Teaching Kids About Sex

How important is it for you-as a father-to talk honestly and openly with your children about sex?

I’ve heard too many stories of children whose fathers completely ignored this area of their lives, and who struggled because of it. We can’t afford to let our children learn about sex on their own. Maybe our fathers could-but we can’t.

When the issue comes up, our children are watching and waiting for our response. And, if we don’t see it come up, we may have to bring it up. It may be awkward, but we’ve got to be open with both our sons and daughters to affirm them toward healthy sexuality.

Let’s talk specifics:

First, make sure you’ve got the pertinent facts. This includes everything-from the basic “birds and bees” mechanics, to the threat of HIV, to the way our culture has twisted healthy sexuality. Talk about words like rape, harassment, and abuse. Be factual and truthful. Do a little research, if need be.

Second, visit the topic of sexuality early and often. Make your conversation age appropriate, but don’t wait until they reach puberty. Healthy sex education starts with toddlers when you accurately name the body parts. As they get older, look for teachable moments when you can ask a reasonable question or express your perspective. Check in-one on one-to see if they have questions or concerns. Make yourself available as a resource, and let them know you care.

Third, and this is really tough, let them know you’ve gone through your own struggles. This is definitely awkward, but nothing brings the sense of confidence and respect in you as a dad as your willingness to admit that yes, you did struggle with sexual self-control. You weren’t perfect, but you’ve been there. And, if you’ve made a mistake, tell them why you regret it and what you’ve learned because of it.

Finally, reinforce the beauty of the sexual relationship in its proper expression. Tell your children the benefits of waiting until marriage to be sexually involved-and the pitfalls they’ll face if they don’t wait.

Make it your goal to give your children a positive, wholesome view of sexuality. Just think of the blessings it will bring them-and their children-for years to come.