Speaking with your children about sex may not always be a comfortable subject, but it is an essential topic, especially during the preteen and teen years when physical and emotional changes are taking place. An effective catalyst for this kind of discussion is for parents and teens to participate together in activities which will encourage them to ask questions, like watching television and DVDs, listening to CDs and reading books together.
Several years ago, we were watching a video with our older boys, then young teens. During one particular movie, the two main characters enter into a sexual relationship (implied, not shown) so we paused the movie and discussed the issue with them. Our sons were annoyed that we had interrupted the movie, but it was important for us to take the opportunity to talk. Since sex was portrayed as something two friends did without any sort of commitment, this was a chance for us to reinforce the truth that sex is meant to be the renewal of a couple’s marriage vows which unites husband and wife and creates life.
A DVD we highly recommend and which our sons have enjoyed is Jason and Crystalina Evert’s “Romance Without Regret.” The Everts’ humor and candor are especially refreshing. The DVD “Sex Has a Price Tag,” by Pam Stenzel is also excellent, informative and entertaining. These are positive teaching videos which are terrific if you can convince your kids to sit down and watch them, but there are many cool movies with a negative starting point from which to jump into a discussion, as in the example above.
Although reading to your children when they are very young is a wonderful way to bond with them, continuing this activity when they are older and into their teens not only helps to bond parent to child, it also can assist the parent to more fully understand what the Church teaches regarding sexuality while at the same time introducing your teen to these teachings. Some of the books that we’ve read with our teenagers are “Theology of the Body for Beginners,” by Christopher West, “If You Really Loved Me,” by Jason Evert and “Theology of the Body for Teens” by Jason and Crystalina Evert and Brian Butler.
Family prayer/rosary, attending Mass as a family and frequent confession is also recommended, especially in the teen years. Teens who are struggling with new-found sexual feelings and hormones can benefit from the graces of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist and can help them to remain chaste.
Talking with your teens about sex also presupposes that parents already have an adequate understanding of the basics on Church teaching regarding sex. Here are just a few (non-exhaustive) lines which can be memorized for when you’re chatting with your teens:
1. Chastity is a virtue which takes practice.
2. True freedom means being able to do what is right.
3. Premarital sex has consequences.
4. Sex isn’t dirty…it’s holy, and belongs in marriage.
5. Lust gets old but love endures forever.
6. Chastity doesn’t end with marriage.
For more information, refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on conjugal love (1643-1654) and on chastity and conjugal fidelity (2337- 2400).
Our teens and young adults deserve to hear the truth about the beauty and sanctity of marital sex. Participating in activities which encourage discussion can help your teens to embrace the idea that sex is a beautiful way for a married couple to achieve sanctity.
Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach