Preparing for the Pre-Teen “Sex Talk”
BE INTENTIONAL AS PARENTS
Don’t make excuses and keep delaying the inevitable. Big deal if you are fearful. It has never been easy for any generation to share what is needed on the sexual dimension of life to their kids. Most of the previous generations did the sex talk either poorly or not at all. You can’t afford not to speak the truth on sex today. It’s too big and prominent and frankly, too distorted in our society. Giving a healthy and clear sex talk is essential if you want your child to prosper in their future. It is both parental wisdom and your responsibility. You will do it because of your love for your children.
MAXIMIZE TEACHABLE MOMENTS
Prior to having the “official” sex talk with your pre-teen, be gradual and age-appropriate in your sharing with your children about all the sexual questions as they come up in life. Look for opportunities to speak truth in bite-size portions. Be sensitive – consider each child unique and fit your discussions to their maturity. Always be alert for teachable moments – those natural opportunities – where you can impart part of the message.
GET UNIFIED BEFORE THE TALK
Discuss and determine with your spouse your answers to the following questions as to what you will believe and teach as a family. Be sure to come to an agreement and then record your answers keeping them for future reference for your younger kids.
What are your family’s core values about sexuality?
- Why are we not ashamed to talk openly about sex?
- Why do we need to respect sex?
- Why did God make us sexual creatures?
- Why is sex a great gift from God?
- Why does society talk so differently about sex?
- Why is self-control important?
What are the principles you want to teach about sex?
- What is sex?
- Why should we wait? Is it worth waiting for?
- What if everyone else is doing it?
- Why is sex so powerful?
- Why does the world talk so cheap about sex?
- What does God say about sex?
- Look for “SEX TALK Part 5 – What God Has to Say about Sex”
DETERMINE THE CONTENT TO BE COVERED
What are the scope and the depth of the sexual issues you will need to cover? Talk through and write out in point form your list of potential topics you feel you need to cover with a few sub-points indicating the depth of the discussion. Then, once you have your list complete, check it against my list so you can be certain you are being thorough enough. Be sure to read through and integrate content from the following articles:
- “Sex Talk Part 3 – Covering the Key Sexual Topics”
- “Sex Talk Part 4 – Talking Through Pornography in an X-rated World”
- “Sex Talk Part 6 – Protecting Kids from Sexual Predators”
SETTING A DATE FOR THE SEX TALK
There are 3 factors that will determine when you give the Sex Talk – the onslaught of puberty, early sexual curiosity and the timing of the child’s “sex ed” in school.
- PUBERTY – You need to take into account the dropping age of puberty and realize that some preteens start developing sexually as early as age 9. Monitor your child’s development. Anticipate when they may be ready. You need to have at least part of the sex talk with young girls prior to the beginning of the menstrual cycle so they understand what is happening to their bodies and that it is normal, natural and powerful – God’s way of giving the gift of children.
- EARLY SEXUAL CURIOSITY – For a variety of reasons, some children develop a sexual curiosity earlier than others. Options for why the early inquisitiveness include having older siblings showing relational or sexual interest, a closely observed pregnancy, talk with friends or older teens with high sexual interest, inappropriate exposure to pornography or sexually explicit movies, and even having been sexually abused themselves when younger. Where you sense that your child has this sexual curiosity and an early awareness of sexual topics, move up the date of doing the talk. They will be getting sexual information “somewhere” because of this preoccupation. It should be from you. Don’t wait. Fill their interest with the truth about sex.
- IN-SCHOOL SEX EDUCATION – Make it your goal to deliver the “whole package” by age 11 or before your child gets the teaching in school, which ever come first. School policy usually requires the notification of parents about the sexual discussion in school. Regardless, find out when it is planned for and set the date for your sex talk about 1 month prior.
Note: To help with the actual presentation of truth on sex, look for “SEX TALK Part 2 – Framing the Discussion on Sexuality.”
CREATING A ‘RIGHT OF PASSAGE’ EVENT
As you plan for the time away with each child and set the date for its “sex talk”, find a way to make it memorable. It could include dinner out, an over-nighter or even a weekend away. Regardless of what you can work in, have some fun activity as part of the time away. The advantage with the longer event is that the talk can be spread out over 2 or 3 different sessions. If it is the one-evening approach, plan on at least a 2-3 hour block of time to cover the issues. If you can get some great photos of the activities (not the talk) and give your child an appropriate gift to commemorate the right of passage, that will help cement the moment. Inform your child early.
WHO GIVES THE SEX TALK?
Mothers talk to their daughters and fathers talk to their sons. Remember though, that though one parent is delivering the truth on sex, the other parent knows the scope and depth of the discussion as they determined this together. Also, it is important for the opposite sex parent to be verbally affirming of the significance of the time away helping to create anticipation. Further, it is appropriate for this parent to have brief chats and other passing comments reinforcing the family’s core values on sex and relationships.
DETERMINING THE LEVEL OF EXPLICITNESS
Err on the side of being what feels like too open to you. Many parents have fears about shattering their child’s innocence. Wouldn’t you want them to hear about sex the first time from you and NOT the neighborhood kids? Get brave. Be open and thorough. Don’t overwhelm them on one hand but do teach them the whole package. While kids are all different and their levels of exposure vary, most will dread the idea but will mirror the comfort zone of the parent on the topic. While they feign ignorance, they usually know more than you think.
WRAP IT IN PRAYER
Be committed as a couple in your discussions and your preparations to be in prayer for God’s leading on your child’s readiness, your clarity and confidence, the content selection, the level of explicitness and the transference of a God-honoring and healthy view of human sexuality.
PLAN FOLLOW-UP DISCUSSIONS
Introduce the idea that you and the child will be talking more about sexuality. Create the expectation and actually pick the next time you will talk more (4-6 weeks later). Explain too that you will be reviewing with them the material that is being covered in school so you can discuss any questions and variations that come out. Check back often and confirm your availability to talk about these things anytime. Keep an open-door approachability as much as possible. Work to maintain an ongoing conversation with follow-up discussions 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year later.
Remember, the greater the relationship, the greater the influence.
© Dr. Dave Currie – May 2011