“The Talk” With Teens
By Anna Philipsen of Pure Desire Ministries
Last week we discussed some ideas for having “The Talk” With Young Kids and what it looks like to begin creating a safe culture in our homes to talk about anything and everything. Many of us did not grow up where sex was something that was okay to talk about in the home. Whether we were six or 16, if we had a question about something sexual, there wasn’t a good place to ask questions about it.
What if we could change this? What if our kids have a question about sex and the first people they think to ask are their parents?
Maybe your kids are teenagers and this isn’t a culture you’ve created in your home. That’s okay! You can still start now. If your kids are younger and you are trying to think about what this will look like for your family, that’s great too. Taking the time to think about it and figure out a plan is a perfect place to start.
The reality is, with readily available technology, our kids have access to easily learn about sex from the world. Let’s create a space to be there for them; a space where we can talk and learn what God says about sex.
What to Talk About (ages 12-18)
By this time, whether you’ve talked about sex or not, your kid knows about sex. They’ve learned it from school, from a friend, or seen something online. It’s important that you talk about it with them so you provide a space for them to ask questions and learn about sex from a biblical perspective.
Puberty and Hormones:
Talk about changes they’re going through and help them know it is normal. All the emotional, physical, and sexual changes they are experiencing throughout their teenage years are what everyone goes through and there is no shame in it.
Make conversations about relationships normal in your home. Whether it is friendship or a romantic relationship, teens have questions. They may not ask because they feel uncomfortable but if you create the space they will know they can ask. They need to understand what it looks like to have healthy relationships.
Teens are busy. They may stay busy with friends, sports, video games, shows, work, and other activities. Just because they’re busy does not mean they are okay and don’t ever need to talk. Watch for their silent signals and if they show up to talk just before you are going to head to bed, stay up and talk. If they came to you, it must be important. These spontaneous conversations may be some of the most valuable talks you have with your teen. I look forward to having these impromptu conversations with my boys when they are older.
Creating this culture in our homes isn’t easy. Whether your kids are teens or preschoolers, it takes consistent time and effort to shape a culture where it’s okay to not be okay and our kids feel like they can talk with us about sex.
Books to help guide the conversations
Books may be a good place to start the conversation but it really depends on where things are at in your relationship with your kid—how comfortable they are talking with you and if your teen likes books.
The main thing you don’t want to do with a book is buy it, give it to your kid, and hope they are good to go on all things related to sex, puberty, and relationships. The better approach would be to read it together or each read a chapter and then talk about it.
Books for Teenagers
This study was written for parents to read with their children to help them discuss the sexual temptations they will surely face as teens. Through 11 studies, you can walk alongside your teen and help them understand a biblical perspective of relationships and how to navigate sexual temptations. This is the first book in a three part series of biblical based studies on sexuality, puberty, and relationships.
Facing the Facts (for ages 12-16)
This book goes into detail on puberty, pregnancy, love, sex, and marriage. This book can be read by the teen on their own or with an adult. If you choose to have your teen read it on their own, a parent or mentor should also be reading the book and have times set up to discuss it together. This is the fourth book in a four part series called God’s Design For Sex.
Books for Teenage Guys
Every Young Man’s Battle (for teenage guys)
This book talks about all the temptations teenage boys face every day and how to develop a plan to have victory over sexual temptation.
Who Moved The Goalpost (for teenage guys)
This book starts the conversation about the lies from the world about sex and a game plan for how to stay pure in relationships.
Books for Teenage Girls
Every Young Woman’s Battle (for teenage girls)
This book goes over the pressures a girl faces in this world and how to develop sexual integrity, as well as how to protect themselves both emotionally and sexually.
And The Bride Wore White (for teenage girls)
The author of this book tells a vulnerable story, sharing her own teenage journal entries and seven secrets to sexual purity.
Other resources to help guide the conversations
Some teens don’t want to read another book. They have to read books for school and reading a book about sex is just too uncomfortable. That’s okay. There are other ways to approach this.
This 8-week video course can be completed alongside your teen. As a family you will learn about the reality we live in today with statistics about porn, the brain, stories of those who’ve struggled, and God’s redemptive grace. The sessions will bring up topics that will help start conversations in your home about porn, relationships, and unwanted sexual behavior. You will leave the course with tools to implement in your home and a good foundation for future conversations.
Workbooks for Teens
These workbooks are meant to be completed side-by-side with your teen or in a small group setting. If you choose to go through one of these workbooks with your teen, you will need one for yourself and one for your teen. When you go through the workbook, answer the questions as if you were his/her age. What were you like at this time of your life? This will make the work more approachable for your teen and also make you much more relatable to them at their current stage in life.
Behind the Mask (for teenage girls)
This workbook explores the changes girls are going through and how to develop healthy sexuality. It touches on emotional health, the masks we wear, and provides tools to live authentically. This workbook can be completed alongside a mother or female mentor.
Top Gun (for teenage guys)
This workbook talks openly about the struggle of porn and masturbation. This in-depth workbook gives tools, a biblical perspective, and steps to find sexual health. This workbook can be completed alongside a father or male mentor.
Half the battle of talking with our teens about sex is our internal struggle with our own past or our current relationship struggles. How can we talk with them if we feel like such a mess? Talking with our kids about sex and unwanted sexual behavior is a daunting task and if we have our own things we are dealing with, we need to prioritize this as well. We need to get healthy: and as we get healthy, our kids will see it. So much of these conversations with teens happen when we least expect it and our continued emotional health plays into it.
When we are a mess, our kids feel it. When we are healthy, they feel it. If we want them to learn how to live healthy lives—emotionally, socially, physically, and sexually—we need to be in pursuit of this ourselves.
Books for Parents
This book describes the safe culture we want to create in our homes. It dives into our own emotional health and how important this is. It also teaches how to establish emotional vulnerability with your child, understanding shame and guilt, navigating this on-going conversation about sex, and the many questions that come with it.
This book explores the world our kids live in as digital natives. They have never known a world without technology and with this, they need to learn how to navigate it. While it will give you a good understanding of the technological world, it also provides an understanding of addiction, sexual health, and tools for using technology in a healthy way.
This book will walk you through how to talk with your son about developing sexual integrity, what to do about sexual temptations, and how to have healthy relationships.
This book will walk you through how to talk with daughters about the sexual pressures they will face in the world and how to have these conversations while they are still growing up. Topics in this book include sexuality, purity, and dating.
Authors of the God’s Design For Sex series explain to parents the process of talking with kids about sex. Based on biblical principles, they discuss what it looks like to talk about sex, puberty, relationships, and how to have healthy dialogue about this in your home.
This book is not specifically for parents but it talks about the problem of the Church and the Christian culture being silent to sexual issues. The author shares her sexual testimony and discusses virginity, temptation, porn, sex in marriage, and more.
Approaching these conversations with teens can be awkward but it doesn’t have to be. As they become a regular conversation in your home, it will feel more natural and normal. It’s this authenticity and vulnerability that is established and will be carried with them into the world when they move away from your home. It’s amazing to think that by taking the time to help them develop a healthy understanding of sex, we can give them the right foundation for conversations in their future relationships.
Just as our love is passed down to our children, the foundation we build for them in all areas of life (even sex) is passed down to them. Let’s not be fearful of what this looks like and take a stand to show them how much we love them by having these hard conversations. God created a beautiful thing when he made us and as difficult as it is, it’s important our teens understand God’s amazing design for love, sex, and relationships.
You can do this.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I John 4:18 NIV