Sexual education is something I am so passionate about, especially for children. As a young adult, I was trained to be a peer sex educator. My long time goal was to become a sexual abuse counselor. Now I am vocal to the point of screaming about my beliefs. I believe all children and adults should be properly educated on sex, reproduction, abuse and assault.
My belief isn’t simply a worldly one-I believe it is necessary on a Biblical level to talk about sex with our sons and daughters. Sex was a beautiful creation given to us by a loving God and this world has taken it to a point where it is ugly, hurtful, and downright damaging. If you look at the statistics, an overwhelming amount of our loved ones will be sexually abused, assaulted, molested or raped in their lifetime. The best way to help combat those numbers is by education on sexual abuse, which I’ve talked about before.
But there are some simple ways to introduce sex and reproduction to our children that are a daily talk or action and can help them to grow into knowing and empowered adults.
These have been tested by me, from age 0-20 now, on various children I have loved. While they can be uncomfortable and sometimes you want to send them to color another picture of Spongebob instead of continuing the talk, I believe this is an essential part of raising a well rounded and healthy adult-and Christian.
Correctly Name the Body Parts: Nothing in this world bothers me more than cutesy names for your body parts. Studies have shown that introducing your child to the proper names for their genitalia will help them identify if they are ever sexually abused.
Be ready for exploration: Babies learn their bodies from birth on. It’s completely normal for a child to masturbate at a young age, for young boys to have erections, or your kids to explore their personal parts. We simply tell our kids that it is a private thing and cannot be done in front of others.
No Means No: When we talk about no meaning no from birth on, it means we honor our children’s bodies as their own. We choose to allow them to make their body their own and respect and acknowledge they are the ones in charge of it.
Bodies belong to them alone: This is simply a continuation of the idea behind no means no!
Introduce the handful: In my post about sexual assault, I talk about the idea of having a handful of people your children can go to if they do not feel comfortable or safe. This can be anyone your child feels safe with that you also know will handle a sexual assault or abuse delicately and by coming to you or another trusted adult. If your family is like mine, however, I highly suggest vetoing anyone who may take the matter into their own hands. (My beloved father and grandfather have both been vetoed from that fear.)
Basics of sex and reproduction: This doesn’t need to be too intense, but it’s important your children begin to understand the basics at this age. My kids know that babies grow in mama’s uterus, that they come from a fertilized egg, etc. As they grow older, the questions will become more in-depth and you will have a chance to further educate them. For now, keep it simple enough for your littles to understand
Introduce and Enforce Privacy: This age comes with more exploration than before. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked over and my son has his penis out. It happens. It’s important to encourage them to keep private things in private and respect others bodies the way they want theirs respected.
More info on sexuality and bodies: Keep filling in the blanks as they ask them. This age is one that can be less fun, because they want to know more but often are still not completely there to understand all the facts. Try to explain all things sexual aspects while keeping it pretty simple.
Talk in-depth about puberty: Kids are experiencing puberty at younger ages and it’s important they are educated on what their bodies are about to go through and the changes they will face. Puberty can be scary if you don’t know what is about to happen: we’ve all heard of friends who thought they were dying because they were not properly educated on what was about to happen.
You start the conversations: This is also the age when they may begin to get embarrassed by their questions. Be ready to be the one to start conversations about sex and bodies, even if you don’t want to. An open door is so important to keep it healthy and not slammed in your face when they become older.
Open discussion on body changes: Let’s be realistic here, some of the changes your body goes through are not fun. You start to smell bad, you get hair everywhere, your voice is changing. Make sure you keep the discussion going on the good, the bad and the ugly parts of their body changing. Fill them with facts as to why certain things happen and support their fears or questions about why they have to bleed every month or why they are having wet dreams.
Body changes are normal-let them know they are normal.
Begin dialogue about safer sex, STD’s, and sexual activity: I’m cringing just writing this one. I have a child who is very near 13 and I am in no way ready for her to begin thinking about having sex or exploring. I don’t honestly believe she is either. But the hard truth is that in this world, there are children who are beginning to have sex as young as 11 years old. While you may not support that choice, and I don’t blame you, I don’t either!!- it’s important you educate your child how to stay safe if they do make that choice. Explain how STD’s, begin the talk about different birth control methods, discuss why it’s important to wait(emotionally and physically; you can talk about Biblically too if that applies.).
Talk about the dangers of porn/the media: I’m sure some of you rolled your eyes at this one. Of course the Christian is against porn. While my religious beliefs have a significant role in my beliefs, also leading to those beliefs are the facts behind the porn industry and the scientific studies that show how negative pornography is on developing minds. That being said, I don’t need to go into that here; if you are interested, I highly suggest looking into both the physical and societal dangers of pornography and that entire industry. That being said, it’s important to talk to your child about the images. Explain what they will see and why those images aren’t always accurate depictions of healthy sexual relationships.
Talk about birth control methods: And safer sex methods. While some of us may be vastly against our children having sex in this age bracket, they may. It’s important that they know how to keep themselves safer instead of riding into it without any knowledge of protection. Explore the best choices for your child as well, without passing judgment on their choices. You cannot control them, no matter how long you ground them or how little you let them see people you consider a threat. Knowledge is power.
Keep dialogue open and honest: Pretty straightforward! Do yourself a favor and don’t lie about your past either. Your child doesn’t need to know the name of every person you have ever kissed, but it’s important they see you as a person who has also made mistakes in their life. If you chose to wait until marriage, tell them about that. If you didn’t, talk about that too. Honesty is the best policy-we’ve all heard it, but it’s really a time tested truth.
Talk more in-depth about sexual abuse and date rape: Your child may be dating in this time frame and it’s important they recognize the warning signs of abusive relationships. Talk to them about it and let them know you are there if something happens. Explain pressuring someone else into sexual activities or them being pressured is never okay. Date rape is also a danger to teens in this age realm. It’s something they should know about and be aware of ways to handle and leave situations as such.
The Do’s and Don’ts!
Your child will not share your beliefs. As sad as that may be to you, they are individuals with their own beliefs and opinions. Do not assume just because you believe something it will be their beliefs as well.
They may not ask questions, but they want to know. Sometimes you will have to be the one to talk about it; be the one who starts the conversations.
Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed of bodies or sex. And if you are, get someone else to talk to your child about it. Their bodies are not inherently sexual. They need to know the facts without it being attached to the feeling of shame.
Pay attention to your child’s needs and abilities. One of my kids(okay most of my kids) prefer to talk to my husband and he is the one who has to field questions about periods, puberty and crushes(I am really sorry for that one.) If that’s your child, pay attention to that. These conversations can already be uncomfortable enough-let them talk to who they want to talk to about it.
And last but not least, keep the door open. The sex talk should not be a one and done thing. It’s a conversation you should continue to have every chance you get, every time they want, for their entire life. Sex and bodies are a natural part of life, growing up, and maturing. Talk about it easily and freely. It’s as important as what they are eating, reading or learning.