Parents teaching their children about sexuality

Parents teaching their children about sexuality

Right on line with my previous post on parents abdicating their responsibilities to their children and institutions arrogating it to themselves, I received an email today from Catholic Parents OnLine, which has produced a DVD entitled “A Parent’s Guide: Teaching the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.” (There’s a trailer on their site; go watch it.)

The video is based on the 1995 document from the Pontifical Council for the Family entitled “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality - Guidelines for Education Within the Family”. The document was a response to the growing push for sex education in schools and even in religious education programs, everywhere but in the home. However, this document reiterates the Church’s teaching that parents are the “primary educators of their children,” including in matters relating to sexuality. This is primacy not just in chronology (i.e. because they’re the first to have contact with the baby), but in the order of authority. Not even the institution of the Church can usurp that primacy.

The web site also clarifies that the DVD is not intended as a sex education program, quoting Father Robert Altier:

This video does not attempt to teach sex education not does it attempt to bypass the parents or take their place, rather it is an attempt to provide a context and some confidence to parents as they strive to educate their children.


  • I am interested in your statement that not even the institution of the Church can usurp a parent’s role as the primary educator of his children.  With so many cafeteria Catholics running around who espouse views that are on occasion 100% contrary to official Church teaching (for example: masturbation and birth control), what is the Church’s obligation to these Catholic children?

  • Agreed.  But back to my example: many parents teach their children that masturbation is a natural part of adolescence/puberty although perhaps something that should be rare and private.  (Even in my all-boys Catholic high school we were told by the clergy, “Well, I guess its OK once in a while, so long as you’re alone in your room or the bathroom.”)  Can I conclude that in your view the parents in my example are doing that which is sinful?  What is the Church’s obligation to these children when their parents flout church teaching?  Should the Church wait until the child is an adult to say your parents are wrong?

  • The parents are doing something objectively immoral. Whether it is a sin for which they are culpable is a subjective determination.

    The Church should continue to teach chastity and adherence to the 10 commandments in whatever venue these children are present. If the children are presented for the sacraments the priest has an obligation to determine if they are well-formed. If they come to Mass or parish/parochial school religious education, they should hear the Church’s teaching.

    The Church does not need to say “your parents are wrong.” The Church should says “This is the truth.”