I had a mom come to me just this past week, concerned about what her 3rd grade child was hearing. (His male teacher came to class with multi-colored fingernail polish and tight shorts, and the first book they read as a class promoted the idea of multiple genders).
As a pastor, one of the issues I am talking with parents about regularly is how to handle the changing sexual values being promoted in schools. Transgenderism is in all the headlines—it’s also being promoted in many schools. It’s challenging, and for many, scary. How do we prepare our children for what is coming?
For some, they can switch to a private school or homeschool. For others, that may not be possible. What can they do? Here are a few suggestions:
Be the first to talk about sex
The first one to talk about a subject sets the standard. The very first pizza I ever had became the standard that all other pizza was measured against. That’s true of every area of life, including ideas about sex. The first person who gives information sets the parameters of the debate and is looked at as the authority. If you talk about sex first, your child will evaluate other things they hear in light of what you have told them.
Talk to your kids about sex before they get to the classroom. Start as early as you can—answer their questions in an age-appropriate way, but honestly, from a young age. Make talking about sex normal! You may have to go beyond what you are comfortable with—but your kids won’t know that. They will take their cues from you. If you treat talking about sex as normal, they will too.
Prepare them for what they will hear
With a little research, you can easily find what the basic ideas and teachings are on any issue. In our day, the key issue often boils down to a new definition of gender—that it is different from sex, that it is socially constructed, and that there are innumerable options. Let your kids know that some people will be teaching that, and while they aren’t bad people, they are wrong.
When your kids come home saying that the teacher said what you said they would say (follow that?), you will gain credibility in your kid’s eyes. They will believe you know what you are talking about and your influence will increase.
Give them a Christian worldview
I’ve heard it said that the #1 job of any leader, including parents, is to define reality. That means giving people a way to think about life, a worldview that enables them to understand what they are hearing and what is behind it.
That means explaining to kids why some people are teaching about transgenderism. They have a misguided desire to spare people’s feelings who are confused; they don’t know God or understand his ways; they have a worldview that says feelings are all that matter; etc. We often explained to our kids that when people don’t know what God says, they just make up things that make sense to them but often are wrong. If they are old enough you can take them through Romans 1 to explain what is happening in the world.
Teach them the truth
It isn’t enough to expose the lies; we must also equip them with the truth. Explain that God made people male and female (and that’s all). But being male—being a man—doesn’t mean every guy is going to be like John Wayne. You can be a man and be quiet, or shy. You can be a man and be emotional, creative, or artistic. Those might seem like “feminine attributes” to some, but those aren’t what make you a man.
The truth is that some boys like to read, sing, or draw pictures; some girls like to climb trees and play sports. That’s personality and temperament, not gender. A girl who likes to roughhouse isn’t a boy! She’s a girl who likes to play a certain way. We have to help our kids understand that superficial qualities like preferences don’t define us. What God says defines us.
Stay on top of things
Our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did. We can’t assume that they are being taught the things we are taught. So we need to stay involved—looking over their homework, asking questions about what they are learning, and talking to teachers. And take time to educate yourself on the issue(s).
If we do, we can equip a generation who can stand for God in the midst of a culture that has lost its way; a generation who can offer hope to people who will eventually find out that they have been taught wrong, often with serious consequences. We need to equip our children, both for their sake and the sake of others who are being hurt by what they are being taught.
Dave Frederick is a church planter and pastor, and publisher of Leaders Book Summaries and Conservative Book Summaries. He’s passionate about helping leaders reach their potential and seeing the church have the impact God intends it to have. Dave and his wife live in the Wheaton, IL and are enjoying adjusting to being empty-nesters.