I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea of planning “the talk” about the birds and the bees at some point to my children. My own childhood did not reflect this. Instead, my parents invested in a multitude of small talks, always tailored to my developmental level and attention span.
Sometimes I as the child initiated these talks. At other times, my parents started the conversation. But it was always within the context of a safe, loving family relationship.
This blog post will explore some of the challenges that we parents can face in talking about sex with our children, and some ways to help overcome these:
1) We never had the talk from their own parents.
It can be incredibly difficult to “pass on” something that you never received or learned from your own childhood!
If this describes your situation, it may help to study your own interactions with your children over the next few days.
How do you convey other information and start conversations with them, already? For example, how do you talk to them about money, finances, housekeeping, and life situations? Do most of your conversations stay at the “surface” level (such as chores and everyday tasks), or are you comfortable discussing weightier topics such as love, courage, and lifetime legacies?
Of course, not every day will provide opportunities for conversing at deep, soul-probing levels. But these talks should happen, mostly through the context of spending time together.
Mealtimes, driving to different destinations, errand-running, and times just before or during bedtime can provide excellent opportunities for talks to develop naturally on their own. Our trouble is sometimes just being open to listen, discuss, and ask questions as they arise!
2) We’re not sure how to speak about ‘values’ in a postmodern world.
in an anything-goes culture, parents can feel uncomfortable even considering the idea of “imposing values” on their children. We tiptoe around the idea that some ways to have sex could be wrong, or at best less than beneficial, for us and others.
Why? Because we just don’t feel qualified to voice these perspectives for fear of appearing bigoted, judgmental, or any other number of accusations hurled against Christians these days.
However, while I understand the good intentions behind trying to stay impartial and nonjudgemental when communicating with our children, I think it’s ultimately unrealistic to imagine that anyone can impart a completely “value-free” viewpoint on … well, practically anything.
As I explain in my review on the book “Unplanned Grace”:
So in other words, even if we try to take all “values” or “beliefs” out of our children’s education, it’s not possible. Even the way that we approach telling the “facts” to our children will reveal our intrinsic biases and assumptions. It’s just human nature.
Let’s take just one example among many. We try to persuade our children to eat healthy foods and avoid junk food, as a general rule. Why? Because, even if healthy foods may not always taste as delicious (sigh!) as junk food, we know that in the long term it’s better for our kids’ bodies and minds to eat nutritionally dense meals.
3) We can’t quantify our talks the way we can with other subjects.
With other “standardized” topics of instruction such as math or language arts, it can be easier and more socially acceptable to discuss these things with other parents and with our children. For instance, if you’re trying to teach your child addition or subtraction, you can learn pretty quickly whether your child has grasped the concept by testing them with a few well-chosen math problems.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could teach sex ed the same way?! Play a video, give a test, and then our children are fully satisfied and never have any problems with social, complex interpersonal relationships for the rest of their lives!
Of course, a comprehensive sex education doesn’t happen like that. While this may seem unfortunate in the long run, I’m thinking that God chose a better, though more challenging, path for us.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7, NKJV)
While the context here is about teaching God’s statutes and commandments to our children, I think this verse has particular relevance when discussing something as life-transforming, and potentially life-shattering, as sex.
The Bible has a lot to say about sex education. Often, though, it’s not preached from the pulpit or discussed widely in Christian circles. Unless we’re constantly immersing ourselves in the Word of God and growing in our own spiritual walk, we will find it difficult to know whether we’re “succeeding” in our efforts to teach our children in this area!
4) We’re not aware of all the Christian resources out there.
I have to be careful here because “Christian” can be such a broad topic in terms of a Christian sexual education. Many Christians have different ideas surrounding this topic, and we need to be sensitive to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who may disagree with us (see more in this blog post).
Fortunately, the Church is stepping up in this area to provide helpful, practical ways to introduce sex education to our children. Check this blog regularly for reviews, tips, and suggested books or videos to discuss with your children.
Additionally, please contact us anytime if you have a resource to suggest!