Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Aug 29, 2022

A few weeks ago, Trish took our oldest son, Micah (17-years-old) and our youngest son, Isaiah (10-years-old) to the doctor to get physicals for basketball camp. Everything was normal until it was time to get shots. The shots weren’t for Isaiah, they were for Micah.

As Trish sat in the room, the nurse came in and said to Micah, “I need to give you this shot, as it helps with illnesses resulting from being sexually active.” Trish said she and Micah giggled a little as he got the shot and then the nurse took him out of the room to ask him questions about sex that they don’t normally ask in front of parents.

When everyone got home, physicals, shots and sex were the talk of the afternoon. As we sat around and laughed and talked about their experience, I felt so grateful that none of our boys feel embarrassed to talk about sex, or getting shots for sex.

This reality has been a six-year journey of hard conversations, humility and prayer that I wanted to share today.

Here are four things that will help you talk to your kids about sex.

1. Move past your own baggage.

As we started talking with Micah about sex six years ago, we realized our kids don’t have baggage in this area. They feel no shame. They aren’t embarrassed. Why? They have nothing to feel ashamed of. The only shame in the conversation was shame and embarrassment we brought. We can’t project our sexual baggage onto our kids and then expect them to be open and honest with us. Moving past your own baggage is the first step.

2. “The talk” isn’t a one time thing.

Most of us had “The talk” (singular)  with our parents. One of our friends got a pamphlet put on her bed, and that was “the talk.” What Trisha and I are learning is that there isn’t “the talk” but rather an ongoing conversation. Sometimes we talk over breakfast. Sometimes it is structured and we discuss a book. Sometimes our conversation is after a date or sometimes after one of our kids gets a shot in case he is sexually active. If we want our kids to talk about sex with us, we have to have conversations (plural).

3. Share your own story. 

How did you deal with sexual temptation? Lust? Pornography? Did you have sex before you were married? As your kids get older and into high school these are the questions they have. They want your help in dealing with the things they are facing. You don’t have to share the details of your story but sharing your experience reminds them that you are human and you can be trusted. They don’t need you to be perfect, just approachable. As you share your story, in age appropriate ways, they begin to initiate conversations.

4. Lead with grace. 

Our kids aren’t going to be perfect. They are going to mess up. How we respond when they mess up will determine if they admit their failures or hide their failures. Grace isn’t the absence of consequences, it’s the absence of condemnation. Ask God to help you create a culture of grace in your family where mistakes are made and learned from. You’ll see a huge change in your kids when they realize that you lead with grace.

These are four things Trish and I have tried to remember as we walk three boys into manhood. We don’t always get it right. It is intimidating at times. Conversations are awkward. But it is worth it.

What would you add to the list?