Do you remember being sat down by your parents and getting “the talk”? You know the one, where they sweat and stammer and try to explain to you what sex is?
Some of us are now on the other side of the conversation, or at least we should be. Maybe you have your own children and they are getting older. Talking with them about sex seems like something they will need to deal with later on, so it is easy to put it off. Then we can justify our inaction by reasoning that the school will do it for us. And then they get to the teenage years and you think you’re too late now so there is no point.
I have had the privilege of doing pre-marriage counselling with quite a few Christian couples, which means we need to talk about sex (among other things, of course!). I always ask them what their parents taught them; and unfortunately, often it is not very much at all.
Let me give you some good reasons to have ‘the talk’ with your kids:
- Schools will only teach the mechanics and how to protect yourself from pregnancy and disease. They will not teach the morality of sex. Even if your kids go to a Christian school, you cannot simply assume they will do your job for you as a parent. You need to engage with this topic with your kids, however uncomfortable it might make you feel.
- If parents do not speak to their kids about sex, they will fill the void with information from other sources. In our culture that means the internet and friends. Abdicating on this issue might mean a destructive worldview takes hold in your children’s minds.
- It will demystify the whole issue. An absence of frank discussion on this topic sends the message that sex is somehow dirty and talk about it is to be avoided. That will, in turn, mean that your kids are unlikely to come to speak to you if there is some related issue they want to discuss.
So we have established that this kind of discussion should happen; but when? Ideally before they reach puberty and get confused about what is happening to them. Before they are exposed to the topic in depth at school and before they have significant internet access. This is one area that being preemptive is important.
There is no magic formula. Being honest is what matters. And making sure that the Christian worldview is explained: that sex is a good gift from God in the right boundaries. That God doesn’t hate sex or restrict its use to be mean to teenagers and single people, but that it is so special it is restricted to marriage.
If your child is a reader (or if you need some help yourself) I recommend the book “Growing Up by the Book by Dr Patricia Weerakoon. It is frank, Australian, and Biblically faithful. It is somewhat direct and graphic in language at times but it is better to deal with issues head on. This book is helpful in dealing with the anatomical and medical side of things while keeping it in a Biblical worldview. It is recommended for 10-14 year olds.
Our world is more overtly sexual for kids growing up today than it was in their parents’ generation. We need to do all we can to help them deal with this in a responsible, God-honouring way.