If Christian parents are not talking about God's design for sex, where will our children learn God's truth? There are a number of myths or excuses out there that we accept as true that keep parents from talking honestly to their kids about sex.
Our culture talks about sex all the time and just not from a Christian point of view. Traditionally, sex talk has been taboo within our Christian circles. We don't talk about it much at church or at home. But, if Christians are not talking about sex, we are giving the world the opportunity to fill in the gaps and to educate our children for us. Our schools may offer a onetime lecture, but the majority of the education our children receive should come from their parents. But parents are often shy about discussing sexuality. We may be unsure about how to broach the topic, so we need to see the need and develop some confidence in sharing God's story about sexuality.
We should be appropriately open with our children from the time they are young. It begins with using correct terminology for genitals and speaking honestly (but simply) about where babies come from. We do need to speak with age appropriate language and not burden them with excessive information, but we should honestly answer whatever questions come our way without over-reacting. It is good to check in with our kids periodically about any questions they have about how they are handling the changes in their growing bodies.
This stems out of a poor understanding of what sex is all about. Sex is private, but not embarrassing. It is a God-given gift to be celebrated and enjoyed. We do our children a huge disservice if we present sex as something to be ashamed about instead of the wonderful blessing that God intended it to be.
Your children will encounter messages about sexuality from the world. We need to talk about the images we see on TV and discuss how they align (or don't) with God's view of marriage and sexuality. It is important to challenge ideas that our inconsistent with our values. We build discernment when we don't ignore the inappropriate stuff but rather give context and explain about God's better plan for sexual expression. This will help our kids learn to challenge the sinfulness they will encounter in life.
Questions arise at every age, so talking to our kids about sexuality is an ongoing discussion. If you won't answer their questions, they will go to someone else. It's important not to lie to our kids or become overly flustered so that our children come to view us as safe and trustworthy. If we show that we can be trusted with awkward questions, that they will not be laughed at, that we are not too shy to give an honest reply, we can remain our children's best source of information. When your kids ask about sex, or ask what different words mean, or pause the TV to ask about the joke, answer calmly, simply, and truthfully. Don't offer more info than necessary, but answer directly. If they ask in public, either answer simply on the spot or say you'll explain later (but be absolutely sure you actually do!).
Knowledge is power. When it comes to sexuality, it is important to equip our children with the knowledge to protect themselves. Young children need to know the difference between good touching and bad touching. If a child knows the difference they can avoid falling for an abuser's lies. Teenagers need a sounding board to understand the changes going on in their bodies. They also need to understand how to create healthy boundaries in their dating relationships so that they are not putting themselves at risk. This gives them power to avoid risky exploration. If we let them get their answers from culture they will find very different answers that will leave them at risk.
As much as you might want to pass the job over to someone else, the reality is that parents are the most influential people in your child's life. We may think that our children are just tuning us out, but the truth is that hear what we say. Take the time to tell your kids what God has to say about sexuality.
Don't leave your children wondering what you think about sex. Let your children hear God's truth about all of life from you!