Talking about sex can be awkward for both child and parent. Parents often are not sure how to approach the subject and kids feel uncomfortable discussing such topics. To combat the sexually-overt society portrayed in mainstream culture today, the topic of sex must be talked about within the home. Programs in school don’t “scratch the surface” compared to what kids learn on television and on the internet. Parents are in a distinct position to model and mold their children, potentially averting and protecting them from the influence of a sexually broken society. In the Bible, the Song of Solomon lays out God’s feelings for the design for sex.
When to talk to your Children
Proverbs 1:5 “The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel so that he may be able to steer his course rightly.” (AMP)
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” (ESV)
It is recommended to have a continuous dialog regarding sexuality at every developmental stage of the child. Intimacy shared within the appropriate context “builds faith, creates oneness… and teaches our children important truth” (Family Focus, 2011). God designed sex, and He meant it as a gift within marriage. Sexual brokenness and sexual sin is rampant within the world, especially in mainstream media. Parents today are charged with molding their children’s education on this great aspect of life.
Deciding when to talk to your children about this topic may not be easy. Talking with your child or children about sex and sexuality should be an on-going discussion throughout their life. Parents must not underestimate their role in their child’s life and how much kids really need their parents’ insight and positive modeling through discussion. As with many life topics, it is important to establish a level of comfort and support with your child. Encourage the child to talk and ask questions. Let the child know that you are aware he or she may be uncomfortable and acknowledge to them that sexuality is not always an easy subject to discuss. Sex as God intended is a sacred act, and the subject is to be approached with respect. Let your child know that you are available to them at any time for questions or support. During the developmental years, try not to focus on the negatives of sex, but encourage the positive aspects of sex within the confines of marriage.
Keep in mind
- Use proper terminology.
- Talk openly and directly about the meaning and purpose of sex within marriage.
- Discuss valuing one’s body and that the body belongs to God.
- Discuss sex as a gift meant for one’s husband or wife.
- Discuss inappropriate situations and prepare your child for what to do if those situations occur.
- Discuss aspects of sexual abuse, what it is, and what to do. (This should be discussed according to age.)
- Talk about the differences between men and women both physically and emotionally.
- Share God’s design for creation, marriage and families.
- Affirm your child’s gender and value.
- Prepare yourself through having a practice talk with your spouse. This will also assure mom and dad agree with these principles.
- For single parents, try talking with a close friend or mentor.
- Be aware of how your attitudes and how your previous history contributes to your thinking of sex and interaction with your children regarding sex.
For the Single Parent
Singles can also model appropriate and healthy interactions with the opposite sex. Be discreet and model pure and healthy interactions with a significant other. Keep an adolescent’s mind from wandering or assuming if you are in a dating relationship with a significant other. Be open but also discreet with your adolescent or teen. Allow them to meet the person when you feel it is appropriate and keep communication open for their questions.
Leave “the door open” for the child/teen to come back with any questions or situations.
It is important for parents to engage in conversations about sexuality and sex in age-appropriate language periodically as the child grows up. Do not assume that “the talk” during childhood will be remembered and understood as the brain and body grow. For older children, follow up from time to time and ask how they are doing and if they have anything else to talk about. Make sure to keep follow-ups random and not too often. Talking with your child should feel comfortable but not too invasive. Teens can be especially private and not willing to discuss every detail with parents; however, parents can still be helpful by letting their children know they are there to support them and provide guidance.
Before I Was Born: God’s Design for Sex by Carolyn Nystrom, 2007, NavPress Focus on the Family 1-800-232-6459
Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle: Creative Conversations About Sexual and Emotional Integrity by Shannon Ethridge, 2010, Random House Inc.
Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle: Honest Conversations about Sexual Integrity by Stephen Aterburn, Fred Stoeker, Mike Yorkey, 2010, Random House Inc.
Talking To Your Kids About Sex by Mark Lasser, 1999, Waterbrook Press
What’s the big deal? Why God cares about sex. (God’s Design for Sex), by Stan and Brenna Jones, 2007, NavPress
Written By LaKeisha Jones
Edited 2017 By Sarah Warner, MS