Becoming an ally to your child in a sexualized culture is one of the most important jobs you have as a parent, and it’s not that difficult. Through our Ally Series we’ve shared some of our best information to equip you. Today and over the next few weeks we’ll introduce you to some of our favorite resources to help you.
I can gravitate toward “paralysis by analysis,” that is, overthinking or doubting my preparedness. If this is how you lean, recognize that while preparedness is good, the reality is that today’s children are already immersed in a culture that is quite hostile to their sacred sexuality. Your child is a tender shoot, an image-bearer of God, and his or her sexuality is already being shaped in many ways. You should prepare, but don’t put off needed conversations for too long because children grow up so fast!
I want to tell you about a delightful book to read with toddlers or younger children; in fact, it’s our top pick. God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Lindsey and Justin Holcomb has many redeeming qualities. Reading it with your kids will lay the groundwork for many conversations to come.
1. God Made All of Me honors God and the way He made each person.
There are really only two views of sexuality: A God-honoring view and a worldly view. As children, most of us did not learn the sacredness of sexuality or that all body parts are made by God and are therefore good. Most of us naturally internalized a worldly view of sexuality which led to feelings of shame related to our private parts. As an ally, you can teach your children about sexuality from God’s perspective, and this book is a great start to that.
2. God Made All of Me provides an easy way to teach about body parts, including private parts.
Too often we avoid using words like penis, vagina, or breasts not because we think they’re bad, but because saying them makes us uncomfortable. Some parents substitute cute names for these parts. Children come into the world with no pretense about their bodies. This can quickly change as they hear other children joke about body parts or as they realize certain parts have names but parents have been silent about them or have renamed them. The giggles of friends or silence of parents can be confusing to a child which can easily lead to feelings of shame. This book naturally and easily affirms the worth of body parts and dispels any shame associated with them.
If saying anatomical words like penis, vagina, breasts, or bottom make you uncomfortable, practice! Read God Made All of Me aloud a few times in front of a spouse or a friend. Ask God to remove any hesitation you may have or heal anything from your past that may cause you to feel shame over your own body. Here’s a link to a recent post that could be helpful.
3. God Made All of Me teaches children appropriate responses for when they encounter an uncomfortable situation or inappropriate touch.
Childhood sexual abuse is so common, and once done it cannot be undone. It changes a person for a lifetime. According to one study, one in four girls and one in six boys will be abused by age 18. Though we cannot protect our children from every danger, we want to do all we can to equip them and prevent abuse. This book teaches a God-honoring and simple way to help kids protect their bodies.
4. God Made All of Me is a good platform for future conversations about bodies, porn, sex, and the sexualized culture.
If your children are young, you probably can’t even imagine discussing porn with them down the road. But conversations about bodies, porn, sex, and the sexualized culture need to happen sooner than you think. Your children will have many questions and if you’re not available or approachable they’ll find their answers elsewhere. This book will set you up as a trusted resource for your kids as they grow. It’s a start to many more conversations that God wants you to have with them. God will equip you as you pray, read good books with your kids, and strive to be their ally throughout the years.
5. God Made All of Me educates parents on issues related to sexual abuse.
At the end of this book, you’ll find useful information: 9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse along with a link for more study. Sexual abuse can be devastating. If you’re still struggling to find healing for abuse or trauma that happened in your life, I encourage you to find a Christian counselor to guide you. You might want to begin with this book by Dr. Dan Allender: Healing the Wounded Heart.
Please share God Made All of Me with other parents. I actually give this book as a baby gift! Consider sharing this post with your preschool or neighborhood group. If you’re a writer, publish your own review of it. Together we can equip our children and pave the way for earlier and better conversations with loved ones about bodies, porn, and sex. Become the ally your children need by ordering God Made All of Me and reading it to them often! Here’s a link.
Next week we will review a series of books for children that covers biblical sexuality, the changes that puberty brings, and relationships. We’re so excited to have good books to share with you, and we hope and pray you won’t hesitate to begin reading them with your family. You’ll never regret it.
Are you finding this series helpful? Please share it with a friend. Ready for more? Here’s a link to Part 13.
Let me learn from you! I welcome your comments or suggestions! In addition, if you’re in the Atlanta area and you’d like to hear or host my talk: Gatekeeper: A Guide to Parenting in a Sexualized Culture, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Karl Fredrickson