A variety of philosophies and parenting techniques exist when it comes to educating our children about their bodies and about s-e-x. What and when we do and don’t tell our children most likely is related to our own experiences and the parenting we received. Nathan and I both had parents that told us something. I don’t know what Nathan’s parents told him about the male body and about intercourse, but I do know he felt he was a little young for the information that was conveyed.
I mostly learned about puberty with a video in 6th grade. I think I spent more time enjoying the animation than really allowing it to sink in that my body was already going through changes. I attempted to ask my mom for more details. I don’t know what I expected, but I remember being disappointed with her response. When I got my period, I informed her by playing hangman. Really. That’s how shy I was. 😉
After living my life, remembering the messages and lessons I got from my peers (and Nathan tells the kids at least once a month that their peers are idiots) and making some poor decisions I’ve chosen to be the largest source of information for my kids. We want them to be able to make informed decisions and to avoid trouble. We want our children to know their worth on so many levels, but as far as this topic is concerned we want them to know their worth as a male and a female. To respect their bodies and the bodies of others. To know how to handle hormones and puberty. ETC! As a parent, we need to be. If I can at least foster a comfortable and open atmosphere for those conversations, I feel I will have done well. I want them to be informed and I want them to know they can talk to us.
Some tidbits I have learned from other quality parents and in other areas I have consulted quality books geared toward children. In the case of books, I have always read them first and used my own parental discretion coupled with knowing when my children are ready to hear the information. I thought I would share some of our intentional efforts. So far it is working for us. I can’t control the decisions my children make, but I can control how I train and prepare them to make those decisions.
- Nathan and I go on dates with our children. Time is anywhere from 10 minutes to a large chunk of the day. Sometimes they choose what we do. The point is they are getting undivided attention. In my opinion at this point in time, the dates are more beneficial for Moriah. She is learning how a male should treat her. Both children are building beliefs about their worth.
- We read age appropriate books. My favorite book is
Moriah loves this book. When she takes a bath I sit and read a section to her while she soaks in the tub. She loves the pictures and is able to keep up with everything I read to her. Reading it to her before letting her use it as a reference book gives her an opportunity to ask questions and see that my response is receptive. It also gives me an opportunity to explain things further if I need to. There are some sections in the book that I’m not quite ready to read to her, but maybe next year. I got this at a thrift store and the girl that checked me out said that her mom had gotten her the book when she was young and she loved it. “It saved my life,” she said.
There are similar boy books. I hope we can find one suitable for Noah and Nathan to read together.
The other two books I have read to the children are
I read these about two years ago. These books were a little more difficult for me to get through because I don’t remember being told about such biological detail when I was six, but I felt the content was appropriate for my kids (mostly Moriah). Even though they giggled through parts, I know that Moriah still remembers some of the content. I will probably read these to them again now that Noah is older. I think there are eight books in this series for ages 5-18. You definitely want to look through them before the first read, but they are worth it.
- All teaching, correction, and answers are matter of fact. Although there was a recent moment that I had to be stern in my correction and teaching, we normally use a conversational tone and take the time to teach about body parts, nudity, personal space, privacy and such.
- We do not shame for errors, accidents or lack of knowledge. they are children and they are learning. This is the case in all areas.
- Surround them with good examples. I love it when my children have “grown up friends” and friends that are “big kids” who model a lifestyle that leads to positive influences on our children.
Those are just some of the things we are intentional about. I’m interested in seeing how this goes as they get older and things become more complex. This topic has become very important to me. I am aware of its delicacy and I hope that I will grow in the grace and ability to teach parents about teaching their children (parenting in general).