“What should I say to my child about sex?” I’m inevitably asked this question when I speak to a group of parents. A recent evening with Iranians in Turkey was no different, except this time some of the parents were more persistent: “What exactly should I say to my child? Tell us the exact words!” Sometimes questions like this are a little embarrassing, especially when all I know about the audience is that for them sex has always been a taboo subject!
You will hear and read many answers to this question, but before you try to answer it for yourself there is another question you need to consider: “What is the main thing you want your child to know about sex? What is your “mission statement” for your teaching? You need to answer this question (or phrase your mission statement) in such a way as to provide a lifelong standard for your child, a standard against which he or she can test all the information they will receive from other sources. Does what you want to teach your teenager fit under this statement as well as what you taught him or her as a six year old?
As a Christian parent or youth leader, your mission statement needs to take into account what the Bible says about the purpose of sex and what God designed it to be.
Mary Flo Ridley and her husband thought through this question very carefully and decided on this mission statement for their family: “Sex is a gift from God intended for marriage.” Mary Flo is an author and international speaker on how parents can talk about sex with their pre-school to pre-puberty aged children.
I believe we need to ask at least three other questions as well when we think about talking with children about sex. The second question would be “When?” — at what age should a child learn what? The third and fourth: “Who?” — who should teach a child about sex, and who should make that decision?
As a parent, what will be your mission statement? As a youth leader in a Christian setting, you will be teaching teens whose parents may have widely differing views of sex. How will you deal with this? As a teacher or counselor in a secular school, how will you handle directives of your educational system that are contrary to what you believe to be right, and also best for the teens with whom you are working?