Have You Had the Other “Talk” with Your Kids Yet?

Have You Had the Other “Talk” with Your Kids Yet?

Have you had “the talk” with your kids yet? No, I’m not talking about that talk, not the birds and the bees, but the other talk that I think all Catholic parents need to have with their kids, and at a fairly young age at that. “The talk” to which I am referring is the one about abortion. Yes, you read that correctly. I think all Catholic parents need to make a very great effort to have an open, honest, and of course, Christ-centered discussion with their children about one of the greatest horrors our world has ever known, before they teach them about puberty, sex, and where babies come from. If we leave it until then, the world has already had plenty of time to taint them with the ease of contraception and abortion on demand.

Having grown up the youngest of a rather large Catholic family, the sanctity of human life is a topic that was always considered of the utmost importance. My parents never shied away from telling us the truth about the “big issues”, including abortion, and making sure that they explained them to us in a way that both agreed with Church teaching and was understandable to children. It is because of this that I worked in the pro-life movement for many years myself. To me, and to many others, it is not only an issue; it is the issue.

That being said, it’s “the” issue that most, even among those who consider themselves to be pro-life, feel squeamish about when discussing it with small children. It’s understandable. How does one explain to a little one that some in our world think it perfectly acceptable, even to the point of calling it a “right”, to rip another human being limb from limb and destroy them simply because he has the misfortune to still be inside his mother’s womb? It’s not easy. I know, from personal experience. I’ve tried myself as a mother of my own little brood to make my children aware of the horrors of abortion. This might seem rather harsh, considering that my oldest is only seven. I don’t want to taint their innocence or expose them to the evils of the world too soon. I don’t even let them watch cartoons more violent that the 1960s version of Spiderman. If, however, we refuse to expose our children to the sad reality of abortion, in a controlled setting, in a loving environment, where their questions and concerns can be addressed with the love which only parents can provide, then we are only adding to the problem. They will grow up and be as susceptible to the lies of the culture of death as everyone else. Unless we instill in them that “a person’s a person, no matter how small” (thank you very much, Dr. Seuss), they may begin to believe that a person’s a person only if he or she is big, or important, or convenient. If, on the other hand, we begin, in developmentally appropriate language, from an early age, to mold their understanding of what abortion actually is, rather than marring their innocence, we are protecting it. We are protecting their belief in all that is holy and good in this world. We are protecting in them the intrinsic sense that every new life is wonderful and Willed, and precious, with which each of us is born. If we start at an early age, we stand a chance of making a lifelong impression on our children that may help them choose to work towards the end of this evil.

It’s easy to talk about all of this in general terms, but how does one speak to a four year old about murder? For me, it was easiest to start with the simplest truth: abortion is something that hurts babies and mommies. From there, we took it to the next level, and explained that it is something that ends the life of the baby, and that the mothers were still hurt, even though they are involved in it. We always make it clear that the mother is a victim in many cases, even as much as she is a perpetrator, and encourage our children to pray for all involved. We pray as a family for an end to abortion, for the babies, the mothers, the fathers, and, when they’re old enough, we’ll encourage them to take peaceful action. (“Old enough” is very subjective, and that’s why I believe it best for parents to have these discussions with their own children, as we know what they’ll be able to comprehend.) For now though, we’ll just keep taking baby steps until they fully realize what abortion is and why it is wrong, and hope and pray that by starting early, we’re building a solid foundation on which they can build a culture of life.

11 Comments

  1. Well said. I don’t have any kids yet, but I often wonder how I’d approach the subject. One certainly doesn’t want to frighten their children, but at the same time, as you pointed out, if they don’t learn about it at a young age, the risk of being taken in by the empty promises of the culture of death are great. I think you’re doing a great job by giving them developmentally appropriate information as they grow.

  2. You are absolutely right. I personally think that the younger the children, the better. They need to hear the truth so that it will be on their minds. I remember my mother having “the talk” with me at a very young age and the words that she said, “Don’t ever do anything to disturb the process.” I never forgot those words and I always told my children when they were young that this is what my mother had told me. I was never offended by it, I was grateful, and I understood it. She did it in the simplest of terms. Don’t disturb God’s plans.

  3. Well, I’d like to point out that your Dr. Seuss comment is taken way out of context. Horton Hears a Who is about the American occupation of Japan after World War II. It is an anti-war very liberal message. In fact, Seuss’ wife has threatened to sue most major pro-life groups for the misappropriation of the phrase.

    Also, instead to teaching your seven year old about abortion perhaps you should be teaching a craft or how to cook or invest in a karate class. I understand your children a very sheltered but think how sheltering them will work out in the end? Slowly introduce them to the world, the good and the bad and they will be able to make their own choices–mature, educated choices.
    Shelter them forever and they will see the world in the bubble you created for them.

    • Interesting about Dr. Seuss. I supposed it goes along with the sentiment found in The Lorax.

      I don’t think that teaching a child about a certain concept will prevent them from learning a new skill or anything else for that matter. I’m not sure where you are finding the idea of sheltering children in this post – the idea is to actually convey the world to them in a responsible way. If that’s your idea of being sheltered, is the preferred alternative that parents leave the formation of their children to the state or society in general?

      • Andrew: When Andrea says, “sheltered,” I think she means that the blog author’s children are being homeschooled, and seemingly for the sole purpose of indoctrinating them with the parents’ belief system, while purporting that she is “protecting their innocence.” She has made a conscious choice NOT to address the realities of the wider world in an objective context and allow children to think critically and form their own opinions outside of the religious “bubble.”

        My problem with this post is that she is exposing her young children to the concept of abortion when she hasn’t even spoken to them about “the birds and the bees.” Someone please tell me how that is justifiable.

        • Even if Andrea’s meaning of “sheltered” was in reference to homeschooling, I find it to be rather inaccurate seeing as that I was homeschooled my entire life until college and currently find myself as one who was not sheltered, but taught to engage the world (and run a classy blog). Sure, there are some parents out there that homeschool their children in order to fulfill overprotective tendencies, but they aren’t really the ones to bring up abortion to their kids are they?

          I don’t think that beginning to teach one’s kids about abortion in very general terms, as Bridget said, before discussing sex in specific terms is something that needs to be justified. I think it is acceptable to answer a child who has just asked about abortion, saying, “abortion is something that hurts babies and mommies” the same way a parent might say, “mommy and daddy love each other very much, which is why [little brother] is with us” in response to a child questioning the cause of a sibling’s existence. Has the parent told the kids about abortion or “the birds and the bees?” Not really, but has revealed part of the truth.

  4. Well said.

  5. Wonderful article! I don’t think I’ve ever thought of having this “talk” with my kids. They’re only two and four years-old. My wife and I do, however, take them to daily mass and we do pray our rosary with them (most) every night. I don’t think they’re unaware of the things we pray for. But making a conscious effort to ingrain in them the sense of the sacredness of every human life is a very bold move to which I believe (and you are correct) every parent must strive with his or her children. Thanks for the suggestions!

  6. The whole point of the post was simply that if we wish our children to understand the reality of abortion and why it is wrong, we need to carefully and consistently teach them about what it is, what it does, and to whom it does it. I have yet to meet a child over the age of three who didn’t know instinctively that a pre-born child is in fact a person. This is why I believe, without going into details about the sexual act, one can, in good conscience, teach a child that because it is, in fact, a separate person growing inside a mother’s body, that it is wrong to harm or murder said person. No one is suggesting showing “The Silent Scream” to a four year old, hence the “age-appropriate” aspect of the discussions.
    As for the Theo. Geisel quotation, it doesn’t need to be in context, as I wasn’t speaking about the story, but about the issue of personhood. A person is, in fact, a person, no matter how big or small he is. I doubt there’s a pro-life Catholic out there who doesn’t know to what despicable things the Geisel’s donate their money.
    As a product of homeschooling myself, I have to agree with Andrew. Instead of spending eight hours a day in a room full of people my own age and more or less within my own socio-economic and ethnic groups, I was encouraged to spend time with people of all ages and backgrounds and form friendships based on shared interests as opposed to the convenience of proximity. I volunteered, held down two different (non-menial) jobs, and enjoyed time with friends. I was anything but sheltered.
    Isn’t it a parent’s job to attempt to pass down her values to her children? It is not only my right as a parent but something I believe to be my sacred duty as a specifically Catholic parent.

    • Wow! It never ceases to amaze me how quickly someone’s back goes up when the word abortion is mentioned as a bad thing. The insults start flying. You’re rigid, over-protective, sheltered, an indoctrinator. I suppose Andrea would applaud you if you sent your child to be indoctrinated in a public school while balancing his upbringing with the all important life lessons taught at karate class? Do you have any idea how many times my physical and spiritual life has depended on smashing 2X4′s with my feet? Seriously, I wonder sometimes if people realize God didn’t give your children to the local school board but to you, with all the responsibilities and rewards that that entails? My children know what pregnancy is and what abortion is. I can’t very well tell them it’s a baby when it’s inside Mommy and pretend it’s a blob of tissue inside someone else.

      These are the same people who don’t take children to funerals because it’s sad. Wake up! Sometime’s life is sad. Sometime’s it’s scary. Sometime’s it’s confusing. But a life steeped in faith and hope can endure hard times.

  7. We also tend to talk to our kids about abortion when they’re young, but we always wait for them to bring it up. Since we go to the March For Life, it does tend to come up early! I think that kids are naturally pro-life because of their strong sense of justice. After all, the baby in the womb didn’t do anything wrong – didn’t pull someone’s hair, didn’t break daddy’s lamp, didn’t spill paint all over the carpet. So why in the world would we punish a baby because something bad happened to the mommy?
    Great article!