Parenting: When to talk to kids about sex?
As parents of kids ranging up to married-and-could-give-us-grandkids age, we’ve been there, done that when it comes to talking to our kids about sex. Sure, it’s awkward — but we’re naive to think someone else won’t talk to them about it if we the parents don’t bring up the subject.
With a teen girl and two little ones at home, we’re far from done with these talks! I knew the “facts of life” when I was young, and thankfully, that did keep me from making some of the foolish mistakes I saw my friends making as early as middle school. Later in life, however, I made plenty of bad choices that affect me to this day; I want better for my kids.
Enter my friend Barrett and his wife Jen. As a family pastor, Barrett deals with far too many broken marriages and hurting families. Jen works with teen mothers, teaching practical parenting skills while showing them the love of Jesus. I’ve heard them teach Bible studies for parents, marriage workshops for newlyweds, and I’ve watched them parent their own children. They’ve got a lot of wisdom to share.
A wonderful new resource for parents:
Just this week, Barrett has released his first book, a wonderful resource to help parents prepare their children for the road ahead, to talk about the difficult or awkward subjects, and to equip them for a solid God-honoring marriage someday. This book is SO needed, friends! I kept thinking, as I read it, that the world would be so different if we all took this advice to heart.
Parents, buy this book; I highly, highly recommend it!!!
(Yes, that’s an affiliate link but I’m a rabid fan because I so believe in the message of the book so I don’t care if you use my link; just buy the book!)
I asked Barrett for something to give you an idea of what you can expect in his new book; his guest post is below:
Your Kids Need Help Navigating Their Sexuality
— by Barrett Johnson, revised from his brand new book, The Talk(s).
Every parent feels the burden of having “the talk” with their kids. What many parents fail to realize is that one talk isn’t enough. What our kids need is a long series of talks. They need preparation and equipping and guarding and all their curious questions answered. They need parents who will speak openly and honestly about some of the challenges that every kids will face as they navigate their sexuality.
When do we talk to our kids about this?
The million-dollar question is “When?” As parents wanting to prepare our kids well, when do we explain where babies come from? When do we discuss opposite-sex attraction? When do we start laying some ground-rules for dating and modesty and what to look for in a mate? When do we start talking to our kids about pornography?
Every child is different and every family’s situation is unique, but I would suggest that, given the sexually charged culture our kids are growing up in, if the big question is “When?” then there is a common answer for every parent.
The answer is, “Sooner than you think.”
Take whatever age you think would be best and subtract a few years. Maybe three or four.
Parents need to start training and preparing their kids for this stuff sooner than we think, because our kids will encounter these issues far sooner than we could ever imagine. If we want them to have a biblical (and even a holy) perspective of their sexuality, then we must begin to paint that picture to them before the world messes it up.
“Get these issues on your table.”
I used to say that parents need to “get these issues on the table,” but the reality is that they are already on the table. Our kids (even sheltered homeschooled ones) are being exposed to a constant stream of messages from their friends and the media and the world about relationships and sex. Most of these messages are far from the truth. Okay, let me be blunt: they are outright lies. These lies have the power to create in our kids a worldview that will impact their sexuality and their marriages for the rest of their lives. And these issues are definitely on the table.
Instead of telling parents to “get these issues on the table,” what I now direct parents to do is this: “Get these issues on your table.” Current research, common sense, and the biblical directive all scream this one truth: parents have significant power and influence over this dimension of their kids’ lives. Moms and dads must enter into the discussion early and start defining some truths before the world begins to overwhelm their kids with lies. They must boldly start building a framework of truth and preparing their kids for the challenges that they will inevitably face. They must start talking about sex with their kids.
Don’t get caught off guard.
This is a much better option than what most parents typically do. Most parents neglect any meaningful discussions of relationships and sexuality. They push these topics way off into the future, ending up exercising the parental equivalent of coaching on game day. They operate with the false assumption that there will be more time and that these issues can wait until their kids are older. This strategy usually results in parents who are caught off guard once they realize that their kids have grown up far faster than they ever dreamed.
The results are pretty typical: Parents who are shocked when their little girls transform into beautiful young women practically overnight. Parents who notice their little boys starting to notice those same young women when baseball was their only vice just yesterday. Parents scrambling to play catch-up once their teenage kids are in the throes of an emotional relationship with the opposite sex.
Again, I am convinced that we must start preparing our kids to navigate relationships and their sexuality far sooner than we want to. We must see this as essential and we must develop an intentional plan to help them.
>> If you don’t, who will?
Author Barrett Johnson is husband to Jenifer and the father of five great kids (including four adolescents). He serves as Family Minister at a large church outside of Atlanta and blogs at INFO for Families. His newly released book, The Talk(s): A Parent’s Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables, has been created to help every parent to equip their kids to make wise choices in a sexually-charged culture.
Find Barrett on facebook.