Dear family and friends,
Are your children innocent or ignorant about sexuality?
I am not usually this bold, but have felt prompted to share. It seems that when I am in a group setting, teaching a workshop or talking with friends, I have often come across a phrase that causes me some concern. The phrase is something similar to, "I want to keep my children innocent from sexual things," or "My kids are innocent."
I continue in my quest to explain another way of thinking when we consider keeping our children "innocent" from sexual things. Yesterday, I brought up how many parents feel they "rob" their children of innocence by teaching them about sex in a timely manner.
Here is Part 2......
2. How is teaching children about sex "robbing" them of their innocence?
What are we robbing? Childhood? Do we rob a child of their childhood by teaching them about sex? Was your child robbed of their childhood because you taught them about smoking? Was your child robbed of their childhood because you taught them about bullying? No. The act of smoking and bullying or being bullied robs a child of their childhood innocence, NOT TEACHING.
Adults have a funny way of believing that everyone sees the world the way we see it. Children DO NOT see the world the way we see it. When I taught my oldest about sex at age 8, he STILL CONTINUED TO BE AN INNOCENT CHILD........gasp! NO WAY!!!!!! He doesn't understand sex the way his dad and I do. He sees it in its context in Heavenly Father's plan. He understands the purpose of it, but he does NOT feel that we TOOK SOMETHING AWAY FROM HIM! Robbing is taking something away from him. Conversely, he feels that we actually GAVE him something. We gave him the gift of knowledge so he understands the plan of Heavenly Father. We gave him the gift of knowledge so that when he has encountered inappropriate things he has known what to do. It's an awful feeling to know that someone is talking about something you don't understand and could be making fun of you for it, but you have no idea what you are supposed to believe or how to act because you JUST DON'T KNOW (aka ignorance). We gave him the gift of knowledge so that he has confidence and understands sexuality's purpose so well that he can't be swayed into believing worldly views. We did not ROB INNOCENCE, we GAVE WISDOM.
The first three years of a child's life are critical for cognitive, social, and physical development. The first eight years of a child's life are critical for spiritual development because they ARE NOT able to be tempted by Satan. They CAN'T be confused by the mists of darkness. You are actually teaching them doctrine during these years in pure form. If you wait to teach them when they are able to be confused by the mists of Satan, especially many years after those mists can begin (at the age of accountability), you are taking a risk that those mists have already started forming around your child. You may feel you keep your child well protected from the world. I am NOT taking that risk. I am not a thrill seeker or risk taker. A wonderful stake president I talked with shared with me that he felt he had protected his son, only to find that he had been introduced to pornography at age 9 and was having to do damage control. It CAN happen to you. Prepare like it is going to happen and your child will be protected. Don't prepare and you will be doing damage control.
One more example: a wonderful mother and friend of mine once had a conversation with me and was shocked when I told her that children should be taught most of the mechanics of sex, babies, and relationships by the age of 8. She felt her children were still innocent and that she would teach it later. I respect parent's right to decide for their children. I provide knowledge and conversation when it comes up and ask questions at times, but I absolutely respect that every parent decided what's best for their child. I let this conversation go and we didn't talk about anything related to sexuality for a few months. I guess our conversation must have made her think and consider things that were said by her oldest, who was 9, almost 10 at the time. She talked to me later and told me she realized the wisdom in starting conversations now with her children because she was starting to realize how much her son already knew by comments he made. When she assumed he was "innocent," she was not realizing what he was actually learning from his peers. The comments he made she immediately pushed into the "he doesn't know yet" compartment in her brain. When she really listened to what he was saying without automatically assuming he didn't know any of that because she hadn't taught him, her eyes were opened to what he already knew.
So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance (Part 1, read here.)
2. Not Robbing Childhood, but Giving Wisdom