Lisa Septimus, speaking on “Where do babies come from? Addressing grownup matters with children,” opened with a teaching in which Rav Kahuna, hiding under Rav’s bed, hears the Rav and his wife talking and laughing, then engaging in intimate relations. As Rav Kahuna was found and chastised for being there, he said, “this is Torah and I must learn it.”
If we do not talk with our children about these matters, Septimus advised, they will Google their questions or ask the cool, “with-it” kids in school. Neither are good solutions. But what should we tell them, and at what point?
Septimus, yoetzet halacha of the Five Towns and of the Great Neck Synagogue, also cited the teaching that “one who studies Torah as a child can be likened to ink on a fresh piece of paper,” adding that a child’s initial understanding of body parts and privacy sets the stage for all future sexually-related knowledge.
She suggested that parents start talking about these things at a young age by labeling body parts and then add more detailed information periodically. Children should be taught that they should speak with their parents and doctors about these things, but not talk about them in public.
By the time they are teenagers, they should know that intimacy is a pleasurable thing, and parents can acknowledge that refraining from it is a challenge, and that is OK.