6 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Navigate Sexuality

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If parents remain silent or passive on these issues, a significant fight will be lost and the casualties will be high. (Charisma archives)

3. We must begin asking questions of our kids.

It's one thing to understand the times. It is something altogether different to understand the specific issues that our kids are currently facing. Depending on a bunch of factors (including, but not limited to, their age, gender, friends, school, media habits, etc.), they may be currently dealing with a number of struggles. Some are already in the throes of relationships that have a sexual dimension. Many are exploring opposite sex relationships but with no guidance or accountability regarding what the relationship should look like. Most have unspoken questions about changes in their bodies and the feelings that accompany them. All of these kids need a parent who will ask questions of them and invite themselves into this aspect of their lives. They may try to push their parents away, but they need help...and deep inside, they know it.

4. We must begin to speak the truth.

If parents remain silent or passive on these issues, a significant fight will be lost and the casualties will be high. We must confidently believe that our kids' future marriages and sex lives are worth fighting for now. Like an advance reconnaissance patrol, parents must identify those things that will bring harm to their kids and be willing to share a different standard. Again, if the world is constantly communicating a (dangerous) perspective and we don't speak out and articulate a better way then we have already lost the war.

5. We must consistently give our kids a healthy perspective about sex.

While many parents fail their kids by allowing them to explore relationships and their sexuality with no parameters, some parents fail them in another way. These well-meaning parents bombard their teenagers with a variety of messages that all say the same thing: "Sex is bad. Don't do it. It's dangerous. The feelings and desires that you are having are evil, so suppress them at all costs."

This message is both wrong and dangerous. Beyond just about anything else, the most important thing parents can communicate to their kids is that sex is an amazing gift from God; it is beautiful and should be celebrated and honored. Jenifer and I have an unwritten rule that we want to "gross out" our kids at least once a week. While the thought of their parents being intimate may make their stomachs turn, it does affirm for them that intimacy is a highly valued part of the marriage relationship.

6. We must capture and maintain our kids' hearts.

Fighting a war on behalf of our kids can easily turn into a war WITH our kids. The extent to which you stay emotionally connected with them will either make or break this process. Anything you strive to do to guide them through the challenges ahead and to help them experience all that God intended relationally and sexually in their future hinges upon having their hearts. This takes hard work and there are no shortcuts.

If anything, parents must realize that there is, in fact, a war going on and that we have a vital role to play in guarding, leading and teaching our kids. They may not yet realize that they need our help, but we must help them, nonetheless.

So let's get started ... 

Barrett Johnson is the founder of INFO for Families and the author of The Talks: A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables.

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