In the beginning of our family…
My wife and I were blessed with four beautiful children in our family. When they were babies, their teaching began right away, because we thought back to the example we’d been given, and decided to try and do better with the Lord’s help.
We taught them directly from the scriptures before they were old enough to understand the language. We sang Primary songs as lullabies, and hymns while doing the dishes. We told them we loved them daily. We taught them in Family Home Evening about their bodies, and how they were special and sacred.
We taught them about their two-fold mission in this life – to gain a body, and learn to control it. This came in handy when their wiggles got out of control as toddlers. It came in handy because maintaining an “eternal perspective” gave them an answer to the question of “why” by helping them see beyond the desires of the “right now.” [i]
Don’t ‘Share Bodies’
We also told them that some parts of their bodies were especially sacred (specifically their chest area or breasts, their lips, their penis or vulva, and their buttocks). These parts were not to be shared with or shown to anyone, except for Mom or Dad - if they felt something was wrong. We also discussed when and how to share these sacred parts with a doctor.
The term ‘sharing bodies’ is an easy way to broach the subject of sexuality with young children. Because it was an easy concept to grasp, we quickly learned it was appropriate to a toddler’s understanding.
Use the Real Words
We used the actual names of body parts at all times, instead of cultural euphemisms. When they got to school, it was something of a surprise to them that everyone didn’t use the actual words, but we continued to call body parts what they were.
As the children grew, if they used words that they’d learned in school, like ‘booty’ or ‘johnson’, we reminded them that those words were irreverent ways of speaking about the sacred body, and we continued to encourage them to use the actual words.
Like using ‘thy’ and ‘thine’ when addressing the Lord, this helped them to establish that there were more respectful and reverent terms that could be used when referring to their bodies. It also helped establish terms everyone was comfortable with when they felt the need to ask questions about their reproductive and erotic parts.
We’re Always Here For You…
Coming into parenthood, we weren’t strangers to the types of mischief that could happen when children went off to play – even if it was no farther than our backyard. Because of this, we taught them to come to us immediately if something happened…if someone tried to ‘share bodies’ with them, even if that person told them not to tell us. That was how we discovered the neighbor children were learning from very different, even tragic, examples in their families. Some of them tried to perpetuate that abuse on our children.
It’s a fact that, even in the nicest families, in the safest gated communities, there is no escaping the worldwide onslaught of profane erotica and its effects.
In some countries in the world, one in four children are being molested at home, often by trusted family members, who may have also been molested.[ii] Are these families talking about sex in their families? Chances are, they aren’t. And their innocence is quickly lost.
Because we had prepared our children for such a circumstance, they knew right away what to do when someone helped themselves to their sacred parts or exposed themselves. Our kids were empowered to remove themselves from the situation without feeling like they’d lost their virtue.
Is it possible for someone to build a successful eternal sexual relationship on secular beliefs, or faulty, incorrect information? It can’t be done.[iii]
When we have a true gospel understanding about sex and intimacy, we must share it with the children. They need to hear it from us more than anyone else.
Next week… How we taught our teenage and young adult children and the consequences that followed…
[i] Uchtdorf, Dieter F., Continue In Patience, Liahona (May 2010), https://www.lds.org/liahona/2010/05/continue-in-patience?lang=eng
[ii] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/child-sexual-abuse-top-5-countries-highest-rates-1436162 In addition, Tom Inglis, a sociologist at UC Dublin, stated in the documentary, “Sex and the Celts” that ‘in spite of progress, Ireland remains one of the most sexually abusive countries. One in four have faced some kind of sexual abuse in their lives.”
[iii] see “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions” by Richard G. Scott; https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/truth-the-foundation-of-correct-decisions?lang=eng