Only a short time ago, it would have been unthinkable that young children would be introduced to transgenderism. However, it is a reality today. Children are regularly in class with boys and girls who are identifying as the opposite sex, all while our larger cultural is doing its best to disciple our youngest neighbors to embrace the sexual revolution. Christian parents instinctively know this is wrong but are often at a loss when it comes to talking though these issues with their preschoolers and elementary-age kids. That’s why Marty Machowski, a father and pastor, has written God Made Boys and Girls. Below, he talks about this resource and why it will help moms and dads celebrate God’s good design for gender and sexuality in an age-appropriate way.
Champ Thornton: At what age do parents need to start having conversations with their kids about gender?
Marty Machowski: When you consider that some public schools are reading books like I Am Jazz, which promotes a pro-transgender understanding of gender to young children, as well as the larger cultural message of the sexual revolution, you realize how important it is to build a biblical understanding of gender and sexuality in children from a very young age.
CT: How does a parent make the determination of what is age appropriate for their child and what is too much to share?
MM: As a parent, I wanted to be the one to introduce teaching on intimate topics with my children. I set out with a guideline that I would teach God’s plan for sex in marriage to my children when they were 10 years old. Then, when they turned 13, I would teach them how the world twists sexuality, and I’d talk about LGBTQ topics. But I had to adjust that timeline downward when my children were exposed to those ideas at a younger age.
I didn’t have to teach my children about the idea of gender fluidity before they were 10 years old because it wasn’t such a promoted issue 10 years ago. But today, I would begin teaching my children biblical identity in gender and sexuality in purposeful conversation from about 3 years old by affirming God made my son a boy or my daughter a girl.
CT: Should parents start the conversation by reading God Made Boys and Girls to their children or wait until the topic of gender comes up naturally?
MM: I wrote God Made Boys and Girls to build a foundation of truth—that our gender and sexuality is a gift from God that cannot change—without having to talke about more mature issues like sex-reassignment surgery. So parents can feel comfortable using God Made Boys and Girls with their youngest children even before the issue of gender comes up.
CT: God Made Boys and Girls addresses several common gender stereotypes. What are some examples you use, and how do you explain that we should avoid false gender stereotypes?
MM: If you look on the front cover, you’ll notice that the boy is reading while the girl is climbing the tree. When I grew up, the phrase “girls don’t climb trees” was a common gender stereotype. Back then, about the worst thing that could happen was a girl could be called a “tomboy.” While that is an unkind label, the girl in question wouldn’t have been given an option to start hormone therapy so that she could “become a boy.” Girls who loved to climb trees grew up to lead normal lives as girls—just the way God made them to be.
We should avoid gender stereotypes because they are unkind and unbiblical. Additionally, at the present time—with gender fluid philosophy so prominent in our culture—children are at a far higher risk of becoming confused about their gender identity. The biblical truth is that while God assigns certain traits and roles to women and not men, such as motherhood, God does not define femininity by the likes, dislikes, hobbies, or job preferences of a woman. The same is true for men. God calls men to be husbands and fathers, but doesn’t define masculinity by hobbies, interests, or occupation.
CT: How do you explain the difference between boys and girls? Are preschoolers able to understand the science at that age?
MM: I included the science behind gender in God Made Boys and Girls to ensure my argument would not be dismissed by those who believe differently. Even basic genetics is over a preschooler’s head. But, I have always advocated that we teach our children information that is a step ahead of their full comprehension. That way, as soon as they are mature enough to comprehend, they have the information at their disposal.
CT: What should a parent explain to their child if they come home talking about a classmate who is saying they are no longer a boy or no longer a girl?
MM: One of the ways I hope parents use God Made Boys and Girls is as a reference when questions or concerns arise. So, if your daughter comes home and tells you that there is a boy in her class that is saying he is a girl, you can pull out my book and read through it.
Then I think we’ve got to lovingly explain that some people get confused about their gender because of the Fall. Then we want to emphasize two unchanging truths. First, that God gives us our gender and biological sex as a gift. Second, that God codes every cell in our body, boy or girl, and there is no way to change that code. So a scientist can tell if you are a boy or girl just by testing one strand of your hair or one drop of your blood.
CT: Can you tell us more about the section at the back of the book written specifically for parents and caregivers?
MM: I knew when I wrote God Made Boys and Girls that I could not include all the information a parent might want or need in a story for preschoolers. So, I included much more detailed information for parents in the back of the book. It is my hope that it can equip parents with the information they need as their children get older and ask more mature questions.
CT: God Made Boys and Girls is a part of the God Made Me series from New Growth Press. Can you share a little bit about the other important topics the series addresses?
MM: The God Made Me series is designed to help parents have important but sensitive conversations with their children. Most parents feel equipped to teach their children how to tie their shoes or put on their own clothes, but when it comes to teaching on topics like “good touch/ bad touch,” or racial diversity, parents can feel lost for words.
The God Made Me series provides the help parents need to teach children on those topics. God Made All of Me teaches children how others should appropriately treat their body. God Made Me and You covers the topic of ethnic diversity, and God Made Me Unique helps parents teach their children that God creates every person in the image of God, and each individual has tremendous value, regardless of his or her appearance or abilities.
CT: If you could offer parents just one piece of advice as they start the conversation about gender and sexuality with their kids, what would it be?
MM: If your child begins to show signs of gender confusion, don’t panic. For example, if you have a little boy who asks if he can wear a dress today to be like his sisters, don’t freak out. The vast majority of children who are confused grow out of their confusion and can be effectively steered in the right direction by affirming their gender.
Affirming your child’s gender from a young age can serve to build their confidence in the gender gift they have received from God. So, when your son helps his sister, affirm the manhood he demonstrated in his care. When your little girl helps you care for her little sister, tell her she is going to be an amazing mommy one day, and tell her that God has made her to be such a wonderful woman.