When I was in the third grade, I sat around the cafeteria table at lunch, and my friends all giggled and whispered to one another. One of the girls spoke up and asked, “Are you a virgin?”
I never heard the word before, but it had to be something bad. “No!” I declared boldly to the whole table.
Everyone started laughing. When I shared this memory with my husband, he relayed a similar experience from his elementary years. We both agreed we wanted to talk to our kids about sex before they heard it somewhere else.
My husband and I agreed on an age we both felt was appropriate for “The Talk.” But when the time came, we didn’t know where to start. Culture makes the “birds and bees” talk seem like one isolated and extremely awkward conversation. It’s like the fine print at the bottom of the parental commitment: you are hereby subject to facilitating one uncomfortable conversation about sex with your child at an arbitrary age.
Whew, good thing it’s only one talk, right?
If there were resources out there for this do-or-die talk, we certainly never heard about them. We felt utterly unprepared.
We asked friends with older kids for advice; one of them gave us a book recommendation. We ordered the book, thankful to have a guide in our potentially awkward conversation. The minute we looked through the book, we realized something that never dawned on us before: we can’t cover all things sex-related in one conversation.
Consumed with diaper-changing, school lunches, good manners, and playdates — we never considered facilitating ongoing sex talks until preparing for the conversation with our firstborn. We said we wanted an open-door policy, but we didn’t consider proactively initiating conversations to explain and welcome questions and curiosity about sex. The myth about “the talk” is that it’s not one talk; it’s creating space for open-ended dialogue.
I know it seems obvious, but we realized there is a lot more dimension to sex than simply how babies are made. And if we, as parents, aren’t willing to talk to them about it (and continue talking about it), they may hear about it from someone or something with a warped or toxic perspective on sexuality.
Here are a few objectives we share when discussing sex with our kids. We want them to know:
- God made sex; it is beautiful, pleasurable, and purposeful. (Genesis 1:28)
- God designed sex exclusively for marriage. (Exodus 20:14)
- We should not awaken love before it’s time. (Song of Solomon 2:7)
- They can always talk to us about sex, there is no shame, and we will always tell them the truth.
We start by simply explaining their body parts and proper boundaries. As they grow older, we introduce the “how babies are made” talk. Later on, we discuss puberty, masturbation, crushes, dating, and a game plan if they encounter pornography. Eventually, we discuss God’s design for sex vs. the world’s perspective. Even with our current game plan, I’m constantly aware of topics popping up, making mental notes to myself; I need to revisit that with my kids to make sure they understand what it means. One time my son called a Disney character a “Sexy Beast” thinking it meant strong. Sigh. Parenting brings us plenty of opportunities for learning and laughter, doesn’t it?
If you’re gearing up for “the talk” with your child, take the pressure off. It doesn’t need to be one big home-run conversation. It’s probably better that it’s not. Create an open-door policy and kick guilt, shame, or embarrassment to the curb. Let your conversation be the first turn of the doorknob, opening a new door of connection with your child.
This post was used by permission.
Melissa Miller is married to her best friend, has three children, and is in the process of growing their small family through adoption. They live in a small coastal town in Florida. Melissa works for “Married For a Purpose” and is passionate about helping marriages and families thrive. she enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and beach days with her family.