Summer is coming to an end, which means our kids are going to be around lots of new people without me. Which is great in so many ways, I want my kids to branch out and have those experiences and grow wings and all that fun stuff. But my sons are both at the age when so many kids are molested and I want to give them tools to protect themselves.
Except not really. A few weeks ago, I was talking with two fellow neighbor moms. One mother started talking about teaching her daughter stranger danger. I pointed out that most children who are molested are molested by someone they know. A friend, a neighbor, a family member. Both moms agreed with me but were a bit overwhelmed about how to even have this discussion with their children. It’s not enough to educate your children about strangers, we have to educate them about touching, bodies, secrets and safety. These are often more difficult to discuss with your children. I wanted to educate my sons, but not put unnecessary fear in their lives.
Last fall I ordered the book “God Made All of Me- A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies” by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. I was excited about this book for several reasons: it’s written from a Christian perspective, it’s recommended by GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and both Lindsey and Justin have written and spoken out about abuse to the Christian community. Lindsey Holcomb is a counselor and Justin is a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
What is inside “God Made All of Me”?
“God Made All of Me” isn’t going to win any awards for the most riveting plot features. Most of the plot a is discussion between two parents and their son and daughter. But the book covers all the important things that you need to discuss with your children. It opens using the first few questions from a children’s catechism and how ALL of your body is good. Parents will discuss good touch/ bad touch, private parts, feelings, and secrets as they work their way through this book. There is even an exercise to stop and list people who make you feel safe and strong. Your child’s answers may surprise you.
I read through this book ever few months with my sons (ages 6 and 4) and they enjoy it each time. Our discussions have not lead to fear or nervousness in my children. If anything, this book empowers my sons to have the words they need and the ability and confidence to say no to things that make them uncomfortable.
Empowering me to have the language to talk about these things with my children without being awkward or fearful is wonderful. “God Made All of Me” also has notes to parents at the beginning and end to give you further information and ideas to educate yourself and your children. Part of my responsibility as a parent is to have these ongoing conversations with my children. And this book takes so much of my fear out of that responsibility. I have confidence that I am having the conversations I need to have with my children using “God Made All of Me.”
How It Works in Our Family:
One fun side effect of using the language of consent and bodies is that I am teaching my children to respect each other’s bodies. My son’s know that when my 18-month-old is happily playing with them and then she screams about something she doesn’t like, they need to respect her body and her version of “no.” They know that just because she didn’t say the word “no” doesn’t mean that she is okay with what they are doing. Taking things from each other or hitting each other is not respecting each other’s bodies.
I want to share a funny epilogue to my discussion with my sons. Our little neighbor girl tried to come over and cause some divisiveness by telling secrets to one boy and not the other. We had already discussed that we don’t keep secrets in our family and both boys came running to me telling me that “Jane” was telling secrets and what she was doing wasn’t okay. I was so proud of both of them for understanding and applying the new information! “Jane’s” mom has also read this book has instituted the same rule for their family. Life is now more pleasant and safe for both families!
This book is a great tool to have in your parenting toolbox and I recommend it as a wonderful place to start having some important conversations with your children in a relaxed and natural way. I am so grateful to the Holcombs for their hard work and contribution to this book.