Over the last 13 years in recovery, I’ve been blessed with so many incredible opportunities to walk with other men who have also struggled with sexual addiction. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life!
My wife and I have gotten to work with couples as well who have found themselves in really difficult places in their marriages. When I started walking in recovery, one of the first people I needed to have a conversation with was my wife Tracey. This was probably the hardest conversation I would ever have.
At least until I became a father.
At the time of this writing, our children are 9 and 7 years old. We haven’t had a full-out, intentional conversation about the subject of sex, but we have taught them the importance of what marriage means between a man and a woman.
We’ve started to plant the seeds of what a healthy union between a husband and a wife looks like. But there are many more conversations to be had.
I’m thankful that there have been some incredible resources out there that have helped us greatly in starting the conversation and talking with our kids about healthy sexuality.
One such resource I wanted to highlight is entitled, “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen Jenson. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a life-saver this book has been for Tracey and I.
Kristen has given parents a perfect starting place for framing the conversation around the subject of what pornography is and helping your children understand it. We’re currently reading and discussing this book with our children and have found that it to helps us talk about and break down a very complex topic.
As we walk through this journey with them, we’re confident it will also help us in categorizing what is healthy vs. unhealthy when it comes to sexual matters.
What are some important things to keep in mind when having the “talk” with your kids?
Please understand that we’re not that far into parenting and I don’t claim to be an expert as it relates to talking about such complex subjects with our kids. Having said that, I do feel like the following reminders will help us with the tough conversations that lie ahead:
- Be honest – I think that honesty begins with instilling within our children’s hearts that sex is a beautiful gift from God.
He didn’t just design it for reproductive purposes, but He designed it to be enjoyed by a husband and a wife. Now HOW you unpack those truths to your children need to be tailored to their understanding and level of maturity.
And the reality is that there may be some level of awkwardness shared by all involved in the conversation. IT’S OK. You will survive! And your kids will survive!
The point I’m trying to make is that any conversation about healthy sexuality needs to start with complete honesty and should contain a biblical foundation to it.
2. Be consistent – Conversations pertaining to sex aren’t “one and done”.
Don’t expect your children to understand everything (or even more importantly, have processed everything!) the first time you talk to them. There will be questions they will have.
Hopefully, they will find you and your spouse to be a safe place they can come to learn those answers. But please don’t make the first conversation the last one.
Literally, as I write these words, my wife and I are committing to journey with our children through these conversations in a fresh way. We started the conversation a while back but didn’t commit to it.
One last thought on this point: Our children (and yours too) are looking for consistency from their parents. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a show.
3. Be loving – Lastly, and most importantly, we must communicate these truths in love.
If our children walk away from the conversation feeling lectured, judged, or threatened in any way, we’ve totally missed the mark. And they will most likely never come to us with questions or when they’re in need of affirmation.
I understand that this can be hard to do because we know we’re trying to teach our kids really important stuff and we want them to “get it”. But we also need to remember, at the end of the day, they’re children.
Our responsibility as parents is to be obedient to what the Lord calls us to do: “train up a child in the way they SHOULD go.” Does it mean they will go this way? There’s no guarantee on that one. But our assignment remains the same nonetheless.
There’s so much we could talk about when it comes to having these difficult conversations. Again, I want to put out a huge disclaimer that I am no expert at all. As a parent to a 9 and 7 year old, I’m still learning so much myself.
The book I mentioned above is an incredible tool to help you with the process. I’m sure of it. But when it comes down to the communication and interaction, this is where the rubber meets the road.
Let’s commit together to be honest, consistent, and loving. I think when all three of those actions work together, our children stand a way better chance at seeing our hearts as parents and navigating through any challenges they may face when it comes to dealing with sexual matters.