The right and duty of parents to give sex education is essential
“The life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, since – although he is formed from the dust of the earth – man alone is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory… Man alone, among all visible creatures, is capable of knowing and loving his Creator.” Evangelium Vitae, # 34
The Irreplaceable Role of Parents
“The right and duty of parents to give sex education is essential.” The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, Pontifical Council for the Family
It is not easy for parents to take on this duty, because today it appears to be rather complex and in most cases it is not possible to refer to what one’s own parents did in this regard. Conscious of this, the Church wishes to encourage parents and give them confidence in their vital and irreplaceable role. Having brought their children into life, parents are their first teachers and they remain the main teachers, especially when it comes to formation in sexuality
Children live what they see, and they need their parents to be good role models, to share their values and beliefs. Some aspects of sexuality cannot be imparted as factual information but are absorbed over a long period, from the example of others. Other adults can help, but no one can replace a loving parent when it comes to conveying the intimate mysteries of life and love. “Parents know their children in their uniqueness and they possess the secrets and resources of true love”. Parents know their children’s unique needs and characteristics. They are in the ideal position to gauge when a child is ready to learn about delicate matters and to impart only what the child is ready to absorb at a particular time.
Sexuality is not something purely biological, “rather it concerns the intimate nucleus of the person.” Sexuality is not just about our body, but about the whole person, the way we see ourselves, the way we experience life as a male or female, and the way we express this in our body, mind and spirit. Our sexuality is sacred.
“For sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person – body, emotions and soul – and it manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love.” Familiaris Consortio, #37
Human Beings: Unique in all Creation
Children need to learn from their parents what a human person is and for what purpose we have been created. While a mother and father give their child a physical body, it is God who breathes in the Spirit, bestowing life. Although we are made from the same corporal matter as plants and animals, we also receive the surpassing gift of an immortal spirit capable of living in union with God forever. Our life is sacred, redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and thus our human dignity is unequalled.
God has also given us the faculties of reason, imagination, memory and free will so that we can grasp what love is and choose to act out of love. We can understand and fulfill our sexuality and our mission in life only when we accept with gratitude the gift of our being and give ourselves away in love.
Ages and Stages downloadable charts
Recommended Resources for Parents
The following may be borrowed from the John Paul II Centre for Life Library. This selection of books and DVDs impart helpful principles, essential knowledge and ways of communicating with children. While there are many newer books available, these are tried and true.
• Be at Ease with the Birds ‘n’ Bees: Teach your Children the Truth, with Confidence; 2009, Family Life International
• As I Have Loved You: A Programme for Christian Education in Sexuality; Gerard O’Shea, Connor Court Publishing
• Preparing for Peer Pressure; James Stenson, 1988, Scepter Books
• Parenting with Grace: Catholic Parent’s Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Kids; Gregory and Lisa Popcak, Our Sunday Visitor 2000
• Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids; Gregory Popcak, 2012, Ascension Press
• Successful Fathers: The Subtle but Powerful ways Fathers Mold their Children’s Characters; James Stenson, 2001, Scepter Publishers
• Anchor: God’s Promises of Hope to Parents; James Stenson, 2003, Scepter Publishers
• The Five Love Languages of Teenagers; Gary Chapman
• The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family; Pontifical Council for the Family 1996
• Challenging Children to Chastity; Vernon Sattler, C.Ss. R. 1991
• Sex Instruction in the Home; Helen Davies, MD 1993
• Theology of the Body Made Simple; Anthony Percy 2005, Connor Court Publishing
• Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids; Gail Poyner Phd and Kristen A. Jenson 2014
• Pornography: Love & Relationships; Paul Ninnes
• Relationships: Dating, Sex & Marriage; Paul Ninnes
• Conversations with Your Child about sex puberty and growing up; Open Doors
• A Parent’s Guide: Teaching the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality; Catholic Parents online