We want to do the best job that we can to help our kids grow into mature adults. As a result, we often become heavily involved in their academic choices; we can be quick to correct and discipline when they speak back to us or disobey; we worry about their interactions with their friends and their pursuit of extracurricular activities. Where we fall short, however, is in playing an active role in speaking into their lives about sexual purity and the nitty gritty of their dating and relationship choices. We’ll stay up all night with them to help with homework assignments if needed, but we’re afraid to “meddle” or talk about what our children do with their bodies and how they respect the bodies of others. As a result, talking about issues like sex and pornography can become taboo and embarrassing, and so our kids are left to navigate this world alone.
We turn a blind eye to things that make us a bit uncomfortable that we see on their social networking sites (if we even have access); we ignore the suggestive lyrics in the music that they listen to; when a sex scene or sexually suggestive ad comes on the TV, we pretend it doesn’t exist, and our kids get a clear message that sex is embarrassing and you as their parent are not a good source to go to. We want to pretend that our kids aren’t sexual beings—that they don’t have real questions and that our role is only to educate them about the basics of how a baby is made.
Unfortunately, our kids are receiving incredibly powerful messages about sex, pornography and relationships from the media that surrounds them. The ads, magazines, movies and websites they take in are telling them that sexual experimentation is a right of passage, that what they do with their bodies doesn’t really matter and that their self-worth/value in the world is directly related to how sexy they can be and how much sex they can have. In teen culture today, pornography use, sexting and exhibitionism is no big deal. And if you aren’t looking for teachable moments and engaging with your kids about these issues, then they’ll likely live this out in their own lives. Thus, it’s critical for us as parents to get over ourselves, stop denying that our kids are sexual beings and recognize that they are sponges for the information and media they are living in.
We must talk to them about issues like sex, pornography, respect, body image and sexting. The hardest part is just starting the dialogue. When you allow yourself to acknowledge the sexual images and messages that inevitably come up every day, take the opportunity to talk about them with your kids. When a Victoria’s Secret ad comes on the TV, turn the channel and explain why you changed the channel. When an illicit sex scene is referenced (or displayed) in the show your family is watching, then take a moment to acknowledge it and talk to your son or daughter about what God says about sex and where and when it should happen. When you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store, talk to your kids about the harmful messages in the gossip and style magazines surrounding you. When your son or daughter turns up the volume on their favorite new Rihanna song—listen to the lyrics and ask your child what those lyrics really are saying about their bodies and their self-worth. For help on talking to your kids about sex and pornography, we have developed a number of resources that I hope you’ll take time to review this week.