Don’t Wait to Educate

Your child is never too young to learn about appropriate sexual boundaries and what is comfortable touch and uncomfortable touch.  I recently learned of a six year old boy who propositioned a six year old girl for sex.  Even though this was alarming, it was not the first time I have heard of such things.  I have heard of girls and boys at even younger ages having sexual contact and relations with each other.  These are the times we live in.  It is unfortunate, but true. 

Upon hearing this I had another conversation with my children about appropriate touch and sexual boundaries.  I reminded them of the kinds of things they needed to be cautious about, and how to reject sexual solicitations.  We can’t be everywhere our child is every second of the day, so we need to make sure that our children can’t be tricked or manipulated.  We need to arm our children with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe.  It is our job as parents to teach our children about the sacred nature of our bodies and how to take care of them. 

Please accept this simple reminder to talk to your children about these things.  We started teaching our children about their “special bodies” when they were one year old because we started taking foster children into our home.  I will never regret making my children aware at a young age, because they are usually the children in the neighborhood who know when they should tell me that something wrong has happened or could happen with another child and they know too much to get fooled. 

There is a great song in the Children’s Songbook called The Lord Gave Me A Temple (page 153) for teaching children about how their bodies are temples and should be kept pure. 

For youth I really love the talk given by Jeffery R. Holland called Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments .  It is beautifully put and is a great new perspective on intimacy too.  I read it as an adult and learned a lot!  I highly recommend this read. 

For more of my thoughts on teaching children about sex read chapter 27 in my book, Parenting A House United

For more free answers to parenting questions visit Nicholeen’s blog

17 thoughts on “Don’t Wait to Educate

  1. As someone who was subjected to sexual abuse from an abuser who responded to my protestations that he didn’t “care what the prophet or anyone else says about how I show love for my daughter”, I cannot help but retch at that gum example. Ick. Ugh. I beg beg beg beg beg any reader NEVER NEVER ever teach chastity that way.

    I have lost much respect for this author now.

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  3. Yeah, that gum thing is horrific. It sends an abysmally bad message to teenagers and young adults, and I can’t for the life of me see how it teaches a good message to younger children. It essentially says, Once you have engaged in (whatever sexual activities, including, apparently, being abused), you are less attractive and less valuable. While it certainly is important that we teach our children to respect themselves and their bodies, there has to be a better way.

  4. Please tell me your suggested lesson is a satirical description of horribly outdated methods of talking about sex and bodies. You are doing children an incredible disservice by telling them they are disposable and that nobody will ever want them if they make a mistake. You’re also utterly negating the Atonement.

    Please dispose of this awful and damaging lesson in favour of something a little more positive.

  5. What’s more, I think the gum thing misrepresents who our children should want to date and marry. If a potential future partner refuses to date/marry a person who has had sex in the past, he or she doesn’t understand or trust the power of the Atonement. That is, anyone who would back away isn’t a good partner, in any event.

  6. My daughter was molested when she was four. She told him to stop, but he didn’t. The gum analogy is awful. The real thing I need to teach my daughter is how to get ready to deal with people like you in her YW program.

  7. The gum thing is horrible.
    I appreciate the rest of the post, about arming your children. However, even educated kids often are tricked or clueless or powerless when the situation presents itself. The most important thing is to make it safe for your children to confide in you. A big part of the damage of sex abuse is being unable to talk about it. Kids usually feel like it is their fault anyway, so if they’ve been “warned” then can feel like it is their fault they didn’t get out of the situation. I focus on the telling an adult even if it happened a long time ago.

  8. These comments have really touched me. I got that teaching suggestion from a church book years ago and have since used it twice. I never really looked at it from the other perspective though. That is amazing! You are so right. It is not a fair thing to present to a group. We can never completely know a person’s history or their perception of themselves or life in general. We are all coming from such different places with such different experiences.

    I am so grateful you have shared your perspective with me on this teaching tool. I can honestly say I have never looked at it from the side of someone who has had a sesitive issue in their past or who is questioning their worth. I have removed it from the post because I don’t think it is a good suggestion for teaching. However, I think the song is inspired and shouldn’t cause anyone to feel bad about themselves. Hopefully, it would just add encouragement.

    Once again, thank you for your kind remarks and for sharing this very important view on this very sensitive issue. I will definately not use this approach again, even though I didn’t think it up myself. Thank you all for sharing. I love to have new learning moments.

  9. JKS,
    I really appreciate this comment. You are so right about the open communciation. I am always so relieved when I hear of children telling their parents what is going on, no matter their involvement. Parents should always be a safe person to talk to. Once a child sees a parent as not safe, the relationship can make drastic changes in negative directions. I echo your sentiments, even the first ones. Thank you.

  10. Sister Peck, thank you for your gracious reply. I guess it’s hard for me to imagine someone not seeing the negative implications of the story, but as my missionary son recently reminded me, it’s best always to assume the other person is just doing the best that they can. Thank you for reminding us to teach our children basic principles about their bodies.

  11. Might be good to add an edit that said you deleted something – because now the comments don’t make sense. 😉 (I get them because I’ve heard that analogy before, but others might be lost.)

    Kudos to you for your gracious response.

  12. Michelle,

    Thank you for your kind comment. I am a bit surprised that it never occurred to me before that the gum example could hurt people. The old idea just popped into my head at the end of writting and I put it down. Needless to say I am really grateful that some other bloggers shared their perspective and unique experiences so that I was able to look at the old analogy with fresh eyes. I am not perfect. Anyone who expects perfection of anyone will always be disappointed. I guess that was just one of those, should have analyzed longer before speaking, ultra human moments we all have from time to time. Isn’t it great we all get to learn and progress?

  13. Anon,

    You are so kind to give me the benefit of the doubt. I try to do the same for people. Almost all mistakes happen when someone is trying to help or do good. It sounds like you have a very wise son. I am always amazed by how much I learn from my children too. It is true I was trying to help. For some reason, when the old idea out of the ancient youth idea book popped into my head I just wrote it down without much of a thought. It was so good to take a deeper look into that analogy. I have found that the impact of our actions and words have more to do with the viewpoint of the person listening, and less to do with what is actually said. So, it only makes sense that people who have had different experiences on this issue than me were able to, at a glance, see something totally different. I am better for having made this mistake. I only hope other people will not casually use the misleading example. I hope I removed it soon enough.

    Instead of that gum example I have another I just love. Above I put a link to a talk given by Jefferey R. Holland called Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments. I read it a few months ago and learned a lot from it. I only wish I had thought of it before putting the other bad idea. I also LOVE the audio of this talk. It is so nice to hear brother Holland’s kind, understanding voice as he touches upon this sensitive subject.

    I’m sure the person who thought of the gum idea origionally didn’t see the other side of it either. They couldn’t have. They probably thought it was just a clever, fun way to motivate youth to remain as virtuous as possible. That was what I saw on the first glance. I guess we better give him the benefit of the doubt too; whoever he was.

    Thank you again for your understanding kindness.

  14. Thanks to each person who has listened respectfully. What a good experience to learn from one another in a peaceful forum.

    As the mother of a daughter who was tortured and raped by a trusted neighbor, I have learned much about the unspeakable suffering of those who are sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, Utah has one of the highest rape rates in the nation, but throughout the country, you will find that one-fourth of all women and one-seventh of men have been sexually assaulted.

    Because so many are suffering from the soul wounding of sexual perpetrators, it is important to teach our children about inappropriate and appropriate touch, a few self-defence techniques, and to remind them that if anything happens to them, they can always tell us. Also, teach them to scream, “Fire,” not “Rape.” People seldom assist someone yelling “rape” but will often come to the aid of someone screaming “fire” at the top of their lungs. However, some sexual abusers will stop at nothing, and the victim may discover it is best to remain silent. To tell a young women it is better to be dead that to lose one’s virginity break the hearts of those who are rape survivors.

    We need to teach out children that if they have been abused, it is NOT their fault. We need to teach this is Church classes as well, for most rape survivors believe that it was their fault. They assume the faulty thinking of the perpetrator as a survival mechanism.

    I would recommend the book, “To Strengthen the Family” by JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton. She includes very helpful ideas for parents, perpetrators and survivors of sexual abuse.

  15. Great Comment Carol! Thanks for sharing those statistics too. This is definately something that families need to continue to address. Open communication on this issue is so important.

  16. Talking to children about predators can be very tricky. However, I read an article in magazine that gave an excellent idea for explaining sexual predators to children in a way they can relate too.It goes something like this:
    “There are three types of bullies out there. One type to beat you up, another type will use word and another type of bully touches private parts.” Then I continue saying, “If a bully ever touches your private parts, talks about private parts or shows you pictures of naked people you should always tell me or daddy about it no matter what. These bullies try to scare kids into not telling by saying they will hurt someone. Even if they do this always tell know matter what. We will believe you. These kind of bullies can be other kids or grown ups. They can be people at church or members of our family. No matter who it is, kids should always tell when this happens. This type of bully can be very good at making big people like us think that they are good even when they aren’t. That is why it is important to tell.”

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