What do I tell my kids about sex? When do I talk to them about it? How old should they be when we have “the sex talk”? These are questions that I get all the time from parents in regard to educating kids about sex. It’s a task that many dread and can make even the strongest of men and women tremble with apprehension and fear. But is doesn’t have to be daunting if you can get comfortable and approach it as a constant conversation, rather than the one big event. “The Talk” is 1950s thinking and it doesn’t cut it in the world we live in today.
As parents, if you believe that talking to your kids one time is enough, you are dumb as a brick! It shows how just backward we Christians are in the area of sex education that we’re still thinking in terms of “the talk”. Your kids are bombarded with thousands of negative impressions, misinformation and straight-up lies regarding sex every single week of their lives. If you think that one conversation with you is going to counter all of that, you are sadly mistaken. Now, the good news is because you are the parent, you don’t have to go one-to-one with each message your kids take in. You have far greater influence than the world around and your voice carries more weight. But what you must do is capitalize on the teachable moments over and over again.
Unless you live in an absolute bubble, you will have constant opportunities to discuss all kinds of aspects of sex with your kids. If you take advantage of them, I promise you will hit nearly every topic necessary from erections and menstruation, to birth control and intercourse, and won’t have to save it all up for one gigantic talk where you think you have to fill your kid’s head with everything you can conceivably think of.
Keep it age appropriate of course, but when you are watching a movie or a TV show with your kids, (even the commercials are rich with opportunities) hit the pause button and stop to talk to them and ask questions. Instill your values as you go along each day. Here is an example: Last year during the Super Bowl Pepsi ran an ad where a couple was sitting in a restaurant on a first date and it showed what each of them was thinking inside their own heads. The woman’s thoughts were, “I wonder how much money he makes? I wonder if he loves his mother? I wonder if he’ll lose his hair? I wonder if he wants kids? I wonder if he’s the one?” While the glimpse into the guy’s brain showed all he was thinking was, “I want to sleep with her! I want to sleep with her! I want to sleep with her!” over and over again.
Now there is a perfect moment to stop and talk to your teenagers about sex, dating, waiting for marriage, the difference between what males and females, and a whole host of other topics. But be smart…pick and choose the moments and don’t make it into a three-hour lecture! Trust me, you will have many more opportunities. Keep an eye out for those teachable moments to talk about all things like the changes during puberty, values and morals, pornography and sex, dating and marriage, and the list goes on and on.
It doesn’t have to be just what you see on TV either. See what comes up listening to music, checking out articles online or in the paper, what people post on Facebook, even what is going on all around you as you live life. Things like how girls are dressed when you go to the mall, teens making out at the park, the situations that you know of with their friends and family or other kids in their school, and most certainly what they are learning in school in terms of sex education are all talking points for you as parents.
And you dads should be engaging your children in these conversations too. Do not leave it up to mom to be the one who instills the values and teaches the kids about sex in your family. Your sons and daughters need to hear it from their fathers. Every study out there shows that the father has the greatest impact on the moral and sexual behavior of their kids.
The ongoing discussions that you have with your children will yield far greater results than storing it all up for “the talk”. You will be more comfortable with it and so will they. Plus, you will be doing a much better job of countering all that the culture throws at them if you address it on an ongoing basis. Tampon commercial on TV? Perfect time to talk about the monthly cycle. Son wakes up with an erection in the morning? Now is the time to address that. Pornography comment or joke made in a movie? There is your golden opportunity.
Pay attention, be aware of what’s going on, be an engaged parent who keeps the constant conversation going with your kids and they reap the benefits.