(a.k.a. Being prepared to talk to your kids about sex)
When Jason Evert appeared on Above Average, we had a great long conversation about big family life and his work as a speaker and author on the topic of chastity. Listen here if you haven’t already heard the show.
Most of Jason’s work is focused on sharing his message with young people and their parents. During the show, I asked him: What can we do as parents to instill the virtues of chastity in our children for the long term?
His answer can be broken down into 8 main points:
1. Amp up your interior life
“First and foremost is your own interior life of prayer.”
If your prayer life is solid, considering fasting. Offer up this “suffering” for the healthy development of your children.
2. Set the standards and clearly communicate
“Set the standard high and make it clear: abstinence until marriage.”
If you start including the ‘just in case’ caveats, your kids will think you’re OK with the ‘just in case’ situations. Jason: “Don’t even go there.”
3. Be a parent, not a buddy
“Our kids have enough buddies, but they’ve only got one mom and dad.”
4. Delay dating
“There’s wisdom in delaying the onset of dating.”
Jason: If kids start dating in junior high, 80-90% of them lose their virginity by the middle of high school. If they start dating at 16 or older, about 80% are still virgins in the middle of high school.
5. Monitor Internet and media content
There’s a lot of stuff online that your kids should not see. (Duh.) Guard their hearts and pay attention to what’s coming into your home (and cell phones). Jason recommends Covenant Eyes as a filter since it not only monitors content, but has an accountability component for when lines get crossed.
6. Skip “The Talk”!
“Don’t just give your kids ‘The Talk.’ Give them thousands of them!”
One talk won’t prevent your kids from making bad decisions. As with any kind of learning, educating your children about sexual morality and chastity has to be a process. Start with small concepts at a young age and get more advanced based on the child’s age and maturity.
7. Share the duties
“Mom’s got to talk, dad’s got to talk”
Mom and Dad both need to be involved. Obviously Mom should talk to the girls about some things, and Dad to the boys. But generally speaking, since this is a conversation that should unfold over years, your children need to know that both parents are on the same page and care about their children learning the virtue and value of chastity.
8. Model the behavior you want to see in your kids
“Practice the virtue in your own marriage.”
We’re big fans of what Jason had to say about this: “Your kids aren’t always going to obey you, but I think they’ll never fail to imitate you.”
Check out the video of this part of the podcast for more details:
Lance: What can we do as parents to instill the virtue of chastity in our children for the long term?
Just a quick bullet list of things you could do:
First and foremost is your own interior life of prayer. That’s the most important thing. You may think, “Oh, I’ve already been doing that.” Then fast, as well. Offer up your suffering. That interior life is the most important.
Secondly, I’d throw out there: set the standard high and make it clear: abstinence until marriage. Not, “We want you to be abstinent until marriage, but if you’re going to do it anyway, at least use protection.” Don’t even go there. Because you don’t do that with drinking and drugs: “Now don’t drink and drive, but if you’re gonna drink and drive then go on the slow lane of the freeway.” We don’t do that.
Thirdly, be a parent first, and not a buddy. Our kids have enough buddies, but they’ve only got one mom and dad. Stick to your guns.
Fourth, I would say: When should they start dating? If the kids start dating in junior high, about 80-90% of them lose their virginity by the middle of high school. If they start dating at 16 or older, about 80% are still virgins in the middle of high school. There’s wisdom in delaying the onset of dating. Because when you date someone, it’s like getting on the freeway. There’s only two exits: breakup and marriage. And if that’s the case then they realize that they can make a better dating decision.
… I think a couple more points that could be made.
One, Internet and media safety. Make sure you’ve got a filter on that computer. Go to conveanteyes.com for a good Internet accountability software program that you could use.
Other things, don’t just give your kids “the talk.” Give them thousands of them! A lot of parents are like, “When should I talk to my kids about abstinence? When should I give my kid ’the talk’?” Like it’s this bomb you drop on your kid when he’s 12 and it’s going to inoculate him from lust for the rest of his natural life. They’ve got to hear about this (from the time) they’re 2 or 3 years old – not the birds and the bees, but the basic building blocks. And as they get older… This is a conversation, it’s not just some big lecture that you give them.
In closing, just get over your insecurities about talking about this stuff. And Mom’s got to talk, dad’s got to talk. It can’t just be dumped on mom: “Well you’re the mother. You’re the ethical person around here. You talk to them about this.” Dad’s got to be speaking, as well.
And then, lastly, ultimately, just to practice that virtue as parents in your own marriage. Because your kids aren’t always going to obey you, but I think they’ll never fail to imitate you.