Tag Archives: talking to teens about sex

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.

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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.

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How to Talk to a Teen about Sex

I contend that there are two sets of people you do not — not, not, not — want to think specifically about having sex: your parents and your children. Sure, you want them to have a fulfilling intimate life (in the right context), but you don’t want to actually imagine it. *shudder*

And yet, parents need to teach their teenagers about sex. So how can this be done . . . while preserving everyone’s sanity and dignity?

Here’s what I’ve learned about talking to teenagers about sex.

Converse, don’t lecture. Don’t teach your teen like a student in a Purity 101 class, giving him lectures, and then merely checking for understanding. Teenagers are growing toward adulthood and gaining independence. They won’t respond to simply be preached at.

This is a time when they are open to discussing deeper topics, especially those that apply to their lives. They are seeking knowledge and wisdom, and if you can communicate that in a conversation, you stand a far better chance of making headway.

Make sure that you are not hogging the conversation by doing most of the talking. Let them talk and express what challenges they are dealing with and what they think about sexuality and purity. Then share your wisdom and the teachings of the Bible to inform and shape their views.

Let them ask questions. Don’t shy away from tough questions. Your teenager needs to know that she can come to you with difficult questions about sexuality and purity, and you will be her mentor. Be prepared that you might get asked anything from “What is BDSM?” to “How do oral contraceptives work?” to “Why does God make us wait until marriage?” and anything else they can come up with. If you don’t have the full answer, don’t sweat. Answer as best you can and let them know you want to think and study about it more. But if you put your teenager off, don’t forget to return and revisit the topic with what you’ve learned.

Now if they ask specifics about your sex life, you are not obliged to answer. Sex itself is a private act. You can choose how much to share, but you do not owe your child a run-down of your sexual history or your current practices. Keep your answers honest but general. Examples?

TEEN:  How many sexual partners did you have before you married dad?
MOM:  Your father is aware of my history, but I don’t think you need to know the specifics. The point is that I wish that your dad had been my only one. That’s what God designed, and that’s what I want for you.

TEEN:  How often do you and mom have sex?
DAD:    It depends. But healthy married couples usually engage in sex a few times to every day of the week.
TEEN:  That much?!!! Ick. [I added this line so you’ll be prepared. 🙂 ]

Let them confess their struggles. Perhaps they’ve already messed up in this area. No one is perfect. And teenagers are facing a culture that constantly pushes a wrong message about sexuality. Even if we didn’t have that culture, we have God-given sexual desires within our bodies that we must learn to surrender to His plan. That’s a real challenge for a young person — absolutely doable, but a challenge nonetheless.

If they’ve looked at porn, gone too far with a date, or even had sex already, please don’t explode. Look at your daughter or son as a sister or brother in Christ, and help them to get back on the right path. Guide them with love, wisdom, patience, and practical ways to handle the temptations they are facing.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” And 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Of course, you may feel desperately hurt and saddened by your teen’s choices, but if God encourages us to confess and grants mercy when we repent, surely we can find a way to be merciful to our children.

Enlist help if you need it. If your teenager confesses something out of your league to handle, such as a porn addiction or sexual abuse, it’s time to get help. It is not a violation of your teen’s trust to do whatever you can to help them when the stakes are so extreme.

Let him/her know that you will be there to love and support them, but that you need to seek professional help. Talk to your pastor, look for Christian-based resource groups that handle these issues, install Covenant Eyes or other software on your child’s computer, seek a qualified counselor and then make sure your teen feels comfortable with the counselor, do whatever you need to address the specific situation your teen is facing.

Sweeping the issue under the rug or saying, “never again,” won’t cut it. You need to take extra steps to protect your teen’s emotional, sexual, and spiritual health.

Keep talking. Make sure your teenager knows this isn’t a one time convo. One conversation isn’t enough. Remember when that gangly teen was a little kid? All the times you had to remind him, “Say thank you,” before he did it on his own? Or the number of times you showed her how to tie her shoe before she finally got it?

So why do we think a biblical approach to sex can be taught to kids in one shot?

Keep talking as opportunities arise: When you see a scantily clad girl in a beer ad on TV. When a single friend or relative turns up pregnant. When a newspaper article reports STD statistics. When your preacher mentions Song of Songs in his sermon. (C’mon, preachers, be bold.)

The point is to look for those “teachable moments” and start a conversation, even with the simple question, “What do you think about that?”

One final tip: We often demand that our kids look us straight in the eye when we’re saying something important and we want to know they’re listening. On this subject, Let. That. Go.

Remember how I said that you don’t want to think about your parents or children having sex? Teenagers will be much more forthcoming about sexuality if they do not have to look you in the eye. Try shoulder-to-shoulder conversations as you sit on the couch, ride together in the car, go fishing, play basketball or a board game, etc.

So what are your tips on talking to teens about sex?

Yes, Kid, Your Mommy and Daddy Have Sex

After sharing this story with close friends, I’ve been told that I must blog about it! Okay, okay. Here’s the story (told in my fiction-writing voice):

***

Climax, here I come. My husband brings me to the peak of pleasure — not like Mount Everest, but more like Mount St. Helens. Heat rises through my body and I erupt in a series of delighted noises as we reach the pinnacle together. We collapse onto the sheets, panting heavily and happily. Dear God, what an amazing gift this is.

Descending back to hum-drum home life, we look at the clock and conclude that we need to clean up and go to sleep. It’s seriously late. We’d worked hard to get our kids in bed tonight. They were at least an hour past the normal bedtime and close to getting their precious necks wrung. Of course, now I picture them tucked under their hairy blankets with fluttering eyelids and cracked mouths, as innocent as cherubim.

I rise and use the bathroom, while my husband washes his hands.

Tap-tap-tap.  

My ear twitches at the sound. What was that?

Tap-tap-tap.

The tapping repeats. “Are you okay?” A small voice seeps through the bedroom door.

Oh. My. God. Really, God — did you know our kid was awake?

“Just a minute,” I answer, a new wave of heat rising in me, this one like a lightning bolt sizzling through my nervous system. I glance at my husband with eyes wider than volcano craters. “Oh my gosh,” I whisper.

He smiles and shrugs. Men. He could probably have sex with our kid knocking on our door the whole time.

“I heard something,” the small voice continues. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, we’re fine,” I say — thinking as I speak, sound normal, sound normal, sound normal . . .

I shimmy into my pajamas and open the door. The knob clicks as the door unlocks.

My jammied kid stands there, looking sleepy and concerned. “Maybe it was the cat, but it didn’t really sound like it.”

My stomach flutters. Thank God for pets. “Well, the cat is in here,” I say.

“Oh, I guess that’s what it was.”

“You need to head back to bed.” I pray that my tone is no more than a 2.0 on the Richter scale of anxiety. “Good night.”

My child’s perplexed expression melts into relief with my reassurance and embrace. I tuck my child into bed and scurry back to the bedroom.

My husband awaits — tucked under the covers, looking smug and satisfied. I know what he’s thinking: Who cares who heard? I made her bellow like a banshee.

I roll my eyes. Men.

***

There’s actually more to this story. The next day when this child described the event to an older sibling . . . well, let’s just say the older sibling was less willing to blame the cat.

I fully expect the kid who overheard the sexual interlude to one day realize what was really going on. If the child then asks for brain bleaching or therapy, my response will be, “Hey, we told you to go to bed. Maybe you should have listened.”

But all of that is okay because yes, kid, your mommy and daddy have sex.

Husband and wife with child in bed

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

In fact, it’s reassuring to children to know that their parents experience a loving, and even private, relationship that establishes the foundation of their family. They don’t want the details, but them knowing that you have sex is a good thing.

How do you show your children that you delight in God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage? Without revealing details that are nobody’s business?

Flirt in front of your kids. It’s no big surprise to older children that you are sexually intimate if they catch you smiling, winking, touching, and kissing in front of them. You need not have a make-out session in their presence for them to get the hint. They can see from small gestures that you desire one another, that you have chemistry and romance, that your deeper marital connection trumps the latest relationship drama at their school. As you demonstrate that romance doesn’t die when you say “I do,” you’re subtly communicating the healthy message that mommies and daddies have sex.

Carve out alone time. Let your children know that you need time to be alone as a couple. When they are very young, this may involve getting them to bed early or bartering babysitting with other couples or sending them to grandma’s once a week. As they get older, you can simply tell them, “Mom and Dad need some time alone.” Send them to their bedrooms or to watch a TV show or movie while you and your honey retire to the bedroom. Older children will probably figure out at some point what you’re actually doing in there, but they don’t want to hear about it. Most will happily get out of your way. Still, they are getting the message that dads and moms have a unique relationship apart from the kids they raise and that it’s good for husbands and wives to stay connected this way.

Don’t feel guilty. If they do hear you or — heaven forbid — walk in on you, don’t apologize. At least don’t apologize for engaging in sex with your spouse. If you forgot to lock the door, fine; be sorry for that. But treat your sex life with your spouse as a matter-of-fact reality. As in this is what moms and dads do. Sex within marriage is not something to feel guilty about. Your kids should know that this is a normal, God-designed aspect of marriage. You don’t want them to feel that sex is a guilty act . . . because it isn’t when engaged in according to God’s plan. Of course, it isn’t a public act, so do your best to keep it private between you and your spouse, but if your child does get the notion that something was going on, don’t feel like you have to explain or feel guilty. You didn’t do anything wrong. (In fact, if they overheard you, maybe you did it really, really right.)

Use euphemisms. As I’ve already stressed, that you have sex is fine for your kids to know; how you have sex is not what they should or want to know. If asked directly by your kids what was going on, a raised eyebrow might suffice. They don’t need details. They don’t want details. They will choke to death on embarrassment if they get details. Euphemisms are a lovely thing when dealing with this issue because your child can know that you were engaged in sex without it slapping him/her in the face. “We were having ‘alone time'” is a perfectly good answer. Or come up with your own euphemism.

It’s healthy for your children to know that sexual intimacy flourishes in marriage. When you and your spouse hint at a quality sex life in marriage, it protects them against societal messages that sex is for singles or that sex drives die after the wedding. Research shows otherwise, but they’ll believe what they see with their own eyes even more.

No, I don’t plan to explain the particulars to my child. Yet, I’m pretty sure my children know that their father and their mother have a physical desire for one another and that we enjoy sleeping together. How much sleeping and how much other activity goes on in our bed is a private affair.

But yes, kid, your mommy and daddy have sex.

Is “Don’t Have Sex” Enough for Teens?

Stop sign with hand

By Epson291 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

A friend recently pointed me to a blog post by a couple working in youth ministry. The topic was something entirely different, but in the post, the authors said, “I would have much rather talked to [kids] about sex or drugs or something, because those are pretty concrete topics. We’d stand up and say, ‘Don’t do it.’ End of talk.”*

As you can imagine, I cringed.

What the authors talked about in the rest of their post was helpful and on point, but they completely missed the boat on sexuality. And I would hate for that to be the only lesson my child received from youth ministry leaders at my church.

“Don’t do it” is not enough.

Since when was “don’t do it” enough in any context? When you tell your toddler not to touch the stove, you explain that it is hot and can hurt her little hand. When you tell your elementary child to look both ways before crossing the street, you explain that traffic could be coming and he must wait until it is safe to walk across. When you tell your middle schooler to do her homework, you explain that she will need this information and good grades to continue on the path to success. When you tell your high schooler to mow the neighbor’s lawn, you explain that Mrs. Smith is too old to push the mower herself and that God wants us to help others.

Whatever we tell our kids — whether yours or ones you teach — we give reasons for why they should do X and not do Y. Of course, we tailor those reasons to their age and maturity, but we say something nonetheless.

And there is no “end of talk.” Teaching children and teenagers what constitutes sexual purity and how to maintain it is not a one-and-done proposition. It’s like teaching them manners. Has any parent ever told their child to use “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” once and been heeded?

You have to be willing to step up and have conversations (plural) with your children. And youth workers must be willing to discuss this topic as well, not simply with a “Don’t do it” message, but an explanation of why.

A plaque with Deuteronomy 10:12-13 hangs on a wall at my house:

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

And as James MacDonald has said, when God gives commands, he isn’t just saying “Don’t.” There are reasons. Our loving Father is saying, “Don’t hurt yourself.”

Oftentimes, we hear the usual warnings about pregnancy and STDs, but there are deeper reasons why God wants us to wait until marriage for physical intimacy. In a recent guest post at Sheila Gregoire’s To Love, Honor and Vacuum site, the blogger said it beautifully:

I want my children to understand how important purity is because it affects more than the just the now. It is far bigger than whether or not they get pregnant or catch an STD; it affects their hearts, minds, and souls.

This woman had a terrible sexual past from which to recover and understood the pain and scars that came from that experience. I attest as well that the consequences of my premarital choices regarding sexuality were not so much external as internal — deep wounds in my heart, mind, and soul.

God has healed me, but it was not without challenge and change. I’d love for every teenager to avoid that hardship. We have to stay open to discussing sexuality with our children and our church youth.

There are also reasons why teens want to have sex, and not because they have thrown out God altogether. Many of them haven’t. They just need information, guidance, and explanations about God’s design for sex.

What messages did you receive from adults about sex when you were growing up? What have you told your own children about sex? Is sex a topic easily discussed in your family or church youth group?

*By the way, I’m not sharing the link to the article because that’s not the point. This couple’s main topic was well-handled, and I wish them blessings in their youth work.