Many parents suppose they can delay talking to their children about sex until their preteen years.
Think of children as video recorders with legs and you won't be far wrong
Long before we think it matters, kids pick up information and impressions about sex, even when they have no idea what it means. They file these bits and pieces in their memory banks.
Most of all, they watch how Mommy and Daddy treat each other.
- Mommy and Daddy seem to kiss for a very long time
- Daddy comes home sweaty from the job or a workout--and takes a shower--then winks at Mommy
- She sprays on perfume when she dresses or just before he walks through the door
- Mommy and Daddy smile at each other a lot and he pats her on the rear when he walks by
Children watch everything--and learn.
They don't quite understand the why of it, but they draw impressions that marriage is different. Something special.
What about television?
Make no mistake, TV shows--even cartoon shows--convey messages. Not only what's said, but also how characters interact.
How family members react to what's onscreen is crucial. Picture a shapely blond wearing way too few clothes cavorting across the TV screen. If Dad whistles or says, "Wow, look at that!" he's teaching.
Mom might watch some musclebound hunk, sigh and then say, "Isn't he the handsomest thing you've ever seen?" She's teaching, too.
We all know the standard television fare:
- Crude jokes and suggestive language
- One character using another
- Bed-hopping between singles who just met
- Unfaithfulness between married folks
- The "absolutely mandatory" gay individual in every sitcom--who always turns out to be much more sensitive and caring than characters who are straight
Every one of these "entertainment" shows instructs. About something.
Any time onscreen words and actions contradict what we tell our kids at other times, we miss out on a natural teaching opportunity.
How? A familiar principle applies here: More is caught than taught.
Children have no filter
It's not just cartoons and sitcoms. Kids also listen in to TV talk shows we think they tune out.
If we say not a word, they'll likely conclude what they're seeing and hearing must be okay, because our silence implies our approval.
Be pro-active. It may inconvenience you, but pause the TV or turn it off. Then talk through what's just been said or shown and help your children understand the right and wrong of it. Anchor what you say in your family's life and faith standards.
It's prime time for setting right attitudes
Home is meant to provide the counter-balance for wrong attitudes pressing in from every side.
Seize the moment, often, to quietly tell your children again how God wants us to live.
Keep your goal in mind: To help your youngsters understand how God's standards differ from the wrong behavior they see around them. Little by little they'll form their own strong foundation of faith that gives them a basis for right behavior.
Feeling overwhelmed? Most of us do. It helps to have some good books with appealing art and kid language for them to read. Scour your Christian bookstore to find what's age-appropriate
The books I know best are the Learning About Sex series from Concordia Publishing House, a Christ-centered publisher. These books feature trustworthy material geared to girls and boys of specific ages. A new revised and updated edition of all the books in the Series was just issued.
I wrote the book for parents, How to Talk Confidently with Your Child about Sex. It takes you through all the stages of your child’s development to assist you in providing accurate biological facts. You'll find suggestions for establishing behaviors, values, and attitudes of a growing Christian.
If this sounds like a reference book, yes. If you expect it to sound scholarly, no. The tone is conversational.
The overall theme of my book--and every book in this Series--is that sexuality is God's good and precious gift to each of us, meant to be the cause of rejoicing between husband and wife.
What if mom and dad have failed in that? We turn to Jesus, to his love and forgiveness, and begin again. This book stresses God's grace in Christ.
Parents rank at the top
It's sobering to realize that how we moms and dads live our lives really counts with our children.
Example weighs more than words.
Every survey of teenagers proves the same point. Teens say their parents are the biggest influence in their children's lives.
That lasting parental influence is built, layer by layer. Day by day.
Don't worry if you stumble along the way. As you integrate bits of information and opinion, you'll feel more at ease talking about sex with your kids.
Think of yourself as the first line of defense against wrong ideas and media influence.
Relax. Trust. Pray
By the way, no parent does everything right.
We all do the best we can with what we know at the time. And we pray, trusting the God who loves our children even more than we.
Then we relax, knowing each of our children is His gift to us.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. --Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Blessings and joy,
Your comments welcomed!