Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Teaching our children about sexuality

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

We've read this with everyone including Clairvaux (5 years old) on up.  It's a powerful 5-step plan to inoculate your children again the epidemic of pornography.

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

3.  The Joyful Mysteries of Life by Catherine Scherrer





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)

*UPDATED*
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.


22 comments :

  1. Thank you for this! I am curious what age you decided on for the initial talk beyond the more innocent resources? I know each child is different, but a general idea would be great.

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    1. Agreed, my husband tried to talk to our oldest when he was 12 while they were throwing a football and he literally ran off telling my husband to throw it long so that he couldn't hear him anymore!

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    2. I really think this is something that must be prayed and discerned over for each child. We couldn't find any consistent advice regarding age. It was like 50/50 both ways. I found that the JPII generation priests and younger couples recommended telling children earlier than the older priests and married couples I asked. I don't know why this was. Maybe the generation gap? Maybe our over-sexualized culture so the need to teach our children about these topics comes at an earlier age. I also have found that while with homeschooled kids (since due to the nature of them being mainly at home) a parent seemingly would be able to push back the age of education about sex. BUT, I also heard from several mothers of homeschooled kids that their children DID NOT LIKE being ignorant about basic sexual topics especially after they went to college. Like I said, I really don't think there is one standard age. I think it takes keen watchfulness of each child and like my mother told me "You will notice an awareness come over your child." I need to write a follow-up post to my whole process of thought development here and the opinions I collected. I'll work on that. God Bless.

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    3. Lindsay - You and your husband have done a beautiful job with this. I really appreciate the original post and the feedback. What your mother said - wow! I'm seeing that with my children and your post was timely. Thank you!

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  2. I find it very interesting that you chose to blog about this, as my husband and I discussed some of these very same topics with our oldest child over Christmas break. We wanted her to hear it from us instead of all these outside influences first. You have some great ideas, and it is a relief to know we are not the only parents who are taking this same path. Great Job! Lesley from NE

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  3. Lindsay, thank you for this collection of information! This is all so very important. I haven't yet heard of the "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures" book, so I think a trip to Gloria Deo will happen today. :) Thanks!

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  4. We just got the good picture bad pictures book for Christmas and are so excited to use it! This is SUCH important information to be taught in home, loved this post and your wise words! Here is a 5 minute video about the good pictures bad pictures book, I think they did a great job on it. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865636816/What-Should-I-Do-When-I-See-Pornography-LDS-video-offers-direction-for-children.html?pg=all#aYpHd63tQdYhjaBu.01

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  5. This is helpful! We do separate talks where I talked to the girls and my husband talked to the boys, but that's just how we liked to approach it. I do see in my kids a much more openness to talking about sex/body changes than I had with my parents--which was NONE! We want to keep an open dialogue, which I think is key to helping them in this world.

    We have older kids (17 year old boy,- who just basically went through puberty at 16 1/2, so we read The Joyful Mysteries of Life with him at age 10/11, but it was obvious he wasn't ready/didn't need the later chapters on purity until now-- a 16 year old girl, 14 year old girl, and 12 year old boy and 12 year old girl. And 9 and 1 year old boys, who are still totally innocent, obviously!) I did read the "The Care & Keeping of You: A Body book for younger girls" with the girls when they were 11/12 (late bloomers), and The Joyful Mysteries of Life with them when they were also 11/12. My question is--do you delve into the pleasure aspect of sex at all? My oldest girl was so "grossed out" by the mechanics of it (she's very squeamish), that I just told her that if God wanted humans to procreate, what do you think He did? He made it feel good. But I didn't say anything else. I'm just not sure how much of that they need to know or should know. I like all the books you referenced above, but sometimes I think they are so "high level", as in, "This is what God created for marriage. It's holy. It's sacred," that they don't really understand that sexual relations are an integral part of a couple's interaction and joy for the couple. The Joyful Mysteries of Life just doesn't seem to touch on that. Or, maybe they are still so young that they don't really need to know that. What do you think?

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  6. Oh my gosh I think about this all the time. Actually, it was really weighing on my mind as I nursed my 1 year old son to sleep last night. How do I find that balance of teaching him to stay safe and be aware of all the bad in the world but also embracing his sexuality as a gift from God? And what are the ages for various topics to be presented and talked about? This post came at such a perfect time as I've been thinking about it a lot lately (I know he's only 1 but it's something I want to be well prepared for). It's so nice to have a starting point and guide from a mother who I really look up to. I know we don't know one another Lindsay, but countless times I've bookmarked your posts as a reference for myself to return to later when needed. Your example is so inspiring. Thank you so much!

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    1. When do you recommend to start talking about the body safety rules? I have a 6 yo and a 4 yo. (2yo and baby)

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    2. Hi Sarah, I wrote a bit above regarding appropriate age. I need to write a further post about this topic and age. We have a 6yo and went over the body safety rules with her. She got it. We will revisit the topic once a year or so. We told our 5 yo. also the rules and she understood, but I don't think our 3 yo. would get it. I would surely say each child is unique in regards to this matter. I think our 8 yo. has many things figured out well beyond our 13 and 11 yo. Different personalities. :)

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  8. I wanted to share some books that were gifted to our family this Christmas. These books set the foundation for littles about Theology of the Body. We read these to our 2, 3, 5-year-olds then we ask them to help us find examples in their own lives that relate to the topic in the book. http://tobet.org/product/tob-tots/

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  9. This is wonderful. I am a youth leader in our parish and we use a program called True Love Waits to teach kids between 6th and 8th grade about God's plan and their sexuality. It's wonderfully sensitive, practical and thorough. I know they have younger and older programs as well. God bless you and your holy family. http://www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/True-Love-Waits

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  10. Firstly: Your kids are extremly lucky having parents who are not afraid of talking about "these" things :) It's a blessing.
    From my persective it's important to stress the loving Father who forgives each and every sin. No matter what happens, what I will do, He is always waiting for my return. Sexual mortal sins (as you listed) are sensitive, embarrasing, they surely influence but... they are not the first on the list. Pride is number one. Unfortunately sooner or later everyone will encouter this sin. So what if it happens? Merciful Jesus is waiting in the confession for you. Rule number one :) May God bless you and your family!

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  11. Thank you for this! It came at a perfect time. But I was wondering what you would say about breast feeding... I'm sure you know the all the talk about it in society right now and I was wondering if you have talked to your children about it and about it's beauty, etc)
    Thank you so much!
    - Anna

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  12. LINDSAY!!! I love this! Good for you. What I would recommend in addition to everything you have listed would be the church document, THE TRUTH AND MEANING
    OF HUMAN SEXUALITY.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html

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  13. Thank You for Your Time and Information. You two have a Beautiful Family and we can only pray to live by your great example!
    God Bless You Both and Your Family!

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  14. I am bookmarking this for later! My oldest son is almost 8 and has been asking how babies get out of mommies. Being that he's the oldest of 3 boys and I have been modest with dressing and going to the bathroom, he doesn't really know that girls have different parts. I totally subscribe to the idea of "just answer the question their asking" and I wanted answer him without opening a can of worms. But I feel that to honestly answer would be starting an anatomy lesson I am not ready for! Plus he's a very smart and inquisitive child, so I guess I'm also nervous about follow up questions. Suggestions?

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    1. This is super late, but I love this dialogue on talking to your kids about sex that you can find here http://valuesparenting.com/vp/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-sex/. It seems so natural and I so totally love, my siblings have used it with their kids and I plan to with mine as well!

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  15. The more u love children, the more light that u share to the future bellofpeace//gede prama

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