How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

“We had the talk today,” said my ten year old daughter Faith nonchalantly as she climbed in the car after school.

“Oh right, the puberty talk?” I nodded and inwardly groaned as my heart rate started steadily climbing and beads of sweat formed on my brow. “So, do you have any more questions they didn’t cover?”

(Please don’t ask me about sex. Please don’t ask me about sex.)

I looked in the rearview mirror. Faith took a deep breath and glanced up under her long dark lashes shyly. “Mom, why do I have to get a period every month? I mean what’s the point? It seems so terrible? Why did God do this to women?”

Hyperventilating, I thought to myself how this was so much easier with my older son. No curse of Eve, no sanitary items involved. Boners and sex 101, although awkward aren’t as complicated as the implications of the Christian female experience. And while Kyle asked questions much earlier and we had a running dialogue regarding sex –Faith seemed quite content to remain in the land of innocence and childhood naiveté, avoiding the topic altogether.

I paused, prayed and tried to figure out where to start. I don’t actually recall even having a sex conversation with my parents, until after they found a condom in the back of my car my senior year in high school (maybe a little too late…just saying). Sex was a topic, in generations past, we avoided. My husband remembers his mom casually saying, “Make sure to wear a condom,” as he rode over to his new girlfriends house on his bicycle his freshmen year in high school. Nothing against our parent’s methodology, but in our current hyper-sexualized culture, a proactive approach might be the better option.

Being a storyteller, I thought about weaving a tale of great rebellion, the fall of mankind and Jesus’ ultimate redemption and then throwing sex into the mix. But the epic narrative didn’t translate when I actually tried to articulate it, so after a few false starts, I just began with Adam and Eve and tried to stick to the facts without wetting my pants.

Here is what I’ve learned from talking to my kids about sex:

KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid)

Depending on how old your kid is, try and stick to what they ask you about. The details of intercourse are not necessary for a four year old asking about how babies are made. “Daddy helped mommy to put the baby in mommy’s tummy,” is probably sufficient. If they press for more, explain it matter of fact and without laughing. After a certain point –before your kids start school, use real names for sexual organs. Peanuts and Ya Ya’s don’t translate real well into elementary school.

Timing

When I explained to Faith how Kolby was conceived, her horrified face was enough to make me grateful I had waited until she was more mature. The last thing you need is your kindergartner telling his friends, “daddy sexed/humped/nailed mommy and now she’s knocked up.” Choose your moment wisely and then periodically check in to see if they have more questions.

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Explain Puberty in Detail

Puberty is a scary place. Celebrate the changes with your child and make it a sweet passage not a time of insecurity. We had a Man Ceremony with Kyle when his voice started changing at age twelve. Tim also took Kyle away for a dudes camping weekend and used a curriculum called Passport to Purity to start some great conversations. It was a little cheesy but it created openness and a level of safety for Kyle. Many of my girlfriends have also gone to a Puber-Tea, which covers some of the same info for girls and moms in a more feminine environment. (Apparently tea and scones helps a young girl come to terms with PMS and hormonal bitchiness better)

Don’t be afraid to talk about God and Sex.

God made sex. God made us to be sexual creatures. This is your moment as a parent to talk about the beauty of sexuality in marriage. Don’t use shame based language or act as if your kid is abnormal for having sexual desires. Affirm and build up marriage as the place God intended to let us experience this bliss.

Make sure you beat their friends to the punch!

Talk about sex with your child BEFORE their friends do. Talk about porn and sexting and how blow jobs are a sexual act and not a party favor, and all the things they will encounter in Jr. High. Christianity is not a hall pass for avoiding difficult conversations and don’t expect the youth pastor to do YOUR job!

What advice were you given as a kid about sex? Do you have any tips for broaching this conversation with your kids?

Comments

  1. We had “The Where do Babies Come From Talk” with full disclosure – as opposed to the simple answers that had satisfied them so far – last year. The big surprise? It was the most fun we had had together in quite a while.

    We introduced the topic when our then-10-year-old asked, “What are we doing tonight?”
    Daddy answered, “Having pizza and talking about sex!” Like it was the best idea for family night he had ever heard.
    She, of course, promptly looked at me saying, “Nuh-uh, Mom, what are we doing?”

    We (Daddy taking the lead, Mommy jumping in here and there… and giving him the ‘Ok, that’s enough information’ eyebrow at one point!) spelled it out. And were AMAZED at the questions they just threw right out there on the table! Total innocent curiousity with very little embarrassment. It was actually fun and showed us a bit how their minds had tried to answer this question for themselves. We could also wrap the whole conversation up in the fact that God has provided this process on purpose, and it is meant to glorify Him, just like every other aspect of your life.

    Since then we have had a number other questions pop up while driving in the car or cooking dinner. I’ve been soooo glad that our girls are comfortable just tossing a question at us, or expressing their reactions, worries, etc.

    Get out in front of the issue, and become your child’s source of information!!

    • Yes!!!! I agree. I want to be the one to tell them before their friends give them the crummy version of a beautiful gift. Your pizza night sounds awesome…love it!

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