by David Jackman - Facilitator The Loving for Life Team of Facilitators
One of the most intimidating episodes in the life of a parent can be talking to your children about puberty, sexuality, and relationships. Through my work with Loving for Life I have talked to thousands of young people about relationships and sexuality, and also guided hundreds of conversations between parents and their children. One thing I have found is that talking about a Christian view of love and relationships doesn’t have to be awkward - and can really help to bring parents and their children closer. Here are some take-homes I have gleaned from this work:
Often as parents we fear that our wisdom will be ignored by our teens. However, while peer influence is important, many studies show that parents are still the biggest factor in a young person’s attitude to relationships. Pre-teens and teenagers want to hear what you have to say. We find this consistently in our Parent/ Child evenings - we always get feedback saying ‘I really loved talking to my Mum/Dad’.
Part of the awkwardness many of our generation experienced in ‘the talk’ is that it came out of the blue, and was not followed up. If you are in the habit of regularly talking to your children about their friendships, interests, and health, there is no reason conversations about puberty and love can’t be just as natural. I can recommend www.axis.org, which has great free resources on how to keep up an ongoing conversation with your child, and comes from a Christian perspective. We’re also giving away a book over on our Facebook page, “Beyond the Birds and the Bees,” by Lisa and Greg Popcak.
Adolescence, puberty, dating, media influence - all these can be in equal measures exciting and daunting for a young person. One thing that we find helps young people see this time constructively is that there is a purpose to all these changes - preparing us for happiness in our own family or vocation one day. As parents we are in a unique position to offer this perspective to our children.
Loving for Life New Zealand offers relationships and sexuality programmes for parents and their children, as well as in schools and youth groups around the country.