Your child may ask, “Where do babies come from?” And your tween or teen have numerous questions like, “How do I handle the opposite sex?” Or your college student will wonder, “Is this the one?” We just released a new book, 10 Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Sex (Harvest House) that cover MANY more than ten questions kids ask from pre-school to premarital! Keep these principles in mind as you prepare to dialogue with your child or teen.

Talk First

Cover the basic biology before they hear about it on the playground. Talk about body changes before they happen and feelings for the opposite gender before they are interested in the opposite sex. Talk about healthy, God-ordained sex in marriage before you have to deal with distortions of sex by Satan.

Talk Enough

Give them 20 percent more information than they ask for. Be tactfully explicit—not abstract. Answer the question with a short answer first, wait for response, and then offer more details as you need to.

Talk Positively

Positive message are better than negative. Instead of saying “don’t do this or that,” try to reframe it into an affirmative. For example, instead of telling a tween or teen premarital that sex is bad, so don’t do it, tell them that sex is a good gift and that is why it is to be protected until expressed in marriage.

Talk Honestly

Use accurate medical terms instead of nicknames for body parts. Be straightforward and tell your child why you want to talk about the next layer of sexual information. And if you lacked in judgment in an area growing up, share this information at an age-appropriate time.

Talk, Then Listen

Learn to listen, not just lecture. Practice questions like: Have you heard the term _____? Do you know what _____ is? What have you heard from friends about _____? How do you feel about what I just shared? Do you have any questions about what I shared with you?

Be prepared for what you think might be the next sexual question or topic that might come up. If surprised, feel free to say, “Wow, that’s a great question. Let me get some information together for you and we’ll chat about this later.”

Talk Calmly

Don’t freak out. Some topics might come up before you want them to. Try to talk with your child gently and reasonably, without getting emotional or frazzled. Take a few breaths, pray, take a walk, or whatever you need to do so that your emotions are in check and stable.

As you pray for your child, God will give you insights either through his Word or through the leading of his Holy Spirit to help you find the right words.

Talk United

It might seem easier to talk to Mom, but teens who live in intact homes with Dad involved are much less likely to be involved in premarital sex and risky behaviors. If the father is involved as a positive, active role model for his sons and daughters, the children will make better choices. It is in your child’s best interest (if possible) to involve both parents in discussions on love, sex, and dating.

Bring God into the Talk

Moral and religious convictions do make a difference. One study indicated that girls are less likely to have premarital sex if their mothers cited moral or religious reasons in their discussions. (Conversely, the more liberal the daughter perceived her mother’s values to be, the more likely she was to have sex—and have it younger and with more partners.) In a recent study, 45 percent of teenage boys cited religion to be the main factor in their sexual decisions.

Talk Because It Makes a Difference

According to authors Stan and Brenna Jones, “The closer the child says his or her relationship is with parents, the less likely the child is to be having sex. A close relationship between parent and child appears to instill in the child the desire to want to live out the values and moral beliefs of the parent.” In a national survey more than nine of ten teens agreed that among the benefits of waiting to have sex is enjoying the respect of parents. Mom and Dad—you do make a difference!

Bill and Pam Farrel are relationship specialists, Directors of Love-Wise, and authors of over 38 books including Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and their newest, 10 Questions Kids Will Ask About Sex. www.Love-Wise.com

Publication date: March 1, 2013