I occasionally do a seminar called “Giving the TALK Without the Shame” where I help parents talk to their kids about sex. In the process, lots of people told me that their parents never talked to them about sex, or talked to them once and it was SO uncomfortable they vowed never to talk to their parents about sex again. There are many reasons why we don’t talk to our kids about sex…especially when an audience is present. Let’s focus on just one: “What if my kids ask me what I’ve done????”
I have a friend who had an answer to this question. “Bald-faced lie.”
But…I’m a big fan of honesty, so I wanted to offer folks different options. So here are some tips on what to do if your kid asks about your sexual history when you’re telling them about sex or giving them parental advice about how to navigate sexual territory.
- Plan a response. Expect that your child will ask, and be prepared. (They may not, and then you can breathe a sigh of relief and move on.)
- Stay general. Don’t feel pressure to give details. They don’t need to know. (And even if you told them, my guess is they would wish they didn’t know.)
- Remember that stories are powerful teachers. Especially as kids move through adolescence, our children learn through stories more than rules.
Where do I begin?
Here is a possible format for how to share about your sexual history in a redemptive way:
- Share feelings, thoughts, or factors that led to the choices you made.
- Give a general idea of choices you made.
- Be honest about consequences resulting from your choices.
- Tell about the forgiveness you’ve received from God or healing you’ve experienced since then.
- Challenge to your kids to do something different than you did.
For example, “When I was your age, I felt so lonely I would have done anything to get someone to notice me. I found out that boys liked it when I got sexually involved with them. They seemed to stick around for a while. But then, I realized that they always moved on. And what I thought was love… wasn’t. Then I just felt lonelier than I ever had. I’ve since realized that I was lonely because I thought no one would ever love me. Then I met Jesus when I was in college and experienced His love for me the first time in my life. When I remember God’s love for me, I’m able to withstand the loneliness that still comes and goes, without using your dad or other men to fill me up. I hope that your relationship with God will help you make better choices than I did.”
Don’t let your child’s curiosity keep you silent about such an important topic! Your kids need your guidance when it comes to sexuality. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). He’ll even be with you in the TALK(s).
Dr. Veronica Johnson is co-founder of Envision Counseling Clinic and is a Licensed Psychologist in Castle Rock, Colorado. She has specialized training and over 15 years of experience working with individuals who experience same-sex attractions and find themselves in conflict with other aspects of their identity, such as their spirituality. For women and teen girls who struggle with eating disorders, Veronica uses Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills to help clients regulate their emotions, particularly around food, perfection, and self-image. Having worked for PREP, Inc. Veronica is trained in PREP’s well-known and effective communication skills for couples. She is trained in EMDR, a technique used to overcome symptoms arising from traumatic experiences. She has also edited books and written articles for publication.
Dr. Johnson is devoted to love and authenticity whether in the counseling office or elsewhere. She is guided by biblical understandings of who we are and what life is about. She uses an interactive style of therapy that puts men and women at ease. Clients feel cared for, challenged, and encouraged in Dr. Johnson’s office.
Dr. Johnson obtained her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Regent University in 2012 shortly after completing her doctoral internship at Eden Counseling Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. During her doctoral training, she was an active research member at the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. Her masters degree is in Professional and Biblical Counseling from Colorado Christian University, and she is also an alumnus of Biola University, in Los Angeles, California.
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