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Breaking the silence – Conversations about sexuality with your children

Breaking the silence - Conversations about sexuality with your children
Dr Cheah, Vice President of the Trinity Annual Conference and a medical doctor by training, conducted the hourlong Zoom presentation in an event organised by the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) Board of Family Life
(BoFL).

If the thought of your child asking you questions about the human genitalia makes you squirm, you are not alone. You would be a parent who would have benefited from the talk, “Breaking the Silence: Conversations about Sexuality with Your Children” by Dr Cheah Fung Fong on 14 Aug 2021.

Dr Cheah, Vice President of the Trinity Annual Conference and a medical doctor by training, conducted the hour-long Zoom presentation in an event organised by the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) Board of Family Life (BoFL). No stranger to talking about the birds and the bees to her three children, Dr Cheah not only masterfully packaged the topics into bite-sized and easy-to-comprehend pieces but also weaved in a biblical perspective that Christian parents would find invaluable when engaging their kids on sexuality matters.

Matters of sexuality, according to Dr Cheah, cover a broad spectrum from puberty, boy-girl relationships, masturbation, casual sex to subjects like gender identity and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) issues.

Some statistics Dr Cheah shared were both eye-opening and startling.

In 2009, The Straits Times reported that the average age when youth in Singapore had their first sexual encounter was 11, and more than half of them had three or more partners.1 More than a decade later, the youth sexuality and premarital sex scene has grown worse. Dr Cheah highlighted that 4 per cent of 13- to 15-year-olds had encountered pornography when they were nine or even younger; 88 per cent of them accessed such content through smartphones.2

The exponential rise of youths in Singapore who are saddled with their own sexuality doubts and issues is cause for alarm. It has made the need to engage our children on such matters more urgent by the day.

According to Dr Cheah, even though most youths would prefer to confide in friends and peers, parents remain important adult figures whom they would approach. “Of those who speak to the adults, mothers account for 33 per cent of those who youths would turn to while fathers take up 16.8 per cent,” she said.

However, Dr Cheah advised parents to start early as anecdotal evidence shows puberty is now starting at a younger age. In fact, girls may experience it as early as 11 or even younger. It does not help either that the mass media, social media, the internet and even video games bombard children with unsavoury messages that either give a distorted picture of sexual relations or hypersexualise the genders.

So what is the Christian parent to do?

Being comfortable, connected and consistent

In this age where information is readily and easily available with just a Google search, Dr Cheah reminded her audience that there are few barriers to getting facts relating to teen or youth sexuality.

Despite this, Dr Cheah emphasised that what needs to change is the parents’ level of comfort and confidence when discussing sexuality matters with their children. Rather than shying away from such conversations, parents must be on a lookout for teaching moments to bring their messages effectively across to their kids.

Another area that Dr Cheah recommended for parents to work on is being connected and current with whatever their children are interested at that point in time. Meaningful communication can then take place since parents would be able to speak to their children on their level and hopefully impress on them a wholesome biblical framework which can then act as their guide to life.

An example that Dr Cheah brought up was the movie adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which included a gay character. If the children are equipped with a sound biblical worldview, they would then be able to be guided with an appropriate Christian response in the face of such influences.

Listen, listen and listen

Traditionally, the Asian family structure featured a top-down communication dynamic between parent and child. This has to change in response to the times, particularly when children enter their teens.

“I always tell my audience there are three important things that make up effective communication. First, it is to listen. Second, it is to listen. The third, you guessed it, is to listen,” emphasised Dr Cheah. She went on to illustrate the GLAD model of “Give full attention. Listen with eyes and ears. Ask questions. Don’t lecture”.

“Very often, despite what we think, our kids already know what are the right things to do. As parents, we should play the role of a mirror that asks them questions and allows them to think and reflect upon themselves. As a result, you will be surprised that the solution that you wanted to offer them will actually be coming out of their mouths,” said Dr Cheah. “And when it comes out of their own mouths, it becomes so much more effective because they will take their own advice.”

Seeding God’s messages

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6). Parents should do likewise when it comes to schooling their children on how God views their sexuality. Dr Cheah advised parents to start the journey early to seed God’s positive messages on sex in their children’s lives.

She offered three Ms that parents can instil into their kids’ minds: “Master, Mission, Mate”. With this, the young ones will come to know and acknowledge God as their Master who has given each of them a Mission or a purpose in their lives and that He knows it is not good to go it alone so to each one He would send a Mate to journey with them in fulfilling that Mission.

In this way, children will have a coherent structure that will be of help in looking at sexuality issues like the sanctity of sexual relations or how to engage the opposite gender through God’s eyes.

More importantly, according to Dr Cheah, what parents must ultimately do is to have their children ground their individual identities in God. Young people must grow up with a clear picture of their relationship with God and how God sees them—as His children.

“Ephesians 1:5 says, ‘And before the world was made, God decided to make us His own children through Jesus Christ’”, said Dr Cheah. “And once our children know who they are, and that they belong to Christ, then all the other things will flow from their lives.”

For updates and information on similar events and talks, follow the Chinese Annual Conference Board of Family Life’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CACBOFL/


1 Straits Times, 25 Oct 2009.

2 Touch Cyberwellness Study that included 921 students aged 13 to 15. The report was quoted in The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2019.

For a more detailed read on Dr Cheah’s advice on how to engage your children in conversation over sexuality matters, you can download a free copy of her Help! How do I Talk to My Child About Love, Sex, and Marriage. Scan the QR code for your copy.

Jason Woo is the Communications Executive at MCS Comms.

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