let them ever believe the lie that they must be perfect in order to be loved and accepted by God or by you. As a parent, you should expect them to sin. It is not your children’s good behavior, but the power of the cross that saves them.
What are some other good resources or principles for teaching godly sexuality to your children? What do you find especially challenging about talking to your kids about their bodies or their sexuality? Any thoughts on the issue?
(Photo by Eden Greer)