by Louise Kirk
(Freedom Publishing, 2013, 150pp, $19.95
ISBN 978-1-78182-982-0. Available from Freedom Publishing.)
Subtitled "A guide for parents and children", Sexuality Explained is designed to facilitate discussion between parents and their children on the range of issues associated with sexuality: sex, love and reproduction.
Louise Kirk is the UK co-ordinator for Alive to the World, a program which can be used at home or school, presenting personal, social and health education for young people in a Christian context.
Young people today are saturated in sexual material – from TV, radio and magazines, school courses in biology and human relationships and, of course, from their peers.
Unfortunately, such information will often be incomplete, incorrect or lack any moral compass. The problem is compounded when children are told that human sexuality is the same as animal biology.
To address these problems, Kirk has imaginatively created a series of conversations – between mother and daughter, and father and son – in which parents are taught how to respond to their children's natural inquisitiveness, to explain to them not just the biological differences between men and women, but more importantly, how God has created these very differences to assist parents to share intimate love and to create new human life.
Most of the conversations in the book are quite detailed and above the level of pre-adolescent children. One of the major problems in existing sex education programs is that they ignore children's natural latency period, when their minds are not preoccupied with concerns about sex and sexual development.
To disturb this natural period can cause children anxiety and trauma, and parents are uniquely placed to know how answer questions in a way which is consistent with their children's natural development.
However, parents' own lack of confidence often discourages them from discussing these important questions with their children. If Sexuality Explained empowers parents to take up the challenge of educating their children in this area, it will have served a valuable purpose.
As the author points out, children develop at different rates and, for that reason alone, it is important that parents, as the first educators of their children, should take the leading role in imparting information and values to them in the area of love and responsibility.
The book has been extensively trialled with parents, and their response has been overwhelmingly positive. It can also be used for teenagers to read and ponder.
At every point, Kirk makes clear that human sexuality is not merely a matter of biology. Rather, she shows how body, mind and spirit are integrated, and sexuality is a good and natural part of every person.