Do’s and Don’ts of the ‘The Talk’

As you raise your child(ren) to know and follow the Lord and His ways, here is some encouragement regarding how to navigate the subject sex.  I’ll set them up as 9 things not to do, compared to 9 things to do.

Don’t see ‘the talk’ as a one-time event.  Do see it as an ongoing conversation. 

This is not a box to check or a task to complete.  Rather it is a subject to introduce, and then continue to keep in view and on the table through the years.  Consider driving, you would talk to your 15-year-old multiple times about the subject of driving, how to handle a car, what to expect, what to avoid.  But then when they got their license, you would not cease 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.

Don’t be apathetic or indifferent to this subject.  Do be proactive. 

Don’t be asleep at the wheel on this one Mom and Dad.  Culture is not silent on this subject, so don’t be silent on sharing the beauty of God’s truth with them.  And yes, this design and creation is beautiful.  God’s heart for His created people is that they’d see that His ways lead to great joy.  Ask probing questions to try and get a sense of conversations they may be having or thoughts they are thinking.    The results of some of those interactions will give you discernment as far as next steps.

Don’t wait until your child is in high school.  Do talk about it early.

Your parental voice, which is to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father’s voice of truth, should be out ahead of the other random voices of influence (self, friends, culture, media, etc.).  If you wait until they are in high school, you’re late to the party.  I don’t have a magic age for you, but I think somewhere during the early middle school years is wise.

Don’t shove off the responsibility to the other parent.  Do share the responsibility together. 

“He’s your son, that’s your issue to deal with!”  “She’s your daughter, I’m not touching that subject!”  We should avoid such attitudes.  I think there is wisdom in having the subject introduced to the child by the same-gender parent, but there is a lack of wisdom to then leave it that way.

Don’t freak out/shut down/look shocked/be dismissive when your child asks a question or brings up a particular subject.  Do affirm the question/subject and thank them for asking/bringing it up. 

You want your children to come to you when they have questions or have heard subjects they don’t understand.  You want to be the voice of truth and a safe place for them to come to.  You don’t want them to try and figure it out on their own or turn to some false and destructive source.  So watch your non-verbals and tone, when your jaw might be tempted to hit the floor or your face get flush.  Encourage them that the door is always open to ask, and that as parents, you want to be there for them to point them to God’s truth, wisdom, and design.

Don’t give more/less details than what they are asking for.  Do shepherd each child appropriate to them. 

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.  We would sometimes plead the 5th and give answers 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.”  Each child is knit together differently.  Shepherd them accordingly.

Don’t disregard your own story, sin, and lessons learned.  Do share appropriately to their age and context. 

Share how you, if so, were once entangled in sexual sin.  Share victories the Lord has given you when you have walked in the light.  Share how you got it wrong and/or right when you were their age.  Share of God’s transforming grace in your life.  We often parent from a place of wanting the next generation to avoid things we walked through.  As your children age, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable before your children.  Remember, you were saved by grace, not by works.

Don’t start with outward morality and behavior.  Do start with a focus on the heart and their identity in Christ and His Good News. 

Gospel transformation is always inside to outside.  It is never ‘follow these 5 rules’, and that will somehow change your heart.  So don’t settle for limiting your parenting to “Don’t have sex before marriage,” or “Don’t look at porn.”  Those aren’t bad encouragements.  But in your parenting, get to the ‘why’ and the heart of the matter.  Otherwise, faith in Christ is relegated to a goal of avoidance, rather than a goal of glorifying the Lord and living for the One who died and rose again for us.  In Christ, we are new creations in Him.  We obey because we are loved, not in order to earn His love.  We follow His ways, because His ways lead to life.

Don’t overlook prayer.  Do pray and teach your children to do the same. 

When you have that first conversation with them, pray beforehand and with them out loud.  Prayer is not an afterthought.  Model that for them.  When they come to you with questions or topics, pray with them after you’ve talked.  And also make sure that this is not the only subject you pray with them about.  That would be a bit weird if it was.  Encourage your children, as they begin to date, to pray for and with their boyfriend/girlfriend.  Ultimately, your role as a parent is to help your child to depend upon the Lord and His grace and truth, in all things.