Today we’re going to talk about sex – or rather, we’re going to talk about talking about sex. If you’re a mom, I feel safe in assuming that you are both a product of and a participant in sex. We can also assume that our children are now in one category and will someday join the other as well.
In all seriousness, sex is an important part of the Gospel, where marriage presents a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. After all, God gave us an entire book about marital love in the Bible.
So it’s good for them to know at least a little about it. The question, then, is how much? when? and who’s gonna tell them???
Everyone is going to have different comfort levels and I don’t think there’s one right way about this. In some families, the mom may do most of the talking; in others, the dad will be more comfortable answering these questions. Maybe your kids aim their questions at the parent of the same gender. However it happens, be prepared. If you are flustered, embarrassed and uncomfortable when the questions start, your children will pick up your attitude and become hesitant to ask further questions. That’s a shame, because I really believe parents need to take an active part in molding their children’s view of sex and the body rather than letting children pick up the info from media, friends, and the world at large.
Having said that, here’s how it tends to work in our own household. First of all, we don’t have The Anatomy Discussion. We’re far more casual about the subject. Everyone changes diapers in our house, and the little ones often take baths together. I talk a lot during potty training, when formerly diapered parts become frequently exposed, the topics of natural conversation. We don’t necessarily use all the correct anatomical terms, but we all know that some of us have “girl stuff” and some of us have “boy stuff,” and we don’t object to the anatomical terms unless they’re being used for vulgar humor.
We also don’t teach that nakedness is bad. We teach that it’s immodest, or inappropriate for the present circumstances. Nakedness is perfectly appropriate under the right circumstances. Right now we have a newly potty trained 2yo who spends a lot of time sans bottoms. For the sake of modesty (both on her part and her 4yo brother’s) we usually try to keep her visually covered with a shirt that’s longer than usual, but I think it’s perfectly appropriate and therefore modest for her to go about with no bottoms right now.
On the other hand, when her hands go that direction, we’re quick to correct. That behavior is most certainly not modest in a public setting, even within the home. I don’t want to teach her that parts of her body are bad, but she does need to understand that they are reserved for a certain time and purpose.
We take a similar approach to the birds and the bees. We breed dogs and chickens. We used to breed gerbils and even rabbits, for goodness sake! There’s plenty of procreation around here. Hubby and I smooch freely in front of the kids. Our kids have a pretty good idea of how reproduction takes place, and they understand (on their various levels) that sex is a great blessing and a lot of fun – inside marriage.
We answer questions freely and frankly as they arise, providing just as much detail as necessary and appropriate, taking into account the inquirer’s age. Sometimes it’s good to clarify exactly what they’re asking (“But how does the baby get out?“). Some questions are a little embarrassing to me and I don’t see the need to hide it. Instead, I lower my voice and tell them the answer is a little embarrassing, but here goes…and we giggle together. Rarely, the answer is simply, “I don’t think you need to know that yet. You can ask again when you’re older.”
We have found that our kids have a good sense of what goes on behind closed doors from a young age, and we’ve always been rather frank and unashamed about it. They learn enough about the mechanics from seeing animals breed, and they learn how it fits into a marriage by seeing how we cherish our time together. They don’t know or need to know all the details, but sex is not a taboo topic.
And if we miss anything important, they can learn together with their spouse. Learning is fun, and you don’t need to be an expert to take up this sport. 🙂
The other moms are talking about it too:
- May 12: Hospitality tips and food ideas.
- May 19: Do you all have any other “large family goes to church” topics? Otherwise losing baby weight. Let me know!
- May 26: Q & A – leave your questions in the comments on my last Q&A.