In our office we often find ourselves encouraging parents to begin talking to their kids about sex. The response we usually get after making this recommendation is this:
“You want me to do what?”
Any adult would agree that sexuality is a very important part of being human. Reflecting on our sexuality can bring about a wide variety of emotions including anxiety, embarrassment, hurt, guilt, joy, contentment and pleasure.
Talking to your kids about sex can also bring this smorgasbord of emotions. Depending on our past experiences and our current attitudes toward sex and our own sexuality, this can make talking to your kids about sex a natural or, as in most cases, a not-so-natural experience. Therefore, the “birds and the bees” talk is often put off as long as possible.
Why should I be talking to my kids about sex?
God asks us to take advantage of every opportunity to influence our children in the ways of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). As parents, we can talk about what God’s Word says concerning our attitudes, desires and actions concerning sex. Messages kids receive about sex can come from many different sources including friends, family, and the culture. The Internet is a big influence on your children’s sexuality. Talking to your kids about God’s view of sex is becoming more and more important in this sex-saturated culture.
Not only does God suggest we do this but research shows that children and teens who can openly discuss sex with their parents wait longer to engage in sexual activities. Making sex a taboo subject inside the home is not healthy and actually encourages teenagers to explore unhealthy sexual behaviors including promiscuity, pornography and issues around gender identity.
Talking to your kids about sex will allow you the opportunity to teach them truth about sex. It will allow your children to develop healthy attitudes about their own sexuality. What they learn from their friends on the playground or from the daycare provider isn’t necessarily going to teach your children accurate information about their sexuality. And it definitely won’t give them the opportunity to establish the values or morals you have about sex.
How do you begin talking to your kids about sex?
When we speak to individuals and groups we recommend talking to your kids about sex at a young age by using age appropriate information, sparing any overwhelming or confusing details.
Here are three considerations that might help you get started.
1.) Moving Beyond “The Talk”
We all have experienced “The Talk”.
You know the drill.
Mom sits you down and gives you the condensed “birds and the bees” speech, sends you on your way with the instructions to let her know if you have any questions, and the topic is never discussed again. (Come on! How many of you ever followed up with mom anyway?)
If we want to educate our kids about God’s view of sex and sexuality we need more than “The Talk”. Talking to your kids about sex requires open lines of communication. It will mean you don’t get to overact to any question that might be asked. Remember, if you don’t have any answer, don’t be afraid to admit that you will have to find an answer and get back to them, just make sure to follow-up.
Please follow up!
2.) Use Helpful Christian Resources
There are many different ways to begin talking to your kids about sex. Storybooks are just one way to help get across the concept of sex to your child or further explain what you’ve already discussed. Set aside time to sit and read together, then offer to answer any questions. Don’t just send your child off to read in a room by him/herself though. Playing an active role will show your child that they can come to you when they have sensitive questions as they get older. Our booklist contains a series of age appropriate books by Stan and Brenna Jones that my husband and I have used for our five children. I highly recommend using them to get started.
We find many parents who are stuck in this process because they need to re-educate themselves (or educate themselves for the first time) about sex. You can use helpful books like The Gift of Sex, How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex, or materials for the Legacy Institute to help.
3.) Daily Opportunities to Talk to Your Kids About Sex
This one piggybacks on number 1.
In keeping this an ongoing conversation, think about using daily life situations to gently teach and train children. Be engaged and consider every moment as a potential opportunity to talk to your kids about sex.
Make these conversations as natural and normal as possible. Try not to pass up any opportunity that presents itself just because it feels uncomfortable for you. Kids, especially those at a young age, typically don’t find these conversations awkward. In fact, usually parents report back that their kids already new the information (albeit a twisted version they heard on the playground).
Why does this seem so difficult?
It isn’t uncommon for our own painful life experiences to affect our attitudes and beliefs about sex. These negative experiences and attitudes do affect the way we interact with and teach our kids about their own sexuality. If you think you could benefit from exploring your own sexuality, our Christian counselors would be happy to set up a time to discuss how we might assist you in this process.
On the other hand, what you think about sex may seem clear and straight forward. But when it comes to laying the groundwork to help your kids develop a healthy understanding of sex, it can seem complicated. Getting good at discussing this topic takes time, intentionality and practice.
If you just feel stuck in this process or if your child or teenager is struggling with unhealthy sexual behaviors, we’d be happy to assist you and your family in finding ways to begin talking to your kids about sex.
So what’s holding you back?
Let’s get talking!