Monday, April 6, 2009

A Reader's Favorite- teaching kids about healthy marital sex

One reader posted some parental concerns as her favorite topic.
Listen to what she shared:

"How do we pass on good, healthy attitudes toward sex to our children? My parents meant well, but the little bit we learned was not passed on easily or well - and only from my father. We would love to encourage our sons and their spouses (1 present, 2 future) to enjoy each other to the fullest, and to understand the important role sex can (& should!) play in helping them create the most intimate and satisfying relationship possible.
They will be blessed in so many ways if they keep their sex life flourishing - but how do we express this in a non-offensive ("Oh, Mom! Yuck!), non-gross way? Our sex life has made everything else about our marriage so much better; the intimacy is incredible. They deserve the same. Do we just hope they figure it out for themselves? How have others approached this?"

A few thoughts of my own before you all respond---

Healthy attitudes about sex do not come about through osmosis. They will be "caught" but they also have to be "taught". Even with young married kids or single adult kids, there is no reason why parents can't sit them down and have an informative discussion about marital sex. Our kids are 21 and 18. They are still single and have never had sex. They've heard every embarrassing thing they could possibly hear from us on this topic but they will hear much more as time goes on. We even plan to discuss it with them and their future husbands to help assure that both of them get off on the right foot and on the same page. If they get embarrassed they will have to get over it.

GR and I have given marriage books as wedding gifts to nieces and nephews... some of the books recommended on TMB and even a few others. Some of their initial reactions expressed to their parents upon receiving these books were, "OMG, Aunt Gemma and Uncle GR sent marriage books. I can't believe they sent this!" To which their parents replied, "Well, duh... what do you think? They have sex like everybody else." Their parents tell us that their married kids read the books often.

How do we express this topic to our kids? In a very straight-forward, direct manner. (How else would I do it?) So, no, I wouldn't recommend sitting back and hoping that our married kids can figure it out. Look how many TMB members didn't figure it out with their spouse! Don't leave that to chance. Just deal with it.

For those concerned about teaching healthy sex ed to kids in their formative years---

This is a Christian series that we've used: "Let's Talk About Sex". The age range that each book is written for is as follows:

Why Boys & Girls are Different, ages 3-5
Where Do Babies Come From, ages 6-8
How You Are Changing, ages 8-11
Sex and the New You, ages 11-14
Love, Sex & God, ages 14 to young adult

Using a set of age-appropriate books like this gives you a guideline from little on up for how much detail to share. It's always best as an ongoing talk rather than "the talk". (I hate to hear a parent say, "We had the talk," as if one talk does it.) Pay attention to how your church presents marital sex to the teens. If kids only hear from church that "all sex is dirty" then the kids will make it dirty. But if they hear how wonderful sex is in the context of a healthy marriage, then they will believe the truth and look forward to the day when they are married and can "taste and see" for themselves.

I am so thankful that our church's clergy are totally comfortable in discussing these topics to groups of teens during retreats and summer camps. Most of our priests are married and the ones who oversee the teens' retreats embarrass the heck out of the kids but it's done in a positive way. They make no bones about telling the kids to wait until marriage and that marital sex is hot. By the time your kids are 18-20 years old these discussions should be second nature and by the time they are engaged, they are ready to hear the "dirty details" so they can apply it to their own marriage, lol.

I'm sure others have good things to share on this topic. Let's here it.


Mark 9:24 said...

This is an topic that I will be watching with great interest, as this is an area that my DW and I have not done a lot about. Some, but not a lot.


Gemma said...

Well, roll up your sleeves and get to work, Mark :-). Your kids are waiting to learn it and if any of them are 8-10 years old or older they've probably already begun hearing the wrong stuff from other kids at school. And the old theory that they'll ask when they are ready to know something--- That doesn't fly. By the time they understand enough to ask a question, they have already spent time trying to figure it out on their own.

job29man said...

We have one "the talk" as they approach puberty. That talk is about their changing bodies. Then we talk about sex little by little over the years as it comes up, and as opportunities present themselves. We study the Bible together as a family, with me leading. And in the OT there is a LOT of sex! So it is pack with starters

One thing I liked in one of our past churches was an annual "parents panel" discussion. We'd put about 5 couples up front behind a long table, with microphones. And all the Youth got to write down questions and put them in a basket. The questions were read aloud by a moderator and the parents would answer. Parents were chosen for their healthy marriages, and their ability to answer tough questions directly and honestly. The adults were between 30 and 80 years old.

Very cool! Many of the questions were about marital relations.

Gemma, we also always give marriage books to newlyweds, especially to our own. We give our kids big bottles of Astroglide at their weddings too!

The other year I took my FSIL out for a drive the morning before their wedding and we had a very friendly and very specific conversation about sex, and especially about "the first time".

About a month before their wedding we start talking about "technique". But we work on their attitudes from the time they can understand. They get to see DW and I shamelessly flirting with each other, and every reference to sex is accompanied by a big grin, and maybe a comment about how it's even better than chocolate ice cream...(wink)

We have NEVER gotten the "EEEUUUUWWWW" response from the kids!

Gemma said...

Job said: "And in the OT there is a LOT of sex! So it is pack with starters."

Job, maybe you could post some of your OT findings for others here to read? .. if it's not too much trouble.

I liked the idea of the parents panel on sex.

bunnyhunch said...

When our sons were growing up, we talked with them about sexuality. We used the book "What's the Big Deal," which they read on their own, though they were given the option to read it with one of us. We, as well as others we respect, taught them as best we could and tried to keep the lines of communication open through the years.

All three are adults now; one is married. Two of the three are well-grounded in all aspects of their lives. The third rebelled so hard against us all through his adolescent and teen years, he missed much of what needed to be caught: seeing the day-to-day interaction, love, affection, respect and other ingredients necessary in a healthy relationship, married or not. His views on relationships and sex are quite skewed. His brothers, on the other hand, are flourishing. Our married son seems to be doing very well. Knowing how sex often takes a back seat when children enter the picture, we encourage him and his wife to give their physical relationship the priority it deserves.

Though the point of my missive is somewhat vague, what I’m trying to say is that while the teaching important, it is just as vital that the catching happens too, particularly from parents. Gemma and Job Man, you both obviously on the right track. I appreciate how you are handling the issue of sex so boldly within your families. It is inspiring.

Mark 9:24 said...

Job, maybe you could post some of your OT findings for others here to read? .. if it's not too much trouble.

Yes Job, please do!


Mark 9:24 said...

bunnyhunch said:
We used the book "What's the Big Deal," which they read on their own, though they were given the option to read it with one of us.

Is this the book you're refering too?


bunnyhunch said...


I think the one you sent the link for is the next one in the series; ours was for 8- to 10-year-olds. Maybe we had both, but this is the one I remember most.

Mark 9:24 said...

Thank you for the link to the book bunnyhunch. I'll be ordering the book today.


bunnyhunch said...

JobMan, I like your idea of putting together a panel discussion on sex, especially since you included participants with such a wide age range. What a great way for the youth & young adults to learn!

My church has been fairly silent on the issue of sex. At some point I may suggest a panel discussion as you have written about.

My choice of wedding gifts has definitely changed. No more cookbooks, etc. - Sheet Music and the like will be given from now on. Astroglide might still be a bit too personal, though. ;)