Can one discussion at age thirteen or fourteen counteract all the destructive messages they are receiving? No.
You can prepare your children to experience God’s best in the area of sexuality. You are capable of being a wonderful and effective sex educator, even if you don’t think so. You just need some advice, encouragement, information, and help to get there.
We parents rightly want help from churches and schools, but we cannot abdicate such an important task to others. The primary job is ours. How do we do it?
Many of us think too small. We think of sex education in terms of “the talk” with the early teen that will convince him or her not to have sex before marriage. How could that possibly work? Wherever our children turn, the secular world inundates them with messages about sexuality, all pointing them in the wrong direction. Can one discussion at age thirteen or fourteen counteract all the destructive messages they are receiving? No.
Our vision is for children to grow up having godly, age-appropriate discussion and teaching about sexuality as a regular part of their relationship with their parents. Why you? Because parents are God’s most important agents for shaping the sexual character of their children. You can help your child to trust God’s wisdom given for their good throughout their lives.
Think on two of the most important passages in the Bible about parenting and the beauty of God’s commandments:
- Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
- Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9, emphasis added
- And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
Deuteronomy 10:12-13, emphasis added
Parents have the opportunity to encourage their children to become followers of God in love and obedience. We are to do so trusting that God’s commands are a source of blessing and for our good. We are to walk in faith, loving God with our whole being and seeking to impart the same love and faith to our children. Sex education is about making this great vision a reality in the area of sexuality.
Parenting is complex, with many ways we can approach it. We have found one line of research particularly instructive and encouraging to Christian parents.1 In this approach, some researchers divided parents into four basic types according to two major factors: (1) what the parents expect of their children, and (2) how they respond to the children emotionally. The four resulting types of parents are negligent, permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative.
Negligent parents expect little of their children and offer little emotional support. Permissive or indulgent parents are big on emotional support but expect little from their children and do not challenge their children to “be all they can be.” Authoritarian parents overemphasize discipline, expectations, and control of their children; they push their children hard but are cold and disconnected emotionally, leaving their children feeling unloved and valued only for their accomplishments.
Authoritative parents, however, offer both high expectations and lavish love and support to their child. These parents want to teach their children, but they combine an emphasis on discipline with warmth, communication, respect, and affection. The authoritative parenting style is the most effective style and produces the healthiest kids. Research suggests that “kids raised by authoritative parents are more likely to become independent, self-reliant, socially accepted, academically successful, and well-behaved.”2
This research reinforces that parenting is a way in which we symbolize God to our children within our families. Righteousness (expectations) and love (acceptance) are two fundamental facets of God’s character, and God’s perfect balance of these two characteristics is at the heart of the gospel and of good parenting. Parents are ambassadors or representatives of God in the lives of their children.3
In having expectations of their children, parents embody God’s character of justice and righteousness, in which he reveals his will for his people and desires us to follow for our own good. In being accepting and loving, parents embody God’s loving and merciful character, as he persistently pursues his wayward people out of love until he brings them home.
Strive to embody these two qualities—as God does himself—by being authoritative parents as you do lifelong sex education. You have the opportunity to bless your child and shape his or her sexual character through your relationship.
How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character by Stan Jones and Brenna Jones
- One Million Copies Sold in Series! Christian Book Award: ECPA Medallion of Excellence
- Stan and Brenna Jones help parents establish a biblical view of sexuality in their homes. Building on a biblical foundation, they discuss how to talk with your children about sexual issues and when it’s appropriate to tell them what. With stark honesty and practical suggestions, they address:
- —Building a Christian understanding of sex and sexuality
- —How and when to explain sexual intercourse
- —Preparing for dating: dealing with romance and sexual attraction
- —Encouraging a commitment to chastity
- —What to do if you’re getting a late start telling your kids about sex
- —And more
- Diana Baumrind, “Parenting Styles and Adolescent Development” in Encyclopedia of Adolescence, ed. R. Lerner, A. C. Petersen, and J. Brooks-Gunn (New York: Garland, 1991), 746–755.
- The documentation of these results is quite overwhelming and consistent; see Gwen Dewar, “The Authoritative Parenting Style: An Evidence-Based Guide,” ParentingScience.com, last modified July 2017, https://www.parentingscience.com/authoritative-parenting-style.html.
- Stan reviews this research in detail in the final chapter of his book Psychology: A Student’s Guide (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014).