Parents, we have to get ourselves equipped for this intense shepherding work! I’ve learned that the key conversations start well before we are ready to have them.
I am a mom to five kids, and my oldest is ten years old. We have already had to set strong boundaries and have all the tough conversations about sex with our oldest. I’m not sure why the necessity for these “grown-up” feeling conversations has shocked me, but it really has. I wasn’t ready to go to the deep end of “good pictures, bad pictures,” the birds and the bees, and talk about LGBTQ+ issues as well.
I will give you some context that may help you avoid jumping to conclusions about my family in a way that would exempt you from needing to have these same conversations earlier than you probably ever imagined. We aren't one of those families that just let our kids use technology or consume adult media. We homeschool our kids, attend church weekly, and have limits on what, how long, and how often our kids can use technology. We monitor our kids' friendships and have not let them have cell phone access.
Even with our diligence in guiding and guarding our children, the ugly and evil world of inappropriate media infiltrated our home. It was a wake-up call, for sure! Also, a blessing in disguise because it showed us that we have to be proactive in having an honest conversation with our kids about all the topics we really would like to avoid. Questions about and inappropriate expressions of sexuality are probably one of the toughest things our Christian kids will have to navigate in this world, especially if you have a historically consistent biblical view of sexuality that you are teaching to your children. Parents, I hate to be the one to tell you, but we have to get ourselves equipped for this intense shepherding work! I’ve learned that the key conversations start well before we are ready to have them.
LGBTQ Conversations with Our Pre-Teens and Older
Recently I was listening to one of my favorite podcasters, Jamie Ivey. She produced a series called Launch that talks solely about parenthood. I listened intently to her season two bonus episode with Preston Sprinkle, where they have a really informative conversation about LGBTQ issues that the rising generation is facing. Really you have to go listen to the whole episode!
Preston shares how ubiquitous questioning your sexual orientation is for teens and how most of the kids having these struggles come from the church. The neat lines we’ve put up as parents aren’t enough to keep at bay the cultural struggle for sexual identity that is raging in our world. We have to be ready to talk to our kids about what they are already seeing in their peers.
What I intuitively knew but did not process until now is that we have to be the ones to not just shield our kids from the prolific public affirmation of same-sex couples; we have to discuss this with them too. For a long time, our strategy was to just avoid all the shows and media with a same-sex couple featured, but even if we ban all the TV, my kids are hearing about homosexuality from their cousins and friends. As my son enters youth group, I know that in a group that welcomes 6 to 12 graders, there will be kids there that are exploring who they want to be, and we have to make sure our child is ready for these encounters with peers before we send them out into the big scary world of the youth group and beyond on their own!
How Do We Start These Tough Conversations about Faith, Sexuality, and Gender?
My husband's favorite resource as he has begun engaging our sons in these more grown-up conversations is The Intentional Father by Jon Tyson. This book has helped give him tools to converse about many topics that are essential for our boys to consider as they grow from men to boys.
Another amazing resource is The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender. This is a place to hear about how we can approach the people that struggle with questions of faith, sexuality, and gender with grace and truth. Maybe your child will struggle with this issue, but even if it’s not our kids, it will be one of their friends. The world they are growing up in is a lot more complicated when it comes to this issue than the one that we did. The center offers a small group curriculum, parenting courses, and more that help you get ready for these needed conversations as your child matures.
We have to be ready to love our kids in and out of every season they will face. If they come to you questioning, you need to allow grace and love to be what they receive. They already know what you believe. Conversations about theology are not your first response when entrusted with such a delicate confession. Hear them, see them, and love them. As time goes on and as they feel safe sharing what they are feeling, you can seek out ways to remind them of what their sexuality was created for and who they are in Christ. Truth and grace must be a part of our parenting journey as we help our kids navigate this crazy world.
I know it all sounds so scary! My kids are going to face different giants than I had to. The culture in every regard has grown more and more dismissive of the value and purpose of sexuality. Pornography has become mainstream, sex outside of marriage is expected, and many teenagers are spending their time exploring sexuality outside the bounds of a male and female experience. We can’t put our heads in the sand and ignore what our kids will see, no matter how protected they are. We have to equip them with the truth and cover them with our love and prayers.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/shironosov
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.