How to talk Confidently With Your Child About Sex
Book review by Pastor Tom Anderson
Lenore Booth has written a wonderfully encouraging and insightful book for Christian parents. First written in 1982, its nearly 40 year publishing run is still going strong and is a testament to a book of enduring value. How to Talk Confidently with Your Child about Sex is written specifically for parents who want to communicate Christian values as they discuss with their children about sex.
Booth is comprehensive in her approach. Her chapters start with how children are shaped in their homes, the influence of their parents, then on to the issues of early childhood, elementary age children, pre-teens, teens and finally adult children. There is something here for parents in every stage of life. At the end of each section, Booth engages parent’s most frequently asked questions--a very helpful feature.
The foundation of sex education is us. Booth writes, “the truth is that our children’s strengths and weaknesses, the values they will have, and their sexual attitudes are determined more by what they see in us than by any other single factor.” Parental influence is more powerful than messages given in public school or digital media. Booth invites parents to consider their marriage relationship as the most influential model of how men and women are to relate to one another. Children will pick up their foundational views on human sexuality by observing the relationship between mom and dad and absorbing the emotional tone they set. Booth says, “Here the number one principle of parenting applies: no words speak as loudly as personal example.”
It is possible to raise young women and men who cherish God’s precious gift of sex and the marriage relationship in which he intended it to flourish, but we must start with ourselves and the quality of our relationship. What is required is not flawless perfection--which never happens--but an honest and earnest pursuit of authentic Christian love between Mom and Dad--an effort that is willing to overcome human failures and selfishness. Single parents face a special challenge here but can and do raise emotionally healthy children. Booth advises, “The task requires that you speak well of marriage, even if your own marriage did not endure. You want your child to grow up believing that a solid marriage is both desirable and possible.”
Booth encourages conversation and teachable moments over lectures and lessons. She does provide lengthy examples of how to explain various facets of human sexuality in an age-appropriate manner. Nothing is left out: dating, pornography, sexting, alternative lifestyles, same-sex couples and the full range of what children encounter in today’s world. Booth avoids the jargon of psychology and writes in an accessible, faith-based manner. She frequently cites scripture as the primary guide to human sexuality.
The last section on young adults is entitled, “Giving them back to the Lord.” Booth observes, “It’s wise to remind ourselves again that we don’t own our children. They’re people in their own right, with the obligation and privilege to make decisions and solve problems for themselves...In short the whole subject of relating to grown children, married or unmarried, could largely be summed up in three words: it’s their decision.” I commend this book to parents. It is well written, solidly Biblical and full of common sense insight.