“Dad, what does *!$&#! mean?”
My son’s pronunciation of the crude sexual term even at 10 years old was flawless. I kept my eyes on the road, driving as though he had asked how ice cubes are made. I took a deep breath and asked a few questions to give myself time to think of a good reply. He answered in brief. Then I provided him all the details, including a biblical perspective.
This is not a question I would have asked my dad. Shame, a dark cloud, even anger, would come with asking about much less. No, not safe.
Safety. Trust. These are characteristics I wanted my son to see in me. Ask anything. It will be okay. Don’t ask Google. Don’t ask your friends. Your mom and I are here, and we’ll always tell you the truth to the best of our ability.
Today, most moms and dads are better prepared to talk about sex than their parents, but much more is required of us because our culture is forcing sexual messages at them. It’s not just words either. Depending on the study, the average age for kids to be exposed to pornography is between the ages of 9 and 12.
Between 9 and 12…that’s the average. That means a lot of kids who are younger are seeing porn too. Many kids are going from total innocence to hard-core-you-can’t-even-imagine porn. It happened to my son. He was just 8, when another 8-year-old boy showed him porn on an iPod. This friend came from a Christian home and didn’t even have wifi because his parents wanted to protect him, but of course, he found the Internet everywhere else, from the library to McDonald’s.
Today, the refrain is, “It’s not if a child will see porn, but when.”
Parents rightfully want to preserve a child’s innocence, but knowledge about sexuality doesn’t harm their innocence. In fact, it can help preserve it. Many parents fear providing information about sex to their children will make them curious. But every kid is curious, and not talking about it leaves our children unprepared. God created sex and he made it to be good. Our job as Christian parents is to teach our children God’s plan for sex, even when our culture seeks to warp that design.
Obviously, this topic is bigger than one article, so here are basic tips and great resources to help you parent well in a sexualized culture.
Fight False Security
Fight the voice in your head that says, “This won’t happen to my child.” No parent plans for their child to be exposed to sexual content. It just happens…often when least expected. Be on guard.
Learn now, grow now, and plan how you will talk to your kids. Procrastination destroys good intentions. You’ll be tempted to say it’s too early or too late. Kill that thought because your 4-year-old and your 16-year-old need your guidance. Recently, a parent told me her 6-year-old child was exposed to porn by another 6-year-old with a smart device.
Protect Your Devices
Install Accountability and Filtering software, like Covenant Eyes (covenanteyes.com), on your devices. If a device can’t be monitored with software and lacks strong parental controls, don’t buy it. Unprotected devices are an invitation to serious issues.
Also, filtering-only is not enough; and accountability/monitoring software is a must. First, filters teach nothing, except how to get around a filter. Accountability creates conversations and opportunities for discipleship. Parents are their kids’ best resource and accountability software is simply a tool that helps parents better engage their kids about what they see and do online.
Read These Great Resources
Here are some amazing resources that will guide you in training and discipling your kids.
- Luke Gilkerson at Intoxicated on Life (intoxicatedonlife.com) has a fantastic guide called “Having the Talk.” It provides seven lessons to introduce your child to Biblical sexuality and will give you confidence and reduce confusion about what to say.
- Hal and Melanie Young have a wealth of resources on their site RaisingRealMen.com. Among them is a book they wrote called “Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality.” It’s written to and for teen guys to help them navigate our cultural minefield.
- “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” is a great book you can use with your young kids to help them understand why pornography is dangerous and how to reject it. You can find it at protectyoungminds.org.
- “Equipped: Raising Godly Digital Natives” is an easy read packed with tips that help you guide your child in a pornified world. This free e-book shows parents how to have honest conversations about self-image, sexuality, sin and shame, and provides proven methods for training children to be media literate. Get “Equipped” and other free ebooks at www.covenanteyes.com/ebooks.