Talking with our children about sex can seem like a daunting task. How do we even begin a conversation like this? When should we start these conversations?
In this guest blog post (see below, in italics), Chad and Joy Sylvester share some very practical wisdom regarding how to talk with your kids about sex in ways that are age-appropriate and, hopefully, not unnecessarily awkward. I found these practical insights incredibly helpful, and I'm sure that you will too!
In summarizing our thoughts on sex, we in no way intend to imply to be experts or sinless in this area. We depend solely on God’s grace to understand this precious gift.
A few years ago, Joy sat in one of her last MOPS meetings. MOPS is for mothers of preschoolers. The speaker was a local pediatrician and one we trusted because she was our family’s pediatrician. Among the many health and safety issues she covered, she told us to start talking to our kids at a young age about sex. This quickly became the hot topic as many of us hadn’t heard this before. But she mentioned that if we didn’t talk to our kids about it, someone else would...a friend, teacher, etc... This was terrifying, especially since our eldest was headed to the big, bad elementary school for third grade. :) The pediatrician recommended starting at the child’s developmental level. For example, when you see baby kittens, talk about how it takes a daddy cat and a mommy cat to make a baby cat. This was brilliant. So, we began to research resources to help us teach our kids.
4 Principles We’ve Taught Our Kids
#1-It takes a dad and a mom to make a baby. This is the principle mentioned by the pediatrician. You don’t need a book to start bringing this idea into everyday conversation with even preschoolers.
#2-God made our bodies and made them special to share with husbands and wives only. We have read the first two books in the God’s Design for Sex series with our 2 oldest children for several years in a row now. One of the fundamental basics expressed is how God made our bodies only for our spouses and gave husbands and wives the gift of sex. (Of course, be sure to cover the issue of caregivers and doctors needing to help us with our bodies sometimes.) This basic truth informs so many other areas... the reason behind modesty and why it is not okay to see photos/videos etc of people dressed immodestly or not at all on the TV, internet, magazines, books, etc.... This means that even though we haven’t yet taught our kids about pornography or sexual abuse (though they understand that their bodies are private) because of their ages, if they happened upon any of those situations, they would already know it was wrong because of that fundamental principle.
#3-There are no wrong questions. As we have read through the books with our kids, we ask them questions and give them opportunities to ask us questions. We try to be open and not get embarrassed by any question. Right now, our kids feel like they can ask us anything and we hope that continues.
#4-Consider what is developmentally appropriate and situationally appropriate. Don’t give too much info too soon. But also don’t give too little info. For example, the first book we used mentions that it takes “part of a mommy” and “part of a daddy” to make a baby. Our kids were younger when we read it and they were okay with that explanation without any discussion of mechanics. When we got to the second book we found a slightly more detailed explanation. An example of being situationally appropriate is when we adopted our sweet baby boy, the older two kids had questions.... If it takes a dad and a mom to make a baby, then how did the birthmother have a baby since she wasn’t married? Because of our foundational principles, we were able to say, “Remember when we said that it is God’s plan for families to start with a dad and a mom? Remember also that we all sin and sometimes we don’t follow God's plan. Some people don’t follow God’s plan for sex. So, there are parents who have babies without being married. This is not the way God intends it.”
Now that you know a little about how we think, here are a few of the resources that we’ve used to facilitate teaching our kids about sex.
So far, we have used the American Girl book called The Body Book for Girls and the first two books in the series below. Undoubtedly, there are many other great resources and it’d be great if other parents could chime in some they are familiar with, too.
God’s Design for Sex Series:
Before I Was Born (God's Design for Sex) by Carolyn Nystrom
The Story of Me (God's Design for Sex, Book 1) by Brenna Jones
What's the Big Deal?: Why God Cares About Sex (God's Design for Sex) by Stan Jones
Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You (God's Design for Sex) by Stan Jones
We still have much to learn as our kids enter their tween and teen years. But it is our hope and prayer that we have laid the foundation for a open and honest relationships with them. And it is our hope that the things we have learned will be useful to you.