How do I start a conversation about sex?

As we’ve taught and written about the principles for godly, parent-directed sex education in the Christian home, we’ve heard from parents over and over again, “I think you are right that I should have such conversations, but I don’t think I can talk to my children that way. I wish there were something we could read with our children to get us started in discussing these matters.”

The children’s books in this series are designed to meet that need. They are not meant to provide all the information kids need but rather to be starting points for Christian parents to discuss sexuality with their children in a manner appropriate to each age. They provide an anchor point for discussions, a jump-start to get discussions going. They put the words in your mouths and put the issues out on the table. Don’t simply hand these books to your kids to read, because our whole point is to empower you as the parent to shape your children’s sexual character. The books are meant to guide the conversations with your children that will deepen your impact on them in the area of sexuality.

Here are some additional thoughts:

Principle 4: We Should Seize Those “Teachable Moments” and Become “Askable” Parents.

Many of the most precious opportunities to shape your children’s character come at unexpected moments. The pregnant mom at church, the foul word or leer in a movie preview, the news item about sexual abuse or the sexual affair of a celebrity, the mating animals in the zoo; these and hundreds of other events provide rich opportunities to discuss sexuality with your kids and thus to shape their character.

Principle 5: Stories are Powerful Teaching Tools.

As you have these conversations, don’t forget the teaching tool Jesus used so effectively—the story. You can teach your children a dry concept like “immoral sex can have bad consequences,” or you can have a powerful impact on your children by sharing with them real stories of the difficulties faced by a real person who had a child out of wedlock. Why are the media so powerful? In large part because they teach by telling stories. Help your kids learn the truth from real stories. We start, of course, with Bible stories, but we add to these the stories around us about real life.

Principle 6: Accurate and Explicit Messages Are Best.

There is an old joke about the child who is looking around the parent’s bedroom with a curious but doubtful look on his face. The puzzled father asks, “What are you looking for?” “The shovel,” replies the son. “What shovel?” asks the father. “The shovel you use when you have sex.” “Come again?” says the father. “You told me that having sex is when you plant the sperm inside mother’s body, and you plant things with a shovel, so where’s the shovel?” replied the boy. Accurate messages are always best. They tell children you care about them, that you respect their questions, and that you are a trustworthy source of truth. Explicit does not mean graphic or crude. It means that you give direct, truthful answers in an age-appropriate way. As we move through the ages in this book, we will give numerous examples of how to give such appropriate messages.

Principle 7: Positive Messages are Powerful.

We rob Christian faith of its power when we shrink the Christian teaching about sexuality to a list of “don’ts.” The first messages in the Bible about sexuality in Genesis 1 and 2 are wildly positive. God the Father and Creator made humanity—the first man and woman—as physical and sexual beings, male and female created equally in God’s image. He made them (and us) so that the one man and one woman could be blessed to form an exclusive and life-long marital union, to unite sexually and become “one flesh,” and experience the joy of sexual and personal union. They could also conceive and raise children. We even learn in the New Testament that Christian marriage serves as an earthly model of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:25-33). Yes, the Bible has to warn us that God hates sexual immorality, but this negative message is grounded in a profoundly positive reality.