Family Features Podcast

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August 2, 2019  

Episode 13 - Talking to Your Kids about Sexuality & Gender - Ages 11-17 (Middle to High School)

August 2, 2019

In this episode, Dr. Gilbert discusses how to talk with your teenagers about sex and sexuality.  He also discusses the crucial role of independence in your teenager's life.

If the teen years are entered into with complete freedom and no boundaries, there is a tremendous consequence to that child, their future, and society at large. If this stage of life and development is entered  into without the freedom to experiment and grow, they will also suffer consequences which, ironically, are often the same as the young person who had no boundaries.

Problems arise when parents fail to recognize and adjust for how their relationship with their child needs to change. They must be allowed more freedom and space to make choices. Every child is different and their unique needs and brain development will play into when this hits for your family, but be warned that it will come.

Adolescence does not have to be a nightmare. Paul David Tripp calls this life stage an “age of opportunity.” If this is true, why don't see those fruits? There are two key reasons that this might be the case: 

1. We continue parenting our teenager like we did when they were a nine-year-old.

2. We did not prepare them well. The truth is that in the pre-teen and teen years we are beginning to see the fruits of the kind of person who developed under our care.

By age eleven, most of our programming and beliefs are already set in place in our hearts. 

Puberty hits soon. Are they prepared for the changes? Help them enter that stage without fear and with anticipation, ready to be a young man or woman that will steward their bodies, sexuality, and gender well.

Through micro-conversations and the confidence they gain, your teen can become a leader among their peer group. It is natural at this stage of life for our children to begin pulling way away from us.  

Dating standards, rules, and a biblical sexual ethic must already be in place by this age.Your child should know what you believe and expect, but also have been allowed to express and test their own ideas.

What kind of husband or wife do they desire one day? This sounds like a crazy question, but remember, parenting as you did when they were younger is over; and we must change our approach with them and even our ways of leading, conversing, and guiding them.

The truth is that for most of our children, their peers and media will have a stronger influence on them than we will from this day forward. Does this scare you? It should. This is why all the previous conversations matter more than ever. Ironically, this is the age that most parents are beginning these conversations - “the talk” - and it is already too late.

Your son’s masculinity matters. How he expresses his masculinity, however, is as different and unique as he is. Stand ready to offer advice, perspective and encouragement for the man God created him to be when his masculinity is challenged by peers or society.

Your daughter’s femininity matters. How she uses, expresses, and lives out her femininity matters. She is unique. She needs permission to feel in her own way, express herself, find herself, and become the woman God created her to be.

Our sons and daughters need clear expressions and boundaries when it comes to gender, its expression and limits. They also need to know we love and care for others that are different than we are — male or female.  

All that happens now in your child’s life is an expression of all that you have invested in them up until now. If you have been intentional in their early years, then this stage of their life can be an amazing time of growth and maturity.

I am often asked, “How do we handle social media and technology with our children?”It is a quickly changing field and parents are being left behind in the dust. We have a responsibility though to prepare our children to steward this tool well. I have found that if I think of a smartphone (for example) as a tool and not a toy, it helps me to put it in its rightful place.

Today, the new sign of being grown-up is to have a smartphone. And just like a driver’s license put us behind the wheel of a powerful machine, the smartphone puts the world — the good and the bad — at our fingertips. Researchers are now reporting more and more ways that smartphones and other forms of technology are detrimental for our brains.

We need to model integrity for our children. Online tools have minimum ages and we should heed that at minimum. Many Christian families lie about their children’s birth year to give them access to tools they are not ready to have.

Purposefully decide what your child needs access to — and when they should have that access. Be able to articulate “why” to your teenager. I have known many adolescents who were forbidden access and kept completely away from all forms of technology and this strategy tends to NOT play out well.

What you watch, whether streaming or a movie, are key opportunities — tools for these micro-conversations. Dive in. Use pivotal, awkward scenes as the springboard for deeper micro-conversations. Discuss what happened between the characters. Ask if they have ever experienced something similar. Continue to prepare and build into the young adult in your home so that they can make decisions for themselves, and learn boundaries with movies and what they consume.

The key word for success is “stewardship.” We are responsible for our children, but the responsibility begins to shift to our teen as they prepare to leave the nest.

Our role is to provide guardrails that keep them on the road.

Remember the goal of parenting is NOT just protection, it is about preparation, and your child’s heart. 


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