Your children are forming an understanding about sex and sexuality. What sources and information are contributing to that understanding?
Today, nearly 50 years into the dawn of the “sexual revolution,” information that was once obscene and inappropriate to discuss in the public square is inescapable and unavoidable. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that parents are proactive in their children’s education and instruction concerning sexual matters. Here are a few tips to help parents do just that.
Be the First Word
Kids will seek out information, or information will seek out them and, more often than not, when they aren’t ready to hear it. Be proactive in their development and understanding of sexuality by being the first word on these matters.
Early on, children will have questions about their bodies. Use these questions to create safe and open communication by answering with age-appropriate, honest answers. Initiate conversations. Ask if they have any questions about their bodies and let them know they can and should always come to you if anyone does or says anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
As your children grow up and approach the teen years, acknowledge any awkwardness or uncomfortable feelings they might have concerning a conversation about sex and sexuality. “Hey, this might be a little awkward for you to start talking about, but that’s okay. This is a good conversation for us to have, and I want this door of communication to always be open because I love you and care about you.”
Keep the Conversation Going
The “sex talk” is not a one-and-done conversation but an ongoing conversation where new information is added and discussed as children grow up and are ready to receive it.
It is impossible to communicate everything that your child needs and should know about sex and sexuality in one conversation. Teaching your children about sex should be an ongoing dialogue that you have with them throughout their development.
Write down all the big ideas you wish to communicate with your child concerning sex and sexuality, then find times to speak with them one-on-one about each idea. Know your child and decide when to address each idea based upon their individual development and understanding. Be sure to speak and talk about sex in a manner that is not shaming and make sure to get an idea of what your child already knows. “Today you and I are going to talk about ________. Before we do, I’m curious: What, if anything, do you already know about ________? What have you heard about _______?”
Be in Their World
Some children will be very forthcoming with information and share their thoughts about sex and sexuality freely. Others will be very withholding, forcing parents to mine the depths of their hearts and thoughts to gain insight to their child’s understanding and perception of sexuality.
Schedule in and give your child time for these conversations to bubble up and occur. Create regular and consistent space where they know they have your full attention and can share or open up about serious and sensitive issues. It’s also helpful to be on the lookout for and capture “teaching ”moments.“ Whether watching a TV show together or looking through a magazine, if sexual topics are presented, don’t be afraid to press pause and use that moment to share biblical truth about sex.