Talking to Your Little Ones About the Big Topic of Sex
A much repeated sentence we hear at our Theology of the Body retreats and courses is, “I wish I heard this when I was younger!” or “I wish my parents were able to give me such a positive and beautiful message about the gift of sexuality!”
Well, we can’t change the past, but by His grace we can certainly affect the present and hopefully change the future. There are few things more important than talking in a positive way about the beauty and dignity of the body and what it means as a sign of love in the world. Just look at all of the dysfunction and dysphoria of our culture to see what happens if we don’t speak about it!
As a quick refresher, the theology of the body is a biblical reflection, as well as an unpacking of human experience and its contribution to the truth of who we are, by the late and great St. John Paul II. The TOB ponders and practices the beautiful truth that our bodies are created good and that together as man and woman, each unique and complementary, we reveal a great mystery of love and communion in the world.
The Love Cradle of the Family
We are meant to learn about this mystery of love in the midst of the “cradle of life and love” that is the family, in the words of St. John Paul II. The family is “the primary place of ‘humanization’ for the person and society.” (Christifideles Laici, 40)
A fundamental “lesson” in this primary school of the family is on the gift of our bodies and how they relate to one another. To open up this lesson for our “littles,” we ought to look at how God brings about life and goodness and beauty in the created world. It’s a wonderful analogy to connect to the way our bodies were made. Pope Benedict XVI said, “A first discovery of God is through the contemplation of creation.”
Receive the Gift
God designed the world so that seeds fall down from the trees and flowers above to make new trees and flowers rise up from below. The seeds land on the rich earth. The soil receives the gift of the seed, and the sun and rain make it grow, and the growing is beautiful. This language of gift is essential. In creation, God makes everything dance together, giving and receiving themselves as gifts. When the seeds and soil dance together, when they work together, and open to the sun and the rain, then life comes from it. And God says, “Behold, it is good.”
As parents, our work is to emphasize this inherent goodness in creation. That’s the backstory of humanity. That’s the pure spring from which the gift of life and our bodies flows, no matter how muddied we might make the waters become downstream by our sin!
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Children should know that human beings are God’s most beautiful gifts given to the world. In fact the world is what is given to us! We are the very “crown of creation” made for no other reason except for Love, and made to bring love into the world. When they grow older (like a tree or flower), God gives men seeds to offer and women a kind of special soil in which to receive them to make a new life; to make love present in the world! And so women become in their very bodies, a beautiful garden of life! When you come to describing a girl’s approaching period, you can already see how the analogy/concept of this garden of life (the Hebrew expression for life is connected to the word for “blood”), could be used to articulate her own monthly menstruation. The “soil” is being prepared to receive the seed. There is blood, and beauty, and pain, and wonder in all that is happening in the body, just as we see in the natural world.
This garden is a woman’s own special place, and God has given it to her as a gift, just as He has given the woman to the man as a gift, and he to her, in order to bring new life into the world. The children to come are like flowers, and the man and woman take care of this “family garden” with the help of the Lord Who watches over all and sends His sun and rain to keep the garden beautiful and growing. This garden is a holy place, a sanctuary that the man and woman, when they are old enough and have made their promises to God and each other, get the grace to share in and care for.
Here are a few extra resources for touching on the topic of the goodness and beauty of the body, love, family and relationships for little ones:
The Princess and the Kiss (For girls)
Looking to bring the message of virtue and purity to a young girl? In this story, a loving king and queen present their daughter with a gift from God–her first kiss–to keep or to give away. The wise girl waits for the man who is worthy of her precious gift. Where is he and how will she ever find him? https://shop.chastityproject.com/books/the-princessand-the-kiss.html
The Squire and the Scroll (For boys)
Looking to bring the message of virtue and purity to a young boy? This captivating adventure follows a young squire who travels a long, dangerous road beside his brave knight, on a quest for their king. The action builds until the final face-off with the monstrous, evil dragon. Only then does the squire learn of the secret beyond the cave. https://shop.chastityproject.com/books/the-squire-and-the-scroll.html