Sex - Part 2
Your teenager is in a daily fight. Make sure you are there in the trenches with them.
FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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The Deadly Traps of Adolescence
Day 4 of 10
Guest: Dennis and Barbara Rainey
From the series: Sex
Bob: Parents often wonder – when should we have "the talk" with out children? Dennis Rainey says it shouldn't just be "the talk," it ought to be "the talks."
Dennis: I've really found that there are different segments that we go through with our children, whether boys or girls, that I've certainly taken our boys through. First of all, it's just the ABCs of sex – it's the birds and the bees, it's the biological facts about sex, and I honestly believe today that has to be in place by age 10. If you've not had that conversation with your child, the world is having it.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, July 12th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk today about the big talk parents need to have with their children – what, when, and how?
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We have been wandering through a field full of traps this week on the program because, as parents, we need to visit and learn where the traps are so that we can be about our job of leading our children through a field of traps that they're going to face as adolescents.
Dennis: Yeah, I thought you were going to the field of dreams there – you know, adolescence is no field of dreams – it's a picture, I believe, of a parent walking through this trap-infested field with a teenager having a blindfold on and being barefoot, scooting along very closely behind the parent with his hands on the parent's shoulder, and the parent guiding him around all these traps because they're dangerous.
Job, chapter 18, describes the scene, I think, beautifully – verse 8 – "His feet thrust down into a net, and he wanders into its mesh. A trap seizes hold by the heel; a snare holds him fast; a noose is hidden for him on the ground; a trap lies in his path." Now, listen to this summary – "Terrors startle him on every side and dog his every step. Calamity is hungry for him, disaster is ready for him when he falls."
That's the picture of a teenager moving from childhood through those perilous adolescent years to adulthood and maturity, and it's our responsibility, as parents, to go ahead of our children and guide them through this process.
Bob: Barbara, there are too many 10-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 15-year-olds, and 18-year-olds out wandering in that field with the blindfold on and nobody leading them at all.
Barbara: Except the culture.
Barbara: And the culture is doing a good job of it, and they're out there alone, or they're out there with a bunch of their buddies, a bunch of their friends, and they're wandering around, just looking for direction, for anybody to tell them what to do, and that's why they get sucked into these traps all the time.
Bob: Where are Mom and Dad?
Barbara: Mom and Dad have usually abdicated. They've just pulled back, and they've either decided they can't handle this kid, or they've decided this is too much, and he's just going to do what he's going to do, anyway, and I'm just not going to worry about it.
Bob: Dennis, that's part of the reason you and Barbara sat down to spend the hours writing this book to call Mom and Dad back to their post.
Dennis: I think a lot of parents are losing heart in this culture. This is not an easy time to raise a child, and especially not an easy time to raise a teenager. The culture doesn't reinforce our standards, if we have standards. In fact, the culture is attacking those parents who have standards.
And so, frankly, this is a time to call parents to be courageous, and that's what we attempted to do in this book – kind of put our arms around a parent or a single parent and say, "You know what? You can do it with the Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit with God as the builder of your home, you know what? You can raise a child to make it through this trap-infested field, and he can make it to maturity and not be maimed or injured for life as a result."
Bob: Yesterday on the broadcast we talked about the trap of sexual immorality, and you encouraged us, as parents, to raise the standard higher than the current cultural standard. Even within the Christian community, we've set the bar too low, as you see it.
Dennis: That's right. I've got a letter here that was passed on to me by a grandmother who worked in our ministry here for a number of years. Her name is Pat Orten [sp], and Pat is a dear person, but she wrote about how her mother helped draw lines and boundaries around her life.
Now, you can tell by the sound of this letter that this is from another era, but I don't think all of what's represented here is a bad era at all. I think we need to return to some of the standards represented in this note that she slipped me.
She writes – "I remember my mom drawing the line for me when I began to date. She instructed me about how a guy should and should not touch me with his hands. For example, she said to never let a guy place his hand on my knee. I see so many dating couples with their hands on each other's knee or with his hand in her back pocket of her jeans, and I always remember my mother's words.
Because that line was drawn, my husband and I remained pure in our four-year dating relationship before we were married. I can still recall more than 40 years ago the pleasure we both experienced when my husband put his hand on my knee as we drove off on our honeymoon. He laughed and said he'd been waiting for four years to do that." I love it.
Barbara: I do, too.
Dennis: I really do love that.
Barbara: I do, too.
Dennis: She concludes her note by saying, "I'm thankful to my mom for helping me draw the line for purity." Now, you know, that sounds so ancient, so fossilized, but it's …
Barbara: … so healthy.
Dennis: It's so pure, so good, there's something about the breeze that letter creates in our soul to say would be that our children could say on their honeymoon – "I've been waiting for years to do that." Wouldn't that be a tremendous privilege to deliver your child to their wedding altar with that purity, that innocence intact? Well, I think that's what a parent's assignment is as we raise teenagers today.
Bob: Barbara, we talked yesterday on the broadcast about helping our children understand the warnings from scripture about issues of sexual immorality, but the truth is the Bible says a lot of things that are very positive about sexual relationships. It just confines them to marriage. We've got to be teaching our kids the good things the Bible says as well as the warnings, right?
Barbara: I agree, Bob, and I think we need to help our kids see the good things that God designed for a man and a woman in marriage, and I think we need to help them understand that sex is for intimacy in marriage, and that God created it for that, and He created it for pleasure, and it's good, and it's good experienced in marriage, and He intended for us, as male and female, to enjoy that gift that He gave us in marriage.
And He also made it real clear that anything outside of marriage – that was a sin. So I think as we paint a picture for our kids of how marriage is good, and it's healthy, and it's wholesome, and sex within marriage is a wonderful thing, it's a wonderful gift, we can build some expectancy and some hope for our kids so that they can have something to look forward to, they can understand what the goal is, they've got a model lived before them between Mom and Dad, and they know that's something that they're going to want someday, and they'll have more of a motivation to wait, more of a motivation to save themselves, because they understand the plan and what God has for them.
Bob: You know, it feels a little difficult as a parent, because it's almost like telling your kids – you know this particular flavor of ice cream – it's really, really good, but you can't have any now, and you can't have any for a long time but, boy, it's really good when you have some. It's almost like you're taunting them. You feel almost cruel.
Dennis: Well, but that's the mystery of sex. In our sixth grade Sunday school class, one of the ways we sought to teach this was I would walk up to the front of the class with a paper sack and an electrical cord running out of the paper sack to the wall, and I would ask the children – how many of you believe me when I tell you there's something dangerous inside this paper sack? And they would hold up their hands, and I'd say, "Now, everybody who held up their hands, stand up" – and there would always be one boy who did not believe me, and who would be seated at that point.
So I would invite him to come up, and I'd say, "Now let me understand this correctly. You didn't believe me when I told you that there was something dangerous in this sack, is that right?" And he's beginning to look at me a bit suspiciously at that point, being 11 or 12 years of age, and I said, "Okay, you didn't believe me. I want you to stick your hand in the sack," and I whispered in his ear, "Young man, as you stick your hand into the paper sack, go in very slowly, because what's in there really is dangerous."
And at that point he doesn't want to stick his hand in, but his hand goes in, even if I force it in, and it comes out like a bolt of lightning, because he has touched something very hot, and what I have inside the sack is a curling iron that has been sufficiently heated up – and I want our listeners to know, lest they're going to file a lawsuit on behalf of that 11- or 12-year-old, I've never scarred any kids or hurt them or anything, so don't worry about those kids, but I make the point of that young man saying he was given a chance to believe me when I told him that it was dangerous, but he didn't believe me, and so he stuck his hand in, and he learned, through experience, that he should have trusted my word.
I believe God wants us to wait until marriage to experience this area called sex, and he wants us to train our children to do the very same thing in helping them trust that God's Word is true, that His warnings are healthy, that His encouragements about the healthy side of sex are positive, and to not doubt that word and not go against that word, because if they do they're liable to get burned.
Bob: Barbara, help us practically here – as a mom, what did you do with your girls as they were going through pre-adolescence, right before they headed into the teenage years to help shape their convictions in these areas?
Barbara: Well, with all of our girls, I took them away on a little weekend retreat, or even a one-night retreat and took some tapes and some books and some different things and just made it a real special getaway for Mom and daughter, and we'd go stay at a nice hotel or a little bed and breakfast or something that was fun and out of the ordinary, and we would listen to these tapes and read selected portions out of a book and begin to talk about the whole process of them growing up and becoming a woman and what that meant and all the changes that they would go through physically.
And then we would also talk about how they were going to be changing emotionally, how they would change in their perception of boys and right now they thought, you know – and usually it was around their sixth grade year that I would do this, and they would think that boys were pretty weird and not too cool to be around, so you kind of have to convince them that this really is going to happen.
But just talk to them about their interest is going to change and how the boys are going to become interested in them and what boys are going to be thinking and what they're going to be thinking in response to that and just begin to head off, by some initial preparation, some teaching that's going to help them understand the changes that they're getting ready to go through.
Bob: In your book you included a list of what materials you used in those weekend getaways and, at the end of the broadcast, I'm going to let our listeners know how they can get a copy of the book if they want to.
Dennis, how about you and the boys? Did you have a similar kind of weekend experience?
Dennis: Well, I did, but I really found that there are different segments that we go through with our children, whether they be boys or girls, that I've certainly taken our boys through. First of all, it's just the ABCs of sex – it's the birds and the bees, it's the biological facts about sex, and I honestly believe today that has to be in place by age 10.
If you've not had that conversation with your child, the world is having it. Somehow, some way, peers, music, movies, TV, magazines, Internet – all the different forms of media are coming at your kids left and right, and they are hearing some form about sex that's probably degrading, perverted, and certainly not God's way.
But that really leads to an opportunity that – it probably is around ages 10 to 12, and there's a whole bunch of issues that we've talked about with our sons – puberty, what that means and what's about to happen to their body; we talk about dating and what's involved in that; about relationships and even some of the principles for dating and some of the boundaries for dating.
Later on in adolescence you double back and you have some additional conversations, Bob, around all of these issues plus the things that begin to pile up about them – dancing, music, saying no to an aggressive girl who is physically coming on to you; some higher callings about how a young man is to relate to the opposite sex – manners, all those issues about touching, kissing, petting, and intercourse.
These are all healthy discussions that a father and a son ought to be working through and ought to have almost a grocery list, a checklist, that he's checking them off and having these discussions with his sons because these young men need to hear it first and need to hear it second and third and fourth from their fathers – from a Christian perspective.
Bob: One of the things about the checklist that we have to keep in mind is even after we check it off, all that means is that we've covered it once. That doesn't mean it's done, does it?
Dennis: That's right, but that's been one of the most difficult things about teenagers, Bob, especially if you've got more than one. You can begin to assume they got it, and that's very dangerous, whether it be with a son or with a daughter. You need to assume, more than likely, they didn't get it. Don't nag them, don't harp on them, don't stay on their case, but double back and kind of see if they're hearing and beginning to develop their own convictions.
Bob: There are a lot of dads who kind of wipe their brow and go, "Whew, that's over," after they've had a talk with a child, and it's not over until you've revisited the subject a half a dozen more times throughout the teenage years.
Dennis: That's exactly right.
Bob: Barbara, how about you and the boys? Have you felt a need, as a mom, to reinforce any particular issues with your sons?
Barbara: Well, I've just been focused on trying to reinforce what they've talked about with Dad, but it's been interesting – there have been a couple of occasions with our boys, when they were teenagers, when they would go to a youth group retreat or some other kind of conference, and they would hear a talk about dating or sex or some of those issues, and we had some very interesting discussions when they would come back.
I remember one – it was Ashley, Benjamin, Samuel, and I – we were all sitting in the bedroom, and they were all three telling me what they'd learned at this conference about sex and dating, and we just had this great interaction right there on the spot, talking about what they'd learned, and I asked them what they thought about it and do you feel like that's right – is that something you're going to adopt, is that something you want to choose for your own or do you think maybe you want to have a different standard? And we just interacted about all that.
So there will be those opportunities for Moms to validate what Dad is teaching and to say, "You know, I really am proud of the way you're becoming a young man, and you're taking initiative, and you're becoming – you're growing up," and she can do a lot of that kind of validating and appreciating and reinforcing what Dad's been saying.
Bob: Dennis, we've talked about moms and their daughters, dads and their sons, moms and their sons – I know you've had conversations with your daughters. In fact, there was one conversation you had specifically with one of your daughters where you used a water balloon as a way to illustrate what you were talking about?
Dennis: Yeah, Rebecca, who is 17 right now, has a point of contention with me, because she wants a royalty off this idea. She thinks she invented this, but that's not how I remember the conversation. We were sitting out in a grocery store parking lot waiting for some friends to pick her up for a bunking party, as I recall, and there was a water balloon left over from a big water balloon fight we'd had the weekend before between the parents – us – Mom and Dad – and the other teams.
And the water balloon was sitting there, and it was one of the moments where we started talking about how far are you going to go and how much of your innocence are you going to keep and preserve to be able to give to your husband on your wedding night. And I pulled that water balloon out, and I held it up, and I said, "Rebecca, it's like this water balloon contains all of your innocence. It's just a limited amount, only so much, and if you give that water balloon to a young man, and he takes a pen, and he says, "You know, I just want a little kiss.
Well, at that point, Rebecca, you give away just a little bit and he just takes the pin and just ever so slightly puts a little bitty hole in the balloon and out comes a little drop of water." I said, "I'm not saying that's wrong for him to kiss you at that point, but you just given away your first kiss at that point.
And then you decide to maybe kiss a little longer and a little deeper, and the young man doesn't just poke one hole, he pokes several holes in there and now instead of just a drop of water coming out, there are several drops coming out, and maybe it begins to squirt out of the balloon. And I didn't have a pin in the car there, Bob, so I couldn't illustrate this, but she was catching on.
And I said, "What could possibly happen now is that you give your innocence away to enough people so that when you arrive at your marriage bed the balloon would be empty. There would be nothing to give to your husband," and I said, "How would that make you feel?" She said, "Really sad." And I said, "Yeah," and I said, "Your innocence needs to be preserved and protected by you and by us, and that's what your mom and I are doing as we walk through some very dangerous paths, and we help you as you relate to the opposite sex."
And, you know, that illustration – I've gone back to that and so has Barbara with Rebecca on numerous occasions, to talk to her about standing strong and about preserving that which God has entrusted to her.
And the reason I like that illustration is because, as parents, I think we're entrusted, in a sense, with protecting that water balloon. We've got to go the extra mile to protect and preserve and be the guardians and not just give it away or not just let them go and just let them go their own way but be courageous and step into a child who maybe is a teen today, and maybe you've lost control, and it's going to be harder to reel them back in but, you know what? You've got to do it. You've got to do it, because if you don't they could ruin their lives.
And, Bob, I just want to encourage that parent today who is listening – no matter how many mistakes you've made in the past – and we've made many. It may sound like from time to time on this broadcast because we share some of these things that we've done it all right. We have not done it all right. We have made assumptions that our kids have been getting these points, and they haven't been getting them, and they've missed the point.
And we've had to backtrack and go back and reteach, and we've had to give our kids grace when they've failed but you know what? I would rather have fought the fight and have been in there with our children helping to preserve and guard and protect than to back out and just let them go. That isn't right. God has given us these children, and we are to be their parents all the way through adolescence as they emerge into adulthood.
Bob: You know, that illustration you used, of the water balloon, is one of a bunch of illustrations that you provide in the book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," and those word pictures do stick with our children. When you do more than just talk with them, when you can use a demonstration or a word picture like that, it can make a big difference and, again, it sticks with our sons and our daughters and, in fact, that particular illustration is one that we've incorporated into the resource Passport to Purity, which a lot of FamilyLife Today listeners have used with their preteens, taking them off for a weekend where they can go through the Passport to Purity material and have their sons and daughters ready to face peer pressure and dating and sex and some of these deadly traps we're talking about this week on our program.
You can get more information about Passport to Purity or about the book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," by going to our website, FamilyLife.com, and clicking the red button you see there that says "Go." That will take you to an area of the site where, again, there is more information about these resources and other resources. Elizabeth Elliot's books, "Passion and Purity," and "Quest for Love." Books and audio resources that we've selected to try to equip you, as parents, to face this issue and to help guide your children through the dangerous waters of adolescence and get them on the other side with their purity intact.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go" in the middle of the screen. That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information on what's available or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, mention that you were listening to FamilyLife Today and you heard us talking about different resources, and someone on our team can answer any questions you have about those resources, or place an order for you, if you'd like.
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We appreciate those of you who have done that in the past. We depend on those donations to continue this program not only in this city but in other cities where FamilyLife Today is heard. This month, if you can help with a donation of any amount, we want to send you a thank you give. It's the new book by Dennis Rainey called "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date," and it provides for a dad or for a mom guidelines you can follow as you begin to engage young men who might be interested in taking your daughter out on a date. We talk about the kind of conversation you ought to have with those young men before you say yes to that kind of social engagement with your daughter.
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Well, tomorrow we're going to talk about that subject of dating – when is that appropriate, what kind of boundaries should parents place around that kind of social engagement between a young man and a young woman in the teen years? We'll talk all about that tomorrow, and I hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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