Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000076
00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:34 I'm Alanzo Smith and this is my dear wife, June Smith.
00:38 June is a professor at Long Island University
00:42 and I'm the Family Life Director for the
00:45 Greater New York Conference.
00:47 We have an important topic that we want to talk about today,
00:52 Talking to Your Child About Sex.
00:56 Now I must admit that this is not a topic that
00:59 parents too often get involved in, yet it's such a necessary
01:04 and important topic.
01:06 Why is this so?
01:08 I'm sure you'll agree that we live in a very sensual society
01:13 and that our young people are confronted with decisions
01:19 that they must make daily about what to do
01:24 as it relates to their sexuality.
01:26 We live in New York and frequently visit the schools,
01:30 but work dominantly with families that have children
01:35 who are involved sexually, who are sexually active
01:38 at very young ages, and parents who are unable to address
01:45 the issue because they don't know what to do.
01:47 They don't quite understand it themselves.
01:49 So we're going to try and see if we can help you.
01:53 First, we want to break it down and we're going to look at
01:56 different age categories and help you to understand
02:01 what's going on in a child's mind as it relates to
02:04 the child's sexuality.
02:06 Let's start from the very beginning, 18 months to 3 years.
02:10 What's happening at this stage?
02:11 It's important that we start here because sexuality
02:15 doesn't begin when the child gets to be the adolescent and
02:20 begins to confront those issues.
02:21 The moment of birth, even, the child in the first few
02:26 years of life begins to have certain needs;
02:30 the need to be cuddled, the need to be touched.
02:33 This whole attachment that eventually leads to
02:37 intimacy in the adult years or young adult years
02:42 begins at this stage.
02:43 So that if this relationship with the caregiver,
02:48 predominately the parents, are not establishing a healthy way,
02:51 it will affect the way the child's sexuality is
02:55 acted out in the long run.
02:57 So at the first, I would say 3 years of life, the bonding,
03:01 the attachment, the cuddling, you know, all of that nurturance
03:05 is so important in securing the child.
03:09 Isn't this the time, the stage too, when they give attention
03:13 to genitalia...
03:17 I always have some tongue tie on that one.
03:20 ...and self pleasing?
03:21 The child is curious at that point, and as they get older
03:25 going into 3 or 4 years, and they begin to recognize
03:29 that their genitalia is what it is.
03:32 And sometimes they are curious and they will ask questions
03:35 about their body parts.
03:38 Yes, it is very normal.
03:39 You know, parents, when this is happening,
03:42 please don't get flustered and frightened.
03:44 This is a normal progression of the development of the child.
03:47 Well, let's look at 3 year olds and 4 year olds.
03:52 Because this is the age of curiosity now.
03:56 They become curious, as you said.
03:57 They begin to further explore their body parts.
04:00 They begin to touch themselves.
04:02 They begin to want to know where babies came from even.
04:06 And these are just age appropriate conversations
04:09 that parents should have.
04:11 That parents should explain to them that this is where,
04:15 you know, that babies come from mommy and daddy.
04:17 You don't have to tell them more than that.
04:19 When they get older then you can progress with more information.
04:22 You know, it's strange, I remember when I was
04:27 a kid way back, I don't remember what age but I was young.
04:31 And I did ask my mom that question, but you don't
04:34 want to hear the answer she gave me.
04:35 She told me I came by plane, a plane dropped me off.
04:39 Now we have long passed that age and what we're saying to parents
04:45 is that, be honest, be truthful, be upfront.
04:50 Just be age appropriate how you carry on this discussion.
04:54 Now as a child gets older, say in going to 5 and 6,
04:58 they begin to model adult behavior.
05:02 So it's not unusual to find them playing house.
05:05 Playing, you know, the boy acting dad.
05:07 And if it's just two sisters or more, one will be the father
05:10 and the other will be the mother.
05:11 And the whole idea is, they see these role distinctions
05:15 and they begin to play this out in their relationship.
05:18 And that's the stage where you observe to see whether they're
05:22 interpretation of the roles are even clear.
05:24 And you might use it as a teachable moment.
05:28 And you do have gender socialization here
05:31 and gender identity.
05:33 Because girls stay with girls and boys with boys.
05:39 And the girls don't want the boys to come over,
05:41 and the boys, you know, it's like "whoa".
05:44 It's amazing how the next stage, though, is played out
05:48 where the direct opposite happens.
05:51 At that stage, by the time the child gets to be about
05:53 8 or 9 years old, now they begin to be a little more sensitive
05:58 or there's an affinity between boys and girls
06:02 and they begin to notice that they like to be in the presence.
06:06 Cross gender socialization is taking place at that stage.
06:10 And they become more self conscious.
06:13 How they dress, how they appear.
06:15 And don't you see also at this stage they want some,
06:20 kind of to be exclusive, privacy, in getting dressed
06:24 and things like that?
06:25 That is very normal. And rightly so.
06:28 Now we move on because the child is growing up.
06:32 And I'm sure as you are listening, we're going to
06:35 touch at one stage or another, if you have children,
06:37 where your children are.
06:39 The 10 to the 12 year olds, now these individuals,
06:43 this is where puberty begins.
06:46 The age of discovery now.
06:48 At this stage, it is where, yes, menarche for girls begins
06:53 and boys begin to have nocturnal emissions, etc.
06:57 And what tends to happen at that stage is, it is critical
07:01 that the parent prepares a child for this
07:03 so they don't get there and wonder, "Oh my goodness,
07:05 what's happening here?"
07:06 The little girl should know, this is what's going to happen
07:09 and this is what you do when it happens.
07:11 And the little boy should know, or the young man should know,
07:13 this is what's going to happen soon.
07:15 So there should be no discovery, you're saying, at this stage.
07:20 There should be no surprises.
07:21 Or surprises.
07:22 The parents should prepare their children.
07:24 But what if I'm uncomfortable, you know.
07:30 Because you have to understand, you have different parents.
07:33 Some of them are young parents, teenage parents, whatever it is.
07:38 But what if I'm uncomfortable myself to talk to my child?
07:42 Can I make an excuse to say, "Well, I'm better off
07:46 not saying anything than not to say the right thing. "
07:49 If you're uncomfortable talking to your child about
07:51 their sexuality, then you might want to give the child a book
07:55 that they can read that explains it well.
07:57 Or you might want to have somebody else speak with
08:01 the child, maybe your sister or an uncle or an aunt.
08:05 Somebody who is an appropriate person who should explain
08:08 to the child what is likely to happen.
08:10 But we want to give a word of caution here.
08:15 Personally, we don't like when parents give up
08:18 their parental role.
08:20 We would prefer if you would go read a book, if you go ask
08:23 some questions, practice in the basement, practice on a chair,
08:27 practice when you're alone in the bedroom,
08:29 what to say, how to say it.
08:31 And then come and talk to your children.
08:33 We really don't like when you have to give up your
08:35 parental role because that's your job.
08:37 That's what you're to do.
08:38 But we're saying, the least of the two options would be then
08:43 to get help from a family member.
08:45 But be very careful who that family member is.
08:48 Someone that you can really, really trust and there won't be
08:52 any repercussions afterwards.
08:54 Yes, because as we know, the world is not a safe place.
08:56 And sometimes we place our children in very vulnerable
09:00 positions when we negate our our role and somebody
09:04 else fills that in.
09:05 And sometimes children get exploited in the process.
09:08 Well, now we come to the challenging age group
09:13 where you reach 13 years of age and beyond.
09:17 This is the age where quite a lot of physical changes
09:20 are taking place now with the boys and with the girls.
09:24 Let's talk with the boys first and the physical changes
09:26 that are taking place and how they feel and how they act.
09:29 Because you'll agree, this is a challenging period
09:32 for the parent now.
09:33 This is usually the difficult point.
09:36 You know, that are lots of other dimensions that we could
09:39 mention, but we don't want to make this too academic.
09:41 So just to keep it simple, the adolescent phase of development
09:46 is where some people describe as the crisis years.
09:50 And that tends to create conflicts in families
09:54 because the little person is shedding the child years
09:59 and now emerging into this new phase of their development.
10:02 And at the same time psychologically and emotionally
10:04 that is happening, there are physical changes occurring.
10:08 And they don't quite understand that.
10:10 So they get caught between being a child and
10:12 being treated like a child, but at the same time
10:14 being expected to be more mature.
10:17 And that creates a lot of trauma sometimes
10:20 for the young adolescent.
10:22 And the girls now, they now start seeing some physical signs
10:27 and they start feeling like a woman.
10:30 And they sometimes have a change in attitude.
10:33 But for the parent, don't parents have to also
10:38 grow and gradualize rules and boundaries, and make them
10:44 age appropriate so that what you require of your, say 7 year old
10:48 or 8 or 9 year old, now you have a teenager, you have to
10:53 change those rules and make them still age appropriate.
10:56 Yeah, the rules have to be age appropriate,
10:57 and at all stages of the child's development.
11:00 But you also want to know that sexuality is not
11:02 something that is silent.
11:04 You're constantly coming into your sense of who you are.
11:07 And the values you have been taught within the way you
11:10 socialize around, being comfortable with your body and
11:12 being comfortable with your own sense of self and who you are,
11:16 will weigh heavily on how you perform, how you behave
11:19 in an intimate relationship.
11:21 And parents must understand that at this stage now,
11:25 to some extent, they're loosing some control because
11:29 peer pressure is taking over.
11:31 And they will find that their children are leaning more
11:34 towards their friends and are listening more to their friends
11:38 than to them.
11:39 And sometimes that creates dissidence.
11:41 There is a difficult state that occurs where the parent
11:45 is losing power, and at the same time,
11:48 the child needs the parent.
11:50 So there's this dual relationship that exists.
11:53 But the child is still a child and you still
11:56 need to be the parent.
11:57 So although they act like they're grown up and they
11:59 know so much, they really don't.
12:01 They're only 14 or 15, or even 18.
12:03 And you want to give them information, you want to
12:06 parent them, provide the resources that they need
12:08 to gradualize and grow into this young adult
12:11 where they're heading.
12:13 And make sure you model appropriate behavior.
12:15 And this is the stage when a teenager has an increased
12:20 interest in intimacy.
12:21 So that parents should not surrender their right
12:26 to talk to their child about sexuality.
12:29 Because at this stage now, they want more,
12:31 they want to hear more, and their friends are providing,
12:35 sometimes, inappropriate information.
12:36 The reality is that the adolescent age, the adolescent
12:40 is not necessarily talking to the parent.
12:42 So hopefully, the parent did the job before,
12:44 where the child understands what's about to happen
12:46 and where they're heading.
12:47 So they are now able to make right choices and good judgment.
12:51 We're talking about talking to your child about sex.
12:56 We have a lot more coming up.
12:58 We want to share with you some sexual myths,
13:01 and most of all, what can parents do.
13:04 If you feel incapable, if you're not able to handle it,
13:08 or you're having problems, what can you do?
13:10 We're going to go into those areas in our second part.
13:13 We want you to be with us.
13:14 We have some exciting things coming up.
13:16 You will love it.
13:17 Thank you for watching and remember, part two is coming up.
13:20 Don't go away, stay right there because we'll be right back.
13:24 We'll be back.
13:33 There are many "How To" book available,
13:35 but there's one that's free and perfect for every couple.
13:38 "How You Can Build A Better Marriage"
13:40 Bible-based matrimonial advice is given in a light-hearted
13:45 easy to read manner for those contemplating marriage,
13:47 newlyweds, couples in their golden years,
13:50 and everyone in between.
13:52 Simply call or write for your free copy.
14:05 Welcome back to Marriage In God's Hands.
14:08 Alanzo and I have been talking about, how do you talk
14:12 to your child about sexuality.
14:14 Well, we have shared some of the issues relating to the
14:19 child at each stage of the development of the child.
14:23 Now I have some sexual myths that I want to share with you
14:28 and get your reaction on it.
14:30 The first one says, sex education and sexual knowledge
14:35 increases sexual activity.
14:38 That's actually a myth.
14:39 If you talk to your child about sex, that's not going to
14:43 drive your child to have sex.
14:45 What you are trying to do is to prepare your child,
14:48 to help them to understand; what is sex,
14:51 that sex is a gift from God, that sex is designed
14:55 for marriage, and that the child understands
14:59 that they are a sexual being, the they have urges and
15:03 hormones that will create certain responses
15:06 and certain feelings, and that they should
15:08 be prepared to handle this.
15:09 So like everything else in the child's development,
15:12 you want to inoculate this child with information
15:15 so that they can behave appropriately.
15:19 Okay, here's another one.
15:20 If you tell your child too much about sexual issues,
15:25 they will become confused and they will get upset.
15:30 Now again, if your child is younger than an adolescent,
15:35 you want to speak to them according to their age.
15:40 So you don't want to give them more information
15:42 than they can conceptualize and that they can understand.
15:45 So if they ask questions, use it as a teachable moment.
15:48 Don't tell them, "You shouldn't be asking that. "
15:51 Or don't tell them, you know, this is inappropriate.
15:54 Now if the child says something that is clearly promiscuous,
15:57 you should use it as a cue, because if your child is
16:02 young and they're talking about sexual explicit information,
16:06 it is a sign that this child could be exposed
16:10 to harmful material like pornography,
16:13 or maybe even being molested.
16:14 So you want to be alert to some of those cue's.
16:18 But if your child is innocently asking you about,
16:21 you know, where babies come from or what their genitals are,
16:24 etcetera, use appropriate language and explain to them
16:27 in very simple terms, babies come from mommy and daddy.
16:31 And when they're older, you can tell them more.
16:34 And as they go to school, they will learn about biology
16:36 and how their bodies work.
16:37 And it will all come together.
16:39 June, I hear you saying that and I'm in agreement with you.
16:43 But there are some of our listeners out there who feel,
16:48 honestly feel that they should wait until their child
16:53 comes to them, then they will tell them.
16:56 Well, you might think that but the reality is
17:01 sometimes your child will not come to you.
17:03 And what that does is it predisposes them to get
17:07 information from inappropriate sources.
17:10 Because they are going to come up on sexual information or
17:13 information about sex whether it is from the media,
17:17 or it is from their friends, or other places.
17:20 So you want to make sure that they have the right information.
17:23 And you, therefore, want to have the discussion
17:27 at the different stages of their development
17:29 so they can be prepared.
17:30 For example, as a girl is coming into menarche,
17:32 you don't want to wait until she starts to have her period
17:35 to say this is what's going to happen.
17:36 She should know what is going to happen,
17:38 how her body works, because she's able to
17:40 understand that at that stage.
17:42 But that's not a conversation you'd have with a 4 year old.
17:46 Now I'm a parent and I didn't study or take any course on
17:53 sexual education and anything like that.
17:56 So I don't have all the answers, at least I don't think
18:01 I have all the answers.
18:02 But I feel that I should have all the answers
18:07 before I'm in a position to be able to speak to my child
18:12 and to answer those questions.
18:13 Is that a myth that I believe I should have all the answers
18:16 before I can touch this topic?
18:19 In the first place, no one has all the answers.
18:21 But you don't have to wait until you think you know
18:25 what you need to know in order to speak with your child.
18:28 In other words, you should educate yourself.
18:32 Read as much as you can, talk to people who you
18:35 think might know more.
18:36 But become knowledgeable about the conversations
18:38 that you should have with your son and with your daughter.
18:41 Because they do need to hear mom and dad talk about...
18:44 And it shouldn't be just coming from mom.
18:46 It should also be coming from dad.
18:47 Mom's can't prepare boys to be men.
18:50 And nor father's prepare girls to be women.
18:55 Sometimes they have to do their best based on the circumstances.
18:59 But that's why God gave us two parents, and each one
19:02 has a specific role to play.
19:04 And we're talking about the rule rather than the exception.
19:08 Okay, parents, I have to commend those of you who are
19:14 doing a good job in talking to your children about
19:18 sexual activities and their sexuality.
19:21 It's important, it's vital.
19:23 As Christians, that's part of your Christian obligation.
19:26 And so I commend those of you who are doing it.
19:29 But I'm cognizant of the fact, as a clinician dealing with
19:32 parents and children, I am aware of the fact that
19:35 some parents are not doing it, some parents are
19:38 intimidated, are afraid.
19:40 So we would like to talk now to you, those parents who
19:43 are not doing it or are afraid of doing it.
19:48 What can you do? What can parents do?
19:51 And the first thing we want to say to you is, don't panic.
19:55 Stay calm, stay cool. Be in control of yourself.
20:00 And just talk to your child naturally.
20:03 And don't act as if this is a crisis or this is some
20:06 hidden secret or some mystery that you have to...
20:09 No, be calm in talking to your child about their sexuality.
20:13 But in staying calm, remember to be age appropriate.
20:19 That's important.
20:20 It is also important to start early.
20:23 Start to have your child understand what is
20:28 appropriate behavior at each stage of their development.
20:31 So you teach them how to protect themselves against
20:35 unwanted touches.
20:36 Anything that makes them uncomfortable should be
20:39 something that they should report to you.
20:40 You teach them the appropriate language
20:43 to describe their genitalia, for example.
20:45 So the child understands, this is a natural normal part of
20:48 my anatomy, and it's okay.
20:50 I can talk about it.
20:51 So you should have these conversations ongoing
20:55 and continuously so the child knows, this is a normal thing
20:58 I can talk to my parents about.
20:59 And as they get older, they won't be intimidated
21:02 to come with more complicated questions.
21:04 And you know, as you said that, parents should be
21:08 in touch with their own sexuality.
21:11 Because if they're uncomfortable with the word sex,
21:15 if they're uncomfortable with talking about the issue,
21:18 and sometimes it's because of how they were socialized
21:21 that creates this level of discomfort,
21:24 if they are uncomfortable, then it makes it more difficult
21:28 for them to talk to their children.
21:29 So we're saying, parents, that you have to get in touch
21:32 with your true self and be comfortable
21:35 with your own sexuality.
21:36 And that indicates that you should have appropriate display
21:40 of sexual behavior.
21:43 For example, a child should observe their parents
21:47 holding hands or hugging each other or kissing each other
21:51 in a way that is appropriate.
21:53 So the child knows this is a normal thing that happens
21:56 between intimate partners and that it's okay to see
21:59 mom and dad hugging.
22:01 Of course, you should have boundaries
22:04 and there should be very clear limits on the disclosure
22:09 and exposure to sexually explicit behavior or material.
22:13 So tied to what June is saying, parents, is that you should
22:18 establish appropriate intimate boundaries.
22:23 There comes a time when a father and daughter
22:28 should not be in the same room dressing
22:32 or in the bathroom doing things together.
22:36 There comes a time when you have to be appropriate
22:39 in your relationship with your child.
22:41 The fact that it is your child, you should still
22:44 create boundaries.
22:46 And it's not appropriate that mothers should be having a
22:51 shower with her son beyond a childhood stage.
22:55 There comes a time when that shouldn't happen.
22:58 Or sleeping with the child.
23:00 These are just things that, you know, create situations
23:05 that could lead to other kinds of inappropriate behavior.
23:09 So you want to start it early.
23:10 Get the child in a separate space so they know
23:13 that they have their own space and if anyone else should
23:16 intrude on them, then they know to report it to their parents.
23:20 You should also establish appropriate boundaries.
23:24 We're having difficulty with children being molested.
23:29 Most times, they're molested by some significant other,
23:34 someone they know.
23:35 Sometimes, someone right there in the family.
23:38 So parents, you have to be on guard.
23:40 It is your right and your responsibility to create
23:46 the protection that is necessary for your child.
23:49 So you must have adequate supervision for your child
23:53 at all times.
23:54 Many children are left to the media.
23:57 They are left after school by themselves.
24:00 They watch inappropriate material, whether it is on
24:04 HBO or wherever they get this information.
24:07 And so parents must be vigilant in screening the access to,
24:12 whether the computer or the television, so that your child
24:16 is not taking in some of that filth that exist on
24:21 some of these media.
24:22 It is just a very sad thing to know that there's so many
24:26 predators, sexual predators, that are available right there
24:30 in your house through the computer.
24:32 And if you're not aware of that as parents, it could be like
24:36 you're throwing your child into the streets
24:38 or into a night club some place.
24:40 So parents really have to work overtime to make sure that
24:44 they're safeguarding their children against malice evil.
24:47 I have this question that I want to ask you.
24:50 And I'm sure my listeners would be interested in the answer.
24:54 Should there be sexual secrets between a parent and a child?
25:01 There should be no secrets between a parent and a child.
25:06 If a parent were to touch a child in their private parts
25:10 and say, this is a secret between mommy and her son,
25:14 or daddy and his daughter, that is not acceptable.
25:17 And if you're a child and you're being touched
25:20 or being molested in any way by your parents
25:22 or anyone else, that is not right.
25:26 That is not acceptable and you need to tell somebody.
25:30 Tell your pastor, tell your teacher,
25:33 your counselor, someone.
25:34 But no one should be touching you in your private parts.
25:38 And parents, this is what you're to say to your children.
25:42 You're to let them know that they are to have no
25:45 sexual secrets between you and them.
25:48 When someone says to them, "Okay, we're going to have this
25:51 secret between us and we're going to do this,"
25:53 and they given them cookies and what have you,
25:55 take them places, tell your children, get it in their head,
26:00 everything you must tell your daddy,
26:03 everything you must tell your mommy.
26:04 There should be no secrets.
26:07 Drill that in them so that they know, if anything happens,
26:12 God forbid, we don't want anything to happen to
26:14 your children, but God forbid, if something should happen,
26:17 they must know that they are to come to you.
26:19 I think another important thing is that it is still okay
26:22 to teach your child to abstain from sex before marriage.
26:26 While it is true that a large percentage of young people,
26:30 in fact now, it says it begins in the younger grades,
26:34 it's not unusual to have 7th and 8th graders
26:37 start becoming sexually active.
26:39 You may not necessarily have intercourse occurring,
26:41 but you have all of this other abnormal behavior,
26:44 whether it is oral sex or anal sex or some of these
26:46 perverted things happening.
26:48 Young people, Christ expects you to keep your
26:52 bodies as His temple.
26:53 And you might be going to school where your peers
26:56 have an open market where these things are happening.
26:58 It is not right.
27:00 And if that's going on in your world, in your life,
27:03 you really need to talk to somebody about it.
27:05 So we just can't emphasize enough how important
27:09 it is to teach your child that it is okay to be a virgin
27:14 and to remain pure, and to stay faithful to God
27:18 until you're married.
27:20 Parents, re-enforce Biblical teachings, Biblical principles,
27:26 in your children and live those Biblical principles
27:30 that they can see.
27:31 Let them know that Timothy says, "flee youthful lusts,"
27:36 that Paul says they're to abstain from fornication.
27:40 And the Bible clearly states the body is not for fornication.
27:44 We have to go back to the basics.
27:45 We have to go back to the word of God.
27:47 It is your duty to teach your child about their sexuality.
27:51 But also put it in a spiritual context.
27:54 That's what God wants you to do.
27:56 Happy parenting.
27:58 May God bless you; you and your family, and your children.