Talking To Your Kids About Sex And Dating

It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in a highly sexualized culture here in America. Here is the scary part, this sexualized culture is discipling our kids. Friends, schools, movies, and social media are having a huge impact on our children and much of it is not good. It makes no sense that the culture is talking about sex all the time but all too often the church (and parents) have nothing to say about it. As parents we must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with our kids about all the issues they are facing on a daily basis.

This past week I went away for an overnight trip with my youngest son. I used a resource called “Passport to Purity” by Dennis and Barb Rainey. With the help of this resource (cds and workbook) we probably spent about 6 hours talking about peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, etc.  We also did some fun things like going out to dinner and watching the new Spider-Man movie. I consider it my responsibility, and honor, to talk to my children about such important topics. A number of years ago I did the same thing with my oldest son and Marcie (my wife) has done so with our daughter.

One of the things that I am proud of as a father is that both of my sons learned about the birds and the bees from me. Not from some friends on the school bus. Not from a dirty movie. I love the fact that I was able to step into their life and tell them about sex, dating, and what the bible has to say about it.

passport-to-purity-by-family-life

I would strongly encourage you as a parent to take the time to talk openly, and honestly, to your kids about dating, sex and peer pressure. Passport to Purity is geared for kids who are between the ages of 10-14. If they are much older than 14 they will think Passport to Purity is a bit too childish.

So Passport to Purity is a great tool for younger kids, but what do you do if your kids are older? I would like to share with you a few parenting ideas and then give you some questions that you could use to generate a good discussion between you and your son or daughter.

A Few Ideas To Ponder

  • Get to know the young man or young woman that your child is dating. This is not weird! The only reason we think it is weird is because our culture has completely lost its way when it comes to the role parents should play in the lives of their children. What is weird is allowing your child to date someone that you don’t know. 
  • You need to talk to your kids about dealing with peer pressure. There is a HUGE amount of pressure at school to conform to a worldly lifestyle. You need to help your kids think about some biblical ways to resist negative peer pressure.
  • You need to give your kids a biblical reason to save sex for marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Hebrews 13:4, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
  • You need to give your kids a biblical reason to pursue purity in general (Leviticus 11:44-45,  1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Titus 2:11-12, Ephesians 5:3-4).
  • You need to make sure that your kids know that God’s boundaries are meant to lead them to deeper joy and contentment. God gives boundaries because he loves us and wants what is best for us.
  • Talk to your kids about the importance of dating someone who knows and loves Jesus. Missionary dating is a really bad idea. Look up and discuss 2 Corinthians 6:14 (unequally yoked).

A Few Questions To Ask Your Kids

  • What are some of the ways that you feel the impact of peer pressure? Especially in regards to dating and sex?
    • Our kids are under constant peer pressure in a variety of ways. We need to guide them and help them to understand how to resist negative peer pressure. The story of Daniel is a great place to go. A teen-age boy who glorified God by standing up under tremendous pressure.
  • Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Ask your child how these verses relate to dating, sex and peer pressure.
  • What kind of boundaries should you set when it comes to dating?
    • It’s best to set these boundaries before they begin dating.
  • Are there any other challenges you are having right now at school or life in general?
  • Are you struggling with lust or pornography?
    • “Finally Free” by Heath Lambert is a good resource for purity, pornography, and sex.
  • How should you respond to someone who is pressuring you to have sex (or is pushing past your boundaries)?
    • As parents we need to give our kids the tools to say no!
  • As a parent write down some of your own questions.
  • Ask your son or daughter if they have any questions.
  • If your child is dealing with some guilt and shame give them heavy doses of God’s grace (Psalm 86:15. 2 Corinthian 5:21, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 14:6). HERE are a few books that talk about guilt, shame and the gospel.

If you have any thoughts or questions I would love to hear from you!

Parents Must Lead The Way

Moms and dads, I know you have a lot on your hands. Life is crazy busy and at times it feels almost overwhelming to keep all the different plates spinning. I know this is true because I have three kids at home with one graduating from high school this year. So without question I understand all the hard work that you do on a day to day basis.

With that said, I want to encourage you to think about something that I believe will have a revolutionary impact on you and your family. Here it is, moving into deeper relationships in your local church. Of course I could remind you of all the places that God’s Word talks about the importance of developing meaningful relationships in the church (Proverbs 27:17, Romans 12:5, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:24-25). An understanding of God’s Word clearly reveals that one of God’s primary instruments for growing us spiritually is through relationships within the church.

But this is a post specifically for parents. So, I want to lovingly, graciously, encourage you to lead your children when it comes to helping them see the value of getting involved in the life of the church. I recently had a conversation with a man here at New Life Church. His kids are out of the house and have families of their own now. But he was thinking back to all the relationships that his kids had in the church while growing up. He was speaking fondly of older men and women who took the time to get to know his children. He spoke of how his children benefited spiritually from others who invested in them. There is so much for our children to gain, even if they don’t see it now, from rubbing shoulders with people of all ages who know and love Christ.

Can I challenge you just a bit? One of the things I hear is that “we want to give our kids the choice of whether or not they go to children’s ministry, youth group, church, etc.” I want to push back on this way of thinking. What if your 6 year old tells you that they have decided that their only source of nourishment is going to be Skittles and Mountain Dew? What if your 8 year old tells you that they have decided to stop brushing their teeth? What if your 13 year old tells you that they have decided that they no longer desire to go to school? Would you simply tell them that they need to follow their heart and make their own decisions? I certainly hope not. Here is my point. There are many instances in life where we need to lovingly guide our children because they don’t always (massive understatement) make the wisest decisions. Helping our kids make wise and godly decisions is a huge part of what it means to be a spiritual leader in the home.

Again, I know life is hard. I know life is busy. It’s hard to keep it all together. But let me wrap up this post by helping you to see what a life long blessing it will be for you and your children to make it a priority to be an active part of the church family. Involvement in the church is not just something you have to do. God has designed the church to strengthen, encourage and build you and your family up in Jesus Christ. Do we always agree with everything that happens in the church? No. Are we, and our kids, going to have to build relationships with other sinners (like us)? Yes. You won’t find the perfect church because the perfect church does not exist. Moms and dads, let’s lead the way when it comes to showing our kids the importance of deep, messy relationships in the local church.

NEW INTERVIEW with Susan and Sarah (Teens, Parenting, Dating, Avoiding High School Mistakes)

Tell us a little about yourselves.

sarah bookout garrett bookSusan and I live in southeast Tennessee. We are twin sisters with a heart to serve God and to tell the next generation the truth of God’s word. We have both worked with teens in varying capacities for a decade. We received the same questions repeatedly and wanted a way to give Biblical and practical advice to more girls who also have the same questions and no one to ask. I started the blog, Transformed4more.com, in 2016 to attempt to reach a broader audience.

You have written a book that is about teens and dating. What are some important guidelines that you believe are important for all teens when it comes to dating?

One of the most important guidelines is that teenage dating is generally not going to last. We see many teenagers pour everything in a relationship that only lasts a few months. We try to get them to realize that if they choose to date at this stage, it is simply to find out some things you would/wouldn’t like in a future spouse and to make a few good memories.

Boundaries are another significant guideline we discuss. Many of the temptations and pitfalls of dating can actually be avoided if teens set definitive boundaries. Boundaries show that you value yourself and also help “weed out” the individuals who are not pursuing a relationship for good reasons.

What would you say to a teen that wanted to grow in their knowledge of the Bible but weren’t quite sure how to go about it?

Try your best to get a mentor. Having an older person help you in this journey is a wonderful thing.

If you don’t have access to a mentor, YM360.com has great devotionals for teenagers. One of the best is actually a year long devotional called “Tracing the Thread” that takes them through the entire story of the Bible.

Also, pay attention in church and youth group. Take notes during the sermon and then try to find out more about it. A good Bible with commentary can help with this.

What would you say to a teen that just did not feel it was all that important to be involved in youth group or the church?

I would point them to Proverbs 27:17, the verse about iron sharpening iron, and Hebrews 10:25 that states, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…”.

God created us to be in community from each other and learn from one another. Studying the Bible on your own is good but being able to discuss it among a community of believers helps them think about it in a different way that may not have occurred to them before.

I would also tell them that they are not the center of the church or youth group. It’s about God. Sometimes in our “it’s all about me society” that fact can get lost. We go to church to learn about and honor God; it’s not about how we feel or what we “get out of it.”

What are some mistakes that you see teens making in high school that ends up having a negative impact on their lives?

I could honestly write another book on this. Essentially, much of it comes down to the relationships they make. Their friends have a profound influence on their decision making and can quickly lead them down a road that leads to destruction. Romantic relationships do this as well. Girls may think that having sex with their boyfriend is an expression of love, but it isn’t. It just destroys them when the relationship ends. Teenagers need to surround themselves with good, healthy, positive relationships.

They also believe that God isn’t enough. They think, “If I just made better grades, that would be enough,” or “If I just had a boyfriend, that would be enough.” Believing that God will supply all your needs is something that is hard for them to grasp and they search for many other things to make them happy that can never satisfy.

What are some books that you would recommend for teens to read?

The number one book I recommend to all teens is Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. It challenges teenagers to rise above the low expectations placed on them and excel.

For boys, I also recommend How to be a Man: The Pursuit of Christ Centered Masculinity (Student Version) by Andy Blanks and Rick Burgess.

For girls, Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh. It discusses so many lies that girls believe about themselves and how to break free. I am also a contributing writer for their blog at LiesYoungWomenBelive.com.

Another good one is Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird. It breaks down the Bible based feminine identity.

If girls are interested in dating relationships, then my book So, You Think You’re Ready to Date? is a great one. It is written in a 40 day “devotional” format and it lays a Biblical foundation for dating relationships. I did not shy away from hard topics and in the book I discuss topics like the cycle of violence, sexting, lies girls believe, and characteristics of bad boys.

We also have a “recommended resources” page on our site that discusses all of the books we recommend.

Interview with Jaquelle Crowe (This Changes Everything)

One of the things that I like to do on my blog is talk about how the gospel relates to everyday life. So when I learned that there was a new book coming out that is gospel-centered and relates to teens I was immediately interested. Jaquelle Crowe recently published a book entitled, “This Changes Everything: How The Gospel Transforms The Teen Years”. I have already started reading and discussing the book with two of my kids. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for teens or parents with teenagers. Jaquelle has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Family, what you are doing now, aspirations for the future, hobbies, etc…

Jaquelle CroweI’m 19, and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia — which is in eastern Canada. I still live at home with my parents (my dad’s a pastor, my mom’s a homemaker), younger brother, and two adorable cats. Right now I’m writing full time, hosting a podcast for youth (Age of Minority), and running an online membership site for young writers called The Young Writers Workshop. My future is an open slate — I’m currently pursuing the opportunities the Lord has put in my path (writing, mentoring, speaking, traveling) and am completely open to wherever he leads next. I would like to go to grad school, seminary probably, and one day earn my Ph.D. As far as hobbies, I love to read, exercise, listen to music and podcasts, and eat/cook. I’m an aspiring foodie and enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants and coffee shops. I’m also a health nut so I love experimenting with healthy baking.

2. What motivated you to write “This Changes Everything”?

I wanted to write This Changes Everything for two reasons. First, because it was the book I wanted to read as a younger teen but could never find. I wanted a book that didn’t sell me short as a Christian teen, that didn’t dumb anything down for me, that taught me solid theology but was also practical and fun. But secondly, I wrote it because I met more and more teens like me who wanted this kind of resource. Someone recently called it, “The Pursuit of Holiness for teenagers,” and that’s exactly what I wanted to capture — how do you pursue holiness as a teenager? I realized if there was only one book I wrote in my entire life, this was the book I needed to write.

3. What would you say to the teen that is involved in the church but is just coasting spiritually?

I think every “church kid” needs to come to the point where they realize that church attendance, tradition, or niceness doesn’t save us. I know I did. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can give us spiritual life. I would say to this coasting teen, “Examine your heart and ask yourself whether this faith is yours or merely your parents’ faith.” Jesus has no half-hearted followers. He demands everything. And if we’re saved, we’re required to pour out our whole lives in passionate, devoted obedience to him.

4. Describe a few ways that parents can get involved in the life of their teens to encourage their spiritual growth.

Regularly read and discuss God’s Word with them (my family has a time of worship each evening where we do just this and then pray together). Carve out weekly one-on-one time with your teens to talk about their spiritual life and struggles, temptations, and joys. Read a spiritual book together.

5. Christians understand that the gospel is what saves them. But the gospel is also key for our sanctification. What are some practical ways that teens can deepen their understanding and appreciation of the gospel so that it continually transforms their lives?

Read God’s Word every day — even if it’s just a chapter or a few verses. This daily discipline will do more for your spiritual life than you can possibly imagine. Pray every day. I find it helpful to set a timer to keep me focused and on track. Also, read prayers from godly saints, like the prayers in The Valley of Vision. Finally, pay attention to and invest in the teaching of God’s Word from your church — sermons, Sunday School, youth group, every time the Word is opened.

6. Can you name 3 or 4 books that you would recommend to teens to read?

Absolutely! Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle (applicable to both young men and women), Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.