Your guide to avoiding TMI
Often when we’re told it’s necessary – nay, imperative – to talk to our children about sex, our minds conjure up scary images: our doe-eyed 7 year old running screaming from the room after we’ve just shattered her fairy tale notions of love. These images represent our biggest fears when it comes to broaching the subject (and what a weighty one it is!) of sex with our children. And you know what? Healthy fear in this area is a good thing. It’s ok to treat sex with the mystery and respect God designed it to have. It’s kind of like having a healthy fear of the ocean. But when our fear of talking to our children cripples us and produces thoughts like: “I could never talk to them about this. I mean, I totally messed up in this area.” Or “I really want to pass on God’s standards regarding sex, but I just don’t think my children are going to buy it in this day and age – ALL of their friends are doing the exact opposite.” These thoughts, my friends, are the enemy’s territory. And I just want you to take a few moments right now and tell the enemy to go take a hike. Ask the Lord to direct your thoughts for at least the next few minutes and help you to get through this article.
The key to your child being able to view sex the way God designed it is to start with age-appropriate information. That is a fancy way of saying give them the information they are ready to handle. Take it in bite-sized pieces. Start with anatomy, move on to body changes, and then explain about intercourse. Don’t feel like you have to explain all these topics in one conversation – spread it out over several, and give your child a chance to ask questions. Depending on the age of your child and how much information he or she already knows, this conversation will look different. IE: You won’t tell your 5 year old the same pieces as you will your 11 year old.
It’s also crucial that you know the answer to this question: are they hearing about sex from other sources? We hear countless stories from parents who are having to do damage control because their child heard about sex from the little girl or boy they least expected – or they accidentally stumbled across a link online. Damage control is a little harder than preventative work, but it is do-able and necessary! Every parent will have to do at least some damage control, but it’s hard to know what’s broken if we don’t communicate with our children about what they’re hearing, seeing, etc. A major part of being able to talk to your children about sex is establishing a healthy relationship with them where you can communicate and ask them these questions.
When it comes to starting a conversation about sex, the easiest thing to do is read a book. At Generations of Virtue, we’ve done some massive amounts of searching and reading to find books that best help parents in this area. It takes the pressure off of you to come up with exactly the right words, and conveniently many of these books are in story format. There are several series that we recommend, with suggested ages to give you a general compass. Your best bet, though, is to read them before you sit with your kids. Every child matures at a different rate, and also depending on environments, some kids will be ready for more information than their peers of the same age.
Why is giving your children information about sex little-by-little so important? John 8:32 says “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. The truth about sex frees your kids from potential bondage that could devastate their lives. If they know the truth about it, the enemy cannot deceive them as he has so many. As you give your children healthy, Biblical, age-appropriate information about sex, it affects the way they view the topic for the rest of their lives. So much of the sexual content directed at teens is cloaked in a dark, lustful mystery. The subject of sex is also frequently shrouded in a cloud of secrets; where things are hidden and the beauty of sexual purity and fidelity are drastically absent. But if your kids walk into their high school and college years armed with a solid grasp on God’s design for sex, they will be much less likely to be caught in the traps of mystery, secrets and lust surrounding sex.
Here are some of our favorite books you can read with your children to give them age-appropriate information, along with our age recommendations:
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