Why does talking with our own children about sex feel so much more awkward than other kinds of conversations? Your children should be one of the easiest people to talk to about awkward things.
You know your child better than any other human. Your child knows you better than most people know you. You have lived in the same house for years.
You’ve already talked with them about some pretty gross stuff, like boogers and poop. What makes sex so different?
Be Broken Ministry did a number of parent surveys and focus groups in 2018 and 2019 to find out. We asked both fathers and mothers this question, “Why do you not talk with your children about sex?”
Here are the answers they gave us:
• I’m afraid I will make my child uncomfortable – this response tends to come from younger parents in their late 20s
• I worry other kids will make fun of my child at school if they say something at school that goes against current culture…I don’t want my kids to be ostracized
• I’m afraid I will ruin my child’s innocence – this response was given by multiple parents of children ages 10-12
• My child isn’t old enough to need to know about sex – this response was given by multiple parents of kids ages 7 to 12
• I’m overwhelmed and just want to get by
• I don’t know what I believe about sexuality, how can I teach my kid?
• It is too much work to create the kind of relationship with my kids that is needed to have these conversations
• It is too much work to figure out when it is time to talk about which issues
• I am afraid my kid will just lie to me about what they are really doing
• My kid would never be interested in pornography
• I’m afraid my child might find out about my own past – the most common response of both moms and dads of all ages
What does this reveal? If we boil these statements down, I think it is fairly safe to summarize them into the following:
I am afraid.
The problem is that this fear comes from a distorted or false narrative. The truth that both research and testimonials from children and teens reveal is this:
1. Children want to talk with their parents about sex.
Yes, children are nervous about talking with parents about sex and the first conversation is awkward, but children actually do want to hear what adults have to say about sex and most kids tell us they would rather hear from their parents if their parents were not too afraid to talk.
2. Talking about sex with your child improves your feelings.
Your first conversation about sex will feel awkward but if done well it will also be extremely rewarding. Parents who use resources to help them talk with their kids about sex tell us that they feel very positive about conversations with their children about sex.
3. Talking about sex with your child protects them.
Pornography and sexual jokes ruin your child’s innocence, not learning God’s design for sex. Learning about sex from you at an early age protects your child against misinformation they will hear later.
4. Your child is worth the effort.
The teenagers we showed this parental response to were very offended that a parent would feel it is too much work to talk about sex. This essentially says your child is not important enough to make an effort to talk with them about sex.
5. Talking with your child about sex strengthens the relationship.
Talking with your child about sex in a calm and open manner makes the parent-child relationship much stronger than having fewer personal conversations. Over and over again, parents tell us that their relationship with their children became deeper when they began having conversations with them about sex and sexuality.
Hopefully, this helps you see that not all parent fears are based on reality. Talking with your child about sex can be a very positive experience!
I hope this encourages you to begin or continue what otherwise might seem like difficult conversations about sex with your child.