I have had a couple of situations recently that have prompted me to talk about this topic. One was a very scary circumstance of a friend’s granddaughter who had recently been approached by on-line a sexual preditor and the other situation came up as one of the young women I have mentored was discussing sex at a Bible study she is leading of older teen girls. She asked several of us women who had grown up following Christ, including my three married daughters (married from 8 weeks to 5 years), why we had waited to have sex until after we were married.
These circumstances caused me to pause and be grateful all three of my daughters had waited to have sex until after they were married. I do not say this is in a prideful way because it was by the grace of God and continually praying for wisdom that this was the case. I really wanted them to know sex was great--but with their husbands.
So, I have decided to share with all you Jesus-following moms some of the things I did as I raised my three daughters to give them a healthy Bible-centered view of sex. No, neither I nor they were perfect: some had a couple of non-Christian boyfriends, some not-so-moral Christian boyfriends, and I had the same in my own life. But my heart is over-joyed that they saved themselves for marriage and (hopefully) have a great relationship with their husbands.
But I was super-intentional about my approach to teaching them about sex. I didn’t have much, if any, Christian teaching or conversations with my parents when it came to sex --my parent’s generation seemed to have a fear of talking about sex so I wanted my daughters to have a healthy view and a great Biblical attitude and freedom about it as they went into marriage. Please don’t think I am an expert—I just continually tried to learn and utilize resources as much as I could.
One of the most important things your children need to see is a healthy example of marriage. Do you talk respectful and kind to and about your husband? What tones do you and your spouse speak to each other in? I want to recommend a book I gave my own daughters regarding this topic, and it is now available in workbooks and devotionals. It is Emmerson Eggrich’s Love and Respect, I wish I would have read this book about 20 years earlier but it is never too late.
Do you and your husband display love around your children? Hold hands? Kiss in front of the kids? Your marriage needs this. Your children need to see this. Dr. Kevin Leman’s books Sex Begins in the Kitchen: Creating Intimacy to Make Your Marriage Sizzle, Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, and Les Parrott’s Crazy Good Sex: Putting to bed the Myths Men have about Sex are great books that talk about intimacy in marriage.
Do you and your husband still go out on dates? When we were early married, we didn’t have much money and we did not have family in town to babysit, but we budgeted for at least one date night a month. I can’t tell you how important it is for you and your spouse to do fun things together—it helps you see the best sides of each other and remember what you were attracted to in the beginning. Get creative: look for group-ons, coupon books, trade babysitting, hiking, concerts in the park, museums, etc but keep dating! I recommend to make this happen twice a month if not more. And, plan an overnight away together at the very least, once a year. Your marriage needs this to stay strong.
The backbone of a healthy sexual attitude of a girl is building a good self-image. As you know, this is much more difficult to do than write. We definitely don’t want our daughters obsessing over their outward appearance nor think they have to look like the models in the ads but it does affect how they feel about themselves. This is one of the reasons we invested in braces and contact lenses for our daughters, why I would give them a perm when they really wanted one when they were a 5th grader (thanks, mom, for helping me with this!), why I would try to stay semi-current with styles, or pay for a stylish haircut for them. I didn’t have sons, but this stuff affects boys too. What makes them feel better about themselves? I also tried to make healthy food to help their health and weight be healthy. Thankfully my own mom modeled that! (FYI, I NEVER EVER mentioned my girls’ weight to them as they grew up—ever...there is too much danger in girls developing anorexia and bulimia!).
We also would instill self-confidence and character by talking about being kind to others, bragging on them when they were generous, and allowing them to develop talents and skills they were bent toward. Music was in our genes so lessons in voice and on various instruments were invested in. Be aware that families can go overboard on "developing their children's talents" to the extreme that children never have any downtime to rest or develop their imagination, so pray for wisdom. And build up those personality traits that are positive: Are they a great organizer? Have a great sense of humor? A great story-teller? Empathetic toward others? Make sure you brag on these traits of your kids to build their self-image.
Okay, modeling a good marriage is key and building a good self-image plays a part, but what about the actually talking about sex with your children?
I would buy age-appropriate books that discuss body differences in a Biblical way. They can’t be afraid or ashamed of their own body and have a healthy view of sex. I would make sure I’d read these books with them. At the bottom of this article, I’ve listed several books and sites for good resources. Let me know which ones you use.
This next idea was something my sister-in-law did with her children. I remember asking her “Can I copy you and do this too?” And I hereby give you the same permission. Adjust and do it to fit your family situation.
When my daughters were ten, thirteen, and 16-years-old, I went through the book Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson (warning: this is dated material!!) with them. Each girl was treated to a special one-on-one overnight trip away with me and we would go through the material together. Side note: Honestly, if you can work out care for the other children, it would probably be good for both parents to do this with the child. We didn’t have that option nor knew if it would be too uncomfortable for our girls, so I just took them. Here are some pages that might give you more good Christian information and articles:
The reason we began this at ten years of age, is because our world throws sexuality on girls so young. In fact, you will probably need to weigh your own child and their circumstances to decide when to start. Then I did it again at the age of 13, because that is when girls and boys are starting to like each other more. Then again at the age of 16 because that is when our girls were allowed to car date alone with a boy. All three of them.
I bought a copy of the book as well as the cds for it (yes, I am aging myself—no downloads back then) and we’d play a couple of hours of the book on the way to dinner. I would stop the audio every once in a while to either bring out something, give examples, or to see if they had any questions. I liked this material because it first talked about self-esteem and why some teenagers don’t always make good decisions. This is good material but it definitely is dated; it doesn’t address the internet, phones, nor texting. Those topics have to be discussed as well as sexual predators with today's world.
So here is how this weekend would play out: We had various friends who had cabins or other houses about two hours away from us, so I just arranged to stay there for one night. If you have the money for a hotel or hotel points, that would be great too. But make it far enough away. The weekend would include dinner out at a restaurant of their choice, a movie to watch together after another hour or so of the book, breakfast together (I’d bring this food in a cooler), a walk together the next morning listening, lunch, and on the drive back, we’d finish listening. We would also make a stop for a new shirt or pajamas for a special item to remember our weekend together by.
The key to this trip is for your children to learn about sex from you first—not from their friends, the internet, or school—and in a healthy Bible-based way. This also teaches them they can talk to you about ANYTHING and, in the future, makes you much more approachable as they become teenagers. They learn they can trust you to be honest with them.
There is probably better and more updated material out there. I’ve tried to include some options below for you to view although I have not read most of them yet.
Have you run across some good material for teaching your children about godly sex? Please share below so others can benefit.
Praying that you can lead your children in healthy God-based sexuality,
Additional books and resources:
• 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex: *Knowing What to Say*Guiding Them to Wise Decisions*Giving Age-Appropriate Answers by Bill and Pam Farrel
• Lintball Leo's Not-So-Stupid Questions about Your Body
• The Ultimate Girls' Body Book: Not-So-Silly Questions about Your Body by Walt Larimore
• The Ultimate Guys Body Book by Walt Larimore
• Passport2Purity--Weekend Retreat Kit By Dennis Rainey, Barbara Rainey
• The Focus on the Family ® Guide to Talking with Your Kids About Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age by J. Thomas Fitch, David Davis
• Learning About Sex Series (books according to age)
• God's Design for Sex Series By: Stan Jones, Brenna Jones
• Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children by Joe S. McIlhaney Jr. M.D., Freda McKissic Bush M.D.
• Protecting Your Son From Aggressive Girls article by Dennis Rainey
FYI, I get nothing by promoting these products.