And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.
The biggest oasis in the world is located in Saudi Arabia near the Persian Gulf. The al-Hasa oasis has been inhabited since ancient times and is the only water source in a vast arid region. It encompasses 30,000 acres and is surrounded by approximately three million date palms.
The oasis is a candidate for one of the seven natural wonders of Asia and is fed by more than 60 artesian wells. These wells nourish the economy through productive agricultural yields of date trees, rice, corn, and citrus fruits. In this lush setting you can also find herds of sheep, goats, cattle, camels, and even egg farms, making al-Hasa one of the major Saudi food producers. It is a life-sustaining oasis.
But by 1961 this lush oasis was in severe danger. Villagers sent an urgent appeal for help to the central government’s Ministry of Agriculture—“The desert is upon us!” The wind was whipping across the vast desert, piling the sand upon the only sun-sheltered and safe place to inhabit for miles around—the oasis! At a rate of 30 feet each year, sand was ebbing away at the oasis and 14 villages were in immediate danger. In the time span of a child growing up in the villages, the oasis could be destroyed by the power of the scorching hot carnage of desert sands.
In describing this desert, one authority says, “Wind, then, is the essential force in the creation and movement of dunes, and nowhere in the world does it have more freedom to mold and move mountains of sand than it does on the Arabian Peninsula. More than 1,000,000 square miles in area, the peninsula contains many great deserts, one of which, the Rub’ al-Khali (The Empty Quarter), a basin some 400 by 700 miles in area, contains approximately 250,000 square miles of sand, the largest continuous body of sand in the world.”1 Without a plan to keep the sand out, the desert would overtake this life-giving oasis.
Many methods to contain the ever creeping desert were considered, but of all the technology available, the Supreme Planning Board of Saudi Arabia gave speedy approval for a plan to build a barrier, nine miles long, 150 feet wide, and studded with three million seedling trees. In addition, an ambitious irrigation system was laid in place to keep the trees watered, as well as provide canals, reservoirs, and above-ground viaducts to continue life uninterrupted in the oasis.
Trees planted along the water, in the desert, was the path to success. Sound familiar? It seems like we have heard this good wisdom before:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3).
Just as the oasis gives life to the desert, so providing an oasis to your child in the elementary years will give life to their future—if you can keep the desert of the evil one away from his or her life.
A Childhood Oasis
We call the time from ages six to eleven “the oasis” because it serves as a wide spot in the road, a calm place, a shade tree for replenishment and rest for your family. It is past the turbulent and often strenuous toddler and preschool years but before the hormones of teen life kick in. This makes it a relatively calm period in a child’s life. It might be busy, but it can be an emotionally peaceful time. This is a wise time to do some teaching and preparation.
When I (Pam) was growing up on a farm, each summer it was my job to “roll bales.” From as soon as I was able to push a hay bale over one quarter of a roll, I was recruited to walk the fields after the hay had been baled and push over the bales so no mold would gather and ruin the hay. I remember helping with this task as young as age seven or eight. It was a hot job in the scorching summer sun. But I loved it. I was a part of something important—helping my family produce some of the income we would live on during the cold winter months. This work also had a valuable upside as we spent precious family time together.
It was hot work, however, and halfway through the day we would have our own oasis of sorts. We’d all gather for an ample lunch of my grandmother’s lip-smacking-good cooking. My favorite spot to enjoy the noon meal was under the big weeping willow on my grandparents’ front lawn. It was a haven of peace and coolness. We all would linger long over good food and good conversation. Some of the best talks I ever had with the adults in my life—parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—came as we sat in the shade together. As I look back, so much wisdom passed from generation to generation as we reclined together in our own unique oasis.
Like the shade the weeping willow gave my family, you are the shade over your child’s head as you train him for the path ahead. This vital season of life should be spent in preparation for the future. And just as the desert sands tried to steal the oasis of al-Hasa, the world and the ungodly forces of media, secular sex education, and dangerous predators will seek to encroach upon the safe shelter of the oasis time of your child’s life.
We’re going to look at five barriers that will keep the oasis of life in and the desert sands of Satan out! If you will nurture each area of your child’s life, they will have all they need to handle the desert season of the teen years. During the teen years, kids wanting to make great choices often feel very alone, so to them it might feel like they are crossing a vast desert with no sight of the refreshing shores of adulthood. The average boy spends thirteen years before puberty and then fourteen years after puberty before he marries, and the average young woman today spends twelve years before puberty and then thirteen more years as a sexually mature woman before she marries.2 The oasis is short. Soon, hormones will begin to kick in and make your job as a parent a little harder. Protect and invest in the oasis years!
A Five-Sided Diamond
There are five sides to the barrier to protect your child, but it could also be said that there are five sides to a well-cut diamond. Your child’s life will shine like a precious jewel as you nurture them in these five areas. Mark Laaser, author of Talking to Your Kids About Sex, describes healthy sexuality as having five dimensions.3 We’ll explore our view of these dimensions in detail as we continue. There is much to pass on to your children in these vital areas so we will take a few chapters to go over the important conversations, traditions, and plans to set in place during the oasis time. The areas we will look at are:
• Relational—understanding sexual intercourse
• Physical—understanding body changes
• Personal—understanding feelings
• Emotional—understanding body image
• Spiritual—understanding God’s call of character
This means a smart parent will help a child get a strong foundation in each of these areas.
Puberty for the majority of girls hits between the ages of nine and eleven and for boys between ten and thirteen. This means you should plan the “big reveal” or “monumental moment” talk or talks with your daughter when she’s eight and with your son when he’s nine.
Relational—Understanding Sexual Intercourse
In this chapter we’ll focus on the first facet of the diamond—teaching your child about the mechanics of sex. In the last chapter, you read about how to lay the first layer of sexual information into your child’s life. Now it is time for the next “monumental moment.” Before you feel the pressure and responsibility of “the big talk,” just remember your kids have no idea how this talk is supposed to go or what a parent is expected to say, so you have a very easy-to-please audience. They want you to feel at ease in all your conversations with them, and this is no different. Take off the comparisons and expectations and park them in prayer with Jesus. After some solid preparation, pray something like, “Okay, God, we’re ready. Help us to communicate the things You think are important in a way that helps our child feel close to You and close to us. Please allow us to communicate in a way that this will help them make wise choices for their future. We commit this time and our child to Your care and leading. Amen.” Now exhale and relax!
This is the time to give the “big reveal” talk so your son or daughter knows exactly what sex is and how the body mechanics fit together to create a baby. We decided to do the “big reveal” when we felt the need to explain menstruation to our sons (or for you, your daughters). We wanted our sons to be fully prepared to be gentlemen if their female classmates needed them to be. For example, if they saw feminine products in a girl’s desk or her purse or if she said she couldn’t swim or play some sport or game in PE, we wanted our guys to be prepared to handle the changes in their female friends. If we did our jobs as parents right, our son would not be the one to say, “What’s this?” as he held up a feminine product. He would not be the one to say, “Why can’t you swim? What’s wrong with you?” He would not be the one to say to a girl, “There’s something on your backside” or worse, “She has blood all over her seat!” Instead, we wanted our sons to be the ones who could say:
• “Leave her alone!” (if classmates were drawing negative attention to a girl)
• “Can I get the teacher for you?”
• “Can I get one of your friends for you?”
• “Can I get your purse?”
• “Want me to get you a snack while you sit here?”
• “Want to put your feet in the water? I will sit here with you for a while.”
• “Here, take my jacket. You can wrap it around your waist.”
• “Go out the door here; I will walk behind you so no one else sees the spot.”
• “Want me to get the nurse for you?”
• “Can I go to the store for you?”
Acting on this preparation might start out as an awkward third grader who quietly walks up and whispers to his teacher, “I think Jenny might need your help. I saw blood on her chair and her shorts.” But soon this same son will turn into the boy who wisely knows how to deflect attention so a girl can get to her purse or the bathroom and escape a crowd to care for an emergency. He’ll become the date who plans a schedule in which trips to the bathroom are always convenient. Someday he’ll be the husband who is brave and polite enough to buy feminine products with his favorite chips and dip at the grocery store.
In explaining menstruation even at this young age, you’ll be able to tell your children about the fertilization of an egg, which then links to sexual intercourse and the godly timing of coitus to the marriage bed—and how to wait until then! Once the first domino it tapped, it is time to deal with the whole trail of dominos. Get ready to follow the rabbit trails as you communicate truth during the oasis. One topic leads to the next.
Linda and Richard Eyre, the authors of How to Talk to Your Child About Sex, suggest that the age of eight is a “window between the disinterest of very young childhood and the moodiness and unpredictability of pre-puberty.” They go on:
Most eight-year-olds are trusting, open, innocent, anxious to please, and fairly fascinated by the world around them. They simply haven’t yet learned to be embarrassed, sarcastic or cynical…One of the greatest things about most seven- and eight-year-olds is their susceptibility to anticipation and excitement. Because of this it is possible to really pump them up, to build a positive and happy level of enthusiasm leading up to the “big talk.” It is important to have your main discussion (and your pre- and follow-up discussions) early enough that they form your child’s initial attitudes toward sex and serve as a deflector of all “silliness,” “dirtiness” and nonsense children hear from friends, peers, and media. But having it too early raises issues that kids aren’t ready for…
…Unless you have compelling reasons for starting earlier or unless your child is already older than eight, we suggest that you target and plan for the day or the week of the eighth birthday for “the big talk.” Pegging it to a birthday can help build the desired kind of positive, excited anticipation. (It gives you a deadline so you won’t put it off.) If your child is a little older than eight, pick or designate some other special day that is at least a few weeks in the future.4
It Takes a Team
Procreation takes both a man and a woman, but sometimes the truth of this in the first talk doesn’t really click with a preschooler. This may be especially true if you paint the picture of conception with a broad brush, saying something like, “Mommy and Daddy loved each other in a special way, like God created married couples to do.” Even if you are a little more specific, you likely cared more about the precise words and details than your preschooler did. To him or her it might have seemed like a sweet day, a wonderful picture book, but probably not as mammoth in his or her mind and memory as it was yours! Be flexible and allow the conversation to flow. The conversation should be like a tennis match, batting the ball back and forth over the net as you share and ask questions.
With this talk, containing all the details of just how the plumbing fits together and why, the pieces of the puzzle often fall together for a child. The “aha!” moment often hits and the lightbulb of understanding goes on. Here’s how one of Linda and Richard Eyres’ daughters describes the experience of this big talk and her realization of the father’s importance in the process:
When I was seven years old, I began to wonder why fathers seemed to be an integral part of so many families. I had several younger brothers and sisters, so I’d seen my mother’s protruding belly with each new child and I had felt the unborn baby kick around in there when I placed my hand on my mother’s tummy. I had a basic understanding of the fact that babies come out of their mothers. But I didn’t get how fathers fit into the picture. I loved my dad—he was a whole lot of fun, but was he necessary? What made me distinctly his daughter rather than someone else’s daughter? How was I really connected to him?…My eighth birthday finally rolled around…They not only told me about the basic “plumbing” of sex, they told me that it was a wonderful, special thing that two people who loved each other could share. I don’t remember the exact words they used, but I remember the basic feeling of the message, and it was good and warm.5
Once she heard the details of the “oasis” time at age eight, Dad’s role suddenly became vital, so Dad himself became more important in her eyes. These are the kind of fundamental elements you are seeking to sow in your child’s heart at this early stage. Those seeds will reap positive dividends later on in his or her life. Making time for these talks will be worth it later on, Mom and Dad.
What to Say
If age eight is the next platform stop on the subway train toward healthy sexuality, what are some suggested conversations and topics to go over at this oasis station? Often parents stress about saying either too little or too much too early. Mark Laaser puts those worries to rest:
The question of how old is old enough to hear about the biology of genital sexuality is a highly controversial subject, particularly in the Christian community. Many parents are afraid if they tell their children about sex, they will become sexual. On the contrary, every piece of research I have seen suggests that the less kids know about sex, the more likely they are to experiment with it.6
Many parents begin with picture books to introduce very young children to the concept of sex. We recommend being very picky about what picture book you use to make sure it matches your value system. Some are very permissive and encourage children to be secretive. Other books endorse every form of sexual expression without any guidelines reflecting faith, God, or moral restraint. A trip to a local bookstore where you can scan through scores of books might be helpful, or use an online bookstore that has plenty of sample pages you can read before you order. The best option is to find a ministry or leader you trust and see what he or she has available on the topic. Be sure to pre-read and pre-watch any books or videos before you use them with your child.
It was important to us that sex was framed as appropriate in a committed, loving marriage. We were always sure to use the term “making love” only in the context of marriage. (All other sex is “making lust.”) There are many books and videos to choose from. We encourage you to buy several and then piece together a plan to explain sex the way you are most comfortable and the way you want your child to learn about it.
We also try to ease into the discussion of sexual mechanics with a warm-up, say, a dinner out, a fun activity, or even just an ice cream cone. We tended to make these “talks” along life’s trail special moments.
If the child is alone with his or her parents, away from siblings, that alone might make the date special! We liked to set a comfortable mood by enjoying a desired activity or sharing a meal of the child’s favorite food. Then we would look for a private place to talk. Some restaurants are conducive, and other times we went to the park or even back home (with siblings elsewhere) before we would initiate the conversation. Give plenty of time for this talk and interaction. There is much to discuss and much for the child to digest! We suggest a four- to six-hour time frame so you can relax and enjoy the time and not feel rushed. After some fun, you can begin the conversation with something like:
“Remember this book?” Pull out the picture book that had first introduced them to the idea of sex. “Well, there is another book in this series that explains more about the special hug that moms and dads do when they are married. Let’s read it together.”
After the child has taken time to read the book and you’ve discussed the material together, wrap up with something like:
“Sex is a beautiful special hug because it is how God creates a new life—a new baby. And new babies are a gift from God. Sex is a special gift from God. It feels very good to be loved this way so God saved it for the most special of all relationships—marriage. God planned sex to bring people very, very close and help them feel they are one. God said this kind of love shows the world God’s love because it is based on a lifelong commitment. A commitment is a promise that is always kept and never broken. That is how God loves us: He always keeps His promises. He wants us to not make promises we cannot keep, and that is why sex is supposed to be given when you love someone so much you marry them. Then the gift you give each other as a wedding present is sex. When people love each other God’s way, they feel cherished and protected. They create a new family that is strong and stable. So do you think God sees sex as very, very special? If God thinks sex is very special, do you think He wants us to feel it is very, very special too?” Wait for their answer.
“Yes, He does. And that’s why God wants us to protect sex with marriage. God wants us to keep our promise and save sex for marriage. That is why some people call sex “making love” because when you love someone so much you want to marry them, you can unwrap the gift of sex.
“So let’s see if you understand what sex is. We’ll ask you some questions and then you can ask us anything you’re wondering about, okay?
“Can you explain sex to us in your own words?” Wait for an answer. You might need to help him or her out to summarize all they have taken in.
“Why is sex a special gift?
“Who are the only people that God says should enjoy this special gift of sex?
“Will you show your love for God and wait until marriage to give this special gift of sex?
“Do you have any questions about what sex is?” (Wait to see if your child can think of any questions.)
The last part of the conversation might sound like:
“Do you think all people keep their promise to save sex just for the person they marry?” Wait for an answer.
“That’s right—sometimes people do not keep their promise of love. Some people do not cherish sex as God’s very special gift so they have sex with many people. Because this is not God’s perfect plan for the special gift of sex, many sad things can happen. If you have sex before you are married, you can get diseases, and some of those diseases can make it so you cannot ever have a baby or some can even make you die. Or sometimes if someone has sex with you but they don’t marry you, your heart is broken and you can get very, very sad. Sometimes having sex before you get married means a baby comes and that baby doesn’t have both a mommy and a daddy living in the same house. That’s hard on a baby. Sometimes a daddy will just leave a mommy and then the mommy and the baby can become poor and not have enough money to live on. Some men sometimes don’t value a woman and they push themselves on her when she doesn’t want to have sex. This is called rape and it is breaking the law and you can go to jail for it. So many sad things happen when people do not treat sex like God’s special gift. We will talk about many of these things another time, little by little, but tonight, Mom and Dad just want you to know how very special sex is, and that it is the most special, cherished, amazing gift you will ever give and ever receive from the person you will marry someday.
“Do you have any questions?” Wait for an answer, and give honest responses to anything your child asks.
“Can you remember any of the sad things that can happen if people don’t listen to God and use sex for their own selfish reasons instead of as a special gift they should only give their husband or wife?” Wait for an answer.
“We believe you are smart enough, courageous enough, and love God and yourself enough to wait to unwrap the gift of sex on your wedding night. Do you think you are that wise, smart, and brave?” Wait for an answer. “Do you think you love us, God, and yourself enough to follow God’s plan for sex and wait until you are married like God has planned so He can bless you and your marriage like this?” Wait for an answer.
“We agree—and we are so proud of you because you want to love and obey God. God is proud of you too, and He will bless you for this wise choice. If you keep choosing God’s plan you will see just how wonderful and amazing this gift of sex is.”
If appropriate, this is where you can add your endorsement, like, “Mom and Dad have been married for ___ years and we still think sex is God’s special amazing gift. Grandma and Grandpa have been married for ___ years and they think God had a good idea when He came up with the gift of sex. When you get married, we think you will agree that God did a good thing when He invented sex. It is worth the wait.”
Then we shift gears from the gift of sex to the changes that are ahead for them. We’ll share more about puberty in the next chapter.
Handling Their Pushback
If a child expresses any negative feedback (and it is natural to do so), Stan and Brenna Jones suggest this kind of conversation. Take note of the word picture toward the end of the talk:
Child: So that’s sex? When people talk about having sex, they mean a man’s penis being in a woman’s vagina? That’s so gross!
Parent: I know, I felt the same way you do when I first heard about sex. I think maybe God makes us in such a way that when we’re too young to have sex, it just sounds gross to us. But it really isn’t gross. Someday, when you really love someone and are physically ready to have sex, it won’t sound gross anymore. Instead it will sound wonderful. I remember when your mom and I were dating, I wanted to have sex with her. But even when it sounds lovely, it isn’t the right thing to do until you are married. God wants you to have sex only with your husband [or wife]. Since your mom and I weren’t married, we didn’t.
Child: Why does God have that rule?
Parent: Well, like we read in this book, God made sex as a special gift for husbands and wives to share only with each other. You know how you feel about your most special toys—you really don’t like to share them? Well, sex is a little like that. It isn’t meant to be shared with anyone but your husband (or wife). To share it with other people would ruin it. It is like two radios that two people can use to talk just to each other. If you break the radios into more pieces so that three or six people can share all the pieces, the radios are broken and don’t work. They were not meant to be shared like that.
Parent: You know what? I like talking with you about this and I am glad that you want to know. Would you please tell me when you have more questions so that I can talk more with you about this? Sex is very beautiful, but a lot of people believe wrong things about it, so you will hear other kids telling you really dumb and wrong stuff. And television will show you many people who have wrong ideas about sex. So I want to talk with you about it so that you will know God’s truth about sex.7
The above conversation uses several great teaching techniques:
• Affirm that their feelings are normal
• Stay calm yourself
• Link the subject to a time in your own life
• Link it to a word picture that is at their developmental level
• Offer to answer any future questions
• Reaffirm that God’s plan is positive, beautiful, and intended to have their best interest at heart
Explain a Lot…But Not Everything
For this special night, try to keep the main thing the main thing: God made sex and sex is good when used as God intended. We waited until the next “monumental moment” just before junior high to explain things like homosexuality, cross-dressing, and other perversions and fetishes—and even then we tried to keep the conversation G-rated to spare them from any trauma or negative images being seared into their minds. If topics presented themselves, we would address them as they came up.
In the next chapters, we will explain some of the vital topics you will need to discuss in today’s sex-saturated world and how a child should best handle things like feelings toward the same sex, people who identify themselves as homosexual, how to handle pornography if he comes across it, the truth about abortion, and how to protect themselves against sexual predators. On the “big reveal” night, we tried, for the most part, to keep this monumental moment positive, focused on the “rightness” of how God created sex and what He intended for sex. We dealt with most of the negatives a little later in this stage (as we saw things on TV, heard news reports, or had people in our world who were dealing with some of the unintended consequences of using sex outside of God’s plan). For tonight, for this one brief, special moment, we wanted the splendor and wonder of sex as God intended to play center-stage in our child’s heart and mind.
Answers to Have Ready
Selecting the book or video to relay God’s most “special gift” is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. In addition to the guidelines suggested in this chapter so far, when we were looking for book and videos, we wanted to make sure the most important topics were covered. Here is the list of items we wanted any book or video to include for this “big reveal” moment. Feel free to use or adapt this list as you go shopping for the best resource for your child’s oasis talk. We wanted the book or video to include tactful drawings explaining body parts of both genders and we wanted an easy-to-understand explanation of sexual interaction that would include specifics like:
• The act of intercourse explained specifically but tactfully (a father placing his penis inside the mother’s vagina).
• The sperm from the father swimming up the vagina, uterus, and Fallopian tubes to find the egg in a woman’s womb.
• The sperm connecting with the egg of a mother to create a baby (called an embryo).
• That a baby is not made every time a man and a woman make love, but it is possible anytime they make love. Only God knows which times the egg and the sperm will match and connect perfectly to create a baby.
• That the embryo is a baby from the moment of conception and it just needs time and care to grow to look like what we think of as a baby.
• The baby is attached to the mother through the umbilical cord. That is how a baby gets the nutrients to grow.
• Photos or drawings of a real baby in the womb at various sizes through his or her growth.
• After nine months that baby would be ready to be born.
• When it is time to be born, God makes a woman’s body feel contractions that squeeze on the womb to help the baby move down the birth canal.
• The baby exits the womb through the cervix, a special opening between the mother’s legs.
• The baby is welcomed into a loving family.
• What happens when the egg is not fertilized by the father’s sperm (the menstrual cycle).
• The changes that happen in a boy and a girl during puberty.
• When to expect puberty.
• What sexual feelings to expect.
• That sex is meant for marriage.
And we wanted any pictures or photos to show people happy about God’s amazing gift of sex and procreation. We sought out resources that were very pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family responsibility, and pro-God. Biblical references or verses were an additional plus that we looked for as well.
Parent to Parent
You will likely get into discussions with other parents over the right time for the “big reveal” talk. Here are some of the reasons why we think age eight is a good time:
Eight is good timing for the big talk because it lands before so many vital markers: before puberty begins, hopefully before they hear about sex from others at school, before they experiment or get sexual feelings pressuring them internally, before your daughter menstruates, before your son has a wet dream. Eight is likely also before any detailed sex education is given in your school system.
Eight is also a good time because it is after your child has learned some basic anatomy from you and at school. It is after he or she learns to read so they can read along with you any resource you select or they can continue to read on their own any resources you might give to him or her. Eight is also after the cognitive change in learning where more abstract thinking kicks in (so they can picture in their mind what you are describing, even with few pictures or none at all as they engage their imagination).
Eight is also after many religions mark early faith decisions and give more responsibilities to a child in their own spiritual journey. (For example: The Catholic Church celebrates a child’s first communion at age seven or eight. In smaller evangelical congregations, the children’s ministry often ends at second or third grade and children aged eight or nine are invited into the adult worship service.) Many parents, philosophers, and theologians believe it is sometime in middle elementary years that a child can comprehend the gospel and explain it in their own words. This is the time in childhood when the Christmas story moves to center around the manger and not Santa and presents and Easter is more about the cross than the Easter bunny. The child’s conscience and inner moral compass is engaged, so moral lessons and not just biology can be integrated into the big talk.
Answers for Your Heart
It is vital that you as a parent pray through your own childhood experiences when it comes to the topic of sex. You will want to keep the thoughts and actions that were healthy and replace those that were unhealthy in the way you were educated (or not) about sex. Stan and Brenna Jones encourage parents to confront their child’s sexuality—and their own:
Parents can’t do anything to stop their children from being sexual. If…[Mom] were to respond negatively to her child for being sexual (spanking him, rejecting him by withholding attention, or some other form of punishment), the trauma to her child would be significant. She would be punishing him for being how God made him—a sexual child. She would be teaching him to repress or reject an aspect of himself that God gave him as a gift. At these earliest ages, the child needs no verbal comment or particular response from the parent. [The child] doesn’t even know he has a penis! But he can sense whether [Mom] loves him or if she is hesitant, withdrawn or rejecting. Early on is the time for you to work on your own responses to the child’s sexuality. When you are changing diapers, look at your child’s genitals and say a prayer of thanksgiving that God made that child sexual. Be honest with yourself and God about any ambivalent feelings you have. Resolve to do something about those feelings by reading, praying or talking to someone who can help.8
Take time to do an inventory of your own childhood and when sexuality was awakened in you. Pull out your journal and answer these few questions by completing the writing prompts:
• Dear God, when I first heard about sex I felt…
• I believe that was (too early, too late, at just the right time)…
• God, I remember my first sexual feelings were…
• I believe they were (accurate, unhealthy, confusing, other)…
• I believe my parents’ attitude toward sex in general and in their own marriage was (healthy, neutral, unhealthy)…
• The comfort level of my parents talking to me about sex was (healthy and happy, unhealthy, shaded by their own pain, nonexistent, a little awkward)…
• Some things I think my parents did right to help me make good choices about morality and sexuality:
• Some things my parents should have done differently that might have saved me from hurt, harm, confusion, or making poor choices later in life:
• When I talk to my kids I want to remember to…