Have You Had "The Talk" Yet?
Today our kids are too often bombarded with counterfeit relationship and sexuality
messages. The main vehicles for sexuality and relationship messages are racy television
talk shows, seductive retail marketing campaigns, and highly erotic songs. Like a fire in a
fireplace, sex can be wonderful experience but when it ventures outside, the whole house
can burn down. It is a true saying that as a culture we have prepared our youth for sexual
experiences but not for real relationships. In other words, our youth are prepared to relate
to each other in the bedroom but not outside.
Many of the youth today are also products of the 50 percents divorce rate homes. The
breakup of their parents' marriage has significantly decreased their confidence in the
institution of marriage. One report indicates that girls favorable view about marriage
has greatly declined. The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center (NHMRC), a
federal government project, reports that female adolescents' attitude towards marriage
have undergone the most dramatic changes, from nearly 39 percent believing marriage
leads to fuller and happier lives in 1976 to just 22 percent expressing this view in 2001.
NHMRC also reports that less than one-half of all high school seniors believe that
choosing marriage over remaining single or cohabitating (living together) leads to fuller
and happier life.
Hence, with the twin messages of sexual over-indulgence and low faith in the institution
of marriage, it is high time to talk with our kids.
So the talk we need to have with children is not solely about sex but healthy relationships
as well. Research clearly indicates that teens are sexually active. But the numbers do
not tell us if they are relationship active. Do they really care for each other? Do they
see each other as partners for the night or for life? What is the criterion for deciding to
have a romantic relationship? When is it appropriate to take the relationship into the
sexual arena? Should sex occur before or after marriage? These are just a few of the
questions that need answers if we are to truly equip our kids to successfully navigate the
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that over 90 percent of Americans will marry in
their life time. Hence, it behooves us as parents to prepare our kids for all aspects of a
relationship—and not just the sexual aspects. Sex lasts for minutes but relationships with
all of their pleasures and complexities last far longer. Here are a few tips to help you with
the sex and relationship talk:
Focus on the overall relationship and not solely the sex aspect. Sex is only part of a
marital or any other relationship. When the focus is solely on sex, you forfeit intimacy
in so many other areas and pave the way for a short term and shallow experience. Like a
nice sit-down restaurant, the meal experience is better enjoyed as opposed to a drive-thru
facility. Teach your kids not to settle for drive-thru relationships.
Be clear about your own relationship and sex values. The culture provides
misinformation and parents often provide no information. Your children need clear
direction for navigating the world of sex and relationships.
Learn what they know. Find out what they have heard about sex and relationships. It is often best to clean the container before you pour into it. Help dispel myths and
fabrications that your child may possess about sex and relationships.
Teach Them To Recognize True Love vs. Sexual Appetite. Contrary to Tina Turner's
song "What's Love Got to Do With It", love has everything to do with the makings of a
true relationship. Teach your children this truth. Love is a daily process of give and take
by both parties. Don't let them become victims to a culture that solely wants to usurp and
abuse their body, mind and soul.
Be a Relationship Model. In order to develop a good marriage, one needs to see a good
marriage model. Exhibit the type of relationships you want your kids to exhibit so that
they will have a point of reference. Show them a good marriage and don't pretend to have
a perfect marriage which will also set them up for failure. Discuss some of your marital
challenges and how you have overcome with a smile on your face.
Focus on Self-Development. Teach them to be right person and not just look for the
right person. This principle will add miles to their future marriage.
So when are you going to have the talk? This talk will be your legacy for changing your
child's world with a return on investment for generations to come. In the immortal words
of Nike, "just do it".
Ron J. Clark, MPP is a national conference speaker, consultant and writer
on manhood and fatherhood issues. He is cited in numerous male and family
services articles and research projects. For more information, please forward your
emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-344-5685. You may also visit his site at