When, how, and at what pace should we impart information to our sons about sexuality?
When, how, and at what pace should we impart information to our sons about sexuality? It seems a conundrum, especially in a society where—deviant, degraded, or distorted—it’s splashed everywhere. This conundrum is further complicated by another much greater difficulty, which is that sex is a private affair in a healthy family. Without marital intimacy, our children (unless they were adopted) would never be sitting here in front of us asking certain questions—and we wouldn’t be tormenting ourselves about what and how we should tell them about sexuality.
In well-balanced parents who love one another there is a modesty that can lead to hesitation about discussing such matters, but our children need to hear answers to their questions directly from us in a respectful and loving dialogue. Otherwise, their curiosity will lead them to find answers elsewhere. That may include school, friend groups, magazines, and websites. What’s missing in most in all of these places is the sense of modesty, which in the end, is more of a solution than a problem when it comes to talking with children about sexual matters.
Our modesty as parents leads us to delicacy and offers us the surest means of impressing upon boys the beauty of sexual intimacy. Our delicacy will help us not to impart too much information — that is, more than they can deal with at their age.
Explanations and diagrams
Our own modesty as a father can lead us to accompany the normal development of a pubescent boy, without rushing through information that may reveal more about our worries than our son’s real needs. We should start with his curiosity, what he observes about himself, what he’s experiencing, such as hair growth, erections, and sexual urges. It’s good to point out that these transformations are part of his growing up, that they mean he’s becoming capable of being a husband and father one day himself. It’s something to be proud of, even if it’s a little scary and unfamiliar.
This can be followed up with some explanations and diagrams, about anatomy and the function of the male and female bodies —without pretending to be an expert on biological reproduction. This conversation should be brought up discreetly, without his brothers and sisters knowing. It should take place one-on-one and doesn’t need to take a long time, as long as the child knows he can come back to you whenever he likes with more questions.
The importance of the first father-son conversation
In this way, the groundwork for the future will be laid. Often, for some boys, this first conversation will be followed by a long silence, for others (more rarely), by a multitude of questions. If a boy understands he’s in the process of becoming capable of fathering a child, he’ll more easily deduce the manner of his relationships with girls—which will become the occasion for further conversations. But certainly, for the rest of his life, a boy will remember this conversation he had, when his father treated him like an adult. He’ll be grateful to him for opening up beautiful horizons before him.
Later on, when he’s gained a certain maturity, one could even have frank family discussions about the way sexuality is experienced today and issues that come up in our culture. The main thing, however, is to have laid down a simple, solid grounding, centered on fatherhood.
Dr. Dominique Megglé