By Rhonda Stoppe, Crosswalk.com
When trying to discern when and how to teach your kids about sex, you must know your child well enough to know when it’s time to begin a dialogue about sex. A wise parent will realize your child will likely become curious about sex younger than when you grew up because the agenda of our culture is to capture and mold the minds of our children to accept and practice sexuality that is dishonoring to the Lord.
How to Have the Birds and Bees Talk
Parent, you must understand the value of being the first person to explain to your kids the birds and the bees because Satan desires to destroy your child and steal him away from God’s plan for his life. When a child becomes sexually active the enemy has a foothold in their life that he can use to take them down a path of destruction (see John 10:10). The years our kids spend in our care are critical as they’re developing their entire worldview.
Consider this statement from my book Moms Raising Sons to Be Men:
“God intends our homes to be the training ground for life. Think of your house as a laboratory in which you practice the values you teach your [children]…Remember your [child] is not a distraction to your ministry––he is your ministry.”
With the world’s influence pulling kids away from God’s biblical design for sexual intimacy and biblical marriage it’s all the more urgent that parents begin conversations about sexuality with their children early in life.
And while you may be squirming in your seat at the thought of talking sex with your kids, know this––if you don’t tell them someone else will. And that someone won’t likely explain sex in a way that honors Christ. The viewing of pornography has sadly even reached elementary aged children. This means children who have viewed porn are on the playground telling their friends about what they have seen. So, don’t naively think you can wait until your children reach high school to begin dialoging with them about sex.
It’s Never Too Late to Have the Talk with Your Teen
Now, you may be thinking, Oh no, my kid is already a teen. Have I waited too long to have the talk?
Fret not my friend. However old your child may be, it’s never too late to begin. Our adopted son did not come to our family until he was 15 years old. But as we spent time with him, and won his trust, he welcomed conversations about true romance that honors Christ. And it was those conversations that God would use to guide him later in life.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” While it would be wonderful to think this verse is a guarantee to any parent who trains their children to walk in obedience to Christ, this is not the case.
While many scholars have different views on this passage’s meaning, most agree that the verse presents the probability of a child’s bent if they’re grounded in a sound biblical worldview. Some theologians suggest that the phrase “the way he should go” can be interpreted to read “according to his bent”. One scholar says:
“This verse is not a promise; it is a prescription for how to train our children. You see, the phrase in the way he should go means according to his individual bent. In other words, get to know your child. Understand your child’s personality, inclinations, likes, and dislikes. And then train that child accordingly. Help your children develop that bent, because even when they are old, they are never going to stray from that unique bent in their life.”
Pay Attention to What Your Child Is Asking or Not Asking
Each child is different so pay attention to their individual bent. One child may be inquisitive about their sexuality, while another’s curiosity is delayed. A wise parent will ask God to help them to listen with a discerning ear to determine when and how to teach their child not only about the physical aspect of sex, but also the spiritual.
Explaining That Sex Is Spiritual
If you’ve ever studied in Scripture the concept of covenant, you will see how the practice of cutting a covenant involved two individuals passing between two pieces of flesh, as a sign of their covenant. Think of God cutting the covenant with Abram in Genesis 15. In the same way, intercourse (the passing between the flesh) is God’s intended sign of the marriage covenant that knits two souls together as one in the eyes of God (see Malachi 2:13-14).
In a world that speaks to the contrary, we must teach this generation that sex is not just sex. It’s God’s beautiful way of knitting two hearts together to become one. For many years my husband, Steve, and I taught on sexual purity at youth events. In my session with the girls, I’d glue together two construction paper hearts––one pink and one blue. Then I’d hold up the heart, and while the glue dried, I’d explain God’s beautiful plan for sexual intimacy.
I’d say, “Imagine you are the pink heart. And you gave yourself to a young man represented by the blue heart. But then when you broke up, (I’d begin to tear apart the two hearts) you’ll see that pieces of his blue heart have been left on your pink, and your pink on his blue. Get the point?” I’d continue, “Each time a person joins themselves sexually with someone outside of marriage, pieces of their heart are stripped away. By the time a person is ready to marry they’re hearts are either in one piece because they’ve honored Christ with their sexuality, or they have only a fragmented heart to offer their spouse.”
This simple illustration had a powerful impact on my audience. And it provided a wonderful opportunity to share with them how Jesus came to wash all of our sins as far as east from the west, making us whiter than snow if one would repent and surrender to Christ as their Lord and Savior. I’ve used this same illustration when talking with our daughters about sex because it seems to help teens visualize what the Bible teaches in Mark 10:8 where Jesus said, “And the two shall become one flesh: so that they are no more two but one flesh.”
This is an important concept to instill in your children. Because the world’s cavalier attitude toward casual sexual encounters can tempt your child toward immorality, you would do well to help them understand sex is an act of marriage that solidifies the couples covenant.
“Mom, What Is Sex?” Brandon Asked Innocently
When my son was around ten years old he asked the question––and my first response was to dodge the question. I thought,my husband’s supposed to have this talk with our son. I talk to the girls and he talks to the boys––that’s our deal.But my inquisitive little man wouldn’t let me off so easily. He asked again, “Mom, I really want to know. What is sex?”
Ok here we go, I thought, as I led Brandon upstairs for a private chat. When we were alone, I began asking Brandon what he knew about sex. Brandon explained that he had heard the word a number of times when his youth-pastor-father and I would teach our teens about purity. But he admitted he also heard the kids at school sharing some embarrassing details that confused him. With that, I rolled up my sleeves and began to teach Brandon the physiological details of intercourse––being careful to use the words “husband and wife” to plant in his young mind that God created sex to be enjoyed between a husband and wife within the bonds of marriage.
After I completed my dissertation that would have made any sixth grade science teacher proud, Brandon probed for more answers. He was not only looking for the how of sex and procreation, but he wanted to know the why––the relationship part of it all. First Brandon asked, “I understand that God made sex for husbands and wives but then why did [the teenager we knew] have sex and get pregnant if she wasn’t married?” I thought, Ok––so, we’re going to have that conversation now are we? Where is your father?!
Carefully I talked with Brandon about how God created sexual intimacy for pleasure. (I’ll spare you the details of our private conversation.) And how God created our bodies not only to procreate but also to enjoy the oneness of intercourse with the person we marry. I explained that God designed sex to knit the hearts and lives of two people together as a sign of their marriage covenant with each other. But Satan has perverted what God intended for good by seducing people to have sex outside the security of a loving marriage relationship.
Since I knew that when my husband got home he would talk more with Brandon about guy stuff, I decided to give my son some insights from a female perspective. I explained, “Some men take advantage of women who think that giving themselves sexually to a man will make him love her all the more––even if they’re not married.” I said, “Sadly, there are lots of guys who pressure a girl to have sex, promising to love her forever, only to loose interest in her after he’s taken her to bed.” I continued, “Brandon, I pray that you’ll never be a man like that. I pray that God will give you His heart for women and that you will treat them with kindness and respect.” I went on, “And Brandon, God wants you to save yourself for the woman you’ll marry. So that you’ll be able to look her in the eye without shame or regret when you make her your wife.”
We chatted more about what type of woman Brandon thought he might like to marry. Then, I asked Brandon if he’d like to pray with me. As we knelt at the side of the bed Brandon began, “Dear God…” (He prayed some things that I need to keep private) and then he said, “And God, I pray for whoever my wife is that you would help me to keep myself pure for her and that you would help her keep herself pure for me too.” Anybody else need a tissue? Then, Brandon continued, “And God, I pray for my sisters. Please help them to wait to have sex until they are married. And please don't let any boys trick them into having sex with them.” Now I was seriously crying. Why? Because he got it!
My conversation with Brandon wasn’t just a birds-and-bees-talk. Rather, it was an opportunity to share with my precious son the value God puts on sexual intimacy and the importance of trusting God with his love life. And, because his momma shared with him from a woman’s perspective how vulnerable girls can be to the persuasions of men, Brandon was not only determined not to treat women in such a way, but he was also praying for God to protect the virginity of his future wife––and his sisters. (A prayer God graciously answered. You can read each of my children’s sweet love stories in my book, Real Life Romance.)
Later, when Steve got home from work, I said something like, “Hey Dad, Brandon and I had The Talk today…” And with that I left Steve and Brandon alone for their own father––son conversation about sex. Don’t forget to include your spouse in the talk as well, but allow them to have it separately if they prefer.
A Note to Single Parents
As a side note, if you’re a single parent you would please understand the valuable influence you’ll have on your kids if you maintain your own sexual purity. For insights read: Does Sex as a Single Mom Harm My Parenting?
There are no pat answers to help you discern when is the time is right for anything from potty training, to talking about the birds-and-bees. But thank God we are not alone in this parenting ministry to which He has called us.
As with any ministry, God is the one who equips His servants with more wisdom and discernment than we can ever imagine if we ask Him for help (James 1:5). And looking for godly mentors who have walked this parenting path ahead of you is another way God will give you discernment.
Rhonda Stoppe is dedicated to help women LIVE LIFE WITH NO REGRETS.
Rhonda is the author of 6 books including: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men , and Real Life Romance Her newest book is The Marriage Mentor,co-authored with her Pastor-husband, Steve Stoppe. (Harvest House Publishers)With over 30 years experience of helping women build a life with no regrets as a pastor’s wife, mentor, speaker, and author. She’s a regular guest on Focus on the Familyand other popular Christian Radio broadcasts. Rhonda helps women to:
- Break free from regrets that hold them back
- Grow in wholehearted devotion to Christ
- Find victory over people-pleasing
- Have the marriage others only dream about
- Build a godly legacy to become more influential than they ever dreamed possible
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