Online Course

Teaching Healthy Sexuality

Understanding Your Teen

Clearly, the teenager in your home is growing up in a highly sexualized culture. Yet, despite what the media may report, many young people today do have the desire to live a life of sexual integrity.

Teaching your kids healthy sexuality. That’s session four. Wow. What a subject. Now what’s amazing about it is, for many of us, and I’ll allude to this in the video, it’s awkward for us. It’s awkward for us to talk to our kids, and yet, as we say in the video, all studies show that the more powerful sex education kids receive from home, the less promiscuous they’ll be, and actually have an more effective sexual integrity. So we got to talk about this issue. It’s complicated. I know a lot of us are nervous about it. And like I said, we sometimes get awkward about it, but nevertheless, we’ve got to. You know why? Because the number one place that kids receive sex education today is on the internet. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not always going to trust the internet to be that primary source for much of anything, but especially when it comes to sex education, because the world view of the internet may be a little different than our worldview.

So as parents, we’ve got to come up with the issues, deal with the questions, and then awkwardly go about talking to our kids. And you know what? When they get older, they’re going to thank you for it. My kids did. I mean, they said I was awkward, but they thanked me for it. And so I hope you have a great conversation. After the video, then really this is for engaging in some good, healthy conversation. Don’t be shy, but as parents, let’s talk about that together.

We haven’t had the sex talk with our kids yet. How do we go about that without it being too awkward?

Yeah, well it’s going to be awkward. If you’re going to talk about sex to your kids, especially teens, it’s going to be awkward. You know, I write books on this subject, and in fact, the book, The Purity Code, is the most often used book. It’s a book for teens on sex and sexuality. And so, you know, people sometimes go, “You’re the expert,” which always cracks me up, and my wife doesn’t believe it. But my kids just said, “Dad, you think you know this really good, but you are really awkward.” And it’s true. My bald head would start sweating, my ears would turn red. It’s awkward talking about sex and sexuality. And again, it’s just going to be that way.
But this is really important. All studies show this. Now, what’s fascinating is this. Usually liberals and conservatives don’t agree. Usually Christians and non-Christians don’t agree on certain things, but they agree on this, that the more positive value-centered sex education you have with your kids at home, the less promiscuous they’ll be. Isn’t that amazing? So everybody agrees on it. They might disagree on what you say, but the fact is, as people become more comfortable in their sexuality when their parents talk to them, and yet at the same time, like my kids would say, it’s going to be awkward. So this is the awkward factor. You just live with the awkward factor.

And it’s weird. I mean, my kids, at age 11, Kathy took Kristi away. They read a book and they went to a hotel. They had a good meal. They got an outfit, because they’re girls. Guys, you just give them a tee shirt or whatever. But Kristi then engaged, and Kathy came back just going, this is amazing.

Rebecca, our middle child, with an emphasis on middle, two years later, she takes her away at age 11. And that’s a great age to have some of those conversations. And Rebecca, as Kathy starts reading the book, Rebecca puts her hands like this and she goes, “Mom, this is totally inappropriate. Close that book right now.” So Kathy actually takes a time out. She calls me and she goes, “What are you doing?” I go, “Keep reading.” So the picture in Kathy’s mind of talking to Rebecca the first time about sex was like this the whole time. Rebecca had her fingers in her ear the entire time.

And then Heidi said, at about 10 and a half, she said, ‘Hey, are you going to take me away?” “Yeah.” “Are you going to buy me a new outfit? Good. Well, could you do that earlier, because school’s starting and I need a new outfit, and I already know all that stuff about sex, because my sisters told me all that stuff anyway, but you know, you can do whatever you want, you know, let it go.”
Now if you haven’t had any conversation, it gets more awkward the older it is. So that’s one of the keys. So the more positive, healthy value-centered sex education kids receive, the less promiscuous they’ll be. Pretty incredible. Also it’s important for us to understand why it’s awkward. It’s awkward because most of us didn’t receive good positive, healthy sex education from our parents. My goodness, I can be in a crowd of 400 doing a seminar on teaching healthy sexuality, and I’ll say, “How many of you received positive value-centered sex education?”, and I’ve never had more than five people raise their hand. So we have to be the generation that changes that.

So yeah, it’s going to be awkward for us. But our kids should say, “Hey, my parents were awkward, but they still talked about it,” because then they’ll feel more comfortable. So yeah, welcome to awkward talking about sex. Sex is beautiful, wonderful. It’s created by God. It’s also awkward to talk to our kids about and do it anyway.

So what would you say is the best age to have the talk?

Well, one thing, when you say the talk, we always as parents want to have one talk. But a new study comes out of an Ivy League school that says one talk doesn’t help. It’s a dialogue. It’s community. And I realize you weren’t probably asking that question. But make sure that you don’t have one talk. Okay, I’ve talked to them. They were 11, it’s good. They know everything about sex. We’ll never have to do this again, because it was really awkward. No, it’s a continual dialogue.

Now, this may blow your mind, but I believe that the first age we start talking to our kids about sex, and we’re talking about teens, but I think the best time is three to five. Now, some people will go, oh my gosh. Well again, you’re not talking about the heavy duty stuff. God made your body. God made boys and God made girls. And you’re going to grow up to be like daddy. You’re going to grow up to be like mommy. Some, to some people, God gave blue eyes and green eyes and brown eyes. And what color are your eyes? Again, so you’re just talking like that. But you do want to tell them the right name of the private part. I can’t believe I’m saying this on video, but the truth is, is we have 11-year olds calling their private part their wing-a-ding-ding, because no one ever taught them that. We did that with Kristi. We said, “This is your nose” when she was little, “This is your mouth, this is your chin, elbow.” And then we sort of missed major parts of her body. Now, she didn’t have the cognitive ability to go, “You know what? They’re missing major parts.” So then as we changed, because with Rebecca, we taught the private part the correct name. With Heidi, we did the correct name. And it was funny, because they just took that as normal.

So again, we’re talking about adolescents here, so I don’t want to make you feel too bad if you didn’t do that. But the truth is it’s easier then. Why is it easier? Because now it’s a continual dialogue and they feel more comfortable. Since my parents never talked to me about it, it didn’t dawn on me that I would have ever asked them one question about sex. I mean, it wouldn’t even have entered my mind. They were the farthest, but it was also because they never talked about it with me. Then you get to six to nine, another developmental stage, and actually nine is just reaching in a little bit to that adolescence, preadolescence, but it’s getting there. What did they all have in common? They ask a lot of questions. So you answered their question. Now, don’t answer the question like you would a 15-year old, but answer it like a six to nine year old.

Don’t do what one mom said. Her little seven year old came home from school and said, “Mommy, what is sex?” She freaks out. Then she heard some guy like me say, answer their questions. She misunderstood it. So she gives him every detail. 45-minutes, sits him at the kitchen table. Big plate of cookies. The kid eats the entire plate of cookies, drinks all of the milk. His eyes are as big as saucers. I mean, he doesn’t breathe as she’s doing a diagram. And finally at the end she’s going, I can’t believe I’ve just said this to my seven-year old, all the details. And then she said, “Well honey, do you have any other questions? You’d only asked one. You know, what is sex?” And he just looks, he’s all confused. He pulls a paper out of his back pocket and says, “Mommy, I’m confused. I don’t know what to write. It says soccer application, Sex, M or F. What am I supposed to do?” So if the mom would have said, “Honey, why do you ask me that question?”, he would have pulled it out, said M or F, oh, you’re a man. And maybe she could’ve had a sex ed conversation in a beautiful way, but not that. So the point being is that’s a different stage.

Now, I’m going to show you something out of a book that we have at Homeward. It’s called How God Makes Babies. And I’m not going to read you the whole book, but I want to read you a section of the book, and I’m thinking about your kids with teens, but it’s actually better when it’s about six to nine. So you have these two children, they’re going like this. See this? And it says this. I’m going to read you two paragraphs.

“If anyone else ever tries to touch your private parts or ask you to touch their private parts, tell that person to stop. No matter who it is, even if it’s a friend or someone in your family, they are not allowed to touch you in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable. And if this happens, you can tell a grown up you trust right away. You can tell mommy or you can tell daddy.”

Now again, you’re going to use the word mommy or daddy. You may not do that with adolescence. But what I’m saying is we need to have that conversation. Why? Because child sexual assaults, and this goes all the way into the teens, 80% of child sexual assaults are done between someone that they know, and oftentimes they love and trust. And it could be a babysitter that who they trust or whatever. So the point being is that because parents don’t have that part of the conversation, now again, sexual abuse is not healthy sexuality, but because we didn’t have that conversation, our kids don’t know. And so sometimes things happen to them. One out of three young women, by the time they’re 19, will have a sexual abuse experience, and one out of five to six young men.

So again, when we’re talking about going back to the idea of talking to your kids about healthy sexuality, we’ve got to do that. And frankly, six to nine. You asked the age question, and I want to get to the teenage years, because that’s key and critical. You talk about most everything, but you do it in two stages. One is 10 to 14. Ten to 14 you introduce purity, you introduce sexual integrity, you introduce sexual systems, you introduce various relationship-type things. You introduce all kinds of things that are relating to the opposite sex. But then by age 14 you talk about anything and everything. You may have to deal with some issues that are uncomfortable at 10 to 14. Perhaps it would be gender identity confusion today, because that’s so big. But issues that will really make you feel uncomfortable. Masturbation, I mean there’s lots of issues that just are awkward. And so this is the time.

I would rather have you have those conversations with your kids than anybody else. So at 10 they’re going to get the conversation. Remember when I was talking about the random thing on pornography? They’re going to see pornography at age 11. So I would rather have you have the conversation, even though it is awkward going back to that theme, than somebody else. So I think that’s what we do. By age 14, I think we’re going to talk about it all.

My question is, when we’re having these talks with our teen, young teen or older teen, what’s our end goal?

Yeah, that’s a great question. What’s the end goal? Well, keep the end goal always in mind. And I think the end goal is sexual integrity. Today, they are being bombarded by really a world that has a very different worldview than a biblical worldview. And as Christians we have a different view. And so I think we have to make sure that these are men and women who have integrity. For example, living together. Now again, this gets controversial, I know, and we might have some good conversation afterwards, but when I was in high school, the vast majority of people said that they would not live with someone instead of marriage. I mean, they just wouldn’t do it. Today, the vast majority would say that they do. But the interesting side to it is that the studies show that if people who cohabitate thinking that that’s going to be good for marriage, greater divorce rate, greater amount of adultery, less sexual satisfaction. And I’m not talking about Christian input, I’m talking about the secular world saying what do we do with this? So the end goal really is sexual integrity.

And fascinating enough, what I call a healthy theology of sexuality, is something that they want to know. Healthy theology means what does God have to say about about sex? And actually the Lord talks a lot about it. So I want to give you a phrase, and it’s the phrase that we like to use at Homeward. And it’s a phrase that people are picking up on all over the world, literally, in different languages and whatnot. And it goes this way. It’s one sentence basically. In honor of God, my family, and my future spouse, I commit to sexual purity. So they’re going to commit their life to sexual purity. We’re looking for millions of kids to make that decision. Does that mean every kid, whoever makes that decision, it’s going to be perfect? No. But notice this. In honor of God. So you make it spiritual. You know, I think back in my day I could have white knuckled it, meaning I could hold on tight, and I didn’t have the God factor as much. But today, I think with all that’s going on, they have to understand what God thinks. And he doesn’t think it’s bad. He created sex. So give them that healthy theology. Like I said, God created sex. He sees it as good. Flee from sexual immorality. He doesn’t say flee from sex. He says flee from sexual immorality. So positive side of it, but God.

And then also family. See, most of us didn’t get healthy values from our families. So what you’re doing is you’re including the family values. Here’s what our family believes. Because some kids don’t know what their family believes, because the family never talked to them about it. So in honor of God, my family, and my future spouse. Now what you’re doing, most teenagers don’t, aren’t thinking about their future spouse, but now you’re teaching them to have a radical respect for their future spouse and somebody else’s future spouse. I commit to sexual purity. So in other words, we’re raising the bar, not lowering the bar. There was a season in the church where we talked about the commitment was to not have sexual intercourse. Now I’m raising the bar, because purity deals with pornography. Purity deals with some of the things that are friends with benefits and all these kind of things that today are prevalent. So we want to teach our kids this whole idea. Now, it involves four things. We call it the purity code.

Number one is we teach our kids to honor God with their body. And that’s actually found in I Corinthians 6:20 and many other places in the Bible. But are we teaching our kids to honor God with their body? Now, if we do it from a negative point of view, then that’s not going to help them. But if we do that from a positive point of view, then it can be really helpful. So honor God with your body.
Secondly, is renew your mind for good. That’s found in Romans 12:1-2. I always tell kids, I tell adults this too, that the most powerful sex organ is not your private parts. It’s your mind. So are we helping our kids live by purity by helping them learn? How can you renew your mind?

The next one goes right along with that. It’s found in Psalm 119 in the living version. It literally says, “turn your eyes from worthless things.” So what we have to do is teach our kids how powerful our eyes are, because they’re connected to our mind. So you could talk about pornography, which we’ll get into in a moment, or we could talk about other issues. But even for me, as a dad with daughters, it probably came better for me to say to our girls, I mean, we live in Southern California, we’re beach people. But at the same time I’d have to say, “Hey, guys kind of look at skin.” And my girls would always go “Ooo.” And they never, I don’t think my girls ever dressed to be sexually provocative, but they kind of were at times. They were dressing for their other friends. They’re dressing for style. But they had to hear from me, “I’d like my kids to have a turtleneck to their ankles.” That’s not going to happen. So then I had to teach them, really, about eyes, and what happens with the man’s eyes, and really, frankly, with a woman’s eyes too. So we need that conversation.

And then the last one, maybe, summary, guard your heart. So the bible says in Proverbs 4:23 “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” So my guess is, even parents, when they raise their hands, when I was a kid, my parents talked to me about sex, a lot of parents didn’t help them learn how to guard their heart. There’s kind of an offense and a defense on that. But I think when kids learn to guard their heart, now that scripture is not just a sexual scripture. We Christians tend to take it that way. But it’s guard your heart about faith. Guard your heart about money. Guard your heart about relationships. Guard your heart about a lot of things. But it’s also guard your heart truly about relationships. And so our kids are going to be in a lot less trouble and have a lot less baggage to their marriages if they learn how to guard their heart.

So purity code. In honor of God, my family, my future spouse, I commit my life to sexual purity. And you do it four ways. And that’s the goal. And is that a simple goal? No. But it’s the goal that you keep in front of them, because if you don’t give them the goal, then they’re definitely not going to live by it. Yeah.

Pornography seems to be a major problem with a majority of teenagers and just what can we do about it?

Yeah, well, pornography is a major problem in the world, and definitely with teenagers. In fact, the greatest new users of internet porn are boys ages 12 to 17. That’s not good news for you who have boys that age. You know who’s right behind them? Girls. See, we forget about that. Because boys, it’s so prevalent, and guys are so visual when it comes to the porn side. Women do something different. And this is why you who have teenage girls, you want to make sure you understand this, that teenage girls, they aren’t as excited about seeing nude bodies, although it’s changing. They’re beginning to move that way just because of the culture. But what they’ll do is they are into intimacy.

I wrote a book called Creating An Intimate Marriage. And the guys think it’s on sex and there’s one chapter on it. But women go, “Oh, he’s talking about connection.” So what girls do is they want connection, but they still want to experiment. So what they do is they change their name, they change an email, they get a different email, and they start talking. I would let you do this with me, this. And it’s actually deeper than just looking. So it does the same thing though. It goes through the frontal cortex to the stimulation package. So 12 to 17.

I already said this, but it’s key to understand that the first time your kids will see pornography is age 11 in America. Now, some of your kids won’t see pornography, and some of your kids saw pornography earlier. But 11 is kind of the magic number right now. That’s why it’s important to be able to teach healthy, positive sexuality by saying, “It’s not that, it’s this.” So if you ever catch your kids seeing pornography, and some of you will, maybe a majority anymore, what happens is, is we don’t want to just shame and freak out and make it a one topic deal. This is your opportunity at whatever age to teach them healthy sexuality. So you’re not punishing them by doing that. You’re just simply saying, well, that’s a false sense of intimacy.

But what I want to get into, and a lot of parents don’t understand this, is that there is an escalation that takes place when kids see pornography, or actually when adults see pornography. And the first one is that they view pornography. I mean, that’s going to happen. Now, remember with the girls I said they also are connecting, because pornography isn’t just looking at a naked picture. It’s also sometimes having the conversations which can go deeper. And so they take a picture, your mind takes a picture. So you look at pornography. Take a guy, and their mind took a picture, and it’s there now.

Okay, so I’m 64-years old. When I was in eighth grade, I saw a topless woman in a magazine. What do you think the magazine was? Playboy? Nope. Wasn’t Playboy. It was National Geographic. It was legal. Now, I’m not saying it was porn, and it’s not saying it’s a great picture. It was a picture of a woman standing with a spear in the water of the Amazon wearing a skirt, and she didn’t have a top on, and she had a cigarette in her mouth, and she looked really bored. I’m 64. I still have that picture in my mind. And because it was legal to have National Geographic in my room at eighth grade, it was there. And I looked at it all the time. So that was my introduction, if you would. So think about the kind of porn that kids are seeing today viewing. It’s taking a picture, and then it’s doing, and your brain. I have a picture, but now they have moving parts and all this stuff. What happened? The greatest distributor of internet pornography? 2011 it changed to be the mobile device, not even a computer. So with that, it’s private and they can be looking at it all the time. So think about how much they have the potential to. So you view pornography.

Then the next part of the escalation is addiction. Now, this is an oversimplification if you’re an addiction expert, but basically an addiction means I’d like more. So now they’ve seen it, and some kids will just go, that’s gross. I don’t want to see this anymore, no way. But a lot of them will say, I’d like some more, please. So the addiction is quick. It’s a different type of addiction than alcohol. It’s a different type, because it’s different part of your brain. So it’s a different type of addiction than alcohol, smoking, those kind of things. So now you’re kind of addicted to it. So you’re like, I’m looking at it more often. So that’s the third one, is that it escalates. So you didn’t look at it that much. But now on a regular basis, you’re looking at pornography. And so you’re beginning to warp your mind on sexuality, a healthy sexuality, when this is the case. Some of you here, and people within experiencing this small group activity, you know it, because it’s your world. So you escalate.

Then you get desensitized. And what that means is that what was gross a year ago, it’s not gross anymore. Or what was gross a month, or even two weeks ago, isn’t gross anymore. So for some reason your brain has the capacity to desire even more and you get desensitized to what was, honestly, you looked at something, you went yuck, and now you’re looking at it, because that’s the thing that stimulates you. So as parents, we got to understand this. That’s why we want to have healthy conversation. Do you only just talk about pornography? No, what you do is you talk about not that, but this. Because the last one, step five in the escalation process, is that they act it out. Now, with kids, they’re going to first typically act it out with their mind. So you’ve got a lot of kids, and this is by the way girls and guys, we always think of guys, but it’s girls and guys, but a lot of guys who begin to look at the opposite sex as a sex object. That’s not going to fare well with relationships. And it’s not going to fare well with marriage, because ultimately, you want your kids to become responsible adults who end up having a good marriage, and you’re not going to have a good marriage if you’re looking at the opposite sex as a sex object. See what I’m saying?

And so they look at the opposite sex as a sex object, and then they want to do it. So for a lot of kids, their first sex act is imitating what they saw on porn. And this is becoming now a false intimacy. Now it’s more about technique than it was about the beauty of physical intimacy. So they’re not experiencing physical intimacy, because what they’re doing is they’re acting out what they saw on a porn site. So pornography, yeah, it’s there. It’s prevalent. Now, if your kids see it, as hard, I mean, scream into the pillow. Pound on each other in love and say this can’t be, and then calmly, as much as you can, deal with your kids.

And it’s not the only issue. I mean, honestly, really good kids have made some poor choices in this area. Can it be helped? Yes. Does it take accountability? Yes. Does it take a view of healthy sexuality? Yes. Can you reorient your mind? Sure. But it’s not easy. So it’s better to have the conversations. Not that the only answer is having conversation about healthy sexuality. It’s better to have the conversations prior, because you don’t want them jumping into it. So one of the reasons, and I saw some of your faces go like this when I said, really, you talk about sexual systems, relationships, and things between 10 and 14. You do that because they’re going to see pornography. So somebody is going to introduce them to this crazy world of sexuality. Why don’t we create an opportunity to talk to them in a positive way?


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In this online course, parenting expert Jim Burns helps you navigate the change and transition to adolescence.

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