A friend of mine, who has younger children, asked how we approached our kids when teaching them about sex. What resources did we use? What did we say? When did we say it? The following is a result of that conversation. Like most of us, Margie and I try to live by certain principles (biblical and intuitive) rather than an exhaustive list of situational rules and verbiage. In that vein, here are 9 Principles we use when talking to our three kids about sex.
PRINCIPLE #1 START FROM THE BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING OF SEX.
Margie grew up the church, I did not. We gave our lives to Christ as teenagers and were virgins when we married (not bragging or confessing, we just were) Frankly, we were a little “freaked out” our first few months of marriage. “How can a 30 minutes ceremony move a person from no, no, no, to yes, yes, yes”? (that is a post for another day)
The point is that we all have baggage when it comes to sex. Some of us bring a past that may have abuse, promiscuity, secrecy, pornography, ignorance, trauma, deceit, heartbreak etc….. All of those things taint our view of sex inside our marriage.
Because of these issues many Christians have a weird approach to sex. It is almost as if they have to enjoy the sexual relationship with their spouse as a form of rebellion against God. In fact many Christian couples adopt a “celibate marriage” mindset. You know… the idea that a husband and a wife will have sex (very infrequently) but…won’t talk about it, act like it was no fun (ladies) and even worse that it was dishonoring to God. (men)
However, Scripture paints a much different story about sex inside the marriage covenant:
- God created sex. Duh! Genesis
- God wants you to have sex with your spouse…and lots of it. (I Cor. 7:5) …can I get an AMEN!
- Sex binds a couple together more than anything (prayer, suffering, etc) because that is what it is designed to do! (”two become one”)
- Sex is explosive! (ha, ha…but seriously) Like dynamite that can “move mountains”… Sex, in the right situation (marriage, trusting, faithful, and safe), effectively creates a bond that allows a couple to overcome obstacles and strengthens a marriage like nothing else. But also, like dynamite… Sex, in the wrong situation (affairs, one night stands, friends w/ benefits etc) …will destroy you. (spiritually, emotionally and in some cases physically)
PRINCIPLE #2 SEX MUST BE IMPORTANT IN YOUR MARRIAGE
It is biblical that the husband and the wife “leave and cleave” and that the “two become one flesh”. That is not a mandate to have sex once to get it “out-of-the-way” and then move ahead with the deeper, more spiritual things in life. (Gen 2:23, Mark 10:5, Eph. 5:25-29) It is a way of life. The couple should cleave to one another physically for a lifetime. I believe that one of the most spiritual things a man can do for his wife is to pursue her with great respect, tenderness, honor and passion. Thankfully my wife believes that too! Aaaaaaw-yeaaa! (yea I know I’m grossing out my teenage daughters)
PRINCIPLE #3 TELL YOUR KIDS THE “WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH” (age appropriate)
(just don’t tell them the whole truth all at once).
Several years ago, I sat with my son (probably 5 or 6 at the time) in the drive-thru McDonald’s. We sat facing a billboard which said, “Talk to your Kids about Sex” along with the picture of a teenager mother and her (presumably) child. Sure enough, my son sounded out the words and asked, “Dad, what is sex”? After panicking… I had a moment of sheer brilliance that inspires me even to this day! I explained to him that “sex” referred to being a boy or girl, male or female, man or woman…”you and I are boys, THAT is our sex!”
“Ooooh” my son replied, and went about his thoughts unfazed.
“Dodged a bullet”, I thought to myself (we did not go back to that particular McDonald’s till the billboard was replaced).
The point: be appropriate with your response to your kids. My five-year old really was not interested in the “birds and the bees”. He just was parroting the billboard.
PRINCIPLE #4 TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT EVERYTHING! (age appropriate)
Most folks I know hate being around people who do nothing but lecture them about how to live. It makes them feel like they have nothing to offer or worse that their opinions really don’t count. So it is with talking to your kids. If the only interaction you have is instructing them on the right way to _____________ (whatever) it will cultivate that same feeling of dislike we have for the “lecturers” in our own lives. (obviously, age appropriateness is key, please don’t get into a discussion with your 4-year-old about whether or not they should hit another kid…just tell em)
If you will actually let them talk then when they are older, they will come to you because they get a chance to share what is on their hearts without fear that it will turn into a lecture (of which I am guilty of more times that I will admit).
PRINCIPLE #5 MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS KNOW THAT YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE HAVE SEX AND THAT IT IS AN AWESOME PART OF YOUR LIFE TOGETHER. Most of us talk about the things that are important to us. Sex should be important to your marriage…it sure was when you first got married! Here is a question to consider… Do you really want your teenagers growing up, thinking that the only “mind blowing” sexual experiences awaiting them are outside of the marriage bed? Of course not! But THAT is what many parents communicate. (can’t blame the entertainment industry for the message WE send)
I’m not saying brag about your sex life to your kids. (creepy) I’m just saying that as they get older they will know whether it is celebrated as unique and special to your marriage…or whether it is no big deal (or is non-existent!). I think it should be a big deal!
(by the way…they will know…trust me…awkward)
PRINCIPLE #6 DON’T FREAK OUT!
Your sons and daughters will (probably at some point) want to be sexually active WAAAAAAY before they get married. It does not make them bad, it just makes em normal. (I can hear you “gasping” but C’mon…you were that way.)
Walk them through it. Give them some safe hedges. Give them the tools to “guard their hearts”. Help them be savvy about who they are and what they should expect from a date (should you choose to “Give Dating a Chance” rather than “Kiss Dating Goodbye”). Make sure they know that you understand how difficult it is to remain physically, emotionally and spiritually pure…but that they can do it….and you will help them!
PRINCIPLE #7 MOST OF THE “SEX TALKS” SHOULD ONLY BE ABOUT 25% BIOLOGICAL . THE REST IS ABOUT SELF WORTH, FAITH, DISCIPLINE, TRANSPARENCY, AND VALUE.
I am the first man my daughters fell in love with. (almost every responsible dad is!) I must continue to pour value, sensitivity, admonition, tenderness, attention, trust, caring etc…. into their lives in order for them to develop a healthy view of sex. If all I do is explain where “babies come from” I have set them up for heartache, fear and a series of poor choices.
PRINCIPLE #8 KNOW WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE EXPOSED TO AT SCHOOL AND HELP THEM DEVELOP AN ABILITY TO DEAL WITH IT APPROPRIATELY.
My kids go to public school (our choice, raise your children according to your own conviction). I am keenly aware of what they face when they walk through the doors of their schools. The temptations, the influences etc… They face (at school) pretty much what they will face when they are out of school…except when they will not live with us anymore. I want to prepare them for the battle before they are 200 miles away, only come home for holidays and wonder how to handle all of these emotions and feelings. Consequently, I’m am at school regularly, I listen to what is said, I ask questions, I pay attention. I am also aware that I probably only know about half of the things that go on! Scary cause the things I DO know make me want to move to Montana….to a small town… to a small house….with a bunker!,
PRINCIPLE #9 IT IS NOT A “MONOLOGUE”, BUT AN ONGOING DISCUSSION. Talking to your kids about sex is not a one-time discussion that can be checked off. It is a dialogue. I’m not saying that you talk to your kids about sex “everyday- all- the -time”. But I am saying that “the world”, their friends and their own sin nature, talks to your kids about sex “everyday-all-the-time”! Think about it. Doesn’t it make sense that we (as parents) should at least have a voice in the discussion?
….got any other principles your use? Let me know
April 14, 2010 at 4:38 pm
Great list! If I may add a #10:
USE ANALOGIES: Sex is a weird and wonderful part of God’s design, but even married folks have trouble understanding it. So, when talking to kids about sex look for analogies they can related to. For instance: A child may be physically able to drive a car, but without knowledge, maturity, understanding of the dangers/consequences, and authorization to drive (i.e. license) there is danger. That’s a lot like sex. You my be physically capable, but you don’t have all the knowledge, maturity, understanding, and authorization (marriage license).
Great blog! Thanks!
April 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm
As parents of a 6 year old girl and a 2 year old boy, Andrea and I thought it would be a nice follow up if Sydney or Sarah Clare, or both, wrote their thoughts about how your methods have positively (or negatively) affected them. We aren’t exactly anxiously awaiting the days when these questions start being asked, but I can say from a father’s perspective, it’s going to go much differently for my kids than how it went for me.
Also, I seem to remember a great chapter on this subject from Steve Farrar’s book, Point Man.
April 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm
That is a good idea. I may ask em to be “guest bloggers”… I like it!
April 15, 2010 at 8:13 pm
I have three boys, twins @ 13 and a 9 yr old. Since they were old enough to utter words, I used medical terminology to describe boys and girls parts– “Penis” is what they used to relieve themselves and the “testicles” are in that dangly sac beneath. Before grade school, they knew more anatomy and physiology than I did in high school (no joke!). At 3 yrs old, in their lispy preschool speak, those parts became known as “peanuts” and “tentacles” (confusing homonyms, indeed) Which was which? LOL!