Category Archives: Sex and Parenting

Q&A with J: Preparing Your Grown Children for Marital Intimacy

Today’s question is from a concerned father:

I have 3 daughters who I want the very best for in marriage. How do I send them off when the time comes. Part of me wants to sit them down and tell them all about everything sexual and part of me says let them discover it on their own do not ruin it by telling them. I could explain oral sex for example, I am completely comfortable doing so but would it be better to let them find it on their own? I am sure the situation will vary some from one to the other but what would you do, give them your book?

I’ve written several times about talking to your children about sex. I believe those conversations need to start early and continue through the years. Sex is an embarrassing or taboo topic in too many households, but if you make your home a safe environment to discuss the topic, your children are more likely to engage and ask you questions when they need answers.

Q&A with J: Preparing Your Grown Children for Marital Intimacy

Here’s a rundown of some of these posts:

Talking to Your Kids about Sex: No More One & Done

How to Talk to a Teen about Sex

Is “Don’t Have Sex” Enough for Teens?

Sex: From the Skit Guys

The Oh-My-Goodness-Did-I-Really-Sign-Up-for-This? Sex Talk

What about when your kids are grown? How do you prepare them for what’s to come in marriage? Here are my thoughts on that topic:

Principles > Details. It’s far more important to teach principles for approaching sexual intimacy in marriage than provide details about what that looks like. Even grown children may not want to discuss particulars with you.

However, they would benefit from understanding the purpose of sex in marriage, why it matters so much for marriage, what standards to use when deciding what honors their spouse and God in the bedroom, and what to do if/when they have difficulties. These are issues you can address.

Share scriptures that cover marriage and sex in the Bible (like Genesis 2:24, Proverbs 5-6, Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Ephesians 5:22-32). Explain how the chapters on love and the Gospel itself apply to marital intimacy. Let them know what the higher standard is for determining what’s good in the marriage bed. You might even share with them generally about your own walk in this regard — how there have been bumps in your marriage regarding sex that had to be worked out.

Too often, newlyweds expect sex to look like what they’ve seen in a romance novel or movie and to go perfectly from the get-go. Prepare them that sexual love can unfold gradually and steadily, and there will be plenty of time in marriage to enjoy the feast of delights if they cherish one another from the beginning.

Encourage them to seek help if physical issues or emotional misunderstandings arise. Think principles more than details.

Share quality resources. The Bible is the first resource you should freely share with your children. Let them know that all those scriptures about how we should treat each other apply to marriage as well, and they don’t stop at the bedroom door. God’s truth should permeate every crevice of our lives.

After that, I have several posts specifically for newly marrieds:

How Much Should You Learn about Sex before the Wedding Night?

Wedding Night Sex

What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night?

Preparing for the Wedding Night

What I Wish I’d Known before the Wedding Night

What to Pack for Your Honeymoon or Vacation

You specifically asked about my book. As much as I’d love for you to buy Sex Savvy: A Lovemaking Guide for Wives, that’s not actually the book I most recommend for a young bride. I believe Sheila Gregoire’s  A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex is a great primer for a woman about to enter marriage. Also good for any fiancée (and wife) is Shaunti Feldhan’s For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men. For couples I suggest The Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Marriage by Jeff Murphy & Julie Sibert and Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in Marriage by Dan & Linda Wilson.

Down the road a bit, Sex Savvy would help a wife develop more sexual self-confidence, while Intimacy Revealed can flesh out the connection of our sexuality and spirituality.

These are only a few of the excellent resources out there for those embarking on marriage, to get a better sense of what to expect and to understand God’s design for sex in this covenant relationship.

Give permission for passion. The final role I see for parents is to let their children know that it’s not only okay, but good for them to lean into God’s provision for sexual delights now that they will be in the proper context of marriage. Whether they’ve stayed entirely pure all the way to the altar or messed up some along the way, convey that you want the best for them in their marriage — and that includes a satisfying sex life.

Why is this important? Because I hear again and again and again from wives who struggled to make that shift into their marriage. They focused so hard on staying a virgin that it feels wrong or shameful to unleash their passions, even in marriage. Or maybe they engaged in sex before marriage, but they carried a load of guilt — however light or heavy — and this burden weighs on them in a way that they struggle to embrace what God wants for their sexual intimacy.

Even when we’re adults, we look to our parents for guidance and approval. Of course, that’s not all that matters, but you can play a positive role for your grown children by letting them know that sexual love in marriage is a beautiful thing and you want them to experience its fullness.

Do you have to get specific? I don’t think you do. Honestly, if you’ve been talking in your home as they grow, and you’ve been available for questions, and you lead them to good resources, laying out exactly how things work right before the I Do‘s won’t make much difference. You’ve already done your job, and they know where to find you if they need help.

Opening up to my fabulous readers, how do you believe we can best prepare our children for godly sex in marriage?

The Dating Advice I Gave Teen Girls

Last week, I was at youth church camp, hanging out with kids ranging from 8 to 18 years of age. At one point, I ended up in a small circle of teen girls, and the subject turned to boys. It’s one of their favorite subjects, so why not? *smile*

Thankfully, these lovely young ladies were comfortable sharing their thoughts about romantic relationships and asking for wisdom from me and another woman who joined the conversation. What did I tell them?

The Dating Advice I Gave Teen Girls

Let me share the dating advice I gave these teen girls, with the years of hindsight I now have. Maybe it will help another parent figure out what to say to their child.

Dating and relationships can wait. I wish I hadn’t dated so much in high school or worried about relationships. In today’s culture, the likelihood of finding The One when you’re 16 years old is extremely low. Of course I know people who married their high school sweethearts, but they’re the exception, not the rule. The rest of us bounced around boyfriends, with little more to show than wasted time, broken hearts, and only a handful of great memories. If you happen to find someone, fine, but it’s okay to take your time and start dating later.

Focus on God, yourself, and friendships. Whether you’re 16 or 46, you should feel confident and comfortable as a separate person before adding another to your mix. Figure out who you are in relationship to God, to yourself, and to your friends first. Once your own identity is better formed, you’ll be a better choice for someone else and better able to discern the right person for you.

But won’t a romantic relationship or marriage change you? Yes, it will, and should. But you won’t be mixing your baggage with someone else’s baggage. You’ll be iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), not bludgeons. I’ve had the bludgeon relationships, and they are not fun. I’ll take my solid marriage, thank you, which is far better at pushing me to become the person I should be in Christ.

Remember real hearts are involved. Skipping around from boy to boy is a bad plan, because real hearts are involved. Only two options for a relationship are possible—it stays together, it breaks apart. And broken relationships typically break at least one heart, sometimes both.

Just because you’re young or you didn’t think it was a big deal doesn’t mean your choices couldn’t hurt someone else’s heart. We need to consider others’ hearts as well as our own. Don’t jump into relationships lightly.

Guard your heart. Speaking of hearts, guard your own heart. Don’t throw yourself wily-nilly into deep romantic entanglements. When you engage in a relationship with someone, you’re giving them a bit of your heart. Can you trust them with it? You don’t have to know this person is The One before investing in a relationship, but you should have some confidence he cares about you as a person, not merely a girlfriend or Saturday night’s date.

Sometimes we pursue that guy that gives us the tingles, but we know deep-down he isn’t trustworthy. Bad. Idea. Just consider your choices and guard your heart.

Love is wonderful. A lot of what I just said might sound like I’m opposed to romance, love, passion. Not at all! When there was a discussion of which boys were cute, I immediately piped up and said that Spock (hubby’s nickname) was super-hot and totally caught my eye. They smiled and laughed, amused to see I still get the tingles for my guy—22 years later.

I let them talk about cute boys and what they liked in boys. We discussed how truly nice guys get more attractive over time and catch your eye when maybe they hadn’t before. I spoke positively of the two girls there who are in relationships (with great Christian guys). I let them know fluttery love feelings are ticklishly good, that romance is worth pursuing with a wonderful man, that love can last for decades. I also stressed that these young women are worth it for some godly young man out there waiting for each of them.

Closing up, I might want to mention that word had gotten around among a few of these young ladies about my own rules for my teenage sons being allowed to date. The one rule these girls seem to like a lot is my sons must first demonstrate they know how to treat a lady—and part of the evidence is how they treat the most prominent woman in their life, their mom.

What dating advice have you given your teenagers? What excellent dating advice did you receive? How did your dating affect how you viewed marriage?

♥♥♥ And be sure to enter the giveaway for the fabulous marriage book, Lovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in Marriage. Winners will be chosen at the end of today, June 18. My review of the book and details on how to enter the giveaway can be found HERE.

Making Love When You Have Teens in the Home

Although many parents’ nightmare is being discovered mid-sexual encounter by their children, the reality is that if your young children were to hear something, they likely wouldn’t have a clue what they heard. I even wrote about how one of my kids, younger back then, mistook some intimate noises for cat meows. Yep, that’s right, kid — it’s the cat! *wink-wink*

But what about when your kids become teenagers? Assuming you did your job, or assuming they’ve ever left home and interacted in the real world, they know about sex. If you have sex while they’re home and they hear something, they might well put two and two together and realize you’re in there becoming one flesh.

How can we ever make love when our teens are in the house? And awake? Because have you noticed they also stay up way later than those toddlers and elementary kids? So much for waiting until they fall asleep.

Starting with my guide in all things sex, the Bible — yep, that’s right, the Bible — I have to say it’s a little disappointing there’s no verse in the Song of Songs where the Beloved says, “Hey, Lover, if you want to have sex, we need to do something with these kids!”

But I think there are parenting principles that can be applied even to the bedroom.

A Do No Disturb sign on a white door + blog post title

If they know you make love, they better understand godly marriage. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We parents have heard this one, right? I bet you never thought about applying that verse to how you model intimacy in marriage.

Of course, you’re not actually training your child to have sex, but our best teaching comes through modeling. Our kids are watching us. Their most prevalent example of what a marriage looks like is the one they see every day between the parents in their home. If they see you date, see you flirt and touch, see honesty and respect, and note that sometimes you disappear to the bedroom for alone time, that’s all good stuff. They’re getting a good sense of what God intended for this covenant relationship called marriage.

So relax when you consider that your teens might actually know you have sex . . . because that’s a good thing. Of course, we don’t want to share details — making love is a private matter between husband and wife — but the idea of it happening in their home is a good example to set. It trains them in the way they should go: realizing marriage is the place where sex should happen and intimate beauty awaits when they follow God’s plan.

It’s not their house, it’s yours. Proverbs 19:14 says: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” What does that have to do with sex for your marriage when you have teens in the house? The verse says that houses are inherited from parents — as in the house does not belong to your kids now. They can have it later. Right now, it’s yours, and your name is on the mortgage and/or deed. It’s time to be that prudent wife and remember you own every inch of that house, not your teens.

Sometimes we parents tiptoe around this issue and our kids so much, we almost feel like we need to squeeze ourselves into the very back corner of our house away from everyone to enjoy a little nookie. But I felt a massive mental shift when I remembered that we own the house, pay the bills, and provide everything our children need on a daily basis — including a bedroom to retreat to. Moreover, they have headphones to plug into this, that, and whatever, effectively drowning out whatever noise might be occurring in their home. Frankly, if we wanted to claim the living room for the next half-hour for a wild encounter of “hot monkey love,” the people who need to leave are our children. They didn’t pay for that space, we did.

Would I do that? No, of course not! But that realization freed me up to decide that making love in our bedroom was not infringing on their space. If they somehow realize something’s going on or even hear noises, they can go to their bedroom or shove on headphones and effectively ignore it.

Be courteous and private. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Although this verse refers specifically to fathers, we moms can take this important advice too.

Yes, your kids should see you demonstrating love and affection. Yes, it’s fine and good for them to know you make love. Yes, you have every right to have sex when and where you want to in your own home. But no, you shouldn’t knowingly make life more difficult for your teenagers.

How many of you had an up-close encounter with your parents’ sex life growing up? In fact, raise your hand if you figured out, or (heaven forbid) saw, an intimate moment between your parents — and have the cringe-worthy memories. My hand is up. Thankfully, however, it was a small thing, an accident — and awkward, not exasperating. But if parents are constantly announcing they’re going to have sex or screaming like banshees in the bedroom, that can reach the level of annoying, rude, and exasperating.

Be courteous and private. Go to your bedroom or another tucked-away place for the heavy affection. Lock the bedroom door, and establish a policy of no interruptions except for blood, vomit, or fire. Turn on music or white noise or some other sound cover. If you need to wait a few minutes for your teens to be otherwise occupied (like starting the movie they’re about to watch) or to go to bed, just wait. Take advantage of alone times in the house. (Church youth events have been a real boon to our marital intimacy!) Don’t stop making love if they’re in the house, but practice courtesy and privacy.

Don’t give up being sexually intimate with your spouse because you have teens in the house. Talk regularly to them about what true sexual intimacy should be, and they’ll likely assume you’re practicing it in your own marriage. Then when you want to make love, they’ll probably cooperate enough to get out of your way. They want you to be happy in your marriage, but yeah, they don’t want to know the details.

What have you found works? How can we remain sexually intimate in our marriages when we have teens in the home?

Sex Wisdom I Learned & Teach

I’m a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. This month, CMBA has issued a challenge for marriage bloggers to answer the following questions:

What words have encouraged you in your marriage? What wisdom has helped guide you and your spouse in strengthening your marriage?

The focus this week is on what wisdom you received from family.

Since I write on Christian sex in marriage, this is a particularly interesting line of inquiry. How many in my generation can say they received quality information and encouragement that prepared them for sex in marriage? I’m guessing it’s a small percentage. Possibly speck-sized for some people.

Blog post title

I had a few conversations with my parents, and they were okay. But my parents were clearly uncomfortable discussing sexual information with me. In fact, instead of giving me “the talk,” I was given a book to read in which the boy and girl were shaped — I kid you not! — like something between Peanuts and Precious Moments characters. (It’s a wonder I didn’t develop an unhealthy crush on Charlie Brown.)

Honestly, the most encouraging words about sexuality that my parents ever gave me . . . weren’t words about sexuality at all. They encouraged me to read my Bible. And in the long-term, that’s paid off in spades.

Because God has taught me so much about His gift of sexuality.

That said, it took me a while to get there. So as a parent, I’m trying to lay the groundwork for my own kids to have a healthy, godly view of sexuality. And what words of wisdom am I teaching them? I hope you’ll head over to Sheila Gregoire’s site, where I guest posted on Tuesday with Top 10 Things I Want My Kids to Know about Sex.

And for more tips on talking about sex with your children, here are some other posts I’ve done on this subject:

Teach Your Kids the Correct Words for Body Parts

Talking to Your Kids about Sex: No More One and Done

Is “Don’t Have Sex” for Teens?

How to Talk to a Teen about Sex

What wisdom did you receive from family about sex in marriage? What wisdom are you passing on to your family?

What Dads Teach Their Daughters about Intimacy

This Sunday is Father’s Day in the United States. You may be asking why I mention this holiday. What do dads have to do with marital intimacy — the subject about which I typically write? Actually, fathers can impact their daughters’ sexuality quite a lot.

Dad holding & kissing daughterHere are some ways dads teach their their daughters about intimacy:

Body image. Most little girls get their first sense of how pretty they are from their daddies. God has planted in women a desire to be beautiful and cherished by a man. And the first man she encounters is her father, who can either assure her that she’s beautiful in her own special, God-given way, thus growing her self-confidence. Or he can crush her spirit by ignoring her beauty, criticizing her looks, or ignoring/criticizing women around him, thus teaching his daughter that women are not intrinsically valuable.

These lessons stay with a woman into adulthood. Those women who didn’t feel beautiful when they were young may sabotage their looks with poor health habits; use diets, exercise programs, plastic surgery, and other methods to chase an unrealistic ideal; or seek affirmation of their sensual beauty in the arms of one or many men.

But a father who assures his daughter that she has been knit by God to be a beautiful woman inside and out bolsters her ability to appreciate her unique attractiveness and to one day offer that beauty to her husband.

Affection. All humans need touch. Daughters who are appropriately hugged and touched by their fathers fare far better than those who are rarely touched or those physically or sexually abused by their fathers.

Far too many women have pursued promiscuity not so much because they wanted to have sex with a lot of men, but they wanted to be touched and held. They ached for a man’s gentle touch and his secure embrace.

Dads who show loving affection while demonstrating appropriate boundaries teach their daughters what it means for a woman to respect her body. Then, she can choose a partner not based on any effort to fill a gap in affection, and she is more likely to seek a man who respects her body the way her father did.

She will better understand how special the gift of total physical vulnerability with her husband is and hopefully keep it in the private place where it should remain.

Self-respect. More than simply respecting her body, a woman must learn to respect herself, the inner self that is part of a truly intimate act of sex. A father can model for a daughter what respecting women looks like. He does so by how he treats the daughter’s mother, how looks at women, and how he speaks about women. Make no mistake: Girls watch their dads. They know when their fathers are ogling other women or disrespecting their mothers.

And they internalize those lessons. They may emerge with a desire to avoid negative treatment by avoiding relationships or becoming controlling in relationships. Or they may emerge with a healthy sense of self-respect and go forth with a desire to find a man who will cherish her the way she should be . . . as modeled by her father.

View of men. Girls learn what men are like by being around them. Yes, they have friends, brothers, cousins, church leaders, and others to watch. But a dad in the home makes the biggest impression. He’s constantly teaching her what to expect from men in the world. Dad can make a positive impression on behalf of the whole gender by showing what it means to be a real man — to responsibly care for those in his household and love them with a Christ-like love.

Fathers can also overtly teach their daughters what men are like in the sexual arena — how a man’s mind works, what he pays attention to, how he struggles with lust, how he desires a deep connection, how sex is related to that feeling of connection. Dads have the opportunity to arm their daughters with knowledge and wisdom based on their own experiences. They can help their girls navigate the minefields of dating and courtship and then be the kind of girlfriend and wife a godly man needs.

Dads matter. And they matter a great deal in forming a woman’s view of men and her approach to sexuality. Indeed, girls who have poor relationships with their fathers are far more likely to become promiscuous and/or experience teenage pregnancy.

If your husband is doing a good job of raising your daughter, show him your appreciation. Thank him for stepping up.

If he’s not as engaged as you’d like, pray for him and encourage him.

If there isn’t a father in your daughter’s life, look for other male role models to provide reassurance and guidance.

And to the many dads raising their daughters well, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day to all!