How and When to Talk to Your Kids About Sex
Nothing gives parents more stress than having “the talk.” In our heads, we realize that we have the responsibility of telling our kids about sex, but the prospect of doing so can scare us to death.
In talking with some parents in a class we taught last week, I was reminded again of how overwhelming this subject can be. But I was also convicted of how important it is…not just in terms of having a single conversation with your child, but in terms of the far greater task of helping our kids have a healthy, Biblical view of sexuality. This requires more than just a one-time conversation, but an ongoing dialogue that lasts into adulthood. (Doesn’t that sound like fun?!)
The stakes are just too high for us to take this lightly.
So I have pulled from several resources to cover a possible approach to sex-ed with your kids. It’s certainly not the exhaustive source, but it covers some essentials. So away we go…
Why Are Parents Reluctant to Talk About Sex?
Here is a list of possibilities of why this issue is so uncomfortable. See if you can identify with any of them.
· Nobody modeled it for you.
· You lack the skills, words, confidence, etc.
· You’re afraid of being a hypocrite.
· Prolonged naiveté on your part (you assume that your kids aren’t there yet).
· You think that is what school is for.
· Your own sex life is a mess.
The more of these that you can identify with, the more likely you are in knots over this issue.
When Should I Have “The Talk” With my Kids?
First of all, let me stress again that this is not a one-time talk, but an ongoing dialogue. It might begin when your child has simple questions as a preschooler and it should continue far into young adulthood. Perhaps we should just see “the talk” as one key focal point in the process.
I stress this to point out that we must become comfortable with this topic. If the enemy’s perspective is the only one our kids are hearing, it’s hard to pass on the truth that sex was created by God and that it is very, very good. The more timid we are on this topic, the more generations that we will raise up who experience defeat and frustration in their sexuality.
Before “The Talk”
· Model a healthy relationship in your marriage.
· Be diligent to protect your child’s innocence.
· Look for signs that your child is ready for “The Talk.”
o What are they exposed to outside your home?
o What questions do they have?
o Consider emotional age, not just chronological age.
o Seek God’s leadership.
A good guideline is that you want your kids to hear details from you before they hear it somewhere else. With the average age of first-time exposure to pornography at around six years old, most of us can’t afford to wait until their kids are 12. Seek Godly counsel regarding what age might be right for your children.
Having “The Talk”
· Be prayed up beforehand. God WILL walk this out with you.
· The primary responsibility goes to the same-sex parent.
· Build it into a fun “coming of age” event. (We take our kids on a road trip for a few days, building lots of “you’re growing up” conversations into our time.)
· Keep it age appropriate.
· Answer questions honestly, but don’t feel obligated to give every detail.
· Practice in advance.
· Be positive! Sex is a good thing!
· Be ready for anything.
· Ask your child for feedback. “What do you think about that?”
· Put everything in the right context: marriage.
· Make yourself available to answer any questions they might have.
After “The Talk”
There may be a void of interest in discussing this again until the teen years. At that point, the ongoing discussion MUST be picked up…aggressively. In the meantime, continue to model appropriate affection between you and your spouse. (The goal between Jenifer and me is that we want to “gross out” our kids at least once a week…and have somebody say “get a room” about once a month.) The bottom line for mom and dad is that if you habitually treat one another poorly (romantically, relationally, sexually), the potential damage on your kids is far worse than anything Hollywood can dish out.
What’s at Stake in these Developmental Teen Years?
Kids develop their habits, tendencies, and skills for married life during their teen years. Bad thinking on sex as a teen is often carried into marriage. So don’t communicate to your teens that sex is bad. In fact, assure them that sex is incredible! But be diligent to remind them that God gives parameters because He loves us, not because He wants to make us miserable.
Another reason that this is so important during the teen years is that early romantic relationships greatly influence their relationship with God. Nothing can derail a student’s journey with God than habitual sin in this area. Many, many teens struggle with this, particularly in the area of lust and pornography.
Finally, early sexual experiences can powerfully affect their enjoyment of sex in marriage. Because sex is such a powerful bonding experience (that God designed), when we bond with someone who is not our spouse, it complicates so many things. It’s sort of like a piece of duct tape you use over and over again. It eventually loses its power to stick. (See Hooked by McIlhaney and Bush.)
Some Things to Talk Openly with Teens About…
· Healthy Boyfriend/Girlfriend Relationships (and if they are truly possible for teens…I’m not sure they are).
· The Problem of Emotional Intimacy (we talk all the time about abstinence, forgetting that emotional intimacy is the fast track to physical intimacy).
· That the real benefits of abstinence have nothing to do with pregnancy and disease – they are about a better married sex life.
· That pornography distorts what God designed.
· How masturbation can affect your body, mind, and future relationships.
· How sex powerfully connects you to someone else.
· How the divorce rate increases dramatically for those with multiple sexual partners before marriage.
Throughout the Process of Your Kids Growing up, Teach a Biblical Standard…
I Corinthians 6:15-20 uses the term sexual Immorality to describe any use of our sexuality outside the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Teach this to your kids, making application about homosexuality, pre-marital sex, pornography, and the dozens of other issues that may come up along the way.
Teach them that Satan’s strategy is to ruin what God made great…and that he targets things that are particularly great in God’s eyes. Human sexuality is at the top of his list.
Some Possible Resources to Check Out
God's Design For Sex (4 Parts) by Navpress
Learning about Sex For the Christian Family (Boys and Girls Editions) (5 Parts) by Concordia
Point Man by Steve Farrar (Has a great example of “the talk” for sons
Preparing Your Son For Every Young Man's Battle by Arterburn and Stoeker
The Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey with your Kids About Sex by Leman and Bell
Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burn
Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Kids by McIlhaney and Bush