Okay, I just finished wiping the breakfast remains off the table and I have a minute before all crazy breaks loose over here, but I wanted to tell you something. Having all the kids home for break has given me lots of opportunities to answer questions as they come up and OH HAVE THEY COME UP. Questions that I would have been 100% positive they knew the answer to, have been asked. Repeatedly. I’ve had the time to slow down and answer things in more detail than I might normally, but I’ve had to stop myself from muttering, “Are you kidding me right now? I have told you this ONE THOUSAND TIMES.”
All of this has reminded of something I’ve been meaning to tell you– The Sex Talk doesn’t work.
If your idea of sex education is to take your child away some weekend when puberty is imminent and explain the mechanics of reproduction to them. . . AND how to take care of their changing body. . . AND explain God’s intention for our sexuality. . . AND handle issues like porn and consent and birth control and masturbation. . . There’s just no way that one talk is going to be enough. And it’s likely going to be too little too late as many kids are exposed to a pornified version of sex education before puberty is even on our radar.
What other important subject do we imagine we’ll just address one time and then it will all be fine? Here’s my terrible analogy– sex education should not be like skydiving, but like passing your driver’s test. We are not aiming for a one time event that ends in us all just surviving. We are trying to give them the rules of the road, the information they need to make safe and wise decisions for the rest of their lives. That’s going to require HOURS of guided education, not just a one time investment.
Since my kids were toddlers I have told them the truth about their bodies. We have used words like “privacy”, “boundaries”, and all the appropriate names for their body parts. I have answered questions as they’ve come up and I’ve initiated conversations when the opportunities arose (like when we saw animals doing what animals will do). AND STILL my kids have questions. Very basic questions I KNOW I have answered a dozen times already in their short lives. But that’s how this stuff goes– it has to be repeated over and over with more details added as their understanding grows and the applications change.
This last week there were questions about why we aren’t having more babies right now. This was a perfect time to talk not just about our family plan, but about birth control and how within marriage there may be times where you want to make more babies and times you want to prevent that. We discussed hormonal birth control and condoms. I didn’t give them specifics about our choices, but explained that there were options out there. There was no shock or weirdness about it because it’s part of an ongoing conversation we’ve been having since these kids were tiny. At the end of each time we talk about sex I always tell my kids, “You can always ask me your questions and I will always tell you the truth.” Those are the two main things I want my kids to know– that I am a good and reliable source of information about these things and I WANT to be the one to answer those questions.
There is no reason why a sexual education based on biblical principles means our kids have to be ignorant or confused or shameful about sex. There’s no reason why we have to be nervous or shameful ourselves. The more we delay these conversations the more we will feel this insane pressure to do it exactly perfectly. When you managed to say something horrifyingly wrong when your child was three, you know you’re going to have a million more chances to get it right over the years. Practice is SO helpful in having these conversations and it puts less pressure on those moments of perceived failure.
So if you’re waiting for the perfect moment to have The Sex Talk, stop waiting. There is no perfect moment and the longer you wait, the worse you’re making it. Today is a perfectly fine day. You can start by asking your kids if they know where babies come from. Let them tell you what they already know, then fill in the blanks and ask for any additional questions they might have. Just know this is NOT a one time conversation. This is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue you will likely be having with them for the rest of their lives as they continue to seek your wisdom about these important issues. But they’ll only seek your wisdom IF they know you want to hear their questions and you’ll always tell them the truth.