If you’re a mom or a dad, have you ever considered how much information you’ll share with your kids over the eighteen or so years you have to parent them? Of the thousands of things you’ll teach them and model for them, a healthy view of sexuality is by far one of the most important. It’s both your privilege and your responsibility, but often parents struggle with knowing how or when to approach topics related to bodies, porn, and sex. For Christians, it can be challenging as our children are regularly exposed to various aspects of sexuality that do not line up with our values. In our Ally Series we’re equipping you to teach your children well, starting when they’re young or starting now!
Last week we reviewed a book for toddlers and younger kids, God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies. As we think about books to read with elementary-age children through young teens, we’re very excited to introduce a series of books by Trisha and Luke Gilkerson. These books present God-honoring, age-appropriate, biblical truth related to bodies, sex, and relationships, in a format that’s simple for parents to use and engaging for kids.
Many parents delay conversations about sex or sexuality because of their own discomfort or for fear their child’s innocence will be lost too soon, but in today’s culture delaying these talks can be detrimental. Here’s a quote from one of the books:
Giving a child facts about reproduction, including details about intercourse, does not rob him of innocence. Innocence is a function of attitude, not information. A school-age child who understands the specifics of sex, while seeing it as an act that in the proper context, both expresses love and begins new life, retains his innocence. But a child who knows very little about sex can already have a corrupt mind-set if he has been exposed to it in a degrading, mocking, or abusive context. (From Focus on the Family’s Complete Book of Baby & Child Care)
Another quote explains the need for a preemptive approach to sharing truths on biblical sexuality:
Because of the society we live in, the consequences of avoiding these conversations far outweigh the consequences of giving too much information too soon. (Dr. Margaret Stager from Case Western Reserve)
The Gilkersons’ series includes:
I highly recommend these books because…
- They are based on scripture, making these discussions more of a family devotional or Bible study rather than simply lessons on anatomy, puberty, or sex.
- The format is simple to use, engaging, encourages dialogue, and builds over time.
- These books are for parents to read with their children.
- Each book contains other information to guide, encourage, and equip parents to engage on sensitive but important topics.
The first book in the series, The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality, is recommended for ages six to ten but could also be appropriate for a more mature five-year-old or a child who’s already been exposed to information about sex. In seven short, interactive lessons, this book covers male and female sexual design, how babies are made, how sex is designed for a man and a woman in marriage, and some basics on ways in which sexuality can be misused. The lessons are short enough to keep a child’s attention, and the illustrations are helpful. Parents can either read the material beforehand and present it in their own words or read the lessons aloud with their child.
Though the subject of pornography isn’t addressed until the third book in the series (as shared in previous posts, I recommend broaching the subject earlier), this is a great book to present God’s amazing design of the male and female body and also His plan for sex to be enjoyed within the safety and security of the marriage covenant.
The next book in the series, Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty is recommended for ages eight to twelve but may be helpful for younger children also. In many families, younger siblings are naturally exposed to topics like sexuality sooner than their older siblings were. You know your children and their needs.
The Gilkersons open Changes with a discussion of Luke 2:52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature…” Though the physical changes that come with puberty are important, these changes signify other aspects of becoming a man or woman such as growing in knowledge and in relationships. The authors use illustrations from Jesus’ life to convey these truths. Changes also covers hormones, hygiene, specific changes for a boy or a girl, modesty, menstruation, ejaculation, nocturnal emissions, and sexual attraction. Changes makes talks related to puberty natural and God-honoring.
The third book of the series, Relationships: 11 Lessons to Give Kids a Greater Understanding of Biblical Sexuality, is recommended for ages eleven to fourteen. Like the two previous books, Relationships uses a devotional/Bible study approach to teach children and younger teens how to navigate relationships, sexual temptations, and sexual desires in a God-honoring way.
The preteen and teen years are sexually charged for most kids, simply because of the culture in which we live. Even for kids who aren’t looking at porn or aren’t sexually active, the atmosphere around them is highly sexual. In school or social settings, much of the talk centers around who is doing what with whom or how someone is now “identifying” in terms of gender. Your teen’s world is very different from yours and certainly different from all that you experienced at the same age. Through this book you’ll gain confidence to relate to your teen’s challenges from a place of humility and not a place of superiority.
Relationships gives a biblically solid base upon which to share your beliefs and values and begin to discuss how others may have different views. The pressures of an ever-changing culture will only increase in your child’s life as he or she matures. This book will help lay the groundwork for many good parent-child conversations along the way.
Most of us have made mistakes sexually, and your children will also. When they do make mistakes or when other challenges related to sexuality arise, will they have an ally to turn to? The biblical truths you’ll find in the Gilkerson series will help you become that trusted ally your kids desperately need. It will require a small investment of time and money that will reap huge dividends for you and your loved ones. I hope you’ll take advantage of these great resources and also share them with other parents.
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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 Annie Spratt.