Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Tension of Talking to Your Kids and Teens about It

It's not easy to talk to your kids and teens about it. Especially in a healthy, mature, nurturing, wise, helpful, biblical way. When it comes to it, our children aren't angels, and they aren't animals. Not talking to your kids is a form of neglect, it's damaging, and it leads to pain. Talking to your kids and teens while laced with shame, embarrassment, and nervousness definitely sends the wrong message.

So that means that parents have a lot of work to do if they are going to prepare well for initiating conversations that will span years about sex. Better than the conversations, though, is the atmosphere of the home, the everyday actions and attitudes of the parents when it comes to marriage, faithfulness, love, faith, intimacy, affection, and satisfaction.

Here's more on the subject from Rob Bell and his book Sex God:
The impulse in our world when faced with tension is to come up with the seven steps or the formula so that if you do things in the right order the tension will go away.

But that doesn't always work. One of the marks of someone who has experienced significant growth in their soul is their ability to live in the midst of the tension.

Often people are told, "Just don't have sex and you'll be fine." Well, yes, that's true, to a certain extant. If you're talking to a room full of junior high students, they will be much better off if they learn the fine art of self-control. But it's larger than that. Because they are still full of raging hormones. Much like the rest of humanity.

To simply tell them to ignore the animal and be the angel puts them in the awkward place of trying to ignore something that is very real and very new, something central to who they are.

We have to talk about everything we're experiencing. Repressing and stuffing and refusing to acknowledge never works. Whether it's a friend or a group of peers or a priest or a pastor or a counselor, we have to get it out.

Some friends of mine started a website where people could talk about their struggles with their sexuality, and right away it received several hundred thousand visitors. Several hundred thousand.

You are not alone. Whatever you struggle with, whatever you have questions about, you are not alone. It doesn't matter how dark it is or how much shame or weakness or regret it involves, you are not alone.

Your kids and teens will need to talk about sex. "Where do babies come from?" And so on. The older you get, the more intense the questions, the more raging the desires and urges. And the more difficult to talk about. But the conversations are crucial. Especially when a parent can tell their son or daughter, "me too."

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