One of the many challenges of parenting is talking to your kids about sex. As Christians, we want to teach our children about God's beautiful plan for our sexuality. You don't want to make sex sound dirty and wrong, yet you want to relay to them the importance of treasuring their sexuality and using it as God intends. It is a tightrope to walk.
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Talking about sex with our kids is a very daunting task, especially when our society constantly demeans sex and tries to turn it into nothing more than self-gratification. To help our children make the best choices, we must begin laying the groundwork for a healthy understanding of sexuality from the time they are very little. It is not simply a “birds and the bees” talk; it is a lifelong conversation where you should take advantage of teachable moments along the way. I know that it may seem overwhelming, but you can do it!
My absolute favorite resource on this subject is Dr. Gregory Popcack. He is the author of a great book to use as a resource for speaking with your children about human sexuality and God’s plan. It is called “Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids”. I highly recommend reading this as soon as your baby starts sleeping through the night! It is never too early to start preparing for arguably one of the most important things you will teach your child.
There are so many good sources of information out there, but attempting to read all of those books can be just as overwhelming as the task itself. So much good information, but we have such little “extra” time in our lives. And often I find that I never really get the answers I want–like specific answers with actionable steps to take.
First, we need to make sure we understand the Who, What, When, Why, and How of our sexuality and God’s plan. Once we have a clear picture in our own minds of this, then we can more successfully teach it to our children. Giving our children the “sex talk” should not be one isolated conversation focusing on the biology of sex, it should be a lifetime of an ongoing dialogue with our children about how to live out our sexuality and God’s plan.
Our sexuality is a gift from God. The sexual act is meant to be both unitive and procreative and to be shared between spouses. It is the ultimate way to give ourselves totally to our spouse—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sex is not about pleasing ourselves, but is self-donative which is the giving of ourselves to our spouse. This mirrors the way God loves us by giving himself as his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. God intends sex to be a joyful act but not to be abused or misused even between spouses.
We want our children to make good choices with their sexuality and to use it the way God intended it. If used how God designed it, our sexuality will be a source of fulfillment, joy, and a deeper relationship with God. If misused, it can cause physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish.
The experts all seem to agree that the timing should be dependent on two things. The first thing being when your child asks a question about sex or our sexuality. The second time is when as a parent, you feel it is time for them to begin to know and understand things about our sexuality before or instead of learning about sexuality outside our faith and home where we have no influence.
Oh this is the big question, isn’t it? Shockingly the answer is quite simple. Whether you are responding to a question from your child or you are proactively engaging them on the subject, you only need to start with one simple question.
“What have you heard about sex?” Finding out where they are at really helps you figure out where to go from there.
Teaching your children about their sexuality starts so very early in their lives. Laying the groundwork from the time they are little and first notice the difference between girl parts and boy parts gives a very strong foundation to build on.
It is easier than you think and you have probably already been laying that groundwork. By acknowledging that God is the author of life and has specific reasons for everything He creates, your children will grow up realizing that He is integral in every aspect of our personhood. Being able to establish that with your children–that sex was designed by God for a purpose–is a huge part of being able to identify sex and our sexuality as something good.
Often times we are only offered two extremes in how we understand our sexuality.
1) We should feel ashamed and understand that sex is “bad” or “dirty”
2) That we should feel the ultimate freedom and do whatever we want with our sexuality.
Neither of these extremes are what need to be said about this very important subject. This is why the word CHASTITY is so powerful. It helps us realize that these two extreme ideas of sexuality are not our only choices. Sex is good and was made that way by God. Like all things in life, there needs to be a balance. A time and a place to use this gift and experience the fullest benefit of it.
Some worry that if you talk to kids about sex with your child too early, it will have negative effects. You do not know when your child will first be exposed to something sexual in nature. If you, as the parents, are the first source of what a child’s concept of human sexuality and God’s plan is, then that is their baseline.
As they say, first impressions. . .
Be the source of your child’s first exposure to human sexuality and God’s plan! Beginning with the moral truth is much easier than waiting for them to be exposed to sexuality from other sources that distort the truth.
As you learn and discover more about God’s plan, you may even find your own understanding of our sexuality within your marriage to grow and be more fruitful as God intended. Dr. Popcack has also written an amazing book for how to embrace and live out the beauty of our sexuality that God has designed for marriage. Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving
I would love to hear from you! Are there other amazing books or speakers you would recommend when teaching your children about God's Plan for our Sexuality? Please share below!