Kids and Sexuality: More Ideas


Kids and Sexuality: More Ideas

Right from the time your child is born, that child is watching, soaking in and learning what it means to be human, to relate to others and what love is all about. As they grow, they need to learn the true meaning of love, life and sexuality. Parents set the stage for this through daily life. Here are some ideas and tips towards a coherent foundation of sexual integrity.

  • Always speak honestly, naturally and happily to your children about issues related to life, love, human development, sexuality, etc. Broach topics timely, age appropriately and confidently, whether the child asks questions or not. Encourage your children to come to you often with any questions they may have. Make the moments special, intimate, memorable and warm. As well teach them to respect the rights of parents to be the ones to speak to their children about such matters, rather than talking to their friends about it.
  • Be the centre of your children’s lives as they grow up. Develop a real sense of love and belonging in your family. When kids feel loved and secure at home, they don’t feel as much pressure to seek it elsewhere prematurely. (An eyeopener read on this is “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers” by G. Neufeld and G. Mate)
  • Develop a sense of family honor. Proudly speak of the legacy your grandparents have passed down to you – whether of hard work, personal integrity, inner convictions, values worth sacrificing forth, courage, etc. Find ways to often underscore it.
  • Work on your marriage so that your children see you in love, thinking about each other, willing to sacrifice for each other, enjoying each other. Your marriage is the template for their future relationships. Don’t sell them short by neglecting it. Live it vibrantly, concretely so that they learn that happiness can be found in a solid marriage. Date each other. Hold hands. Laugh together often. Enjoy each other’s company. That will speak volumes about the joy of married love, more than any lecture. (Many marriages have benefited from watching the movie, “Fireproof” and reading the corresponding book “The Love Dare”)
  • Prize sincerity in your home. It is the basis of trust in all relationships. Reward honesty. Offer just consequences with loving mercy. Make every effort not to be scandalized by what your kids say because you don’t want them to be afraid of talking to you. Rather be open, listen, encourage, guide — even if on the inside you are melting down. Kids need to see that you can be confided in, that you will love them no matter what and not pass judgement on them or their friends. Also be willing to apologize for any disrespect on your part towards them, especially in the teen years. Kids need to see you are not perfect and you don’t expect them to be. Seek always to build bridges, not burn boats.
  • Turn to God often for help, direction and healing in all stages of raising your kids to adulthood. Pray for your children, pray about your children. Put them often in God’s hands.Kids will need a sense of self-respect and respect for others:
  • Good manners and courtesy show respect for the dignity of others. “Please”, “Thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “I promise/I give you my word”. They are not simple pleasantries.Teach them to mean what they say and say what they mean, as well as honor their commitments. Don’t allow them to treat people as objects, use people or manipulate people in any way.
  • Work at developing self-control and self-mastery in your children. This is common sense when raising toddlers who grab, hit and even bite. It is needed at all ages and stages. Help your kids be directed by moral principles, not feelings. Teach them to wait for things and do without. Train them to have self-discipline while shopping, eating, drinking, TV, playing computer games, sports, etc.
  • Teach family members to knock on closed doors before entering as a sign of respect for privacy and courtesy
  • Keep conversations positive and constructive. Divert them from bathroom humor, inappropriate discussions in public and gossiping about the lives of others.
  • From very young, get them into habits of telling you where they are, with whom, for what etc. so that they are not off doing whatever without your knowledge. This may be after school, on weekends, etc. Speak regularly about their friends so that they are used to sharing that information with you.
  • If you and your children see something that is inappropriate on the street, on a billboard, in a magazine or on TV or the internet, make a comment to help them process the situation according to your values. Over time this builds criteria in your children’s minds. Make sure you judge the action and not the person. Emphasize what would be better to draw greater attention to the good.
  • Help them see that life is not about me, my,and I but about we, us, you and I. We are here to be our best selves, to help others, and uphold the common good of society. The inherent dignity of each person is to be respected, upheld and protected. Let them see this mirrored in your life.The virtue of modesty protects the mystery of the person, their intimacy. Children are born with a natural sense of modesty. Parents should teach their children to treasure it. It is not a matter of shame, but rather a great sense of self-worth.
  • No one walks around in their undergarments. Either people are properly dressed or wear a bathrobe.
  • Sleepwear is for sleepwear not for daytime wear.
  • We wear what is appropriate for the occasion. Bathing suits at the beach, sportswear for sports, casual clothes for relaxing, more formal clothes for religious worship, weddings etc.
  • Other than small kids needing assistance or supervision in the bathroom, only one person uses the bathroom at a time and others wait.
  • Parents should not shower or bathe with their children as this breaks down the natural sense of modesty.
  • Once kids are about 3 or 4 years old, they should bathe separately from their siblings and be assisted by a parent of the same sex if possible.
  • Kids feel ill at ease getting changed in the presence of others. This should be respected. Kids sharing bedrooms should be encouraged to get changed privately in the washroom.
  • Protect your child’s privacy in public change rooms. Either make a privacy screen around your child with a big towel, or have them get changed in the washroom. Even though most people change openly, allow your children to protect their privacy from the looks of strangers who may be heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual.
  • Teach your children by word and example to dress attractively, neatly and appropriately for all occasions. Help them develop a natural pride, dignity and beauty in their appearance as well as the messages they convey through it. Dress children as children, not as mini-teenagers. Teach kids to dress attractively, but not to attract. Explain the difference. Girls in particular have to realize they are being watched by many strangers, some who may be “creepy”.Develop a moral framework for your children from which they can draw strength, direction and purpose.
  • Teach them by word, deed and example how to live a life of integrity. Instruct them in your moral beliefs. More importantly live your values coherently with great joy. That attracts your children the most. They want to be happy and will be drawn by what they see as the best option.
  • Teach your children how to talk to God, listen to him and be led by him (basically a prayer life). To be most effective, your kids need to see you do it regularly and be better for it. Encourage them to pray with you and on their own. This can be a great source of hope, strength and refuge when all else seems to fail for them — very necessary in a society with high levels of teen suicide, depression and eating disorders. Help them discover the infinite love God has for them, even when they make mistakes.
  • Help your children to regularly experience the joy of forgiveness, within the family, and within your faith. We all make mistakes and need to experience healing, forgiveness and acceptance. Introduce them to a good mentor/spiritual coach/confessor in the early teens. In my home, we have a great love for the powerful sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist. Both offer a sure anchor and strong hope amidst any situation.
  • Supervise, monitor and correct when necessary. Do not allow anything in the house that detracts from the dignity of the person (ie. Pornography, gratuitous violence, sexy magazines and movies, sexually explicit music etc.) Be willing even to take an exacto knife to cut out pages of indecent photos or explicit information from books you own. Stick to your moral standards and live them coherently. Minimize the sexualization of your children by outside influences. Keep the media under control for quantity of time spent on it and for quality of content.Your children’s relationships outside the family:
  • Make a great effort to befriend couples who share your values so that your children can meet many others who are younger, older or same age and who also live by your values and standards. This will affirm your child’s standards and decrease their need to conform to the crowd.
  • Know your children’s friends. Have them over often to hear what they talk about, are into and consider worthwhile. You will quickly learn if they are friendships you want them to develop in the years to come. Look for a unity of values, and accept a diversity of styles. “Where character and peer relations clash, choose in favor of character … Your goal is to shield your kids for as long as you judge wise and to minimize those times and places when and where they are surrounded by others with fewer standards. As they mature, they will be better able morally to fend for themselves. Bad influences will be less influence because your parenting has been the strongest influence.” Ray Guarendi, “Discipline that Lasts a Lifetime”, pp. 284-5.
  • Encourage friendships for your children, but don’t encourage them to think about having boyfriends or girlfriends. I see parents in the primary grades promoting this seemingly “cute” behavior. They inadvertently condone and subtlety push their children to view the opposite sex as “dating material”. Doing so sets the stage for premature involvement. Ray Guarend’s book, “Discipline that Lasts a Lifetime” states: A recent survey suggested that if a child has a first date between the ages of 11 and 13, he or she has a 90% probability of being sexually active during senior year in high school. First date at age 14 leads to a 50% chance; first date at age 16, 20% chance. What chance would you prefer? What chance is much of society taking? (page 301) Sadly too many parents aren’t thinking ahead to see the ramifications (sexually transmitted diseases, undesired pregnancies, broken hearts etc.) of this seemingly harmless activity.
  • Establish home zones for friends. From the time they are young, keep bedrooms in your homes as rooms just for sleeping and reading. Teach children that guests are entertained in common areas, like living room, kitchen, family room etc. and not in private areas. Entertainment systems (TV, computer, telephone, etc.) are kept in common areas where the family can enjoy them together. This prevents teens from going into bedrooms with their friends and shutting the door on your supervision.
  • Be cautious about sleepovers. Kids can have fun during the day and sleepovers are often unwarranted. Resulting loss of sleep adversely affects both your son/daughter and the whole family for a number of days. More importantly, a lot of inappropriate behavior and conversation occur when it is late and supervision is minimal. Rather consider letting your kids spend a late evening with friends, pick them and bring them home to their own bed.
  • As they approach the hormonal teenage years, help them to keep active physically, intellectually and emotionally through chores, make-work projects, sports, reading, programs, paid work, volunteering, hobbies etc. This minimizes time for “getting into trouble”.
  • Wait as long as possible before setting up personal internet access for your son/daughter. Have your computer in a public spot in your home, ie. Kitchen. Have filters on your computer and control the time spent on it. When kids use phones, you are more aware of who is contacting your son/daughter. With MSN, Facebook etc., you lose knowledge and control over a lot of their social life. Try to harness it as much as possible by limiting time, talking about it often and involving them in more real interactions.
  • Talk about the purpose of dating: to find a marriage partner. Dating is not a sport, leisure activity or just for fun. In our family, we discourage dating in high school. This stance frees our kids to pursue sports, academics, work etc. and enjoy many friendships. Once they are a bit older, they can date to find the person they want to spend the rest of their life with because they are ready to make that commitment.
  • Help your teen to realize that if their vocation is to marriage, somewhere there is a girl/boy waiting to meet them. They should be praying for them, patient for them and realizing that it’s not a case of playing the field, but just waiting till the right one comes along.
  • Teens should understand that it is great to be single and free to pursue so many activities: sports, hobbies, volunteer work, studies, languages, etc. Girls especially should not be made to feel that they will be more complete when a boy takes interest in them, dates them, etc. Parents should ground them in the fact that happiness should be found in the present, not in wishful thinking for a future moment when Mr. Right comes on the scene. Girls need to learn to love themselves, be comfortable with who they are and confident in their own dignity as women without tying it to the presence of boyfriends.
  • Discuss imaginary situations with your teens. What if … For example, discuss with your teen what if… this happens at a party, on a date, at the dance, what would you do? What would she think? What would happen next? Address the various scenarios that add fuel to the fire of uncontrolled passion – alcohol, dark rooms, being alone, music, drugs, etc. Oftentimes, our kids are naive and being able to explain different situations and various consequences helps them be forearmed and forewarned. It also helps a mom inform her son about the way girls think and act. Similarly a dad can enlighten his daughter about the effects her clothes, body language, etc. can have on a boy.
  • Go with your gut instincts and say no to requests that you’ve investigated to be loaded with temptations (parties with alcohol, lack of parental supervision, questionable friends, etc.)
  • Share some of your teenage memories with your kids, maybe even some of your mistakes in order for them to realize it is not perfection you want from them, but actions that steer them to greater happiness.
  • Encourage group outings rather than individual dating in high school.
  • Be leery about allowing your teen to date one person exclusively over a long period of time. Familiarity breaks down walls, lowers restraint and increases the desire to do a bit more each time. Encourage them to consider whether they could see this person as their spouse and parent of their children. If not, they should break up the relationship so as not to mislead them or use them just for pleasure. When teens date often and many people, they actually set the groundwork for future divorce because they get used to “disposable relationships”. Habits are hard to break. Be careful what kind of habits your kids get into.
  • When teens wonder how far they can go, they should be encouraged to think about their future spouse and how far they would want that person going right now in the arms of someone else. The more we treasure and save our intimacy, the better the gift will be on our wedding day. Whether we have made mistakes or not, it is never late to re-possess our intimacy and steer our lives in better directions.


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