What We’re Reading: Talking to our children about sexuality
We enjoyed excellent workshops on sexuality for both men and women at Wheaton this summer. One question that was raised is about how to talk to our children and teens about sex. Anjonette Baum, MPC board member, licensed professional counselor, and certified sex addiction therapist candidate, emphasized the importance of ongoing dialog. She said that our kids need to hear from us about sex and sexuality, and need us to be present and ready to listen, teach, and guide through every stage of their growth. As parents we may lack confidence in talking about sex, but thankfully there are resources to help us. I’d like to suggest some books that parents may find helpful in catching a vision for the what, when, and how of these important conversations. Each of these books is written in order to be read with our children, but can also be valuable in equipping parents to have these conversations in their own way. As in all things, your discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is key here to identify what suits your family and the needs of your precious and unique children.
God’s Design for Sex series by Stan and Brenna Jones (2007) offers four books to help parents guide their children from early childhood through the teen years. The Joneses teach about sexuality as a gift from God, and recognize that the conversations we have about sex shape our children’s character.
The Story of Me is designed for children ages three to five, and begins to lay a foundation for understanding sexuality in a truly Christian way. The final book, Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You is intended for young teens and includes a chapter titled “Tough answers to some tough problems” which parents will likely find a welcome help in our complicated world.
Theology of His Body/Theology of Her Body by Jason Evert (2009) points to “the beauty of God’s plan for sexual love and the joy of living it” in a way that teens and their parents will find compelling (quoting from the introduction by Christopher West on page 1). It’s two books in one, written specifically to young women and men, and Evert’s subtitles describe the book well. This book will help parents and teens discover the strength and mission of masculinity as well as the beauty and mystery of femininity. In our day I believe our young people need to be pointed to the transcendent meaning of sexuality, and how good and important it is that God made them men and women.
One final book I’ll mention isn’t written from a distinctly Christian point of view. It addresses pornography, a topic that I believe is critical for families today, in a developmentally sensitive and research-grounded way. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A Jenson and Debbie Fox encourages parents to consider ways to proactively protect our children from the destructive effects of porn.