Preparing our sons for manhood can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to teaching them about life and sexuality. We want to protect them from pornography, inform them about the changes they will experience in puberty, and teach them about healthy sexuality. Fathers often ask me where to find good resources to accomplish these tasks with their sons. In this article, I want to discuss three excellent resources that should be used before your son enters middle school.
- Education on the Dangers of Pornography. Today pornographic images abound in all forms of media. While we would like to shield our sons from this, it’s almost impossible. However, we can teach out sons about the dangers of pornography and to come talk to us when they encounter any. This can protect them from the harmful effects of those images. To achieve this, I recommend the book, Good Pictures/Bad Pictures: Porn-proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenson and Debbie Fox. This book is written for children ages 8 and above. I recommend reading this book with your son just before he enters third grade. That is the grade where many kids are first exposed to pornography. Through reading this book with your son, and your ongoing conversations with him, you will help your son learn to reject all forms of pornography.
- Informing Your Son about Puberty: Adolescence is a time of great change for most boys. There are physical, sexual, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual changes that occur during this time. It’s important to teach your son about this so that when it happens it’s not a shock to him. He will be ready for it! One book I recommend that can help is Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys by Cara Natterson. Surprisingly, this book is published by American Girl (the folks who make the American Girl Dolls!); however, it’s an excellent book to teach your son about puberty. It covers all aspects of puberty, not just the physical and sexual changes. Moreover, it pushes no political agenda (i.e. homosexuality, abortion, masturbation, birth control, etc.). It simply presents the straight truth about puberty. I recommend reading this with your son just before he enters fourth grade. This may seem a little early; however, kids today are entering puberty early, and you want to educate him on this before he gets it in school or from his peers.
- Teaching Your Son about Sexuality: All kids are curious about where babies come from. Eventually we need to teach our sons about this. This is probably the most anxiety-ridden conversation we will have with our sons. Few men look forward to having “the talk” with their sons. One book that can make this a little easier is Wonderfully Made! Babies: A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies by Ellen Giangiordano and Dr. Lester Ruppersberger. This book is written for kids ages nine and older. I recommend reading this with your son just before he enters fifth grade. Having been through Good Pictures/Bad Pictures and Guy Stuff, your son will be ready to learn about sex. Wonderfully Made Babies presents human sexually beautifully and from a Catholic perspective. It is solidly based on a scientific research on human sexuality and the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality. Any father can feel safe using this book to teach his son about sexuality.
With these three books, and ongoing conversations, fathers can feel confident that by the time their sons enter middle school they will be able to recognize and reject pornography, be ready for the changes of puberty, and have a healthy understanding of human sexuality. Now, while your conversations about these topics will need to continue throughout their teen years, you and your son will have a firm foundation for those conversations, which will make them easier to have.