This is the second post of 10 do’s and don’ts for talking to your child about sex. This topic is important to address yet can easily scare some dads. I applaud you and affirm that you’re already rare among men for courageously being willing to speak into your kid’s life. Whoo hoo!
If you don’t talk about sex with your kids then every other voice but yours will have impact and influence.
You don’t have to have the perfect conversation…but you do need to have some conversation about sex.
Most kids will delay engaging in sexual activity as a result of feeling connected to their dads, which underscores why this vital conversation will bond the two of you.
10 More Do’s and Don’ts for Talking to Your Child about Sex
#1 Don’t smash the Oreo.
Oreos serve as a metaphor for a powerful way to communicate. Just like they have two cookies holding the “stuff” in the middle, Oreo Cookie Communication begins and ends with positives while filling the middle of the conversation with the harder “stuff.” When you share why you love your kids and are proud of them, it surrounds the harder part of the interaction, making the whole thing easier to swallow.
#2 Do ask questions that invite them to think through sexual choices and boundaries.
Most of us figure things out by talking. So the more we hear ourselves speak out the things we hold inside our minds and hearts (that oftentimes we don’t know we’re holding), the clearer we are. As you ask strategic questions, you give your kid a gift by providing a way to clarify the position on this subject.
#3 Don’t force your kids to embrace your beliefs.
They will continue to form their own opinions on sex with or without you. If you share your concerns and hopes, coupled with respect for their thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, they will be more open to hearing the things you share.
#4 Do let them see your softer emotions.
It’s easy to have the emotion of anger take center stage while “softer” emotions, like fear or sadness, are then forced to step back or hide. Innumerable kids have told me they hate disappointing their dads, which leads me to say that when you’re vulnerable and let your kids hear you speak from your heart, you’ll bond more and see greater relational gains. As you share what you’re afraid of or what brings up sadness in you, they will most likely connect with those same emotions.
#5 Don’t react negatively when they open up with you.
This may be a hard one as you think about experiencing a strong reaction to what they tell you. If you immediately react with negativity by what you say, ask, or emote, it will shut them down. This is why you must choose to stay steady throughout the conversation. Lean into God as a Father who holds you up, and ask Him for the grace to express all the fruits of the Spirit as you listen—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
#6 Do wait until they are ready to hear about your beliefs and convictions.
We live in a cancel culture that dismisses and vehemently opposes those who disagree or believe differently than ourselves. What a tragedy to have lost our ability to honor differences. As you and your kids discuss sex, ask them if or when they will be open to hearing your beliefs. If you’re someone who adheres to biblical values on sex (which means waiting until you’re married to have sex), you can be honest without criticizing their choices or beliefs. Let this be a time to activate kindness culture in your family, starting with the two of you. In doing so, you’re modeling that there are men who live by their values.
#7 Don’t skip this conversation if they’re already sexually active.
You might be thinking that if they’ve already had sex, there’s no point in opening up this “can of worms.” Instead, here’s what I want you to consider: By talking this out with you, they may change stances going forward as they process the past experiences and then gains more insight that can apply to future relationships. And who better to lead than you?
#8 Do treat them with the respect they deserve.
If your kids have already had sex, there’s a high likelihood that the sexual experiences haven’t all been positive. They may feel used after a one-night stand or like they’re one in a long line-up of others.
#9 Don’t think of this as a one-and-done conversation.
Because your kids are always maturing and growing and changing, so will their beliefs and choices, thoughts and convictions…on everything, including sex. I encourage you to make this an annual topic of conversation. Lead by initiating dialogue in an ongoing way throughout their lifespan. Let them know you value hearing their thoughts…and about their process in formulating those thoughts.
#10 Do end by telling your kid three things you admire and appreciate.
It’s always a profound point of connection when someone gives praise and encouragement. Let’s face it: We all love hearing positive words of affirmation that fill our love buckets and breathe life into our weary souls. And when those words of life come from our dad, they’re saved in a deep heart place that can be drawn from long after they’re spoken.
If you’re ready to take action in having ‘the sex talk,’ I’ve got just what you need. Here’s the script to lead you as you initiate this delicate yet critical conversation with your kids. Let’s do this…together!
Portions of this post originally appeared at Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield’s Blog.