MADE Blog MS - Week 1

Title: Should I talk about sex with my middle schooler?  

The big question on many family’s radar is when to bring up the topic of sex with children. First, let’s qualify what we’re talking about when we say discussing sex/sex culture. This blog post assumes you have already discussed what sex is, the different biological functions and differences between men and women, and that no adult or peer should be touching/asking for sexual activity. If not, check out these two articles:

Therefore, assuming biology class has concluded, what this blog post is talking about is engaging your middle schoolers in conversation about the sexual culture that is very present in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and South Charlotte (and yes, it’s present inside of the church, outside of the church, public school, private school, and homeschool co-ops.) Sex culture is just that: the cultural view of sexuality, sexual activity, etc. And by the time a student enters middle school, it is safe to assume they are versed in their local sex culture. For 6th graders this will look different than in 8th grade, but that’s no reason to delay.

Did you know that the average first-time exposure to pornography was 11 years old in 2016? I made sure to say in 2016, because technology has only advanced in the last 3 years. In 2014, it was estimated that 88% of all youth between 14-18 had regular access to the internet. Fast-forward 5 years later and that number is higher in percentages and lower in age access. Furthermore, over 60% of families give children a smartphone between ages 10-11 (20% give a phone to children between 8-9 years old) which is exactly the same timeframe national statistics show initial porn exposure.

Now if you’re already defensive for your 11 year old son or daughter and thinking how terrible it is that the church would question their digital purity, calm down. Most of the time, the first-time exposure to pornography is either involuntary or innocent in motivation. Meaning? In research conducted in Great Britain, 60% of students surveyed reported accessing pornography to fill in the gaps of their sex-ed classes or awkward “talks” from their family. Think about that...they went looking for the answers to the questions they didn’t know they could ask. Every middle school student is smart enough to access the Book of Google almost every day. What will they find? Don’t allow cell phones and unmonitored internet in your home? Students don’t even need to access the internet to have these discussions. They just need a lunch table, a locker room, a sleepover to get access to all of the wisdom their 12 year old friend has gathered. Again, they will find answers to the questions they didn’t know they could ask. Where do we want them to seek those answers?

So now that you’re feeling guilty, frightened, and about to make some impulsive parenting decisions, take a deep breath. Yes, your 12 year old son has probably accessed pornography, no you’re not a failure as a parent. Yes, your 13 year old daughter probably has a broader sexual vocabulary than you realized, no she’s not set on a path of irreversible destruction. Don’t burn the smartphones, don’t cancel the internet, don’t pull them out of school - at least not for these reasons. Trying to limit exposure without addressing the heart is like trying to take Advil to cure cancer, it’s not only ineffective but it’s also unloving and foolish. Your middle schoolers don’t just need more rules, more restrictions, or more monitoring, they need a safe place to have real conversations. Are you a safe place? Or does your student wonder if they’d be in trouble if they asked about something they saw online?

Maybe you’ve heard statistics about high school students “walking away” from their faith when they leave for college. For the longest time the Christian community blamed hymns, boring sermons, and hypocritic lifestyles for this mass exodus, however, the Fuller Youth Institute found in their vast research that college students disconnected from a faith community because of the faith community’s silence on the big questions. Translation: silence = unsafe.

Silence equals a lack of knowledge or willingness to discuss. Silence even equals that our God isn’t big enough to handle tough questions. But nothing could be further from the truth! Our God is mighty, all-powerful, just, and merciful! There is no safer source of knowledge and wisdom to combat our sexual culture than the promises of God’s Word.

So when should I talk to my middle schooler about sex? I think the answer is often. Let’s ditch the concept of “THE talk” and instead start having conversations that will equip the hearts of the next generation to choose sexual integrity in a world that’s lacking. What can you do? Take one step this weekend to make your home a safe place to ask questions. Walk with grace and truth hand in hand, setting boundaries and instilling expectations, but maintaining a posture of love, forgiveness, and grace for when students make the wrong decision. After all, it’s in our lowest points where we have the greatest opportunity to experience the love of our Heavenly Father! And finally, let us help! Our family ministry would love to talk with you about equipping your students with sexual integrity.
~Pastor Josh


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