Jan 27, 2015

navigating sex talks with your teen

The predicament my son and I were in all tracked back to a coupon.

I'd received an email explaining that we could have a free family-sized bowl of pasta at a particular Italian restaurant. It seemed like a no-brainer for him and I to use it as an excuse to go out to dinner and have another talk about sex and more.

The problem? The whole restaurant had scattered pictures of alluring women on the walls.

We first noticed it when the waitress sat us down in a booth and a large retro picture of a woman wearing lingerie right above it. I asked if we could pick a different table, and yet as we scanned around it felt like every one of them had a random number of pictures like this mixed in with the other pictures of Italy, food, and more.

What happened next may or may not have been the same decision you would have made.

We sat down, ordered some food, dove into a book we're reading together, and had an amazing conversation. In other words, we didn't leave.

The reason?

As we were initially pondering where to sit, I looked at my 13-year-old with genuine humility and said, "There is one way this can work. If you and I make a pact together to focus our attention on each other versus the walls, we just might create our own object lesson on sex tonight."

And that's exactly what we did.

Somehow, once we decided to enjoy each other's company and fully engage the conversation we were in, the pictures seemed to disappear. All that mattered was the connection between a father and his kid.

The metaphor is obvious, isn't it?

What if the nervousness you feel heading into conversations with your teen about sex can dissolve if you first sit down with your Heavenly Father and fully engage in a conversation with him?

Once you do, you'll find yourself more fully prepared for whatever you felt unprepared for.

In addition to finding a focal point for your next sex talk, take some practical steps with your teen to create a great interaction:
  • Clarify the conversation: Explain that you're going to sit down sometime soon and talk about sex, culture, and more. Ask your teen to speak into what that conversation will look like through at least a few questions, observations, and conclusions that he/she will bring to the dialogue. Your goal in this is that each of you ends up as both students and experts on whatever you end up discussing.
  • Clarify the vocabulary: Talk about what the word "sex" means in your mind versus your teen's mind. Brainstorm how other people might answer that question, from celebrities and musicians to pastors and friends. Circle back to the idea that someone ultimately has to have the last word on this: will it be God or someone else?
  • Clarify the arguments: Our "hook up" culture would like us to think that everyone is having sex without consequences. Kick at this together, from how even oral sex can create an attachment to someone else emotionally. Discuss the lies that teens and adults alike buy into that creates this behavior, such as "This is one way I can feel more liked and less alone."
  • Clarify the worth: You have an incredible opportunity to help your teen feel unconditionally loved by God and you. Explain that while you may not always like what he/she does, you will always love him/her and that he/she can come to you with her questions, doubts and mistakes. He/she is also worth having standards to live his/her life by so that he/she can say "yes" and "no" to the right things. The more he/she realizes how special he/she is, the more he/she can properly respect herself.
What if we didn't have to feel weird talking about this with our kids?
"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart;do not let me stray from your commands." (Psalm 119:9-10)

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