“Insights into Adolescent Sexuality’ (adapted from a recent interview with Dannah Gresh on Brilliantly Brave Parenting Podcast)
Sexual development, identity, and behaviors are forming in the pre-teen and teen years. It’s clear that the role of parents in this process is crucial and irreplaceable. Without an active and intentional effort by both mom and dad to help ‘shape’ a child’s beliefs, the culture will speak unchecked into their lives.
According to experts, the prefrontal cortex continues to develop into our early twenties, making early experimentation with sexual behaviors and or visual exposure to nudity, sexual acts, and behaviors ill advised. Our brains are literally unable to process and absorb the information it receives until much later than our society is exposing these ideas and attitudes to our kids.
The boundaries of monogamy in marriage and abstinence until monogamy are biblical and scientifically supported by modern research. As Dannah Gresh says… “Science eventually catches up with God’s word”. When it comes to sexuality we’re learning that you can’t experience sex without releasing significant doses of pleasurable and addictive hormones, neurotransmitters, and other factors that literally ‘bind’ us to our sexual partner. We experience a powerful stimulus from our own body chemistry that forms a “cocktail of chemicals” (oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine among others; source – Medical Institute of Sexual Health) which form a kind of glue between one brain and the other, a powerful ‘bond’ between men and women who share the act and intimacy of sex.
So… if a pre-teen or teen is exposed to pornography or sexual behaviors before being old enough to understand and or process… they will begin to crave the feeling and the chemicals that get released during a sexual encounter, needing to do it over and over without understanding what or why.
They become ‘addicted’ to whatever it is that creates the feeling.
If the pleasure is found in the act of sex within a marriage it cements the relationship and creates a ongoing and wonderful desire to share intimacy and physical pleasure with your spouse.
If the pleasure is found with pornography or other ‘friends with benefits’ type relationships, we can become trapped into a series of frustrating relationships that never become what God intended. Sex becomes something destructive rather than life bringing.
Parents who neglect the responsibility of talking with their kids about sex are in danger of allowing the hottest celebrity or artist teach them instead. We must have and hold an ongoing relationship with our kids through their pre-teen and teen years. Have regular points of connecting, eat together, go to movies, date your kids – take them out for dad or mom dates. STAY CONNECTED. Be the voice they respect and respond to despite what the culture is feeding them.
“Quality time parenting is a myth… it takes quantity to make a difference” – Dannah Gresh.
As our kids grow, it’s important as parents to model what romantic love looks like in a healthy home. Showing affection for each other as spouses is essential, we must demonstrate what marriage can be for our kids. Taking care of each other as husband and wife is a big part of the parenting role for helping our kids develop a healthy sexuality and respect for the institution of marriage. If we’re not celebrating our marriages – our kids won’t either.
“We’ve really undersold the value of marriage to our kids and culture” – Dannah Gresh
We have to start with the affirmation of marriage early in our kids’ lives, instead of telling our kids ‘no – no – no – we can show them what ‘yes – yes – yes’ looks like. We can clearly demonstrate the benefits of a healthy sexual relationship without saying a word.
For more resources or information check out Dannah’s many books and resources that deal directly with sexuality and purity for our kids and homes. Here’s a quick recap of our time with Dannah on BB Parenting;
Key Points from Dannah’s Interview on BB Parenting:
- Learning to play, to creatively engage helps our frontal lobe to develop and in doing so, increases self-control
- 65% of high school kids are sexually active
- 80%+ of College students are sexually active
- We live in a ‘friends with benefits” culture today – a “hook up” society – where sex is a itch to scratch – with a friend, rather than a life-long commitment that’s sacred.
- Adult men have an average of 9 sexual partners in their lifetime and adult women have an average of 7.
- Steps parents can take to help their adolescent kids with sexual development.
- Have Dinner 3 – 5 x each week as a family
- Regular time with each child – dinner or breakfast dates – consistently
- Role model romance as a parent – dads and moms honoring and loving each other in front of their kids.
Pastor Brad Mathias / Brilliantly Brave Parenting
Dannah Gresh and “Pure Freedom” http://purefreedom.org/
Podcast Interview http://brilliantlybraveparenting.com/dannah-gresh/
Medical Institute for Sexual Health https://www.medinstitute.org/