One of the bottom lines of parenting is not just raising obedient, or even happy kids, but rather raising responsible adults who love God, love others, and love themselves.
In fact, the way your kids love God has a profound effect on everything else. It will impact how you navigate the critical issues every parent will encounter like conversations about faith, technology, health, finance, and sex.
This month, with that in mind, we want to imagine the end and focus a little bit on sexual integrity. If we want our kids to grow up with sexual integrity, we begin with a well-laid out plan to teach our kids to guard their potential for future intimacy through appropriate boundaries and mutual respect. And it starts as early as the day they are born.
Your role—as it relates to guiding your kid toward sexual integrity—will continually redefine itself through each phase of your child’s life. Whereas, in preschool, you start simply by introducing your child to their body, in elementary school it’s time to inform them about how things actually work.
Elementary kids ask a million questions. Kids’ curiosity and inclination for discovery includes their own body. You can focus on giving simple answers to biological questions, talking about boundaries, and improving their relational skills.
Let’s start with the questions—this phase has no shortage of those. You should answer your kid’s questions in an age-appropriate manner. Be an active listener, responding to a question with further questions. Be honest, but avoid disclosing more information than your kid is seeking.
As kids spend more and more time outside the home, have conversations about boundaries, touching, bathrooms—and even teach some prevention words to help protect against sexual abuse. Say things like, “Your body belongs to you.” Or, “Private parts are meant to be private.”
Friendships become increasingly important as kids move from kindergarten to fifth grade. Research shows that kids who have a “best friend” in fourth grade are far more likely to have healthy intimate relationships later in life. So coach them toward positive friendships. When they learn how to be a good friend, they’re practicing the skills required for future relationships.
You’re also getting them ready for the next phase—middle school! Each phase builds on the previous phase, so teaching them “how things work” is a critical step for them to develop a healthy view of their bodies and sexuality.