Reclaiming the giftedness of Human Sexuality
March 13, 2024
Listen to Him!
March 13, 2024

Have age-appropriate conversations with your children about sexuality

Educators and others attending the Human Sexuality Symposium were informed of four principles to guide conversations with children about sexuality.

Episcopal Delegate for the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC), Tricia Syms said parents are the first educators of children and have an inalienable right and duty to educate their children in sexuality.

“Each child is a unique and an unrepeatable persona and must receive individualised formation—each child’s process of maturation… is different…the most intimate aspects whether biological or emotional must be communicated in a personalised dialogue”. The parent is not only providing information, he/she is developing a relationship.

Clinical psychologist Alicia Hoyte advised the “moral dimension” must always be part of the explanation given by parents and teachers. Information on sex and sexuality should not be given without context.

“Parents should stress Christians are called to live the gift of sexuality, according to the plan of God, [which] is love, that is within the context of marriage or consecrated virginity and also celibacy,” she said.

Children must be offered truth and parents must insist on the positive value of chastity and its capacity to generate true love for other people.

Young children are curious about their bodies and will touch themselves, compare body parts and “play house”. They should not be repressed, shamed, punished, or ignored because parents do not know what to do.

“We need to be able to redirect our children so that they do not remain with the understanding that sex is shameful and their body something to be ashamed of,” Hoyte said. Children should also be taught about modesty.

Formation in chastity and timely information regarding sexuality must be provided in the broadest context of love. Information on sex and objective moral principles are not enough, constant attention is required for the child’s moral life.

Syms said children should be taught that their body is made by God and beautiful. The correct names should be used for body parts, and they need to be taught how to think critically and evaluate situations they are in.

She said children are being influenced by things on social media and questioned who was “debriefing them”. Parents should provide information with delicacy and clarity and at the appropriate time.

Hoyte said: “Simply a one-off lecture or one big talk and you tick it off your list you did that, or you have one conversation with your child at one age and you say you done talk about sex…as teachers, as coaches, as parents, we [are] looking for opportunities that come up and addressing an issue, a question”.

The child’s physiological and psychological development are considered when providing information. “Giving too many details is counter-productive or delaying the first information for too long is imprudent,” Hoyte said.

Fr Ragbir announced that Zoom sessions will be organised with a few professionals to respond to any questions educators have.

The Archdiocese is encouraging parishes to have two catechists and two persons from each Catholic primary school to receive training in the Theology of the Body. Fr Ragbir invited participation in courses offered by the Ruah Woods Institute.

Several other resources were listed: the Alive to the World programme, Boma-TT’s ‘Is love forever?’ and Teen STAR, the World Youth Alliance, Theology of the Body Institute, Fight the New Drug, the AFLC’s  EnCourage Ministry for families of persons with same-sex attraction.

A book club will start for parents and teachers on Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids by Gregory and Lisa Popcak.