Having real conversations with our kids about sex might be uncomfortable, but it is vital to teach them about God’s design for sex and marriage. Dannah Gresh shares helpful advice from her personal experience, and explains the reasons why parents might hesitate when it comes to talking to their children about sex.

“We have a lot of fear as parents. We’re like, ‘I don’t want to mess it up, I don’t want them to know too soon, etc.’ The fact is that our fear in talking about sex is because we have misused it or we’ve seen it misused.”

“When you present the conversation to your children at an age appropriate time, and also in an age appropriate way, they don’t have all those pre-suppositions about it being misused. They have innocent hearts that can receive it and can absorb truth.”

When is the appropriate age to have “the talk” with our kids? While there are always exceptions to the rule, Dannah says it’s really important ask God if your child is ready to receive important information about God’s design for sex.

“Most Christian psychologists will say the age of nine is about the year that they need to understand the basic mechanics of sex, and that it is a gift for marriage between one man and one woman. Many parents, when they hear that they say, ‘Oh, they’re not ready.’”

We know that, morally, what we believe by our 13th birthday is generally what we die believing. There may be nuances and changes and certainly God can intervene at any point, but generally, most of what we believe is in our hearts by their 13th birthday. When we wait until they’re 12 or 13 to have the conversation, we don’t have a whole lot of those value-forming years to give them more critical information about a very important topic.”

As parents it’s important to be honest with our children about our past. In doing so, we can help them learn how to protect God’s design for sex in the future. Dannah shares from personal experience,

“I felt a lot of freedom in being able to tell my kids, ‘I’m not the poster child for purity, let me tell you why I love Jesus so much. This is what he’s forgiven me of: I gave away the gift God wanted me to give to your daddy when I was 15.’ That’s all my kids know. They don’t know any more details; they’re not my place of healing, I don’t look to them for affirmation, I just want them to know that I know how much it hurts when you don’t do things the way God designed us to do it.”

“In doing that, it’s opened my children’s heart up. They tell me stuff that sometimes other moms are like, ‘I can’t believe your kids talk to you about those things.’ But I’ve talked to them frankly about my heart my struggles, so why wouldn’t they talk to me about theirs?”

The Bible is very honest about the topic of sex, so we can have the same confidence while discussing it with our children.

Dannah Gresh is a best-selling author and the founder of Pure Freedom, and is the creator of Secret Keeper Girl. She is a frequent guest who is called upon to defend the conservative position of abstinence in mediums such as The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and TIME. She is the author of several books including  .

Having "the talk" with our kids