A few years ago, my daughters and I were strolling around Grandpa's farm. We inspected the delicate blossoms on the apple trees, picked some dandelions and touched the tiny blades of wheat just poking through the ground. We also walked down to the pasture to watch the cattle graze. I was explaining something to the girls when I heard one of my daughters say, "Papa, look! Those cows are stacking."
I chuckled, knowing that my daughter had no idea what was actually happening. In her mind, the cattle were playing. Still, the occasion allowed me to begin to explain the beauty of God's design to my children.
Beginning the conversation
I wasn't explicit. I simply shared that both the bull and the cow were needed to make those delightful little calves frolicking in the grass. From there I was able to explain how the same is true for human families. We talked about the unique and important roles men and women play when it comes to creating a family.
Young children don't need to know all the details. They do need to understand that men and women play essential but different roles in God's plan for new life. This can be as simple as saying that daddies make mommies pregnant and mommies have babies.
Using each opportunity
Before my son was born, I had four chattering little girls in the house. Sometimes they would get confused and call me Mama. This was an opportunity for me to explain to them how I was different from Mama, but how both of us loved them and helped to bring them into the world.
They understood about Mama getting pregnant, because they were able to watch her belly grow during pregnancy and then meet their new brother after he was born. They were less sure about how Papa helped make the baby.
We talked about the sperm and egg joining together, but waited until they were older to explain how it all worked. "The Talk" isn't a one-time conversation. It's an ongoing discussion between children and parents that can begin when they're very young and set the stage for a biblical understanding of sex.
Pointing to our Father
If you are a single parent, be prepared for challenging but innocent questions about a missing parent. See the questions as opportunities to talk about life in a fallen world and our need for a Savior. All parents should readily acknowledge their insufficiencies and point children back to their heavenly Father, who loves them with an everlasting love.
I've discovered that parenting is full of challenging conversations with my children. And teaching them about sex can feel awkward. Yet, there's no one right time or one right way to begin these discussions. So I have tried to embrace each moment I get to teach my children a godly perspective on human sexuality.
Talking points for parents of 2- to 3-year-olds
For children not yet 4 years old, basic is best. Here is what you can cover about this topic:
God made families and called them very good.
Talk to your children about God's beautiful plan for humans. Discuss His formation of the first family—Adam and Eve—and how it was good. Even though much in life falls short of God's design, teach about God's ideal and emphasize His grace and forgiveness.
God uses daddies and mommies to create babies.
God gave men and women different bodies that work together to create a baby. Talk about the gift of being able to help create a new life.
Mommies get pregnant.
God made women's bodies to protect and nurture a developing baby. Emphasize the joy and beauty connected with caring for a baby in the womb. Read Psalm 139:13-14 together and talk about how God's care for humans begins in the womb.
A mommy and daddy are both needed to make a baby.
Our culture challenges the most basic foundations of family and human life. Help your child understand God's design and the value of both men and women in creating and nurturing a child.
Reinforcing through an activity
Gather books (or find pictures or videos online) that show how different animal parents take care of their young. Talk about how both the animal mommies and daddies are needed to create the baby and their roles in caring for their young. Next, talk about human mommies and daddies. Reinforce that it takes both a daddy and a mommy to have a baby. Then spend some time drawing pictures with your child that show different stages of your family. Drawings could depict Mommy and Daddy getting married, Mommy with a baby bump, Mommy and Daddy bringing a baby home from the hospital and a family picture with multiple children. Talk about some of the ways moms and dads care for their children.
Setting the foundation
For young children, the world is brimming with wonder. They may find the story of babies being delivered by storks just as believable as the reality of God using mommies and daddies to create new life. But teaching them the truth about where babies come from can set a firm foundation you can build upon throughout their childhood.Daniel Weiss founded The Brushfires Foundation to renew the Christian vision of the whole person and help people apply this vision to their daily lives.