Custom CSS of Section contains Conditional Preview for See Life Campaign Elements

Healthy Childhood Sexual Development

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Serr Novik/iStock/Thinkstock; models for illustrative purposes only
This four-part series is designed to help you chart a course that will nurture and fortify your child's sexual development.

The healthy development of our children is something we all desire. That which begins in the womb as a result of our love and affection, possesses gender, personality, and inestimable value. As parents, we, too, are in ongoing development, learning to cooperate with God’s design for the family. We can do this more effectively if we have an overall plan. Even more, we need to begin with the end in mind – what do we want for our children, and why?

This four-part series is designed to help you chart a course that will nurture and fortify your child’s sexual development. Believing that God has designed us male and female, it can enlighten us to realize that the sexual union in marriage is a foretaste of the spiritual connection between Christ and His Church. Had we understood this dynamic truth earlier in our own lives, perhaps we would have made better choices along the way. Now, however, we can equip the next generation with this knowledge and strategies that serve them from the cradle to the grave.

Each section follows a format designed to equip you, the parent. And as you might expect, each unit builds upon the previous one. I’ve also designed this curriculum in a way that helps integrate or harmonize the body, mind, and spirit of your child by applying my Iceberg approach to childhood sexual development.

Of course, your older children may be in the latter stages, so you’ll not only want to follow what’s recommended for that particular age group, but review each of the earlier stages and unpack them according to your child’s particular needs. Sensitivity for not only your child’s age, but also his personality, and life experience is critically important. No two children are the same, so tailor the units to your family’s precise needs.

Finally, I’ve chosen to emphasize child sexual development within the larger context of spirituality. More than just coaching you on “the talk” about the birds and the bees, I want to equip you to enter a lifelong mentoring relationship with your child.

Here’s our overall mission: to prepare your child’s body, mind, and spirit so that he or she developmentally embraces God’s gift of sexuality with greater understanding and integrity. With this rewarding and challenging mission in mind, let’s get started.

This curriculum is written for Christian parents who wish to integrate their faith with practical lessons for their children. To that end, I’d like to help you to think about sexual development not just in terms of what is healthy or unhealthy, but in terms of what pleases God. We want our children to go beyond sexually moral behavior and be whole in body, mind, and spirit. This sense of wholeness is summed up in the word integrity.

How shall we define sexual health and development?

Let’s think about how we can define sexual integrity. For example, how did your family of origin define sexual integrity? Were the standards the same for males and females, or was there a “boys will be boys” or “good girls don’t” mentality? What about your culture and its definition of sexual integrity? Did you grow up in the United States during the sexual revolution of the sixties or in China during the Cultural Revolution? Each society and era attempts to redefine what is appropriate and inappropriate – often without any concern for God or the Bible.

We also need to think about how we define sexual integrity as individuals. For example, your total experience as a male or female, where you lived, what you were taught, your sexual history, and a variety of other variables have shaped your personal definition of sexual integrity. None of us embrace everything we were taught either. Often it’s what was caught that has shaped our thinking the most.

The single most important question for us to ask is, “How does God define sexual integrity?” As Christians, we affirm that He created us and knows how we function best. He has fashioned us to acquire numerous age-appropriate tasks throughout life, and, likewise, He also designed our sexual development to occur sequentially in an integrated physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual manner.

As a father of two young children and as a therapist specializing in sexual health, I believe that our strategy toward our kids’ sexual development needs to be comprehensive. With this goal in mind, here’s a list of questions to help you process your thoughts and questions about sexuality, including choices and circumstances:

  • Is it biblical?
  • Is it Christ-affirming?
  • Is it timeless?
  • Is it separate from the “world”?
  • Is it equally sensitive to both males and females?
  • Is it service oriented?
  • Is it grounded in authentic intimacy?
  • Is it purposeful?
  • Is it connected to one’s faith and spirituality?
  • Is it inspired by direction?
  • Is it visionary for future generations?
  • Finally, and most importantly, does the sexual choice or behavior reflect the spousal analogy found throughout Scripture, which teaches Jesus is the bridegroom of the Church?

Biblical principles

Principle-centered thinking is the main goal I hope to encourage throughout this series. As a Christian writing for Christians, I want to emphasize principles drawn from God’s Word. As my pastor said last Sunday, “Christianity is a relationship (with God) with helpful guidelines, not a religion of rules with a little relationship thrown in on the side.”

Here are three principles that guide my thinking:

  • God is responsible for the creation of our sexuality.
  • God as Creator knows how we function best.
  • He alone is worthy of setting the standard for how we express our sexuality.

God’s mandate: a closer look into his heart

If we’re going to shepherd our children’s sexual development, we need to seek God’s heart, not only about sex, but about the specific children (future adults, no less) He has entrusted to our care. As we think about God’s plan for sexuality, we begin by affirming marriage — a unique, sexual relationship God established even before the church. He has empowered us as males and females to express sexuality in gender-specific ways, and has placed those expressions in the sacred context of marriage.

Even as imperfect human beings, we have the privilege of emulating Christ and the church. We want our boys to learn that they will be a type of Christ to their future wives, and our daughters will be a type of the Church to their husbands. We need to plan now for what they are becoming in their development throughout life.

Paul called marriage “a great mystery,” and then he said he was really talking about Christ and the Church. Here, we parents have the ultimate romance that informs us of how we are to model the good stuff in the presence of our children.

Whatever you glean from this curriculum, I want you to remember this one thing: we can’t teach our children what we don’t model, and a loving, intimate relationship between two parents strengthens our children’s sexual health and integrity.

Opposition

I believe that God’s mandate for sexually healthy Christians is obvious and winsome. He wants us to have meaningful marriages with sensitive sex, which teach couples inexpressible lessons of intimacy. But God has an enemy that not only hates Him, but His people and His purposes.

As a young therapist I used to say that if I were Satan for a day, I’d direct my demons to inspire the sexual abuse of children — mostly by men who are entrusted as the spiritual head of the home. I said this because sexual abuse injures the trust and attachability of children to their parents and other adults, and a single act of abuse can effect future generations profoundly.

We now know that childhood sex abuse often recreates itself as sexual promiscuity in later years — a problem that faces many of our older children even into their adulthood. It seems to me that sexual sin begets sexual sin, and each sin is the enemy’s counterfeit. In my profession, this return to behaviors that continue to wound us is called trauma reenactment. Injured people often unknowingly continue to seek out the very type of behavior or experience that once wounded them.

Sex is a great thing, which God designed to benefit married men and women. It’s so good, in fact, that sexuality is the area Satan seems to target the most. As a colleague of mine says, enemies at war rarely bomb the cornfields, but rather the arsenals. God’s enemy clearly knows where to attack us. He knows that the sexual health and development of our children can be arrested through sexual trauma, affecting their bodies, minds, and spirits. And because sexuality and spirituality are inextricably linked in God’s design, to damage a child sexually is to damage him spiritually.

With this important connection in mind, we can better grasp God’s cares about every aspect of our lives. His precepts flow from a heart full of desire to safeguard us, not only our sexuality, but in our total being. He wants us, in every situation, to be to practice His presence and enjoy Him.

Checkpoints

I know this material and the approach I’m suggesting is a lot to take in. It may be the first time you’ve considered sexuality within the context of spirituality. So permit me to offer four checkpoints that I encourage you to share with your children. Because our young children think in concrete terms, these ideas (and the rest of this curriculum) will have to be taught often to them in ways they can understand.

  1. The foundation for sexual health and integrity is loving God and finding satisfaction in His spiritual beauty.
  2. Sexual integrity can’t be properly motivated or maintained by teaching prohibitions and threatening negative consequences.
  3. Jesus said, simply, “If you love me, keep my commandments” and this applies to every facet of Christian life.
  4. When we sin sexually (or in other ways), it is God’s kindness that leads us to change, not only our behaviors, but our character.

Truths and Assumptions

Before we launch into the four stages of childhood sexual development, I’d like to list some basic truths and assumptions that will apply not only to your children’s lives but to yours.

  • No one wants a bad marriage or divorce.
  • Research has shown greater sexual satisfaction within monogamous marriages.
  • Cohabitation increases the likelihood of divorce.
  • Sex is designed to bond a man and woman in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ways.
  • Sex outside of marriage is robbery (The Bible teaches that Christians don’t own themselves therefore can’t give themselves away sexually).
  • Sex within marriage is restorative.
  • Sex addiction is a preventable, developmental disorder (as is homosexuality, which is not necessarily a sex addiction).
  • There is a dynamic, God-placed link between sexuality and spirituality.
  • When raising our children, we must begin with the end in mind.

Learning to Cope

Sexual development is designed to occur over time without injury or interruption. However, we live in a fallen world where the ideal is not possible. As your child develops sexually there are some factors that lead to the development of at-risk behaviors. If your child or family system has experienced any of the following conditions, it will be easier to address them now before you start seeing behavioral symptoms.

  • Genetics – is your family prone to addictions in general?
  • Environment – has your child been exposed to pornography or sex play?
  • Trauma – has your child experienced significant traumas like sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse?

Depending on your unique circumstances, it may be helpful to have a few sessions with a therapist. For example, if your child has experienced the loss of a parent through death or divorce, this injury needs special care. Or if your child has an older sibling who is already showing signs of sexual reactivity or poor conduct, a therapist can help you to discuss what’s appropriate with your younger child.

I know of few other topics that carry the significance of sexuality. After all, each of us exists because two people came together in a sexual union. A proper understanding of sexuality helps explain God and us. So, let’s get started and see how we can unpack these great and glorious truths for our children.

Understanding the Four Stages of Childhood Sexual Development and Integrity

Each stage of development will review a foundation for the approach taken, one or more goals and target areas, a discussion of what’s normal, age-related tasks for your child, tips on how to foster your child’s development, what to avoid, and what to do if you’re concerned about your child’s development. And as you might expect, each stage will build upon prior stages so that you have a comprehensive plan that will round out your efforts to grow a healthy adult.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Emerson-Eggerich4-840w

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Biblical Marriage

Why I Care About Your Sex Life … And so Should You

Healthy sexual intimacy correlates with an overall strong relationship. But it’s about more than you and your spouse having a good time in bed. It is a central aspect of a holy metaphor.

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 6: Families Helping Families!

So, after all you’ve seen through the SeeLife ‘21 Episodic journey; what can you do now? We’ll share how you can partner with some amazing organizations that are making significant impacts in the pro-life movement! You want to Celebrate Life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 2: Heroes Providing Hope

Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!