The conversation of purity has been sequestered to being only about the infamous “sex talk,” a time many parents dread, fumble through, or simply ignore. The truth is, parents can be encouraged to know the dialogue around purity is broader and more meaningful at every age and stage of a child’s development. Purity can be displayed through all our thoughts, words, and actions. Beginning at an early age, parents can initiate an ongoing conversation around purity in all its forms. And it’s never too late to start.
Let’s get this conversation started. George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Parents have a limited amount of time to communicate all that is desired for their children to be ready for this world—scratch that—for this world to be ready for them.
One of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child is an accurate view of their God-given identity. They are made in His image, have access to His power, and are covered in His grace. The reality is we struggle between two natures, one wanting to do what is right and one wanting to do what is wrong. The Bible calls it the struggle between our flesh and the Spirit of God working in us, causing us to feel torn between sinfulness and righteousness. Though the world can twist what God says is wrong and make it seem right, as parents, we can rightly nurture the right nature in our kids.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV
6 Tips (Plus a Bonus Pro Tip!) to Help You Initiate an Ongoing Conversation About Purity and Sex
1. Start today. Don’t wait to talk to your kids about purity. Help them grasp the concept no matter their age. And remember—purity is about choosing a lifestyle that is godly, not just about sexual purity.
Tip: Keep reading for a list of resources and questions to help foster your conversation on purity with your kid, no matter their age.
2. Embrace the discomfort. It’s pretty easy to talk to your kids about right and wrong, pure and impure. But often, the most difficult part of this lifelong concept is discussing sexual purity. The sex talk is often one of the most dreaded parenting events. Maybe it wasn’t modeled well or a welcomed, ongoing conversation when you were growing up. Maybe you tried to have an open conversation, but were met with eye-rolling, or a talk-to-the-hand-I-know-where-babies-come-from kind of gesture. Either from the parent’s side or the child’s side, no one is usually perfectly comfortable having this conversation. And that’s okay!
Tip: Just step into it. Choose a place and time where your kid is already comfortable talking. Be okay with silence or eye-rolling. Create a safe place for any question. Let your child know you’ll always answer any question they have. Remember, this won’t be a one-and-done conversation.
3. Ask for their input. Even children at a young age begin to wonder where they came from. Use these natural life questions to open up an ongoing conversation about how God designed them and how He wants us to make right choices regarding taking care of both our minds and our bodies. Ask your child what questions they have. Ask them how they choose what is right. Ask them how they help others choose what is right.
Tip: Avoid shaming and affirm when possible. Give time for the conversation to unfold and avoid being too quick to offer the right answer.
4. Develop an attitude of trust. Beginning at a young age, children learn where they can go to get trusted information. The goal as a parent is to be their first source. Listening well and taking time with just them will boost your trust credibility. Deep trust isn’t instant; it’s developed over time. Express clearly and often to them how much they’re worth both to you and to God.
Tip: Listening well fosters trust. It happens by asking questions, staying engaged, eliminating distractions, and repeating what you heard.
5. Model purity. More is caught than taught. From the earliest age, kids learn by imitating. The decisions parents make and the relationships they have can impact a child’s life significantly. If beliefs determine our behavior, what would your child say you believe?
Tip: Examine your current behaviors and relationships and how they model purity. Is it time to make some good habits or break some bad ones? You can do it! And you can be sure your child is watching.
6. Establish truth. Be factual in your explanations. Avoid slang and explore why God’s way is best. Discuss why God’s design for sex, purity, and relationships is better than the world’s. God has established sex to be enjoyed and treasured within the bounds of a marriage between one man and one woman. Unpack verses like Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:5, and Psalm 119:9.
Tip: Leverage the resources below to help engage in the ongoing conversation.
Bonus Parenting Pro Tip!
This cannot be emphasized enough. If your child has an electronic device with any internet access at all, it’s time to make sure it has safety filters and website blockers on it. Don’t wait until you think there’s a chance they might search for something unsavory. Make sure it’s not even accidentally found! And don’t give your teen or preteen extra temptation that could so easily be eliminated. In fact, don’t give yourself unnecessary temptation. You can set up your smart devices to autofilter harmful content, set screen time limits, enable permissions to approve apps and more. Maybe a tool like Covenant Eyes would work well for your family. Check out this list of free parental control software, some of which will even help you protect your internet-connected game consoles like an Xbox One. Leverage the technology tools at your disposal to create the best environment for your child to remain pure. And keep reading for ways to start the discussion about purity with your child, no matter what age they are.
Resources and Discussion Questions for Talking to Your Kid About Purity at Any Age
If you’d like to purchase a good set of books that cover every age and stage to read with your child, check these out. In the meantime, here are some quick links to free resources about purity for your kids at each developmental level. You can also try these discussion starters to begin a conversation about how to stay pure in your home.
For Your Preschoolers (Or Verbal Toddlers—It’s Never Too Early to Start!)
- Start this Bible Plan together.
- Go on this Bible Adventure together with your little ones. Each time they watch it, they’ll pick up new things.
- As you work through this topic together, try asking some of these questions:
- How can you find out if something’s a sin?
- When you sin, who will make your heart pure and clean?
- Share an age-appropriate time you sinned—how you knew you had sinned, how you felt, and how you found forgiveness through Jesus.
For Your Elementary Kids
- Start this Bible Plan about staying pure.
- Watch this month’s Konnect HQ episodes with your child.
- As you work through this topic together, use these questions as a jumping off place:
- What do you think pure means?
- How did Jesus’ actions show His pure heart?
- What’s something you can do to act more like Jesus this week?
For Your Preteens
- Start this Bible Plan about purity with your preteen. If they have their own Bible App account, invite them to join you in a Plan with Friends.
- Watch these great episodes of The Loop Show about purity.
- As you work through this topic together, ask the questions below:
- What are some things culture tells you about love and purity? How is it different from what God says?
- How does Jesus fix our impurity?
- What are some ways you can live purely? What can I do to help support you?
For Your Teenagers
- Encourage your teen to start a Bible Plan with their friends. Here are a few plans they could try: Dateable, Swipe Right, and The Great Adventure.
- Ask your teen if they’ve seen the Switch episodes about purity. If they have, watch them so you can catch up. If not, watch them together.
- This is obviously a topic that will stay toward the top of the list as you parent your teen. Look for opportunities to bring this topic to light every day. Try the questions below:
- What do you think about purity? How would you define it? How does God’s Word define it? Does it matter to you?
- Why do you think God takes purity so seriously?
- What steps can you take to help you resist temptation in daily life? What can I do to help?