Hello friends! I’ve been so eager to tell you about this…
Lydia and I have created a fun ritual. Most nights we get cozy and dive into the 2 books sitting beside her bed. One is the Bible (remember, faith matters!), and these days the other one addresses her growth and development. That’s right, we’re having “the talks,” not just one, but ongoing talks.
There are many approaches for introducing a child to the idea of puberty and sex. Some families are open from the youngest ages and don’t hide a detail. Some use anatomically correct names for body parts, and others have pseudonyms or just avoid mentioning them at all. Some families are uber modest, while others let it all hang out. And there are plenty of in-betweens. I won’t advocate for any of those approaches over another. Much of it speaks to personality types and preferences. However, as Lydia is only weeks away from turning 9, I’ve had to face the fact: My favorite girl is growing up, there are things she needs to know, and I need a plan. (Ugh, I feel like I just figured out the “little kid” stage, and now I have to figure out something new. There’s nothing like parenting to keep us on our toes!)
As I convinced myself that it was time to start “the talks,” these were some helpful truths:
Time is of the essence…
I haven’t met a person who held their tiny bundle of joy and said, “I can’t wait to teach my child about sex.” Whether we like it or not, when we become parents, we’re signing up for childrearing in its entirety, sex talks and all. We should be the first ones introducing our child to the truths about puberty and sex, and in order for that to happen, we have to beat everyone else to the punch.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we knew the precise date when someone else would expose our child to information (or often misinformation) about puberty and sex? I’d pack the weeks before with conversations with my child. But we don’t know when other voices will speak up. So we have to know our child and what they can handle, pick a time that seems best, and then bump the date even earlier. I’m serious. A couple years ago a dear friend mentioned that she’d had the puberty talk with her daughters when they turned 9. That seemed so young. But now that I’m parenting an almost 9 year-old, I know it’s the perfect window. Lydia still thinks I know everything. She’s willing to listen. I’d better be talking.
In addition to being a primary source of information, exposing your child to the changes and development before they begin prevents your child from being blindsided. I had another friend share that when she started to develop she was sure she had cancer because she didn’t know what was happening to her. I don’t want my child to face unnecessary fears.
And if you’re still feeling unsure about breaching this topic so early, think of this…if you lived on a farm or a couple hundred years ago, your child (simply because animals aren’t modest and houses were smaller and quarters were tighter) would have already known more about body parts and reproduction. There are appropriate ways to talk about these things at all ages.
If you’re panicking about your child educating their peers, coach them not to. I’ve told Lydia she can talk to me or the older women in our family about this information whenever she’d like, but it’s not appropriate to talk with her friends about it yet. I explained that it’s kind of like Santa (she pressed me to spill the beans about him a couple years ago), information that should come from a parent, not a friend.
Which brings me to my next point:
My Dad, true to his name (Steve Perry), is a rock star on so many levels!!! He was also a health teacher. As a result, I was blessed with the opportunity to hear “the talk” complete with overhead projector images. (I was especially mortified when I had to sit through it a second time 3 years later while my sister got “the talk” and had the audacity to draw out the process by asking questions!)
That’s one way to do it.
These days there are so many good resources. I read this blog full of book recommendations and promptly ordered the whole God’s Design for Sex Series. They don’t mess around. So far I’ve only been comfortable reading the first book with Lydia (it’s recommended for children ages 3-5). We’ll work our way through the others eventually. I also bought The Care and Keeping of You for Younger Girls, and I can’t sing its praises enough. It addresses so many details of a girl’s development that I never would have considered. I read a section or two out loud to Lydia each night, and she eats it up. I personally avoid anatomically correct words, but the real words are in the book so I just make sure I say them with confidence. “NBD Lauren,” I coach myself. If I don’t act weird, Lydia won’t think it’s weird.
This isn’t just a huge season of change for your kids, it’s a huge season of change for you too! The other resource you must find is a crew of other parents a few steps ahead of you. Pick their brains. Express your fears. Get their reassurance that your child (and you) will survive “the talks.”
Finally, celebrate what is good
It’s tempting to want our children to stay little (we have so much more control then!). But that’s not God’s plan. He intends for them to grow and develop. For most, He even intends for them to have sex (someday when they’re at least 35 and married to the spouse we personally arrange for them, right?). Lydia gets a cute grin and giggles when we talk about physical development and even God’s plan (in VERY vague terms at this point) for intimacy between spouses. I fight the desire to tell her to stay little, to tell her NOT to think about makeup and for heaven’s sake boys because all of this is GOOD in the right context. I want her to eagerly anticipate what God will do in her body and especially in her heart. I want her to know that the things she’s excited for are things God created her to desire. Seeking Him first will bring the ultimate satisfaction, and the other things will fall into place according to His plan. No shame, no fear, no ewww.
Friends, with God’s help we can face even the most uncomfortable parenting milestones! We can do this!
Praying for all of us to embrace God’s design for development and intimacy in order to pass on a strong and healthy legacy to our children!