Kid’s love visuals, so one way to break the ice and have the sex talk is to play a game of sex/purity family Pictionary. Or, another great idea is to grab a banana and a doughnut and explain what happens when a penis goes into a vagina. Or, of course, you could just give them a book about sex and instruct them to read it at their leisure.
Of course, I hope you’re getting the idea that I’m kidding… but, when it comes to our kids today, even parents with good intentions are falling well short in this area. We get awkward and uncomfortable when think about talking to our kids about sex, and so we either: 1) don’t do it; 2) give them a book and ask them if they have any questions after they’ve read it; 3) act so flustered or personally embarrassed that we might as well be playing sexual intercourse Pictionary, or; 4) have one comprehensive sex talk and then never bring it up again.
The key to having the sex talk in today’s culture is to start early and to talk often; we need to set the stage and present the compelling case that sex is a beautiful, Godly thing, designed for God’s context of marriage, and we need to engage and combat the lies that our kids are facing every day about sex and sexuality. We need to give them the tools to remain focused on God when the world is telling them to focus on their bodies and the bodies of those around them.
Some simple steps:
At an early stage, educate your kids about their body parts. Use real names, and help them to understand that those body parts are special and should be protected. If anyone ever wants to touch their penis, vagina, breasts, nipples or butt they have the right to say no. Instruct them that they should come to you if anyone ever tries to touch their special, beautifully designed “private” parts. Help them to know that their bodies are to be protected and cherished—not used and abused. In a small way, this can help prevent sexual abuse and also set the framework for later conversations about the special uses of their special body parts.
Answer questions honestly — As kids grow, they have natural questions about where babies come from and why boys are different than girls. So many parents freeze up when asked these questions –they worry that their kids are not able to understand. They believe that the questions are coming up at too early of an age, and so they avoid or lie. Please, answer your kids honestly and in simple, nonchalant terms. Your kids can sense shame and embarrassment. God does not want our kids to be ashamed or embarrassed about their bodies or about the way he made us to have sex. When you are honest with your kids, it will set the stage that you can be their primary and trusted source on information about sex. They may not fully understand everything you share with them, but in time, they will, and when you are honest with them, it helps them know to come to you.
Look for teachable moments – see the last two blogs (part 1 and part 2) which go into this in more detail, but chances are, unless you and your family are growing up on a desert island, that teachable moments will be everywhere—look for them in the shows they watch, in the books and magazines they read and in the ads that come across TV. Talk to your kids about God’s framework for sex and help them to understand that you are available for them to talk with whenever they need to.
Ask questions – don’t just leave it to your kids to come up with questions (although allowing space for them to do so is important), but ask them about what is going on with their friends –what their friends have said about sex, if they’ve heard anything confusing, if they agree with what you’re saying. Engage. Do this often.
Follow up — yes, there is a time and a place for formal explanations about the birds and the bees, but realize that reinforcing those messages and contexts is critical. Check in on how your kids are doing, and when appropriate, ask questions that move beyond traditional sexual intercourse—introduce topics about lust. Use scripture. Share stories and help them to understand that honoring God in this area doesn’t just mean we need to protect our bodies, but it also means we need to protect our minds. We have a great resource that delves into age-appropriate ways to talk about sex and ways to have the sex talk HERE – I hope you will take a look at this resource and start the conversation today! And please, no sex talk Pictionary.