So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

As a mental health therapist, I’m familiar with “the talk”. I’ve had a lot of “talks” with children and teenagers in the past. However, it’s different when it’s your own child. 

My husband—well, he’s been dreading this day since about 10 minutes after our daughter was born.

We were watching a movie together when suddenly both my husband and I realized a sexualized scene was coming up. We told our daughter to look away, which she did but not before peeking, and screeching “Oh, uncomfortable!”

But that wasn’t the end of it. Afterward, she came up to me and asked, “Mom, I want to know about the changes my body will have. One girl in my class told me all about bras.”

And so I told her she would likely watch an informational show in the next year during school about growing up. I told her about breasts, armpit and pubic hair, and menstrual cycles. She listened intently, letting out a few giggles. I finished with, “If you have any other questions, please ask Dad or me.” Then we were done.

Or so I thought.

I went into the other room and told my husband about her questions. He got that dad-in-the-headlights look. Then he said the bravest thing he could: “I suppose I better go let her know I’m willing to listen and talk, too.”

I gave him a few minutes while helping the other kids get ready for bed and then came into the bedroom. My husband looked very uncomfortable, and my daughter had a big grin on her face.

He looked at me and said, “She wants to know everything about sex.”

Yep, not even in double digits yet and she wants to know about sex. First, this provided an opportunity to re-visit previous discussions we’ve had about appropriate touch. After all, this was out-of-the-blue and I wanted to make sure we didn’t need to seek more help. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

I’m pretty certain I led a sheltered life because I didn’t know that world until I was a pre-teen; where did she come up with that? However, as a therapist, I’m acutely aware that kids are sexually active at a younger age, and by the time parents get around to talking to their kid about sex, the kid is “well-informed” by their peers, or has already experienced sexual acts.

Scared yet? Because I am. 

Our children are sexualized at a very young age. And I’m not just talking about sexual abuse. I see clothing in stores and on kids that is low-cut, high-cut, or has inappropriate statements. I hear people talk explicitly about sexual behaviors in front of children. Movies and video games have sexual content. Billboards while you drive down the road. Elementary kids are getting caught viewing pornography on school computers.

What starts as an innocent search for kid-appropriate songs online can easily lead to a click on a not-so-innocent video disguised as an innocent one. I even searched for a song my kids liked and was appalled at the singer writhing on the floor, barely clothed, while singing. Yep, it’s easy to find, and our children notice.

Make no mistake about it—your child will be exposed to an enormous amount of sex-related content. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to shield them—it’s out there.

As parents, we need to be aware and not assume our children are innocent about these matters. When parents fail (or avoid) to talk with their kids about what they experience, they are left to manage it on their own. Many turn to friends, some to the internet, and some may act out what they see, and these forms of information are not always helpful or positive.

In the midst of all this, there is good news. If you are an approachable parent, if you start talking with your child using love, age-appropriate words and explanations, age-appropriate context (they don’t need ALL the details at age nine!), and honesty, your child will feel comfortable coming to you with questions. You will also be able to help your child sort through some of the things he saw, heard, or experienced in the world around him.

And try to do the parent-freak-out moment without your kid around. Plan ahead, if you can, so you’re prepared for this moment. If it has already passed, it’s not too late to start being open with your children.

Lots of young kids don’t really care about sexual matters—they are just curious and want their questions answered honestly. They can smell fear and dishonesty a mile away, so be prepared and proactive.

I told my nine-year-old daughter sex was a way God gave us to show love when we’re married, and to have babies; you may not agree completely with my explanation but you can edit it for your worldview, just as I will edit as she ages. I said it was like the animals mating on her nature shows. Her eyes got big, her hand went to her mouth, a little giggle escaped, and she turned red. For now, that really was the end of the conversation. 

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergartner, I’ll Always Remember You This Way

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child touch foreheads

The first magical flickers of your strong heartbeat on a black and white screen— the reassuring evidence I needed to know you were gaining strength for this world. My belly grew, and I proudly went shopping for maternity clothes to cover it. I felt the first dances of your little feet, and it reminded me of butterflies taking flight— the movement of a true miracle. I’ll always remember you this way. The sounds of your first cries—music ringing in my ears. You were real, Earth-side, and wanting only to be loved. The softness of your skin, the way you smelled,...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.