Hey Parents!

Thanks for asking great questions about conversations around sexuality with your kids! Here are questions asked and responses and resources:

How do I tackle realities that people tell my child (toddler) that gender is a choice?

Conversations on gender and sexuality are increasingly more challenging and dynamic. Some of the best research on gender and sexuality from a Biblical and Christ-Centered worldview are found from Preston Sprinkle and the Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: https://centerforfaith.com/about/leadership/dr-preston-sprinkle. I will frequently reference his site here as we continue. His blogs are incredibly valuable in terms on understanding the dynamics of gender conversations. I will leave you to reading his material.

How much should I share with my children and how do I talk about sex, sexuality in an appropriate way?

Great question. I always like to take a stance of meeting children at the level of question or concern. For example: a 5yr old might ask, “Where do babies come from?” and the response could be, “Well tell me what you think?” – they may respond with comments like, “The stork, or from mommy’s tummy, or they might actually say SEX (don’t underestimate the internet, television, music or friend groups). You don’t need to get books and internet sources necessarily – but it’s important to meet the level of the question.

Additionally, setting up regular conversation times for personal questions on body and sex are really important (weekly, monthly) especially when entering into puberty and in the adolescent years. In these years, celebration is very important. When a young man (typically 3rd, 4th, 5th grade) begins growing body hair – a culture of celebration is amazing (think about trips to the store to let them pick out the deodorant, body spray, soap, razors, etc…). Similarly, when a young man has a nocturnal emission – talking about how the body works and celebrating manhood is important. The authors of the book – “Wild Things – The Art of Nurturing Boys” – recommend taking boys out for dinner (steak dinner) to celebrate events like this. That may seem strange to many of us – but creating a culture of celebrating sexual maturity and physical change replaces the shaming culture of sex in our society. For women as well, get-aways, “women nights” with other trusted women to help explain menstruation, bras and sexuality are also incredibly important.

Finally, be aware of the power of pornography and our highly sexualized culture. When talking to kids about the “act of sex and intimacy” it’s important to talk honestly, vulnerably and specifically. Using proper terms (penis, vagina, nipple, arousal, erection, ejaculation, orgasm, lubrication, insertion, fellatio/oral sex) and describing not only the physical realities, pleasurable/painful realities, and emotional realities matter. Incidentally, if reading this made you uncomfortable – you may need to consider that you are not ready to talk with your children (but if you don’t – who will?). So, with as much grace as I can muster, I encourage you to do the work of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable to help your children learn the realities of sexual intimacy in healthy and important ways.

XXXChurch is an incredible, Christ-centered organization that helps families navigate conversations on sexuality AT ALL AGES AND STAGES. Their parent blogs and books are second to none. You can learn more here: https://xxxchurch.com

How do you know when your child is ready to talk/learn about sex?

When they start asking about it. See above on meeting children at their discussion level. More on this though, when a boys starts noting “that his penis gets hard sometimes or sticks out” – you can talk about stimulation, erections (even babies get erections) and healthy habits around touching and exploration of the body. On the whole – whenever we talk about areas of the body covered by a bathing suit – we are talking about “sex” and proper terms MATTER.

How do I talk about porn?

A few things: xxx.church has incredible resources. Additionally, be honest about your own sexual brokenness. If you struggle with porn or have struggled with it in the past or deal with sexual temptation (ALL OF US), and you haven’t talked with them about it – you are doing them a disservice. Side note: if you struggle and are looking at porn actively (and not asking for help or confessing it to someone) assume it will be an issue for your children. Talk to a counselor, pastor, trusted friend – don’t struggle alone.

What does the Bible say about masturbation?

Honestly, very little. There are no condemnations against it. Lust is the sin. Worshiping our bodies in a sexual nature is a sin. I realize this might be a controversial statement (and I am ok with that): I personally believe that masturbation – when not in combination with pornographic material, when properly understood (scientifically, biologically and spiritually – yes spiritually – we were sexual before we were sinful and God gave us sexual pleasure as a gift) and not taken to excess is healthy and important for adolescents as they make their way through life in pursuit of holiness and abstinence. If you have questions on this feel free to email me: joshz@fearlessfollower.org

What do I need to know about sexting and my children learning about sex from friends and peer groups?

It is a reality. Social researchers and other experts in recent years have strongly recommended that children NOT be given smartphones or social media access until 16-17yrs of age for this specific reason AND because of dynamics around anxiety, depression and other elements (see iGen by Jean Twenge). I say this again with as much grace as I can muster – if we as parents don’t talk to our kids about sex – their friends will and in greater detail than we are often comfortable with. Sexting is a tragic and shaping reality for our kids. Arming them with the truth of God honoring sexuality and creating vulnerable and honest settings in our homes for healthy sexual conversations are the best ways to set our children up for success and flourishing.

Does emphasizing waiting for sex until marriage lead to getting married for the wrong reason?

There is no definite answer here. If the sole purpose of marriage is sexual self-gratification, I am not confident that one will wait for marriage to have sex. Still, if that is the motivation – sex is an idol and a poor reason for marriage. I think healthy and holy conversations about sex, love and marriage can help shape this. At the same time, sex and intimacy are important components of marriage (they aren’t the most important – but they are important) and often go hand-in-hand. Sex should be an element that couples pursuing marriage look forward to as they long for one another intimately and physically.