In our Life Apps series at The Bridge this summer, we are taking questions via texting and answering them with a panel. Because we could not get to all of the questions this last week, I am blogging to respond to some of the submitted questions that were not addressed in the service. Last week’s message was, “Good Sex, Bad Sex,” and it helped with a Biblical understanding on the subject. You can watch the sermon and panel here. Below is one more question we weren’t able to get to on the panel. It’s especially good for parents with younger children.
What is a good age/maturity level when kids can be introduced to sexual subjects?
In reality, all of us introduce sexual subjects to our children very early on. We begin talking about how there are boys and girls––”mommy is a girl and daddy is a boy”. Most parents even identify boy and girl parts when kids are very little. We do it intuitively without being embarrassed, because the kids are so young. But boy/girl identity is sexual in nature. We think of sex as intercourse, but it is so much more. It encompasses all gender differences and the way we interact with one another between the sexes. We talk with our kids about when Mommy and Daddy fell in love and got married. We talk with them when they have crushes or someone has a crush on them. So the question is not so much when do we introduce these subjects, but how much do we tell them and at what age.
I think that kids learn best at an appropriate level when they are inquisitive (inquisitive minds learn). As they ask questions, it is best for us to answer frankly and to the extent that they can process the answer. The more straightforward we are, as parents, without being obviously embarrassed by the question (or sometimes coming across as though the child should be ashamed for asking), the more likely the child will be willing to discuss these things as they get older, and the more likely they will have a healthy view of sex. At what age you give them information depends on the questions they are asking and their level of understanding. As a parent, you have that insight with your child more than any expert.
When a very young child asks, “Where do babies come from?” A good answer may be, “God has a special way of Daddy’s and Mommy’s love mixing together to put a baby in Mommy.” As they get older, they will want to learn more. But if you gradually give them more information based on the questions they are asking, they are not shocked and are able to process what they are being told in the context of values. That’s why YOU want to be the one talking to them, and not merely leaving it up to the school.
In the old days, almost every family had farm animals, or at the least, a horse or two (even in town). The kids figured it out because it was part of what they saw every day with the animals they were taking care of. My friends who grew up on farms knew way more than me at a much earlier age. And it wasn’t dirty to them. We don’t have that here in suburban Chicago. But kids do ask questions and we know the answers. We just have to answer them honestly and with God’s perspective, to help shape their morality and lead them to healthy relationships in the future.