Let me ask you a question: Did you receive good, positive, or healthy sex education from your parents or the church growing up?
For a lot of us, that answer is no. And it’s not because the church or parents don’t want to give us quality, value-centered sex education. They did – they do. But the problem is, they don’t.
One of the bottom lines of parenting is not just raising obedient kids, but rather raising responsible adults who love God. To do this, we have to begin with the end in mind.
So if we want every generation to grow up with sexual integrity, we have to teach our kids to guard their potential for future intimacy through appropriate boundaries and mutual respect.
If sexual integrity is the goal, then what is the strategy? How can you help kids develop appropriate boundaries and mutual respect? What’s the plan for navigating sexual integrity through the phases?
It’s a process that begins in each phase. And your role will continually redefine itself as you help your kid develop sexual integrity. Ideally, that process begins with preschoolers, with the “introduce” phase. Then, in the elementary school years, it’s the time to inform your kids about how things work.
For the middle school phase, students need help interpreting what is changing.
At the risk of oversimplifying, here are just three practical things you can do to help your student interpret what is changing: You can answer questions about sex in detail, increase positive affirmation and affection, and agree on boundaries to help them script responses.
If you don’t answer questions about sex in detail, the Internet will. The average age a child in America will view pornography is age eleven. Our middle schoolers experience the onset of desires that come with puberty in a world of unlimited access. One of the greatest gifts you can give your student is an interpretation of the sexual and relational changes happening all around them.
At a time when so many kids feel embarrassed and awkward, affirm your kid’s appearance. Give them a hug, a pat on the shoulder. Even if they don’t say it, they appreciate it.
There’s a host of data to suggest that the middle school years are rich with poor decision making. Middle schoolers feel all the feelings, but they aren’t always good at interpreting what those feelings mean. One of the keys to this phase is to help your student set boundaries before those boundaries are tested.
You’re also getting them ready for the next phase – high school! Each phase builds on the previous phase, so helping them interpret what is changing is a critical step for them to develop a healthy view of their bodies and sexuality.