A Brigham Young University professor in the School of Family Life, Laura M. Padilla-Walker, and a BYU master’s student, Meg O. Jankovich, recently teamed up in an Ensign article to address talking to your children about sexuality. The motivation?
“Our experience is that many young people remain abstinent before marriage but deeply misunderstand the full meaning and purpose of the law of chastity or of sexuality—misunderstandings that often, sadly, result in future marital struggles,” they wrote.
Below are just a few of our favorite takeaways from the article but you can read the whole piece here.
—The article offers tips for fostering open communication. One of them suggests parents “start when your children are young by calling body parts by their correct names. This teaches children about their wonderful bodies and provides them the language they need to be healthy and informed.”
—Padilla-Walker and Jankovich recommend having more than one conversation about sexuality.
—While it is important to teach children how to avoid sexual predators and to stay safe, they recommend keeping conversations about safety separate from discussions about sexual intimacy within marriage. “Children may project fear onto all aspects of sexuality,” the authors explain.
—In a section about discussing the purposes of sexuality, the authors address masturbation. “Masturbation is often a child’s first experience with sexuality and is done in ignorance. Even young children are prone to self-touching, and how parents respond to these early behaviors can set the stage for how young people feel about themselves and their sexuality. It is important for parents to find a balance between helping children understand the why behind God’s commandment that sexual behavior occur within a marriage relationship, while also not reacting with disgust or anger when children engage in self-touching or youth admit to masturbating.”
—In all things, the article emphasizes in the end, we must teach the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “It is important for us to remember to promote growth instead of guilt and to teach children that Jesus Christ can bless them with grace and power and mercy to strengthen them and help them remain sexually pure and one day enjoy the blessings of sexual intimacy in marriage.”
Read the full article from the Ensign.