I was fortunate that my parents sat down and had the “talk” with me in about third or fourth grade. It prepared me for the sixth grade when others started discussing the topic. And, by the time I’d entered high school, I was ready to ignore the cries of fellow high school girls that “this is just what the boys expect of you, and you need to give them what they expect.”
My husband, on the other hand, was not as fortunate as me. The third or fourth grade would not have been early enough for him. From the deeply mature and accountable age of five, he regularly heard boys talking on the bus about their crude perceptions of intimacy. This generated a misperception in his mind that later needed correcting.
I understand that this is a sensitive topic. It’s sacred and delicate. However, I’ve seen many LDS youths and young adults injured or confused because parents did not have “the talk” early on or clearly enough. Ideas seep through among boys that it is okay to misuse women for personal satisfaction. On the other end of the spectrum, some people incorrectly think that even in marriage sexuality is wrong or just for having kids.
If you wait too long, it may be too late.
This is my opinion: You need to talk to your boys about sexual intimacy early on, conveying your personal feelings regarding it. (Just as importantly, you need to talk with your daughters.)
Here is what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says about discussing sexual intimacy with your children:
Why Parents Should Discuss Sexual Intimacy
According to a recent New York Times Article, it is less common for parents to talk with their sons about intimacy, and they often don’t go as in-depth as they do when talking to daughters.
However, it is important for all youth to understand.
“We know that many parents are reticent to talk openly and plainly about this subject,” says a video on LDS.org.
“But especially in today’s world, where our youth are receiving so many toxic and distorting and outright fraudulent messages about human intimacy and the body, it’s never been more important.”
70% of all TV shows have sexuality. 90% of all top billboard songs have sexuality. Even in young adult literature, a new favorite genre exists called New Adult fiction, which essentially is YA fiction with graphic pornography.
It is a race–parents vs. media and friends. It is not a matter of if your kids will be told what to think about the topic from others; they will hear others’ views. However, you can teach them first what is correct.
Cub Scout leaders aren’t allowed and shouldn’t discuss this topic with youth. Teachers often may talk from a more unbiased standpoint or even state the opposite of what you feel.
It’s on you to discuss your viewpoints of intimacy with your boys (and girls). Of course, you want the timing to be right, which is a decision to make prayerfully. However, at any age, discussing the topic to some degree is important. Decide now what your Cub son is ready to learn.
What Should You Share About Intimacy
It starts with having a healthy relationship with your spouse. Children who see their parents share a kiss and hold hands, expressing love for one another, come to desire that sort of relationship for themselves.
It’s also important to have open communication in the home, so children feel comfortable asking personal questions.
These two elements are essential for children to understand why and what intimacy is for, according to a Mormon Channel video.
This is what the For Strength of Youth pamphlet teaches regarding sexual intimacy:
“Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife…Never do anything that could lead to sexual transgression. Treat others with respect, not as objects used to satisfy lustful and selfish desires.”
Whatever you discuss with your kids about sexuality, be clear, honest, and bold. Do not leave them feeling confused. Discuss intimacy based on readiness–even with children as young as one or two, you can address important things such as love and marriage.
Not approaching this topic can lead your child to experience abuse without knowing or understanding where he can turn for help. In the Scouting program, it’s required for parents to teach their sons Youth Protection right from the get go. Youth Protection includes the following points: Form a net. Check first. Trust your gut. Avoid secrets. Talk about touches.
To learn more about helping your child and other adults recognize and report sexual and other forms of abuse, go here. Please also teach them that if they are victims, they are not guilty.
Your children will learn about sexual intimacy from friends, media, and other sources. Talk to your Cub Scout aged son (or daughter) about sexual intimacy based on his readiness. It’s important!
Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council