By Dannah Gresh, founder of True Girl
"I'm not talking to my children about sex yet. It's too soon," stated a defensive mother after I addressed an audience at one of my workshops.
"How old are your kids?" I asked.
"12 and 14," answered the mom.
I hear it all the time. Parents argue that not talking to their kids about sex will "reduce the risk" and "keep them innocent." In fact, not talking to your kids about sex and abstinence is one of the top five things that place kids at risk of having sex too soon. The best age to begin the direct conversation that includes the mechanics of sex is about the ninth or tenth year, but this list includes resources for building the conversation from the ages of 3 to the college years. I've been reviewing content regarding sex education for parents for nearly two decades. Let me share with you my top ten resources to talk to your kids about sex.
10. God's Design For Sex: The Story of Me -For ages of 3-5
Start the conversation early with Stan and Brenna Jones' The Story of Me for children aged 3-5. Using age-appropriate language, this book explains the marvelous body God gave your child. This is just the first in an entire series Stan and Brenna have written for each stage of your child's development, but it's my favorite in the series.
9. Good Pictures/Bad Pictures: Porn-proofing Your Kids - For ages 6 and up
"Stranger danger" became an easy way to talk to your child about dark and tragic things in an innocent way. This book is the answer to talking to your kids about porn without robbing them of their innocence, and it's a book every parent should have in their library. It's a comfortable read-aloud story about a mom and dad that teach their child what pornography is, how to identify it, and how to reject it. This book is recommended for ages 8 and up, but with the average age of the first inception of porn being as low as nine...I recommend the age of six.
8. It's Great To Be A Girl & It's Great To Be A Guy - For ages 8-12
Here are two critical books that are foundational to the conversation about sex. I developed them with a team of writers due to the fact that I could not find Christ-centered books about the body changes tweens and early teens face that also included a solid theology of gender. I firmly believe that gender is not fluid, but that God created and chose it with precision and purpose. Fun quizzes, charts, graphs and graphics guide your son or daughter through important conversations about their changing body and God's theology of it, without any mention of the controversy and counterfeits the gender revolution is presenting for our children to navigate.
7. Passport to Purity - For ages 10-14
This fantastic boxed kit is all you need to take your tween or early teen on a weekend adventure that's fueled with meaningful conversation about their bodies and sexuality. Created by Dennis and Barbara Rainey's FamilyLife, it's recommended for ages 13-14 but I have found that many parents like using it earlier. Workbooks, audio tracks, and lesson plans create a memorable and positive experience as you launch the critical conversations you need to have for your child to live a life of purity.
6. And the Bride Wore White & Who Moved the Goalpost - For ages 12-19
My first book has become a classic for teen girls, so my husband helped me create one for teen guys. Each takes the appropriate gender through seven secrets or winning strategies that help teens live lives of purity. It's not just about teaching your daughter to say no to sex. The secrets and strategies are researched using social science to provide a footprint of what reduces the risk of an early sexual debut, and then God's word as the backbone for how it's presented. Both Bob and I write in a conversational and transparent style that enables the reader to follow along and identify with struggles and temptations we all face. The girl's book has an accompanying video which you can access online or purchase as a DVD and a leader's guide enabling you to use it as a weekend retreat or weekly Bible study.
5. What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex - College-aged students
In this book, targeting college-aged women (but a lot of guys have confessed reading it for the rich theology of sex and to understand girls), I trace the biblical language of sex to explore God's heart and definition of sex. Rather than using the "thou-shalt-not" verses to answer the hardest questions about sex, I lean on intelligent-faith dialogue and deep understanding of the purpose of sex. How far is too far? Is masturbation ok? Can I look at porn to satisfy my desires? Is it ok to date a guy who's using porn? What's wrong with being gay? These questions and more are explored for the mature high schooler and college-aged women.
4. Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children - For parents of children of all ages
Written by Dr. Joe McIlhanney of The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, this is a must-read for every parent. In the past ten years, new neuroscience has given us solid evidence that our children aren't ready for sex until they are adults. While McIlhanney is a Christian, he writes from a purely medical point of view and offers compelling and critical information for parents to have an intelligent approach as they help their children understand why God created us for monogamy. While this book is a few years older, the research is relevant and current.
3. Focus on the Family's Comprehensive Sex Education List - For all ages
Focus on the Family has created this amazing list of some of the best Christian resources for educating your children when it comes to sex. Books, radio programs, and websites with even more resources can be found on this list. I recommend a few of these so highly that they appear in my top ten list.
2. Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Approach - For college-aged students and young adults
This is my favorite academic book on human sexuality and is written with a solid theological approach but also using psychological, medical, and physical science to create a theology of the body, gender, and sexuality that equips Christians to have an intelligent faith approach to their sexual choices. It was written by Judith and Jack Balswick and is considered a standard texts in numerous Christian universities and seminaries.
1. The Gift of Sex: A Guide To Sexual Fulfillment - For young married adults
Don't just tell your kids to wait to have sex, encourage them in the beauty of the gift when they are married. Abstinence is not about not having sex, it's about waiting to have it right! This is my favorite book to give young couples when they are engaged, or to give to older married couples experiencing sexual barriers in their relationship. I think every married couple should read it. Why not order a copy for yourself?
This is part of the Five Ways To Protect Her Heart series. When I was raising my teenagers, I came across a list of five of the top risk factors for teen sex published by The Medical Institute for Sexual Health. Using the list, Bob and I created an informal set of five ways to reduce the risk for our own children. The first is to "talk early and often about sex." I hope this list helps you do just that!
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