Talking about “the talk”: preparing for a Catholic discussion on sexuality

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.

Preparing for the talk

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:

Our Power to Love: God’s Gift of Our Sexuality

The Wonder of Me: Fertility Appreciation for Adolescents and Parents

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 micaela.darr@gmail.com and I’ll share your recommendations anonymously.

Comments

  1. For younger ones, Id highly suggest these books from TOBET, the Theology of the Body Evangelization Team. They have a set for toddlers and a set for ages 5-9. Great for talking about everybody’s body being a gift from God, and the importance in the difference between boys and girls.
    http://tobet.org/product/tob-for-kids-3-volume-set/

    • Oh, wow, thanks for the link, Megan! I think I heard about those somewhere but had no idea how to search for them. I will try and get some to review. 🙂

  2. Carol (Rengers) Miller says:

    The Lutheran church in Arcadia (Duarte just east of Lovell) hosts a weekend event called Love Fest in February every year. They have guest speakers on various teen and sexuality related topics. Its coming soon. http://www.lovefestoslc.com. They say it is for the whole family. I’d say 11 would be the youngest. Maybe my head is in the sand.

  3. Daughters of St. Paul have great board books and ‘little kids’ books on the Theology of the Body. Just purchased some for our book fair. We are also putting together a Bloom PMS Kit to help with ‘the talk’ and will be selling it @ http://www.stpaulcatholicbookfair.com

  4. We’re doing a whole conference on this topic here on Saturday! Good pictures, bad pictures is great. Have you read “wonderfully made babies”? A great Catholic resource.

  5. Also…you might check out a talk I had with a mom on my podcast “Go Forth with Heather and Becky” Jen Davis, mom of 8, talked on episode 3 about how she talks to her very young kids about the birds and bees. Very insightful and practical. I think all would benefit from the conversation!

  6. I have purchased “Wonderfully Made! Babies: A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies” based on a recommendation. I haven’t used it yet but I have read it and it looks great!

  7. PurelyYou (purelyyou.org) is a wonderful parent/child curriculum with a workbook, dvd, etc that is all based on Catholic teachings. It’s awesome!

  8. Thanks for bringing this up! I have yet to have an excuse to explain much of anything, not a natural one anyway, except for a probably incorrectly executed one when our oldest was something like eight and asked and I explained the whole thing in the car on the way somewhere. I think the flood of unexpected info resulted in his ignoring most of it, ha. Could totally have taken a far more basic approach and probably would have answered as much as he really wanted to know then. Anyway, since then I haven’t come up with a natural way of explaining much other than babies should come out of marriage, even though that doesn’t always happen, and why. And that’s about it. I suppose it’s better than nothing, but what I’d really like to avoid is the awkwardness that was my parents telling me about these things, by which point I’d already figured it out, and the stupid pictures of dogs and chickens were wholly unwelcome. They offered several times and I was like, nope, no thanks.. Finally they lured me in with girl scout cookies and I was stuck. Decidedly not the way I’d like to do it. Not that it was their fault, you know, but I just keep thinking that maybe I should be initiating it, so we don’t get to that point? Just not sure how. I believe my husband, who grew up in Soviet Russia where sex didn’t exist ;], never had any attempt at any talk, they just figured it out at school and the parents assumed they would. But they’re far less worried about it, also. Although I don’t want their approach, I do like the relaxed “approach” they have. They’re pretty good about all of it, maybe some would say immodest, but among people of the same sex, there’s no hiding anything really.. Anyway. Lots of rambling.

    And thanks again!