Any adult would agree that sexuality is a very important part of being human. Reflecting on our sexuality can bring about a wide variety of emotions including anxiety, embarrassment, hurt, guilt, joy, contentment and pleasure. Talking to your kids about sex can also bring this assortment of emotions. Depending on our past experiences and our current attitudes toward sex and our own sexuality, this can make talking to your kids about sex a natural or, as in most cases, a not-so-natural experience. Therefore, the “birds and the bees” talk is often put off as long as possible.
Do We Have to Have this Conversation?
God asks us to take advantage of every opportunity to influence our children in the ways of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). As parents, we can talk about what God’s Word says concerning our attitudes, desires and actions concerning sex. Messages kids receive about sex can come from many different sources including friends, family, media and the internet and talking to our children about God’s view of sex is becoming more and more important in this sex-saturated culture. Not only does God suggest we do this but research shows that children and teens who can openly discuss sex with their parents wait longer to engage in sexual activities. Making sex a taboo subject inside the home is not healthy and actually encourages teenagers to explore unhealthy sexual behaviors including promiscuity, pornography and issues around gender identity. Talking to your kids about sex will allow you the opportunity to teach them the truth about sex. It will allow your children to develop healthy attitudes about their own sexuality. What they learn from their friends on the playground or from the babysitter isn’t necessarily going to provide your children with accurate information about their sexuality. And it definitely won’t give them the opportunity to establish the values or morals you have about sex.
How Do I Bring it Up?Experts recommend starting these conversations at a young age and by using age appropriate information, sparing any overwhelming or confusing details. It is also important to make these conversations as natural and normal as possible and as regularly as possible. There are many different ways to discuss sexuality with your children. Storybooks are just one way to help get across the concept of sex to your child or further explain what you’ve already discussed. Set aside time to sit and read together, then offer to answer any questions. Don’t just send your child off to read in a room by him/herself though. Playing an active role will show your child that they can come to you when they have sensitive questions as they get older. My booklist contains a series of age appropriate books that my husband and I have used for our five children. I highly recommend using them to get started. Try to remember that you can use daily life to discuss sex. Keep the lines of communication open and don’t overreact to any question that might be asked. Consider every moment as a potential opportunity to teach your child about sex and don’t pass up any opportunity that presents itself just because it feels uncomfortable. If you don’t have an answer, don’t be afraid to admit that you will have to find an answer and get back to them, just make sure to follow-up with your child.
Can Christian Counseling Help me Talk About Sex with My Child?
What you think about sex may seem clear and straight forward. But when it comes to laying the groundwork to help your kids develop a healthy understanding of sex, it can seem complicated. Christian parenting can be challenging. Getting good at discussing this topic takes time, intentionality and practice. On the other hand, it isn’t uncommon for our own painful life experiences to affect our attitudes and beliefs about sex. These negative experiences and attitudes do affect the way we interact with and teach our kids about their own sexuality. If you think you could benefit from exploring your own sexuality, I’d be happy to set up a time to discuss how I might assist you in this process. Likewise, if your child or teenager is struggling with unhealthy sexual behaviors or if you just feel stuck in this process, I’d be happy to assist you and your family in finding ways to begin discussing the delicate topic of sex.
“Family,” courtesy of icultist, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Family With Two Children” by Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net