Instilling Healthy Sexual Values- Part 1

1.  Confidence in Her Sexual Vocabulary

From the earliest stages of development, a child begins communicating about his/her genitals, or the genitals of an opposite sex sibling, or even your genitals.  I’ll never forget showering with my baby daughter during a time when she was just learning animal names.  I couldn’t help but be shocked and amused when Erin pointed to my crotch and declared, “Squirrel!”  I guess she was noticing that I had pubic hair in a place where she didn’t.  I replied, “No, honey, vagina!”  I pointed to my vagina, then to hers, and she referred to female genitalia from that day on as a vagina.  On another day after her baby brother was born, I was changing his diaper when Erin asked, “Mommy, why don’t I have one of those?” pointing to his penis.  “That’s a penis, and girls don’t have penises.  Girls have vaginas,” I replied.  Of course, in referring to genitals, moms could say things like, “That’s a wee-wee,” or “Those are your privates,” but why?  Children will only have to unlearn those terms and learn the proper names later on.  Besides, using baby terms instills a sense that there’s something inappropriate about talking about our genitals, as if they are dirty or nasty, and they’re not.  Giving her a proper sexual vocabulary at this early age will give her the confidence to communicate with you when questions arise, which is good because every little girl will eventually become very curious about sexual matters…
2.  Confidence in Her Sexual Curiosity
Do you remember the first time you had questions about sexual issues, like where babies come from?  How they get in their mommy’s tummy?  Or how they come out?  Most children wonder about this kind of stuff before they even start kindergarten.  I believe if they are mature enough to verbalize the question, they deserve straight answers (which don’t include anything about a stork, a watermelon seed, or a “baby fairy”).  When children have questions about sexuality, we certainly don’t want them to feel as if they have to ask their peers or surf the internet for answers.  We want them to come to us!  So how can we make sure that happens?  Be proactive!  Being the absolute first person who ever talks to your child about sex will ensure that you establish yourself as the expert (or “sexpert”) in their lives.  Begin talking about healthy sexuality before they start attending school because they’ll hear all kinds of things from other children.  Also, tell your children frequently, “You can ask me anything, and you can use whatever words you need to use in order to ask it!”  Why is this important?  So they’ll have the confidence that they won’t get in trouble with you for verbalizing their curiosities.  Make sure they know that no topic is off-limits.  If they’ve got questions, you’re committed to finding appropriate, straight-forward answers.  For this reason, it’s very helpful to have a medical encyclopedia or a good book about sexual development and character in your home.  Thumb through these books together every few months or so.  Use portions as bedtime stories and remind your child, “Your curiosity about sex is very natural.  As you grow up, you’re going to have more and more questions, and I want you to know you can always bring those questions to me.  If I don’t know the answers, we’ll research it together until we find the answers.”  You’ll be exemplifying what it means to be not just a sexually confident wife, but also a sexually confident mom.


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Excerpted from The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind*Body*Heart*Spirit by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2008.  All Rights Reserved. Published by Random House Inc, New York, NY. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.