How To Talk to Your Teen about Sex
In this podcast, past Super Bowl champion Chris Godfrey explains how a father can make 'the talk' a positive experience for both dad and child. Godfrey is president of Life Athletes, which promotes healthy choices, self-respect and abstinence for kids.
What Do I Say to My Child?
If you wait for ‘the talk’ – it may be too late
By Mario Loomis, M.D.
The idea of “the talk” is a common misunderstanding. It’s really about a 20-year-long conversation about the wonders of love, in all its forms. It begins when they are small children and we teach them about charity and the truth and beauty of selfless love.
As they approach their teen years, we spend more one-on-one time with them privately talking about the topic so they can ask more questions and we share more details. But the conversation is never awkward or embarrassing for either of us, because we have always talked about human sexuality, and talked about it as the most beautiful and sacred of gifts from God. At some point, you will have covered just about every topic and detail about sexuality. That is when most people think the “talk” is over, even if it took a year or two to complete. But that’s when it’s even more important to continue the conversation.
Teens are in the transition from child to adult and as such no longer just accept what is told them by their parents. They need to come to conclusions on their own as well. This does not mean, just send them out into the world where they are surrounded by immorality and faithlessness and hope for the best. That is almost guaranteeing that they will fall away from their faith.
Rather, it’s during this time that we need to be even more involved. It’s not that we have to watch their every move like policing them, but understand that they need to take their understanding to the next level.
What we do during their teen years is bring our kids together with other like-minded teens, so they see the message we have been giving them for the past 13 years reaffirmed by others their own age. Then we also get them involved in activities for Catholic teens like retreats, weekends , Youth 2000, etc., so that they see reaffirmed the same consistent, logical truth of our faith and understanding of sexuality. This way the commitment to purity grows organically within them. Then they’re not just following orders, but embracing a truth that they realize themselves will bring them ultimate joy.
Just as all of us need to struggle to stay on track throughout our lives, so do our children. The “talk” is a conversation that never really ends. But as such, it’s not at all a burden or difficulty. It is one of the most rewarding and inspiring things to see your children and others in their late teens committed to the faith and to chastity.
Rules regarding dating and time alone, avoiding occasions of sin are essential, of course. But they are not the driving force of the conversation. When they come up, if you’ve been having the conversation all along, your child will basically agree with you on those points.
Dr. Loomis and his wife, Donna, have four children and direct a program for teens called A Drop of Clear Water.