Daddy, how are babies made?
I was sitting on my living room floor with my three kids while my wife was out when my six-year-old daughter asked me this question. There was no real motivation for it — simply a thought that had popped into her mind. Nevertheless, I think she had been wondering about it for a while, and I didn’t want to simply dismiss it.
My sons, ages four and three, played beside me and listened as I answered the question.
“Well,” I started, “do you remember what I told you before about sex?”
Several months earlier, my wife and I had made it a point to talk to our kids together about sex, because one of their friends from church had had a potential run-in with porn from one of his friends from school. And we wanted to make sure our kids, especially our two older ones, were prepared to handle the issue if such an incident ever happened to them.
We hadn’t gotten into the specifics of porn, but we had simply explained to them about a man’s penis being inserted into a woman’s vagina so that he could put his sperm (or “seed,” as we called it, sticking to biblical terms) into her egg.
We had said that sex was a beautiful thing God had made, but that it must remain a private matter, not shared with other people outside of marriage, and nobody else must see it.
We had told them that there were pictures and videos depicting this act on the internet, and that they are collectively called “porn.” We’d also told our kids that they must not look at porn, and they should tell one of us or the nearest adult if they ever happen to see it.
They seemed to understand what was expected of them, even if they didn’t understand what sex or porn were really all about. They gave us an affirmative “okay!” before running off to play.
Back in my living room with me and my kids, my daughter said she had forgotten what I’d said about sex earlier. So, I reminded her.
“Sex is when a man puts his penis inside his wife’s vagina to put his seed into her egg which is kind of inside her belly.”
My kids laughed.
“When that happens,” I continued, “the seed inside the egg starts to grow, and it becomes a baby. And that baby gets bigger and bigger until he or she is ready to come out of the mommy.”
“Oohh, okay,” my daughter said confidently.
“Is that how I was made?” my four-year-old son asked.
“Yep!” I replied. “That’s how all you kids were made.”
Then came the talks about whose birthday was next and what birthday presents each wanted.
And that was the end of it. I started making dinner after that, and my kids planned their birthday cakes for the next ten years.
When it comes to the sex talk, many parents make it into some huge ordeal that they delay until the kids reach puberty. I knew even before I had kids, though, that this was not how I wanted to raise my children. My wife agreed.
We live in a time and a society in which erotic imagery is everywhere. We can try to shield our kids from it, but they will eventually have to deal with it themselves, often with no adult around. And the age at which most children are exposed to that kind of sexual imagery is getting lower and lower, with many reports showing that children see porn for the first time between the ages of eight and eleven.
I was about ten when I saw my first hint of illicit nudity and thirteen the first time I saw real porn.
My daughter is going to be eight next year. I’m not going to wait around for her to turn thirteen before I start talking to her about the dangers all around her. She needs to be ready before that.
But knowing how to handle porn when faced with it is not the only thing my kids need when it comes to sex. I don’t want my kids to equate sexuality with evil and danger all the time. They also need to know that sex is essentially good, beautiful, and precious, a gift from God, and that we need to value it and value our bodies as God designed them.
This can’t all be downloaded into them in one, big, nerve-wracking sex talk when they’re teenagers. As the head of my family, it is my responsibility to instill into my children the understanding of the truth and goodness of God’s design from the youngest age they are able to hear it.
I know many people would say that a four-year-old child does not need to know about sex. Many would also say that teaching a child that young about sex could even damage him. But I have found no evidence to support these beliefs.
Talking to our children about what is beautiful and good, even if it is sex, does not harm them. My children have not become sex-crazed maniacs since they heard me say that sperm comes out of the penis.
Warning our children about the dangers that exist around them and what to do when they face those dangers does not harm them. It equips them with what they need to resist the onslaught of perversion that will be thrown at them from a very young age if they are ever faced with it on their own.
And talking to them about this stuff, I’ve learned, is not that difficult to do.
We don’t need to be afraid of sex talks with anyone, especially our children. On the contrary, as parents and as Christians in this dark and confused world, it is our duty.
Did anyone give you the sex talk when you were growing up? How did the sex talk go, or how did the sex talk not go? What do you think is the best way to prepare children for puberty and sexual temptation?
* Photo courtesy gracehebert, Creative Commons.