We recently finished a series in 4:TWELVE, our student ministry at Open Door, on dating and sex. I look forward to doing this particular type of series every time because it is the one series that I know for sure is going to speak to an issue that the majority of my audience is dealing with or will deal with in the near future. As I prepared for the series this year, I had the usual apprehensive parent who didn’t want their child to be a part of the series and that’s a decision I can honor and respect, however, I have also had a few parents reach out and thank me for being willing to talk about this subject with their child. I began to think though about the many other parents who have not acknowledged or given me any sort of feedback on this series and I wondered if is this indicative of how they are about their student’s dating and sex decisions. Sadly, what I hear is that many parents don’t talk with their child about sex or dating much if at all. I wish I could say that information was based on a national study, but actually it is based on a personal survey I did with some of our students.
I normally don’t include myself in our discussion groups on Sunday evenings, to give my leaders a chance to serve and lead, but for this series I decided I would be a part of one. As I asked the question, I ultimately knew the answer I would receive. I desperately hoped for a different response, but each young man in my group gave almost the exact same response. My parents haven’t or don’t talk to me about sex. I hear about it at school, in my music or on the shows I watch. Like I said, this answer shouldn’t shock or surprise me at all, but for some reason this year it hurt me. Maybe it’s because I now have a daughter who one day will face the social pressures of dating and sexuality and the weight of having a conversation to help her understand her role and worth in this world is heavy. Let me give you 5 reasons why I believe you should talk with your teenager about dating and sex.
#1- They want to hear what you have to say– This may not seem to be a true statement, and truthfully I had heard this for years and thought “Yeah, someone just wants to make parents pay more attention to their kids.” I decided to do a survey of our students in 4:TWELVE and you know what? The results showed me that the most important voice in their life is their parent’s. So mom and dad, they may not show it, they may not act like it and you may not see it until they are older, but not only do they need to hear what you have to say, they want to hear what you have to say.
#2- If you don’t, someone else will– So the truth is, even if you do talk to your student about sex and dating, someone else is still going to talk to them. But remember point #1. They want to hear what you have to say. That means, more important than their friends, teachers, coaches or even youth pastors, your voice matters. If anything, you can help temper or filter everything else they hear about sex and dating.
#3 It’s your job– I know this sounds harsh, but the fact of the matter is, you signed up for this parenting gig. It may not be what you expected, it may be easier or it may be harder, but God chose to entrust you with your kids. It may not feel like it at times, but he has equipped you and made available the wisdom and resources to do the job. It’s not easy, but I know it’s worth it!
#4 What the world says about sex and dating is pretty much against what God says– Ever since I became a dad, often when I watch TV or listen to music, it makes me angry. I mean seriously. The ideas that they are putting in our minds of how males and females are supposed to act is just scary! Males are encouraged to show their power, strength and dominion over females. Females are encouraged to be an object that is simply used for pleasure when the male says so. And what’s sad, is that many in our world listen and conform to those ideas without even realizing it! Both my pastor and I have preached on what the roles of men and women are in marriage and it’s very different than what our kids are seeing and hearing!
#5 It increases the likelihood they will talk to you about other serious issues– This may shock you, but sex and dating will probably not be the worst event or conversation you will ever have with your teen. If from an early age you can create quality, honest communication about a topic like sex or dating, it will no doubt open the door for some really great conversation on other topics as your teen navigates these important years.
I don’t write all this to shame anyone or make them feel guilty. I get it. It’s not easy to talk about these things. For many of us, because our parents didn’t talk to us about it, we really don’t have a good picture of what this looks like. In fact, I really believe it’s not from a lack of desire that many parents avoid these topics. I believe many parents don’t know where to start or what to say. I encourage you to find everyday teachable moments – that TV show that keeps bringing up sexual topics, that billboard with the questionable words, that music with the innuendo. You’ve got this mom and dad! I believe in you, your church believes in you and more importantly God believes in you!