Teaching Children About Sexuality
by Trudy Whittaker
used with permission
Starting when they were very young, I taught my children about sexuality in the following way:
God created all things, and said that it was good. So I teach them to enjoy the beauty of creation, and the goodness of all that God has made. As I teach them that though some parts of our body are private I still stress that everything God made is good.
We learn about original sin. Adam and Eve and the Fall. This usually came up when we had occasion to discuss the temptation to help oneself to a forbidden cookie, or some other minor infraction.
I also discuss God's plan for each child, that the child should have two parents to love them and care for them. That is why, I tell them, that the very act that invites a new child into a family, at the same time unites the parents in an act of love.
However, when sin entered the world, so did death and illness. We talk about childen whose parents are dead or ill. God's perfect plan is marred. Then, sadly, I teach them that as a result of sin, some families are divided by divorce. I make a point of explaining that we must not judge people. We don't know how much has been caused by original sin or what has been caused by events beyond the couple's control. Yet we can know that somewhere, somehow, sin is at the root of the tragedy of divorce.
We also talk about how we must always obey God first. I emphasize that no one has the right to tell us to do anything contrary to the Will of God, and that we should not listen to directions or instructions that contradict the Will of God. We talk about authority, how all authority comes from God, and how we must obey God's law.
When we talk to children about sin, it is important to also talk about reconcilation. Sin destroys our fellowship with God, but through Jesus, through his sacrifice we are ransomed, freed, invited back into God's family. What is impossible for sinful man becomes possible through God's grace, through the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. They can easily understand this from our combined love and discipline of them as children.
So, unlike modern sex educators, who are trapped in the state that sin leaves man in, and who do not seem to believe that a chaste life is possible, we who are redeemed by Christ, strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit, who have the example and help of the Saints and Holy martyrs, can show our children that they need not live a life trapped by sexual sin. They have true freedom!
My second oldest daughter used to say, "I will not be cheated out of my courtship."
I have found that when you put the church's teaching of the indivisibility of the unitive and procreative fuctions of the marital act into words that children can understand, it makes a great deal of intuitive sense to them. There is no need to discuss the act itself. They are content to know that the act which brought them into being was an act of love that strengthened Mommy and Daddy's love for each other. They can see that this is good for the child, and that it fits well with God's love for little children.
I begin these discussions and lessons when the children are quite samll and continue teaching and reinforcing the points as they grow. The lessons alwyas reach to them at their own age level, at the level of their concerns. (What child now-a-days does not know some child whose parents are divorced?) I think that every child in their hearts knows that God wanted him to have a Mommy and Daddy who love each other. Even if it is not their lived experience, I think that it is still a great reasurance to know that that was God's good plan for them. Yes, sin and death alters things. That can lead the child to cling all the more to God, and His Perfect Will.
With this as the foundation of their understanding of the importance of purity, as my children grow, they are more responsible themselves. As they grow, they are then very receptive to the related chastity message.
I hope this helps you teach your children about this most precious gift of our wise and loving Father.