“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27
The physical differences in males and females were God’s idea. The above Scripture refers to God’s work before the fall, so our sexuality is something that was part of God’s plan from the beginning, before sin entered in. Often we as parents are uncomfortable with teaching our children about their bodies and celebrating in a positive way the unique qualities of males and females. Our culture is saturated with sexual messages and much of what the media promotes is not the image we want our children to have about sex. To counteract the negative ideas children may assimilate from media, older children, etc. parents must be proactive. Being a girl or a boy is a wonderful thing!
The following are some strategies that may be helpful to keep in mind when addressing this important subject:
- Start early giving children correct names for their body parts. That helps those children realize that they are normal and it is a natural part of who they are. We don’t call knees or arms “pet” names – why should we do so with other body parts?
- It is natural and normal for little girls and boys to be curious about the body parts of the opposite sex. Teaching children correct names for the body parts of the opposite sex will prevent possible embarrassment later on for that child.
- Start early celebrating the fact that males and females are unique but equal in God’s eyes.
- Start early teaching children to be modest and respectful of their own bodies. That means that they wear clothes in public, and they don’t let anyone touch them in private places without a parent’s knowledge.
- Start early teaching children respect for other people’s privacy. Ask them to knock before opening a closed door, closing the door while using the bathroom, and not touching others in their private zones.
- Start early answering questions about “Where do babies come from?” “How do babies get there?” There are some good books available if you want to show discrete pictures and share information in a simple way young children will understand. Small children only need bits of information at a time.
- If a child asks a question that concerns you, ask them calmly “Why do you want to know?” or “Where did you hear that?” Children often hear things out of context and put pieces of information together wrongly. Asking them a question will also allow you to find out if they are being exposed to information or situations that you are not comfortable with.
- Once a child comments on the body parts of a parent of the opposite sex, it is time for that parent to stop bathing with that child or allowing the child to see the opposite sex parent naked. This is a way to model modesty for the child and provide a healthy example of respect for the child’s privacy.
- Stay late – continue talking to your child as they grow older and need more information. If you do not answer their questions when they are young, they will not come to you as they grow older. They will find someone else to answer their questions and it may not be the right individual.
Finally, I want to set the record straight once and for all. Our children will say that all we ever talked about at supper was sex. That is absolutely not true! I am thankful that we had open conversations about many different topics, including sex.
In Psalms 139:14 David says ” I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. “ That is the truth we want to communicate with our children – by starting early and staying late.