You know the question is coming sooner or later. So, when is the best time to handle it — sooner or later? And how?!?
This is an area that comes up on the SDA Homeschool Families group page on Facebook from time to time. Over the last several years, many members have responded with advice, as well as with a wonderful collection of resources. These have been compiled to share with you. Some of the resources also have comments by the people who suggested them.*
Keep in mind that, like any sensitive topic, sex education methods and opinions are varied. If you’re looking for input on when and how to address this with your kids, we invite you to peruse the following advice and resources, prayerfully seek God’s guidance in selecting the best responses for your family, and then share the knowledge about the wonder of continued creation and loving expression with your children.
ADVICE AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
- Start young. If you don’t broach the subject until they are teen or pre-teen someone else will have already told them. The Bible is a great teacher, too. Show them the consequences of not following God’s will.
- Dr. Sears has good advice. I don’t remember all we used, but I do know it’s so important calling every body part the real name and to start using it when your kids are young; it is easier on you and them.
- Here is what I have done with my son. First, PRAY!!! I couple years ago I was at a loss as to when to start talking about this to him. I knew it would be up to me due to my husband’s background. I decided that the following school year would be good time to start (my son would be going into fifth grade), but God had other plans. Several times He put the thought into my mind, but it wasn’t until my son said something at the zoo did God give me the wake up call and made me realize He meant NOW!!! So, I spent several days going over the basics of God’s plan for marriage, Satan’s attempt to destroy it, the illness that come from immoral activity, and the type of talk that slanders a pure and holy thing — and provided defense mechanisms, should such talk happen in his presence.
- My boy was young when he first started asking where babies come from, like about five or six. He was also a very specific questioner — wanting as much info as I’d give him. I pretty much gave him all the “academic” basics at that age. He knew what body parts were called, and what went where to make a baby. I also found some simplistic books with illustrations of people and sperm and eggs, etc. The beauty of this approach for us was that he was too young to be in that “oooooo, gross” phase that so many kids hit by about age 10 or 11. It all seemed a little bizarre to him, but his brain was not remotely “sexualized” yet, so it was just information — much like you’d learn about any body system. It also gave the opportunity very young to start planting seeds of morality and our expectations for when this all should happen. Of course, then you have to be prepared for the occasional, “Oh, look! Those squirrels are getting married!” out in public, but that was a small price to pay. Here’s the other benefit in my mind for early information. He trusted me back then to tell the truth. Now he is 12, nearly 13. Changes are beginning in his body, he is hearing terminology from his friends, and his curiosity is becoming more “aware.” Where does he go with his questions? To me! (I was widowed when he was young.) Granted, I have delved into topics with a 12-year-old boy that I never thought I would, but I feel blessed that he is comfortable gaining info from me rather than from his friend’s older brother or some kid on the playground. Also, because we don’t have to stumble over what-goes-where and the resulting uncomfortableness now, we can spend more time talking about the risks of having a girlfriend/boyfriend too early, and a host of other tricky topics that will hopefully prep his brain with reasoning for the day when the hormones totally kick in.
- We just read Genesis 38 for family worship last night. I was not expecting it, and i think it is good wording to start the discussion.
- You know, it came up in science class and that is exactly how I handled it — very practically. I made it not a subject that was taboo, funny or embarrassing to discuss in any way. (This was after praying about it first). And, praise the Lord, my daughter is now 13 and thinks that kids who do talk about it and giggle are immature and silly. She doesn’t understand what the big deal is. She also went through Passport 2 Purity a few years after we discussed it. It was good, but had some parts my daughter and I felt were unnecessary and inappropriate for the target age group.
- I had a little conversation with my five-year-old about the topic. What I realized was, at that age they are quite satisfied to know that boys and girls are different because God made them that way. The major question is truly where the child comes from. I answered simply that he, my five-year-old, came from my belly. How did he get in there? God put him and formed him there from a single cell. That was enough. There were no questions ever since. I think it is important not to make a big deal out of it and answer questions straight forward without unnecessary details. If a child wants to know more and thinks about it, he will ask again. It is important for a child to feel comfortable to ask anything he/she wants to know, and for a parent to be sincere and not afraid of the topic. The key is, I think, not to give more information a child asks for because what he asks is what he is ready for.
- For the time being I suggest asserting your expertise in this area [in reference to a child who has obtained misinformation from another child]. You have had a baby and little friend has not. There are a lot of pretend stories about this, but you know what’s true, and if he has questions he should ask you because you know all the true stuff and you can help him not be tricked (no one likes being tricked). Then be general… When my son asked how the baby got out, I told him God made a hole for that and it’s at the bottom where the two other out holes are, and when the time comes the hole opens and the baby comes out. I couldn’t show him because God wants us to keep all the holes clean and private.
- I’d probably just talk honestly with your child about their specific questions and see where it goes. I don’t remember what triggered it, but in the last year or so my girls realized that people have babies outside marriage and asked a similar question. I was just honest about it and said something along the lines of “we’ve talked about how when people are married they can cuddle in a special way and sometimes the mommy gets pregnant. Sometime people decide to do those things even when they aren’t married. That’s not what God wants, but it happens.” We talked some about the Bible verses about marriage, and such.
- Both my husband and I are physicians (pediatrician and family doc), so our children (eldest is five) know the anatomical names. We answer their questions as openly and honestly as they’re capable of understanding, and we only answer their questions, i.e., we don’t use their one question to give them a lecture on the ins and outs of human reproduction. We always reinforce that they can always ask us anything and try to foster a relationship that encourages open communication. The ongoing relationship and communication that is formed now will be a stronghold in the times when others typically have difficulties.
Science and Nature
- Depending on the age of your kids, you might think of this more as a “biology” talk. It provides the info they need, and takes some mental pressure off yourself.
- Farm animals! LOL. Seriously, though, this totally comes up organically since we have goats and chickens. It provides a natural progression of their own questions as they are ready to know.
- Cats and dogs. Experiences from nature.
- Nature. Accidentally getting a rooster a couple years ago brought up questions, so we talk of it in terms of mating. But, the oldest knows people call it “sex,” and it was a gift God intended for married people. I agree with keeping it more about biology until they get older.
- Basic anatomy. I picked up the coloring book used for college students testing for their med-school entrance — just because it’s a cool book and my toddler was into naming bones — and he loved looking at pictures and asking questions.
- I remember being so traumatized by books people tried to share with me. So, I just answered my kids’ questions straightforwardly as they asked them, not offering more than I felt was necessary, but also not holding back or acting like it was any different discussion than what was for lunch. They thank me for it now. No regrets. Just know that whatever book you use and whatever graphics it contains will be forever emblazoned on their little brains. Some things are best left to the imagination. Building any strangeness or weird mystery around it can have serious repercussions later, especially for generations that crave authenticity.
- I would tread very very carefully with this subject. Both my girls, ages four and seven, know nothing at all, except that it is God that creates life and gives a mommy and daddy a baby. The baby grows inside the mommy and then comes out of her when it’s big enough to survive in the world. I was tainted at a very young age by asking this question…probably around four, and my mom took me to the library and got a book meant for kids — but honestly I still remember the images very clearly in my mind, and it was way too much. It went into detail with drawings of how a man gets a woman pregnant, talking about private parts, sperm, eggs, etc. What a child [incorrectly] learns now about this beautiful plan of God could corrupt their young minds and set the stage for problems down the road. One of the best ways to explain all of this is through the plant kingdom: the parts of a flower (female and male) and how pollination works. This is obviously for an older child, but it’s a beautiful, simplistic way to explain it in very gentle non-graphic terms. We just studied plants for homeschooling and how they reproduce, and I myself had no idea that plants have male and female parts and how the whole process works! Quite amazing, and when the times comes I will use this to explain in more detail how it all “works.”
- The most important piece of advice I gave my fourth-grade son was this: “You can ALWAYS come to me with questions. But, because this is such an important topic, and not everyone is comfortable with discussing it or being around such discussion, please ask those questions at home, and during school hours.” I assured him that no question is too dirty, or too old, or too sensitive to be asked. And, he has asked!!! Pray!!! Pray!!! Pray!!!
- American Girl My Body book. Book 1 is for younger girls. Book 2 for older girls. Book 1: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1609580834/ref=mp_s_a_1_1… Book 2: https://www.amazon.com/…/d/16095804…/ref=pd_aw_fbt_14_img_2…
- Best Friends for Life http://tinyurl.com/k3zo3kk
- Dating, Courting, and Choosing a Mate https://bookstore.parentingmadepractical.com/…/dating-court…
- Every Young Man’s Battle http://a.co/89HHYeJ
- Girl Talk https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_3_9…
- God’s Design for Sex Series: The Story of Me; Before I was Born; What’s the Big Deal? ; Facing the Facts https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_9…
- God Made All of Me. In the spirit of starting early: https://www.amazon.com/God-Made-All-Me…/dp/1942572301
- God Made Your Body. I have used this one with my four year old and I really like it. Not too graphic or too much information, but still a good introduction . http://www.amazon.com/Made…/dp/0764202111/ref=sr_1_1…
- How to Talk Confidently with Your Child About Sex How You Are Changing (a boy and a girl book) https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_14…
- Human Sexuality . This is an awesome book for families, very age appropriate and put out by the General Conference Family Ministries department. http://www.adventsource.org/…/store-productDetails.aspx…
- Love, Sex, and Relationships http://tinyurl.com/ntg8b8d
- Not So Stupid Questions About Your Body https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_10…
- Old Enough to Know http://tinyurl.com/mow98a3
- Passport to Purity https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_12…
- The Purity Code https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_13…
- Raising Sexually Pure Kids, How to Prepare Your Children for the Act of Marriage http://tinyurl.com/m5mwtwu
- Sex, Love, and Romance, Sex Education from the Bible http://tinyurl.com/l6btgz7
- Straight Talk — How Teens Can Make Wise Choices About Love and Sex http://tinyurl.com/lob9n6e
- What’s the Big Deal? About Sex – Loving God’s Way http://tinyurl.com/l4p5osy
- Why True Love Waits . There is a wonderful book called by Josh McDowell that I am currently reading. In no way does it teach that our value is whether we are pure sexually, but that our value lies in God’s love for us while we are yet sinners. It’s a great tool for teaching abstinence and the reasons behind it, rather than just saying it is a sin. http://a.co/cSn0i38
- Young Man, Be Strong https://www.milestonebooks.com/item/1-2486/
- Young Woman, Be Virtuous https://www.milestonebooks.com/item/1-2196/…
Videos and Other Resources
- Don and Lisa Sawvel (SDA) go to schools/churches sharing their ministry “Uncompromised.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QvBn62dnmyQ
- Adventist history resource https://www.google.co.za/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j…
- Homeschool Ways website http://homeschoolways.com/sex-education-for-homeschoolers/
- We also teach our girls the correct body part names — for one thing God created our bodies and I don’t want them growing up ashamed of anything, and it prevents sexual abuse. Check out this article: http://www.pandys.org/articles/protectyourchild.html
- Intoxicated on Life: We used this series. Since using it, they have more on the website, including some videos and other resources. They do include some drawings of reproductive parts: http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/the-talk/
Hopefully these resources and advice from other parents will be useful to you. We will be placing it in the Files section of the SDA Homeschool Families group on Facebook, and may continue to add resources and advice as they appear in the group.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” Genesis 1:27,28 ESV.
*The comments and resources were gathered from about 30 members of the SDA Families Homeschool group. We’d like to especially thank member Jenn Cook, who did an initial resource compilation, adding a lengthy list of books and sources for the benefit of the group and blog readers.