I was riding home from a girls’ weekend with a group of inquisitive, reenergized moms. Somehow our conversation focused on, “Have you told your kids about sex yet?”
We wanted to know what we were saying to our young children. Because it’s likely that what was said in one house would be quickly passed on to the next by our brood of early elementary friends who played chase together in the pews after Sunday morning service.
For the record, I have talked to my 6- and 4-year-old daughters about sex. Some people think this is much too early to be having such a sensitive and delicate conversation with innocent children. I get that.
I might have been closer to 9 or 10 when my mom read to me a much more awkward version of how God made our bodies. It was different too, sitting next to a brother to learn about how God made boys and girls differently. Somehow the drawings in that book just made our cheeks red sitting side by side!
But the sensitivity and delicacy of the issue is exactly why I wanted to be the one to introduce my children to the idea. And I knew if that was my goal, I had to get to them before anyone outside of our home would be talking about it.
Who should tell your children about sex?
If you think about it, parents have a few options. Your child’s classmates could tell him about sex. Or an older sibling could tell her. The internet could gruesomely inform your naïve child.
Or you, as their parents, could tell them what they need to know … at the times they need to know it … in ways that they should hear it.
The idea of my child learning about sex at a junior high lunch table terrifies me. The curious questions that inevitably arise at a middle school sleepover need years of truth-founded answers for me to ever let my girls pack their overnight bags. And the online threat of exposure that comes with handheld access to the world makes me shudder.
Snuggled on our living room couch, between two girls wondering where their aunt’s new baby came from, seemed like the opportune moment to me. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought.
Because apparently at this young age facts are facts. Young kids don’t know yet to giggle and ewwww and ask in shock, “You mean you and Daddy…?!” They just nodded along to the book’s definition of “the sex kind of love that only a husband and wife have.”
Opening up the space in your home for future conversations
We have two daughters, which made sex an easy conversation for a mom to have. We read the “how to make a baby” book while my husband was at work one day. But you know who they were dying to tell about the sperm that swims to the egg? Yup, dinnertime conversation with Daddy.
Both parents should be on board with the idea and be willing to inform and direct young minds to the truth of God’s design. Ideally, the sex talk won’t be a singular occurrence. Hopefully sharing the information will open up the space in your home as a place of regular conversation about sensitive topics with two open, involved parents.
I want our girls to feel comfortable talking to their dad about sex. I want my husband to know that he will talk to our girls about the value in and protection of their bodies, too. The more we can discuss delicate issues, the less shame there will be in the years ahead. And the more the girls will see us as experts to discuss ideas they overhear outside of our home.
Which has already happened to our six-year-old in first grade … who attends Christian school. In the middle of spelling test and recess talk on the ride home one afternoon, she asked, “Momma, remember that picture about boys’ bodies and girls’ bodies from the book?” She said a classmate had told her that our bodies are the same. “But that’s not true, is it?”
Telling your child about sex and gender
The foundation that we set in our home, with talks about sex on multiple occasions, has been a gift. Don’t shy away from talking to your young child about their body.
Potty training is an opportune time to do this. You’re explaining how to appropriately use their “private parts” in terms of the toilet. You might as well add in the intentional design and identity that comes with those specific parts.
Our beginning conversations went something like this: God made girls, and God made boys. Girls and boys are different because God wanted them to be different. God knew it would be good to make some people boys and some people girls. He created each of our bodies. He created each one just the right way with love and care.
We all know that potty training takes patience and you usually need something to pass the time while your little one sits and waits for the potty to happen. Use that time! Your child is a captive audience.
On occasion, I read to them parts of Psalm 139: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Then I’d say, “That means God formed you and made you in my tummy! ‘You were fearfully and wonderfully made.’ He made you so carefully. And He did such a great job on you! He made you to show the world who He is!”
When you’re ready for more guided conversations, it’s hard knowing what to say. So books are an easy help for you and your child. God’s Design for Sex is a five-book series to give you and your child an engaging, age-appropriate script to follow, starting at ages 1-3. We also found a book at our local library that was helpful called It’s Not the Stork.
The sooner the better
The sex and gender conversations in your home don’t have to be big, awkward productions. They don’t have to be embarrassing. And they certainly don’t need to be all planned out.
But they do need to happen. The sooner the better. And they need to continue, the more often the easier. They absolutely must be rooted in biblical truth about how God designed our bodies and gave us the gift of gender and sex.
Have you talked to your kids about sex yet? If not, no matter their age consider easing into the conversation in natural ways. You need to be the primary voice on the delicate and sensitive issue that your children will undoubtedly hear about much before you’re ready.
You might as well be the one to introduce them to the idea.
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