Real Life. Real Talk. is a program developed by Planned Parenthood, tested in four pilot states and now distributed nationally, in which parents are being asked to acknowledge that babies are sexual beings. The materials are designed to "encourage parents to ease their children’s transition into a sexually active lifestyle" from birth. It suggests that parents who discourage their baby's self-discovery risk creating a sense of shame and a lack of trust in their children.
Human sexuality cannot be denied; human beings were created to be compatible -- male and female. Mature sexuality is a gift with a unitive and procreative purpose; it was not meant to be used exclusively for personal pleasure.
The world would have us think otherwise, ever tempting and distracting us with sense pleasure. Thankfully, God provided man with the gifts of reason and faith and the ability to make rational choices; to advance in creation; to name and responsibly govern all of creation. (cf. Gen 1:26) As part of governing creation, parents are given the responsibility for the moral training of their children.
Adam and Eve, the first parents, did the unthinkable -- they turned their backs on God's gifts. What was once innocent and pure became tainted by self-centeredness and shame. Man needed to cover his nakedness and learn to protect and preserve the his purity and chastity. He had to struggle with lust, a sense pleasure that consumes. St. Thomas Aquinas considers venereal pleasures (sexual activity) among those human actions that "above all debauch a man's mind. Therefore lust is especially concerned with such like pleasures." (Summa Theologica, II, Q 153, A1) Parents must teach their children how to govern the passions and use the gift of sexuality wisely and freely -- freely, in that they remain in God's will, behaving virtuously. This takes years of compassionate instruction, good example and sensitivity to intellectual and physical development.
Babies and toddlers engage in discovery -- they explore their environment and themselves. These little people test limits and learn who they are and how they function in body and in space. Research indicates natural curiosity is appropriate; there are numerous articles written on the subject. The world is one large zone of discovery for a baby/toddler; without a guide in this new world, a child is at great risk who has no clear moral guidance while developing a sense of healthy body image and sexual identity. Parents are meant to be that guide, to care for and protect their children. They are meant to teach right and wrong in a loving and compassionate manner. We are the primary educators of our children. (cf. CCC 2223)
Encouraging children to explore and become comfortable with sexual self-pleasuring behaviors is an invitation to dangerous and even lethal behaviors in their formative years. If a child is encouraged to explore sexual self-discovery, why can't that child explore and be sexually curious about another child? Should we allow toddlers to fondle each other? Even experts are careful to point out the dangers of inappropriate exposure to sexual material and list dangerous behaviors to watch for in a child that has been over-sexualized. Regardless, Planned Parenthood continues to promote a perilous sexual awareness agenda.
Sexualizing children is simply a way of persuading otherwise respectable and responsible adults into thinking there is nothing they can do to prevent early childhood developmental behaviors from becoming sexual activity. Parents are expected to accept and promote these behaviors in their children, their families, in the culture, rather than help their children understand the proper purpose of sexuality. When attention is shifted away from the stigma attached to sexual activity at younger and younger ages, it also assists in the desensitization of the culture to more deviant sexual activity. The more society engages in early sexual awareness and discovery in children, the easier it will be to excuse what we now consider abusive and deviant behaviors.
If there is a sense of shame that develops regarding sexual behaviors, it results from an inner awareness that there is an appropriate and an inappropriate use of human sexuality. Shame, guilt, and remorse develop when what we do feels wrong. Parents can help children avoid these negative feelings, these warning signs that occur in dangerous moral territory, by teaching them about virtuous behavior and respect for their body and the dignity of the human person. Although intimacy is quite pleasurable, it's not just about seeking pleasure, and parents need to reclaim the moral formation and sexual education of their children thwarting the efforts of Planned Parenthood to promote their sexualizing agenda.