(I write a lot about relationships. Periodically over the next few weeks I’m going to share some insight here into parenting. I thought I’d start with an attention getter, but something we all face someday….or at least we should. Before I talk about parenting, I always say on this subject that we do the best we know how to do. My parenting is not perfect, so these are just my experiences.)
I’ll never forget the first “sex talk” I had with our oldest son. It was one of the most scary moments of parenting, but looking back I’m glad I did it then. I recognized that helping my children live pure and healthy sexual lives would be a challenge in a culture that is often defined by sex. I began with a few principles, which has helped me to continue to have open and honest dialogue with my boys, even in their teenage years.
Start Early – The key here is that you want to be the primary and first source of information for your child. The old saying is true, “If you don’t tell them, someone else will.” You want to make sure they are getting the correct information about sex.
Share in Stages – A four-year-old needs to know that there are boys and there are girls, but that’s about it at that age. Share information based on the child’s interest, maturity and ability to understand.
Answer questions – If your child is willing to ask a question it is because they want an answer. Many parents make the mistake of telling children they “don’t need to know yet”. There are no bad questions. Again, they will search for an answer and they may find the wrong ones.
Teach according to truth, not culture – The fact is that today’s culture is mostly wrong about the issue of sex. Culture today is trying to redefine what sex is. Don’t be afraid to teach your children to be different. If they understand the reasons for purity they are better able to stand against the times.
Deal with the emotional as well as physical – Our children should understand the emotional aspect of sex and the damage which can be caused by premarital sexual activity, as much as they should understand the physical aspects. The emotional pain of premarital sex is usually the most damaging aspect later in life.
Get help – There are plenty of resources on teaching children the Biblical perspective on sex. Every parent deals with this, so seek out parents who are further in this process than you and seem to have learned something they can share.
Keep the door open – My boys are entering the adult stage of life. As far as I’m concerned I’ve told them what they need to know, but they know I’m available for questions and so they keep asking. Most of their questions these days are more relational than physical, but at least they are still willing to ask.
I don’t believe my boys would be as open talking about such a difficult subject regularly and honestly if I had not established that freedom and practice at an early age.