Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week 9: Insights into parenthood from the Ensign

I have been uncomfortable with the school system providing our children with sex education. All they teach is how to do it and how to avoid getting pregnant, or so it seems. There are are no morals or standards attached. But that is not how sex education should be taught. It should be taught by parents, and they should teach the purpose and doctrine behind it. It's more than just a biological drive.

Many parents are uncomfortable talking with their children about sex. We see it in media all the time, we hint about it with friends, but no one dares actually teach the children. So we convey the idea that it is a nasty problem we all have that we avoid if possible. That's not what it should be.

But I have to admit, I don't know how we are supposed to teach this topic.

So I really appreciated this article in the Ensign by Matthew O. Richardson. It is called "Teaching Chastity and Virtue," and it is found in the October 2012 issue.

Brother Richardson offers six strategies to help us teach sex education:

1) Teaching and learning should begin early.
When? Rely on the Spirit to tell you when, how and what to teach. As Brother Richardson points out, our children are running into sexual topics at very young ages now, and we should be prepared to teach it early.

2) Teaching and learning should occur often.
Brother Richardson tells us that learning is a process, not an event. It is ineffective to think that learning happens all in one talk. So we have to be prepared emotionally, spiritually and mentally to teach frequently. Looking back on my experience as a child and teenager, I picked up little bits everywhere and put them together. Learning about sex was a process. It didn't happen all at once.

3) Effective teaching hinges on the relationship between the teacher and learner.
Interestingly enough, children want to talk with you about this topic. You need to help them feel safe talking about anything with you, even sex. Brother Richardson says to talk with, not at them, and don't be awkward or ruffled when you talk about it.

4) Teaching and learning are most effective when the subject is relevant and real.
Brother Richardson says that we need to pay attention to, listen to and observe our children to know what to teach. He also counsels to model chastity, modesty and virtue so your children can see it first hand. So don't watch bad movies and wear low-cut shirts! He has a great quote from Brigham Young:

"We should set [our children] an example that we wish them to imitate. Do we realize this? How often we see parents demand obedience, good behavior, kind words, pleasant looks, a sweet voice and a bright eye from a child or children when they themselves are full of bitterness and scolding! How inconsistent and unreasonable this is!’ Our children will notice such inconsistencies in us and perhaps find justification for acting in similar ways.”

5) Learners learn best when they understand what teachers are teaching.
Teach children using words they can understand. Ask for feedback to see if they get it.

6) Learners are converted when teachers connect the message with everlasting principles and standards.
Teach them the doctrine of families and the plan of salvation, and how intimacy is a part of that.