Do you remember when your parents had THE TALK with you? Perhaps mom and dad avoided the Birds and the Bees conversation all together or left it to your health teacher at school. It is more likely that your own sex education came from your peer group and was consequently full of misinformation and inappropriate suggestions.
As parents, we are called to teach and guide our children, especially regarding sexual morality. This is no easy task and as a parent, I now understand why my parents sat us children down to watch an ABC after-school special on teen pregnancy, and then concluded the program with, “Some mistakes you only get to make once.” I was just as baffled by my mother’s words then as most children would be today.
Parents and sex-educators tend to focus on the physical consequences of sexual activity (i.e. sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy). These painful realities are important; however, what about the moral and emotional consequences of sexual choices? How do we talk to children and teens about sex in a way that clearly communicates both the physical consequences of sex and the beautiful plan God has for the sacredness of sex within marriage? Many parents offer lots of scary reasons not to have sex, yet fail to offer any positive and encouraging motivation for chastity until marriage.
Common sense (and research) tells us that kids and parents are more likely to hold similar values about sex if parents (mom and dad!) consistently and repeatedly talk with their children about sexual morality. So, where do parents begin? First, it is important for parents to get their own house in order. What sexual values are you communicating to your children with your behavior? If you are not currently married, how might your children view your romantic relationships? What are your beliefs about premarital sex, contraception, masturbation, abortion, and pornography? These are difficult questions, and if your answers for your personal behavior differ from what you would say to your teen, then some self-examination may be in order.
You don’t have to go it alone or reinvent the wheel! There are lots of great resources to help you learn how to talk about sex and to clearly articulate your values about sex. A great place to start would be your church pastor or priest. Your church may already have a clearly stated position on sexual issues. There are good books and DVD’s that are helpful to start the conversation, and sometimes bring the material into a full understanding. Just remember, nothing replaces a good parental role model and a real conversation between parent and child!
Here are some great resources I have found to help parents and teens. Please feel free to add suggestions for additional resources!
· Theology Of The Body For Teens DVDs by Brian Butler, DVD
· Theology of the Body for Teens (Student Workbook) by Brian Butler; Jason and Crystalina Evert, Paperback
· Theology of The Body For Teens – Leader’s Guide by Jason & Crystalina Evert; Brian Butler, Paperback
· Theology of the Body for Teens Parents Guide by Brian Butler, Paperback
· Theology of His/Her Body by Jason Evert, Paperback
· If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity by Jason Evert, Paperback