As an adult looking back on the images and experiences that shaped your sexuality, does it seem like some important elements were missing? As you encountered various things related to sex did you have to navigate them on your own? Did the lack of God-honoring information and the abundance of misinformation leave you vulnerable and without anyone to turn to?
The majority of parents I speak with would say yes, yes, and yes.
You may not have had anyone to process your experiences with. You may not have been protected well. You may not have received the support and information you needed. But you can forge a better way with your family today.
Several days after giving my Allies* talk to a group of parents, one of the attendees reached out to thank me. She said the timing was truly God’s as her twelve-year-old daughter had come to her sobbing and with a confession. She’d been looking at people having sex online. She was simply curious about sex, but once she’d found the videos, she continued to seek them out (which is a common response to discovering porn). She was riddled with fear, guilt, and shame.
As this mom held her sobbing daughter the thought “Be her ally” immediately came to mind. Those three words changed everything about the way she and her husband responded.
Instead of reacting with condemnation and consequences, this mom began empathizing with her child’s feelings of curiosity and arousal as well as the temptation to watch again. Soon after, Dad joined the conversation, sharing about his own struggles with porn around her age, empathizing with his child’s interest as well as her shame.
Now they’re reading good materials together and talking more openly. Their daughter is choosing healthy alternatives when the desire to view porn returns. God is using all of this to wipe away the shame and to prepare the way for more and better conversations.
These parents are creating an atmosphere in their home that will encourage their child to turn to them rather than hide from them as she encounters new challenges related to sexuality. They’re becoming her trusted resource for the information she needs. They’re becoming her ally.
What Satan meant for evil in this child’s life God is using for good. (Gen. 50:20) The darkness will not win because the light dispels it. An ally brings truth wrapped in grace, and truth sets us free.
What about your child? Would he or she feel safe talking with you about tender topics like sexuality or sexual sin?
Of all the good things you’ll teach and model for your child, very few will be as important as God-honoring sexuality. There’s nothing to fear because God will lead you. He goes before you to prepare the good works He has for you, and we at Be Broken would like to help you become the ally your child needs.
Where to Start
Just like the mom and dad I spoke of earlier, you can do this too, starting right now.
If you’re uncertain about how to begin conversations, especially with an older child, consider talking in a setting where you’re not face to face such as while hiking or sitting outdoors. You could begin with something very broad like this:
“I’ve been thinking about how things were when I was your age. Tell me what it’s like to be a ___-year-old today.”
Listen well, resisting the urge to lecture or judge. Eventually steer the conversation around to something related to relationships, bodies, porn, or sex, and then share something related from your own childhood, for example, “When I was about your age some friends showed me porn. I was kind of fascinated but instinctively I knew it was bad. But I didn’t feel safe talking with my parents about it.”
By being vulnerable first, you’ll begin to win your child’s trust.
Remember that it takes courage to talk about bodies, porn, or sex. Be encouraging of small first steps.
Gently explore what might be the root of any resistance on your child’s part. Even resistant children will appreciate the fact that you care and your desire to help. Perhaps a humble acknowledgment of the lack of conversation so far may be needed. You can even admit that it’s a little awkward for both of you but that it will get easier.
Children appreciate authenticity. Share how a lack of information impacted you and your current desire to do better for your child.
Remember, you’re building something very good, and good things take time. You’re growing a relationship founded on authenticity and grounded in truth. You’re becoming a safe place, a port in the cultural storm.
Conversations may have been missing in your home growing up. They may be lacking in the Church today. But there’s really only one way to change that, and that’s by starting conversations in our homes right now.
Be her ally.
Be his ally.
Know that you have an ally in Christ who will provide all you need for this leg of your parenting journey! Also, if there’s resistance on your part please check out the many resources Be Broken offers.
We are here for you, and if you’d like more information about bringing a presentation like Allies to your church or community, please contact us.
Schedule a Personal Ministry Consult with Anne
A Personal Ministry Consult is a 1-time confidential conversation with a member of our staff to help you gain insights and assistance from someone who has personal and professional experience in this field of ministry.
*Allies: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture is a 90-minute event for parents of toddlers through teens that presents a compassionate, relationship-based alternative to “the sex talk.” Allies is for grandparents and caregivers as well.
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski