(writer’s note: this short blog post is not meant to be a comprehensive plan for sex ed. These are just some thoughts about raising kids that hopefully will inspire you to further reflection and education on the subject.)
I recently came across this article on the PBS website called The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten.
It explains the comprehensive sex ed program taught in schools in the Netherlands. I was pretty horrified by the content of the country-mandated program, but what they do have right is the idea that sexuality is part of who you are and shouldn’t be avoided. In kindergarten they aren’t using the word “sex” and instead are talking more about feelings and identity in the early years, but it got me thinking that really we should be starting sex ed at birth.
Because, with the exception of a very small percentage of people, you are born with male or female parts, and that’s a good place to begin. You are born male or female, and your sexuality is a part of who you are. God made your body, so it’s good. In fact, our male or female bodies are meant to be a visible image of certain aspects of the person of God, equal but complimentary. You were loved into being by God, you are born to be loved by your parents, and you were made to love others. Your whole life is meant to be about true, self-giving love. And sexuality is tied to love.
You first learn to love in a self-giving way in your family. Giving hugs and kisses to your parents, sharing toys with siblings, and obeying and growing in responsibility. My husband and I were talking yesterday about how it’s important that kids see their parents be affectionate with each other, because this is where they learn. The family is the first school- for many things, including “sex ed.”
There is a lot of gender confusion in our society, so as babies grow, parents should help them see how their masculinity or femininity helps them in relation to others and to God. Not all girls need to wear princess dresses to be fully feminine (I preferred shorts) and not all boys need to like weapons (though if they do that’s okay!) to be fully masculine. But you are either male or female, so even though your hobbies and interests and feelings change over time, your physical parts wont and therefore neither will the core of your identity.
Lastly, parents should tell their girls they are beautiful and guys that they are handsome and strong. Give them a solid foundation for their self-image. Because as you approach adolescence, the sex conversation will have to change and their self-esteem will be under attack. But at least you’ve given them a good foundation. Which will lead me to my next blog post, so stay tuned!
“The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial, and thus to be a sign of it” (St. John Paul II, Feb 20, 1980).