Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An Interview with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb about #GodMadeAllOfMe

Sexual abuse hurts children, families, and communities like few other sins. The statistics are dishearteningly high and the painful results are utterly devastating.

And yet, most parents have been almost completely unprepared to talk to their children about how to prevent and respond to sexual abuse. I know that when my kids were little, I had almost no idea of what to say to them that would be helpful without frightening them.

That's why I'm excited about this brand new book from Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, God Made All Of Mewhich comes out on September 8th.

I've gotten a sneak peak, and it's very good. I wish it existed ten years ago!

The Holcombs were kind enough to answer some questions* about this new resource.

What prompted you to write God Made All of Me? Who are you hoping will read and use it? Why did you use the "children's storybook" approach?

The book is for 2-8 year olds. We wrote it because we have two young children and know that
parents need tools to help talk with their kids about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. It allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes. Our goal is to help parents and caregivers in protecting their children from sexual abuse. Because private parts are private, there can be lots of questions, curiosity, or shame regarding them. For their protection, children need to know about private parts and understand that God made their body and made it special.

Our hope is that parents and caregivers will use this book to help you in protecting their child from sexual abuse. We want parents and caregivers to be smarter and better prepared than those who would want to harm children. While we know that actions by adults can be more effective than expecting children to protect themselves from sexual abuse, children still need accurate, age-appropriate information about child sexual abuse and confidence their parents and caregivers will support them. That is why we used the storybook approach.

In God Made All of Me, you were intentional about using the terms “appropriate” and “inappropriate,” when referring to kinds of touch, instead of the words “good” or “bad.” Why is that?
It is important to be clear with adults and children about the difference between touch that is appropriate and touch that is inappropriate. Experts discourage any use of the phrases “good touch” and “bad touch” for two main reasons. First, some sexual touch feels good and then children get confused wondering if it was good or bad. Second, children who have been taught “good touch” or “bad touch” would be less likely to tell a trusted adult as they perceive they have done something bad.

To your child say something like: “Most of the time you like to be hugged, snuggled, tickled, and kissed, but sometimes you don’t and that’s OK. Let me know if anyone—family member, friend, or anyone else—touches you or talks to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.”

Is there a way to educate our children about this without instilling fear?

To teach children about sexual abuse it is important to explain about private parts. Clearly identify for your child which parts of their anatomy are private. Explain to your child that “some places on your body should never be touched by other people—except when you need help in the bathroom, or are getting dressed, or when you go to the doctor.” You can do this with young children during bath time or have your child dress in a bathing suit and show them that all areas covered by a bathing suit are “private.” The bathing suit analogy can be a bit misleading because it fails to mention that other parts of the body can be touched inappropriately (like mouth, legs, neck, arms), but it is a good start for little ones to understand the concept of private parts.

To teach about sexual abuse offenders, it is important to teach your kids about “tricky people.” Tricky people are grown-ups who ask kids for help or tell kids to keep a secret from their parents. Teach your kids not to do anything or go anywhere with any adult at all, unless they ask for permission first.

Aside from reading your book to our kids, what are some practical things we parents can do to protect our children from sexual abuse?
In our book, the last page is to parents and called, “9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse.” Some of the key practical things parents can do are: teach proper names of private body parts, talk about touches, throw out the word “secret,” and identify whom to trust. You can read about all 9 here.

This subject is so hard to talk about. What advice do you have for parents who want to create an open environment in their home, so children always feel comfortable talking to them about issues related to their sexuality or body?

We remind parents that some people are out their looking to prey on our children. We have a duty to protect and prepare them for the world and to fight for them. By talking with them candidly (and again developmentally appropriate) about their bodies we are setting up safe guards around them.

Dr. John T. Chirban has written an excellent book How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex that we highly recommend to all parents. He explains: “Someone is going to teach your kids about sex…shouldn’t it be you?” His book gives parents tools to talk with their children about the connections between sex, intimacy, and love.

Thank you, Justin & Lindsey, for visiting my blog and, more importantly, for creating this helpful resources for children, parents, and care-givers. May the Lord use it to protect thousands of children from evil.


Exciting offer from New Growth Press:

If you pre-order God Made All of Me by September 7 and receive $100 worth of free music and books. Visit www.godmadeallofme.com for more information.

To keep up with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, visit www.godmadeallofme.com. You can also like and follow Justin or Lindsey's pages on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (@justinholcomb and @lindseyholcomb).

And don't forget to enter my contest for a free copy of "God Made All Of Me."

* Some of these questions were supplied by the authors--very helpful for getting to the central ideas of the book.