From My Mailbag: Can you give me some overview thoughts on the “sex talk” with your kids? What are some things I should think about?
This is a relevant question. Thanks for your request for some “overview” thoughts. Blog posts don’t typically lend themselves to worthy topics and your question is most certainly a worthy one. Here are a few things to think about . . .
As you know, you treat each kid differently. Why? Because they are different. Our three kids are (approximately) two years apart: a girl, a boy, and girl. They are wonderfully made by God but they are quite different from each other in significant ways; therefore, my approach to each child is different.
As you can imagine, it would depend not only on whether my children are Christians, but where they are in their relationship with God. Unbelieving children will not be able to grasp the sex talk in its fullness because they do not have the governing effect of the Bible or the empowering effect of the Spirit to illuminate and guide them.
If they are believers, then their spiritual maturation will be at different places. Some children are further along in their relationship with God than others, and there are always “capacity” issues that come into play: some children have a greater capacity to grasp certain concepts while others will struggle. Some kids get math. Some kids hate math. We must be discerning and patient with them.
An Ongoing Discussion
We began having the “sex talk” (so to speak) with our children shortly after they were born. Our approach to the subject is more along the lines of the slow train coming out of the station rather than “hitting” them with it at a certain age. I don’t want “the talk” to be disconnected from our on-going, transparent relationship. I realize this is not possible for families who have not been proactive, but it is a better approach. No matter where you are with your kids, you can begin an on-going and transparent relationship.
I would encourage you to think through how you can embed the “sex talk” within the context of doing life rather than making it a highlighted event at a certain age. It should be part of our on-going care for our kids, and in such cases, the uniqueness of the conversation loses its edge.
If the “talk” is in the context of a life lived with a relational family in which the dad is leading (wherein there are many talks all along the way), then you’re ahead of the game.
If your kids are older and a context has not been established, then I’d recommend you chat with your church leadership about how to get your home in line with Scripture. Here are some things we are currently doing to prepare them for the “talk.”
I would recommend the dad lead the home and train the kids to take their lead from him. The dad should be setting the trajectory for sex and sexuality from a complementarian worldview. The children should not first hear “the talk” outside of a context that is other than complementarian. The ideal is, when your kids get married, they will not only be prepared for specific sexual issues, but these issues can be worked out within a complementarian context, assuming they marry a Christ-centered Complementarian.
Call It What It Is
I do not recommend that parents use “kiddo” synonyms to communicate anatomical body parts. We call them what they are, not using slang of course. My son doesn’t have a “pee-pee.” Rather, we use the biologically correct language. He has a penis and it is not weird for him to mention it appropriately if he needs to describe something going on with his penis. It is what it is. He calls a cup a cup, a book a book, and his penis his penis.
I’m not sure of the reasoning for using “kiddo” language or pet-names. I don’t want children to feel insecure or feel like it is taboo or silly or giggly when they use real words. And as my children get older (hopefully) the correct language will be seamless in their thoughts, whether we’re having “the talk,” or they are sharing intimate thoughts with their spouses.
Unfortunately, in some circles of Christianity, there is such a taboo on sex (or weirdness) that as adults our sexual activity is awkward, shy, and, quite frankly, unfulfiling.
Sin and Sex
Make sure you give your kids a full, robust understanding of sin and how it works out in their personal lives, your family, and your culture. This way they are not learning the right and wrong of a particular “sex speech” outside of an understanding of the doctrine of sin. In other words, “the talk” won’t be the only time they hear a good and bad way of doing things.
This way you won’t over-highlight “the talk” as being unusually special, but just another thing they have to view through the lens of scripture. It won’t be an isolated talk, but just another talk like the thousand other ones you have had by the time they get to “the talk.”
You should be confessing your sin(s) to your children and asking for their forgiveness. Sin should be talked about regularly in the home, when it is being committed. In our home it is committed everyday, so we are talking about it everyday with everyone in the family. There should always be sin, confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation going on in the home.
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Also, check out this tool for parents: Passport to Purity, a tool kit for a getaway with your teen or pre-teen.