I have a nine year old daughter on the cusp of puberty and a seven year old son who I’m sure isn’t far behind. I’ve found myself in the midst of several conversations lately about how I’m broaching the various topics that come along with this territory with my children. To my surprise, I’ve found that I am in the minority in my choice of approach. It seems that the popular method is to take this opportunity to dive right in and fill my little girl and boy in on all the details of the birds and bees. The reasoning? Because it’s what responsible parents do.
I strongly disagree. Let me be frank here with you all because after chatting with some other like minded parents, I’ve discovered that there are plenty of you out there who feel the way that I do when it comes to this subject: my children don’t need to know what sex is yet.
When I share my thoughts with others on this subject, I generally experience either a respectful dialogue or conversation or a direct attack on my parenting skills, but either reaction is quite often a position of opposition. After yet another experience of the latter, I’ve decided to share here about why I choose not to teach my young children about sex in the near future unless it is warranted.
Why I Choose NOT to Teach My Young Children About Sex
1. They have not asked.
This is my number one reason. I believe in answering children’s questions in age appropriate ways. I have four children. While I was pregnant with my last child, my oldest two finally asked the question that I knew would eventually come-“How does the baby come out?” I explained briefly and matter of factly that God had designed women’s bodies in a way to allow babies to be born via her private parts. I did not go into detail nor did I address things such as sperm and egg meeting to create the baby. Why? Because that isn’t what they asked me. The entire question and answer session was over in a matter of minutes. They asked if giving birth was painful and I was truthful (YES!), but reassured them that my midwife was there to help me and that I’d be fine. They were satisfied. I had answered their question, but had not opened the topic further without provocation.
2. We want them to stay innocent.
Yes, sex was designed by God to be a beautiful act that joins a husband and wife together. Within these bounds, there is nothing at all shameful or embarrassing about it. However, I also believe sex is for adults. It isn’t fodder for children’s chatter and overactive imaginations. Be careful little ears what you hear. Once you introduce this subject to your children, you can’t take it back. If your young child hasn’t asked about where babies come from, then why not let them keep their childhood innocence on the subject? Let them be little! In a world where eight year old girls often feel like it’s “babyish” to play with dolls and boys are pushed to assert their manhood at younger and younger ages, I’m a big advocate for hanging on to youth for as long as you can.
3. We are not sheltering them too much.
When I was very young, I was exposed and subjected to things that I had no business knowing. It tainted me in ways that I wish it hadn’t. The events that occurred then caused me to have issues into adulthood that I still deal with now. I am fully aware that my children need to know what is appropriate and inappropriate touch. We teach that certain areas of our bodies are private and should not be seen except by Mommy, Daddy, or a doctor and for specific reasons. We teach that they always have the right to say, “No” if someone is touching them in a way that makes them uncomfortable, even if it is only something as simple as a hug. We teach that they should never be ashamed to tell us or another trusted adult if someone violates their privacy in any way. We do not believe that teaching these things also means that we must deliver the intimacies of intercourse at this time.
4. We realize we have an advantage.
Unfortunately, many parents aren’t able or choose not to homeschool their children. Keeping our children at home with us gives us a leg up on what they are exposed to that other parents may not have. We have the ability to be very selective about the other children and people with whom our sons and daughters spend time with on a regular basis. We are able to be present when they have their interactions. We are blessed to have like minded friends who are also vigilant about what their children are exposed to and do not typically have to worry about surprises of a sexual nature. This means that we (so far) don’t have to do what so many other parents must–teach their children before they are exposed to it from an outside source. I am not naive. I have, on more than one occasion, been shocked to the core at what I’ve heard other young children say. This society is sadly so sexually driven that children are exposed to things at younger and younger ages. It’s heart breaking. I do not judge a parent who makes the decision to have a sit down with their own children to ensure they know the facts about the mechanics and purpose of sex. However, I am very thankful that I am not in a similar position.
5. We are preparing for puberty in stages.
My daughter is 9. No matter how much I want to be in denial that my little girls is growing up, I know that there are things that will soon be happening to her and I want her to be informed and prepared. I have begun to share with her about women’s menstrual cycles and body changes because that time is approaching for her, but I have left sex out of it. As she ages, I will begin to introduce that as well, but for now, I am focusing on addressing the topics that are most pertinent to her at this moment in her life. Soon, my husband will be having similar talks with my son about the changes that will occur for him as a young man. As he grows a bit older, the content of the conversations will naturally evolve to include more grown up details.
I’m a firm believer in letting children be children and not introducing things too early without cause. If my children ask, I answer in what I deem an age appropriate way, but I think it will still be another year or two for my eldest children before they begin to be curious or are developmentally ready for talks about sex and all that it means between a husband and wife.
The bottom line is this-parents make hard choices on a daily basis about how they will do certain things when it comes to their children. Deciding the right time for discussing adult topics is no easy task. While some parents may choose to tackle this subject head on from very young ages, others may choose to wait until a later time. Neither parent is wrong. As long as we are prayerfully considering our parenting choices and following the Lord’s lead, we should be just fine. Instead of chiding a parent who makes a choice different from your own, why not take a moment to realize that we are all on our own parenting walks and in many cases, there is no one right choice.
If you are wanting to discuss God’s purpose for sex with your children, here are some biblically based resources that you may be interested in:
Books and Resources for Talking to Kids about Sex from My Joy Filled Life