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A few days ago, I posted Talking to Preteens about Sex—Part 1, which included survey responses from our 6th graders. The results showed that, contrary to what some may say, preteens prefer to discuss the topic of sex with their parents.

Now what? Most parents are wondering how they’re supposed to approach the subject of sex with their preteen. Here are a few tips that can help parents initiate these conversations:

1. It’s a Marathon, not a sprint.
There is way too much information and way too many questions to cover in one conversation. Due to the awkwardness of the topic, many parents will try to pack as much information into the first conversation as possible. Instead, we need to create an ongoing conversation. This means frequent conversations that answer immediate questions asked by your preteen, but save additional information for later conversations. Research from Dr. Steven C. Martino actually suggests that the more [frequency over time] a parent talks with adolescents about sex, the healthier those adolescents will be and the longer they will wait to have sex. As Christian parents, our prayer is that they will understand and embrace the truth of God’s design for sex in marriage.

2. Break the Ice
Don’t wait for your preteen to start talking. They have questions, but it is unlikely that they will take the first step. Look for opportunities to initiate these conversations. It could be something seen on TV, something that happens at school, or something that is said by a sibling. Ask preteens what or how they feel, and try to listen for their questions or concerns. If those opportunities are not available, pick a time in your routine to have ongoing conversations., such as riding to school, getting ready for bed, etc.

3. Do Your Homework
#1 and #2 really address when and how to have conversations about sex with your preteen, but what do you say? It is a great idea to partner with other parents of preteens to find out what is working and not working. There are also great resources available that speak on this subject from a Christian perspective. These resources can be for you, or some can be given to your preteen as a catalyst for conversation. They can read and ask questions at the pace that is comfortable for them. But, you still have to initiate by buying the book! Here is a short list of resources to check out:

Passport 2 Purity Weekend Kit

Questions Kids Ask about Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age (More medical-based than faith-based)

Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality: A Biblical Approach to Preparing Them for Life

Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle: Creative Conversations About Sexual and Emotional Integrity

Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle: Honest Conversations About Sexual Integrity

This homeschool product specifically reflects a Christian worldview. How to Talk Confidently with Your Child About Sex: Fifth Edition (Also comes as a series for boys or girls)      

We recently conducted a survey with 6th grade students to find out their thoughts on the subject of sex. The survey was not intrusive, but appropriately crafted to get their honest responses. The survey results were intriguing to say the least, but one point really stood out.

A question on the survey asked preteens to note the source for the knowledge they had about sex. Overwhelmingly, the majority selected with “Media” or “Peers/Siblings.”  Based on their answers, 70%-80% of what they knew about sex came from one of those two sources. The other 20%-30% came from “school.” Only a few responses noted “Parents” as a source for their information about sex.

While this was shocking, it was not the end of their responses. A later question on the survey asked, “Who would you prefer to talk with about sex?” This question was not multiple-choice, so preteens had to write in their response. 96% of the surveys responded with either “Mom” or “Dad.”

According to this survey taken by our students, preteens are learning about sex from what the see on television and Internet. That is being supplemented by the conversations they have with their peers.

The influence of these outside sources has left preteens with questions and a desire for answers. The truth is: preteens prefer to discuss the topic of sex with their parents. Many parents would not believe this response, even if they read the surveys! Preteens recognize the wisdom and experience of their parents, and they are willing to listen.

Preteens are learning about sex. If parents are the ones owning that conversation, who is? If you are a parent or leader of preteens, how are you talking to preteens about sex?

Stay tuned this week for some tips on talking with preteens about sex.

If you’ve never shared Christmas with a 16 month old, I highly recommend it. It was a special time at our house as we got to discuss God’s gift of Jesus (or “she-suz” as our daughter says). The lights, the presents, and visits with family were all so much fun, but my favorite moment was one small present.

The present was a small 5×7 photo frame that held a blessing for our daughter. The blessing is an affirmation of worth and calling. The blessing is to help our daughter recognize her purpose in God’s story, and to request His presence in her life. It simply reads:

You are a blessing from God. He created you in a wonderful way for a wonderful purpose, and He has great plans for you.

May the Lord show you His grace and peace each day, and may you shine His light to the world in everything you do.

We wrote this blessing and placed in the frame so that it could be a part of our every day routine. Each night as we prepare for bed, we hold the frame in the lap of our daughter and read these words to her. It has become a part of the routine that she expects and reminds us to do.

When she opened the gift, she tossed it to the side in favor of some toys and crayons, and I know she doesn’t fully understand what we’re saying to her as we read the words. However, I know that the daily reading of this blessing will help her to understand her value to God and help us all to rely more on Him for her upbringing.

If you are a parent, especially of a preteen, I encourage you to find a way to bless your child. In a period where they are seeking value and purpose, a blessing can help them to focus on how to engage the purpose that God has created them to fulfill.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing a blessing or being a part of a new movement related to a child’s blessing, check out Blessing Your Child by Dr. Trent & Focus on the Family.

D6 Conference: Day 1

September 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

D6

Thursday was actually conference “day 1” at D6 and it opened with a session that included Doug Fields and David Platt—talk about a wake up call!  The rest of the day was FULL of absolutely amazing speakers like Dannah Gresh, Emmerson Eggerichs, Tim Kimmel, John McGee, and probably some others that I missed. But the first two really caught my heart and had me thinking the rest of the day.

Doug Fields’ message challenged us in our frustration and exhaustion of ministry to renew our love for Jesus Christ.  At the end of the day, this is what matters most and ultimately what will fuel our ministry efforts.  Doug challenged us to be leaders who…

  • Can authentically say, “Follow me, as I follow Jesus”—Is Jesus the most famous person in your church? In your ministry?
  • Value a collective vision—Humbly accept that we are better together than we are alone.
  • Are acutely aware of the “twisters” [issues, forces, conflicts] impacting families—Are we adding to the “twisters” that families face? Are we making suggestions from the pulpit that we’re not living out at home?

Next, David Platt spoke from the premise of his book Radical.  He posed the question, “How do we pour the Gospel into the next generation in a way that makes Christ’s glory known in all the world and in all generations?”  David spoke from Luke 9 on the three conversations Jesus had with those that wanted to follow him. He drew these challenging exhortations to parents from this passage of Scripture:

  • Teach children to treasure the person of Christ more than the possessions of this world
  • Tell children that God’s Kingdom is infinitely more important than their family
  • Train children to love the Lord enough to gladly leave their home behind

His talk boiled down to one statement on our purpose as parents.  The goal, as Platt describes it, is:

For our kids to love a Great God in a way that would lead them to abandon the things of this world, their family, and their home in order to follow Him!

This was challenging for me as a pastor, but even more so as a parent.  That’s not to say that I’m doing everything right as a pastor—far from it.  It just means that I’m not nearly the man, husband, or father that God has called me to be. I think I already knew that, but God has really pressed me over the last 24 hours and made me process that fact fully.

After much thought and evaluation, my take-away that I want to share with every other preteen ministry leader is this:

My legacy is not my ministry.  My legacy is my home.

God has called me into ministry, but I have a superseding call to be a man, husband, and father that follows hard after Christ. I know that I forsake my family to do ministry related tasks.  I change or cancel family plans all the time because of a ministry conflict, but I hardly ever put my family obligation before the ministry. This has to change…this will change.

 

Ps. The night was capped off with an acoustic session with Steven Curtis Chapman that was unbelievable.  He told the story of losing his daughter, Maria. The family went through so much pain and struggle, yet you can see them living in the midst of God’s sufficient grace. Everyone saw God’s grace and sovereignty in a new way as he sang, “You give and take away…my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.”