I never had the sex talk growing up. My dad passed away when I was six years old, and even though my mom remarried, my step-dad never had the sex talk with me either. Rather, I learned about sex from pornography, movies, friends and experience. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I learned a right view of dating, sex and intimacy.
Because of the poor decisions I made, Kristen and I have always been committed to teaching our sons a right view of relationships, dating and sex. We knew they would learn it from someone or something and we wanted to make sure they learned God’s view from us before someone else got to them first.
A few weekends ago, I took one of my twins away for a father-son weekend to talk about God’s design for sex and relationships. We’ve had multiple conversations along the way over the past six or seven years, but this was an intentional weekend away to do a deeper dive and to create some father-son memories. While we certainly had some awkward, clunky moments, I’d consider the weekend a huge success and I hope it will be the most important weekend in his life (so far) and a weekend he will never forget for the rest of his life.
I thought it would be helpful to other moms and dads for me to share a brief overview of what we did and some best practices I learned from others and from my own experience.
We used Family Life’s Passport to Purity curriculum. While there were a few hokey/cheesy moments here and there, I was impressed by the quality and content of the materials. They provide all the audio, a journal for your son or daughter and a parent’s guide to help you lead your time. Each of the five sessions includes instructions for an easy to do project that helps illustrate the main point of each session.
I talk about dating, relationships and sex all the time in my role as a marriage pastor, but it still helped me to have a well-designed curriculum to help guide our time. You don’t have to use Passport to Purity, but it sure did help me, and I think helped my son since I didn’t have to teach or talk the whole time. I let the content do the teaching and then I filled in some gaps, facilitated discussion and personalized it.
We left around noon on a Thursday (yes, I pulled him out of school for a few days!) and got back home around dinner time on Saturday. The Passport curriculum is written with a one-night getaway in mind, but I found that we needed a full two nights (partly because we traveled five hours away for our weekend trip).
Here are a few recommendations/best practices for your time away:
- A friend suggested this one. Have some of your friends and/or key influencers in your son’s or daughter’s life make some short videos of encouragement that you can use in your time away. The videos were a huge win and supplement to our weekend away as they allowed key people in my son’s life to speak words of encouragement to my son. I loved it and he did as well. It was interesting to see a couple of themes consistently come through that I think really spoke encouragement and challenge into his life. I emailed my son’s small group leaders, a few dads of friends of his, my community group men and a family member and asked them to answer the following in a three minute video:
- What is something you have seen in my son that encourages you, challenges you or stands out about them?
- What is something you wish you had known when you were his age?
- What is something you see in him that you think he needs to pay attention to (I.e. Do you see pride in him, or apathy, etc…)?
- Expect awkward moments. I am as comfortable talking about sex as anyone I know, yet there were some moments that were even awkward for me to discuss, let alone for an 11-year old boy to talk through. For instance, there’s that lightbulb moment when your child learns that mom and dad didn’t just have sex three times to make twins and two other boys. He walked away from the weekend with a clear understanding that mom and dad still have sex. He’s grossed out now, but I am confident one day he will realize how great and right this is for married couples!
- There are some great benefits to one-on-one time with your children. I learned some new things about him and we got to create some fun memories that we normally don’t get to create with the demands of job, sports and other siblings running around. I am always a big fan of one-on-one intentional time with your kids.
- If you use Passport to Purity, be prepared for some really good, honest sessions. I loved the (optional) sessions on pornography, same sex attraction and boundaries. My recommendation is to listen to these optional sessions in advance, but I would not make them optional. Culture is forcing some of these discussions and, again, I want to be the one who teaches my kids the truth, not culture, friends or the internet.
- Have fun! We went to San Antonio and ate some good food, went to Six Flags, saw a movie and went to a kid’s museum. Doing some fun activities between sessions kept us both alert and energized for the learning and discussion times. Spoil your child on the trip: let them get the large drink, do activities fun for them and don’t be afraid to stay up late, explore and create some memories.
- Involve Both Parents. While I do recommend dads take their sons away and mom take their daughters away, find a way for the other parent to speak into your child’s life. When we came back in town, my wife met alone with my son for dessert and he debriefed the weekend with my wife, while she shared some things with him about women that he needs to know. If you’re a single parent, see if someone from your church can play this role in your child’s life.
Beforehand I prayed it would be a weekend that he would remember for the rest of his life. I prayed it would be a weekend that he would look back upon with fondness and remember a right theology of sex that would guide his dating relationships and marriage down the road. At one point, he prayed this same prayer (without my prompting), that it would be a weekend he would never forget.
- Where and how did you learn about intimacy, dating and marriage? Did you learn it from the Bible, from your parents, from the world or from your own experiences?
- How can you make your time away with your child The Most Important Weekend in His Life (so far)
- Do you have any suggestions for other parents as they spend time with their children talking about God’s design for sex, dating and relationships?
For the Family,
Scott Kedersha, at scottkedersha.com