It’s been on my mind a lot lately. You know, The Talk. The one 94% of parents dread* and 89% of parents biff, big time. My sister recently accused my mom of not even giving her The Talk to which I think my mother responded, “Did it scar you that badly?”
In the interest of being in the top 11% that only mess up a little, instead of a lot, I began doing what I do: desperately scouring the internet for people who know more than me.
Beware: I’m not claiming to have any parental experience or wisdom in this area, other than an understanding of human sexuality at the physical, emotional, or spiritual levels. I just thought I’d share the resources I’ve found, and ask you wiser parents with experience for more input.
Also, please pray for us as we discern the “right” time to talk to our kids about chastity, fertility, and sexuality. I believe we have the groundwork set, but it’s the explicit stuff that makes me worry I’ll introduce it too early and rob them of their innocence or too late I’ll have to undo misinformation.
*All statistics are fabricated. Because it’s fun.
Some links below are affiliates. Thanks for keeping my kids well-supplied with great books!
The Joyful Mysteries of Life I stumbled upon this little gem in an online discussion thread. I consider this, at least at this point, to be the “spine” of our curriculum, of you will. What it is: A chapter book for Catholic parents to share with their kids. It’s written to the the child, so could be read independently, but I imagine it’s more fruitful if you read it together. It does a nice job of connecting the spiritual with the physical. It does describe the process by which conception occurs, but there are no awkward illustrations of the process. What it isn’t: a science book. You may want to have one on hand, or at least a printout of the reproductive systems. Age range: As with everything in this topic, that depends on your child and your family. I think it’s best for ages 10 and up.
Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids I bought Beyond the Birds and the Bees years ago because I wasn’t really sure about when and how to introduce the topic. What it is: A handy resource. It has a helpful guide about the ages and stages of developing sexuality, and how to create a home culture that is authentically Catholic in its sexuality. It encourages honesty and age-appropriate responses, which I whole-heartedly agree with. What it isn’t: A script. It does give helpful suggestions for “the talk,” but something like the book above would give more detailed wording as to exactly how to say things. Age range: Written for parents of kids of all ages.
Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids This isn’t a “birds and bees” book, but I’m including it here because unfortunately we have to protect our kids from the debilitating effects of pornography and that won’t be done by hiding our heads in the sand. I found it via a podcast of Catholic Answers Focus, but it’s not explicitly Catholic, or even Christian. It would be good for any parents wanting to help their kids avoid the minefield of digital pornography. We’ve had the very sad and frustrating experience of one of our kids already being exposed to pornography via a completely innocent online search. This book is a really valuable (and unique) tool for parents who are facing this relatively new dilemma. What it is: A picture book with short chapters. It’s written as a conversation between a boy and his mom (and later Dad joins in, too). There isn’t anything graphic in the book, and the written descriptions of what pornography is are very tastefully done. It shows what happens to the brain when pornography is viewed, and at the end it gives a plan for what to do if you encounter it online. The thing I like about it best is that it makes the parent the expert, which takes away the need for secrecy and shame when these types of things come up. What it isn’t: Safe search software, which I foresee having to install as my kids get older and have more need of the computer. Age range: I believe it’s written for ages 8-11, but could easily be used for those a bit younger or older.
I just ordered the books below, which I’ll review when I get them:
Now it’s your turn! How did you approach the subjects of sexuality and chastity with your child? Any book or resource recommendations? Be sure to share in the comments, or if you’re shy, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share your recommendations anonymously.