Raising Sexually Healthy Children
I am hoping that at this point your heart, passion, and desire is to lead your family with confidence and intentionality toward a biblical sexual ethic. There are many other aspects of our lives that matter as well, but they are beyond the scope of this book. Raising sexually healthy children requires commitment to a specific ETHOS.It then requires that we, as parents, learn how to pass that on in bite sized micro-conversationsas our children grow and receive information from the world around them.
A key piece of the puzzle — for you and for your children — will be found in how you manage hurts, failures, and disappointments. Too many parents and their children are trapped in shame loops that are generational.
Break the cycle. Find freedom. Find joy. Then, once you have found it, pass it on.
Imagine looking at your grown children and seeing that they have made thoughtful, informed decisions that they can defend rather than emotional and impulsive ones. Imagine being proud of the young man or woman they have become. Imagine a sense of gratitude for the adults God entrusted to you who have made the decision to be godly change agents in the world.
It Starts With You —
Jaredand Kendraknew that they both had rough lives growing up and they wanted something different for their children. With the birth of their first son, they began teaching him about his body, about sexuality, dating, and marriage. They continued this with each of their children as five more siblings were added to the family. They invited hard (and weird!) questions from their children and answered them the best they could. As a result of their honesty about their own failings, their stories of childhood abuse, and the role God played in their story, their six children avoided much of the pain and heartache that many unnecessarily face today. Their children did not all arrive at adulthood without drama or failures, but none of them had the excuse of ignorance or naiveté. As each of them walked through their adolescent years, they encountered struggles with pornography and dating when they were too young due to peer pressure. They knew though, without any doubt, what their parents believed, what their parents’ expectations were for them, and that they were responsible for their own actions before God.
All six of Jared and Kendra’s children eventually married and they were joyous occasions. All six of them remain faithful in their pursuit of God in their adult lives, passing the same down to their own children. Even though they didn’t have one hundred percent success in all of their choices, they each knew their parents loved them. They knew that God loved them enough to die for them. And they knew that they could choose. Through the knowledge given to them by their parents, they were better positioned to make their choices. They could clearly see the destination each choice could potentially lead to and they could “choose” with wisdom. What a beautiful picture.
Do you want that?
This begins with your one-year-old, your two-year-old, your three-year-old, and so on.Start today, if you have not already. Begin by intentionally helping each of your children craft their own biblical sexual ethic — their ETHOS.
Use short, meaningful conversations —micro-conversations — to plant seeds, and as you intentionally water them you will see them grow before your eyes.
Helping Your Children
Develop Their ETHOS
So how do we pull all of this together for our children?
Jeffis a seventeen-year-old young man who has been trained to live by a biblical sexual ethic. His parents prepared him well.
He is respectful of authority.
He honors women and avoids areas of temptation.
He has struggled with pornography, but has chosen to die to those desires and fill his life with better things.
He has a great relationship with his parents and his siblings.
He has great relationships with girls his age and hasn’t dated.
He has a healthy view of marriage, thanks to years of micro-conversations.
Recently, they have led to longer conversations about the reality of marriage, its struggles, and its joys. Jeff is eager to leave home, see the world, and have new adventures. He has decided on a degree from a college that will set him up to have an income that will allow him to support missionaries, invest in ministries that change the world, and support the family he hopes to have one day.
Jenniferis a twenty-one-year-old young woman living on her own. She is watching her friends get in and out of sexual relationships, mocking marriage, and spending money like there is no tomorrow while they mooch off their parents to pay for their cell phone bill, car insurance, and miscellaneous purchases.
She remembers all those uncomfortable conversations with her mom and dad that helped inform her about her body, her health, God’s design for sex, marriage, parenting, and even friendships. She is very thankful that she can easily reject the world that her friends are asking her to join.
She wants a more peaceful life with less heartbreak, no scares of a sexually transmitted infection, no worries about pregnancy. She has financial stability and is willing to wait for a husband who will treat her with respect and as an equal partner in marriage.
These scenarios are possible due to daily and weekly investment into our children’s ETHOS. Our intentional micro-conversationshave planted the seeds and paved the way for a confident, resilient, young adult.
Will this always yield positive results? NO.
Your children have free will and can reject everything you have taught them. This is also why I propose viewing this as the long game. You must do your part, but ultimately you are entrusting them to God and to their own decisions, since they are ultimately not your responsibility anyway. That is hard for most of us to grasp, believe, and live out. We tend to blame ourselves for their every mistake, but strangely enough, at the same time avoid acknowledging how we have been a negative influence. Be honest with yourself in this process. Be honest with them. You both will be better people because of it.
Short, Meaningful Conversations:
These are what I have been calling micro-conversations. They are not lectures. Sometimes they are a dialogue and at other times just a few sentences to plant an idea or perspective into your child’s heart and mind.
Remember that this is not about us waiting for them to ask a question and being able to respond. That is great and wonderful, if it happens, but is not normal behavior. The norm is to have zero conversations about these topics because children and teens will not bring them up on their own. So be abnormal and “go there.” Be abnormal and initiate hard conversations.
Do not wait until your daughter has a boy over and asks if she can go up to her room to study and close the door. She should know long before that even happens that this is not acceptable.
Do not wait until your sixteen-year-old wants to go out on a date alone and get serious with someone. Establish parameters, guidelines and steps that they need to take beforehand. Make these times early, helpful, and often — staying ahead of these crossroads where most teenagers and their parents collide. Stay ahead of this with micro-conversationsthat ultimately leave the decisions in their hands as they grow up, but leave your voice in their heads!
Colossians 3:23 is a stern reminder to:
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (NLT).
That is how we must see our work with our children—as for the Lord.
As you go about your days, water the seeds you planted about pornography. Walk past the fifty-foot breast in the window of Victoria’s Secret in the mall and discuss its appropriateness there, what they are advertising, and how it impacts women and men.
Use scenes in movies and T.V. shows to open dialogue that leads into further discussions. Use news stories to discuss perpetrators and victims. To discuss harm. To discuss shame. Use these to talk to your daughters about being aware of their surroundings and what she should do if she is ever in a similar circumstance. Consider acting it out in a mild manner, so that she automatically responds rather than freezing.
Use family drama and the pains their friends experience to teach your children compassion, patience, and care for another in a difficult situation. Include all ages of your children. Listen to differing perspectives.
Be willing to be challenged. Invite disagreement. Let them learn here with you, so they can leave your home confident, compassionate, and eager to be a positive force in the lives of others, without compromising the gospel, Scripture, or their faith.
Order my new International Best Selling book by clicking here: