Also in Tweens
It’s the parental hot potato—sex. Children “live what they learn,” and the way we interact as a couple in front of our children becomes a teachable moment. So how do we model a wholesome and healthy relationship for our kids?
1. Take an inventory of your own feelings about sex and your sexual relationship with your husband. Are your embarrassed? Do you feel ashamed on some level that you enjoy it? Or do you fail to enjoy it because you just don’t feel comfortable? If any of these describe you, you may have homework to do before you’re ready to be the teacher. Do what it takes to get to a joyful, healthy frame of mind about the topic in your own life so that you can impart the right attitudes to your kids. If you are embarrassed or ashamed about married sex—trust us—your kids will see it, and it will communicate to them that there’s something wrong with it.
2. Discretion is great, but all physical intimacy is not confined to the bedroom. Sure, you don’t want to act immodestly in front of your children, but if Daddy playfully swats Mommy on the behind when she walks by, it says so much to your children about the health of your relationship. It says that Daddy thinks Mommy is attractive, and that he likes her. If Mommy smiles and winks, it says she feels the same and that marriage can be fun. Ditto for long kitchen hugs, good-bye kisses in the morning and cuddling close on the sofa. Little gestures, big messages.
3. Give your children practical information on a need-to-know basis, but realize that the playground intelligentsia is way ahead of you. If you think you can avoid having your children learn the actual mechanics of human reproduction by failing to discuss it yourself until puberty—you’re probably wrong. Some wise-guy 9-year-old is likely holding regular seminars at recess based upon the info he got from his teenaged brother. The problem? It’s sure to be riddled with inaccuracies. Do your kid a favor and give them the real, much more meaningful version as soon as they’re ready.
4. Teachable moments courtesy of the media. When immoral sexual scenes and images come across your child’s radar screen, don’t just say that they’re wrong and move on. In an age-appropriate way, explain why. For example, if a television show has two people participating in premarital sex, use that opportunity to explain your values.
5. Let the kids know that intimacy matters by making it a priority. Don’t feel guilty about sending the kids to grandma’s and taking a weekend trip with your husband for some one-on-one time. And don’t feel the need to make excuses. Explain to your children that staying connected and having time for intimacy is an important part of marriage, and because you and daddy love one another, you’re going away for a couple of nights. Whether they particularly love being away from you or not, one day they’ll remember your example of how to protect and nurture marital intimacy and apply it to their own lives.
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