As children grow older and their curiosity increases, it’s important to talk with them about the sacredness of their own bodies. Dr. Ben Erwin of LDS Family Services; Dr. Jill Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist; and Dr. Jason Carroll, a family life professor at BYU, offer their advice about picking a comfortable, appropriate moment to bring this topic up with your children.
The doctors suggest that when parents start to notice their children asking a lot of questions or exploring their own bodies, it’s a good time to teach them about certain aspects of physical intimacy.
However, even at the right moment, parents can still experience significant discouragement or discomfort when talking to their children about these topics.
Dr. Carroll assures parents that they don’t need to be experts or perfect in the way that they talk to their children about these things. He says that it is important to recognize that talking about sexual intimacy is a progressive process. As you continue to do it, the more comfortable you will get.
As Dr. Manning puts it, the discomfort that parents can feel when talking with their children about sexual intimacy is worth it. She emphasizes that we cannot give up this sacred responsibility as parents to discuss these topics with our children.
Dr. Carroll continues by saying that parents’ discomfort could stem from their own discomfort in talking about sexin general—in their own marriage. He exhorts parents to do a personal check to see if they are at a healthy place in their physical relationship so that they can convey the beauty and sacredness of this experience to their children. Even if parents feel a lack of success in their own marital relationship regarding sex, their teaching will typically be profoundly better than what the nonreligious world has to offer.
Dr. Manning also says that when we have a nurturing, openly communicative relationship with our spouse and children, talking about difficult subjects, like sexual intimacy, can develop more naturally and in a good environment to foster an honest, spiritually healthy discussion.