Teaching our children about their sexuality is something we've invested a lot of time preparing for. We wanted to do a thorough job trying to understand every angle a child experiences when learning about sex. I have asked countless individuals and priests their recommendations for preparing our children for a sexualized culture. This is what we've discovered so far and I wanted to share the resources we've found and what we've experienced so far. Please add any additional resources or ideas. We would love to hear what you have found for your family.
1. We decided that John and I would tell our children together as a couple about God's design for sex. It is one of the most important topics we will teach them about so why would we not approach this subject together as a united team. I AM SO GLAD WE DID THIS. It certainly appears to have left out any uncomfortability as we are there sitting next to each other complimenting and validating each other while presenting the topic to our children. NOTE: We didn't tell our children all together as in everybody in one room. We told Dominic separate from the age-appropriate girls, but John and I are there together while we are speaking to both groups.
2. We very much intend to not just have ONE talk. We intend to have an on-going conversation reading different bits of material together mixing encyclicals with other great resources that I will list below.
3. Most of our talks will be in the comfort and familiarity of home. I've asked many friends about when they first learned about intercourse. I received a variety of answers which included some being told by their parents, some went on special trips with a parent, many learned from kids at school, and far too many learned from their encounters with pornography at a young age.
4. While we stressed the seriousness of the sin involved with abusing our sexuality either with pre-marital sex, self-abuse or masturbation, or viewing pornography, we told them last night that our goal as a family is to stress the beauty of life and God's plan for each person. We have a two fold goal. YES, this is a mortal sin BUT Please know of this big, beautiful world God has created and how He has made you for a specific purpose. It is a tricky thing in parenting because on one hand you want them to never put their soul in mortal danger so a parent can tend to pound and pound the subject out and then the child is left dulled by the repetition. On the other hand, we don't want to neglect the seriousness by only portraying how wonderful life is. I believe you must present both.
We've found these valuable teaching tools that I would recommend to invest in for your children.
1. Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner
2. Wonderfully Made! Babies
A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies (for ages 9 and up)
By Ellen Giangiordano with Dr. Lester Ruppersberger
Other resources that have been recommended to us:
1. All Things Girl by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller and Monica Cops
2. The Care & Keeping of You: A Body book for younger girls
3. The Story of Me (book 1)
4. Before I Was Born (book 2)
I will add recommendations here that I receive from other readers.
1. Listen, Son (Family Life Education for Boys) (Seton)
2. Mother's Little Helper (Family Life Education for Girls) (Seton)
I would certainly read everything before you present to your children just so you can sift what you deem appropriate for each child. For example, while the last two books I've recommended are good, they are advanced for many children so proceed with caution.
All these books can be ordered through Gloria Deo bookstore at 888-420-1830.
I want to close with a few tiny tidbits we added and found helpful.
There certainly was an element of nervousness to begin this process for us. We wanted to preserve their innocence while not neglecting a very important parenting duty. We wanted to preserve the sacred while making sure they are prepared to encounter the world and all that it might throw at them. Once we began discussing with them, all the nerves went completely away and we've had many beautiful discussions. I know the grace will be flowing!
One night we focused on body safety rules that I'm glad we went over with them. I wanted to add that here as a chapter of the whole picture regarding this subject matter.
I found this on pinterest and thought it was pretty thorough so we just used this.
We added to #2: Even if an older child or adult asks you to.
We also taught them early warning signs that should trigger their brain to beware of such as sweaty palms, racing heart and a sick tummy.
We never keep secrets that are uncomfortable or bad; we only keep happy surprises!
Be strong, Be brave and Always speak!
Again, these conversations have unfolded over many nights and weeks. We haven't presented everything at once and while the topics can be serious, we always stress God's beauty and wonder to them.