Monday, August 24, 2009

Teaching Children About Sex, Part II

My husband and I set a standard of covering our family from neck to knees. To cover the private areas and not those which surround them only leads the imagination to fully unclothe the body. Those areas of the body which surround the privates are like the porches on a house. They direct you right to where the front and back doors are. They lead the eyes to focus where they shouldn't. Showing cleavage and thighs simply was not acceptable. The boys were not allowed to go bare chested, either. Though I cannot argue this guide as a biblical mandate, I do believe it is found in principle throughout the Scriptures and through a study of the historical teachings of the church concerning modesty. (Consider Genesis 3:7, 21; Exodus 28: 42, 43; Isaiah 47:1-5.)


That being said, it only stands to reason that our children must be taught not to look on the bodies of others. Our family cannot enjoy going to the lovely beaches in our areas along Lake Michigan this time of year because of people who have no conscience about being nearly nude. There is virtually no difference at all between what most people wear to the beach and what they wear for underwear. It is the state of being unclothed that is the problem, not what you are using to cover only the private parts.

Perhaps this is the very reason why so many people search in vain to find sexual fulfillment. They have been desensitized to the beauty and the mystery of the naked body. By the time most couples are married, they have already seen all there is to see. The act of marriage and all its beauty should be a surprise gift only to be opened with that special, God-given person on one's wedding night. So it stands to reason that skin touching skin in an intimate way before marriage should also be discouraged in order to preserve the specialness of the marriage bed. O! that parents would only realize what they are robbing their children of by not helping them preserve the mystery of sex!

Therefore, if your children are still small, I would encourage you not to explain too much to them. There will be questions, of course. But, don't assume they want to know everything; just give them enough to assuage their curiosity. Of course, children who grow up on a farm or who breed animals will know more of the mechanics of sex, but the pleasure aspect should be veiled.

However, it is very important that children be discreetly and privately taught about the sexual changes in their own bodies as they reach puberty. You will begin to see both physical and emotional changes. These may occur as early as nine or ten years of age but will usually begin no later than fourteen or fifteen. You'll notice they are growing taller or getting a little fatter. The girls will begin to form breasts and boys will start growing facial hair and have a deepening of their voices. Children going through puberty may become more private around their siblings. Thus the younger ones will need to be taught to respect their older siblings' privacy and not to tease them about their body changes.

Girls will need some private instruction regarding the onset of their period and not to be alarmed or embarrassed. Provide them with sanitary products and teach them discreetly how to use them. Boys will need to be aware that they may awake at times with a secretion in their underclothes. This, too, is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. They should be instructed to wash themselves and to put their soiled clothing in the clothes hamper.

Children in puberty may become more moody, act out in anger at the least little thing, or begin to challenge their parents' authority. Discuss these outbursts with them and with the younger children. Explain that their minds and bodies are being affected by powerful hormones as they go through the change from child to adult. It is all normal and a part of God's created order for their maturation. However, they must also be warned that if they exhibit sinful anger or rebel against their parents, they must be ready to offer an apology and ask for forgiveness. Puberty is no excuse for sinful behavior.

Teaching our children about sex is an awesome responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. We must take it willingly and with much prayer for wisdom. Teach them to keep their private areas private, and to respect the modesty of others. Warn them against viewing naked or barely-clothed bodies and about personal modesty. Prepare them for the sexual changes in their own bodies and to respect and nurture their bodies as a gift only to be revealed to the one God has determined to be their spouse in holy matrimony. Only in this way will you and they be blessed when they stand at the marriage altar.

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A great resource for teaching your family about modesty:

Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America
by Jeff Pollard