When I first saw porn at a sleepover around age 11, I didn’t even consider talking with my parents about it – I hid. I was so ashamed. I probably feared I’d get in trouble. I was thinking as most children would who’ve never talked about sexual topics with their parents. I didn’t think they’d understand or have empathy. I felt very alone, afraid, yet curious about what I’d seen and how it made me feel. Can you relate to this experience?
In our last post, we invited you to consider the various influences that have shaped your sexuality thus far. God can redeem our stories and use them to lead us toward healing and spiritual growth. But have you ever thought about what might have helped you as you became more aware of sex or your own sexual feelings? What if you’d had someone with whom to process your experiences – someone who could comfort you, provide an explanation, relate to your experience, believe you, or maybe protect you from an abuser or an uncomfortable situation? What if conversations about bodies, porn, and sex were not avoided in your home but gently explored in the safety of a loving relationship with your mom, dad, grandparent, or caregiver?
I want to share a great resource by my friend and colleague, John Fort of Be Broken Ministries: Honest Talk: A New Perspective on Talking to Your Kids About Sex.
Honest Talk takes the angst out of teaching your kids about sex and sexuality. Kids need to know more than just the mechanics of sex. They need to understand their sexuality, how God wired them, and how to manage all its associated feelings and challenges. And they need this earlier than you may think. John takes what is often an awkward or taboo topic and breaks it into bite-sized pieces to help parents rethink the whole process of talking with their kids about it.
In a culture rife with counterfeit messages about sexuality, a single “sex talk” isn’t the answer. But honest talk about sex and sexuality along the way will work to counteract all that your children will face.
Honest Talk will help you understand your own sexuality much better, which in turn will help you guide your kids. You’ll learn how early encounters and experiences impacted you, and you’ll understand better how to talk with your kids about their own unique experiences. You’ll discover how to create an atmosphere of trust and authenticity with your kids starting in the early years so that conversations related to bodies, emotions, sexual feelings, sex, and sexuality come more naturally.
One thing that sets Honest Talk apart from typical “sex talk” books is the concept of emotional maturity and its connections to walking in sexual integrity. Helping kids learn to process their emotions will lead to stronger emotional health later. Many of us grew up without the ability to express our emotions in a healthy way. John explains from personal experience how porn and sex can easily become soothing or numbing agents for deep emotional pain and wounding in both children and adults. His journey toward healing and sexual wholeness has given him great insight into how we can help kids become what he calls “emotional natives.” By “emotional natives” he means kids who are able to articulate their emotions in a healthy way, as innately as speaking their native language.
Another refreshing aspect of John’s book is the way in which he helps parents understand the need for vulnerability in sharing parts of their own stories with their kids at appropriate ages. You don’t want to share too much, but not sharing from your own mistakes, regrets, or wounding can make you unapproachable in your kids’ eyes. Your story is powerful, and John will help you see how to share it in a way that can help rather than leave you feeling ashamed.
Finally, Honest Talk lays out clear guidelines for what information to share with your kids and when it’s appropriate to do so.
I know John personally, and he has a solid understanding of the importance of teaching and modeling healthy, God-honoring sexuality. He teaches this in a winsome and engaging way in Honest Talk. It’s the best book I know of for today’s parents. Buy this book! Read it with your spouse if you’re married. Read it with some friends or parents of your kids’ friends, and talk about it so you can support and encourage one another. There’s so much at stake today for today’s kids. They need their parents to be engaged in ongoing conversations with them about sexuality.
And whatever you do, don’t wait until your kids are approaching or entering puberty to begin short, honest conversations about bodies and sexuality. Shame comes in so quickly in a child’s life. You have a great opportunity to begin early to create an atmosphere of trust with your child, so do it.
God is with you, and Honest Talk will be a great tool to guide you. Whether your child is 18 months or 18 years, you will benefit from the information found in Honest Talk. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book or how God uses it in your family!
Would you like to attend my presentation of Allies: Parents and Kids Navigating a Sexualized Culture this Saturday, August 17th, outside of Atlanta? Click here for more information on this talk packed with practical information to guide you and stories to inspire you! Interested in hosting Allies? Click here. Until next time, keep journeying with God and your kids and know that we are praying for you!
Founder and CEO, TrueNorth Freedom Project, Atlanta, GA.
Want to help us bring the good news of sexuality to a hurting and broken world? Find ways to give here. TrueNorth is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Donations are tax-deductible and our EIN is 46-5767272.