Talking to Your Children About Sex

On May 6th City Church put on a workshop entitled The Talk: Teaching Your Children About God’s Design for Sex. And we did just that! Jennifer and I–along with a host of parents and with the help of some experts on the subject–had our own talk about our fears, hopes, and strategies for talking to our children about sexuality at every age level.

And this is the truth we discussed:

 Your child will learn about sex. The only question is: “How?”

Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them, and their brains are designed by God to want to learn more and more about those fascinating details of life. It is only natural that they will ask questions like, “Mommy, how is that baby getting out of there?!” or, “How did that baby get in there?!” You and I must be prepared for those moments in several ways:

1. Encourage their curiosity.

“That is a great question! I’m so glad you asked!” What a wonderful thing that your child came to you with her question. Our children should feel comfortable talking with us, and they should be encouraged to view us as the experts who will always tell them the truth. If we respond negatively, then that negativity about their body, reproduction, and sexuality, will begin to be shrouded in negativity and messages of, “I can’t take this to Mom or Dad. I’ll go elsewhere for answers.” So, answer their question in an age-appropriate way.

2. Have two conversations.

The title of our workshop was actually a misnomer by design...we do not want to prepare ourselves for “the talk” but for a lifetime of talks around weighty issues such as sexuality. First, there needs to be intentional, face-to-face, discussions with your children throughout their life about their body, protecting themselves, God’s design for sex, and the like. Second, there also needs to be many more side-by-side conversations (a minute here…30 seconds there) with your children on a whole myriad of subjects as you go. Encourage your children to feel free to talk to you about anything that is going on. As you walk through life with your kids, ask them questions and really listen to their answers.

3. Be offensive.

Not in the way that you talk about God’s design for sexuality, but in the way you protect your family from distorted views of God’s good gift of sex to a man and woman in the context of marriage. Like I said above, your child is going to learn about sex; it’s just a question of the source. The latest statistics show that by age 11, on average, 93% of boys and 62% of girls have been exposed to Internet pornography, and these same studies show that 22% of the explicit content viewed by those under the age of 18 is actually being consumed by children 10 and under.

Here is the bottom line: If you are not on the offense in protecting your children from the distorted view of sexuality that is out there, then you are nothing short of negligent.

There is help for parents who what to protect their children as best as they can in this broken world. I would recommend reading this excellent article about various methods and technologies out there (many for free or low cost). The Internet accountability company Covenant Eyes has a treasure trove of resources, e-books, and guides to help parents as well as those who need help for themselves or their spouse.

4. Know your limits.

As parents we can control much of what happens in our families. For instance, we can decide on how much sugar or screen time our children get each day. But we cannot control everything, let alone the human heart. We are sinners, our children are sinners, and we live in a sinful world.

Do your best in encouraging open dialogue between you and your child. Do your best to be gracious to them. Do your best to show them Jesus from God’s Word. Do your best to protect them. But we must also do our best in recognizing that we are not God and we cannot change little hearts or keep them from everything that is evil in the world.

Trust in God, who is faithful, who is for you, and who is for your children. He has not abandoned you and he is about the work of transformation through Jesus Christ.

I’d love to talk more with you and recommend further resources if you have any questions. Reach me at jim@citychurchrva.com.