The Importance of Understanding Your Children's Sexuality

As much as some parents would like to push the issue to the side, your children's sexuality is not an issue that can go lazily by without discussion. Whether you want to admit it or not, sexuality is part of your children's learning about themselves and who they are, and if you can't be a part of that growing process, your children will not have a healthy attitude about who they are sexually.
Whether your child is five or fifteen, they are going to ask questions about different aspects of their sexuality. For a young child that may be as different as asking why they look “different” than a child of the same age but different gender. This process of questioning is part of your children's sexuality, and the learning that is a part of their growing up and learning who they are sexually. They depend on you to guide them along the way and answer any questions they have, and if you fail to do that, you are failing them as a parent. To try to pretend that your children are not going to grow into sexual beings is to deny kids sexuality, and that is unhealthy to say the least. A child learns through asking questions, and a child needs to learn what to expect from life, and who he or she is going to be in five, ten, or fifteen years from now. Pretending that it doesn’t exist is not going to stop it from happening. Your son and daughter are still going to develop the physical features of manhood or womanhood whether you give them the facts about it or not, but it will be an easier transition into it if they can depend upon you as a parent providing the information they need.

Some parents have an easier time than others talking about children's sexuality with their offspring, and that doesn’t make them irresponsible as parents as long as they don’t allow it to stand in the way of providing children the information they need. If you aren’t able to discuss it with your children, encourage them to speak with an adult they trust, letting them understand that you just aren’t comfortable with the subject or don’t feel you have enough expertise to tell them everything they need to know at their age. For example, a three or four-year old who asks the common question, “Where do babies come from?” does not need to be told how the process of reproduction works or even given an insight into the sexual act. For those who believe in God, a simple, “God puts them here” will suffice, and for those who are of another faith or no faith, something of equally simple reply is all that is necessary. As children become older, they will want more detailed information, and that can be given as they ask the questions and in accordance to their age and level of understanding.

Children's sexuality begins as early as six months to one year, especially with males who begin to recognize the presence of their penis as they are bathed and take pleasure in playing with the organ. It is not something of concern, it is normal behavior, though not something you wish to encourage. This is the exploration stage of children's sexuality and requires no more than a gentle removal of their hand and a gentle, “No,” to discourage the behavior. You want to encourage the natural curiosity your children are going to have without condoning explorative behaviors such as the touching of their private parts. However normal it may be, to encourage it is to teach a child that the behavior is acceptable.

You, the parent, are solely responsible for the healthy development of your children’s sexuality, and if you aren’t sure how to do that, discuss it with your children’s pediatrician. Your children should be able to depend on you and not someone else to give them the information they need or as they become teenagers, they will get their sexual information from the worst place: the streets.
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