Catholic Activity: Elementary Parent Pedagogy: Teaching Purity at the Elementary Age
After learning how to imitate Jesus out of love, purity is the virtue that accompanies love. Here we learn how to introduce and reinforce purity with our children, and ideas on beginning sex instruction.
The virtue that goes best with love is purity. How shall we teach purity? Here are a few principles to follow:
- At night prayers, when the family recites them together, say: "Keep me pure in soul and body, because I am the temple of God."
- On Holy Communion days, say that we must never do anything bad with our bodies, because they are sacred after having received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
- Impress upon children that if they see or hear anything nasty or immodest, they should think about our Lord or Blessed Lady, or about some good story, — something to prevent the bad idea from getting strong hold on the mind.
- Above all, do your best to retain the confidence of the children so that when questions about sex arise, they will ask you the answers. From early childhood keep saying, "Always ask Mother or Father if any child tells you puzzling things. Don't ask him to explain, — come home and ask."
When to Speak and What to Say About Sex
Today, when we live in pagan surroundings, we must be wide awake to discover when our children require sex instruction. Certainly parents must do the instructing, the mothers for the girls and the fathers for the boys. If you have the confidence of the children, they will ask you questions. People talk so freely today that by twelve or thirteen, many children need instructing. Rules to follow:
- 1. Do not tell lies or fairy tales or silly things about storks. The custom of having little children observe how cats and dogs breed is not a good one in the opinion of this writer. The animal side of sex should not be emphasized. It is far better to give a straightforward yet delicate explanation, always bringing God into your account.
- Say from the earliest days that God creates each individual soul and gives the baby to the mother. For years this amount of information will suffice.
- Later, when you think need has arisen, explain clearly and briefly that God creates the soul in the baby inside the mother. Tell the story of our Blessed Lady, — how she bore the Infant Jesus in her womb, as the "Hail Mary" tells us. For years this may suffice. Everything depends upon the child's companions. If he has been trained not to carry on whispered conversations with other children, and always to refer important things to his parents, he will not learn evil.
- Later still, explain that life is the result of the love of both father and mother, and that by their union God makes a new person, a baby.
- Explain the Sacrament of Matrimony. For a splendid instruction on this whole subject of sex, with suggestions as to just what to say, get the pamphlet called How to Give Sex Instructions [Editor's Note: This pamphlet is out of print.].
Purity Shining Light
Purity really means cleanness. Help the child to keep his thoughts directed to Christ and to love Him so much that he wants to copy Him. Nobody can imagine Christ as anything but a shining white light of purity. Copy Him in that.
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938