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Avoiding Awkward Sex Talks

Does teaching your child about the mystery and gift of their human sexuality really have to be an awkward conversation? The “Birds and the Bees” is the standard parental sex education talk, but is a one-time drive really the best approach? The talk is weird, it’s awkward, and both of you just want to get it over with.

We’re doing it wrong.

Before six months ago, I didn’t know anything about kids. As the youngest of 3 children, I’ve never really been around small kids. So when Alison and I were preparing for the birth of Benedict, I, like most new dads, spent a lot of time thinking about the person that I want Benedict to become and how I can best help him get there. In fact, I still do it daily.

Benedict, as a human person, has many components. I’ll spend a lot of time helping him develop social skills, grow his intellect, and control his emotions. In order to help him develop as a person, I’ll need to help him understand and master his sexuality.

As a parent, it’s my job to shepherd him. If I choose to ignore a dynamic of his personhood because of my own discomfort or insecurity, then I’m doing him a disservice.

But does his sexual education really need to be awkward?

The scary thing for parents is that our kids are learning things much earlier than we think. The innocence of childhood is stolen by media and even inadvertently by other kids. We certainly should be sad that our kids are growing up before they should have to, but it also means that we need to go on the offensive. Our children need to learn Truth from us before they learn a lie from someone else.

Our children need us to teach them about their sexuality. They need to learn from us about the feelings and changes that will happen and are happening in their bodies. They need to learn that only when they master their sexuality can they love fully. They need to learn that their sexuality is something that they need to work with, not against.

I’m calling for the death of “The Talk.” Our sexuality deserves more than one 30 minute conversation on a Saturday afternoon. Sexual education needs to be discussed regularly. It should be personalized for each child, unique to their growth, intellectual capacity, and curiosity.

At a young age, we should teach our children about God’s love for us. Later, we need to talk about how parents share in that Divine Love and how our creative powers bring forth children. When the time comes, we need to talk about how our physical bodies and our minds were made for powerful, creative, self-giving love. Our kids need to know how to master their sexuality so that it’s a harmonious presence in their lives, not a distracting presence riddled with temptation.

Essentially, we should walk them through their sexuality in baby steps, always keeping sexuality in reference to it’s reflection of God’s great love for the world. Be open to questions and give appropriate answers. Always be truthful and as accurate as you can be.

By properly educating our children about the true nature of their sexuality and the role it should play in their lives, we can achieve three goals. First, we can avoid a singular awkward conversation. Second, we can help them to live balanced lives. Lastly, we can change the culture. We can show our children that sex and children are something to be embraced and celebrated, in the appropriate context.
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