Talking Sex by the Book
By Patricia Weerakoon
Published by Youthworks Media
My friends and I used to laugh in our early twenties at the awkward conversations we had with our parents about where babies came from and what those bits were called. Now the tables have turned, and we’re navigating these topics with our own children.
It feels trickier for us, given how early children are exposed to sexualised things and how much more complex discussions are than they were in the mid-’90s. My daughter is only 17 months old but I suspect conversations about birds, bees and bits are not as far away as I once thought.
The final instalment of the 'By the Book' series is about positive sex education
With this final instalment in the “By the Book” series, our favourite Sri Lankan sexologist is back to help parents, grandparents and anyone who knows younger people answer the big and sometimes awkward questions of life.
The first part of the book deals with parenting principles and offers guidance for positive sex education conversations. The second part deals with the topics you might need to discuss, from how the body develops to love and desires. The third covers the hot topics on teens’ minds – and parents be warned: Dr Weerakoon probably mentions some questions you are praying your child isn’t even thinking about.
After 12 years of youth ministry, I have seen variations of almost every question Dr Weerakoon addresses, whether it be in youth group discussions or on their personal Instagram or Tik Tok accounts. Section three should be mandatory reading for all youth leaders. The most loving thing you can do for teens in your care is be ready to listen and gently point them to God’s word in every situation.
The book’s reflection questions are helpful springboards for conversations. I’m a nerd, so I wrote down all the relevant questions and have been forcing my husband to discuss them with me over dinner. We’ve explored how we were raised and how we want to approach issues such as sleepovers, phone use, camps and other situations. Not only do I think it’s fun to hear his approach, it helps us to understand each other so we can work as a team to raise our daughter.
Look for small moments
The book emphasises laying a solid foundation through many small moments, rather than saving sex education for one big awkward talk (or leaving it to school and youth group). Every day I parent my child, small moments of connection help build trust and openness. The way I love my husband matters too, because kids learn about relationships from our teamwork and love, and they also learn they can come to us with questions and concerns.
Dr Weerakoon is engaging, clear and makes complex research accessible, providing confidence that the things she is saying are based in Scripture and science. Also, the book’s layout and style is aesthetically pleasing – a subtle thing, but it helps make the book readable at the end of a long day.
Conversations about sex can be awkward. Our own experiences and what we want to believe about our children’s innocence can cloud what young ones need to hear. But God is good, he has made sex good in its right context, and he has entrusted us to educate our kids and youth in his ways.
I not only feel prepared but empowered to tackle these discussions in a way that will glorify God without Bible-bashing my kid. Dr Weerakoon’s helpful breakdown of different ages and stages of discussion make me feel ready to begin teaching my daughter now about the great way God designed her body and lay a good foundation for the future.