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A Torah Perspective On Educating Our Children About Sexuality (Part VIII)


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Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on how necessary it is, especially today, that parents take an active role in teaching their children the Torah’s view on sexuality and modesty. We have pointed out how important it is that first images to fill a child’s mind in regards to these concepts be appropriate ones.

We have discussed how pervasive the secular culture is, how much it has affected our children and how we can no longer afford to be naïve about the existence of sexual predators in our midst. We reminded you that if children do not possess clear knowledge and an age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused, they would not be able to protect themselves from those who seek to abuse them.

There is a school of thought that exposing children and adolescents to sexual ideas will arouse in them a yetzer hara. We referenced a halachic ruling from the Ezer Mekodesh (Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 23:3) that makes it clear it is permitted for even a young man to study the sections of the Torah that relate to sexuality.

How and When to Discuss Sexuality with Children:

Knowing that a true understanding of sexuality is essential for the fulfillment of numerous halachic obligations, the question then is at what age should children be taught about sexuality, and how?

The Torah consists of concrete intellectual knowledge as well as ethical and psychological development. For example, one can study all the laws of property rights, theft and commerce but in his practice of business be utterly unethical. As it states in Mishna Avos (3:13), “People whose intelligence exceeds their character are compared to a tree whose branches are larger than its roots.” The end result of course, is that such a tree will fall.

Educating our children about sexuality is not a one-time task, nor is it simply an acquisition of facts. Rather, it is principally an emotional and ethical educative process, and something that must be done in a number of different ways over a child’s lifetime. Yes, a child needs facts, but at the same time, facts can be overrated. A child is really looking for guidance and emotional security. By the way, this same observation is true for most children’s questions. Though they are hungry for facts, a perceptive parent should be able to read between the lines and speak to the emotional need behind the question.

For example, should a child ask, “How much money does Daddy make?” some parents will get flustered and weigh whether they should share personal details with their child or not. But really, that is missing the point. No matter how strenuously the child may press for a need to know this fact, clearly the question is an emotional one. The child is probably worried about how the family manages its finances or some other concern. Otherwise, there is no reason for the child to be asking this question. Not every question actually requires a literal answer, although it certainly deserves a response. The same can be said for questions about sexuality. It is important that the parents understand what the child is asking, and what fears and anxieties are motivating the question. Many a parent, attempting to be modern and psychologically astute, has answered questions about sexuality with an emotionally detached or detailed lecture. Chances are, the child understood very little and certainly learned nothing of the emotional education healthy sexuality requires. What does a tedious lecture have to do with the act of love that holds people together and builds families? Absolutely nothing!

When teaching children about sexual matters, it is important to be direct and clear because it is so easy for them to misunderstand. In addition, the usage of euphemisms and other indirect methods of discussing sexuality can possibly reinforce an unhealthy degree of shame. Such shame, if excessive, could be one causative factor (among many) that could lead a child into an emotional state where he is not able to be comfortable enough with sexuality, thus impeding his functioning and causing confusion and distress later on in life when he must become actively sexual as a newly married adult.

(To be continued)

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More Articles from Rabbi Simcha Feuerman
Family-logo

As we have been discussing, it is essential for parents to take an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas in regards to sexuality and modesty.

Family-logo

As we have discussed over the past few weeks, it is essential, especially in these times, that parents take an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas in regards to sexuality and modesty.

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on how necessary it is, especially today, that parents take an active role in teaching their children the Torah’s view on sexuality and modesty. We have pointed out how important it is that first images to fill a child’s mind in regards to these concepts be appropriate ones.

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on how necessary it is, especially today, that parents take an active role in teaching their children the Torah’s view on sexuality and modesty and how important it is that first images to fill a child’s mind in regards to these concepts be appropriate ones.

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on how necessary it is, especially today, that parents take an active role in teaching their children the Torah’s view on sexuality and modesty. It is important that the first images that fill their minds in regards to these concepts be appropriate ones.

In the past several articles we have discussed the importance of parents taking an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas about sexuality and modesty. This is because it is essential that the first images to that fill their developing minds on these concepts must be appropriate ones. There is so much invasive exposure they experience from secular culture, and much to be concerned about in regards to the existence of sexual predators in our midst. If children do not possess clear knowledge and an age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused it is hard for them to protect themselves.

Over the past few weeks, we have been making the point that parents must take an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas about sexuality and modesty. This is so that the first images and concepts that fill their developing minds are appropriate ones. This is especially true because of the amount of invasive exposure they receive from secular sources and culture, and also because we can no longer afford to be na?ve about the existence of sexual predators in our midst.

While it once may have been possible to shelter our children from inappropriate exposure to sexuality, today it seems to be an impossible goal. Even parents who have made every effort to appropriately safeguard their family may find themselves unhappily surprised at what their child’s friends have exposed him to. In addition, outdoor secular media such as billboards, bus ads and newspaper covers portray disturbingly graphic images that force us to confront the fact that our children are being exposed to ideas and ways of life we may consider to be harmful to their souls and their mental health.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/a-torah-perspective-on-educating-our-children-about-sexuality-part-viii/2009/10/12/

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