It’s All about Context

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5 Principles for Parents to Convey when Talking about Sex
The GOV team has a lot of experience ministering to people. After 12 years of equipping parents to convey a healthy message of sexuality to their children and speaking to youth about the same topic, we’ve learned a few things. One of those things is that a message about healthy sexuality goes a lot further when it comes from a larger context than just sex.

Sometimes when people come to GOV events for youth, they are surprised by the fact that we don’t spend the whole time on the more technical things like boundaries in dating or the danger of STDs, etc. It’s not that we don’t think that information is necessary, only that there is other information that is more pertinent to grasp first. Focusing on the technical details of what you should and should not do instead of grasping the larger picture first is kind of like drilling the entire rulebook into a little leaguer before he or she even understands the purpose of the game. If a coach were to do this, the poor kid probably wouldn’t want to play baseball by the end of it. If nothing else, he or she would choose NOT to play under the watchful eye of that coach.

Sadly, I think this happens more often than we care to admit. We spend so much time drilling the rules in that we fail to help kids understand the bigger, more glorious picture. You see, the bigger picture contains the reasons one would want to abide by the rules in the first place. Isn’t that what you want to communicate to your kids, Mom and Dad? Don’t you want to tell them the whole truth of God’s great design?

Below I’ve listed some principles we seek to convey when we speak to youth about sex. I hope they are useful to you as you speak to your own children.

    1. God is a good father – Something that parents inherently understand is the desire to see their child succeed and experience the very best life he or she can have. In all the hundreds of parents I’ve ministered to over the years, I can’t recall a single one saying “Yeah…I just really want my kid to have a crummy life.” If we, as sinful and flawed people, feel this way about our children, imagine how God feels about us. Sometimes we fail to remember that God is so incredibly FOR us. He’s not sitting back waiting for us to get in trouble and foul things up so He can swoop down and discipline us. Instead, He’s actively working to help us and guide us. This applies to our sexuality as well. He wants us to experience the very best when it comes to sex, which is why He gives us guidelines surrounding it.

    2. God’s design is very good – Despite popular opinion that has historically circulated in the church (and especially in western culture), sex is good. Sexuality is good. The desire to experience sex has been built into us by God. There is nothing shameful or wrong about this desire. The way He made men and women to be different is good. If you look into the brain chemistry that happens when a man and woman have sex, you can see God designed sex for marriage. The beautiful thing about teaching children about sex in our day and age is that science is starting to catch up with the word of God, and we are seeing why God gave us the guidelines He did in His word.

    3. You have an important calling – God has a specific job for you to do in this life. He doesn’t waste a single life and He’s not partial (IE: one person’s calling isn’t more important than another person’s). What you do MATTERS. What you do with your sexuality MATTERS and affects whether or not you are able to fulfill your calling – more than you may realize.

    4. You are not what they say about you on MTV. And neither is sex – there are a lot of messages directed at kids (especially teenagers) that essentially tell them that there is no way they’re going to be able to control themselves. So they might as well do what feels good. Furthermore, sex is nothing special and EVERYONE is doing it. If we can deceive ourselves into thinking that sex can be casual and it’s not that big of a deal, we are severely selling ourselves short. Sex is a big deal – God designed it that way and deep down everyone wants it to be that way – so when we treat it casually, we are missing out on the original intention behind it. It’s like settling for a pineapple-flavored piece of candy when we could have had real pineapple instead. We need to tell our kids not to believe everything they hear and see! More importantly, we need to teach them how to recognize when the enemy’s trying to deceive them.

    5. It’s not a one-shot deal – Doing things right in the area of sexuality is not a pass-fail test. If you “mess up”, you’re not condemned; you can turn around from your choices and choose again God’s direction. When Christ died on the cross for us, He died for all our sin – including sexual sin.

One final note about that last principle: I know it’s tempting to leave that one out when you talk to your bright-eyed adolescent who has no sexual experience. There is the fear that they will hear everything you’re saying about God’s design for sex and then go “Well, I guess I have room to screw up here” as soon as you mention that last one. But this would be immature thinking on our part. It does no good to tell kids about sex and then cause them – by omitting this part – to think if they don’t get it right they’ll end up damaged goods. Sexuality is complex. Kids need to know there is grace and that yes, this is a big deal, but they also have a very big, able God who is willing to help them navigate. The last thing you want is for your kids to make decisions about sex out of a mindset of fear. What you want instead is to equip your kids with the truth and have them make decisions out of love and wisdom.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

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Affirming Your Child’s Gender

AffirmGenderThe night before the first day of school, my brother-in-law asked my 6 year old niece if she needed help selecting an outfit for said first day of school. Like only a bright-eyed, energetic little girl can do, she didn’t miss a beat as she responded “Dad! I’ve had it planned out since July!” My brother-in-law is a wise man. He smiled quietly and instead proceeded to help her put her hair in curlers in preparation of the big day on the horizon.

I share this story because it is an excellent example of a father affirming his daughter’s desire to be a girl. It’s no surprise that girls like to look nice – especially on the first day of school. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn’t go to extremes.

Contrast this example to my nine year old nephew, who didn’t so much as want a new pair of blue jeans for the start of school. He probably hasn’t given much thought to what he’ll wear in the morning, much less been planning it out for weeks. What he wanted instead was to camp overnight in the back yard with his best friends a few nights before school started. His request was granted, and my brother-in-law patiently walked the boys through how to set up the tent and “make camp”. My sister and brother-in-law found themselves getting little sleep as they quieted excited boys long into the night and helped them shuffle inside in the early morning after getting frightened.

Both are good examples of encouraging kids to be as God made them – male or female. There are a lot of messages in our culture right now trying to tell children they should be confused about their gender. That it’s right to question whether they feel like being a boy or a girl. That if you want to do “typical girl things” or “typical boy things” you are silly and predictable. Or, on the other (and far more deceitful) hand, that if you are male and don’t want to camp in the back yard, there is something wrong about you and probably means you have homosexual tendencies. So it’s best to go ahead and embrace this “fact” about yourself while you’re young. Either way, kids are being pushed to question the sex God made them to be.

Whether you have an all-girl girl or a tomboy, you can affirm your daughter’s feminine qualities. Maybe your tomboy doesn’t fret over what she’s going to wear the first day of school, but does fret over the injured bird she has found and is trying to nurse back to health. You could compliment her on her nurturing skills in this situation. (You could also mention that she looks beautiful with her hair pulled back.)

Maybe you have a boy who’s more inclined toward the arts than things like wrestling or camping. You could compliment him on his initiative to teach himself how to draw. Or on his desire to keep going with his studies even when the other kids at school tease him for not being good at football. It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd.

The point is God is all about diversity. There are many expressions of male and female-ness, just as there are many expressions of skin color. Yet we are all made in God’s image, and even in this great diversity He has shown us, there are common themes. The same rings true with sex.

I encourage you to find ways to affirm your child’s gender – especially as school starts and they are in unfamiliar situations. The affirming you do at home will carry with them through the school day.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

Back to School + Sex Ed

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The start of a new school year gets a lot of us thinking about what our kids need for the coming year. Since I homeschool my kids, I think about curriculum, books, and review. Hopefully my kids remember everything they learned in the last school year. You know, typical school things. But since I am also the founder of a ministry that helps parents talk to their children about healthy sexuality, another thought crosses my mind: what do I need to cover with them about sex? And do they remember what we learned about last year?

With so many details to think about with the start of a new school year, it can be hard to remember sex education. Whether our children are receiving their sex education solely at home or if they are also receiving it at school, Mom and Dad have a big role to play here. I am convinced the responsibility of communicating God’s design for love, sex, and marriage falls mainly to parents and the lessons they give their children, both implicitly (by their observable actions) and explicitly (by what they instruct their children).

Unfortunately, many of us well-meaning parents abdicate our God-given role to the school or to the church, or (rather unknowingly) to Google. Trust me, I know what that’s like! Even though I run a ministry that focuses on this very topic, I have experience getting caught up with all the other details of life only to realize that my kids need ME to answer their questions and proactively teach them the truth about sex and sexuality.

Can I encourage you, Mom and Dad, to think about each one of your children and the stage they are in right now and consider what they need to know about sex, relationships, and the peer pressure they will be facing this year? I know this exercise may seem intimidating, but I promise you if you approach it with the help of the Holy Spirit, it won’t be as daunting as you think. One thing that has really helped me with this task is to take a look at Against the Tide, which is a grade-by-grade guide we’ve put together that gives resource suggestions for talking to your children about sex and character.

It might surprise you, but these guides start in preschool. The reason is there are a lot of foundational messages you can teach your young children about the way God designed our bodies and how He intended families to work that will really help them as they are trying to get the whole picture about sex at an older age. Especially if you have children in what I like to call the “intensive time” of 8-12 years old, I encourage you to check out this guide and seriously consider what lessons you need to cover with them this year.

A phrase I often think of when I talk to parents about putting a sex-ed plan in place with their kids is: “fail to plan, plan to fail”. This phrase can be painfully accurate. We may have the best intentions, but when it comes to actually doing them, we need to make a plan to see them through. Sometimes it helps me to set goals like this: “by the end of November, I need to have gotten through The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made with my youngest child.” I write these goals down on my calendar, because they are important! If I don’t make a goal, I re-schedule it and try, try again.

I pray the Lord gives you wisdom and the strength to tackle this task. May He bless your efforts to guide your children toward healthy sexuality.

Julie Hiramine

Julie Hiramine is a mom, author, and the founder and executive director of the ministry Generations of Virtue. As an internationally noted speaker, she has ministered in many nations to thousands of parents, teens, and young people. Julie believes the key to turning the tide of an immoral culture is to equip parents to empower their children to be pure.