“It” happens to the best of us! We are simply going along in life, trying to raise our kiddos to not beat the snot out of each other and out comes the question, “Mom, what does sex mean?” I was simply driving my 10 year-old girls home from school one glorious autumn day with the windows down when one of them brought up THE QUESTION. She also followed up that they were going to talk about it in health class at the end of the year. I paused to think about such a loaded question and finally responded with “Let me figure out the best way to talk about this subject and do some research and then we will talk.” Luckily my girls said sure and it bought me some time.
As I thought about how I wanted to broach this subject with my girls, I decided that I wanted to be the one to discuss this very tricky subject. Not their teachers, friends or anyone else. I wanted them to know that they could trust me and their father with any questions or concerns they had related to this subject. I really wanted to focus on the changes that will be going through their bodies in the next few years and touch on some of the mechanics of sex. I also wanted to talk with them about the beautiful gift God has given them and how they should wait to have sex until marriage.
I quickly tapped into my circle of friends to see what they have done in this situation and three books popped up over and over again: It’s NOT the Stork and It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris and Focus on the Family Guide to Talk with Your Kids about Sex by Revall.
It’s Not the Stork is a great book for elementary kids who are curious about their bodies. This colorful, picture filled book answers questions like What makes a girl/boy? Why are we different? How was I made? Where do babies come from?
Harris is straight forward in answering these questions in lively, comfortable language that elementary school students can understand. I love that this book gave just enough detail to answer questions but didn’t delve in so deeply that it would scare kids of this age.
Harris second book, It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, provides a wonderful overview of puberty and sexual health for middle school students. It provides accurate, up-to-date answers on nearly every imaginable question. Topics include puberty, conception, birth control, STDs and even sexual orientation. This book offers young people the information needed to make responsible choices and how to stay healthy.
This book does not hold back about talking about sex and does include pictures in cartoon form, but they are informative and done in a very appropriate way preadolescent kids can understand.
For the Christian aspect of talking about sex with the girls I turned to Focus on the Family Guide to Talk with your Kids about Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age. This book breaks down how to speak with your son or daughter about sex at different ages. This book breaks through the fear and challenge of talking about sex. By discussing sex through the different ages it really brought into focus the topics I need to be bringing up at this age and things that should wait until the girls are older.
Bringing up the biblical side of sex and choosing the wait to have sex until marriage was a point I wanted to make with my girls. This book communicated effectively about sex, self-control and self-respect at every stage of development.
A few points to think about when talking with your boys/girls:
- Make sure you set aside time to talk with them when nothing else is going on. You don’t want to feel rushed, so you can build trust about this topic.
- Give them a choice of reading It’s Not the Stork/It’s Perfectly Normal or you explaining the process. (My daughters decided to read the books and then we discussed their questions.)
- Make sure that this discussion needs to stay between you and your son and/or daughter. This is a sensitive subject and not all parents feel comfortable talking about it or do not agree with certain view points.
Let them know that they can come to you at any time with additional questions or concerns. This alleviates embarrassment and builds trust.
If you have a 5th grader, most likely they will have “The Talk” in their health class at school this spring. I highly encourage you to have the talk with them before they receive the information in their classrooms. My girls felt comfortable talking about the changes that will happen in their body with their classmates and weren’t embarrassed. Some of the kids that went into this health topic blind freaked out and didn’t know what to do but giggle and blush the whole time.
I am so glad that I gave myself permission to wait and have this conversation with my girls until I was fully ready. I’ve been able to confidently talk to them and answer their questions. In return they have been able to come to me with any problems they are having. Giving my girls the courage to approach the changes in their bodies, the emotions they will be feeling and the pressures that they are likely to face has given them assurance and self-awareness they didn’t have before. Good luck and don’t let “it” get the best of you!