The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5
Stephanie was getting ready to have the first “big talk” with her five-year-old daughter, Jeannie. She knew it was time to start satisfying her daughter’s curiosity about the facts of life, but she didn’t want to overdo it. She wanted to discern what Jeannie already knew first. Stephanie asked, “Honey, you know you were once in Mommy’s tummy, right? Do you know where babies come from?”
Jeannie, wanting to accurately and politely answer her mother said, “Well Mom, I was in your tummy a long time ago so I don’t really remember. Why don’t you tell me about it? Refresh my memory.”
It would sure be easier on all of us if our kids really did remember being born. There would be a lot less stress in our hearts over how much to tell them and when. They don’t remember, however, and therefore God entrusted these innocent lives and inquisitive hearts to us so we could guide them in the discovery of the wonders of their bodies, the longings in their hearts, and the miracle of birth. We can’t afford to punt on this privilege, Mom and Dad. It is vital that your children hear the right information from you because you are the safest, most trusted people in their lives!
SPEAK to Them
When it comes to talking about sexual development, what do little kids need from their parents? In simplest terms, they need parents who will SPEAK to them with:
Keeping it simple
Security is vital in the early years because it is the time in life when kids learn to bond. Through interaction with the significant adults in their lives, they learn to identify who is safe and who is to be avoided. They discover the strength of being emotionally attached to other human beings. They develop their basic understanding of how relationships are supposed to work. If your child feels bonded to you, he or she will embrace your guidance and develop healthier relational instincts. Children who feel disconnected or unsafe tend to be drawn to unhealthy choices when it comes to relationships. Speaking with your child about love and sex, therefore, begins with a secure environment that helps create a good inner compass and a sincere conscience.
There are a number of habits you can establish as a conscientious parent that will maximize your child’s ability to bond with you in a healthy way:
• Develop routines: bath time, bedtime, breakfast time, naptime, playtime. A consistent rhythm in life is a security blanket to a baby and toddler.
• Create a safe home. A childproofed home provides freedom for your child to roam in a protected manner. You will find yourself saying yes more often than no if you simply create a home that is less of a showplace and more of a safe place.
• Provide a consistent caregiver. You two are the best caregivers since no one loves a child like a parent! If your work or finances will not allow one of you as a parent to be home during the day, a committed family member who is a talented caregiver is a close second! Nana, Papa, aunts, or uncles can be excellent choices. If a family member is not available, look in your neighborhood or church for a caregiver who is known for extraordinary love or care. The fewer hours a small baby or toddler can be in a large childcare facility, the easier bonding will be. Some workplaces offer an onsite childcare facility where you can drop in on your lunch hour and breaks. A few forward-thinking companies offer private office options for mothers with small sleeping babies that allow her to bring a newborn to work.
Secure with God
A child who believes that God’s love is real and that He sees everything will make better choices in all areas of life. Confidence will grow in light of the fact that “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Every decision will be tempered by the understanding that “His eyes are on the ways of mortals; he sees their every step” (Job 34:21). In fact, one of the names of God in the Old Testament is El Roi—“the God who sees.” In Genesis 16:13, Hagar, feeling alone, fearful for her death, and fearful for the life of her child, was the first person to use this title: “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”
Throughout the Bible, God’s all-seeing nature is presented as one of the motivations for making healthy decisions in life. God sees all a child does—both the good and the disobedient actions—with eyes of love and righteousness. You should, therefore, communicate both sides of God’s character—His judgment balanced with His grace. It is in the full picture of who God is that true security is found. As your child begins to comprehend that God is just, he will sense His protection against those who do evil or seek to hurt others. As your child learns that God is all-loving, she will find comfort in the fact that God rewards good decisions. This provides a secure environment for making wise choices that lead to a life of integrity.
Secure at Home
A secure home will help kids relax, think more clearly, discover their uniqueness, and explore social interaction. You can create a safe environment in a number of strategic areas:
Physical safety. Childproof your home with cabinet closures, drawer-pull catches, pool covers, and electrical socket covers installed. Door locks should be functioning properly while medicines, guns, and toxins should be secured away from curious little ones. Where appropriate, fences will help keep dangerous people and animals out and the child safely in the yard.
Emotional safety. Ample affirmations, loving hugs, kisses, and tender acts of appropriate affection will help your child feel emotionally safe. Yelling, demeaning speech, angry outbursts, swearing, and media that is not child appropriate should not have a place in your home and lifestyle.
Spiritual safety. Small habits such as saying grace, sharing goodnight prayers, and church attendance are good family routines to implement. The Bible, along with Christian children’s videos and books, will layer in strong early roots to build a safety net around the heart of your child.
Relational safety. Be aware of who enters your home and seek to learn about the families of the children who live near you. Is there strife, a divorce, domestic violence, or inappropriate language or media in the homes of those children? Choices in the homes of friends, families, and neighbors will have an effect on yours. Be vigilant but not paranoid! There is no need to completely isolate yourselves. After all, your home may become the safe place for the children in your neighborhood!
Secure With Their Own Bodies
To build a secure foundation toward his or her body, seek to build a sense of awe. Linda and Richard Eyre, parents of nine children and authors of Teaching Your Children Values, remind us all as parents to not miss the wonder of creation:
In dealing with young children, every available opportunity should be taken to point out how lucky we are to be able to see the beauties of the season, to hear creative and inspirational music, to taste different and unique combinations of food…to touch a baby’s cheek or a kitten’s soft fur, and especially to feel the love that we have for others in our family. The list of things to point out and be grateful for is endless. The more a child can appreciate his own body as a preschooler, the better foundation he will have for feeling positive about the greatest of all physical miracles.1
Our goal was to help our children be secure enough to know:
• My body is a gift
• My body is good
• My body is private
• My body is to be protected
Secure with Mom and Dad
Let your children hear the words, “I love you,” “I am so proud of you,” “I see how obedient you are being,” “Our family is our priority,” and, “Even when my work is difficult, my heart is with you!” often. Your young child was created to believe what you say about them during this bonding phase of life. Therefore, your words and actions of affirmation create a deep sense of security within them.
One of the best ways to build a secure foundation for your child’s sexual future is to tell them the truth. We decided to be honest in all areas so that when we shared the truth in vital areas, our boys would believe us. So for us, there was a clear line between pretend and real. Pretend were precious stories from children’s literature, movies, and yes, even Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Our preschoolers knew these were all pretend. They are wonderful, entertaining, and magical—but they are imaginary. If you make pretend fun, we believe you rob nothing from these memories of childhood.
While imagination is a wonderful gift, kids need a strong sense of what is real. Real is everything God says in His Word, the Bible. Real is Mommy and Daddy’s love for God, each other, and their children. Children should be taught that everything should be run through the grid of what is real and true: media, what friends say, what teachers teach, etc. When it comes to love, romance, and sexual activity, much of what our kids will be exposed to is fabricated by the entertainment industry. Having a track record of wisely telling the truth gives you credibility later on when your children need to decide what is true about their sexual lives.
Ah, now this is where the rubber meets the road. How much of the truth about sex do we tell our kids—and more importantly, when do we tell them what? Children have a natural curiosity and a natural innocence. You have a natural desire for them to know the truth and a natural desire to protect them. You also have a balancing act between disclosing just the right amount of vital information to inform and protect them and keeping your own privacy about your love life and marriage. We ran a few questions through our minds as we discussed the topic of sex and how we’d communicate it to our children as they grew up. We asked questions of ourselves like:
• What do they need to know right now to keep them safe from mistruths?
• What do they need to not hear to keep their innocence?
• What can wait until later as the next layer of information?
• What can I share that will help them respect the sanctity, purity, and privacy of a married sexual relationship?
• What is the minimum I can share on this topic before I expose them to something they might not be ready to hear?
Instead of starting at birth and working forward, we started at their wedding day and worked backward, listing off what they needed to know and when they would need to know it. Here is a brief (non-exhaustive) list similar to the one we tallied when our oldest was a toddler:
Before marriage they will need to know: The basics on how sex organs work and the process their heart, mind, body, and soul would need to go through for a happy, healthy sexual encounter. If they are not ready to become parents as a couple, then they will need to know contraceptive options. They also will need the wisdom to have waited for the “I do” so their sexual baggage is minimal or perhaps nonexistent. They will need to know how to get reliable education and advice on sexually pleasing their mate. They will also need to be informed about adjustments and transitions to expect on the road ahead as a married couple.
Before college they will need to know: Street smarts to protect them from being in dangerous situations such as in a car with a drunk driver, at a party where drinking is happening, or alone where date rape could occur. Before launching from the umbrella of your home, a college student needs enough information to realize when they felt sexual attraction. Then they will need to know how to manage that attraction in order to live with integrity. They will also need information so they can “pre-decide” and defend decisions on crucial topics like premarital sex, the sacred aspect of marriage, gender identity, pro-life and abortion, and principles of dating in order to wisely select a lifelong marriage partner.
Before high school they will need to know: How to be aware of and manage their sexual feelings. They need a strong self-esteem to be able to say no to negative peer pressure. They should have ability to handle critical choices that might place them in compromising situations. It is imperative that they have the character and courage to defend their beliefs and values. They also need to know how to walk away from relationships that might be pulling them away from God’s plan for their lives. They should have the ability to be the leaders of their peers, setting the example relating to adults and their friends in a way to build trust. They need people skills to help keep others around them honest, safe, and making better choices. They will need to be convinced of the negative consequences of sex outside of marriage and how to defend their beliefs. They need to be aware of the basic types of contraception options so they can defend their choice of abstinence and avoid the myth of safe sex. They need just enough information about how sexual organs work so they could not be fooled into experimenting with foreplay, oral sex, or other dangerous sexual behaviors.
Before junior high they will need to know: Much of this same information, but not in as much detail as they will be living a more supervised life. They will need enough information to defend their moral beliefs and values but not so much as to peak their curiosity into wanting to experiment. They will also need to know how to handle pressure not just from peers, but from any adult who might be seeking to defile, harm, “educate,” or persuade them away from the values you have instilled. They will need enough street smarts to keep themselves safe. They will need to know how to handle any persecution of their values and how to recognize and defend themselves against sexual harassment or intimidation of any kind.
Before most of their classmates have begun to menstruate or have wet dreams: The average age for girls to begin their periods in the United States is 12, but girls as young as 8 can start menstruating. Sperm and ejaculation typically occur between the ages of 12 and 15, but could be as young as 10. So around age 8 might be a wise time to prepare both genders for the upcoming changes in their bodies (we will go over this in more detail in a future chapter). Your children need to be prepared before the changes start in their own bodies or in the bodies of their classmates. They need to understand the major changes they might notice in those of the opposite sex so they can be tactful, helpful, and good friends to those of both genders. They will also need to know enough about the act of sexual intercourse so that no one could take advantage of or mislead him or her. They will need a strong self-image to navigate all the body changes and social awkwardness that sometimes accompanies these changes.
Before entering school (typically at age 5): They need to know enough to protect themselves from predators. They also need a way to protect themselves from misinformation or peers who might come from homes where there are older siblings, uninvolved parents, or more exposure to unhealthy media messages. They need to know basic body parts that might come up in conversation and how to handle slang or inappropriate language or behavior. They also need to know how to speak up and step away from situations that make them feel uncomfortable. They need to know enough about how babies are made and how our bodies work so they understand the important transitions around them like weddings, pregnancy, and babies being born. They should be able to comprehend modesty and why it is important in society. They need the foundations of good moral choices like truthfulness, delayed gratification, wisdom, and obedience to God and parents.
By walking the path backward, we clearly saw there were at least six major talks or six “marker moments.” These would be times when we deliberately set aside the space to talk, prepared necessary resources to clearly communicate, and saved the money to appropriately celebrate the child at these marker moments. We will walk you through these moments in more detail and give you resources, tools, and insights you will need to equip your child along their path to adult sexual health. We also know that much is communicated between the marker moments, so we will seek to fill in the blanks so that you can respond to a child’s teachable moments and have answers ready when God might prompt you into a conversation or a child is inquisitive enough to ask a question.
Our advice is to gather the tools and then get ready to use them at natural intervals, layer upon layer. When your child is very young, you’ll need to be able to answer these questions:
• What is a boy/girl?
• How did I get here?
• Where do babies come from?
• What is sex? (or making love, or a term for intercourse you are comfortable with)
If you are feeling a little apprehensive, unsure, or anxious, you are in good company. Even Jim Burns, parenting expert, bestselling author, and host of HomeWord radio show felt that way in the beginning:
When Cathy and I became parents, we had basically no clue about teaching healthy sexuality to our kids. When our first daughter, Christy, was about one, I vaguely remember helping her learn the names of body parts. We focused on the nose, ears, eyes, hands, feet, etc., but missed some pretty important private parts. By the time our next child, Rebecca, came along, we corrected the situation and taught her the proper terms for those body parts. And then at inopportune moments, like in a crowded store or in the middle of a church service, she would shout out that a particular body part itched! People would look at us like we had corrupted our child. To say the least, our sex-education “method” was trial-and-error at first.2
The first step is to help the child know about his or her body—all the parts! As Linda and Richard Eyre put it, “A healthy attitude about sex starts with how a child feels about his own body. At a very young age children become aware of their bodies and what they can do. In fact, studies have shown that over 80 percent of what we learn about our physical bodies is learned in the first eighteen months of life.”3
We think it is best to use proper anatomical terms for body parts. Just as you play the game naming eyes, ears, and elbows, when a child points at private parts be sure he or she knows the accurate labels rather than referring to them with nicknames. Once our children were familiar with the names of sexual organs visible from the exterior, we generally summed this up as “your privates.” This proved to be less stressful for a child to use in public. For example, “I fell and my privates hurt,” or “The ball hit my privates.”
Let’s go over what parts you should know. From there, it will be up to you to decide when to teach the anatomy to your child. We have listed these as which parts you can see on the outside and which ones the child can’t see. We suggest starting with the exterior now and moving on to the interior parts (and their functions) as your child matures and you continue this dialogue.
What you can see:
Vulva (clitoris, vagina)
What you can’t see:
What you can see:
Foreskin (if uncircumcised)
What you can’t see:
Glands that channel sperm down penis
A simple and natural way to begin the process of enlightening your child to his or her basic body parts is to play the “What’s this?” game at bath time. Just as you would name a nose or elbow, name the exterior parts. You can either wait for them to ask the name of the body part or set a time to purposefully teach a child (maybe if he or she has an older sibling who might use the terms, or so they know the terms before entering preschool). Remember the overall rule: Let them hear God’s truth and good information from you before they hear it from anyone else. You as the parent are the best sex ed teacher for your child because you care most about their life and the outcome of all the instruction and teaching you give.
Some misconceptions about where babies come from are a bit entertaining:
One little girl thought babies were made by magic. Some children believe the stork brings babies. Others think we grow like plants or hatch eggs. One little boy was told that the father plants a seed inside the mom and a baby grows. He wondered whether they used a shovel!4
In the early years sexual education comes in baby steps. Your child probably won’t stop asking questions. Just about every sentence they utter starts with why, how, or what. And sooner or later, this curiosity will spread to questions about the body.
A few questions to be ready for might include:
• What’s this? Why do I have one?
• Will my penis fall off?
• Why is Daddy’s bigger?
• Why do boys stand up and girls sit down to go potty?
• How can you tell if a baby is a boy or a girl?
• Why are you so fat? (to a pregnant mom)
• Why don’t I have a penis?
• Why are Mommy’s breasts big and mine are small?
For this chapter, the overall umbrella question is, “Where did I come from?” It often lands in your lap when a child is three or four. Before answering, pause and consider what Dr. J. Thomas Fitch of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health suggests:
With this question, your child could be asking any number of things. You can assess what she really wants to know by asking, “What do you mean?” Her response to the question will let you know if she’s inquiring about birth or whether she’s asking a theological question (“Who made me?”) or a geographic question (“Did I come from Alabama like Johnny?”). In fact, the response “What do you mean?” is one of the best tools you have to teach your child of any age about sex.5
Keep It Simple!
Usually your child’s inquisitive nature will prepare you for the need to get some answers ready. Sexual Educator Laurie Langford says,
Sometimes a three, four, or five-year-old will ask questions about her body, such as, “Why don’t I have a penis?” Just answer your child’s questions honestly and nonchalantly. You could say, “Because you are a girl, and girls have vaginas. Only boys have penises.”6
Some type of basic answer should be prepared in your mind, but don’t feel compelled to give all the details too early. Linda and Richard Eyre recommend this approach to talking to your children about sex:
If a five-year-old says, “Where do babies come from?” say, “Sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other, it helps make a baby.” If he says, “But how?” say, “It’s like a miracle, a wonderful, unbelievable magic. When you’re eight, we’ll tell you about it.”…Then change the subject unless you detect that the child is troubled or worried or has heard something that is causing him to persist. If this is the case, probe. Find out what he has heard or what has happened. If it’s just a word or a term he’s heard that he doesn’t understand, give your best explanation…You may want to say, “Some people joke around or say weird things about stuff you don’t understand. But don’t worry, we’ll tell you all about it when you’re eight. And believe me, it is wonderful and way cool!”7
At the age of eight, children can handle more abstract thinking and their social lives begin to change with the onset of menses right around the corner for some girls. At this early stage, however, kids still think in concrete terms and do best with simple explanations. Before you answer a question, keep your audience in mind. “You’re talking to children who can’t remember which shoe goes on which foot without regular reminders.”8
Answers to Have Ready
Your family has its own comfort level and maturity level when it comes to these personal conversations, but it’s always helpful to see how different parents approach the issue. This is an example of how we handled those early question-and-answer sessions in preschool and early elementary school (when our children were toddlers up to about age seven). Our early conversations with our oldest, Brock, while expecting our second baby, were more like a bouncing ball. We might bounce a ball once or twice then put it in a pocket. Later we would get it out and bounce it again.
Mom and Dad: Brock, we have some happy news!
Mom and Dad: You are going to have a little brother or sister!
Brock: I am? Which one, a brother or a sister?
Mom and Dad: We don’t know yet. We will have to wait until the baby is born and we will find out together. (We liked having the surprise.)
Brock: When will the baby be born?
Mom and Dad: In about six more months.
Brock: Okay. Can I go play now?
Mom and Dad: Brock, we have a special book to read to you. (We bought a picture book with real photos of a baby in the uterus.) Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, so we hugged and cuddled a very special way. It is called sex, and God designed it for married couples. When mommies and daddies love each other this way, a little sperm, or little seed, is planted inside the mommy’s womb. A womb is a special place inside Mommy under her tummy about right here. (I placed Brock’s hand on my tummy.) Inside, the seed and one of Mommy’s special tiny eggs linked together and made a new tiny baby. That baby is growing and growing, like we saw in the picture book. Mommy’s belly will get bigger and bigger and then one day my womb will squeeze really, really tight. That is called a contraction, and Daddy will drive me to the hospital and Grandma will stay here with you. At the hospital the doctor will help your little brother or sister be born and you can come to the hospital and visit me and the new baby. So Brock, tell me, how is a baby created?
Brock: God puts a baby inside Mommy’s tummy. Then it gets big and then you go to the hospital and the baby gets born.
Mom: That’s right.
Brock: Mommy, can we take the baby out and play?
Mom: Not yet. The baby isn’t big enough yet. The baby needs to grow for a little longer in Mommy’s tummy.
Brock: Aaaahhh! I want to play with my brother or sister. Can we play with the baby tomorrow?
Mom: Come let me show you on the calendar how many more days. Let’s count them together. (Some families make a paper chain and take one link off each day.)
Brock: 152 days! That is a long time!
Brock: How will the baby get out of your tummy?
Mom: Well, God made it so Mommy has a special opening between her legs called a vagina and right now it is closed tight. When the baby is ready, God makes that opening get bigger and bigger so it is just the right size for a baby to slide out into the doctor’s hands. Then the doctor gives the baby to Mommy and Daddy. But sometimes the baby might get a little stuck or a mommy’s body might not work just right, and that’s why the doctor is there. Like when you were born, the cord that attaches the baby to the mommy got all wrapped around your body and the doctor had to cut a little slit in my tummy, like a zipper. He took you out that way because he had to unwrap that cord. Want to see Mommy’s zipper? (I showed my scar on my lower abdomen.)
Brock: Will this baby come out through that zipper?
Mom: Maybe. We will see how Mommy’s body acts this time and what happens with the cord. I am so thankful that the doctor was there to help deliver you. I am so happy you are my little boy.
Brock: Me too. I love you, Mommy.
Mom: I love you, Brock.
One day, walking from children’s church with an older woman friend, Brock was holding my hand.
Friend: Brock, are you excited to have a new baby brother or sister?
Friend: Do you want a brother or a sister?
Brock: I want a baby!
Friend: How did you explain the birds and the bees to Brock? What did you tell him about how the baby was made?
Brock: Mommy and Daddy had sex! (My friend blushed.)
Mom: That’s right, Brock. And what is sex?
Brock: When a mommy and a daddy cuddle and love a special way to make a baby.
Mom: That’s right. And who is supposed to have sex?
Brock: You are supposed to be married. It is for mommies and daddies so we can make a family. (My friend relaxed a bit when she heard this!)
Friend: He seems to know the right answers.
Mom to friend: We wanted to tell him God’s plan before others confused him by doing things out of order.
Friend: I wish I had thought of that for my kids.
Mom to friend: Today’s world demands we be proactive and teach God’s design, God’s definitions, and God’s plan first before the world gets a shot at our precious kids.
Friend: Amen. So true.
Later, at home
Mom to Brock: Honey, it might be good if you didn’t use the word sex when you’re talking to other kids. Every family has their own way of talking about babies and their own time to talk about it, so let’s let the mommies and daddies explain it to their own kids, okay?
Brock: You mean like Santa and Christmas?
Mom: Well, a little. Yes, each family has ways to talk about happy surprises like babies. So if one of your friends asks how this baby got into my belly, let’s say to them, “You should ask your mommy and daddy. They are smart and they can tell you.” Okay? So if one of your friends asks how this baby got in my tummy, what will you say?
Brock: You should ask your mommy or daddy because they will know!
Mom: Good job, Brock. That’s right!
Brock: What are you doing?
Mom: It is called nursing. The baby is drinking milk from my breasts. Remember how we went to the class at the hospital and they showed you how babies eat from the mommy’s breast?
Brock: (lifting a Cabbage Patch doll under his shirt) Look, my baby is nursing!
Mom: That is a nice thought, and I’m glad you love your baby like I love your brother and I love you. Milk helps babies grow big and strong. But only mommies are made so that milk comes from their breasts. Boys and daddies don’t have that ability. They can do other really cool stuff, but breastfeeding isn’t one of them. Can you tell me all the cool things boys and daddies can do for a baby? (Then we helped him list things like carry the baby, change the baby, rock the baby, work hard for the money to pay for the house and a bed for the baby, etc.)
Another way to tactfully explain sexuality to a child is found in Carolyn Nystrom’s book Before I Was Born:
Friends bring gifts to a wedding. God has a special gift for new husbands and wives too. It is called sex. God’s rules say that only people who are married to each other should have sex. It is God’s way of making families strong.
Because the man and woman are married, their bodies belong to each other. They enjoy holding each other close. When a husband and a wife lie close together, he can fit his penis into her vagina. His semen flows inside her and their bodies feel good all over. Husbands and wives want to be alone during sex so they can think only of each other.
This is the way babies are made. A husband can’t make a baby by himself. A wife can’t make a baby by herself. But God made their bodies so they fit perfectly together. And together they can make a baby.9
Parent to Parent
You all have family and friends visit, so you will need to make a decision on how your child will dress (or not) when company is around. Toddlers and preschoolers are all about being “naked and not ashamed.” So what are some of the issues that might need to be “covered” as a child moves from freely wearing his or her birthday suit to wanting privacy and needing modesty to function appropriately in society? Thomas Fitch explains:
Typically toddlers and younger preschoolers have no sense of embarrassment about their bodies and love to run around the house naked. This is a natural desire and doesn’t mean our child will vacation at nudist camps in the future. Between the ages of four and six, most kids develop a sense of privacy and limit the time they spend naked.
There are certain situations, however, such as when guests who might be…bothered by the nakedness are in your home, when your child shouldn’t run around naked. Simply explain to her that being naked in public or when guests are in the house isn’t good manners. Unless you are uncomfortable with your child’s nudity, allow her to outgrow this phase on her own.10
Questions for Your Heart
Being caught in the act is one of the most awkward moments for the parents of a preschooler. Doors are often left ajar so a baby or toddler can be heard if they wake up at night. This precaution can, however, lead to some interesting surprises!
One night we were enjoying each other sexually when one of our preschool sons threw the door open and said sleepily, “Mommy, Daddy, I had a bad dream.”
Not wanting to be a part of the dream, we simply said, “Honey, shut the door and wait outside. Mommy and Daddy will be right there to help you.”
Tossing on our robes (keep these close while raising little ones!), we scooped him up. Once we calmed his nightmare fears, he asked, “Daddy and Mommy, what were you doing? You made funny noises.”
We looked at each other and because we had talked before this episode about what we might say if something like this happened, we said, “Yes, Mommy and Daddy do make funny noises sometimes when we kiss and hug and love each other. But they are happy noises and someday when you get married you will love your wife as much as I love Daddy. Won’t that be wonderful? Because then you can have a little boy and you can love him as much as we love you!”
He gave us a big hug and kiss, and said, “I love you, Mommy. I love you, Daddy.” Then there was a pause. “But what if I have a girl?”
“Then you will love her just as much!” we replied confidently.
“Are you sure? She’s a girl!”
“We are sure because God makes everyone in an amazing way.”
Take out your journal, interview your spouse, and make some notes about what you think the appropriate response would be if you were “surprised” by your child (if they walk in on an intimate moment or while you are changing clothes or using the bathroom). It is easier to reply in a calm manner and instruct rather than lose your cool if you have thought about these things ahead of time.