Innocent Not Ignorant: The Importance of Little Talks
Guest blog post written by Chris Yadon, Executive Director
Have you ever had a parent victory moment? It is one of those times when your kid does something that shows they are listening to you – that you are having a positive impact on them. Your chest swells with all sorts of positive feelings.
I had one of those moments the other day. I was watching a college football game with my 10-year-old son. A commercial came on about erectile dysfunction. There was a line in the commercial that encouraged you to check with your doctor to decide if your heart is healthy enough to have sex. My son looked over at me with a shy look and a little grin and said, “Dad, are they talking about THAT?” With a warm smile, I said, “Yes, they are talking about THAT.”
You may be thinking to yourself, “How is that a victory? It just sounds uncomfortable.” It was a victory moment because my son felt comfortable enough with me to engage in a little talk about healthy sexual development. He was a little shy about it, but he wasn’t ashamed or afraid. At that moment, I knew that, at least to this point in his life, we had open communication about sexuality.
Consider the alternative. Let’s say he didn’t feel comfortable. At age 10, he’s probably heard something about sex from somebody, somewhere. Even if he doesn’t understand the details, he knows enough to be curious. That curiosity could easily drive him to ask a friend about sex or, even worse, ask Google. The last thing I want is him googling erectile dysfunction or sex. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
In past generations, keeping our kids ignorant of sex was a possibility. One might argue that the best way to defend their innocence is to maintain their ignorance until they are older. But that’s not possible in our current world. Our kids are going to run across sexuality somewhere. Maybe it will be on the playground, maybe while doing a school assignment online, or maybe while watching college football on a Saturday afternoon.
Kids will turn to parents who have had ongoing, age-appropriate dialogue with their kids about sexuality. The parents will be there in those impromptu moments to provide accurate, healthy information about sexual development. And, in time, it won’t be awkward or confusing for them or their kids.
One of the best ways to defend the innocence of our children is to give age-appropriate education through a lot of little talks. This gives them a sense of safety and confidence. Defending a child’s ignorance is not defending innocence.
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