When parents ask us when they should talk to their kids about sex, our knee-jerk answer is “sooner than you think.” By the time your kids hit 5th or 6th grade, they should have a basic knowledge of the birds and the bees, but the conversation doesn’t stop there. There is so much more that you and your kids need to talk about.
In our ministry of equipping parents to help their kids make wise choices about sex and relationships, we like to use the concept of “navigating.” Just as a rafting guide helps people to navigate the hazards that are always part of a whitewater adventure, a parent’s job is to help their kids to successfully get through the many relational and sexual challenges that every person will encounter.
Helping parents to do that job right is the reason that I wrote The Talks. One tip I often give is to make sure your kids hear about terms and issues related to human sexuality before they hear them from somewhere else.
When it comes to these issues, parents of preteens should make it their goal to inform their kids of what they will likely encounter as they get older. Sadly, that might mean “stealing their innocence” and telling them about some stuff before you might be fully comfortable with it. To stay with the whitewater rafting illustration, a guide is wise to give solid and specific information about what the journey down the river will be like long before they put the boat in the water.
With that in mind, this list has to cover more than just sex. It should probably be titled something like “What Every Pre-Teen Needs to Know About Their Bodies, Their Sexuality, and the Opposite Sex.”
Note that this list and this blog presume that God created sex and that He gives us parameters to enjoy it to the fullest. This includes saving it for marriage. That said, if you assume that our kids are going to have sex as teens and that parents should prepare them for that realty, then you are probably reading the wrong blog. Your list will probably look different than mine. Yes, many kids WILL have sex before marriage. And yes, I am thankful that God’s grace is the remedy for all of our shortcomings. But for parents who want to help their kids to navigate the rapids with as few bumps and bruises as possible, we should look to God’s standard and diligently strive to help them prepare for a life of sexual purity.
This is not an exhaustive list. And it shouldn’t serve as a legalistic checklist. But by the time he or she finishes the 6th grade, your child should be able to have some awareness of the following:
2. By this time, my parents and I have had “the talk.” Though it can sometimes feel weird, I feel relatively comfortable asking my parents the variety of strange questions that pop into my head about this topic.
3. My parents have given me some resources to look at on my own that deal with human sexuality and some of the physical changes that I can expect in the coming years.
4. I am beginning to learn that the world’s perspective of sex is radically different than what God designed it to be. I am learning to trust that God’s ways are best.
5. I know that when I do eventually start to date, it will be with people my parents are comfortable with. My parents will want to personally know any potential boyfriends and girlfriends. Those I date will share my religious faith.
6. Girls: I may not mature at the same pace as the girls around me, but my parents have prepared me for this. I know what changes in my body I can expect, especially as it relates to having a period.
7. Boys: I am learning more and more what it means to guard and protect women. Even though many of my friends don’t seem to honor the girls around them, I am trying hard to be a gentleman in both my words and actions.
8. My parents diligently monitor my technology use to make sure I am making wise choices. They know the passwords to any sites I frequent.
9. I am learning that sex should be saved for marriage because it serves as an amazing super-glue in that relationship. I may not understand this for many years, but I was introduced to this truth by my parents early on.
10. My parents are still very affectionate, even though they are getting older. That’s weird and sometimes gross, but it makes me feel oddly secure.
Q. What else would you add to this list? Feel free to comment below.
*Are your kids ready to face all the relational and sexual issues that they will encounter in middle school? We have created a tool to help you: The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations About Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. This valuable resource has been developed to guide you through all those difficult conversations that you know you need to have. It is on sale at Amazon at a discounted price.
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