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It was a few months back and my 13-year-old son was walking with me. It was a warm October day and he finally said “Mom, how can I look like dad? I know that moms have babies, but how can a baby look like his dad?”
This wasn’t the first time he had asked me this type of question. You see, I have put off as long as I can giving “the talk” to him. I just hate the thought of taking that little bit of innocence away.
Everywhere they go, they are bombarded with so many different opinions, thoughts, and beliefs and this is one area that my husband and I hope to influence in a positive and Faithful way.
So, after he asked me that, I knew that before long I would have to sit him down and begin this unending dialogue with him.
Beginning ‘the talk’
In our family, it is usually I that first explains the purpose and beauty of sex and what it is all about. I can’t say that I have always done this right. Our 3 oldest really didn’t get the education in this area from us as they should have.
And I once handed a ‘Christian teen sex book’ to my then 11-year-old daughter and told her to follow up with me if she had any questions…Not the best approach (she’s now 21) and she reminds me of that ‘parenting fail’ every chance she gets!
(I did later follow up with her and presented it as I should have)
But, my husband and I have agreed that with our 7 youngest children we were going to put more effort into giving them a wholesome and faith-based love & sex education.
Have you talked to him yet?
This past December, my 13-year old’s 8th-grade health class began their unit on the human reproductive system. Now, he has little sisters and little nieces and nephews. He knows there is a difference between a boy and a girl. So, he went through the class without much deep thought.
I will say I was surprised when I walked into the kitchen one morning and he was reciting the parts of the female and male reproductive systems. My older boys looked at me and said, “have you talked to him yet?!” …I had not. He was totally oblivious at how uncomfortable he was making everyone…just so innocent..
I Knew It Was Time
Fast forward to this past Sunday morning. I was up early as usual and he came out of his bedroom and sat down next to me. Something in me told me that this was the right time to give ‘the talk‘.
So I gently began. I first went over what he had been learning in school. I then went on to explain for an hour or so the facts surrounding love, marriage and sex and why it was meant to be in that order. He, of course, stopped me many times and asked several questions and continues to ask them.
Incidentally, my older girls are in their 20’s and they still come to me to talk when they need to. I have established this form of open communication from the very first talk I had with them.
Leading with Truth & Love
We want our children to hear the Truth from us, their parents, and not from some other source that may be totally misguided or uninformed on the Teachings of the Church.
My husband and I also practice Natural Family Planning. So, we have had much education and practical experience when it comes to this subject.
God created marital intercourse, sex, for marriage, for babies and bonding. That is the purpose. I make sure to emphasize this throughout the conversation. Previously a nurse, I can also come from a scientific angle as well.
I just want to say, that I thanked God for that moment. The look on his face was priceless. He was trying to put it all together in his brain – for the first time. Do you hear that? I got to be the one who explained and shared with him all about the whole ‘sex’ thing and this was the first he heard of it.
Now, I am not so naive to believe that there was never inappropriate talk at school, or practices, or on the bus traveling to sports games. He does go on the computer and he watches TV.
But, I know from talking to him that he had been I guess, ‘protected’ and prevented from taking all that random information in. He was truly clueless and I thanked God for that gift of being the one to tell him. Truly a gift for him and more so for me!
I don’t think that every parent should wait until their child is 13 years old to have ‘the talk’. I have already had it with my 11-year-old daughter a year ago. But, I do think that we need to give ourselves credit in the fact that we know our children.
We as parents will know when it is time. You just have to be looking for the signs and trust that God will let you know when.
I have yet to give ‘the talk’ to my 8-year-old. But with six talks down, I am confident I will present it well when it is time.
Some advice that I want to share is this –
First, learn just what the Church teaches on this subject. Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a great teaching on this. Thorough and you will learn more and be truly blessed just by reading it.
Second, make absolutely sure that you are the one to share the Truth and Beauty of sex with your children. You don’t want this important subject to be taught by a friend, a television, a computer or even a teacher.
Kids, in their minds, will think that whoever first talked to them about sex is the ultimate authority on the subject. They will draw from that knowledge for years to come. Take care to make yourself the ‘authority’.
Third – Lead by example – Live and model what you are teaching as best as you can.
Fourth – keep the conversation ongoing forever!
In closing, I want to clear something up. Just because we as parents may have not followed perfectly what we are trying to teach them that doesn’t excuse us from teaching the Truth. Or excuse our children from learning and doing the right thing.
You are not a hypocrite if you tell someone not to do something you yourself did that was wrong.
If you have learned a lesson or a better and true way of proceeding in life and then you share what you have learned to guide someone in their life, hoping that they may avoid the heartache and hurt you may have experienced, then that my friend, is simply Love.