Click on the links here if you missed and would like to read Part I , Part II , Part III or Part IV of this series.
Tips for Effectively Teaching Sexuality in the Family
The time to avoid openly discussing sex and intimacy in tandem with the gospel is over. If we haven’t done this consistently in the past, it’s never too late to start, even if our children are grown.
· If we’re having trouble in our marriage relationship, address the challenge quickly and solve (or at least manage) it. Young eyes watch us, and will do what we do someday in their relationships.
· Keep your married sexual relationship sacred, but be open with your children about age-appropriate biological principles. The goal is to let the children know we enjoy marital intimacy, but the details of that part of our life is not for them. Children don’t want to know about our sexual activity anyway. Teach them to respect private time.
If you’re planning to engaging in marital intimacy, set the kids up so they are otherwise occupied (headphones, a movie or video, somewhere away from your bedroom. Find a babysitter, or send them out of the house for a time). Let them know this is sacred time.
· Don’t pretend your sex life doesn’t exist in the name of keeping your children ‘innocent’. It can backfire on you. Fear of your children finding out you have sex can lead to a sex-starved marriage, which will hurt your relationship with your spouse and your children’s future relationships.
· If we aren’t directly teaching our children and our grandchildren, the Adversary will – he will bombard them through the television, the radio, stories, magazines, the Internet, and people in the world learning from sources that are quick to profane holy things– and what our children will learn from these sources can be as much as 80% incorrect.
It has to be constantly countered with pure truth, from the gospel and from prophets and apostles. Family Home Evening is a great time to talk with kids about the law of chastity, how our bodies work, what sharing bodies mean, and what to do if someone tries to share bodies with them.
· Keep the talk age-appropriate and the tone reverent, but we must talk about sex, about love and lust, about bodies and body parts, and do that in context of gospel principles. Penis, vagina, clitoris, labia, vulva, scrotum, testes, breasts, nipples, anus, anal sphincter, rectum, perineum, menstruation, semen, sperm, ejaculate, nocturnal emissions, ovum, ovulate, foreskin, urethra, lactate, mammary, sex, intercourse, etc… teach children these are sacred (not dirty, filthy, naughty, sleazy, smutty, etc…) words and that they are okay to use when spoken of reverently.
Practice saying them so you are comfortable using them yourself. If you don’t know what they are, find out. These are parts of your children’s bodies as well as your own. They can’t escape them or put them in a box until they are married. They will need words they can use to describe challenges they may be having with those body parts.
· If you’re worried about arousing sexual feelings in young people with all this talk about sex, we’ve found that not to be true. Our children are sexual beings, just as we are, and sexual feelings arise naturally.
Children need guidance in how to process and channel these feelings so as to make the best choices for themselves and their future families. Uncontrollable arousal is actually more likely to happen when parents aren’t talking about sex. Under those circumstances, children are driven to other sources out of embarrassment, desperation for knowledge and their natural curiosity.
· If you don’t know what to teach, find trusted sources that triangulate with gospel sources to teach you. (D&C 109:7) Some good sources include Laura Brotherson’s book, And They Were Not Ashamed, as well as her other resources at her website.[i]
The Church website has instruction called ‘A Parent’s Guide’ that gives guidelines for sexual instruction in the family based on gospel principles.[ii] I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they use terms such as ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ when teaching what to teach.
The Mormon Channel has a series of videos to help families have healthy conversations about sex.[iii] The Eternal Marriage student manual is excellent for your own marriage and teaching older children about preparing for courtship, temple marriage, sexuality, birth control, and other challenges that come with marriage.
The Eternal Marriage student manual can be purchased for about $10 at www.lds.org. Don’t forget there is also my website for lots of articles about married sexuality, dispelling myths, and other helpful topics, and I’m available to those with more specific questions at my email.
“Don’t Talk about Sex at Home; It Keeps Kids Innocent and Safer Longer” is a myth with many unfavorable obvious and unforeseen consequences, and one not based in gospel truth.