I only spelled out sex to be funny. We don’t shy away from the word in our home. We are just beginning our third round of talking about sex with our children and so I thought I would share some thoughts I have and things we’ve done/are doing.
RC and I both grew up with very little of our information about sex coming from our parents. I get it, though. It can be difficult to talk about at first. However, neither one of us wanted the same experience for our kids. When Caleb (our oldest, now almost 18) was getting to an age that seemed appropriate to us, we began discussing how we were going to handle this topic with him. There was one thing we were really serious about, and that was that we wanted to create an atmosphere of conversation concerning sex. We had no desire for this to be a one time talk and then a seemingly off limits topic after that.
We asked a couple of our friends, who have kids around the age of our kids, what they used/were using to talk to their kids about sex and they recommended the book series Facing the Facts. Honestly, I think this series is fine, though we’ve only used the one book pictured above, but I’m not all about this book. Actually, with Caleb, we first used a book from the library. We didn’t just check out a book and give it to him to read, telling him to come to us with any questions (while secretly hoping he didn’t have any) though. Here’s what we did and continue to do:
We chose one day a week where we and Caleb would read one chapter from the book. We would read it first, making sure we were ok with the contents and then we would give the book to him to read that chapter. The book stayed in our possession and Caleb returned it as soon as he was finished. He was also required to read the book in a “public” place in the house. No going into his bedroom and closing the door. We did things this way for a couple of reasons.
- It limited the focus of sex to a small amount of time at a time. Caleb couldn’t read and reread the book, looking at the illustrations over and over again. This is also why we only did one day a week at a time.
- We didn’t want to give the impression that sex must always be hidden. Having Caleb read the book out in the open showed him that sex is a natural (not shameful) part of life. Obviously, there is a very hidden aspect to sex, and we want to respect and protect that, but talking about sex and learning about sex in a healthy way, as well as the changes our bodies go through as they grow, does not need to be hidden.
Later that evening, therefore giving Caleb some time to process the information he had read, we would talk about the chapter. I want to make it clear here that RC and I both, together, talked with Caleb. It wasn’t dumped on RC because he’s the dad and Caleb is a son. I believe having both a female and a male perspective is much more balanced. However, if you are a single parent, don’t worry. You aren’t doing this alone, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, and He can more than handle it.
First, Caleb could ask questions, often needing to have pronunciation corrected =), and we could share anything we felt was needed. We don’t necessarily agree with everything in every book and we were able to share our point of view with Caleb if it differed from the book. We would also ask him questions to make sure he was understanding things. We were also honest with Caleb about our past. I became pregnant with him before RC and I were married, and we’ve always known that we wanted to be honest and open with our kids about our story. RC and I have been forgiven by our Lord, covered by the precious blood of Christ, and do not live under condemnation or shame. However, we do want to offer our kids the opportunity to learn from our past.
There were a couple of chapters that we didn’t feel like Caleb was ready for and so we simply skipped those. Doing things this way meant that we had no less than 6 conversations about sex with Caleb over the course of six weeks. It definitely got easier to talk to him about sex, and got easier for him to talk to us about sex during that time.
Then, a couple years later it was time to talk to Josh. We don’t have a set age where we start this conversation, but we discern as best we can when the specific child is ready for it. We decided that it wouldn’t hurt for Caleb to go back through the book as well, seeing as how he would probably pick up new things and understand things better this time. We used the same format of reading one chapter, one day a week, and then discussing it in the evening. Again, they had to read the chapter out in the open, though they were asked to not share with their little siblings what they were learning. If their little siblings asked, they were to encourage them to come ask us.
We are now beginning our third round of the sex conversation, this time being the first for Isaac, and we will once again include the older boys as well. We are also going through the book with Micaiah, but we are doing it separately with her, and mainly focusing on body changes, not necessarily sex yet.
Here’s what I can tell you from our experience, having an almost 18 year old (the end of this month) and 15 1/2 year old. Both of our older sons have come to us at different times to ask us questions and at times to confess some sins and ask for help in overcoming them, because they knew there was an open door and a willingness from us to be open with them and to help them. Not shame them or condemn them. I truly believe that fostering an atmosphere of ongoing conversation has created an open door for them to come to us whenever they need to, and being open and honest with them has created a safe place for them to be open and honest with us.
Yes, it was uncomfortable at first. We really didn’t know what to say or how to go about it, but it really has gotten easier as we’ve continued on. Like with most things, the hardest part was just starting.
What have you done to help your kids with the topic of sex?