Q&A on Teens and Chastity
QUESTION: My two children are approaching their teen years. I want to talk with them about chastity, but I made some mistakes when I was their age. Am I being hypocritical if I tell them to wait until marriage to enjoy sexual intimacy?
ANSWER: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and some of those sins have violated God’s design for sexual purity. Those previous acts should not deter you from talking to your children about this important subject – but serve, instead, as an encouragement. Since you know the difficulty of living a chaste lifestyle, you also realize the importance of giving your children strong support. So, the simple answer is, “Yes, talk to your children without fear of being hypocritical.”
The more difficult question to ask is, “How much of my past do I share with my children?” That varies from one family to another and is based on the particular need and comfort level that you have with your pre-teens. In general, use the wisdom you gained from your past to help formulate your approach in communicating with your children. Share any experiences that truly benefit your teenagers, but don’t think that you need to provide full disclosure about every mistake you made. Remember that the first guideline for sanctified living is provided in God’s Word, so teach those truths with full confidence.
Here are a few points that should make these discussions more comfortable and effective:
- Don’t feel you need to tell them everything in one setting. Discuss these issues over time and in many settings.
- Share God’s Word, but don’t be preachy.
- Base the level of your discussion on your child’s questions. The questions can reveal a lot about your child’s thoughts.
- Rather than fear these discussions, use the opportunities to open the lines of communication.
- Reassure your teens that these feelings are natural, but they must also be controlled.
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