Educate Your Child About Sex Before Someone Else Does
- Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
- 2001 25 Nov
Here are some ways you can approach sex education with your child:
- Don't wait until your child hits puberty, then present an awkward sex lecture or leave sex education books out for him or her to read. Instead, incorporate teaching about sex into the natural flow of your child's life by talking about it beginning when your child is in preschool and continuing to build on those talks all the way through his or her teen years.
- Look for occasions in your daily life to start discussions about sexual morality rather than just waiting for your child to ask questions. Whenever he or she does ask questions, answer right away, presenting information that is appropriate for your child to understand at his or her particular age. For example, preschoolers may want to know basic facts such as where a baby comes from, so you could say that God makes them and helps them grow inside a mommy's body. Older children may need more detailed information and opportunities to talk with you about sexual morality.
- Give your child the correct information from the beginning, rather than using make-believe stories about storks or coming up with cutesy names for body parts. Your child will benefit from learning the proper terminology and understanding the facts right away; he or she won't be confused and have to relearn later.
- Pray for God to take away any sense of embarrassment you might have about approaching sex education with your child. Ask God to help you convey the beauty of sex as He designed it, so your child can understand that sex is a gift meant to bless people who receive it as God intends.
- Emphasize the vital connections between body, mind, and spirit. Let your child know that his or her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that God wants your child to use his or her mind to understand how best to use sexuality.
- Share Bible verses about sex. Talk about the consequences people suffer when they don't use sex as God intends - including diseases and emotional devastation. Help your child understand why God designed sex to be used in a certain way, and know the benefits of listening to God. You may want to share stories of different people's experiences with sex and how their choices have affected their lives. Choose both negative and positive examples to illustrate your points.
- Talk about the importance of marriage and children in the lives of people whom God has called to get married and become parents. Help your child understand how being faithful to God in the way they approach sex helps people have successful family lives.
- Be sure to regularly nurture your child's spiritual life by praying with and for him or her often, participating actively in church, etc.
- Regularly encourage your child to build his or her self-esteem. Praise your child and openly express your love for him or her. Healthy self-esteem will help your child choose good over evil. Also, a child who feels secure in his or her parent's love will be far less likely to seek out love through unhealthy sexual behavior.
- Let your child know that he or she can talk to you anytime about sex. Be available, and willing to listen intently to anything your child says.
- Get to know your child's friends. If you see that a particular friend is influencing your child to adopt wrong values, don't be afraid to limit your child's contact with that friend and explain why.
- Encourage your child to pursue activities that interest him or her, such as sports or the arts. Make time to be with your child as often as possible, and support your child as he or she pursues activities. Children who aren't bored won't be likely to turn to sex to fill their free time and try to entertain themselves.
- Talk with your child about stories you see in the media about various sexual issues such as pornography, abortion, and homosexuality. Explain your convictions about those issues and discuss them with your child.
Adapted from Sex Education and Successful Parenting by Ann and John Murphy, copyright 1996 by the Daughters of St. Paul. Published by Pauline Books & Media, Boston, Mass., www.pauline.org, 1-800-876-4463.
Ann and John Murphy write and speak about family life issues. In addition to raising their own two children, they have more than 20 years of experience in teaching and parenting education.
What anxieties do you have about sex education as a parent? How have you successfully been able to talk about sex with your child so far? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.