Parents often wonder when they should begin teaching the Theology of the Body (TOB) to their children…the answer is: In the womb! Yes, that means talking to your unborn child who begins to hear and recognize voices—your body matters to the unborn child.
“The Body Matters”
That phrase, “The Body Matters” ought to be on your lips EVERY day, several times a day. In using such an expression (“the body matters” or “the body” or “your body is a teacher”), you are forming a child’s imagination to develop a Sacramental View of Reality. I think that is one of the main goals St. John Paul had in giving us the Theology of the Body (TOB). When we recognize that the visible world reveals and gets us in touch with the invisible, we will begin to have a right encounter with reality.
Examples Of How To Speak To Children About The Body
I will express the following as if I were a mother, but speaking as an aunt, I highly recommend that all family members contribute to developing this TOB sacramental worldview as much as possible. Here are some concrete, simple, though PROFOUND examples of what you might say to your children:
“That’s your brother or sister inside of me. Can you feel him or her kicking?” What does he or she need in order to kick? That’s right —a BODY! Your little brother or sister has a HUMAN BODY – just like you — which shows us that he or she is human too! Soon, we will know whether the person inside of me is a boy (if he has a BOY body) or a girl (if she has a GIRL body).
“Johnny, will you please be a gift to me by—with your body—putting away your clean laundry? Thank you. I receive your gift, with my body!”
“Susie, it looks like your body is teaching you something right now. What is it?” “That I’m sleepy.” “That’s right. It’s bedtime, so, with your body, go get your pjs on and let’s pray nighttime prayer.”
“Roger, you as a teen are telling me with the language of your body that you are angry with me. Could you tell me why with the language of your words as well?”
“Molly, remember that my body came into this room where your body is…what are you supposed to do with your computer?” “That’s right —put it away.” “Why?” “Because the body matters. Right now, you and I are body-to-body, and so I need to give you the bodily present of my presence.”
“Kids, we are going to Mass. What should you do when we go through those church doors?” “Get silent. Genuflect. Pay attention, etc.” “That’s right. Why?” “The BODY Matters, Mom! We know. And with our bodies, we practice reverence for Jesus our King.” “That’s right, kids! And don’t forget—let the language of the words of the Gospel prepare you for the language of the Body, when Jesus gives the gift of His own Body to you and me.”
It’s amazing how much the body matters! I conclude with this quote from Pope Benedict XVI: “[Through] the transparency of the biological, [persons] can glimpse the spiritual and eternal.” (Theology of the Liturgy, 158).
The Body Matters – Age Appropriate Reading
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