Talking to Your Kids About Sex
December 8, 2021
Yes, I know it’s difficult. After I spoke on that subject last week, numerous people asked me about it. There are many, many good Christian books you can get that are short, extremely helpful, and based on the age of the child.
Here’s the best general advice I can give you:
Start with God. He is a good, great, and generous, and sex is His idea. Pray and ask for wisdom in sharing with your children. Talk to God about your own sexual experiences. Ask Him to help you be truthful and wise when you share. When you talk to the kids, let them know from the outset this is a good gift from God if used in the right way and right place, just like fire. In the right time and place, it’s wonderful. In the wrong place and way it’s destructive.
Start early. If you aren’t teaching your kids about sex, someone else is. Always answer any questions they have without teasing, and use the right anatomical names for body parts. Be matter of fact.
Talk often and naturally. Don’t rely on the one big “talk.” If all you have is the “talk,” you will have missed it. Discuss what your kids see in movies and on TV. When someone is pregnant in hard circumstances, be kind and uncritical. Pray for them with the kids and express your concern and compassion for the changes now necessary in their lives because of unwise choices. If you had your own experiences, share with them honestly about the joy you have that they are your child, but how you hope they will choose an easier start. Tell them about what you experienced when the circumstances were as God intended.
Let them know about the forgiveness and plan of God. God is not mad when we get it wrong; He loves us and has great compassion for us. He’s just sorry we are not experiencing what He intended. His best plan was always for children to be in a home with two parents who love each other. His best plan for human relationships was purity and faithfulness—one person for one lifetime. Anything other than His plan brings pain and hurt. He forgives us and will help us deal with the consequences, but it’s always easier to do it the way we were created to have sex.
Specifics for ages: Recognizing that children are at distinct stages of maturity, it’s important to discuss sex and related issues in a way that’s appropriate for a child’s age and development. Parents set an open atmosphere with their kids by talking even with preschoolers about differences between boys and girls, privacy, and God’s design for families. This open dialogue answers a child’s question only as far as they need to know but teaches kids that they can talk to their parents.
In the elementary years it’s good to talk more about biology and the growth of a baby inside of a mother and that God designed the process of pregnancy and birth.
By preadolescence it’s important to talk about intercourse (this is a good time to explain why some made-up words are especially coarse and demeaning), privacy, the practical science/biology of pregnancy, and affirm why God designed it to happen within a solitary committed marriage relationship. It’s also important to talk about how to relate to the other sex. Differences are fun but need managed responsibly. Talk about the feelings we have when we are sexually attracted. Explain that guys are primarily attracted by sight and girls primarily by touch, and that we need to be careful in how we treat each other and don’t offer unnecessary temptation. Interaction is normal and healthy. However, sometimes the interaction turns into flirting and experimentation. Privacy, sexual jokes, teasing, and touching games are part of the social interaction you’ll want to discuss. Be careful about your own teasing in the area of relationships. Young people can become quite sensitive and self-conscious. You’ll want to be honoring and affirming as you talk about this sensitive subject.
If you’ve done all of this, it will be far easier during the teen years to keep an open dialogue with your kids about sexual intimacy. The difference between intimacy and sex is especially important. Parents can do much to initiate an open dialogue with their teens.
If you have a great relationship with your child and they know they are unconditionally loved, they may need to talk to you about same-sex attraction. Embracing the Journey by Greg and Lynn McDonald is a terrific book by Christian parents that will help you.
All the way through the years, talk about the values that influence all of life, including sexual decisions. Also, make certain that if your child shows an early interest in sex and experimentation, you do not condemn them. They are experiencing what God made them to feel, just earlier than you wished. Help them by discreetly limiting private time, monitoring what they see online and TV, and keeping their time with other children without adult supervision to a minimum.
I am far from an expert on this subject, but God has told us through James that when anyone lacks wisdom we should ask God. Ask God to direct you to the materials online and otherwise that will help you. Andy Stanley’s The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating will help you and help you help your child. You can get it through RightNow Media, which we offer here at NewPointe.