Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Let's Talk about Sex

The first week after I started this blog my supportive sister informed me I should do a post on talking to kids about sex. I don't know why but I have a passion for this topic and a passion for helping other people feel confident about talking to their kids about sex. Years ago my sister asked me for advice on what to tell her friend who had a son a couple years younger than Jake about the subject. This started a lengthy dialogue that has developed into a long distance friendship between me and Michele's friend. Since then I haven't had as many lengthy discussions but am always available to encourage a friend to just tell their kids the truth and stop being so afraid. Here some things I frequently hear from other parents:

How old was Jake when you told him about sex?
Jake was about 7 when I sent John on a father/son camping trip with "the book". Jake didn't have alot of questions but did read the book several times to himself after returning home and it was the basis for many questions that followed in the months and years to come. While I do think Jake was ready he wasn't really asking alot of questions. I told him then because I knew a few of his friends with older siblings had been told and it was important to me that he hear it from me and not on the corner somewhere. I would say you will know when your child is ready but sometimes you just have to do it.

I am afraid my child will lose his innocence once he knows about sex.
While sex is warped in our society and I do encourage you to protect your children from that as much as possible, sex is in fact a beautiful thing between a husband and wife who love each other. It was created by God. While a kid might think it is gross they will not feel violated by the knowledge that God created our bodies to perfectly go together to create life. Focus on God's plan for sex in your conversations. Don't make it complicated and get too detailed when they are young. You can add layers as they age and questions or situations arise.

What book did you use?
I used the series "God's Design for Sex", the book "Before I Was Born" is the one that explains sex and is geared for 5-8 year olds. I like a book because there is no awkwardness in trying to come up with the right thing to say. And in case your child is a visual learner there are a few pictures. Some books have more graphic pictures than others. I didn't really think Jake needed too graphic a picture when he was 7 but if your child is older it might be appropriate. And by pictures I mean scientific drawings not actual photographs. We aren't talking about a birthing book here. Books are also nice because then you can keep them around as references. Or if you have a reader like Jake, your child can take and read it to himself and further digest. I felt that the series got weaker as the age range advanced. We had a hard time finding a book that addressed the changes in Jake's body when he entered puberty. We finally found a book called, "A Guys Guide to Life" which he really liked and he ended up loaning out to a few friends at school who also inhaled the book. It covered acne, shaving, girls, etc in a fun and relaxed manor. For the older son I would also highly recommend "Every Young Man's Battle". It was excellent. I bought it after Jake stumbled upon the inevitable porn site on the internet. I got the book when Jake was 11 but didn't let him read it until he was 13. He inhaled the book when I finally gave it to him. I suggest your husband read it as well because the themes aren't something Jake is likely to ever ask me about and as a woman I can't really understand anyway.

I think the most important thing we have done for Jake was being available to talk with him about sex, to be comfortable answering his questions, to be clear on what we believe and to ask him questions that keep us informed. The rules are changing as he has become a teenager but until about a year ago I knew if I went and laid on his bed before he went to sleep he would likely tell me what was on his mind. I also found that if I brought him a snack when I picked him up from school he would tell me all about his day on the way home but with no food he just listened to music. These turned out to be wonderful opportunities for us to discuss God's plan for his life and the choices he was making. Often the books he was reading about sex and the changes in his body came up and I could encourage him and be excited for him as he became a man. I don't need to have all the answers, I just need to be available to hear them and help him find them.

The journey continues as we navigate the teen years, girlfriends, parties, etc but we feel that we have given Jake a strong foundation and equipped him with the knowledge he needs to make the right choices when temptations come up and we continue to be available to listen and encourage him.

And just when we might think we are nearing the end...Isabelle will be ready for the sex talk and we will re-live the experience from the other chromosome.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mel, now I've got the song, "Let's talk about sex, baby, let's talk about you and me, let's talk about all..." stuck in my head. I inadvertently started singing out the lyrics when the kids were around!! :)