Most children are developmentally ready to learn about sex during their ninth year. Around this age, I encourage you to initiate this conversation so you can plant seeds of Truth and begin an ongoing discussion to form a healthy sexual ethic.
Here’s the problem: many Christian parents don’t want to talk to their children about sex at all. “My child is not ready to hear about sex,” argue parents right after I’ve spent an hour telling them how to raise sexually pure kids. This includes recommending that children have a full understanding of sexual intercourse by about their ninth birthday, as recommended by most respected Christian psychologists. In an eleven-city focus group tour, I found that nearly 50% of mothers with girls aged 9-12 had not yet talked to their daughter about sex.
Here are five reasons you need to start educating tweens with age-appropriate biblical sexuality.
1.) Failing to talk to your children about sex does not protect their innocence, it only makes them vulnerable to lose it.
Inevitably, my focus groups produced weeping moms who wished they had talked to their children sooner. The tears were from their children seeking out their own answers online and stumbling upon pornography. Some researchers put the average age of first exposure to porn now as low as eight years. Many parents say their child found it because they were just curious about what the word “sex” meant, so they searched for it online.
2.) Talking to them poises you—not the distorted perspective of a lost and fallen world—as the expert.
The only reason parents are afraid to talk to their children about sex is because we have done bad things with it. Sex is not bad. Sexual sin is bad. Your children don’t have the baggage of sexual sin on them when you begin the conversation on time, and this poises you and the Word of God as the source of their education as opposed to a world that has done a lot of bad things with sex.
3.) Moral values are formed between the ages of 8-12, making these primary years for introducing sexuality one lesson at a time.
Children learn right from wrong by their ninth birthday, with the next few years being critical to their value formation. The Talk isn’t a one-time thing. It takes multiple layers of education to build a strong sexual value system, so give yourself all of those years to fill in the gaps. Whatever you do, don’t wait until they are over to begin the conversation. George Barna says “what you believe by your fourteenth birthday is generally what you die believing.”
4.) Defined roles of maleness and femaleness are what enable us to glorify God.
To glorify him is to make him visible or known. Adam and Eve were more than just unique creations. They were a representation. “Then God said, “let us make man in our image, in our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26,27) There are so many God-like qualities that humanity possesses. Why doesn’t God mention the traits of being intelligent or worshipful or creative when he says we were created in his image? Why doesn’t he commend our language proficiency or our ability to compose sonnets? Apparently these are not the things that make us most like a representation of God. It is our maleness and our femaleness that makes us like Him. This places authentic humanity and sexuality in the context of male and female distinctiveness. Our ability to look like him mandates that we embrace those differences, not erase them. Children between the ages of 8-12 are just beginning to understand the intricate details of manhood and womanhood, magnified by bodies that are maturing. Make sure you use those years of change to implant biblical truth.
5.) It’s much easier to build a value system from the ground up than it is to dismantle one.
If you don’t educate your children, the world will. The media, friends, the Internet, Instagram, public school, and more carry messages about sexuality. If you are silent, their messages will sound louder still. It’s time to talk to your kids about sex now!