Your parents probably did a lousy job of talking to you about sex. If you are 35 or older, it’s likely you got very little help from them beyond the one obligatory “talk” during your developmental years.
It’s not that they didn’t care; it’s just that most parents didn’t talk about this stuff back then. And they had little help. Our parents didn’t have the tools that parents have today.
Today, we have all sorts of resources. (And thus, fewer excuses.) We have books and blogs to read. There are videos we can watch. If we will simply look, we have everything we need to help us talk to our kids about physical changes, the birds and the bees, dating, social media, pornography, and a ton of other critical issues.
But even though we have all these awesome resources available to us, we still fall short. We don’t lack for information or conviction. With most parents, that’s not the problem. The problem is that we are scared to death.
The most important thing you need is courage.
You need the confidence and tenacity to do what most parents find to be a very nerve-racking thing: initiate some conversations that neither you nor your kids particularly want to have. But that doesn't matter. Based on what your kids are facing out there, you desperately need to have these "talks."
Conversations about contemporary sexual issues with your kids isn't easy. It requires you to step out of your comfort zone, to get equipped with the right information, and to pray that your kid's heart is open to you. Above all that, it takes courage to start. But start, you must.
Your elementary school child needs to know about the birds and the bees before some 5th grade punk on the school bus sticks his smartphone in her face with an image of someone having sex. That takes courage.
Your middle schooler needs to understand that her identity is rooted in who Christ says she is, not in how many likes her selfies get. She's not going to hear that easily, so that takes courage.
Your high schooler needs to know how easy it is for an innocent dating relationship to turn highly physical. In the early days of that relationship, he probably won't believe you. He needs a parent who is courageous enough to keep driving that point home.
It's going to take courage to say some words to your teenager that you don't want to say. Words like "sexting" and "oral" and "masturbation." In this day and age, your teens need you to have the courage to help them navigate some stuff that, honestly, most of us didn't have to face when we were their age.
If you feel like you are lacking in courage, here are a few things to remember…
1. Remember that it’s always going to be scary.
Whether your kids are 8 or 18, initiating important conversations will never be easy. They will always be uncomfortable. Your kids will probably resist you. But remember that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s choosing to do it, even if you are scared.
2. God is with you and for you.
Don’t forget that you don’t do this by yourself. God wants to help you do this. As you raise your kids (and have critical conversations along the way), you must remember that you are joining Him in his big agenda of turning them towards Him. He will convict you of what to say and He will empower you to say it. He don't have to do this alone.
3. It may require a leap of faith.
When God convicts you of a conversation you need to have with your child or teenager, you need to act. Even if the thought of it causes your heart to beat fast and beads of sweat to appear on your head, you have to move. Ask God for courage, for the words to say and for the right opportunity to say them. But act, you must.
Do you need a place to start?
If you want to act but don't know where to start, we posted a 45-minute video that identifies Four Cultural Shifts that require parents to act. It might be helpful to you.
You can also get The Talks DVD series we created. It covers some key issues that every family needs to stay on top of as their kids grow and mature.
Finally, we have five different developmental "checklists" that might give you a place to start talking with your kids. They won't give you courage, but they will give you some general targets to aim for. (See below.) Once you have that, you can start asking God for the courage you need. He wants to give it generously to you.