In the midst of ‘The Adventure’ series, our study through the Song of Solomon, one question that might have come up is ‘How do I talk to my children about sex?’ I’ve heard that question from parents of elementary aged children to those who have teenagers.
Many of us didn’t have a great experience with this growing up. We would not characterize the source of our sex education as a place of Biblical truth. So as parents who are seeking to raise our children in the ways of God, we must do better. Heather and I have not always done this perfectly, but we have learned some things along the way. (I would also encourage you to check out this article from Family Life on this subject. It includes some great wisdom and practical advice.)
Ask God for discernment and wisdom. Every child is different. If you have multiple children, as you know, they are not robots who look or act all the same. You’re going to need discernment from the Holy Spirit on the timing, the context, and the manner in which you go about these conversations. Ask God for wisdom. He is faithful to give it. James 1:5.
Don’t settle for just one ‘talk.’ You would not do this with any other subject. Consider driving, you would talk to your teenager multiple times about the subject of driving, how to handle a car, what to expect, what to avoid. When they got their license, you would not stop talking to them about driving. They may have passed the written and driving test, and know the rules of the road, but that does not mean they have experienced every driving situation possible (heavy traffic, icy roads, etc.). You’d in fact talk about it more and more. So keep the subject on the table and keep shepherding their heart and life toward Jesus.
You won’t avoid the awkwardness all together. You will have some moments of “I can’t believe I am talking to my child about this.” You will also have some funny moments, where it is ok to laugh with your child. One of our children kept using the state name of Virginia to describe, well you know. I don’t care who you are, that is funny, and we still laugh about it with that child. For many of us, the reason we did not talk about sex, purity, and marriage with our parents is because it was too uncomfortable, or awkward for them. All I can say is step into the awkwardness, and do not avoid talking about the subject because it makes you feel uncomfortable. It will get less awkward, and in the process, you’ll be modeling how you want your child to do teach their children someday.
Be proactive. Parenting is a 24×7 game on role. You don’t take a break from parenting and raising the next generation. So don’t be asleep at the wheel on this one Mom and Dad. Culture sure is not silent on this subject, so don’t be silent on sharing the beauty and power of God’s truth with them. Often times, we ask probing questions, and have for a long time, to try and get a sense of if the subject of sex is being talked about at school, online or with friends. The results of some of those conversations will give you discernment as far as next steps. We would rather talk about something being the first voice on it, rather than the second voice and have to deconstruct what they have heard.
This is not a tell all. We are charged in the Song of Solomon to not arouse of awaken love before it so desires. So in your conversations, this is not a tell all. You still need to give age appropriate content that will not awaken love before it is right. For example, we got questions of ‘Are you doing it tonight?’ ‘How many times do you do it in a week?’ (see awkward). We plead the 5th on some questions with statements such as, ‘Well that information is between a mom and a dad’ or ‘You will discover that as you get married someday and talk to your spouse.’ What you share with your 11 year old is different than what you share with your child who is engaged.
Make yourself continually available. Remind them often that they can share anything with you. No question is a dumb one, and nothing will shock you. For example, if your child encounters porn, you want them to not run in shame, but to walk in the light. If they blow it with their boyfriend or girlfriend, you want to help them turn back, rather than run further. So create a safe, grace-filled, and loving place for them to land and ask questions that help allow them to share things that they might be hearing or seeing. Random questions will pop up as they age. Encourage them that the door is always open to ask those, and that as parents, you want to be there for them to point them to God’s truth, wisdom, and beautiful design.
If you have specific questions that you would like help with, you can always contact Heather and me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here are a couple resources that we have used in the past.
Passport To Purity (Designed for the pre-teen years)
God’s Design for Sex series (Multiple books, some we have used, others we have not. We did not use these at the ages they suggested…see discernment.)