Episode 16: How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex, a Conversation with Dr. Josh + Christi Straub

Episode 16: How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex, a Conversation with Dr. Josh + Christi Straub

This episode was recorded by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub for their podcast, In This Together. THE conversation was incredibly honored to join the In This Together podcast to discuss questions that Dr. Josh and Christi have received from parents about how to talk about sex with their kids.

From In This Together: What happens when our son is exposed to pornography at a young age? Or our daughter begins hearing about sex at school and asking you questions? Many of our own parents didn’t model for us how to have these difficult conversations with our kids. Not only that, our kids seem to be exposed to sex at even younger ages today.

In this episode, we revisit with Linda Noble and Linda Stewart, two leading voices helping parents talk to their children about body image and sex through THE Conversation Workshop. This is part two of a two part series.

In this episode, Linda and Linda discuss with us how to talk to our kids about sex through a simple, yet powerful framework of flourishing.

We discuss:

  • how to talk to our kids about difficult topics, like when they discover their private parts

  • why a Theology of the Body is an important framework for us as adults as well

  • age-appropriate ways–from preschool through the teen years–to talk to our kids about sex

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Is There a Way to Talk With Youth about Single Celibacy Without Sounding Crazy or Irrelevant?- and more FAQs!

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1. Can you share a story of  a real conversation with your kids on the topic of God and our value to Him?

If you haven’t already, consider THE conversation’s “I am a Gift” curriculum to be used at home or Sunday School. This curriculum provides lessons, including activities and discussions that provide and facilitate conversations about God’s design of human persons as body-selves as well as our inestimable value and the inestimable value of others. 

You might also find our Downloadable Conversations helpful, specifically, “Your Reflection of the Image of God” or “Image of God for Elementary.”

Other practical examples of actual conversations I’ve had and use often in order to consistently reinforce (there really is something to be said for repetition):

Example 1 (We actually borrowed the central piece of this conversation from an example that a pastor at our church shared): 

Parent: “Jane, do you know why I love you?”

(Give child the chance to answer. It usually sounds like a characteristic or ability or, “Because I’m your daughter.”)

Parent: “I love you because you are, Jane. Nothing you can do will make me love you less and nothing you can do will make me love you more. I love you because you are you.”

*This is helpful because, while not mentioning God, it builds a foundation for children to experience unconditional love and unchanging value of the person. This informs the picture of God’s love a child has in his or her mind.

Example 2:

Child: “I love you.”

Parent: “I love you most. And God loves you even more than I do, even though I don’t understand how that’s possible.”

*Speaks to value. To a child it is powerful to know that God loves me even more than my parents love me.

Example 3:

Child: Expresses negative view of self.

Parent: When appropriate say something like, “Honey, you were created by God on purpose. He purposefully created you at this time and in this place. My intention is not to put pressure on you. I’m telling you this to remind you that He made you because He wants you and loves you and wants to love others with you and through you. He loves you for who you are. Your value to Him doesn’t change on the good days or on the bad days.”

*Speaks to God’s intentional design of a person and the unchanging value of a person.

Example 4:

In the midst of meltdowns, choose to sit with a child and rub his back, or just be close. When the tantrum is over and the two of you are talking about what happened, be sure to say something like, “Even during the times that you feel unlovable, God and I are loving you and want to be with you. The way God sees you and the way I see you doesn’t change based on what you do or do not do.”

*Speaks to unchanging value of a person.

Example 5:

Look for any opportunity to remind your child or a child you know:

Adult: “When I’m with you or when I see you, I see this amazing person that God created. He created you in a way that was different from His creation of any other person.  He will never create anyone like you again! Who you are, your entire self, shows me parts of God that I have never seen or experienced before. You show me parts of Him when you, _______________________________ and when you ____________________________________.”

*Speaks to God’s intentional design of a person.


Recommended reading that can also promote real conversations that reinforce this concept regardless of age:

You are Special by Max Lucado

You are Mine by Max Lucado

God Thinks You’re Wonderful by Max Lucado

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (this theme is revisited throughout the books)

2. My kids don't necessarily believe that because you are single that you remain celibate. How do I respond to that?

I think one aspect of this conversation would sound very similar to the answer to Question #1 in our previous blog, regarding talking with kids who are already engaging in sexual activity.

In addition, I would approach this topic from a different angle.  I would begin to share with my kids about ways that God can satisfy all of our desires (we have a worksheet that can help facilitate this conversation on our Downloadable Conversations page).  Eventually we can help our kids identify the desire for sexual intimacy as a desire for connection, love and for ecstasy.  God can satisfy even these desires.  Share with your kids your own experiences of God meeting you in your own places of desire. If you feel hesitant talking about ecstatic experiences with God, do some research and discover Brother Lawrence, Teresa of Avila, Charles Spurgeon, and even old hymns that describe these. You can say something like, “I was doing some research and I found these really interesting stories of peoples’ experiences with God.  What do you think of this?????”  

We want our kids to understand in no uncertain terms, that a life as a single celibate person is not a life that is “less than” or a life of deprivation.  In fact, the apostle Paul says that he prefers it.  And in fact, Jesus Himself shows us the way to live an abundant embodied life as a single and celibate person in communion with God.

3. If we can live a fulfilling life being single, why do people long for communion and togetherness with each other?

In our workshop, we talk about the source of our creation as the eternal exchange of love that flows between the persons of the Trinity.  We were made from the love of God.  We were made for the love of God.  And we were made to be an overflow of  God’s love through our lives into the lives of others.  In other words, our lives are all about communion and togetherness from the very beginning.  Marriage is one way to live out our calling to communion and togetherness.  It is not the only way.  We can also live out a calling of single celibacy, giving and receiving love as we unselfishly give of ourselves to others and our community in non-sexual ways.  The fifth and sixth sessions of our workshop help us to teach our kids ways to expand our understanding of love into the big picture of giving life and love to others in our world.  This big picture life brings freedom to understand that we can fulfill our calling in beautiful ways outside of marriage, much like Jesus did.

4. What support is available as I/we step into the foundational concepts and the talk because more questions will come up as we step into that responsibility?

We are so glad this question was asked because support for parents or mentors who field questions in daily life is so important. It’s the reason we started THE conversation Workshop in the first place! The attractive quality of a rules-based approach is that we don’t need to step into big foundational concepts and that questions can be answered with what appears to be quick and clean responses. The problem is, that without the foundational concepts that THE conversation Workshop teaches, the “rules” don’t make much sense and what felt effective in the moment (in reality what reduces my anxiety as a parent answering difficult questions) does not really support our children in their life-long journey towards flourishing. We get that THE conversation’s approach is one that feels new and maybe unfamiliar. You’ve got this and we want you to feel supported! THE conversation offers support in the following ways:

1.    Get your questions answered! If you have been stumped by a child’s question or comment, or wonder how THE conversation might approach a certain topic, please reach out. By asking your questions and reviewing our Q&A page, you help other parents who are wondering the same thing, AND you help us to know how we can best serve you. 

2.    Attend a workshop for further depth of understanding and to be able to explore tough questions with other parents and mentors. THE conversation Workshop is both big picture and practical and really starts to solidify with repeated exposure. Whether attending for the first, second, or third time, you will make new connections and have new and helpful discussions with others that are learning along with you on behalf of kids. 

3.    THE conversation’s podcast and blog exist to support you. Listen, read, share it with friends, and keep learning how to bring these foundational concepts into your talks with kids about the body, relationships and sex.

4.    You might want something to review or return to for “the Talk” if you’d like your conversation to be in line with THE conversation’s approach that includes a Theology of the Body perspective. If you haven’t already, please visit our Downloadable Conversations page, provide your email address, and a pdf for “the Talk” as well as the pre-teen version of “the Talk” (a kind of pre-Talk talk) will be emailed to you along with other pdf resources.  

5.    Feel free to contact us directly if you have a question or are feeling the need for further support: theconversationworkshop@gmail.com

Episode 15: Kids and Body Image, A Conversation with Dr. Josh + Christi Straub

Episode 15: Kids and Body Image, A Conversation with Dr. Josh + Christi Straub

This episode was recorded by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub for their podcast, In This Together. THE conversation was incredibly honored to join the In This Together podcast to discuss questions that Dr. Josh and Christi have received from parents about kids and body image struggles. In order to discover how parents can intentionally transform conversations about body image, THE conversation explores with Dr. Josh and Christi: the incalculable and unchanging value of the human person, the truth that the body reveals the person, and God’s intentional design of our body as life-giving and love-giving. If you haven’t listened to THE conversation’s earlier podcasts about the value of the human person and the body that include how to integrate these truths into the parenting of your children, consider listening to:

The Value of the Human Person

The Body Reveals a Person

The Body and Person Are Inseparable

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How Do I Talk to My Sexually Active Child? - And Other FAQs!

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At the conclusion of every workshop. we invite questions. These questions are of high value to us as they help us and help others to think through the very practical ways that THE conversation Workshop can be implemented in our REAL life family discussions. So this month and next, we will be sharing the questions posed in our journey together as parents and mentors!

You’ll notice that there are links embedded in the answers to these questions. These links will lead you to a more in depth explanation of the concepts referred to in our answers. We’d invite you to really dive in to the resources on our website as this is a very BIG picture vision for our kids’ lives rather than a prescriptive set of rules and directions.

1. How do I address sex with my kids from a covenant point of view if they have already had sex?

I think as our kids get into the later teen years, and demonstrate resistance to any directions from us regarding life choices, we definitely need to share insights learned as they have impacted our own lives.  This might sound something like,

"I went to a workshop and learned something surprising, not at all what I expected.  The speakers talked about sex as a sign of a covenant.  God used covenants to establish relationships between Himself and His people.  For example, the rainbow was a sign of the covenant between God and the people of the earth when God made a solemn vow that He would never again flood the earth.  God describes marriage all throughout the Bible as a covenant relationship.  The sign of a marital covenant is sexual union. I found it so interesting that the implication of this was that every time a married couple has sex, they are renewing their covenantal marriage vows."  I would leave it at that and let God speak as to the implications of this for their own lives.” 

In addition, I would wait for opportunities to be as curious as I'm allowed to be about how my child is faring with an experience of sex outside of marriage.  Because we know that living according to God's design for marriage brings us a life of flourishing, we approach this topic with our kids from this perspective.  If a child begins to express that his or her life is suffering the effects of relationships conducted outside of God's design, we might gently suggest that perhaps God knows what He is talking about and longs to direct us into a life that flourishes.

2. How do I handle opposing viewpoints? (peers, adult role models w/o faith who are in the kids' lives and also talking to them)

(This answer is from our Q&A post on our website where you can actually post your questions and see answers to the questions that have come up for other people.)  

We always begin with the truth that God wants us to flourish!  This is the way that our workshop begins and the foundation we lay for our children before we begin to address topics regarding sexuality.  In our workshop we provide talking points and family discussions that can help you to establish confidence in God's goodness and His good direction for our lives in the minds and hearts of young people.  Learn more about our workshops here.  

To respond to other viewpoints, you might start with saying something like this, “We all want the best and happiest kind of life.  A lot of people don’t know who they can trust to help them figure out how to be happy.  They make choices that might be different than ours because they are just doing the best they can to be happy.  

God loves us so much and really wants us to have the happiest and best kind of life.

God is also the smartest person in the universe. We know from the Bible that God created us and because He is so smart, He knows the best way for us to experience this happiest and best kind of life.  He gives us directions for our choices in the Bible. That is why we can be sure that we can trust Him to help us make our choices.

(Here you might want to insert your own personal example of how following God’s directions led you to make a happy choice.) 

We can ask God to help us show our friends what a smart and loving God He is.  We hope that they will learn that they can trust Him to help them have the best and happiest kind of life too.”

3. How do we combat peer pressure and guide my daughters to dress in a way that is less revealing?

(If you are curious about the problem of lust and how it relates to this question, keep reading, but I’m not going to start there.)

The view of the body needs to be elevated before we can adequately respond to peer pressure to dress a certain way. THE conversation Workshop devotes an entire session to God’s design for the body. For now, consider reviewing our earlier blog and podcastentries about the body. Our focus is to elevate the body with a vision that is derived from Genesis 1 and 2 rather than a rules-based approach that never answers the question, “Why?” 

First, it would be helpful to go back and review the answer to question #2 above. We always want to bring any topic, including questions regarding dress, back to our desire to live a life that flourishes: our own and others.  Next, we want to instill and remind kids that:

“God created us all as body-selves that reveal irreplaceable and unrepeatable glimpses of Jesus to others. He designed us so that, as body-selves, we can give and receive love from others as a way of pointing others to Jesus. This includes choosing to never use my body or another’s as a means to an end. God’s desire (and mine) for you as a whole body-self is that you live the best kind of life with Him. ”

Once we have introduced these ideas, we can begin to have conversations about how my body-self engages the world around me, including through my choices with clothing. These may seem like rather philosophical ideas, but they are essential to informing our practical conversations with kids. 

In the midst of having this conversation with our kids over and over again, we can consistently pose questions about clothing choices. As we ask questions at every opportunity, we set into motion our children’s future ability to ask themselves the same questions even when we aren’t around. 

Some questions you might ask: 

1. “What is it that you really like about this outfit?” (I like this question because sometimes we misjudge motives.)

2. “What is it that you hope others will know about your whole person based on what you’re wearing today?”

3. “Does what your wearing leave you free to love other people well?” (ie. If it is uncomfortable or distracting then what a person is wearing can become an obstacle to feeling free and comfortable to love well in any variety of situations.) 

4. “Is it possible that you are dressing your body-self with the intention of using yourself or others as a means to get attention or some other end?”

If you would like to respond to this question out of concern for the problem of lust, it would be really helpful to first listen to our recent podcast about lust. I would encourage us as parents and mentors to be aware of the messages we unintentionally send when using lust as a cautionary tale to inform how girls dress. We have unintentionally communicated that, 1. boys are like animals that can’t control their lusts, 2. that only boys struggle with lust, and 3. that it is a girl’s body (contradicting our message about the body) that is at the center of the problem of lust. “Love is the great conqueror of lust,” (C.S. Lewis) and lust is not an irreversible problem. If we as adults begin the journey to redeem our view of God’s design of the embodied human person, sex, and relationships then lust becomes less of a problem as our kids move towards flourishing. I am certainly not trying to minimize lust, but instead expand our view of what lust really is (again, listen to the podcast) so that we are able to see and address the problem more clearly.

4.What if my teenager is struggling with God?

Ask your teenager lots of questions about the struggle. How does God feel about you?  How do you feel about God? What do you believe about God that causes you to feel this way?  Many times the source of this struggle is a faulty view of who God is, who we are and how God relates to us.  Try to identify and question erroneous perspectives on each of these things. You can access our podcasts and blogs to help cast a new vision for God and the relationship He desires with us.

This is where THE conversation must start. Before we can trust God’s direction for our lives, we have to come to believe that His desire is for us to live a life that flourishes. Once we resolve that issue, we are free to move forward into a discovery of His direction for our lives.

Episode 14: A Day at THE conversation Workshop: Impact and Surprises!

Episode 14: A Day at THE conversation Workshop: Impact and Surprises!

The Lindas are joined by participants in our Fresno/Clovis workshop to discuss the impact of the day. We invited perspectives from a single friend, parents of young children and a parent of adult children. Our discussion includes surprises from the day, the personal impact, and what our participants would want others to know about THE conversation Workshop.

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Single Celibacy: Our Unexamined Presuppositions Are Hurting Us!

Single Celibacy: Our Unexamined Presuppositions Are Hurting Us!

As a socially awkward and introverted teenager, I was ecstatic when I found “belonging” in a thriving high school youth group in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew in confidence and leadership in this Biblically centered environment and received so many good gifts from God. But as with everything in life, these good gifts came in a mixed bag. Once I established a circle of supportive and fun female relationships, I discovered that it was kind of “a thing” to start a Hope Chest: a chest full of household items that would be joyfully unpacked WHEN one got married and established her own household. It was our idea of a good time to visit department stores, making decisions about our future dish patterns and household color schemes and planning purchases for our chests!

Yearly we anticipated the upcoming sex and dating teaching series in youth group. We eagerly sat on the edge of our seats as we listened to the speaker tell us that sex is awesome beyond imagination in marriage. Our interpretation of the message was this: “Get married so you can experience life’s highest good with God’s stamp of approval!” And many of us did get married young and quickly as this seemed the best strategy for “following the rules” and at the same time satisfying what seemed to us to be our deepest longings and desires.

Interestingly enough, I don’t remember ever hearing a talk on the beauty of the single and celibate life.

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Episode 13: What About Lust?

Episode 13: What About Lust?

In Genesis 3, we see the serpent approaching Adam and Eve with a suggestion - a suggestion that perhaps God had been withholding "the good life" from them.  They considered and the question took root in their hearts.  They strike out on their own and grasp for MORE apart from Him.  Immediately blame, shame and suspicion entered the picture and they hid from God and each other.  In the Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II this event is described in this way: "Before the fall, there was no threat to the dignity of the person.  They desired nothing but to love as God loves.  After the fall, they covered themselves as a protection from lust."  Their choice to grasp for the good life apart from God delivered them into a realm where instead of experiencing a life of giving and receiving love, it was possible to become the vicim or perpetrator of use and abuse.  Lust had entered into our human experience.

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The Language of the Body: Helping You Talk about Sex

The Language of the Body: Helping You Talk about Sex

Does an alarm go off in your head when your child is trying to pull one over on you? One of my closest childhood friends and I were just kids when she told me that she could tell if I wasn’t being truthful because my nostrils would flare. I was so bummed that my nose(of all things)gave me away! My own kids have tells that I won’t make public, but I know them when I see them. I can actually picture it: the particular expression on each one’s face when something’s up, the way posture changes. Seriously, take a minute and visualize the signs that give it away in your kids, a child you know, or a friend. Now visualize someone close to you, so thrilled and excited or in awe that it is written all over his or her face. My husband’s face breaks into total joy with his eyes crinkling, his shoulders rising up and his mouth opening for a spontaneous laugh when he finds something really funny. I can absolutely picture him even as I type this. The body communicates in its own language!

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Episode 12: Single Celibacy, An Invitation to MORE or Deprivation?

Episode 12: Single Celibacy, An Invitation to MORE or Deprivation?

It is interesting to note that both Jesus and Paul were single and celibate.  We often fall prey to feeling sorry for those who are not married and yet how did Jesus experience the abundant kind of life apart from sex and marriage? In this episode the Lindas discuss the vocation of single celibacy, what we can learn about intimately connecting with God from those who have lived this vocation out, and ways to help our kids learn to understand it as an invitation to MORE.

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What's Sex Got To Do With It?

What's Sex Got To Do With It?

Weddings can be simple, extravagant, excruciatingly long, delightful or the best party of the year! My favorite wedding surprise was one that commenced with a procession of bridesmaids and groomsmen each playing an unusual instrument while strolling down the grassy center aisle under tall shade trees. In my day, (here comes the old lady story) we all had pretty much the same wedding: songs, slide shows, cake, sherbet and gingerale punch, nuts and mints. But I love that many weddings today are intentionally planned in a way that expresses something of “who” the bride and groom are as persons. I’m sure it’s not hard to guess some of the particular personality traits of the couple hosting the aforementioned wedding.

In an effort to showcase the individuality and unique nature of the persons entering into marital union, couples last year spent an average of $33,391 according to The Knot 2017 Real Wedding Study. Lauren Kay, who wrote an article entitled, “The Top Wedding Trends for 2018” names these among the top ten:

-asking for cash

-balloon arches

-capes

-single stem bouquets

-open fire cooking and

-Lipstick Touchup Bars!

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