How to Reduce Teen Sexual Activity
A Baptist, a pediatrician, and an executive from Planned Parenthood walked into a bar to try to resolve how to reduce teen sexual activity…
I guess the first sign that this is a joke is the fact that a Baptist actually walked into a bar. Sadly, this has to be a joke, because everyone knows that there is no way that these three would ever listen to each other… even though all three of them would probably agree on the one practice that could reduce teen sexual activity.
It’s true. There is one habit parents could employ that would truly make a difference in the lives of teenagers today, equipping them to make better decisions in the area of sex and intimacy. It’s the one thing every expert agrees on.
That’s the funny part—agreeing on something. I spend anywhere from three to ten hours a week reading research and opinions about today’s teens and tweens. And when it comes to parenting practices, especially in the area of preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections… no one agrees!
Except about one thing.
Last month Planned Parenthood supported research published in the Journal of School Health titled, Protective Effects of Middle School Comprehensive Sex Education with Family Involvement. The thrust of this report was simple: talk with your kids about sex.
Sure, Planned Parenthood thinks these conversations should probably be something like, “Since we know you can’t help yourselves and you’re going to have sex, then consider wearing a condom to protect yourselves.”
This, of course, gets conservatives all upset… so upset that they miss the kernel of truth in this approach: communication.
If we look at the polar opposite opinion of Planned Parenthood, you’d find abstinence educators like Pam Stenzel. Pam educates young people about the risks of sexual activity, making liberals quite irate. Interesting enough, you don’t have to look very far into her books, curriculum or interviews to discover her primary message to parents: talk with your kids about sex.
Let’s rewind a few years and look at another report from a secular group of doctors publishing their findings in the Journal Pediatrics. You know, the same journal that advised parents to limit screen time, not allow screens in bedrooms, and “co-view” media with kids so you can talk about important family values. Well, this particular study was called Beyond the Big Talk and its premise was clear. “Parents should consider having repeated discussions with their children about many aspects of sex instead of one big talk.” Not just one talk… many. In other words: talk with your kids about sex continually.
How about if I ask you to open up your Bibles to Deuteronomy 6:4-8? Talk to your kids about God’s truth all the time: morning, night, walking along the road, going to bed at night. Ongoing conversations. Maybe you’ve heard that one preached far too many times. How about Psalm 78:1-4
1 O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
2 for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
3 stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
4 We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
What lessons do you think God wants to teach us from our past? What truths should we be careful NOT to hide from our children?
Have you read your kids the book of Genesis? Have you read the story of a naked man in a garden, then God looking down from heaven and saying, “It’s not good for man to be alone,” and then POOF… a naked woman?
Have you opened up Proverbs 5:18-23 and shared with your son how satisfying our wife can be sexually, yet how ensnared we can become by the breasts of a promiscuous woman?
That’s the big difference you’ll see about the conversations we have with our children. Our conversations aren’t just about biology—they are about morality. We should be talking about both (the Proverbs passage does).
And funny, the Bible doesn’t hold back the explicit details. Why do we?
Have you talked explicitly and continually with your kids about sex?
It’s the one thing everyone… I mean everyone… agrees we should be doing consistently.
“In a world of explicit lies, today’s kids need parents who aren’t afraid to tell them the explicit truth.”
Are you ready to engage in these explicit conversations? Or are the liberals correct? Are we “simply telling them not to do it” and just “making them feel bad about the sex they’re having”?
As frustrating as it is living in a world with sexually charged messages popping up all around us on every screen and every magazine cover—parents have plenty of opportunities to dialogue about truth.
“Oh, you also noticed that magazine at the grocery checkstand? So why do you think it’s saying ‘An affair can boost your marriage?’ How do you think that’s working for them?”
“Wow, Adam Levine is having a one night stand with that random girl in that music video. What message do you think young people are gleaning from this video? Is it true? What are some of the consequences of these kinds of hookups?”
Are you having these continual conversations with your kids about sex?
Are you creating a comfortable climate of continual conversations so your kids will come to you with their questions… or will they go to Google? (I wonder what they will discover there?)
Jonathan McKee is the author of over a dozen books including Get Your Teenager Talking, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers, and the upcoming More Than Just The Talk. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events worldwide, all while providing free resources on TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori and his three kids live in Northern California. JonathanMcKeeWrites.com / Twitter.com/InJonathansHead