By Dannah Gresh, Founder of True Girl
Of all the things you can do to reduce the risk of your child experiencing an early sexual debut, social science states that one thing reduces the risk more than anything else. And I think it's safe to say that social science is just figuring out what God recorded in the pages of Scripture.
What is the number one way to reduce the risk of an early sexual debut? It's not signing a purity pledge. Though signing one has been proven to delay sexual experience by about 18 months, these are not foolproof tools. It's not peer-based abstinence accountability programs. Though programs like Best Friends have proven that positive peer pressure to delay sex is effective, resulting in an 80% reduction in the likelihood that participants would have sex. It's not having your child participate in comprehensive abstinence education. Though programs such as Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education have participants who are less likely to experiment with sex than those who did not take the comprehensive course. It's also not your killer youth pastor, a best-selling book like my first (And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity), or attending a purity event with Christian principles. Nope! These things help and remind us that our approach must be comprehensive when helping our children embrace and live out a Christian sexual ethic.
The number one risk reducer? It's you, mom! And dad! Parent-child connection is the thing that most reduces the risk of an early sexual debut and so much more that you might fear for your child including substance abuse, violent behavior, or academic failure.
Many studies, including this one out of Houston, reveal that parent-child connection is a powerful risk reducer to teen sexual activity. God’s word asserted that thought long before we started doing social surveys. The task of moral development is never assigned to anyone but mom and dad. Not the schools. Not our churches. Not authors and speakers. But parents.
When Bob and I saw this research, we did three things.
1.) We discussed and embraced radical goals in terms of how we connected with our kids
From eating dinner together 3-5 times a week to creating family hobbies that glued us together like playing laser tag or boating. We wanted to connect with our family, I wanted to get better at connecting with my daughter. There is no such thing as quality time. It takes quantity. Period.
2.) We got smarter.
Connection also means communicating. We became learners. Reading everything we could to be culturally aware and academically armed with sexual theology, sexually transmitted diseases, and relationship issues, we made it our aim to become the experts our kids needed us to be to guide them wisely. Here's our list of the top ten resources to talk to kids of all ages about sex.
3.) We created tools for you to connect.
This required us to reorganize our ministry... entirely. We stopped doing events for teens only, and began creating parent-child connecting events so that mom and dad get to be in the driver’s seat of value forming conversations. True Girl, which connects the hearts of mothers and daughters to discuss topics like true beauty, friendship, and more, has been the most blessed of our events constructed under this model. We have live events, but also many other resources and fun mother-daughter activities. We also offer an event for teen girls named Pure Freedom.
This fall, we introduced a father/tween son event entitled Born to Be Brave in order to create an environment to talk about biblical “man stuff” that is “100% cool and 0% awkward.” With articles like “Where Have All the Good Men Gone” popping up in the media and emasculation a societal norm, we believe that it’s time to walk with fathers as they teach their sons to be brave.
What does it mean to be brave?
“…the righteous are bold as a lion.” —Proverbs 28:1B
There it is. God’s definition of bravery. Do you see it? Bravery is synonymous with being righteous. It’s doing the next right thing. In a world that pulls at our sons with porn, mind-numbing hours of gaming, and other distractions or evils, we want to set the stage for a lifetime of conversation that makes dads the best examples of bravery their sons will ever know. Our biggest goal, as always, is to create a connection experience for fathers and sons.
Parenting your tween may seem like a daunting task, but you can do it, mom! And we'll be here helping you grow closer to each other and closer to Jesus.
Are you looking for a way to start conversations about relationships, purity, and more with your teen? Join us online this fall for our livestream Bible study based on And the Bride Wore White, the best-selling book from Dannah Gresh. Early registration runs through the end of July!