As a mom dedicated to raising my kids to know God, follow Him, and stay away from the temptations of the world, I have been wondering how and when to teach my kids about sexuality and purity. This topic has begun to come up among circles of mom friends, as our oldest children are now mid elementary age, and it can be an intimidating subject to approach. I started to research the topic more and invested in some books to find a methodical approach I could use, and I have been overwhelmed by the many different and contradicting Christian thoughts and approaches on how and when to talk to kids about sex and puberty. After reading through some of the very explicit books with my husband, we didn’t feel at peace with beginning “the talk” with our oldest daughter, and I questioned whether this was the right time to do so. We just didn’t have peace about it, maybe because our daughter hadn’t even brought the subject up yet.
As I began to pray about our dilemma, I thought of all the godly women I know who have already been through this stage with their own children and now have great young adult children who are following God’s ways with integrity and purity in their relationships. I felt led to ask them some questions- the kind of questions we all want to ask a mentor mom, but may not have the opportunity to do so.
I know these moms from several different places. Some of them home school, others do public or private school, and some have done a compilation of all three. Although each may parent their kids a little differently, they all love God deeply and have been given wisdom from Him on how to parent their teenagers well. Some are pastors wives, others have led women and family ministries, and all of them are moms who have raised amazing teenagers and young adults who live with purity and integrity. I asked them a series of questions, and as I read through their answers, an overarching theme emerged.
There WAS NO perfect, methodical approach that I had been searching for to use with my children. Instead I discovered five key principles for teaching sexuality and purity in a Godly way to our children.
GKFTK: What age is best to start teaching your children about puberty?
All of the moms felt the same way about this answer. They said it depends on each child and it is best to wait for that child’s individual time of development.
Carla Link is a mother of an adult son and daughter, an author of parenting books, and the founder of Parenting Made Practical, a ministry to encourage parents in raising godly kids. She offered an additional, valuable perspective about when to discuss puberty with girls. Her good friend, who is an OB/GYN, teaches on this subject in family ministry. She explains that for girls, their “cycle” starts about a year before the onset of menses, and charting fluctuations in mood can help predict when their period will start. When the pattern of mood changes approaches a 45-50 day cycle, the onset of menses is within a few months. This, she says, is an ideal time to start talking to them about puberty. Carla said it worked with her children, and she has shared with many moms who say this timing worked well for them too.
GKFTK: What age is best to start talking about sexuality in general?
All seven moms felt it best to let it happen as topics come up rather than necessarily sitting down to have “the talk.”
Laurie Ables is a mother of a 22 year-old son, 19 year-old daughter, and 15-year old son, and she is also a licensed professional counselor for teens and adults. She comments, “We talked as things came up. I was not trying to pre-date their readiness to discuss this based on our culture.”
Rachel Schaeffer is a former missionary and home school mother of seven Godly kids, two of whom are 17 and 19. She explains that the age will be different for each child and dependent on how much they want to know. “Teaching sex and purity has been rather unscheduled and unforced, as these topics and issues seem to just naturally arise in each child at different ages according to what they are processing.”
Carla Link says that when their kids asked a question, she would always ask what they wanted to know ABOUT that question rather than assume she should share everything. She says that they often didn’t want to know too much information because they knew they weren’t planning to have sex until they got married, so there was no need to know everything at that time.
Principle One: Teach your children about puberty and sexuality in a NATURAL, individualized way rather than a forced approach dictated by social and cultural pressures.
GKFTK: What books or curriculum did you use to teach your kids about sex and purity?
All of these moms did not really use books as the primary way they taught their kids about sex, which surprised me. Some used them more as a guide to help them know how to talk to their kids. There was no perfect book or curriculum that stood out as the “gold standard,” but there were several recommendations, and I have reviewed some of these recommendations here. You can also go to my resources page under teens and click on the “puberty and purity” tab. Carla Link also has a bookstore on her website at parentingmadepractical.com where you can find some of these books I am recommending as well.
Principle Two: Choose books and curriculums on sex and purity as a guide to help you, not as an end all approach to teach your kids.
GKFTK: How do you encourage your kids to feel comfortable talking to you about sexuality and puberty?
When I read through their answers to this question, I realized that ALL these women have AMAZING relationships with their teens, many who are now young adults. This, they said, is the key to maintaining an open dialogue and level of trust so they value your opinion more than that of a peer. They mentioned several ways to cultivate this kind of open relationship.
Rose Claxton has six adult sons and one adult daughter. She is founder of a missionary organization and a women’s mentorship ministry called, Take It or Leave It, where she encourages other women in ways to be good wives and mothers. She encourages moms to build a good relationship in this way, “Be kind and fair with kids, and they will know you have their best interest in mind, and they can trust you.”
Anne Frey is mother of three teenage daughters, one in college, and she is a former missionary and pastor’s wife who has been very involved in family ministry. She states, “I have been open with my life and made ‘these subjects’ a regular part of our conversations.” When asked how her husband is involved, she stated, “My husband was not involved (in the talks) but talks to them often about their identity and how beautiful they are.”
Stephanie Koppelman is a pastor’s wife and mother of a 20-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter who has taught on these subjects in family ministry. She comments, “I can’t stress enough…we told them early that if they had questions about ANYTHING to come to us, and promised them we’d always tell the truth. We also had great talking relationships and clear communication EARLY ON so that they would feel 100% safe talking about whatever was on their minds.”
Rachel Schaeffer advises to become their “BFF”- and by this she means, “In addition to spending time with them, take an interest in who THEY are, affirming them in their insecurities, the awkwardness of changing body parts, and understanding how very serious their first crush really feels.” She also says “angry punitive correction breaks down intimacy, trust, and motivation. When the parent-child relationship is healthy, teens will gravitate toward their parent ‘friends’ rather than their peers.”
Principle Three: Cultivate an open and loving relationship with your kids, so they will come to YOU and NOT THEIR PEERS for answers.
GKFTK: How did you equip your children to deal with sexual temptations and remain pure?
Purity is a HUGE issue in today’s society, and the panel of moms noted how important it is to take initiative in protecting your child’s purity.
Cathie Boruki is a preschool teacher at a Christian school and mom of a godly college-aged daughter. She states, “The culture we live in doesn’t give us opportunity to protect kids from all the images out there.” She equipped her daughter to deal with the temptations and make good choices by teaching her to think about what she believes and why she believes it.
Rose Claxton advises to keep computers in a safe, open place and to monitor the friends they hang out with.
Anne Frey says “We are very selective on what we allow our kids to watch or who to be friends with and teach them how to make those decisions on their own.”
Stephanie Koppelman advises to filter the internet, block movie channels from the guide channel, say NO to the R and most PG-13 movies, and to delay handheld devices AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. “Help them find things to do and be present.” She and her husband also “hyped up” a marriage where both parties have saved themselves for each other, and that has positively impacted their children.
Many of the families with sons say their husbands were their son’s accountability partner when it came to visual temptation, and they had very open talks about it. It is important that these teenage boys do not feel alone or shamed, as they are living in a world full of sexual temptations. They need to know that they can come to their parents and be open about their struggles and receive counsel and encouragement.
Principle Four: Take an intentional, hands-on approach when it comes to PROTECTING YOUR CHILD’S PURITY.
GKFTK: What other advice can you give moms to equip their children to stay pure?
Cathie Borucki commented that of all the things she did, she felt her daughter’s relationship with Christ was the best foundation, and knowing her daughter, I can see that her strong relationship with the Lord has kept her grounded throughout her life. She is a positive influence and good example to her peers at college as well!
Rose Claxton believes that teaching your kids scripture and a desire to honor God on a daily basis minimizes the power of temptations. She recommends having your children confess their failures and expose them to the light of God’s grace.
Laurie Ables says to remind your children WHOM they are serving and why they are saving sexual intimacy for marriage- that it is God’s desire for their life.
Rachel Schaeffer states, “Since God is the author and creator of sex, and Christ is the embodiment of purity, the best approach is the simplest one. Keep teaching God’s Word and teaching the person of Christ (by knowing Him well yourself) in an atmosphere of love at home. Keep the main thing the main thing: Know Christ and make Him known. And all the other stuff really does fall into place.”
These women are all advising the same thing, that Jesus makes all the difference in our kids’ desire to follow God’s ways in purity. Our kids will one day be going off to live their own lives and make their own decisions, and if they are looking to the Lord as their guide, they will continue down the right path once leaving the home.
Principle Five: Cultivate your children’s hearts for Christ and the rest will fall into place.
So be encouraged! We do live in a fallen world full of corruption of God’s design for sex and purity, however if we follow God’s ways, and we implement these wise principles, we can raise pure, Godly children who live in the light of God’s plan for sexuality and purity.