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Founder of Couples of Promise
Co-host of nationally syndicated television program Reality Talks
Speaker for the Couples of Faith marriage conferences
Ph.D. and M.A., University of Arizona
Married for 37 years - four daughters and one son
Dr. Kevin Leman is challenging parents to approach the subject of teaching their children about sex from a different perspective. He says that parents should have an ongoing dialogue with their kids about sex and not just have a one-time talk. He contends that children are really asking questions about sex at the ages of 8 and 9. From 9 to 10 they start talking about sex more, and after that, they start experimenting with sex. Because of this, it is important that parents communicate to their children that sex is great because God made it in the confines of marriage. Often parents don't see kids as sexual beings and kids don't see parents as sexual beings, but like it or not, it is a fact of life and children will learn about sex somewhere if not from their parents. Dr. Leman also says kids need positive input about sex in order to get a positive output. Kids are going to do what they are going to do, so it is good to tell the truth about sex so they can make the best decision concerning sex -- waiting until marriage.
Talking Turkey About Sex
To illustrate that children can have questions about sex at an early age, Dr. Leman remembers a time he and his family went to the popular food chain What a Burger. One of his daughters, who was 3 at the time, in a loud voice asked, "Where do babies come from?" Many of the patrons heard this and looked to Dr. Leman to see what his response would be. He said that daddies plant special seeds in mommies and after nine months there would be a baby.
Dr. Leman believes that a parent can answer a child's question about sex truthfully at a young age, but the parent does not have to give the details until it is appropriate. In this regard he also uses the example of Big Ben. When people ask what time it is, one does not have to explain Big Ben and its intricate workings, one just gives the time - the information asked for. He says that it should be the same with talking with children about sex. Just give the information needed and take things in stride.
Dr. Leman has ten tips for parents to talk to their kids about sex, three in particular that are most important. The first tip is that parents should start talking to their kids about sex early and "Focus Above the Waist." It is good to open doors of communication by focusing on what he calls the "neck-up issues," which are first zits, bad hair days, and crackling voices. The best time to start these talks, he says, is between the fourth and fifth grades before the hormones kick in. The second tip is to "Practice Kitchen Table Sex Ed." In other words, don't plan conversations about sex, but be open to when sex talks come up naturally at the dinner table or on a drive. The third tip is to "Look in the Mirror," or to observe how you treat your spouse. This means that the parents' marriage will inform kids about sexuality more than anything else. Dr. Leman recalls that his wife was planning on having lunch at a restaurant without him, and earlier that day he went to the restaurant to prepay for his wife's lunch. While Dr. Leman was paying the waitress, another waitress found out what he was doing and started to cry because the gesture touched her. With this example Dr. Leman points out that people are watching, namely your children, and children are looking for these "moments."
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