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Should Parents Teach Their Children About Sex?
▪ Many parents go to great lengths to protect their children from contracting harmful diseases. Parents need to invest similar effort into protecting their children from harmful moral attitudes. One way they can do so is by means of balanced sex education. (Proverbs 5:3-23) Such parental training and moral guidance is essential because children are increasingly being exposed to graphic sexual material on TV and the Internet, in books, and in comics.
“The problem today isn’t that our kids are learning about sex,” explains Professor of education and author, Diane Levin. “The problem is what they are learning, the age at which they’re learning it, and who is teaching them. Children get a very powerful and damaging kind of sex education from marketers and the popular culture.”
Parents need to protect their children from the distorted and immoral views that are corroding society. (Proverbs 5:1; Ephesians 6:4) Young children need to know how their bodies work, how to care for themselves physically, and how to protect themselves from immoral people. Before puberty—the age at which signs of sexual maturing begin to appear—a daughter needs to know about the changes that will occur in her body and to understand why and how menstruation takes place. Similarly, a boy should know in advance about nocturnal emissions, or wet dreams. When children are little, parents can start teaching them the correct names for body parts. Loving parents teach their children three key lessons about these body parts: (1) They are special and private. (2) They are not to be discussed in a bad way. (3) They are generally not to be touched by or exposed to others. As children grow older, parents need to discern when to explain how a woman becomes pregnant.*
When should parents start such instruction? Earlier than many realize. A girl might first menstruate at the age of 10 or even earlier. A boy might have his first nocturnal emission as early as the age of 11 or 12. These life-altering events can be very disturbing if children do not understand what is happening. Children need to be reassured ahead of time that there is nothing wrong with such natural developments in their bodies. This is also the time to help them understand the value and importance of following the Bible’s moral standards—something that most secular sex-education programs fail to provide.—Proverbs 6:27-35.
Parents can find helpful material on these subjects in the following publications produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses: Awake! of May 2006, in the article “Preparing Your Daughter for Menarche,” pages 10-13; Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2, chapter 6, “What’s Happening to My Body?”; and The Watchtower of November 1, 2010, “Keys to Family Happiness—Talk to Your Children About Sex,” pages 12-14.