GodsDesign Sampler FULLSAMPLER-compressed - Page 34

How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex
Children begin to form their gender identity quite early. The first ingredients may be biological, but parents start contributing immediately. We
typically make quite a big deal out of whether the child is a boy or a girl,
and we base some of our expectations for the child on its sex. Some of these
may be helpful, but some can come from unhelpful or restrictive stereotypes
we assume. Young children are not typically taught explicitly about their
gender identity. Rather, they absorb a sense of it in the normal course of
family life. They watch their parents intently, filing away what they observe
and responding to parental expectations.
The solidification of the child’s identity as a boy or a girl probably
takes place before the age of five. Between ages three and five, children go
through a period of intense curiosity about and investment in identification
with their gender. This often comes out in statements such as, “Girls are
better than boys!” or, “Dad, can just us men in the family go camping?” It
can also be expressed in idealistic ways: “I hope I’m beautiful and loving
like you, Mom, when I grow up.”
Once, we could have said that all but a tiny fraction of children achieved
the “final” solidification of their gender identity as either male or female at
this stage. While this still may be true for the majority, our increasingly progressive and sexually confused culture is challenging and complicating this
final solidification of gender identity for many of our children.7 Christian
parents will have to work harder on an ongoing basis to reinforce their child’s
identification as a boy or girl and defend it against erosion by their child’s
environment at school, popular and social media, and their child’s peer group.
Ongoing affirmation of their identity as male or female and gentle, biblically
grounded challenging of the growing m
­ ind-­set favoring “gender fluidity” will
be necessary. We discuss the basics of this process in the next few pages and
in chapter 14, and we provide further examples in the books for ages eight
to twelve and twelve to sixteen in the God’s Design for Sex series, What’s the
Big Deal? and Facing the Facts.
Sexual orientation no doubt takes shape later than and builds upon gender identity. Again, the first ingredients may be biological, but parents play a
significant role. There is a strong history of clinical therapeutic wisdom suggesting that secure gender identification facilitates the natural development
of sexual orientation toward the opposite sex. In this tradition, disruption


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