Sex. One little word that generates opinions from every angle and poses innumerable questions for parents. “How do you talk about it?” “When do you talk about it?” and even “Do you really need to talk about it?” are some of the most common musings. Hopefully, as we dialogue about this topic more frequently, you will gain greater confidence in your role as parent and what that means for talking with your family about sex.
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)
I grew up in a conservative home and went to a private Christian school during my formative years. I do not recall my parents ever having “the talk” with me. What I do recall is being about 14 years old (and well aware of where babies came from) when I jokingly asked if they were planning on ever having the “birds and bees” talk with me. And with that, I was handed a medical book (my parents are physicians) on anatomy. That was it. The big talk was not a talk, and the discussion was officially over. Enter a girl who became a woman—this woman—who has worked incredibly hard to have a healthy view of my body and embrace the truth that sex is not a dirty secret but a gift from God meant to be enjoyed by husbands and wives within the context of marriage. I am telling you this because the older I get, the more I find out how very common this struggle is–especially within the Christian community. But it should not be! As parents, we need to reclaim what is good in how we approach this topic with our own families and within the church. It is God who designed our bodies, after all, and believers should be the ones comfortably discussing who we are as His creation, lest 50 shades of immorality and debauchery continue to propagate a horrid lie in place of a beautiful truth. One blog post cannot unpack all the avenues this topic could go down, but here are a few quick tips for how Christian parents should think and talk about sex for the sake of their children.
1. Do not make sex a taboo topic! Sex is natural, and God, the Giver of all good things, has a lot to say about it. If He does not shy away from the subject, neither should we. From the moment you have children, you should be using correct language for their body parts. Not only does telling children that “boys have penises and girls have vaginas” set the stage for discussing sex, but it helps protect them from sexual predators—a topic we have discussed HERE in the past. Language is basic but oh so vital to understanding and being understood.
2. Be honest! Lying is a sin, and we tell our kids often to “stop lying”, “I know you’re lying to me”, “it’s a top 10”, etc. But lying can come in various forms that parents can fall prey to if not careful to consider their own words—or lack of them. Whether we delay things for seemingly good reasons, delays can manifest into denials and denials into downright deception. Do not give your kids standards you are not keeping yourself. They will see right through you. Let them know you are honest as the day is long and that they can come to you because you will always speak truth.
3. Do not wait to initiate! Your 5 year old does not need to know every intimate detail about how a man and woman procreate, but he or she definitely should not be told a baby was dropped off via some big (and totally creepy) stork. *See #2. The more honest you are with your small children, the more comfortable it will be when they are older and the conversation continues to unfold. While Mary or Michael may feel the need to physically find out the details on their own (because Mom and Dad were waiting until they were “old enough” to have “the talk”), perhaps Sophie and Johnny (because the topic is not taboo in their homes) will instead go to mom and dad for more details. Many well-meaning parents choose the traveled and trampled path of waiting until their child comes to them with questions rather than initiating the process. Do not make that mistake.
4. Always lead them to God! In everything you do, you are to remind your children how amazing God is and that every part of our lives is to be an act of worship. Including sex. There are too many skewed views in a society that has chalked up all men to pigs and women to mere sexual objects. But we know this is a lie from the one who has come to steal, kill and destroy. God created males and females so uniquely and so beautifully. Not only in our bodies but in the ways we do things differently yet simultaneously together.
Here is the deal: your kids know far more than you think they do. And it is not because of television, smart phones, or even their peers. While those factors have certainly upped the amount of knowledge available, even young kids know about sex on a very basic level because it is the method God uses to create all of us! Those same children who you are waiting to come to you probably have questions now. But whether or not they feel comfortable coming to you—that is the real question. As the parent, you get the honor—yes, HONOR—of stepping up and being the presenter of facts. Take the stigma away, and set the stage for a healthy view of sex—one little, but loaded topic. Hopefully, as the conversation unfolds, there will be more rewards than regrets down the road.
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and one gentle, joy-filled, little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city. She loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.