The topic of sex is one that most parents struggle to broach or skip over entirely. As parents, we can all see the day coming — when we would need to initiate the talk with our kids — but many, like myself, often feel lost about how to begin.
The Whole Life Research Brief 2016 reported that as many as 79% of youths and young adults believe that parents have the primary responsibility of teaching their children about sex and sexuality. Unfortunately, only 20% of youths and 13% of young adults said that parents were their main source of information about sex and sexuality. This translates to over 80% of our young people learning about sex in a way that doesn’t necessarily honour God.
Our children need to learn about sex from us; but more than just a talk about ‘the birds and the bees’, it should be through open and honest conversations, which have a long-lasting spiritual and moral impact on their lives. It’s especially powerful when you help them see that sex is designed to be holy, guilt-free and pleasurable, but only in the context of marriage.
The current generation of young people are growing up in an age of hyper-reality, where sexual messages are constantly shoved in their faces through music, movies, commercials and social media. Blatant innuendos and negative messages about self-image are increasingly common, even on prime-time television.
There is no bubble big enough to protect our children from what the world is shouting. Our children will learn about sex, and according to the Whole Life research figures, too many of them are learning about it from anyone but their own parents.
Equipping our children with a healthy, biblical understanding of human sexuality based on God’s standards might seem daunting, especially when it goes against the grain of today’s culture. Don’t underestimate the amount of influence we have in their lives. They know better than anyone else that we are the real deal — better than any digital image, made-up character or out-of-reach celebrity. We’re in the best position to give them frank, honest information about how sex fits into the bigger picture of life.
Conversations with our children about sex should be just that — conversations! Talking about sex should not be regarded as a big, one-off talk to get over and done with. Instead, let’s be their safe space to ask honest questions and have open discussions as they grow up and also more curious.
Talking about sex should not be seen as a big, one-off talk to get over and done with.
I admit that I dragged my feet when it came to broaching the subject of sex with my two older children (now 7 and 10), but my husband and I agreed that we wanted our kids’ first impression of sex to come from us. Knowing that they would be learning about sex and sexuality from the people who love them most helped get the ball rolling. Here are several pointers we found extremely effective in helping us talk to our kids about sex.
1. Create meaningful connections
To me, this has been the cornerstone of generating open, healthy conversations about sex with my children. Connecting with them doesn’t just mean spending time together but it means intentionally listening to what they have to say and making a point to understand what’s going on in their minds.
Building a healthy bond with our children opens the door to future conversations with them about sex, sexual identity and godly standards with regards to sex.
2. Start small
From the time they were babies, we used the proper terms when identifying body parts, especially genitalia. This paved the way for us to teach them about caring for their bodies and the importance of guarding their private areas, as well as appropriate and inappropriate touch.
Starting small helped us gradually work our way to talking about the bigger, more sensitive aspects of sex.
3. Look out for teaching opportunities
Finding conversation starters isn’t difficult at all in this day and age. Natural teaching opportunities can easily be picked up from a suggestive TV commercial, a provocative advertisement, or questionable song lyrics. Practice discernment and wisdom when exposing our children to age-appropriate content and providing relevant, age-appropriate answers.
Building a healthy bond with our children opens the door to future conversations with them about godly standards with regards to sex.
4. Make room for questions
Keeping conversation doors open between us and our children gives them the chance to ask more questions, no matter how silly or awkward they think those questions may be.
5. Show affection
Openly showing affection to your spouse in the form of kissing, hugging, hand-holding and offering words of tenderness plays an important role in growing secure children and modelling the standards of a positive marriage relationship to them. This has gone a long way in building on the foundations of a healthy, open flow of conversation with our children.
Teaching our children that the true nature of sex is deeply relational, emotional and spiritual helps lay the foundations for a healthy outlook on sex and gives them the best opportunity to enjoy deeply meaningful, spiritually honouring relationships in the future.
© 2017 Whole Life. All rights reserved.
Whole Life. (2017, April 7). Whole life research brief 2016: Essential findings on the state of family in Singapore churches. Retrieved from http://www.wholelife.sg/wlresearchbrief