Helpful Hints for Parents
The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality issued in 1995 by
the Pontifical Council on the Family stresses that parents
have “the original, primary and inalienable right”
and a serious duty to give their children a positive and gradual
education in chastity and human sexuality. Since each child
is uniquely different, the parent or guardian is in the best
positions to determine the appropriate time for providing
accurate information that is consistent with the child’s
physical and spiritual development. Here are ten practical
- It is important to realize that a child’s curiosity
about sex is normal and usually innocent.
- Some parents may be uncomfortable talking about this
topic. You don’t have to be an expert or have all
the right answers. How you respond is often as important
as what you say.
- There is really no set way or ideal time to talk to your
child about sex.
Rather, take advantage of various opportunities to answer
a child’s questions or to talk about the meaning of
life and love. And remember, sexuality education is easier
and makes more sense when it is given in the context of
your religious and moral values.
- In answering a child’s questions, parents should
use words that are neither too explicit nor too vague. Giving
too many details to children is counterproductive. But delaying
the first information for too long is also imprudent. Parents
should not give the impression that sex is something shameful
or dirty. Rather, it is a great gift of God who has placed
the ability to generate human life, thereby sharing His
creative power with us.
- The media and numerous societal forces exploit sexuality
making it difficult, even for adults, to make responsible
decisions about sexual behavior. Realize that it is all
the more difficult for young people.
- When discussing the topic of sexuality, especially with
teenagers, do not be afraid of disagreements. Try to convey
your message without condemning or using verbal attacks.
Point out that sexuality involves significant choices which
have serious consequences. Praise morally good decisions.
- Good communication is the mortar that holds family relationships
together. The two essential messages in all family communications
- The importance of self-worth
- The importance of personal responsibility
- Think of sex as a 9-letter word. S E X U A L I T Y is
about the God-given gift of being male or female. Stress
the value of healthy interpersonal relationships and the
sacredness of human life.
- Parents should teach that we are called to use our sexuality
according to the plan of God in the context of marriage.
Insist on the positive value of chastity and its capacity
to generate true love for other persons. Only a person who
is chaste will know how to be a great lover, whether in
marriage or as a single person or in a life consecrated
to God and the Church.
- Expect good results and you will get them.
Office for Religious Education
Archdiocese of Washington