As parents we want our children to grow up to be healthy, happy, and secure adults. Part of this challenge includes raising a sexually healthy child. Sexually healthy adults begin as children who are raised in sexually healthy families. Teaching our children about sexuality–in the broadest sense–is just about as important as teaching them about safety, religion, and healthy decision-making. Sexuality is not simply a part of the self limited to genitals, discrete behaviors, or biological aspects of reproduction, but is one component of the total personality that affects one’s concept of personal identity and self-esteem. Our children deserve to know that their sexuality is a wonderful gift.
Most of us remember nothing being taught about sexuality or reproduction prior to middle school! No wonder, as parents, we find ourselves at such a loss when we can’t hear ourselves, either as a teacher or student, reflected in our relationships with our children! Parents need a new blueprint to guide them in raising sexually healthy children.
- Sexual knowledge is good. Talking about sexuality is good, and good for children. Acquiring sexual literacy is an essential goal for children and adolescents in today’s world.
- Children are born ignorant of sexual knowledge, but they are active learners from birth on. In the process of their normal intellectual, social, and emotional development, and as they continuously absorb information from the world around them, they will begin to form and pose questions spontaneously that can easily lead adults to provide age-appropriate information about sexuality. If an adult responds in a welcoming fashion, those questions will continue, in a predictable manner and sequence, through childhood and well into adolescence.
- Factual knowledge about the topic of sexuality is vast and growing constantly, and it is easily accessed in a variety of ways inour society. Children are capable of learning sexual information in a gradual and ongoing fashion, beginning at about the age of one year, when they acquire language and begin to learn the names for their sexual body parts. Especially when children are young, it is best that they learn this information from the immediate adults in their lives, particularly parents and teachers; absent their involvement, children will learn from others.
- Sexual knowledge, like all knowledge, is powerful. Used carefully and deliberately, it is the cornerstone of safe, healthy, moral conduct. Research consistently demonstrates that children who grow up in families where sexuality is openly discussed grow up healthier (e.g., they make healthier decisions) and slower (e.g. they are more likely to delay sexual activity). Sexuality is an essential part of life, and sexual knowledge is essential to a responsible life. The immediate adults in a child’s life are responsible for passing on sexual knowledge to children and adolescents in an informed, deliberate and timely fashion.