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Sex Ed for Homeschoolers, Part 1: Too Little, Too Late

HSBAPost_Fletch_SexEdRecently on the Homeschooling In Real Life podcast and blog, my wife and I discussed the topic of teaching our kids about sex. As you might imagine, we found that sex education continues to be a subject matter that parents struggle to discuss with their kids. Even as I typed and titled this blog post, I’m sure there are some readers who will choose to click right on past. Although “Sex Ed for Homeschoolers” continues to be a topic many of us don’t always want to talk about, I propose that it’s time we get serious and start talking with our kids about sex.
If you have read my previous articles here on The HSBA Post, you will know that I am not one to shy away from a good discussion. At HomeschoolingIRL, we chose to confront this topic head on and began the discussion out loud with our listeners calling it: “How Do I Talk To My Kids About Sex?”  A highlight of this episode was an informal interview I did with graduates from homeschool, private school and public school. I asked them a simple question: “How do you feel your parents did teaching  you about sex?”
The response to that question was overwhelming and revealed to us that we need more than one episode on this topic. As homeschoolers, there is more for us to learn and discuss about this subject. In the meantime, I’ve developed a few things to share with my readers and plan to do so here on the Homeschool Post in several parts.

Too little. Too late. 

First, most of the graduates I spoke with answered me loud and clear: They DO NOT believe their parents did a very good job teaching them about sex. I recognize I was speaking with younger, more recent graduates, and they have a tendency to be a bit more critical of their parents. That was to be expected.  My own sons are the first to critique my parenting skills. I did the same thing. At the same time, I did have a few young adults who reported positive experiences learning about sex from their parents.

However, whether positive or negative, nearly every single response from homeschooled, public schooled and private schooled graduates followed a simple theme: my parents shared too little information and it was given to me too late.

 

Following up on these discussions with some of the homeschooled graduates, I found three repeated patterns. The parents either said nothing, or they addressed the subject of sex from a strictly biological perspective or they used a canned purity curriculum without discussion. That left most of the students I interviewed to pick up the details about sex from either their friends, the internet or school (non-homeschoolers).

 

Tight Lipped Parents

In part two of this discussion, I plan on tackling the topic of transparency, but in the meantime we need to start talking about our silence on the subject of sex. That sentence sounds funny huh? My fellow homeschooling parents, we can no longer choose to be silent with our kids on the topic of sex. I’m not pointing fingers at you, I’m speaking from experience here.
In our past life, we decided to over-shelter our kids. We lived in a homeschool bubble of conservatism where we had limited discussions about tricky subjects like sex. Shaded in very good bible verses encouraging us to “not awaken love before it’s time” we didn’t want to give our children an appetite for sexuality. So we just ignored the discussions. Until when? I don’t know. I guess we were going to wait until we believed our kids were “old enough to handle the heavier subjects.” Regardless, let me be clear with you: We blew it! Our first two sons have been very honest with us. We showed up to the discussion too late and we were underprepared for what they wanted to discuss.
My encouragement to the reader is that we cannot afford to be silent on this topic. From advertising, to entertainment, to sports, to the workplace, the world has saturated our culture in the topic of sex. Our kids are going to be bombarded with images and phrases from a very young age. It is imperative that we show up and help them navigate through these things.

 

The Birds and The Bees

Regardless of their answer to my question, most of the homeschooled responses expressed dissatisfaction with the “biology only” education they were given. Most grads shared that their parents taught them the basics of anatomy and how the reproductive system worked. Some told me that their parents referenced farm animals or family pets to illustrate the actual mechanics of reproduction. Essentially, sex education in these homes boiled down to a unit study on reproduction. Although scientifically accurate, most of these kids said they were either confused or laughed it off and learned about human sexuality from friends or the internet. Friends and the internet? That was the better option? I don’t think so.
Again, as homeschooling parents we get to enjoy the daily interaction with our kids in every other subject. I think we are missing an opportunity to speak with our kids about the topic of sex. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting a “one and done” discussion, but a regular ongoing dialogue. A discussion that considers our children’s ages and then matures as our children mature and prepares them for the world they live in.

 

Purity Curriculum

Most of the graduates I interviewed spoke positively about their parents who used purity curriculum. Most said that their parents dedicated a special time or a weekend to discuss purity with them. We use a purity study in our home and I cannot say enough about the curriculum offered from Family Life Today that we have used with our daughters.
However, we had a few of these young adults mention that their parents still chose not to discuss anything with them. They were provided bible verses and studies about purity and then told to return if they had any questions. One response stated that the materials were implemented alongside their other subjects, but again without discussion.
As I mentioned earlier, we are either not showing up to the conversation or we are getting to the conversation too late and unprepared. For those parents that are having “the talk” with their kids, can I recommend one thing further? Instead of one conversation, would you consider making it a healthy ongoing dialogue? Along these lines, I had the opportunity to interview my friend Barret Johnson from I.N.F.O for Families. He has written a tremendous book called “The Talks: A Parent’s Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating and Other Unmentionables” where he puts together that very premise. These should be “talks” that start young and continue into adulthood. That is exactly what I am recommending.
Our kids are not stupid and in every other area of their life we hopefully encourage them to strengthen their curiosity. The same should be true about God-given sexuality and we should not be afraid to have the conversations with our kids. If you are struggling with this topic or lost in knowing how to go about it, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of “The Talks,” by Barret Johnson.
In part two, I plan on discussing transparency and the choice to be honest with your kids and the fear that may bring to some parents. In the meantime, what do you think? How has it worked in your house? I’d love to hear your comments.
From one dad to another,
Fletch (13 Posts)

Fletch has been married for the past 22 years. He and his wife Kendra are the proud parents of five sons and three daughters, all of whom keep them laughing and on their toes. During the day he can be found fixing people's teeth, but in his spare time you can find Fletch stretching out a pair of flip-flops, creating a new pizza recipe, playing the drums, or rescuing a piece of his tie-dye wardrobe from his wife's donation pile. You can find him online where he writes on his personal blog, theMangoTimes and every other Friday you can hear him on the HomeschoolingIRL podcast which he cohosts with his wife.


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Comments

  1. You know, I think I would have fallen into the trap of not being as thorough with my kids as I needed to be– but God had other plans for our family. My daughter (graduating next month) became interested in midwifery and decided to get her doula certification in her sophomore year. Yeah, ummmmm …. it’s all out there now. Even the 5 year-old can give you the bare bones version of “how babies are made.” The challenge has been keeping things age-appropriate and God-honoring in a culture where sex is so fragmented from the idea of intimacy and/or conception. But anyhow, at least this is one area where my boxes are fully checked. Medical names for body parts and all! Lol

    • Thanks for the reply Heather. Good for you! I like how your daughter’s desires in life dictated her need to know the truth. In a sense, you were forced to show your hand if you wanted to or not. I’ve heard similar stories, like having a family member who gets pregnant out of wedlock. The kids asked questions and a family situation became a perfect example to share not only God’s truth, but the clear facts of life choices.

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