Category Archives: Sex and Parenting

5 Times You Teach Holy and Healthy Sex to Your Kids

Parents have a strong influence in how their children view their sexuality and establish standards for sexual intimacy.

Parents have a strong influence in how their children view their sexuality and establish their standards for sexual intimacy. Click To Tweet

And much of that influence is not overt, but rather what we model day by day. With that in mind, here are five times you teach holy and healthy sex to your kids.

1. When you show affection in front of your children.

Young children typically enjoy seeing their parents embrace and kiss, but older children can give us the impression they don’t like it very much. They might roll their eyes, squish up their face, or even say, “Yuck!” Perhaps we don’t want to embarrass them, or perhaps we’re uncomfortable being affectionate when they understand more about romantic relationships, but many couples stop showing much affection in front of their kids.

But even if it feels a little awkward or it causes a reaction from your kids, it’s healthy to show affection in front of them. Children need to know their parents are still committed, loving, and even a little sexy to one another. Flirting, holding hands, hugging, and mild kissing are all wonderful practices for them to see. And yes, it’s good for them to know those actions lead to more intimate encounters that they don’t witness. All of this assures them of their parents bond and the benefits of marriage.

2. When you pursue and protect time alone.

You need time away from your children as a couple. And that time shouldn’t only happen when they are unaware, such as when they’re asleep. Let your children know that Mom and Dad want and deserve time alone together, in the bedroom, without interruption.

Depending on their age, that could mean announcing that it’s Mommy and Daddy’s special time, or that it’s date night, or that you just want to be alone (which teens can decipher and don’t want to know more about). But make a point of letting your children see that a husband and wife pursue and protect alone time, because they enjoy being together in romantic and intimate ways.

3. When you answer their questions about sex.

Sometimes I receive the question, “When should I tell my kids about sex?” For a lot of parents, the answer is “whenever they ask” — to which I could add, “as many times as they ask.” Yes, I think you need to have a specific talk with your children describing the sexual act, but the vast majority of teaching throughout the years will be simply answering their questions.

Think about your own experience growing up: Didn’t you have questions about sex? Who did you go to for answers? My bet is that many of us parents would like our kids to come to us rather than the other options available. So when our children ask us about sex in any way, we need to be open to the conversation, willing to listen to their thoughts and concerns, and able to respond in a way that encourages a positive, God-honoring view of sexual intimacy.

4. When you protect them against predators.

When I was growing up, minors had to intentionally seek out porn; now they have to avoid it like a stream of dodge balls coming at them. And it’s not just pornography, but mature-rated shows on streaming sites and Google searches on unrelated topics. Then there are online chats and multi-player games where a predator could interact with your child. I’m not trying to scare you, but we should be aware of risks out there.

Consequently, our kids need us to be their protectors. This involves talking to them about what’s out there and how to make good decisions. Even young children can understand, “If something on the screen makes you uncomfortable, press this off button, then come and get me or Daddy.” You can talk to tweens and tweens more openly, asking them what they encounter and coaching them on how to handle it. And you can install internet filters on their computers to keep them from being targeted by adult sexual content.

Get Covenant Eyes internet filtering software (affiliate link)

Affiliate Link

By the way, you won’t have much moral authority on this one if your internal attitude is “I can look at the XXX stuff, but they can’t.” So if you are struggling with porn use or lust, you need to address that as well. Don’t hold off helping your kids while you work on this sin, but recognize that teens in particular are smarter than you think and, if you keep it up, will likely pick up on you being a hypocrite.

5. When you point them to what God says about sex.

I didn’t leave this point for last because it’s least important, but rather because I want to make sure it’s the last point you hear and process. Our goal with our children should always be teaching them about God’s design for sexuality. As the Creator of sex, what did He say it’s for, how does He talk about it in Scripture, and what does purity really mean? Why is God’s design better than the world’s teaching? And how can they have a great sexual relationship once they’re married?

When they’re young, these messages are as simple as celebrating the way God made their bodies—all of their bodies. As as they age and you answer their questions, bring God into that conversation, making sure they fully understand that sex was and is God’s idea. Demonstrate with your words and actions that sex in marriage is not simply physical, but also emotional and spiritual. Let them know that the Bible likens the marriage relationship to the intimacy God longs to have with us. We are a mirror of His love.

The Bible likens the #marriage relationship to the intimacy God longs to have with us. We are a mirror of His love. Click To Tweet

Our parental influence is far more than we think at times. This is no guarantee, because we each have free will, but let’s do what we can to set our kids up for a healthy and godly perspective of sex.

The Whole Story video course from Sheila Gregoire & Daughters

What I Wish I Had Been Taught Instead of Purity Culture with Rebecca Lemke

Rebecca Lemke

I met Rebecca Lemke when she contacted me about appearing on her podcast, The Scarlet Virgins. Her book about her experience in the Purity Culture shares the same name. And I was impressed with how she was speaking up about her experience, both the good and the bad.

We had a wonderful discussion, which will appear soon on her podcast. But in the meantime, I asked her to return the favor and talk to my audience about what she wished she had experienced instead.

This is great information for two reasons:

  1. Even if you didn’t grow up in the Purity Culture, many churches embraced its underlying message in subtler ways, and you might need to rethink what it really means to be pure before God.
  2. We married folk often have children, who should be our students when it comes to sex, and we should think through what messages will point our kids in the right direction.

I hope you’re entirely convinced now to read every word below, because I’m eagerly turning things over to Rebecca.

Blog post title + male & female symbols on chalkboard with chalk beside them

My husband and I are currently making our way through the book Making Chastity Sexy by Christine J. Gardner. A generous friend sent it to me because of my interest and extensive work on purity culture. This book has sparked some discussion between my husband and me about the way we would have liked sex and relationships to have been approached in our youth and some of the ways in which we hope we can approach these things with our son.

A point my husband made recently is that much of what we learned was through the Christian pop culture. Yes, there was a lot of in-your-face rhetoric with the purity rings and conferences and concerts, but the fear we learned was subtle in a lot of ways. It crept in on us more through the subtext within the culture and the way people acted than what was actually said.

Which, to be sure, was fear-mongering in many respects. At least in my case, where crushes were considered an emotional STD and therefore you were to marry your first one to avoid contaminating anyone else or yourself.

The number one thing I wish there had been more of is a culture of practicality surrounding sex. One point Gardner’s book makes is that sex was sold as a product, specifically amazing honeymoon sex, if you paid the price of waiting until you were married. A virgin body on your wedding night was made into a commodity to sell abstinence until marriage.

It seems abhorrent to me that information about precious gifts of God (our bodies, our sexuality, our marriages) was spun to produce an outcome rather than just giving us the facts and the Word of God. Why, on God’s green earth, was that not enough?

Instead of trying to make false promises and add to Scripture to up to ante to gain compliance, I wish the Powers That be would have spent time teaching us about how sex and marriage actually work.

Instead of trying to make false promises and add to Scripture to up to ante to gain compliance, I wish the Powers That Be would have spent time teaching us about how sex and marriage actually work. - Rebecca Lemke Click To Tweet

For example:

1. How our bodies work.

Things like hormonal changes, male and female reproductive systems, things that impact libido, what influences attraction, etc.

Purity culture has made sexuality this big bad thing that only becomes good the moment you say “I do.” Even going so far as to say noticing beauty is inherently sinful, which has caused problems for many people in the path of this idea. The body is bad, the spirit is good (amazing how tenacious old gnostic ideas are). Except when you get married, then somehow the body is magically good.

This kind of odd rhetoric combined with lack of any education on puberty, attraction, sex, etc. makes it easy to see sexuality as this conceptually blurry, overpowered bad guy. Appropriate information contextualizes sexuality so you know and believe it is a good thing. With this foundation, you also happen to understand why it is prudent and God-pleasing to exercise it in the proper place within marriage.

2. What healthy sexuality looks like.

Numerous men and women have contacted me since my book came out to tell me that, since being fed a diet of purity culture’s high expectations, they have been extremely disappointed with the realities of sex. This is an issue compounded by exposure to pornography, which is something many of these individuals have experienced as well (oftentimes as the result of an attempt at sexual self-repression that backfired).

Sex isn’t always wild and crazy. You don’t always break a bed frame or wake all the neighbors up. Sometimes pregnancy complications arise and pelvic rest is ordered. But to hear the talk at a purity event, you wouldn’t know this! The existence of this blog and others like it helps to combat this issue, but nothing can replace having practical expectations laid at the beginning.

My husband and I have made it a point to be an open book with our son so he doesn’t have to wonder or feel ashamed or scared about sex. We make it a point not to idolize sex or manipulate its importance in his mind by downplaying or overemphasizing its role in our lives.

Instead of growing up in a subtext and culture of fear and lack of knowledge, I wish we would have had the opportunity we are trying to afford our son, to be surrounded by stability, certainty, knowledge, and respect for sex within the context God created it to be.

The Scarlet Virgins Book Cover

Rebecca Lemke was a Good Christian Girl who wanted a Good Christian Husband and a Quiverfull of kids. The sort of blessed, picturesque life promised to people who followed The Rules.

The Scarlet Virgins is a memoir of Rebecca’s journey through the ramifications of spiritual abuse and purity culture, wrestling with the temptation of apostasy, the descent of herself and others into the depths of addiction, alcoholism, anorexia, depression, self-harm, and suicide. She outlines the dangers of finding your identity in your purity or ability to follow the Law rather than in Christ and what he has done for you.

For more information about Rebecca, the book, and her podcast, visit The Scarlet Virgins.

Related posts:
Talking to Your Kids about Sex: No More One & Done
Is “Don’t Have Sex” Enough for Teens?

Intimacy Revealed Ad

Why Being a Good Father Turns Your Wife On

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in the United States, celebrated by the purchase of power tools, electronic gadgets, sporting goods, and neckties. And extra attention for the Beloved Dad in our homes.

But not too long ago, I heard from a wife who admitted that she had enormous difficulty letting down her guard to make love when her husband mistreated their kids. She couldn’t switch to seeing him as safe and appealing after he acted harsh and dismissive of someone else she loved so very much — her own child.

On the opposite site, several wives have told me that they feel more attraction to their husbands when those men step up and do the right thing as fathers. I absolutely understand that feeling.  Seriously, there is something sexy about seeing your man being a fabulous dad.

Why does his ability to father impact our physical attraction?

Caring for our children is caring for us. We are so connected to this little person, or people, that we cannot entirely separate ourselves from them. Our children carry a bit of their mother’s heart around at all times. So when a father treats his wife’s children well, it’s felt not only by the child, but by the mother as well. Likewise, she feels the barbs too. It’s as if we mothers naturally follow Romans 12:15 when it comes to our children: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

I’m not saying that a father should not discipline his child — he should — but I’m talking about the father who exasperates his children (see Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). It’s hard for a wife to feel a strong romantic attraction toward a man who injures her child’s heart more than he shapes her child’s character.

Being a good father reminds us that we complement each other. Ideally, children are raised in two-parent homes with a mother and father. God designed the family to flow from this one-flesh connection of male and female. A dad cannot take a mom’s place, and a mom cannot take a dad’s place. As the mom, all I can do is my part of the parenting, and when my hubby does his part as father, our complementary roles join to create a whole bigger than the sum of its parts.

This harmony reminds a woman that she is better off with a man in the house. And hey, it’s kinda awesome to have a manly man doing his thing. In fact, there are other ways in which we complement each other… For instance, our body parts seem to line up quite nicely too. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that wives translate this to the bedroom. But I do believe that seeing the balance of male-female in the home sets a good atmosphere for that connection.

Loving the most vulnerable in our lives helps us feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you. When our children are infants, they are helpless; as toddlers, fragile; as preschoolers, unguarded; as elementary age, tender; as tweens, insecure; as teens, tentative. Yes, our children are more than those traits, especially as they mature, but in a world rightly run by adults, being a minor means being vulnerable. So when a man shows tender love toward children, he demonstrates that he’s protective, safe, trustworthy.

Now, sharing our hearts and our bodies is an incredibly vulnerable act for a woman. We want to feel secure and to know that we can trust our husbands with that vulnerability. It’s kinda sexy to believe that your husband will take care of your body the way he protects and cherishes your children. We wives can feel more confident about baring ourselves, physically and emotionally, when we’ve seen how diligent and gentle our husbands can be with our kids.

Listen up, guys: I’m not saying this is an exchange where if you treat her children well, you’ll automatically get laid. You should treat children well because it’s the right thing to do. And there are no guarantees with your wife, because she may have other reasons why sex is unappealing.

But being an exasperating father will likely be a barrier to her wanting to make love. And being a godly father makes you more appealing — and may well turn her on.

So to all the great fathers out there, and to the ones who commit to do better, thank you! Your children and your wives benefit. And I pray that you will be blessed too!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Father's Day Verse: Psalm 128:3-4

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MY NEW BOOK BY CLICKING THE BANNER BELOW!

Hot, Holy, and Humorous Book Footer

Q&A with J: Baby’s Here, But Sex? Not So Much.

Without a doubt, the time in our marriage I least felt like having sex was after my babies were born. You might think since they’re now teenagers, I’ve forgotten what that’s like, but I clearly recall the total lack of interest I had in being touched by another human being, much less fondled and sexed up in the marriage bed.

Looking back, I wish I’d handled it all so much better. Frankly, I’ve apologized to the hubster (and made up for it!), but I also learned a few things I can share with the reader who asks this question:

I am writing because I just had my first baby!! She’s wonderful and a great addition to our lives!!!  However, as I figured, things have changed in my anatomy. I don’t feel like myself physically or emotionally! We had sex for the first time at 6 weeks postpartum and it was awful! My husband was very sweet and kind about it!  He was very loving and gentle. What can I do about my brain and emotions to want to be intimate with him again? I just am looking for any advice I can find for sex after a baby! I am praying through this, but am looking for practical advice as well! Thanks!

Q&A with J Baby's Here, But Sex Not So Much.

My favorite line from this query is “I don’t feel like myself physically or emotionally!” Amen, sister. Pregnancy and childbirth take over your body like nothing else and change you. I’ve had lasting consequences from that experience, like a heightened sense of smell and new allergies. Go figure.

I’m not sure an alien abduction could rival the life-changing experience of hosting a tiny human being in your body and then pushing it out into the world. Then, while your body is still in full recovery mode, you’re supposed to figure out how to care for this baby. Welcome to Crash Course Parenting!

Now add your need to return to sexy wife status, and the pressure can feel insurmountable. Someone, send this lady on vacation, please!

But you’re not alone, and others have successfully tread the waters before. Or at least learned important lessons they can share from not doing it so fabulously.

Get a physical check-up. If sex continues to feel “awful,” there could be a physical reason for your discomfort. Tell your doctor what’s going on. Be honest, specific, and persistent. Your hormones could be so thrown off you’re not producing enough estrogen to lubricate and swell down there. You could have an infection. You could be slow to heal from tearing. Make sure your doctor does a physical examination of your body to see if something might be triggering your problems. If pain continues, check out my post on pain during sex.

Give yourself time. Most doctors prescribe 4-6 weeks to recover from childbirth before attempting intercourse. But honestly, the recommendation is built on averages. Some women can engage after 2-3 weeks, others need 8-10 weeks. Just know your particular situation may vary from the standard, and that’s okay. It’s an individual couple’s decision when to get back to making love. You definitely want to aim for it, but not push so hard that you dread the encounter.

And since I know I have hubbies reading: Listen up, guys. Want to make me madder than a plucked hen? Tell me your wife should give birth one day and meet your sexual needs within a week. Seriously? Have you ever gone through childbirth? No, you have not. It’s a beautiful experience, but it also wreaks havoc with a woman’s body. Rather than demanding sex on your terms, please dig deep for compassion and grace and help her through a difficult transition. Honestly, she’s more likely to want to make love to you if you’re helpful, understanding, and loving to her in this season. That’s how you’re supposed to treat your wife anyway. (Really. Look it up.)

Appreciate your body. Plenty of new moms do not feel great about presenting their naked bodies to hubby. However you felt about that big bulge in your belly during pregnancy, now that baby’s gone, it can look like a sagging sack. It takes a while for everything to get back where it belongs. If you’re nursing, you have the added awkwardness of leaking at inopportune times. Oops, sorry about that, hubs. Many moms have absolutely no interest in using their breasts sexually while they’re baby food factories. Which can throw off your marital sex routine.

But here’s the thing: Your body is incredible. Just look at that baby and imagine how God used your body to grow and nurture that little body with all its intricate parts. Most husbands also gain a fresh appreciation for the wonder of their wife’s body. I remember vividly feeling like a crazy mess a few weeks after my first kid, lying on the couch in my pajamas, and crying to my poor husband about my flabby, exhausted body. He shrunk back with shock and proclaimed, “I love your body even more now.” Hey, that body gave him a child.

Not only did God knit you together, he knit a baby in your womb (Psalm 139:13). Besides, you still have all those curves and fascinating places that thrill your guy. Remind yourself regularly of your beauty and embrace your self-confidence.

Rebuild your sexual intimacy. The reality is that your sex life is not the same. I venture to say it will never be the same as it was B.C. (before children). Your body has changed. Your relationship to one another has broadened. Your child is an ongoing responsibility. Your attention is more divided.

You can’t have sex anytime you want anymore, because baby’s schedule is now in the mix. As your child grows, you’ll be faced with the challenges of getting interrupted, having to take extra measures for privacy, and finding time to squeeze lovemaking between Junior’s piano lessons and parent night. None of this means you can’t have amazing sexual intimacy! All of these challenges and experiences link you together more, making sex even more meaningful.

Simply keep this in mind and rebuild your sexual intimacy from here. Find out what arouses you, how to best prepare yourself for sexual intimacy, how you can creatively carve out time, what you can do to extend foreplay throughout the day (so that when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go). Learn to laugh about those times when you’re right on the brink of making love . . . and kiddo yells, “Daddy, what are you and mommy doing?” from the other side of your bedroom door. Or other child-specific, funny-bone moments. Just take a fresh perspective of your sex life together.

Focus your mind on sexual desire. Finally, you mentioned getting back into things emotionally. That requires getting your head in the game, being able to switch from your list of Mama to-dos to what you and Papa want to do with each other. New mommy brains tend to be full of responsibilities, worry, and exhaustion. There’s not a lot of room in there for sexy thoughts.

Make room. Make it a goal to think something sexy about your hubby and/or yourself during the day. You can use a journal to record your thoughts, align that task with another (I will remember a great time we made love every day while brushing my teeth), text your husband something romantic, plan a rendezvous. Ask for help from your husband for that mental shift, by letting him bathe the baby or rock him to sleep while you take a few minutes for a soothing bubble bath, a chance to make the bedroom nice and light candles, or slipping into something that makes you feel desirable.

When there’s so much else going on, we have to make a conscious decision to focus on sex with our husband. If you make it a priority in your mind, over time you’ll likely find your emotions following. You will reawaken love for him and your sexual intimacy.

That concludes my advice this time around. I’m curious to hear from my readers. What tips worked for you or what lessons did you learn from your own experience?

Also see A Month Without Sex?! Advice for New Moms.

Q&A with J: Avoiding Sex Because the Kids Can Hear

Today’s question is about lovemaking sounds and the children who might hear them.

My husband and I are both believers but we are struggling in our intimate life. Night after night I sit in avoidance of having sex with my husband. We live in a very small and modest home, think old cottage style, the walls are paper thin and the wood floors do nothing to mask sound. I am avoiding sex with my husband for fear of the kids hearing us make love, i.e. bed squeaking, moaning, etc. My husband has no problem or worry if the kids overhear our love making but it bothers me greatly . . .

I enjoy sex with my husband very much but it has become a huge road block in our marriage since our children have gotten older. When they were small I did not worry as much because I knew if they heard us they would not understand what we were doing. Now that I have a teen and a preteen in the home along with a 6 year old it makes things awkward. I have tried fans in the room to create some white noise and the tv for me is a distraction from achieving orgasm, I just cant do it with the news or a sitcom in the background. I suppose maybe some music but even this has to be kept low as to not keep anyone awake since sound travels so easy in our home. Any advice is so much appreciated.

First, a word to the residential construction industry: Just how hard would it be for master bedrooms to be sound-proofed? If you could get on that right away, your married home buyers would thank you.

Q&A with J: Avoiding Sex Because the Kids Can Hear

For those of us without studio-level soundproofing for our bedrooms (99.999% of us), here are a few things to consider.

Be creative about when you make love. At night when everyone else is trying to go to sleep may not be the best time for you and your husband to have sex. With older kids in my house, we’ve become far more likely to make love during the day than at night — taking advantage of those times when both kids are gone to youth group events, when they’re plugged into their headphones or watching a movie, when they’re sleeping in on a Saturday morning.

If you’re sharing thin walls with your children, look for times when they’re not in the bedroom. Even plan for it! Good parenting could involve ordering up pizza for the kids, plopping them in front of a Disney movie, and then retiring to your bedroom for marital intimacy. Sometimes we worry so much about covering the noise in our bedroom when the best answer is to put some noise in our kids’ ears so they can’t hear what we’re doing!

You might even consider introducing sound makers into their bedrooms. Many children sleep better with white noise machines or a fan running. We bought one of my kids a bluetooth speaker, and while his phone recharges in another room overnight, it also plays sleep-timed music on the speaker for him to fall asleep.

One last thought here: Consider bartering with other couples for child care. My church hosted a babysitting co-op that was marvelous! We would have anywhere from 4 to 12 couples participate, and we’d trade turns taking care of the kids while the other couples had date night. Which sometimes might be going back home, eating dinner, and making love. If it was four couples, we’d babysit once and have three date nights. When it was up to 12, two couples could take the duty and you’d get even more date nights. Couples can also simply barter back and forth to get this alone time.

Teach your kids to respect your privacy. Your older kids will likely get this more than the youngest, because tweens and teens will want their own privacy, like in the bathroom or when they’re changing in the bedroom. (And no, I’m not saying they get the privacy of locking you out of their bedroom whenever they want — you paid for that bedroom and they’re a minor! But I digress.)

Let your children know that your bedroom is a private space, and when the door is closed, that could mean that someone is changing clothes or doing intimate things husbands and wives do. If you don’t want to reference sex, you can simply say “hugging and kissing.” I guarantee you those teens do not want to see their parents “making out.”

Also, let them know when you’re retiring to the bedroom for alone time, and you are not to be disturbed. You might ask them to stay in the living areas of your home for a while, so they aren’t privy to the sounds of your bedroom antics. I’ve actually said to my kids before, “Interrupt us only if someone is vomiting, bleeding, or unconscious. And the vomit and blood better be a lot.”

Some might cringe at that. Yet I’ve come to believe that many of us married folks need to take back our homes. Our children are not the center of the universe and can learn to wait their turn. Besides, you bought the house, you pay the mortgage, you own the space they’re in. So they don’t get to determine what happens in every room and when — especially your bedroom. When I personally made this mental shift, it freed me up to protect my own space in my home and to put my kids first when I needed to, but not every time. In the long run, I think it’s a good lesson for children to know that others have needs they need to respect.

What’s the worst that could happen? I relaxed quite a bit when I imagined what would happen if our children heard us making love — with all the noises that might go along with that. Could I handle that experience? Was I prepared to have that conversation with my kids?

Let me assure you: You got this. If your children did hear your intimate noises and worried what was happening / felt enormous embarrassment / questioned you about your bedroom activities . . . you can explain it in terms they’ll understand that respects your marital privacy. The 6 year old would likely need assurance that everyone’s okay, while the 14 year old may need to understand that lovemaking is a verbal activity.

Having just ridden another roller coaster this weekend (love them!), I might explain it like this: “You know how people make noises on amusement park rides that might sound frightening if you didn’t know what they were doing. But once you know they’re expressing excitement and emotion, it makes sense. Lovemaking as God intended, pleasurable and in a covenant marriage, involves expressing excitement and emotion, and sometimes that means noise. We’re just having a good time.”

At the point that your children are teenagers, they should know that good marriages include sexual intimacy. So if younger children are asleep, but the older chooses to stay awake long after you told them to go bed . . . then it’s too bad if they hear something they didn’t want to. I didn’t start out feeling this way, but over time I decided that’s the way it had to be. If we told a teen four times to go to bed by 11:30, and they were awake and heard us getting busy at midnight? Well, kid, I TOLD you to go to bed for a reason. Now do you believe me?

Here are a couple of other posts that might help: Yes, Kid, Your Mommy and Daddy Have Sex and Making Love When You Have Teens in the Home.