First Baptist Church of North Augusta would like to help parents face one of their most feared conversations with their child: the sex talk.
The program, Before They Ask, will be held Sunday nights in March. Each week, a class will be held geared to a certain age level, and parents only need to come on the weeks that cover their children’s ages.
Media exposes images that promote sexuality before it’s age appropriate and before marriage and, therefore, parents need to start out early talking with their children about sex, said Shari Hooper, a member of the church who will facilitate the classes.
Classes will be held for parents of children as young as 2.
“We feel like parents need to start early with their kids and identify specific names of private parts so discussion can start early,” Hooper said.
“Start the conversations early so that barrier is removed so kids will talk to you about it.”
She said it’s in parents’ best interest for their children to learn about sex from them, not the internet, TV or friends.
“You want them to get your values and how you feel they should behave,” she said.
It’s also not a one-time conversation, she said.
Hooper said parents often feel that if they talk about it, it’s going to promote it, and they hope that children automatically know their feelings about it or that the church will teach them.
Talking about it doesn’t promote it, she said, but it does prepare children for the time when they will become tempted.
Hooper said teaching a child begins as early as the diapering years. She said the attitude parents have and faces they make while changing a diaper can make a child feel uncomfortable about their body parts. Frustration shown to the child from the parent related to toilet training errors can produce shame.
“You want them to know they are God’s creation, and he created their body for an eventual sexual relationship within bounds of marriage,” she said.
The classes are for parents only, providing them with resources to help start the conversation at home.
Dena Riley, the children’s minister at First Baptist, said she has wanted to hold a class at the church for years and has been waiting for the right time. Hooper’s mother has a background in Christian sex therapy and came to Riley with the idea.
Riley said schools offer sex education, but parents can’t control what is being taught and can’t undo what their children learn. So it’s best to reach them at home first.
“(Sex) was intended to be a certain way for it to be a beautiful thing,” Riley said, adding that she wanted to make sure her own children grew up knowing that.
“I didn’t want my children to be ashamed of anything they had learned, heard, or be ashamed of their body,” she said.
“To me, it was something created by God for wonderful things, but I think in order for them to get that, I feel that they need to be taught that from a Christian perspective.”
Class dates for parents are as follows: March 4, ages 2 to 6; March 11, ages 6-10; March 18, ages 10-13; and March 25, ages 13 and older.
To sign up for a class, call the church at (803) 279-6370. Reservations for the free class are preferred for head count purposes, but Riley said people can show up without signing up in advance.