Click on the links here if you missed and would like to read Part I , Part II or Part III of this series.
By now, some of you may be asking “Wait a minute - how is teaching my kids about sex going to help my married sex life? Aren’t we supposed to hide the fact that we’re having sex from our kids? Keep it sacred?”
Doesn’t It Protect Our Children’s Innocence to Conceal Our Married Sex Life?
While it is advised that we keep the sacred details of our married sex life confidential, evading the fact that we are happy in the sexual relationship with our spouse (if we are) can actually backfire on us and our children.
Some couples, in the name of protecting their children’s innocence, can become so private in their intimate relations that they will only have sex when they know they are absolutely alone. They fear that the children will hear them, or accidentally walk in on them. They may believe it will “plant ideas” in their children’s heads that will make it too great a challenge to keep their thoughts pure, and drive them to break the law of chastity. In any case, we found this to be unsupported.
The opposite is actually true. Keeping it a secret instead tends to overstimulate their natural thirst for knowledge. An obsession with trying to keep it a secret can also lead to marital anxiety that can make your lovemaking experience unpleasant, instead of an enjoyable, relaxing, passionate, bonding and joyful time together.
Does this mean you should tell your children about the details of your sexual interactions with your spouse? We shouldn’t do that, any more than we should tell them every detail of the temple ordinances.[i] In fact, our Church leaders have counseled us to keep what we do sexually with our spouse very sacred and guarded.[ii]
What you can do is let your children know that you do have sex, that sex is good and that it’s very sacred. You don’t have to say it out loud all the time; actions count as well as words.
Kiss each other in front of the kids. Hold hands. Be playful with each other. Let them know when you will need some private time.[iii]
Subtle messages such as a “do not disturb” sign on your bedroom door, the sound of loud music coming from the master bedroom when the door is closed, a locked master bedroom door, or putting out special snacks, this helps them to know to go to another side of the house to read a book, watch a movie, play a game or go outside to play. Discuss with them beforehand that these clues mean this is “sacred mother and father time”. That it is a time to be respected.
Addressing sex this way with your kids gives them a positive example of a healthy sexual relationship in marriage, something to look forward to when they marry, and a sense of safety knowing their parents intimacy keeps their relationship and family bonds a priority. It also creates a model of how to address their married sex lives with their children.[iv]
Next week: A final roundup of tips for effectively teaching sex to children.
[i] Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, (2002), 1–37, https://www.lds.org/manual/preparing-to-enter-the-holy-temple/preparing-to-enter-the-holy-temple?lang=eng "These Things Are Sacred: A careful reading of the scriptures reveals that the Lord did not tell all things to all people. There were some qualifications set that were prerequisite to receiving sacred information. Temple ceremonies fall within this category. We do not discuss the temple ordinances outside the temples."
[ii] A Parent’s Guide, (1985), iv–3, Introduction, https://www.lds.org/manual/a-parents-guide/introduction?lang=eng
“Intimacy is related to the level of trust and confidence that exists between two people or within a family. Confidential matters between husband and wife are important in making their relationship unique and binding. When that trust is broken, the marriage partners feel betrayed and that which was formerly intimate has been made common. Intimacy between them may be greatly strained. This is particularly true when a marriage partner shares information with another person about physical relations between husband and wife. “
A Parent’s Guide, (1985), 22–33 Chapter 4: Teaching Children: from Four to Eleven Yearshttps://www.lds.org/church/news/how-to-teach-children-about-sexual-intimacy?lang=eng
“Be cautious to keep your own bodies and intimate sexual relations private. Children do not need to see or hear details of your private sexual life. They see and hear enough in the normal course of family life. They may feel threatened if a parent becomes too descriptive. Children usually learn subtly and cumulatively from ordinary daily contacts.”
[iii] A Parent’s Guide, (1985), 22–33, Chapter 4: Teaching Children: from Four to Eleven Years https://www.lds.org/church/news/how-to-teach-children-about-sexual-intimacy?lang=eng
“You and your spouse can be your children’s best examples of intimate relationships. A father teaches intimacy to his sons and daughters by how he speaks to, touches, and generally treats their mother. The same pattern pertains to the mother. In some ways this relationship between you and your spouse is more important than the parent-child relationship in teaching your children about intimacy.”
[iv] Marriage and Family Relations Instructor’s Manual, (2000), 67–72 https://www.lds.org/manual/marriage-and-family-relations-instructors-manual/part-b-parents-responsibilities-to-strengthen-families/lesson-14-teaching-gospel-principles-to-children-part-2?lang=eng