Talking with Teens

How do I talk to my son about sex?

Question

As I was dropping off some clean laundry in my son’s room recently, I found a package of condoms on the floor.  What’s the best way to address this with him?

Answer

We applaud the fact that you are willing to discuss this with your son but before you say anything please consider these three words: delay, pray and weigh.  Delay the temptation to react to what has to be a disappointing and discouraging situation.  When we as parents allow our panic and fear to drive what we say the result is often a reaction that does more harm than good.  The reacting response tends to build walls rather than bridges.

If you are in a two-parent home spend ample time praying with your spouse as the to best way to address this issue.   If you have a small group of trusted friends you might ask them to intercede with you and for you.  Satan wants you to see this as nothing more than a problem to correct and hopes you will overreact with a condemnation that will almost guarantee your son won’t hear anything you say.  Since Romans 8:28 is true and God can cause all things to work together for good, ask God to help you turn what is a problem into an opportunity to teach and train your son in what healthy sexuality is all about.

As you pray ask God to help you weigh the pros and cons of different approaches.  Reflect on who your son is, his unique personality type, the kinds of correction he has responded positively in the past.  Weigh the best time and place to talk with him.  Weigh the pros and cons of who should say what.  You might even role play the initial part of the conversation.

When you do meet both of you need to be a part of it.  Begin with prayer and then start by asking questions.  Don’t assume.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Stop, look, ask and listen.  What does he know about sex?  Where did he learn it? From whom did he learn it?  It’s appropriate to ask about the condom, where it came from, why he has it, and if he has been or is currently sexually active.  However, in these situations about 90% of the time the young person will say something to the effect that a friend gave it to them and they weren’t planning on using it.  That may or may not be true.

Rather than belabor what you can’t prove you can choose focus on what you do know to be true.  It’s also important for him to know how very sad you are for him.  Remember that how you address this issue may be more impactful that what you actually say.  If he senses your love for him and your deep sadness for him over the potential losses he will experience if he chooses to be sexually active he will be much more likely to have an receptive spirit.

Help him understand that your greatest concern is not just what he needs to avoid but also what he needs to embrace.  In addition to possibly making choices that, in addition to putting him at risk for a sexually transmitted disease and perhaps pregnancy, he is also choosing to compromise the quality of sex that he will experience after marriage.  Paul’s teaching in I Thessalonians 4:1-8 is very clear.

This is a great opportunity for you to help re-educate him.  Surveys tell us that most Christian young people don’t learn about sex from their parents or from their church.  Their earliest teaching comes from their peers, television and the movies.  The tragic reality is that, by default, many Christian parents allow Hollywood and MTV to provide their child’s sex education.  So what has the media taught him?  He has been fed the lie of “safe sex.”  He has been fed the lie that there is nothing wrong with premarital sex and that there are no emotional, physical, mental or spiritual consequences to it.

If you and your spouse don’t have a solid foundation for healthy sexuality the starting place is for you to read Dr. Doug Rosenau’s Celebration of Sex.  If you’re not sure what to say to your son Dr. Mark Laaser gives parents great wisdom in Talking to Your Kids About Sex.  Most young people are amazed to discover that sex is God’s idea.  He made the necessary body parts to function as they do.  He designed the pleasure receptors to be bunched where they are.  These resources will help your son see sex in a new light.   May you allow God to help you seize this opportunity for you and your son.

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