I knew when I picked up the phone it was going to be a long conversation. I speak to parents everyday who need help talking to kids about sex, but this was an especially difficult phone call.
We must have talked for at least an hour, but each minute felt like an eternity. She broke down crying several times, and at the end of the discussion, I'm not even sure if I had helped her.
The reason for the call? This woman had found porn on her son's iPad.
Worse yet, after some conversations with her son, she found out he had been exploring his curiosity about sex by looking at porn for about three years—since he was 11 years old.
He first saw porn when a friend showed it to him on the school bus, and it all went downhill from there.
She was beyond upset, thinking of the innocence lost. Her son was embarrassed and filled with shame and confusion.
And nothing I said could erase what had happened.
What this post ISN'T about…
This post is not about this woman's technology mistakes.
Should she have put restrictions in place on the family iPad and other devices? Yes, of course. But that's another article for another day.
This post is not about this family's schooling choices.
Are public schools breeding grounds for exposure to bad sexual information? Yes. But that too is another article for another day.
What this post IS about…
This article is about why we, as parents, should not be afraid of telling our kids “too much, too soon” when it comes to sex.
Don't misunderstand me: there are proper ways to teach kids about sexuality, speaking to them on their level and giving them short, digestible bits of information at a time.
P.S. The “Having the Talk” video course I developed with my wife Trisha eases parents through these potentially awkward conversations. (You can get a free 3 video sample training of what the course is like here.)
The enemy of our children's souls is not sexual information in general, but false or abusive messages about sex. And as their parents, you are the guardians of the information they receive.
The fact is, when parents are afraid of saying too much too soon, they often end up saying too little too late.
3 Reasons Why Parents Need to Talk to their Kids (in a Wise Manner) About Sex
1) Kids are sexual beings.
I'm not saying kids desire to have sex. I'm saying that from minute #1 of their lives, they are born as gendered beings. Their sexuality is stamped right on their bodies.
Curiosity about what it means to be male or female is as natural as the day is long.
2) Kids are learning abusive information about sex earlier and earlier.
Maybe you homeschool your kids. Maybe you don't have cable TV. Maybe all your kids playdates are heavily supervised. Kudos to you.
But false message about sex are nearly impossible to avoid, even in the most protected environments.
You can't go walk around a mall, drive down a highway, or stand in a checkout line without a sexual media showing up. It's clear that sexuality is one huge way that the enemy attacks our kids.
Instead of trusting solely in internet filters and extra-vigilant parenting, we must begin natural conversations with our kids about sexuality from the earliest ages so that should they be exposed to porn they will, first, be more inclined to go to parent for answers on sexual matters; and two, have a better chance of choosing on their own to say no to porn.
And that's exactly why my wife Trisha and I developed “Having the Talk.” We want to give parents the confidence and step-by-step tools needed to have these conversations.
If you're at all nervous about talking to your kids about sex (which of course is normal!), “Having the Talk” is an excellent resource for you. We're even offering 3 free video trainings as a sample of what the course is like. Check them out here.
3) Godly sexuality is a window to see the goodness of God.
If you shelter your children more than most parents do, you can probably get away with postponing certain sexual discussions. But don't postpone these discussions because you believe sex is scandalous.
Yes, it is a mature subject that should be handled in a mature way, but it is something God calls good. Our sexuality—our maleness, our femaleness, God's purpose for the family, the way God creates life in the womb, the oneness of marriage—these are windows to the wisdom and goodness of God.
Information about sex does not rob a child of innocence. As Dr. Paul C. Reisser wisely states, “Innocence is a function of attitude, not information.”
If a school-age child understands some of the specifics of sex, when they understand it is an act that expresses love between husband wife, an act that can begin new life, that child retains his or her innocence.
However, Dr. Reisser, states, “A child who knows very little about sex can already have a corrupt mind-set if he has been exposed to it in a degrading, mocking, or abusive context.”
Clearly, slowly introducing our kids to sex from a loving, biblical perspective can make all the difference when it comes to the “preserving innocence” issue.
3 Tools to Help You Introduce Biblical Sexuality
Bear in mind, talking about “sex” is more than just the birds and the bees.
Good sex education includes a whole host of topics: what it means to be male or female, what it means to be created in God's image, God's purpose for marriage, God's mandate to be fruitful and multiply, proper boundaries between men and women or between child and stranger, etc.
How do you bring these subjects up?
1. Let the Bible break the ice for you.
Does your family do devotions? There's no better place to start talking about sex than with the Bible in your lap.
Simply read the Bible without trying to “sanitize” it. There are many, many stories in the Bible that address the subjects of sex, marriage, and intimacy.
Think of just the first book of the Bible. Without even leaving Genesis you can cover topics like the origin of marriage, the origin of men and women, the mandate to have babies, monogamy, adultery, polygamy, homosexuality, rape, incest, and a host of other subjects.
Granted, how you talk about topics matter. Talking in a way kids can understand is important; and being confident of what to say when is equally important.
The 8 video lessons and 3 bonus lessons in the “Having the Talk” video course not only give you the confidence you need to talk to your kids, it also includes a PDF copy of our best-selling book The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality so that you can literally have a script for what to say when talking to your kids.
2. Let the natural world break the ice for you.
It's hard to avoid the subject of sex when the natural world is so full of sex.
For starters, there's your child's own body. Very early lessons about sexuality include proper names for body parts.
Then there's the animal world. Nearly every creature with a backbone uses sexual intercourse to reproduce. Do you ever catch household pets or other local animals “in the act”? Use the moment to teach.
Praise God together with your kids when you see a pregnant woman—praise Him for the little life in her womb.
When you see your child, their older siblings, or older friends going through the changes of puberty, use it to spark a discussion about what it means to become an adult man or woman.
3. Let current events break the ice for you.
In a recent interview we did with Joe Dallas of Genesis Counseling, he gave us some great advice about how to handle tough or taboo sexual topics.
One of the greatest ways we equip our kids to be able to defend the faith is by talking about it regularly. And here, of course, the newspaper gives us ample opportunity to do that. Some of the best talks I have had with my sons about [sexuality] came because I picked up the newspaper and said, “Hey boys, what do you think of this?” And that opens up the door for discussing current issues.
This is solid gold advice. Of course, we don't want to throw our kids to the wolves, but there's nothing wrong with taking them to the zoo see the wolves.
If you see a thought-provoking news story about a taboo sexual topic, just bring it up around the house and ask them to comment on it—giving only the details you think are pertinent.
First, it will get them talking about what they think, giving you insight into their thought processes. Second, it will allow them to apply what you've taught them to real world situations.
Raising Sexually Savvy Christians
In today's culture, the church's sexual ethics are quickly becoming one of the distinguishing marks that makes Christians stand out from the rest of the world. This is a good thing, because God has called us to sexual integrity.
But in a world full of sexual sin, one of our most important callings as parents is to raise our kids to be able to not only withstand sexual temptations but embrace a joyful picture of why God calls sex good.
I am so grateful for this advice from Luke, and for the “Having the Talk” video training for parents. My husband and I have used the Gilkerson's valuable resources on biblical sexuality with our own kids, and I would highly recommend them to any family!
And can I just say one quick thing here?
Ladies, we have to be proactive with our kids about these issues… even if it's uncomfortable or embarrassing.
That's why the “Having the Talk” video teachings are so great. Luke and Trisha have made this process so much easier and stress-free.
I highly encourage you to check out the “Having the Talk” course so that you can confidently share with your kids too about God's beautiful plan for sexuality!
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