Sex Ed: Model Dialogue Teachable Moment

The second component is the use of the “teachable moment.” When you seize a teachable moment, you move spontaneously from an event into a related teaching opportunity. The event may be a beer commercial during a ball game, bath time, toilet training, a neighbor who is obviously pregnant, baby-sitting lessons that lead an older child to watch while you are changing a diaper, seeing a woman breast-feeding her baby, unusual genitals on a zoo animal (“Mommy, what is that?! Is it sick?”), a neighborhood dog mounting and thrusting on a child’s leg, or an innocent report of a dirty joke going around that the child does not understand. In a teachable moment, you seize the moment to teach your child.

A father rounds the corner in his home to find his four-year-old girl sitting in the middle of her room naked and bent over looking at her vaginal opening. She has her fingers pulling apart her labia. As she hears him, she suddenly sits upright and looks guilty. This is a situation that would be very easy to pass over, to ignore, or to let his wife deal with. But how could this be a teaching opportunity?

PARENT: Hi! What were you looking at?

CHILD: Nothing … (a look of guilt and embarrassment).”

PARENT: Were you looking at your vagina? That is a fine thing to look at, you know.

CHILD: No … yeah.

PARENT: It really is a wonderful part of you to look at and to understand. Do you know why? Because God made that part of you just like He made the rest of you. Who made that vagina?

CHILD: God did!

PARENT: And do you know what your vagina is for? It is so amazing that God made you so that some day, if you marry and God blesses you with children, a baby will live and grow in your tummy for nine months and then come out through your vagina so that you can hold it, and nurse it, and love it like we love you.

CHILD: Does Tammy (a neighbor who had just given birth) have a vagina? Is that where her baby came out?

PARENT: Yes, that’s right. And do you know if boys have a vagina?

CHILD: No, they don’t. They have a penis.

PARENT: That is exactly right. Boys are blessed by God to have a penis, but girls are blessed by God with a vagina. Boys will never know what it means to have a baby grow inside and then to let it out through a vagina. Do you ever want to have a baby?

CHILD: Yes, I do!