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I was in California earlier this year speaking at the largest Christian high school in America. The school wanted me to specifically address dating and sex…like most schools. As I began my message, I asked the audience of 2200 students to, using their cell phones, answer these 2 questions:
Question #1: Have your parents talked with you about sex?
Question #2: What do you get your information about sex?
Question #1 Answer: “ Less than 3% – 3% – of these teens said, “Yes, my parents have talked with me about sex.”
Question #2 Answer: Porn Hub!
NOTE: Porn Hub is the most visited Porn Site on the Internet.
Every minute there are 63,992 new visitors to the site, watching 207,405 videos through 57,750 searches.
What about you and your kids? What has been your experience in tackling this all too critical topic with your son/daughter?
Whatever the age of your child, you need to know:
YOUR CHILD NEEDS YOU TO GO THE DISTANCE WITH THEM.
YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO SEE YOU AS THE #1 SOURCE OF TRUST IN THEIR LIVES.
Have you ever heard yourself say something like the follow statements?
- “No one talked to me when I was young, and I did just fine.”
- “My daughter doesn’t even think about sex!”
- “If I talk to my son about sex, he’ll want to try it.”
- “I’m leaving it up to my wife.”
- “I’m leaving it up to my husband.”
- “This is the church’s responsibility.”
- “My child is too young.”
- “I don’t know what to say.”
PARENT ALERT: It sounds surprising, but students I meet everywhere tell me they actually want their parents to have this talk with them, even though it is sometimes an awkward conversation to have.
Studies show that students whose parents consistently communicate to them they do NOT want them to have sex until marriage are 50% less likely to do so.
Look, when my dad talked to my older brother and me about sex, there was a lot of squirming—on dad’s side as well as ours. So I get the discomfort. But, I also get the reality – my kids and yours are learning a lot about sex from the world!
As I say often, our kids need to see us as the #1 source of truth in their lives.
So, how do you go about having this crucial conversation with your son/daughter? What do you say? How do you become the number-one source of ongoing wisdom for your kids in the area of sexuality? It starts with keeping the lines of communication open so that this conversation happen…and continues to happen.
I know you know this truth, but I want to remind you of this before we dive deep into this topic. Because, I’m often asked this question by parents:
“How can I keep my child from having sex?” The sad but true answer is – “You can’t!” As a parent, you can do all the “right” things, and your child still may become sexually active before marriage.
No matter how hard you pray and how often you talk about sex, you cannot control the choices he or she makes. The tough news is that your son/daughter will ultimately make his or her own decisions about sex. But although you cannot control their choices, you CAN control YOUR involvement in helping them make the right choices.
Our fight as parents must equally be aggressive and unapologetic in communicating truths to our kids. It’s no longer about “the talk.” It is about consistent communication throughout their young lives.
Overwhelmingly, teens tell me that their parents are the single most influential factor in their sexual decision making. This tells me that, not only do kids want to talk to Mom and Dad about this stuff, but also they value what Mom and Dad have to say.
1. Your Child Needs To Know That You Are Approachable & Un-shockable.
Can your kids ask you anything? Anything?If not, then you must create an environment of approachability that clearly communicates: You can come to me and get answers to any questions you have about anything! Especially, about sex.
Recently I spoke with a seventeen-year-old girl who lives with her divorced father. At age thirteen she started becoming physical with a boy three years older. On several occasions she approached her father, who would not discuss the topic with her. Instead, he simply put her on birth control. She hopped around from one guy to the next. Though she never became pregnant, she did develop a sexually transmitted disease that eventually led to her cervix being removed.
The point: your son/daughter needs to see you as safe. If they come to you with any question or any concern, they need to know that you will talk rather than walk! Did you hear this – You’ve got to be ready to talk rather than walk!When it comes to these incredibly important topics, you have to be ready to talk it out, and to keep talking.
If this is a new approach for you, take some time alone with your child and work to communicate exactly this point.
You can even say something like this:
“I am trying to be better in this area – talking. Things may be somewhat uncomfortable at first for me and you. But, I want us to talk. I want us to work through these topics together. And, no matter how weird, scary, embarrassing, or shocking this may be, let’s do this together.”
I’m telling you parents – this kind of honest, raw, vulnerable parenting is the stuff our kids long for.
Now, this world, let’s call it what it is – our enemy, Satan, is going to work just as hard to convince my kids and yours that this won’t work – that this is silly – and that our kids don’t need us…so, don’t be discouraged if such a conversation does not go well at first. Stay at it! Stay at it!
2. Clearly Communicate Your Expectations.
“I really believe I will be a virgin on the day of my wedding. My parents have always talked with me about waiting. They challenged me to wait for that one special person. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I am committed thanks to the input I received from my parents.” – Alycia, 17 year-old
At a recent parenting conference, I asked parents to raise their hand if they desired their son/daughter to be a virgin on his or her wedding night. The auditorium was immediately filled with hands in the air. Then I asked, “How many of you have told them within the last month that you want them to be a virgin on their wedding night?” Less than 3 percent of hands remained in the air.
My encouragement here is to clearly and consistently articulate your expectations in this area to your children. It does not matter if your child is ten, sixteen, or twenty-two and single. If he or she is not married, your son or daughter needs to hear from you consistently that you expect them to wait until marriage to have sex.
Amy, my wife, does this all of the time with our girls. We will see a commercial, or something happen on a show or movie we are watching and time and again she will look at Bailey and Brynnan to say : “That is wrong. Having sex before marriage isn’t right, and you will always regret making that choice to do otherwise. Always.”
Parent – it is NEVER too late for you to communicate this message to your child – never.
3. Talk About What You Believe.
What do you believe about sex outside of marriage?
Do you believe that there is ever a time when it is okay to have sex outside of marriage, such as if a couple are in love, have dated for a long time, or are engaged?
These are critical questions that you must solidify answers to in your mind and heart before talking with your children.
“Flee from sexual immorality.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18:
The Greek word for sexual immorality = porneia = “all sexual sin.”
God is saying, “Run from all sexual sin!” God does not say run from it unless you are in love or engaged or really care about each other. He says run from it, period!
As a parent, you must be convinced that sexual sin is sin, no matter the situation, no matter how in love the couple feel. Take your son/daughter to this verse and show them thistruth —God’s Word. Then lead them to live by it.
4. Celebrate The Positive Side Of The Story.
Teens consistently tell me that they are sick of hearing everyone say, “Don’t have sex!” Why? Because most of the pro-abstinence information they receive today is negative. The teens have a good point!
I find that many well-intentioned adults, abstinence educators, pastors, and parents mainly focus on the negative side when trying to convince their teens to say no to sex. And most people, especially teens, do not respond well to negative persuasion. Focusing on the positive aspects of waiting and the reward that follows will make a much stronger case than only driving home the consequences that come from sex outside marriage.
“I know sex outside of marriage is wrong. I’ve heard that from Mom, Dad, church, teachers, my pastor, and more for years! Everyone has told me the bad. But I wish someone would spin it positive. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my parents or pastor once tell me something really good about sex. If sex is such a great thing from God, then why don’t we hear about how great it is?” – Heather, 15 year-old
Work to share with your kids the positive aspects of waiting until marriage. If you waited, share with them the joy that brought into your wedding night. No guilt, no comparison to a previous relationship, and no concern over emotional baggage or disease!
Sex is an amazing gift from God. When our kids choose to protect this gift and keep it within the context of His plan, THERE ARE REWARDS THAT FOLLOW. As you communicate this message, this POSITIVE message, you thencan show how following God’s plan will eliminate the possibility of hurt, pain, emotional scars, diseases, and unwanted pregnancies.
God’s plan is not designed to keep us from having fun. It is meant to protect our future fun.
5. Consider Sharing Your Story.
I have often been asked by parents, “How much should I tell my child about my past?”
This issue has been debated by authors, counselors, doctors, pastors, and more, and I realize this is a sensitive question. I have read and researched legitimate answers that support both sides well. And the fact is: disclosing such sensitive information with your children about your past is a call that ultimately you have to make.
Here are several things to consider that may help you in making the right call for you and your family.
You are real.
Here’s a fact: I am not the greatest communicator in the world. There are speakers who speak better than I do, have a greater understanding of the Bible, are funnier, smarter, and more entertaining.
But I know that students listen to me. Why? Because I show them I’m real. I’m quick to admit that I’m still learning. I’m not satisfied with where I am. I want to be a better man. I want to give God more of me today that I gave Him previously. I’m not perfect and I’m still capable of making really poor choices—but I own up to my mistakes. People see me as someone who, just like them, doesn’t have it all together.
Does your son/daughter see you as someone who is real? You don’t have to be perfect to be real. Some of the students I talk to believe their parents never did anything wrong, so they mistakenly conclude their parents would not understand or would be disappointed in knowing their struggles and failures.
Even though Gen Z’s temptations are packaged differently today than were ours, our kids still face many of the same struggles you and I faced at their age. What a powerful tool you have—your past—in helping your child see that you understand where he or she is now because you were there! I am not saying that you need to expose all the skeletons in the closet of your past, but I am saying that there can be power in discussing YOUR teen years: what temptations you faced, what you thought about sex, or possibly even how desperate you felt for someone to talk to during that time.
Your kids want to know that you understand what is going on in their lives. Helping them realize that you have been where they now walk may help them see you as someone who is approachable.
You are forgiven.
If you have never discussed the topic of sex with your child because of the wrong choices you have made in your life, remember, the past is over. If you have gone to God with your past, seeking forgiveness and freedom, then believe what He says:
“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.” – 1 John 1:8-9
Some people say that if you choose to share your past sexual mistakes with your child, he or she may respond, “Well, you did not wait until marriage to have sex, and you turned out okay.” And this may be their response. But if so, you will then have an opportunity to share the hurt you have experienced from these choices. God’s forgiveness frees you up to do this.
You are responsible only to God.
Some parents feel as though they should share all with their children about the past. Others feel as though they should never do such. It doesn’t matter what others have done—it only matters what God wants you to do. This is between you and God long before it is between you and your child. If you are considering talking with them about your past, then before you do anything else, do this:
- Ask God if, and how, He would have you use your past as a tool to communicate His plan for your child’s sex life.
- Don’t use your child’s ear for the benefit of your own emotional recovery. Make sure your intentions are fully to help them in their journey and not to unload your own guilt and pain from the past.
- Realize that questions may follow your talk, so be prepared for them. If your child asks a question you cannot fully answer, or aren’t sure how to answer at this point, be honest. Take some time to work through the answer, then return and continue the conversation.
God may want to use your past to help in protecting the future of your son/daughter. You need to be sensitive to God’s leading in this matter. And if you are sensing this is His will, then no matter how difficult it may seem, know that at the right time God will provide the right words for you to speak and the ears for your child to listen.
6. It Isn’t Just About Virginity.
It may sound strange, but Amy and I are notpraying that Bailey and Brynnan will be only be virgins on their wedding day. Instead, we are praying for their purity. Why? The word “virgin” can inadvertently become an escape word for our kids, one that gives them a false sense of appropriateness. There are many physical acts our kids can do on dates without going “all the way,” or losing ones “virginity,” that can be just as damaging spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
On the Family Strong Facebook Live Show last Monday night, I answered the number-one question about sex teens ask me.
The question: “How far is too far?”
As I stated then, when a teen asks this question, they are really asking: “How far can I go without getting into trouble?”
Or, “How much can I get away with?”
Your son/daughter needs to clearly understand that this question can be dangerous because this how-close-to-the-danger-can-I-dance-before-I-fall approach will eventually take him or her down a path to physical tragedy. Our bodies were never created for us to be able to do whatever we want on our dates, physically, and then just draw the line and stop. This is why God warns us in 1 Corinthians, as I mentioned earlier, to avoid porneia—any sexual sin—at all cost. We can’t even have a hint of it, Ephesians 5:3 talks about this, because God understands that sometimes all it takes is just a little to push you over the edge.
Remember, the key here is purity. Challenging your son/daughter to pursue a lifestyle of purity will help them understand that better than asking “How close can I get?” he or she needs to be asking, “How far away do I need to stay?”
Now, to be specific here: For some, a kiss can get them in trouble. For others, all it takes is a long hug or a touch on the leg. Even if your son/daughter doesn’t share with you such an intimate revelation about the “ledge” from which he or she can fall, you CAN help them understand how important it is to know where that ledge is, and then, to make a commitment to never approach it.
7. The World’s Good Never Trumps God’s Best.
God wants your kids and mine to experience His very best. This is true in every aspect of life, including the area of sex. But many I talk to believe that if they can come up with “good” reasons to have sex, then it must be okay. I have heard countless excuses from Gen Zs as to why they have sex before marriage, including these:
- “I’m in love.”
- “We planned ahead.”
- “I’m old enough now.”
- “Everyone else does.”
- “It was prom night.”
- “We are practicing safe sex” (the most common excuse I hear).
Our kids need to know that no matter how good it seems in the moment, nothing is ever okay that is out of God’s will for their lives.
No matter how cool sex looks on TV, no matter how romantic a sex scene is in the latest movie, no matter how glamorous, exciting, or sexy MTV makes it look, nothing is ever okay that is out of God’s will for their lives. The world’s good never trumps God’s best.
After I had spoken about sex at a high school recently, a girl approached me and said, “Jeffrey, I agree with everything you had to say today. But you don’t understand. My boyfriend and I have a really good thing going.” She then proceeded for several minutes to explain to me that they were in love, had dated several years, were going to get married soon, and so on. In her mind, all of these reasons justified her desire to have sex with him now.
Parent, God is not in the business of just making sure that your son/daughter has a good relationship with the person he or she is dating. God wants them to have the best future! In order to have the best in the future, there are times when our kids must be willing to say no to what seems good right now.
This is a HUGE point for this generation. You know this – they are the “instant gratification” generation. They want things lighting fast. They aren’t very patient.
Billboard’s Hot 100 Top 10s in 2019 are, on average, 30 seconds shorter than last year. This one fact speaks volumes about the attention spans of our kids, their lack of patience, and their constant need for something new and something more.
So, getting the “good” rather than waiting for the “best” will seem odd if not simply unrealistic to most Gen Zs because waiting for something more isn’t appealing any more.
This is why you have to continually communicate this point to your child for ALL aspects if their lives, but especially this aspect of sex: The World’s Good Never Trumps God’s Best!
8. Your Child Needs To Learn How To Say This Really Empowering Word: “No!”
“How do I say no without hurting his feelings?” This is a popular question that I hear from girls. Many girls desire to say “no” to their boyfriend’s advances toward them, physically. But many are afraid of hurting his feelings.
I have one word for these girls: “Tough. Hurt his feelings!” (Okay, that was three words!)
I often tell teens, “When you are in the moment, and things begin to really heat up on your date, you cannot wait until then to decide whether you are going to say “no” and how you are going to say it. You must be ready. Learn how to say “No.” “No” is a good word!”
Look, this is a conversation we need to be having with our kids about any topic. You know this. Our kids can be pressured into doing all kinds of things that are less than best for them. The earlier in their young lives that you work to help them be confident in who they are, in who God says they are, the more confident they become in taking a stand for these beliefs.
Yes, I know…just because my daughter’s know and hear from me that God loves them, that God made them for greatness, and that He has a wonderful plan for them doesn’t mean that they will always say “no” to what is wrong and only “yes” to what is right. I get that. But – and this is super important parents…
We can’t choose to parent based upon how we assume our kids will respond to our parenting. We have to parent in the way that teaches truth and equips our kids with truth…no matter how they choose to respond to these truths!
So, if you have a teen living at home, before your teen ever leaves the house for that party next Friday night, or before that date ever begins, your teen must have a plan. This is true whether we are talking about sex, alcohol, drugs, or with how they use their phone & specifically, their socials!
As you have probably seen time and again, teens typically do not have a problem speaking their minds. We need to teach them to use this boldness in an effective way to say no to sex and anything else that is against God’s will for their lives.
9. Tomorrow Is A New Day.
One of the biggest lies Satan wants to sell you and your kids is the lie that your past is an indicator of your future.
Please, please, please hear this! I talk with SO MANY STUDENTS who can’t get past their past.
Your son/daughter needs to know that the past is the past. God’s grace and forgiveness begin at the cross. Jesus died for all sins, including those committed by your children. No matter where your son/daughter has been or what they have done, the past is over. If they have made poor choices sexually, they can begin again. Some call that secondary virginity. One teen told me he called it being “revirginized”! Isn’t that cool!
I call it forgiveness through grace.
10. Just Be Willing.
Really, everything I’ve hit in this episode of Family Strong, you already know. I hit all of this to remind you that your kids sure are counting on you to: just be willing to go there; to be there; and to be willing to go where, honestly, many parents won’t – where many parents AREN’T willing.
Look for teachable moments, create moments of communication, in the car, at dinnertime, when you hear a song, see a movie or a commercial that is sexually motivating or is just wrong biblically – – be willing to point out this madness, be willing to go there, be willing to just be available.
The key to everything I’ve hit is to be willing to: TALK! You have to be willing to go, to get real, to get intimate. Your kids need you to talk clearly through this all with them.
Remember, if you aren’t willing to do this, who will?
All of this talk about sexuality may seem awkward at first, or perhaps even elementary, especially if your kids are older. Again, even having repeated discussions will not guarantee that your son or daughter will follow this game plan.
Here’s is what it WILL do: It will begin to establish in the mind of your son or daughter that YOU MEAN BUSINESS and are ready to fight to help your kids win the sexual war that Satan has waged on families and on this generation!
Let me encourage you with the TRUTH of God’s Word. I also encourage you to make this verse your prayer for your kids:
“God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
1. Your child will not be timid in this area.
2. That God would develop in your child a passion for courage, honor, and integrity.
3. Your child will have a love for God that burns stronger than any other love in their heart.
4. That this love would develop in them a spirit of self-control.
5. That, when tempted, your child will rely on God’s power to stand for righteousness.
That’s a lot that we covered in this episode. Please know that I have been praying this week for you. I have been praying that God would prepare your heart to receive these truths. And, I continue to pray that He will lead you as you lead your family to become: family strong!
I want to also remind you that if you haven’t received my gift for you: The Family Strong Blueprint, you can get your copy today by texting the word “family” to the number 345345.
The Family Strong Blueprint is your personal guide to helping you build a strong family. It’s a digital toolbox packed with tips and tools to help up you construct a plan to become an even stronger family. And, the best part of all – it’s free!
Again, simply text the word “family” to the number 345345 and get The Family Strong Blueprint.
Jeffrey Dean is a family influencer, author, and counselor whose mission is to help build strong families. For information about having Jeffrey speak in your community, contact our office.