At what age should I start discussing topics like abortion and homosexuality with my children? They're still in elementary school, and I have no wish to violate their innocence any earlier than I have to. At the same time, I'm also aware that they've probably already encountered talk about these subjects. As I'm sure you can understand, I'd rather that they get their information from me than from the kids down the block or some other source. When should that begin?
It's good to hear that you're thinking seriously about having a heart-to-heart with your kids about abortion and homosexuality. A talk of this kind would fit most naturally into a "preparing for adolescence"-type discussion with pre-teens. We usually recommend that parents (or, ideally, the parent of the same sex) have a series of conversations about general sexual and maturational topics with their prepubescent boy or girl at about age ten or eleven. Some parents plan to do this during a special weekend away from home. That's a good way to avoid distractions. This would be a perfect time to broach such subjects as God's design for human sexuality, the close connection between sex and childbirth, the value of children, and the sanctity of human life.
You're probably right in supposing that your children have already been introduced to these issues in one way or another. Like it or not, we are living in a sex-saturated culture. Kids are often exposed to subjects of a sexual nature on the playground, in conversations with friends, on television, or over the Internet. This often happens no matter what we do to shield them. This means that you'll probably spend more time correcting faulty information than you will instructing your children in the basics.
Parents need to be prepared for this. If your kids approach you with questions, don't be afraid to give them straightforward answers. Do your best to use kid-friendly, age-appropriate explanations. You will know best how to tailor your responses to the specific needs and the maturity level of each individual child. Be honest, open, and direct. Don't overload them with information they haven't requested.
If you run into difficulties or find that you have additional questions, feel free to call our Counseling department for a free consultation.