Don’t freak out. Your 4th grader may not need to know a bunch of explicit details about how sex works. But by the time they are 9 or 10 (every kid is different), they probably need to know some “birds and bees” basics. In addition, elementary school is the perfect season for your kids to begin to develop a healthy perspective of the way God has made them uniquely male or female. They also need loving and wise parents who will protect them from some of the pitfalls that our over-sexualized culture will begin to put in their paths.
In our ministry of equipping parents to help their kids make wise choices about sex and relationships, we like to use the concept of “navigating.” Just as a rafting guide helps people to navigate the hazards that are always part of a whitewater adventure, a parent’s job is to help their kids to successfully get through the many relational and sexual challenges that every person will encounter.
Helping parents to do that job right is the reason that I wrote The Talks. Our kids will face these issues long before we think, so we cannot afford to put this off. All it takes is one conversation on the playground or one glimpse of something on the computer to give our kids the wrong impression of something God made to be a wonderful thing.
Parents of elementary kids should begin to give their kids a healthy impression of sex. To stay with the whitewater rafting illustration, a guide will make sure that the tourists on his boat have a positive perspective of what they are about to encounter on the river. He wants them to know that it might be a bit scary, but it’s going to be awesome.
With the goal of putting a positive spin on sex and relationships, this list should probably be titled something a little more broad, such as “What Every Elementary School Kid Needs to Know About Their Bodies, Their Sexuality, and the Opposite Sex.”
Note that this list and this blog presume that God created sex and that He gives us parameters to enjoy it to the fullest. This includes saving it for marriage. That said, if you assume that our kids are going to have sex as teens and that parents should prepare them for that realty, then you are probably reading the wrong blog. Your list will probably look different than mine. Yes, many kids WILL have sex before marriage. And yes, I am thankful that God’s grace is the remedy for all of our shortcomings. But for parents who want to help their kids to navigate the rapids with as few bumps and bruises as possible, we should look to God’s standard and diligently strive to help them prepare for a life of sexual purity.
This is not an exhaustive list. And it shouldn’t serve as a legalistic checklist. But by the time he or she completes the 4th grade, your child should be able to have some awareness of the following:
2. The basics of “where babies come from.” I will develop plenty of questions over time, but I have heard about intercourse from my parents before I hear it somewhere else.
3. God invented sex to connect a husband and wife, to make babies, AND to be something that feels good to us. Though it is a bit bizarre, my parents have told me that it truly is a wonderful thing. (I’m still not convinced.)
4. I know that, while God made sex and our bodies to be private, there are some who let people take their pictures with their clothes off. I might accidentally see these on a computer or smartphone. If this happens, I need to look away and tell my parents. They will not be mad at me.
5. My parents have trained me to notice good character qualities in members of the opposite sex. After all, I will probably get married some day and I need to learn what traits are most important in others.
6. For Girls: Because I have already started comparing myself to others, my parents remind me often that I am both beautiful and of great value beyond my looks.
7. For Boys: I am being taught how to be chivalrous, seeing the importance of using my strength to protect the young and innocent and to assist anyone who might need my help.
8. Our family may not embrace dating or boyfriends/girlfriends the same way as everyone else we know.
9. I know that if anyone makes me feel uncomfortable in a way that they talk to me or touch me, I can ALWAYS tell my parents.
10. I can regularly see my parents modeling a strong, thriving, and affectionate marriage. Even if they are single, they are making relationship choices that are best for me.
Q. What else would you add to this list? Feel free to comment below.
*Elementary aged kids are being confronted with more adult issues than ever before. Are your kids ready? You might benefit from our book: The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations About Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. This valuable resource has been developed to assist parents as they prepare their kids to face a culture that doesn't love them like you do. It is on sale at Amazon at a discounted price.
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