CHRISTIAN PARENTING BOOKS
Answering "Questions Kids Ask about Sex"
By Hannah Goodwyn
Author of such books as Red Hot Monogamy and Men Are Like Waffles—Women Are Like Spaghetti, Pam Farrel has tackled many sensitive subjects. Her latest book doesn't veer off from the 'touchy' topics she's been known to write. Titled 10 Questions Kids Ask about Sex, Farrel's new book advises parents on how to talk 'the birds and the bees' with their children, no matter their age.
Recently, Farrel spoke with CBN.com about these 10 questions, what parents should say to their kids and when they should say it. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
What's God's view on sex?
Pam Farrel: The Bible is really clear that we're supposed to abstain from sexual immorality. That means all sex outside of marriage and I mean He really spelled it out. This is God's will for you. So, that's the value system we need to hold out to our children and not only just abstaining from sexual immorality, but 'blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God'.
The bigger question is, 'How can we help our children at all ages have that pure heart towards God?' The question really shouldn't be on the area of boundaries, 'How close can I come to the edge of the Grand Canyon before I fall in?' It should be, 'How close can I get to the heart of God so I don't even have to worry about falling off the ledge into immorality or any kind of behavior or choice that might hurt or harm my life?'
If we teach our kids to be passionate in their pursuit towards God, their passion will be headed the right direction.
Who should initiate the conversation? Should parents wait until they're asked or should they start at a young age?
Farrel: It comes pretty naturally if you trust your instincts and you trust your heart for God. In preschool, they will be aware that they have a body. It has parts. They will begin talking and asking about their body parts. So, it will become very natural to just say, 'Oh, yeah. That's called a this, and it's called a that.'
Just try to hold back your freaking-out and keep your emotions just calm. It will become natural for your kids to come to you for good, accurate information about their body, about decisions, about relationships, and then eventually about sex and dating and all of those more complicated things that will come along in their teen years.
How can a parent know how much to say at a certain stage?
Farrel: Yeah, the big question. We get really overwhelmed by this. There's a little story of a little girl doing her homework. She looks up from her homework and asks, 'Mom, how do you make babies?' The mom thinks, 'Ah, this is the moment! I need to answer this question accurately.' The mom goes on about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and all the details about intimacy and how things work. The little girl's eyes get bigger. After an hour or so, the little girl says, 'OK.' Then the next day, the little girl comes home. She's doing her spelling homework and she looks up and she says, “Mom, I asked my teacher and you're wrong. How you make babies is you drop the –y and you add –ies.” Oh yeah.
We need to make sure that we are understanding the question that our children ask. Sometimes we feel like we have to give them all the information, all at once, but it's actually more natural to just answer their question, short answer, maybe 10 percent more. See if they have any more questions. Give that answer a little bit more and we just layer it.
It's much like a painting. How you would create a painting is you, in those early years, you would put down the foundation, the background colors. That's character qualities. We want our kids to have delayed gratification—be willing to wait, know what a hero looks like, being noble, having a pure heart. What does it look like to obey God, have a heart for God? So, layer character down as that background, and then as they enter into schooling, preschool and elementary school, then give a few more details. Begin to sketch in the details.
Before their bodies begin to change in what we call “the oasis years,” those years from 8 to 12, you need to have a very honest conversation about what's coming, how their bodies are going to change, how God created this wonderful of sex and what is sex actually, how everything works together and then why it's a gift that you would want to protect and wait until marriage.
As they hit junior high and high school, then there's going to be more of what we call traditions and memories. You want to leave a trademark on your kids of traditions and memories. So, create more opportunities that you celebrate that child, their good decisions. We have a teen relationship contract on our webwise.com website that you can use to help your children think through these important decisions and how they're going to relate with the opposite gender.
Out of the 10 questions you address in the book, which did you find the most challenging as a parent?
Farrel: At what point do you say exactly what sex is and how the bodies fit together? What is the right age for this big reveal? That seems to be the big controversy because you don't want to wait too late so that the media or little Joey down the block is the one who's telling your child what this beautiful gift of sex is. So, you don't want to wait too late, but yet you don't want to steal the beautiful innocence of childhood too early.
We really think that there's an oasis time, a really natural time, to share what this is and that is before bodies begin to change. You're going to have to share with that daughter, 'you know, your cycle's going to start and this is why your cycle does what it does and that's because sex was created as a gift' and then explain. For most girls, that's going to be before age 12 and as early as age 8. That means your son needs to hear about it at the same age because someone in his class may begin her cycle. We wanted our boys to be the heroes in the classroom that if anything happened to that little girl, they might spot some little mark on the dress, that they wouldn't like point it out to the whole class and embarrass her. Instead, they would know, go to the teacher and say, 'Emily needs you right now. Here's my jacket if you want to give it to Emily.' We wanted them to know what a hero looked like at every stage.
How about for parents who think they might have missed the boat? Maybe their kids are young adults. How can they speak to them?
Farrel: It's never too late to help a child, a teen, a college student, make a right, wise choice. If you haven't had that conversation yet, then just make it a point. Say, 'You know what? I blew it. I messed up. I feel like I haven't been there for you. I know you probably have all kinds of information, but I just want to communicate my heart and tell you that if you have any questions that you can ask me. I have some books that I would love to hand you that talk about a value system that you might want to investigate, because I don't want you to die.' You know, in our world this is a life and death decision nowadays.
One in four is carrying SDI, sexually transmitted infections, and many of those infections leave someone infertile. Then, there's abortion. If you look at sexually transmitted diseases and abortion and those things, like the next generation, there's just going to be fewer babies, and that's really one of the reasons that I wrote 10 Questions Kids Ask about Sex.
For more stories like this one, sign up to receive CBN.com's Family Wrap-Up in your email every Friday.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.