How do I talk to my little one about sex?
So often, parents of young children come to me with their fears surrounding the question: how do I even begin to explain sex to my young children?! Do I need to? What do I do?!
One of the very best parts about this is it means that I get to hear a lot of great stories. So to each and every parent out there who has ever dared to ask for help around this topic: good for you! While ‘having the conversation’ may seem daunting and intimidating, I believe embracing moments as they arise and having mini conversations with your young children can be extremely beneficial in building a solid relationship between you and your child.
Here are three suggestions for parents of little ones to keep in mind as those little sex-talk moments arise.
1. Whatever you do, do your best not to panic or freak out. Fear can bring unnecessary stress on you as a parent and our kids can sense our fear from a mile away.
One night, a mother was giving her son a bath. It was the little boy’s birthday, and when he looked at his body in the bathtub, he told his mom, “Look mommy—my penis is a birthday candle, blow it out!” Rather than turning and running in the other direction or ignoring or suppressing the boy’s comment, this mom affirmed her boy’s creativity and imagination, then treated it as a playful and fun moment.
2. Give your child age-appropriate language to help them create a connection between body parts and their sexuality.
One evening, a father and his daughter were locked in the power struggle about bedtime. Running out of patience, the father kindly, yet firmly instructed his daughter that she must go to bed, because he is the boss of her. His daughter responded, “Well, you can tell me to go to bed, but you can’t tell my vajayjay to go to bed. I am the boss of my vajayjay!” And what could he do? After all, him and his wife had repeatedly affirmed to their daughter that those were her beautiful and wonderful body parts—no one else’s. In this particular moment, the father once again affirmed his daughter in being the own boss of her body, but concluded that he was in fact the boss of bedtime. Rather than creating fear, the father created a language for his daughter to understand.
3. Remember to see your child’s questions through their childlike innocence and wonder.
A mother and her son were in the grocery store. Her son had just learned about his genitals, and was excited to apply what he had learned while they shopped. As they passed another female shopper, the boy leaned over to ask his mom, “Mommy, does she have a penis too?!” His mom, unsure of how to respond, mumbled something like, “Yes! Yes, we will buy the peanuts!” The honest and real-life truth is often, we as parents totally miss the moment. But the good news is, there will be more opportunities. So the next time you find yourself in a potentially awkward situation, try to remember to look at your child through the lens of innocence. As parents, it is our important job to honor and protect this innocence and wonder.
Honoring our kid’s questions
So often, anxiety can come from the fear of not having the right answers, but it’s important to remember to honor your children’s questions. It’s natural to ask questions about our body—especially for a child who may be asking the questions for the very first time! When I sit with parents and smile and laugh about these stories, I can’t help but ask myself: What would it be like to raise a generation that sees their sexuality as good and from God?
Sexuality is something that should be protected, but not in a way that it has a barrier around it. Our sexuality is deeply intertwined with our identity in Christ, and asking questions is the first step of a beautiful journey to discover more about who we were created to be.
Parents, I would challenge you with this question: Are we making space to have a one-minute sex talks with our kids? In the grocery store, the bathtub, or wherever else they might arise? Can we slowly begin to change the stigma surrounding sexuality for this next beautiful generation?
It’s worth our best try, wouldn’t you say?