Giving My Kids the Sex Talk

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Daddy, how are babies made?

I was sitting on my living room floor with my three kids while my wife was out when my six-year-old daughter asked me this question. There was no real motivation for it — simply a thought that had popped into her mind. Nevertheless, I think she had been wondering about it for a while, and I didn’t want to simply dismiss it.

My sons, ages four and three, played beside me and listened as I answered the question.

“Well,” I started, “do you remember what I told you before about sex?”

Several months earlier, my wife and I had made it a point to talk to our kids together about sex, because one of their friends from church had had a potential run-in with porn from one of his friends from school. And we wanted to make sure our kids, especially our two older ones, were prepared to handle the issue if such an incident ever happened to them.

We hadn’t gotten into the specifics of porn, but we had simply explained to them about a man’s penis being inserted into a woman’s vagina so that he could put his sperm (or “seed,” as we called it, sticking to biblical terms) into her egg.

We had said that sex was a beautiful thing God had made, but that it must remain a private matter, not shared with other people outside of marriage, and nobody else must see it.

We had told them that there were pictures and videos depicting this act on the internet, and that they are collectively called “porn.” We’d also told our kids that they must not look at porn, and they should tell one of us or the nearest adult if they ever happen to see it.

They seemed to understand what was expected of them, even if they didn’t understand what sex or porn were really all about. They gave us an affirmative “okay!” before running off to play.

Back in my living room with me and my kids, my daughter said she had forgotten what I’d said about sex earlier. So, I reminded her.

“Sex is when a man puts his penis inside his wife’s vagina to put his seed into her egg which is kind of inside her belly.”

My kids laughed.

“When that happens,” I continued, “the seed inside the egg starts to grow, and it becomes a baby. And that baby gets bigger and bigger until he or she is ready to come out of the mommy.”

“Oohh, okay,” my daughter said confidently.

“Is that how I was made?” my four-year-old son asked.

“Yep!” I replied. “That’s how all you kids were made.”

More giggles.

Then came the talks about whose birthday was next and what birthday presents each wanted.

And that was the end of it. I started making dinner after that, and my kids planned their birthday cakes for the next ten years.

When it comes to the sex talk, many parents make it into some huge ordeal that they delay until the kids reach puberty. I knew even before I had kids, though, that this was not how I wanted to raise my children. My wife agreed.

We live in a time and a society in which erotic imagery is everywhere. We can try to shield our kids from it, but they will eventually have to deal with it themselves, often with no adult around. And the age at which most children are exposed to that kind of sexual imagery is getting lower and lower, with many reports showing that children see porn for the first time between the ages of eight and eleven.

I was about ten when I saw my first hint of illicit nudity and thirteen the first time I saw real porn.

My daughter is going to be eight next year. I’m not going to wait around for her to turn thirteen before I start talking to her about the dangers all around her. She needs to be ready before that.

But knowing how to handle porn when faced with it is not the only thing my kids need when it comes to sex. I don’t want my kids to equate sexuality with evil and danger all the time. They also need to know that sex is essentially good, beautiful, and precious, a gift from God, and that we need to value it and value our bodies as God designed them.

This can’t all be downloaded into them in one, big, nerve-wracking sex talk when they’re teenagers. As the head of my family, it is my responsibility to instill into my children the understanding of the truth and goodness of God’s design from the youngest age they are able to hear it.

I know many people would say that a four-year-old child does not need to know about sex. Many would also say that teaching a child that young about sex could even damage him. But I have found no evidence to support these beliefs.

Talking to our children about what is beautiful and good, even if it is sex, does not harm them. My children have not become sex-crazed maniacs since they heard me say that sperm comes out of the penis.

Warning our children about the dangers that exist around them and what to do when they face those dangers does not harm them. It equips them with what they need to resist the onslaught of perversion that will be thrown at them from a very young age if they are ever faced with it on their own.

And talking to them about this stuff, I’ve learned, is not that difficult to do.

We don’t need to be afraid of sex talks with anyone, especially our children. On the contrary, as parents and as Christians in this dark and confused world, it is our duty.

Did anyone give you the sex talk when you were growing up? How did the sex talk go, or how did the sex talk not go? What do you think is the best way to prepare children for puberty and sexual temptation?

* Photo courtesy gracehebert, Creative Commons.

  • Bradley S

    Kevin this is amazing. I wish I had a father as wise as you when it came to this. I asked about sex when I was eight and was told by mom “It’s when a man puts his penis in the woman’s vagina, and a baby is made.” No talk about porn or masturbation. Nothing from dad at that time.

    The extent of the talk I had with my dad about sex and growing up was at age 16 (2 years after I first got hooked on gay porn). We had just finished watching Star Wars Episode II (now forever ruined) and he told me “if you get an erection, don’t touch it.” Really? I’m on the cusp of being a man and all you say is “don’t touch yourself”??

    Part of me wonders if I wouldn’t have fallen so hard and so fast with sexual addiction if my experience had been different.

    Thanks for sharing, and I applaud and honor your work as a father.

    • Ashley Lavergne

      my only question is: what did that have to do with star wars? like I can’t find the connection. it just sounds awkwardly random

      • LOL!

      • Jeff Brady

        I think it’s the only reason he remembers the movie. It was the trauma of the parental given on the heals of an unmemorable movie.

      • Bradley S

        Yeah it totally scarred me. I was like “Dad, really? Find a better time!”

    • mistaken identity

      I agree with Bradley entirely, Kevin. This is outstanding parenting. I applaud you again. As for me, I am 57 and still have not had the sex talk. My dad didn’t even think it was necessary to mention a penis and a vagina. With my kids it was pretty simple because they were raised on a little farm, and it was impossible not to see what those goats were always doing in rutting season. That lead naturally to questions and giggles. Honestly, I can’t thank God enough that your kids are being raised this way, and that some of the nonsense of my parents’ generation is being put to rest.

      You know, those light sabers have often reminded me of erections, maybe that was the connection? But I can see how that Padme kiss may have sparked it as well.

      • Kevin Frye

        Thanks, MI! I think farm kids have a very interesting upbringing compared to most other kids. I wonder what your kids will say about their childhoods when they’re older.

      • ROTFLMAO!

      • C. Marque

        I’ve had conversations with a handful of guys who had never had a “talk”, but were raised on farms! 😀
        Is that why people farm? Because it’s easier to point to the goats and say, “…that’s how son”.

        Ok, I’m not serious…

        • mistaken identity

          If that’s all the training that son gets, he will be in serious trouble. He will probably cover himself in urine and other foul bodily secretions on his honeymoon to impress his lady. It won’t likely go over so well.

    • Eddie

      Star Wars 2 aside, yes, timing was really bad. Puberty hits guys in junior high school and I would think *at least then* the sex talk should be started. High school age at 16 is “arriving late to the game.”

    • Kevin Frye

      Thanks, Bradley! I believe that if parents would at least try to talk to their kids about the truth of sexuality, even if they made some mistakes along the way, the kids would get the message that their parents were first of all experienced and knowledgeable about such matters and, secondly, loved and cared enough about their kids to try to talk to them, even if it was awkward. Of course, the advice your dad gave you about not touching your boner was not so great, I think, and also completely unexpected (did he really just bust out that question from nowhere without apparent reason?) and I would say a little follow-up discussion would be in order.

      I’ve also wondered, if my father had done more to talk to me about sexual stuff when I was young, would I have gotten into so much crap? I feel you there, man. Thanks for the comment.

  • Ashley Lavergne

    My mom tried when I was a kid. I was about 9 I guess. I had to get a training bra so my mom tried to explain puberty. I had no idea what she was talking about the entire time, and I had no idea what sex was either. I figured that out on the internet like far too many people probably have. I don’t think most of my siblings got “the talk” either. When they were little they even asked me a couple times what sex was and how it worked and I was just like “this is not something I’m about to explain to you.” One of them came home from church camp having figured it out from a dirty joke. And through all this I also see how not only are parents ill equipped for all this at many times, but church too. Even when they do a decent job at the talk, no one ever mentions that we might be attracted to the same sex. You get a variation of what one might be tempted with because supposedly we’re all tempted with the same to similar things, but that’s never even on our radar. One of my biggest things to get over when I was first dealing with this was that growing up I actually didn’t know Christians could be attracted to the same sex. I thought it was something that couldn’t “happen” to me because I am a Christian.
    All that aside. Good job man.

    • Kevin Frye

      Yeah, I remember thinking Christians couldn’t be gay, that only sinful, cursed, non-Christians dealt with such things. It’s so true that parents and the church both — the two biggest values-forming institutions in a person’s life — have been completely unprepared for helping anyone, even their own kids, understand sexuality and how to handle temptation. Hopefully there are some in the newest generation having babies who are learning from the mistakes of their parents and are actively trying to do things differently.
      Thanks for the comment and compliment!

  • Mark Buzard

    Not sure I agree with telling so much that young, but I’ll never have to worry about it since I’ll never marry or have kids. I never got the sex talk. I remember coming back to school after summer to 7th grade, and it seemed that was all the other boys were talking about. They seemed to take great delight in the fact that I knew nothing. I got my information from them and from books at the library. I am 48 years old, and my parents never, ever said anything to me about sex….. til they discovered I was gay and had been with other guys, then it was just a warning to never do it again, etc.

    • Kevin Frye

      My friends all talked about sex more than my parents did, too. My parents tried a few times to bring it up with me, but it was never very clear and it always seemed painfully awkward with no precedence for it in my life growing up. I also got a lot of information from library books and the internet (not always porn). I wonder what keeps parents so silent about this issue…….

  • I was not given the sex talk growing up. It was something dirty that grown ups did, and constantly sought after by teen idols in the movies. I found the subject confusing when I found the topic in a set of Childcraft books supplied by my neglectful. She thought I could figure out these things on my own because I was smart enough. When I didn’t and my SSA was starting to become apparent, she gave the task of explaining things to my uncle. He was uncomfortable with the topic (again, one didn’t talk about these things because they were dirty) so he showed me porn instead.
    I was appalled and disgusted seeing a naked woman for the first time, but seeing a naked man for the first time intrigued me, and only heighted my curiosity about them. It only increased my SSA and lead to many bad behaviors (my best friend killing himself didn’t help).
    When I finally had children of my own, I decided that it would be different for them (no matter how uncomfortable it made me feel). The twins asked me when they were about five, and I just flat out told them. I wasn’t graphic or anything, but explained how only a man can make sperm and it ejected out of his body in the course of sex, and when it is combined with an egg from a woman, it makes a baby. They were quite prepared when their little brother came along. The younger one never asked, so I took him aside when he was eleven and gave him the same talk. He accepted, but was thoroughly grossed out. I also warn the three of them of the dangers of pornography and that it was all over the internet, and if they felt the need to masturbate, then do it in the bathroom. So far, there has not been a problem with pornography in the house on their end and I am dealing with my own addiction (been clean seven months).

    • Kevin Frye

      Good job, Bradley! You breached the masturbation topic! Woo hoo! How old are your kids now? Are they all boys?

      • The oldest is 18 and the youngest is 13. I didn’t want them to be messed up like me.

        • Kevin Frye

          That’s beautiful. There’s really no need to hide our weaknesses from anyone, even our kids, as long as we are fighting and pushing toward holiness. I don’t think kids need to know their dads are perfect, but they should know that their dads are weak and in need of a Savior, and that they know what it’s like to struggle. The kids, in my theory, would then model that behavior when struggling with their own downfalls and know that they aren’t alone, that even their old man has been there and done that and has come out on top.

        • Your fatherly vulnerability inspires me, Bradley. Thanks for sharing some of your story with us here. Awesome.

  • Dean Samuels

    actually, as far as psychological development is concerned, ages three and four are appropriate ages to answer questions related to sex and gender. As long as the language used is age appropriate for understandability’s sake, then discussing that topic is healthy. And, as you pointed out, kids these days begin seeing sexual content all around them from an early age. Talking to them now gives them a healthy frame work to understand what is being fed to them so they can process it healthily, rather than developing a warped and confused view of sex and sexuality. Great job with this conversation, Kevin.

    • Kevin Frye

      When I was in my early twenties in the USA, I told some members of my small group that, if I ever had kids, I’d want to talk to them about sex starting when they’re around five years old. They all disagreed and said that was too young, that kids could not handle that information at that age. But I still did it, and my kids are fine. 🙂
      Thanks, Dean!

  • Fred

    It was explained to me at an early age, but oddly enough I still didn’t get it. I always had trouble understanding the topic and would frequently misunderstand what was being said to me. It took me awhile to “get it” per see, and I know this wasn’t a result of the way it was presented, but a rather genuine misunderstanding due to conflicting feelings that have confused me since being a toddler. I’m very blessed to have been brought to my faith so early in life, because I think that, without Him, my lack of understanding could have lead to some very bad consequences that were squashed by my desire to please the Lord. I didn’t understand sex at all, all that I knew was that I wanted to please the Lord and that meant I had to be careful about what I did, so I naturally avoided anything that I thought could be sexual in nature. Thank God for that!

    • Kevin Frye

      Ignorance can sometimes result in innocence, but it’s a precarious state that could also lead to terrible guilt. I often think, though, that parents and the church need to work together to maintain young people’s innocence while at the same time securing their path toward holiness. Sadly, a lot of Christians seem to think that knowledge of sexual things spoils one’s innocence. That comes with the belief that sex is in itself somehow evil and taints one’s holiness, which is not at all a biblical teaching. We should “spoil” kids’ innocence in this way if it means improving their odds of resisting evil and not falling into sin due to ignorance in the future.

      • It all harkens back to that Catholic doctrine that ALL topic of sex is dirty and must NEVER be discussed. Unfortunately, this idea carried over with the Protestant Reformation. Being away from the church for twenty years was a bad thing, but it also kept me from being religious, so I didn’t become self righteous idiot who fell hard when when something bad happened (the stroke could have been a crisis of faith for me, but instead made me believe in the Father all the more and I praise Him for that).

      • Fred

        Absolutely agreed. My parents always tried to be very open, I just had a hard time understanding. And I can see what you mean about the negative stigma innocence can create in my own life. I always as a young child felt shame and embarrassment from comments about “cute girls” and others because I saw it as immature unless it was adults. I guess my brain took this stigma a little too far. Haha!

        • Kevin Frye

          Could be!

  • Brent

    My question is at what point do you have the talk with your kids that Daddy used to be gay? I don’t want to wait until they are teens for the conversation.

    • Kevin Frye

      I’ve already talked to my kids a little about what homosexuality is, so it’s not an entirely new or foreign concept to them. I believe as they grow up hearing their parents talk freely about such things, and also freely admitting our own failures and weaknesses, it won’t be a big shock to them to find out their dad has struggled with SSA. I’m not worried about it. 🙂

      • Brent

        Thanks!

      • Brent

        What age did you start to discuss homosexuality with your kids?

        • Kevin Frye

          I don’t know. I never made it a special point to talk to them about it. I just talk about stuff at home with my wife, and my kids listen and butt in with questions, so I answer them. One time I was talking about homosexuality, and one of my kids asked what that was, so I told them.

    • I told the twins when they were seventeen. My daughter handled it well and said she wished I had told her sooner. My son didn’t talk to me for three days. He is fine with it now, and understands why I wasn’t as interested in sports as he is. My youngest son is thirteen and highly suspect that he is SSA too. He is so much like me at that age. I haven’t told him yet, but told him that he could come to me with anything no matter how bad he thinks it is. If he doesn’t tell me first, then I will tell him about me and my past when he is fourteen. We are already close (he tells me that I am the best dad ever). I hope it makes us closer.

      • Brent

        If I can ask…Why did you wait until your children were 17?

        • Honestly, I hadn’t dealt with my past until January 2016. Much of it I had repressed. In September 2012, I had a massive stroke, and one of the side effects was total memory loss. As I got my memories back, they came sporadically, including the repressed ones (imagine finding out that a guy tried to rape you) and other things. My daughter overheard me talking to the brother of my best friend who died in 1984, and when I got the memory back, it was like reliving it. It was the Holy Spirit who told me about his brother and what his name was. I told her twin brother when he was picking on his little brother, because he his so like me and I worry that he too is SSA, and I know how damaging being picked on can be to someone who is SSA (I got my first erection in the shower at summer camp and was mercilessly picked on by my peers for it).

          • Brent

            Thanks Bradley.

  • Eddie

    With your daughter being eight, that is young compared to my upbringing, but these aren’t the 1980s anymore. Kevin, I am sure you’re a dutiful father and will do what is best. As for me, I was exposed to the “sex talk” in 5th grade (10-11) and not much older than your daughter. The school brought in a registered nurse and the first thing she did before was draw male and female genitals on the chalkboard. That day we all got introduced to “penis” and “vagina” with our class clown Eric making fun at each sounding of the words. Our sex education even took on a competitive component with the class being divided into teams and posed sex ed. questions to gauge our learning. Our learning was later reinforced in junior high school with a sex ed. field trip. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t pay any mind to their explanation of the female reproductive system. I was more interested in the male reproduction system. Not that my SSA curiosity was in full swing, but rather I was a male and was only interested in information that pertained to my body. I’m a bit surprised my parents didn’t seek to take the reins on this subject, but they were certain the school system had their best interests in mind always. For parents these I think it is possible to take a piecemeal approach to sexual education using age appropriate language and terms that a child can understand and apply to the situation. As the child gets older their knowledge can be broaden as the parents see fit. Currently, I tend to view sexual education as somewhat incomplete. For example, when a young teen girl (14-18) engages in sex with a young teen boy the same age, it is possible for her to psychological attach herself or bond herself to this young man. While this young male teen dismisses her after satisfying his desire at fornication and sexual conquest. Such issues should be included on the pitfalls of premarital sex.

    • Kevin Frye

      Incomplete. Yes. Absolutely. I find it ironic that the church has been decrying for years that public school sex education is incomplete because it teaches the biology of the act but not the morality. But what alternative has the church offered? Silence? Awkwardness? Shame? Is that really more complete?

      • Eddie

        A bit of a tragic story I heard was a young woman raised in a strict conservative church was consistently told “don’t have sex” repeatedly as means to avoid fornication/premarital sex. Sadly, this mindjob backfired and screwed her value system causing her to equate sex with sin and evil. Once she got married she couldn’t bring herself to be “intimate” with her new husband.

        • Kevin Frye

          I’ve heard of stories like that before, both for men and women. I don’t think the blame can be placed entirely on the conservative church, though. There must be other factors involved to screw up somebody that much.

          • Eddie

            After reading some of your other replies here, I think I am gaining a greater understanding of your stance on sex education with your kids. It is like you’re preemptively “breaking the ice so that you remain “approachable” to your kids on the subject of sex. Should an event arise where they have questions, they can be assured you and your wife are available and open for such discussion. As opposed to when they get older they grow self-conscious and fear any potential backlash as to their need for guidance on the subject. For my parents, sex education seemed to be one of those resposibilties they could delegate to the school system. In Japan, how does the school system deal with sexual education? Do kids take health classes like we did?

          • Kevin Frye

            You have a pretty good understanding of my stance on sex education with my kids. In Japan, all public schools separate boys and girls for a day of sex education in fifth grade. I don’t know all of the details or how long it lasts or anything like that, but the students get all of the biological facts about puberty and sex without any moral guidance whatsoever. There are health and P.E. classes, too, with mandatory after-school club activities starting in seventh grade, usually involving sports or physical activity of some kind. Parents here are usually like parents in the US when it comes to puberty, sex, and relationships — shy and quiet. My wife and I are homeschooling our children, though, so we are tackling these issues ourselves.

          • Eddie

            Thank you brother for this cultural insight.

          • Kevin Frye

            You’re welcome!

  • ohne Name

    Before puberty started, my father told me what was going to happen in the following time and what erections and sex are. Probably, the talk took place when I was between 10 and 12. At that time our teacher at school had already explained where the babies come from and I had already had erections. So, the biological facts my fathers told me weren’t new for me. I think, my father did his best as far as he could. I also knew that I could always talk to him about these things if I wanted. Nevertheless, “the talk” and some similar conversations during the following years about my SSA (especially the first one, when I was 15) were extremely awkward situations. My parents virtually never talked about sex etc. in my presence. Talking with my father about sexual issues and other very personal problems felt artificial and somehow not appropriate to the relationship we were having. If I will ever be in the situation of having a family, I want to create an atmosphere where my kids can talk to me about sex-related things (and other very personal stuff in general) without feeling embarrassed.

    • Kevin Frye

      My parents would talk about sexual things sometimes, but it always carried a sense of embarrassment for them. It was obvious they were uncomfortable talking about it, at least around their kids, so they generally avoided it as much as possible.
      I like your line, “…not appropriate to the relationship we were having.” Yes. I understand that very well. My parents always told me that if I ever had any questions about life or anything at all, I could go to them and ask them. I got the hint that they were mainly referring to puberty-related issues. But if the parents don’t first take the child by the hand and lead him to that place in the relationship, then that puts the responsibility on the child to lead the parents there. The child has no idea where to go or how to get there, especially when everything the parents have put forth in the relationship up to that point has expressed embarrassment and discomfort about going to that place with the child. Thus, silence remains and the child goes on growing up feeling detached from his parents who are too scared to confront the issue with him. It is absolutely the parents’ responsibility to create the environment in which a child feels comfortable talking to them about puberty and sexuality, and the parents can do that by talking about it first and talking about it regularly and comfortably.

  • Eugene Heffron

    I don’t think I was properly taught about sex growing up. My Dad did sit me down and give me the talk when I entered puberty. I have to admit at the time I didn’t really even try to listen as I myself found it awkward probably as much as my dad did. In middle school I did have health classes that did describe sex to a degree but I think they didn’t do very well. They always said that the male ejaculates sperm and the sperm fertilizes the female egg but they never really describe how it got there. I remember being so confused as to how on earth the sperm got to the egg. Do the sperms just crawl into the woman’s skin or what? I don’t think I learned about actual intercourse until a few years later.

    • Kevin Frye

      Yeah, I was confused about the sperm-to-egg equation, too. I don’t think I even understood the penis-in-vagina concept until I watched porn. The idea of putting a body part into somebody else’s body was beyond my understanding until I actually saw it.