Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here
The world and your Catholic life, all in one place.
Subscribe to Aleteia's free newsletter!

Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia



Parents: Please Do the Sex Talk

CC Andy Purviance

If you won't teach your children about sex, secular liberals who control the schools are happy to do it for you

Parents Really Are the Best Educators

What are we to do? We can’t ignore the problem and, like everybody else, be too frightened to teach marriage. Nor, in my view, can we put confidence in school sex education and its reformation. For a start, current providers are not going to be easily ousted. There are too many commercial, as well as ideological, interests at stake. And in many countries the freedom of schools to teach marriage and chastity and family life is being rapidly eroded. In the UK, same-sex marriage looms as a very real threat.

But there is another reason for enlisting parents. They really are the best educators, with the most influence. Their children turn to them naturally, as they do with anything that is personal and important, and the children have a right to loving advice, at the right moment, with the words that are necessary. Their parents, too, are the only people likely to be around when they make their sexual decisions. What many mothers and fathers find is that, by opening up on sex, they establish themselves as their children’s chief mentors on other subjects too.

How, then, are we to get parents, who would rather not, teach what they have not practised: marriage, respect for fertility, and all the other ingredients of true sexual education which your average parent neither knows nor follows? You can’t start with religion, because that means nothing to many, and frightens many others. Nor can you rely on films, because even in the home this would give a one-size-fits-all approach which can be damaging.

We do, however, have other powerful assets. Miriam Grossman spoke of our secret weapon, the twenty-first century science of the brain. Now that we know that sexual encounters really do create permanent chemical bonding, and that the adolescent brain only comes together for mature decision-making in the mid-twenties, the premises on which standard sex education is based can be out-flanked. Add to this the science of fertility, ably described this morning by Lynne Anderson, and we know that contraception is unnecessary for family planning. God’s creation will not be outdone, as Ken Duncan showed us so magnificently in his slides: the beauty of creation speaks to the heart, and its truth is compelling.

Arming Them with Science ‑ and Stories

The task, then, is to capture the latest science and the truth of the body in such a way that it encourages parents to stop and think again. John Anderson mentioned points of traction when we can reach out to others and bring them round to our way of thinking. I think parents are just such a target population. It is natural for them to want the best for their children and to teach them the truth, if only they can be enticed to take interest in the first place.

My answer has been to write a book. To arrest the imagination, and get below the visors of those who are naturally sensitive, I have told stories, a device I took from the Alive to the World character development programme – I am its UK coordinator, and my book is designed to complement it, using the same conversational style which makes facts easy to remember and throws up all sorts of points for discussion.

I begin from biology, including details which will be new to many readers and so intrigue them. All the facts given are couched in terms designed to inspire reverence, and to show that our sexuality is a beautiful gift, but a fragile one: it is no toy to be played with. My descriptions are accompanied by lively diagrams which Jessie Gillick based on Dr Thomas Hilgers’ NFP originals.

You see, we often look at the obstacles and ignore the strengths of our position. Whatever their own lives, few parents can resist finding out more about anything which affects their children. This is especially so when presented in a palatable fashion which reveals rather than preaches. And there is so much to learn. I spoke before about the basic “facts of life”, which everybody knows, but now I am speaking of the science we learn at a Congress like this, of how the bodies of men and women have been designed to collaborate so remarkably together, and how this closeness corresponds with sound spiritual and social values which, when pointed out, make common sense. By the time you reach chapter ten, a whole picture of our integrated selves emerges which can be shown to come together most satisfyingly in lived celibacy or marriage.

Pages: 1 2 3

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]
Readers like you contribute to Aleteia's Mission.

Since our inception in 2012, Aleteia’s readership has grown rapidly worldwide. Our team is committed to a mission of providing articles that enrich, inspire and inform a Catholic life. That's why we want our articles to be freely accessible to everyone, but we need your help to do that. Quality journalism has a cost (more than selling ads on Aleteia can cover). That's why readers like you make a major difference by donating as little as $3 a month.