I've heard mentioned several times the manual, A Parent's Guide, but have never read it before now. It's the LDS Church's 1985 guide on how to talk to your kids about the body and sex. Sure, some of it may seem a little out-dated, but there's a lot of good stuff in it. We started reading it just in time. When we finish reading it, I'll probably share a few more thoughts.
Yesterday, my 6 year-old girl said something like, "Is it true that a boy and a girl who aren't married sleep in the same bed without their underwear?" Gasp! Deep breath. "Where did you hear that?" She'd been at a friend's house and a friend of that friend came over and was talking about it.
Sometimes, I don't know why, but I don't feel bold in calling a sin a sin -- I tend to say "bad choices," so it doesn't come across so judgmentally and meanly. Luckily, though, we'd recently read this in the manual:
Your role as a parent requires that you pass judgments on your children and correct them as necessary. Some reports are not about accomplishments but about failures. Here you can be most Christlike. Without excusing or minimizing the problem or sin, you can react with concern, candor, and practical steps to correct the error or help your child repent of the sin.Now the quote was clearly in reference to correcting a sin of a child, which obviously was not our situation, but the word "sin" was fresh on my mind. Six year-olds also easily understand the word "sin." I told my daughter something like, "Well if someone did something like that, it would be sinning." Then we continued to have a little discussion on how our bodies are like temples and when we are married we can share our bodies that way, but if we do things like that when we are not married we cannot have the Spirit with us. . . .
Then, talk about a double whammy -- the kids had been outside tonight playing with some neighbors and my little 6 year old comes in and says, "So-and-so said, what if a girl was naked and someone took pictures of her and put them on iPhoto?" I said, "Well that would be pornography. Why was so-and-so talking about that?" I then told her, yes, people do that, and it is wrong, and so-and-so shouldn't be talking about things like that.
I then asked my husband (I was nursing) to go tell the kid (another 6 year-old) that he shouldn't be talking about things like that, and it was time for him to go home. I asked my husband if we ought to call the kid's mom. My husband looked a little surprised at first, but really, he likes things like that. So, he called the mom and told her what happened. She was pretty upset and hopefully wasn't too hard on the kid (the manual talks about this). It's not like they were looking at pornography, he was just talking about it, but I'd think she'd want to know.
When we had family prayer tonight, we again talked about the situation and told our kids that if other kids are talking about things like this to please let us know so that we can know what kids are talking about, tell them if it's true or not, and also answer any questions they have. We told them it's okay to talk about these things with mom and dad (and we have had discussions in the past on the topic), but they don't need to go talking to their friends about this. Our 8 year-old son seemed almost relieved to hear that it was okay to talk to mom and dad about when other kids talk about these things. He seemed to like that he didn't have to keep it inside him and that he could let it out and that mom and dad could actually do something about it.
So, I guess I just write this to reenforce that it's never to early to talk to your kids about the body and sex in an age-appropriate way (the manual gives ideas on this, too). I'm afraid, though, that the kids are getting more and more details at younger and younger ages these days. I also want to say how grateful I am that we've been reading A Parent's Guide which has put the topic fresh on my mind and has given me some really good tactics in how to confidently talk about the body and sex with my kids.