How We Told Our Kids About Sex
It was the summer of 2011. We were visiting friends in North Carolina one weekend for a lovely wedding on the beach. Our strong-willed, opinionated and hyper-inquisitive children, a boy and two girls, were, at the time, 10, 7 and 6 respectively. My gorgeous, though Chicago-tough and Sicilian-sassy, wife and I were at lunch with the kids at a little seaside café the following day. A late morning ocean breeze puffed through the eatery’s open bay windows, filling our nostrils with that salty pong of damp sand and faint sea life, forecasting a beautiful day ahead.
We were discussing the wedding ceremony from the previous day. The blushing bride, a delightful young woman, happened to be about eight months pregnant and, to my knowledge, had not been the beneficiary of a second immaculate conception.
As the tsunami bursts forth from still waters without warning, our youngest daughter’s face abruptly took on an air of contemplative curiosity. She looked to me and asked, “Dad, how can she (the bride) already have a baby in her tummy if they’re not married yet?”
I began, like a squid in my chair, squirming during the awkward silence that followed and finally responded, “God wants mommies and daddies to wait until they’re married before they start having babies, but sometimes people forget that and start early and then get married later.”
I sat back in my chair, satisfied that I had successfully evacuated “hurricane sex talk,” until our older daughter hit me with the follow-up lightning bolt: “But what about,” she began, “but how do the babies get in the mommy’s tummy in the first place?”
The room began to spin as I was overcome by a sense of utter horror and dread. My wife started laughing and said, “This one’s on you, honey!”
I then spent the next two minutes or so hemming and hawing as I explained to all three children – each transfixed by my words – in as forthright, clinical and age-appropriate a way as humanly possible, exactly “how babies get in their mommies’ tummies.”
When I finished, the children sat in stunned silence, a look of shock and disgust on each of their divine, innocent, cherub-like faces. All at once, and with justice most poetic, three precious little heads wheeled toward my wife. “Mommy, you did THAT?” demanded our youngest with absolute indignation and disbelief.
To which her older sister added, “Three times!?”
Parents, be warned. If it has yet to happen, your day, too, will come. You will, at one time or another, as surely as dawn’s death and Obama tax hikes, be forced to have “that talk” with your little ones.
It may come without warning, organically and impromptu, as it did with us, or alternatively, it may come at your direction. I suggest the latter. I suggest you prepare. Be proactive. Board up the windows and lay down the sandbags.
And then strike first.
Either way, they’re going to learn it sooner or later from either you or another. And what they learn may well, most likely will, undermine your values. Severely.
Rocker Marilyn Manson, while certainly no role model for children, is, nonetheless, an intelligent chap. He at least calls it how he sees it. “This is the culture you’re raising your kids in,” he once warned of today’s godless, secularized America – one that he helped make so. “Don’t be surprised if it blows up in your face.”
And blow up it will.
In a culture that slaughters the unborn, mocks purity, celebrates sexual sin and makes a joke out of the institution of marriage by imagining sin-based counterfeits, it remains a daunting task for parents to raise children with the courage and conviction to both faithfully observe, and stand unashamedly for, God’s truths on matters of sex and sexuality. This is especially true when the enemies of God, marriage and family, insist upon telling your children, at a younger and younger age, that evil is good and good is evil.
Our jobs as parents are further complicated by virtue of the fact that, for many young people, at least for now, popularity is preferred over principle. The prospect of being “hated by everyone,” which, as Christ warns, will, and must, befall His faithful, lacks, understandably, a certain level of appeal (see Matthew 10:22). From an earthly standpoint, it seems counterintuitive to both welcome and find joy in being “hated by the world.”
Even so, stand strong, parents. Persevere – because, ultimately, that’s the price of admission.
So, where to begin?
As with all things, the Holy Scriptures are a good place to start. “Start children off on the way they should go [train them], and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6). When it comes to matters of sex and sexuality, parents should universally steep their children and young people in the “word of truth,” the Bible, encouraging them to both submit to and champion (to “fight or speak publicly in support of”) the infallible, unchangeable and absolute truths found therein.
This is so, even when the absolute truths of Scripture have become unpopular in a world that prefers the absolute lie of sexual relativism.
It’s a funny thing, absolute truth. It’s absolute. As I’ve written before, it’s like a buoy pulled beneath the lake’s surface and fixed tight with rope. With time, and against the tide of Christ’s love, that rope, the lie of relativism, eventually rots. It snaps under its own weakness, hurling the buoy, truth, from cold darkness to warm sunlight.
In today’s culture, moral and sexual truths have been pulled deep beneath the surface. If steeped in Scripture, children – even the prodigal child – may be pulled under and tied down for a time by relativism’s glittery allure. But when the relativist rope rots, fear not, for those who have been fastened to “the way, the truth and the life,” who is Christ, will burst back into the light.
On matters of sex and sexuality, tether your children to absolute truth.
Then trust God to do the rest.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).