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Not My Kid! A Mother’s Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home

“Mom, what’s sex?” Gulp. I wasn’t ready for this question from my 9-year-old. He was my firstborn and I knew questions about sexual temptation would come, but I didn’t know when. I mumbled something about that being a great question that would be good to talk over sometime when Daddy was home and could he go and check on his younger siblings?

Hours later when Benny came home I had forgotten about Josh’s question, but he hadn’t. He greeted his dad with the announcement that the three of us needed to talk about sex…and what sexy meant. Another gulp.  

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptation

That encounter with my firstborn let this young mom know that church involvement, monitoring my kids friendships and entertainment, and even homeschooling wasn’t going to give me control over their curiosities about sexual things. That night we learned from Josh that his interest was piqued by a bumper sticker that read, “I Brake for Sexy Women.” 

That little boy is now in his mid-thirties with an almost 9-year-old son of his own, along with two younger daughters. Our fourteenth grandchild is on the way and I can tell you that my perspective on talking about sex with children has changed since I was in the throes of mothering my own little ones. 

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptation

That {70s} Parenting Thing

When I started parenting in the late 70’s phones with long, often tangled cords were still attached to walls; computers took up entire floors in college math buildings; TVs had antennas called rabbit ears that made it possible to watch a few stations that sometimes showed re-runs of Leave it to Beaver or Flipper; and there was talk of being able to buy little boxes to attach to your set with wide slots to insert VHS movies, whatever that meant. Less than 20 years later, with a house full of kids between ages newborn and 20, we had a computer on a desk in our house that gave us access to the internet and cable TV. 

A part of me wants to tell you what a five-year period in our lives exposed to give myself credibility. But you know how I feel. Sexual temptation and sin, especially involving our kids, is just plain embarrassing. As conscientious Christians whose own sexual past might be painfully tainted with abuse, shame, fornication/adultery, disease, abortion, sexual dysfunction in marriage, lures to porn — and the sometimes haunting realization of how past experiences affect us in ways we wish we could ignore — motivates us to want to protect our kids from it all. 

I think we parents need to take a good, hard look at our willingness to confess our kids sins instead of allowing them to if and when they’re ready. I don’t want other people talking about my sins and failures and I think you feel the same. So I won’t expose my kids but I will say that they, like me, are broken and weak and live in a fallen world. They have been tempted. They have sinned. People have sinned against them. Whether in run-of-the-mill or serious ways, my “well-protected” kids are just like yours are or will be — they experienced the common struggles of inward pulls to sexual things and the influence of peers who don’t share their parents’ convictions

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptationProtection is a Good Thing

Protecting children is something any loving parent should do. We teach them to look before crossing the street, not touch hot stoves and not talk to strangers even if they offer candy or need help finding a lost puppy.  They need and deserve our protection from harmful stuff. But sexual temptation and sin isn’t like dangerous streets and bad people and hot stoves. Simply put, sexual temptation, curiosity and lust is something inside their hearts that is often denied or hidden.

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptation

The Hard Truth

As a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom I wish I could say I was able to protect my kids from all harmful things. I couldn’t. Benny and I tried…hard. We made sacrifices to be “gatekeepers” in their lives: those who carefully guarded the gates of their hearts to insure that good stuff stayed in and bad stuff stayed out. That night with Josh was a wonderful time of communication with him about the gift of sex to married people. We enjoyed sweet moments of praying for him and seeing God move on his heart to see His amazing providence to bring Dad and Mom together to make him and his siblings. Whew! We got through that one!

And it wasn’t his or our fault when he — and later all our kids — experienced curiosity about things they saw and heard. At a point in nearly all kid’s lives they wonder why their bodies respond certain ways when someone they “like” is around or they see nakedness or they experience sensations they don’t understand.

Parents, it’s not that neighbor kid’s fault when our kids use foul language and we can’t blame that naughty child in Sunday School when our toddler starts grabbing. Similarly, when our teen struggles with masturbation or sexting or porn or fornication or same sex attraction it’s not helpful to rush to who’s to blame.

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptation

Temptation is Common…Really Common

One of the big mistakes I made as a young parent was thinking that protecting my kids from outside influences meant they wouldn’t struggle like their dad and me. I didn’t admit that. In fact, I said to myself and others, “I know my kids will have struggles but I just want to do whatever I can to get them ready for them.” As the young wife of a youth pastor I had known many churched teens whose sexual practices were no different than my non-Christian high school friends; the difference was they hid it all to appear “spiritual.” I wanted something different for my kids. 

I thought I was ready for them to struggle…but I wasn’t. I really wanted them to be different; to be teens who sailed through adolescence without having to deal with sexual junk that could follow them. My heart was in the right place but I didn’t realize the power of inward temptations — ones that I had faced even as a churched kid who barely remained a virgin when she got married at age 18. 

Gratefully, it didn’t take long for me to come to the realization that church and homeschooling and having like-minded friends and internet protections and screening entertainment, as well-motivated as these decisions may have been, couldn’t and wouldn’t protect my kids from things “common to man.” 

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptation

Lessons Learned

Young parents often ask Benny and me for advice about childrearing. They see that our seven now-adult children are all pretty awesome people who serve in the church, made wise choices in marriage and are giving us lots of adorable grandchildren they are trying to raise to know and follow God.

What most of them don’t know is that some of our lessons were learned through weakness and failure – ours or our kids. You will make your own mistakes and learn your own hard-fought lessons to pass along. But here’s our advice on how to walk through the often turbulent and murky waters of raising kids in our sex-saturated culture:

Realize your own temptations: Socrates is credited with saying, “Know thyself.” Good advice. But as Christians, we need take it a step further. We don’t just need to know our own temptations but we need to be known by others. Parents who admit their temptations to lust (which means admitting we are weak and vulnerable!), confess viewing porn and admit sexual lures and second looks are much more aware of their kid’s common temptations.Benny and I wish we’d been more empathetic and less surprised by our older kids’ temptations and struggles. Perhaps they would have been more open with us if we had. Parents who are in touch with their own hearts can resist common self-righteous reactions when sexual curiosity and temptation show up in our kids.

Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptation

Do what you can: Install internet filters, hang on to the TV remote, monitor their friendships and talk about why. I recently interacted with a mom who was shocked that her pre-teen son was viewing porn on the computer. When I asked about whether they used Covenant Eyes or any kind of internet filter she said, “Um, I think so. We just got a new computer and I’m sure it came with that.” No, it didn’t.

Talk…talk…talk: “I don’t want to talk to my child about sex or porn or masturbation because it’ll just put thoughts in their head” is often parental head-in-the-sand naivety. Did you notice that billboard with a seductive woman in lingerie? Hear that sexually explicit comment on TV that made you scurry to find the remote? Distract your son from the Victoria’s Secret window at the mall? Even your protections get their attention and make them curious about why you react to certain things, Mom and Dad. It’s better to talk now than regret later. This blog has done a great job of alerting you to how early today’s kids are exposed to sex and porn. Please listen.

Be the parent your child can talk to: The truth is that many parents focus more on protection than preparation Not My Kid! A Mother's Look at Sexual Temptation and Sin in the Home  GrowingUpTriplets.com #mother #kids #sexualtemptationand the preparation needs to begin in our very own hearts. It’s likely that there will come a day when your child happens upon pornography or is introduced to it by that sweet friend they met in Sunday School, is touched inappropriately by a trusted relative or cute little neighbor or discovers that fondling themselves feels good. And some of you may have kids whose sexual curiosities and interests may lead to having oral (the new “safe”) sex with a teen friend, experimentation with same-sex fantasies or encounters, or having intercourse with someone they hardly know.

Please know I don’t say those things to frighten you but to let you know that if and when any of these things happen, they started with something that is really scary to young parents like catching their son looking at the sexy catalogue that came in the mail or seeing your daughter with Barbie and Ken in a sexual position kissing one another. The way you react to these things says a lot about how ready you are for the big things that may come later, and tells your child if you’re a safe place to talk about things they’re thinking and feeling that they don’t understand.

Entrust your kids to God: Reading a post like this will cause some to leave the computer anxious. If that’s you, I know how you feel. But I know something else that’s much more important: God loves your children more than you do and He really does “cause all things to work together for good.” Some things that have gone on in our home over the years have been disappointing at best and life-shattering at worst. Through it all, though, God has been near and in control. Fearing the worst is more tormenting than experiencing the worst because there’s no grace for the trouble we borrow, but ample grace for the trouble we encounter. The reality is that God allowed some of my kids to go through things from which I went to every human length to protect them. And then He came with comfort and hope and strength to watch Him use it all for good in their lives and mine.

He is that good. He is that faithful.

What are your thoughts on sexual temptation and sin in the home?

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About Sheree Phillips

Sheree is the beautiful mother of 7 children and happy "granma" to 14 grandchildren! She married her highschool sweetheart, Benny, over 40 years ago. Together they serve Redeemer Church and are passionate about helping others to experience freedom in Christ. She blogs at Faith Rising.

Comments

  1. Outstanding post!

  2. Thank you for sharing!

  3. livinginblurredlines says

    Just remember, temptation.isn’t sin. How we deal with the temptations can be sinful. Do we turn to God, or to the temptation?

    • Livinginblurredlines, that’s an excellent point. Temptation is not sin. And you made a great point that when we’re tempted, we can focus on the temptation OR turn to God…and that’s true even when we sin, right? Both temptation and sin result in us turning either inward or upward. But I’ve found that repeated temptation in the same area (including the many faces of lust) can mean there are often undetected sin patterns lurking in our thinking or behavior (or that of our kids) that fuel those “repeat” temptations. Thanks for your insightful comment; a comforting reminder that our first urge should be to run to the throne of grace rather than to further focus on our temptations.

      Sheree

  4. Great post! Definitely a subject that needs to be out in the open.

  5. Thank you so much for this! I am so tired of posts from Christians or homeschoolers who imply that if you just follow a certain formula in parenting, then your children will never stray or fall into these types of sins. That leaves so many parents feeling like failures, or worse, disillusioning them in the faith, when their children stray. We can’t let pride allow us to think that if we do everything “right” our children will not fall. Yes, we should try to protect them, keep open the lines of communication, and live a good Christian life, but the truth is, being on our knees in prayer, and the generous grace of God are what will capture our children’s hearts for Him, whether they fall prey to temptations or not. Thank you so much for being real. Christian parents need to know that struggle with sin will be a part of their children’s life, just as it is in our own.

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