In an age of sexual irresponsibility it is important that parents have a plan for teaching fidelity and chastity. Whether or not you, as a parent, agree morally with the value of chastity and fidelity, you do, as a parent, have a responsibility to address and deal with this critical issue. There are great emotional benefits that are attached to the values of fidelity and chastity. Logically it is hard to argue against the benefits of fidelity and chastity. And positive commitments toward these values can be taught at a very early age.
Even parents who did not practice chastity or abstinence in their own youth intuitively want their child to obtain these values. This is not hypocrisy and shouldn't cause guilt. Today is a new day. The fact that a parent learned from their mistakes is one of the best reasons for them to help their children avoid similar mistakes.
The underlying philosophy that parents need to keep in mind, as they teach sexual abstinence, is the child's sexuality is too beautiful and too good to be given or used or thought of loosely or without commitment. A child's sexuality should be given the same attention that is given any other aspect of their training where commitment and responsibility is important.
It is also important for parents to be aware that the opposite view of sex can be very harmful to a child. The view that sex is dirty or evil should be avoided and countered at every opportunity. Sexuality is the power to create. A child should learn to reverence this great power, not see it as something evil or bad.
Parents are the best teachers of sexual fidelity and chastity. They can teach in a warm and loving way that avoids the sterile, factual, academic tone that predominate a school discussion. The silly or "dirty" connotations that accompany peer discussion can also be avoided. When the parent is the teacher sexual knowledge can be taught in a personal way that creates mutual trust and forms an emotional bond between the parent and the child that is lasting and important.
At an early age children can be taught about sexual body parts and functions at the same time they are taught other body parts. Answering questions to a certain point is also important. Any questions that a parent feels a child is not ready for can be postponed by giving the child the information they need at their level of understanding at the time. If a three or four year old asks, “Where babies come from,” just say, “From a special nest inside mommy’s tummy.”
As a child grows up modesty can best be taught by example and discussions. Appropriate physical affection is also taught by giving lots of appropriate hugs. Just the opposite is true. Lots of hitting and inappropriate touches lead the child to believe that part of a relationship is to be controlling and/or forcing compliance.
About eight years old seems to be a good time to sit down with your child and discuss some basic information about their sexuality. If you wait longer you run the risk that your child will learn of reproduction and sex in a silly and negative manner. The perspective they get about sex will be from other children not from you. Eight years old is a naturally curious age when children understand in a sweet, unpretentious way. Cover at least the following points.
· The natural attraction of men and women is normal.
· Sexual intercourse is a way that a man and a woman express love and commitment.
· Assure that your child understands the process by which sperm fertilizes an egg and an embryo develops. How much detail you use depends on what information you feel your child is ready for or has been exposed to.
· Stress the fact that the sexual power they have needs to be used responsibly and you will be there to guide them as they learn to use this power.
· Stress the fact that their sexuality is a good thing. But, like all good things, it can be used to harm or hurt others. (A car is good thing but can be misused and cause death if not used responsibly.) Give your children guidelines and rules. Let them know that the rules you establish are designed to help them use their sexual powers responsibly and to make sure others do not hurt them and that they do not hurt others.
· Explain to your child that he/she will hear some kids talking about sex as if it were dirty or silly. Help them to understand that if this occurs it is just because the other children do not understand sexual things the way they do. Their parents may not have taken the time to help them understand the sacredness of sexual matters.
With your help, your child needs to eventually understand that responsible sexuality is essential for a happy life. The sexual capacity he or she possesses is the capacity that is the most godlike of any power a person possess. It is the power to create a new life. Because the power to create involves more then one’s self it must be used unselfishly and with deep reverence for the partner involved. The sexual capacity your child has can bring them great joy or deep despair depending on how they learn to use this great power. Your influence in this area can help them find this happiness and live life as a sexually responsibly person.