A reader wrote to me telling me about a young neighborhood child that introduced things of a sexual nature to her daughter. This is not a fun subject. I have been avoiding putting it on the site, but the more I think about it, this topic is probably one of the biggest things parents face. How do we keep our children free from the disease of sexual impurity that seems to be taking over our world? How do we make them aware while not taking away their innocence?
Many of the youth that came to live in my home had sexual issues. This is sort of "run of the mill" in the foster care industry. We got very used to talking to the youth about sexual things, and what was appropriate. We also got pretty good at knowing when something inappropriate was going on.
This is the answer to the reader's question:
I have had a similar situation. When my daughter was four or five she was being baby sat by a friend of mine.
While she was there, my friend noticed that her son and my daughter were not in sight. She went looking for them and found her son with his pants down in front of my daughter. Apparently, he told my daughter that he wanted to marry her and that if they were going to get married then he had to show her his special parts. He dropped his pants and luckily his mother came in right then. I laughed inside when I realized how he might have come to this conclusion very innocently.
My friend was devastated. I was also pretty shook up. It is not something a mother can ever like to hear. I assured my friend that I wasn't mad at her. I think she took it harder than I did.
I decided that I needed to have a counseling session with my daughter. We talked about how special our bodies were, and what Heavenly Father wants us to do with them. We practiced getting out of situations that could come up of a sexual nature. I taught her the word appropriate and made sure that she knew what was appropriate and what wasn't.
It is so important to explain appropriate behavior and even give examples of inappropriate behaviors, so that they are prepared if, and often when, something comes up. Many girls start experimenting with masturbation at age 6 or so if they are introduced to it by friends etc. I don't tell you this to alarm you, just to keep you aware. I had many foster children that had this problem, and it usually started with some friend. If you ever have a hunch to teach about this, do it. The spirit will tell you if you need to say something to a child. Then you have to trust that the goodness in the child will choose the right path. If you make too big a deal out of a hunch, you could create a problem, or give the child the feeling that you think they are immoral when they might not be. No one likes the feeling of being mistrusted. If there really is a problem then you have a different situation. Wait until you know. If you don't know, follow the Spirit and then trust.
The other must is adopt an open door policy at your home, and tell your friends that you have this policy. An open door is safety. Practice always having doors open unless it is the bathroom, or Mom and Dad's room. Role play a friend asking her to shut the door and her saying no and keeping it open.
Lastly, I wouldn't make too big of a deal out of the situation you found your daughter in, unless you feel prompted to; not fearful. If you talk about it too much, it could get her interested and dwelling on it. Instead I would teach appropriate body boundaries and how to keep our special bodies safe and pure. Empower her to protect her body.
Incidentally, I did teach my children about sex at age 6 because in our world that is about the age you have to to keep them safe. My explanation was very much spirit led though. Pray before this. Follow the promptings of the spirit.
I also felt it was important for my children to understand the spiritual nature of intercourse early on, so that they wouldn't become paranoid about becoming a mother and having children some day. I have seen some adults that have grown up fearful of intimacy and appropriate sexual relationship with their spouse. This is a large future problem too. It is OK for children to know about "the birds and the bees", it is part of life. Don't be afraid of talking about it. Their safety could depend on what they have talked about with you. That said; follow the promptings of the Spirit, then you will be sure to pick the best time for a discussion.
P.S. One on one conversations are best for this kind of thing. Have a counseling session. And make the environment feel comfortable and safe.
I hope this is useful.