Don’t let that title shock you. I am not advocating for traditional sex-ed for preschoolers. Far from it. What I hope to do is encourage parents to start very early to build the framework for helping their kids to have the right perspective on the sexual aspect of their lives.
In our ministry of equipping parents to help their kids make wise choices about sex and relationships, we like to use the concept of “navigating.” Just as a rafting guide helps people navigate the hazards that are always part of a whitewater adventure, a parent’s job is to help their kids to successfully get through the many relational and sexual challenges that every person will encounter.
Helping parents do that job right is the reason that I wrote The Talks. In our hyper-sexualized culture, I’m amazed at how many parents haven’t given any thought whatsoever regarding how they will help their kids to have a healthy view of sex.
When it comes to these issues, parents of preschoolers should see their job as one of building the right foundation. To stay with the whitewater-rafting illustration, a guide must make sure everyone on his boat can swim long before he lets them get close to the water.
If the goal is to lay a solid foundation for your preschoolers, this list should probably be titled something a little more broad, such as “What Every Kindergartner Needs to Know About Their Bodies, Their Sexuality, and the Opposite Sex.”
*Note that this list and this blog presume that God created sex and that He gives us parameters to enjoy it to the fullest. This includes saving it for marriage. That said, if you assume that our kids are going to have sex as teens and that parents should prepare them for that realty, then you are probably reading the wrong blog. Your list will probably look different than mine.
Yes, many kids WILL have sex before marriage. And yes, I am thankful that God’s grace is the remedy for all of our shortcomings. But for parents who want to help their kids navigate the rapids with as few bumps and bruises as possible, we should look to God’s standard and diligently strive to help them prepare for a life of sexual purity.
This is not an exhaustive list. And it shouldn’t serve as a legalistic checklist. But by the time he or she finishes kindergarten, your child should be able to have some awareness of the following:
1. The opposite sex does not have “cooties.” They are different, but they are awesome.
2. Mom and dad will honestly (and simply) answer questions I have about the different parts of my body without making me feel shame about them.
3. My body belongs to me. Nobody can touch me without my permission. More specifically, I need to carefully guard the parts of my body that are covered by a bathing suit. If anyone ever touches me in a way I don’t like, I know I can tell my parents. They are there to protect me.
4. Kisses are special and need to be saved for the people who have spent a lifetime meriting such special affection.
5. Mom and Dad love me so much that they put a filter on the internet that keeps me from stumbling into something that I don’t need to see.
6. If I happen to see someone with their clothes off, I need to look away. Private parts are meant to be kept private.
7. My parents give me a good picture of what a healthy and affectionate marriage looks like. Even if they are single, they make me feel secure by their relationship choices.
8. My parents care enough about me to begin thinking now about how to create a framework for me to develop a healthy view of my sexuality.
Barrett Johnson is the Minister to Families at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta. He is also the founder of INFO for Families and the author of The Talks: A Parent’s Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables.