This past weekend, I read three books dealing with the same subject matter – the need for parents to talk with their children about God’s design for sex and godly relationships. What all three books had in common was the urgent nature of their message, one that can no longer be ignored. We live in a sex saturated society. Only the most naïve of parents (the head in the sand types) are unaware of that stark reality. The statistics are rather depressing. For example, the average age when a child is first exposed to pornography is right around the age of eleven. That is not the late night Showtime pornography mind you. Conversely, that is hard-core pornography. Gone are the days when a kid had to go over to their friend’s house in order to find the place where their dad hid the girlie magazines. We live in a time when pornography is accessible from any and every electronic device imaginable. Porn can be obtained often from a simple Google search.
I have written lately on the need for parents to be engaged in their children’s lives. I have also shared some suggestions on what getting involved looks like in practice. I want to add to my previous comments in this post.
Engagement with children cannot be sporadic or just a singular event. The level of engagement required, especially when it comes to sex, has to be consistent and frequent. As Jonathan McKee notes in his excellent book More Than Just the Talk, communication with your children on matters related to sex has to be a constant dialogue. Having a one way conversation or monologue just won’t cut it. Furthermore, sitting your child down for that dreaded “sex talk” thinking you have now set your child up for success in all matters related to sexuality is a false pipedream.
One thing is quite clear. Children crave information. If they are not getting godly advice and counsel on God’s design for sex and godly relationships from you as parents, they will get on the nearest electronic device and Google their questions. I will submit what they will find on their Google search will not qualify as sound, biblical, godly advice on sex and relationships. If they do not have access to electronic devices, they will simply go to their friends for answers, a group of people as equally clueless and misguided as the information found on a Google search. Google is useful, but not when it comes to how your children obtain their concepts of sex and relationships as I am sure Focus on the Family will not be the first selection that comes up on the screen.
Now having a conversation with your child about sex is certainly no piece of cake. After all, kids know everything straight out of the womb, right? Well at least they think they do. The rolling of their eyes when you try and initiate a conversation with them about sex and God’s plan in this area of their life indicates their “know it all” attitude. Trust me. I know what this is like as I have a 13 year old daughter who is convinced she has heard it all and knows everything about these issues because she attended a puberty class in sixth grade. Unfortunately, many parents get frustrated with their child’s response, react in a not so godly manner to their child’s “know it all” attitude, and then throw up their hands in disgust, likely never returning at any point in the future to this all important topic. Then they are amazed when they find out their child is viewing pornography or has been having sex with someone from the church youth group…yes the church youth group. If you are shocked by that statement, you might be part of the naïve crowd of parents out there.
Engaging your child about God’s design for sex and sexuality will not result in your child being a perfect little angel. Thinking in that manner is also naïve. However, statistics show that kids of parents who regularly engage their children on these topics from a biblical perspective are far less likely to fall into sexual immorality. Why? Because they understand God’s plan for them and appreciate that His way is far better than the world’s way. They are better able to grasp that waiting until marriage to have sex is the best way. Teaching your child that staying pure is not just about them, but also about staying pure for their future husband and wife puts a whole new spin on things. Such a perspective roots out the selfish attitude that is at the core of sexual promiscuity.
Let’s face it parents. The modern dating model is flawed and we are doing a terrible job of training up our children regarding matters of sexuality. The battle lines have been drawn and the world is attacking our children with a never ending barrage of smut wrapped up with a pretty little bow. The time is now for you to get off the sidelines and to become engaged in the lives of your children. If you don’t, then trust me that a parade of others will gladly take your place, holding your child’s hand in an effort to lead them down a path that is far from what God desires for them. Thinking that one “sex talk” will cut it is incorrect. Thinking your child can control themselves out on a date in the back seat of a car with little Johnny from youth group is incorrect. Thinking that television show, movie, or music is not having a negative influence on your child is incorrect.
Your children need you and they need you now to be godly parents. They need you to be the guiding force in their life, especially when it comes to sex. They need you to invest in their lives with the truth of Scripture. They need you to set the example in the home of what being a godly man and woman looks like. These are things that cannot be put off any longer. The time to have dialogue with your child about sex is now. The time to re-think your approach to the modern dating model is now. The allure of the world is strong, but by the grace of God and a concerted effort to train up your child in the ways of God, that allure can be revealed for what it is, namely depravity and a road full of heartaches.
If parents continue to walk around with blinders on thinking their children would never engage in premarital sex, then the status quo will continue. A lack of engagement by parents is far too often the status quo and that approach is failing miserably. I encourage parents to begin having those difficult conversations with their children. If you are clueless as to how to begin, rest assured you are in good company. I am learning how to do this myself. Thankfully there are some excellent books available that can assist you in your efforts. I highly recommend all of the following books:
More than Just the Talk by Jonathan McKee
Sex Matters by Jonathan McKee
Teaching True Love to a Sex at 13 Generation by Eric and Leslie Ludy
When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy
I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
The information contained in these books will greatly assist you in talking to your kids about sex and godly relationships. Some of the suggestions presented in these books could result in a paradigm shift in your thinking, a needed one I will submit especially in the area of the modern dating model and its many pitfalls. Additionally, some of the statistics provided in these books will likely shock you. They certainly shocked me as I was under the false impression that sexual issues had not crept into the church as much as they really have in recent years.
I know this all comes across as a bit “preachy”. Some may be thinking “How dare he tell me how to raise my children. There is no way my little Susie is viewing porn, watching sexually explicit material on television, or listening to music that promotes sexual promiscuity. She is a church going, youth group attending young lady.” In some cases that may be true; however, if you are thinking that, I urge you to at least find out what your child is doing with their spare time. The statistics demonstrate that your child likely is doing the very things you think they are not doing and if they are not actively doing any of those things, they are being exposed to such garbage more often than we probably are aware. Just look at the magazines in the check-out lane in your local grocery store. The headlines are appalling and your children are noticing those headlines and are pondering what they mean. Since most parents are not actively engaged with their children regarding sex, kids are finding answers somewhere and where they are finding answers to their questions is probably not in the pages of Scripture.
Here is the bottom line: Our children need parents who care and who are willing to take the time and effort to teach and instruct them in godly principles. Parents need to take every opportunity to reveal the false teaching of the world when it comes to sex. Trust me. There are plenty of opportunities each and every day to compare and contrast the world’s failed policies with God’s perfect policies. Take advantage of those times with your children. Develop a dialogue with your children as they are yearning for it whether they will have the courage to admit it or not. I urge you to take time to pray for and with your children and by all means take time to read God’s Word yourself and with your children. Conversations outside the framework of God’s Word will fall short of the intended goal, that of instructing them in God’s ways.
We have to be passionate about raising our children and I trust this discussion and call to action as well as the resources provided will serve you well in your efforts.