A friend called me to share a troubling experience she had with her 8-year-old son.
They were talking and her son made some comments that led her to believe he understood more about sex than she realized. When she asked him more questions, he revealed that a fellow classmate of the same age had been telling him about pornography.
The other student had not shown him pornography, but had described it with enough detail that my friend’s son clearly got a mental image of what pornography is.
What a nightmare.
Understandably, this disturbed my friend on so many levels. She had wanted her son’s first lesson about sex to be an accurate and morally-based teaching from her and her husband — not some casual playground banter laced with inaccuracies, misconceptions and moral bankruptcy.
And, of course, at a very gut level, it all just grieved her mama’s heart… grieved her that we live in a society where you can’t be too certain what your children’s classmates will say about sex. (Or what your children will see in the mall or on TV).
Sometimes when I share with parents that age-appropriate accurate information about bodies and sexuality should start at a very young age, people push back at me.
“I don’t want to rob my children’s innocence by talking to them about sex.”
Society and media are already lined up ready to rob their innocence — and if they don’t get accurate godly information from an adult who has their best interests in mind, then all the skewed sexual knowledge will start to settle itself comfortably in the one place you really don’t want it — their heart.
Good news though! As a parent, you are more capable than you give yourself credit for when it comes to talking to your kids about sex.
In fact, you are the BEST person to talk to your kids about sex.
As I listened to my friend, I encouraged her and applauded the positives.
Although she didn’t like that her son’s classmate prompted the topic, she took the opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with her son.
She did the right thing.
She not only answered his questions and cleared up any inaccuracies, she also explained to him what God designed sex to be — a beautiful experience between a husband and a wife.
Are you nervous about talking to your kids about sex?
Here are 5 tips that will help:
1. Admit you are nervous.
Talking to your kids about sex can feel embarrassing and awkward — for them and for you. Instead of acting like you have it all together, shed light on your embarrassment.
How? By saying this…“I know this feels embarrassing and awkward, but I care enough about you that we need to have this conversation. It’s okay that it feels kind of awkward.”
Not only does this give you room to breathe, it also removes the pressure your kids may feel that they have to act like they have it all together.
Call the embarrassment out in the open and you loosen Satan’s grips.
2. Don’t become paralyzed by your past sexual mistakes.
Did you have sex before you were married? Yeah, me too. If you had sex before you were married, don’t let it stop you from talking to your kids.
And don’t lie about it.
Kids are perceptive little creatures… they can see right through your bluff. Plus, if you lie to them, you erode trust — the very thing you are trying to build.
Here’s a good statement: “I did have sex before I was married, and I have regrets about that. I wish I had known then what I know now — and because of what I know now, I want to help you make better decisions.”
3. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
The perfect moment to talk to your kids about sex?
There is no perfect moment.
There are only teachable moments — and you have to purposely look for them and create them, or you will NEVER talk to your kids about sex. In our sex-laced society and media, one would not have to look too hard to find conversation starters.
4. Create lifelong dialogue.
The one-time “talk” about sex? Yuck. Bad idea on too many levels to discuss.
A better approach is creating lifelong dialogue.
If you start talking to very young children about body parts without a sense of shame, then it will be easier to talk to them in preschool years about appropriate touch. If you do this, it will be easier to talk to them in the early grade-school years about differences between boys and girls and appropriate boundaries.
And if you do that, it will be easier to talk about puberty. And if you talk about puberty, you create a foundation for talking about sexuality. And if you help them understand sexuality, then you can help them understand accurate information about sexual intimacy and godly relationships.
One thing I encouraged my friend to say to her young son about a week after their initial talk was…“I’m glad we talked the other night about what you had heard from your friend at school. Thank you for sharing that with me. I want you to know that mommy and daddy will be talking to you more about sex as you’re growing up. It’s good we have these conversations. But you don’t ever have to wait to ask me anything. I promise to always tell you the truth.”
5. Help them grasp that sex is good — in the context of marriage.
One of the biggest disservices the church in general has done when discussing sex with teens is to reduce the entire discussion to three words: “Don’t do it.”
As parents, we have the responsibility to help young people understand not only the risks of premarital sex, but also the tremendous benefits of marital sex.
The conversation has been lopsided for too long on the side of “don’t do it.” Sadly, the “don’t do it” verbiage has failed to even show them comprehensively why they shouldn’t have sex before marriage. There aren’t just physical implications (STDs and unplanned pregnancies), there are huge emotional, mental, social and spiritual implications as well.
The truth is that sexual arousal feels really good and when a teen finds themselves faced with those sensations in their body, they need to understand that those sensations are God designed. That teaching alone could prevent so much of the shame that is wrongly associated with sexuality.
God designed sex for us to thoroughly enjoy in marriage. And He equipped our kids with self control over what they do with their bodies until they are married.
Stop making excuses to not talk to your kids about sex. You can do this. You can start — and continue — age-appropriate conversation.
It’s not too early. And it’s not too late.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.
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10 thoughts on “The Five Secrets to Talking To Your Kids About SEX”
Excellent article! I also appreciate how Jessica Harris of beggarsdaughter.com phrased what you’ve been sharing: “Instead of asking how to protect their innocence, we should be asking how to protect the sacredness of sex in their lives.”
Great post, and I couldn’t agree more! When I was in kindergarten, I noticed that only married people had children, and I started to wonder what exactly it was about walking down the aisle in a church that caused a woman’s body to produce a baby. I was pretty certain that just putting on a white dress couldn’t give rise to this miracle, so I asked my dad. (My mom had recently died, so I couldn’t go to her.) He gave me a very accurate and simple explanation of human reproduction using the terms “egg” and “seed,” but when I asked how the man planted the seed in the woman, he just said that he’d tell me that when I was older. I could sense that he was uncomfortable, and it made me feel guilty for even asking. Of course, I was curious, but I trusted my dad’s word that he’d tell me when I was older, so I never asked again. One day, in the third grade, I learned from a friend about sex, and I immediately made the connection. So THAT was how the man planted the seed! No wonder my dad had been uncomfortable. Now I had a problem. I possessed this knowledge, but since my dad hadn’t told me yet himself, it was obvious to me that he still felt I was too young. Would I get in trouble if he found out that I knew? So I hid my knowledge until the fifth grade, when my dad signed a release slip allowing me to attend a sex-education day at my private Christian school. The teachers did a good job explaining the physiological aspects of reproduction and spiritual issues surrounding sex, and in one awkward sentence, one teacher detailed how the seed was deposited in the woman. I was so relieved to have a valid reason for knowing this information. My dad and I never talked about it after that, but I knew that he knew that I knew, and that took enormous pressure off me. I think that God gave great grace to my poor father, who was doing the best that he could while trying to raise two motherless daughters on his own, because despite the lack of parental dialogue, both my sister and I grew up with healthy attitudes about sex, and we were both still virgins when we married. But after my own experience, I don’t want to leave any of this to chance with my own children. My 4-year-old has already started to ask questions. He knows how babies are born, having been present at the births of both of his younger brothers, and not long ago he asked me how Jesus puts the babies in my tummy. (He wants another little brother or sister, and I told him that we have to ask Jesus.) So I sat down with a book that we have that has amazing photographs of every stage of a baby’s development, and I explained the egg and seed concept to him, just as my father did to me. I was prepared to answer his question about how the man plants the seed, but he didn’t ask! I guess that will be a later conversation, but as soon as he begins to wonder, I want to tell him. Otherwise, the odds are that he will learn from someone else, just as your friend’s son did, and as I did.
Thank you for this article. My 8 yo daughter is asking and thinking too much and in details about sex since we talked about it with her. I am glad that she asks us, but that is too much. I told her, that sex is OK in marriage and she has time to think about it later. I think the Devil gives her these thoughts, so I told her not to think too much about sex. I will answer her, but if she has questions like: how do you do it and may I watch it? I won’t answer. What do you advice?
Thank you Sharon and Eszter for your comments…
Sharon, I agree that your father did the best he could! Praise God for him and that you did get good accurate information from your school. You are wise to want to not leave to chance what your children learn, and I have no doubt that you will handle it all with grace… you’ll build that lifelong dialogue.
Eszter… praise God for you too and that you are navigating this with your daughter. It’s not unusual for kids to ask more details or even to ask to watch sex, because they don’t have the frame of reference to understand that some details they are too young to really comprehend and that there is an element of privacy to sex… that it is meant only as a special time for a husband and wife and that children cannot watch.
So, my response would be… “I know you want to know more and as you get older, we’ll talk more about some of the things you are wondering about.” — this is a good addition to your comment that she doesn’t have to think too much about these things right now… that God wants her to focus on being an 8-year-old. As for her wanting to watch, simply say, “I know you are curious, but sex is a special private time for mommy and daddy. Someday when you are married, it will be a special time for you and your husband too.”
The important thing is to not let shame get rooted… try to approach all conversations with a positive attitude, age-appropriately answer her questions, and then redirect her to something else. A positive attitude and loving tone helps reassure her that sex is not bad… in fact it is great in marriage… and reassures her that you and her will have more conversations as she grows.
Thank you for answering. Another question 🙂
What should I say when she tolds me that it is good for her when she caresses herself on her belly? The other thing is that her god-mother usually does some massage on her foot and she says that feels so good. My opinion is that we shouldn’t caress if it feels good in a sexual way.
Thank you again for your comment Eszter…
It is not unusual for young children to discover that caressing certain areas of their body feels good. Sometimes parents will even find their very young children rubbing their genitals, such as in the bathtub or while they are just sitting watching cartoons or in their bed, etc.
It’s very important to recognize that children at this age do not have a sense of the context of sex… meaning that what a child usually is doing is more about self-exploration and curiosity than it is about what we commonly think of as masturbation.
My first suggestion is that parents not over-react or shame a child in any way, simply because the child can inaccurately assume that their genitals or pleasure is automatically shameful.
Authors offer various ideas on how parents should respond. Personally, I think an calm approach is best… “Honey, I understand that it feels good when you touch yourself that way. And we’ll talk more about that as the years go by. It wouldn’t be appropriate, though, for you to touch yourself this way at school or while we are just sitting watching TV. And as a little kid, you have lots of other ways to have fun, so I want you to enjoy those things… like your toys and the fun times we have as a family at the park.”
In other words, don’t over-react, but also don’t focus on the behavior too much that you give a lengthy talk that over-analyzes everything.
Most children outgrow this kind of bodily curiosity.
The key is to be sure to build a foundation of healthy on-going dialogue that is age-appropriate through the years. The day will come when you will be able to elaborate more…. “Honey, the reason it feels good when you touch yourself in that way is because some day when you are married, you will enjoy that kind of touch with your husband. God designed our bodies to enjoy sex when we are married, so there will be a lot of time at that point in your life to enjoy those feelings.”
As for her godmother caressing her feet… this seems relatively innocent and not sexually based at all. A foot rub does tend to feel good. But if you are not comfortable with the godmother doing it, then it’s reasonable to ask the godmother not to do this. That’s a reasonable request and the godmother should respect it.
Anyway, hope this is helpful! Thanks again so much for commenting… I really appreciate it!!
Thank you very much!
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