All parents dread this moment, the inevitable moment when we have to sit our kids down and have “The Talk.” We have to explain to them that they weren’t actually dropped off on our doorstep by a stork. Many of us can reminisce about the time our parents gave us the talk and cringe at how awkward it was. Here’s the thing: no matter how awkward it may be to talk to our kids about sex, it’s necessary. I wrote about why it’s necessary last week. If we don’t talk to our kids, someone else will, and it’s likely we won’t agree with what they say. So how do we navigate having the talk with our teenagers? There are a few things we need to realize as parents.

It’s really a conversation, not a talk.

It’s not a one time, sit down, and get it over with, talk. The way we teach our kids about sexuality and marriage should be an ongoing conversation. Bring it up around the dinner table or on the way to school. As a pastor, I should regularly be bringing it up from the pulpit. It doesn’t have to be awkward or taboo to talk to our kids about sex. Making it a regular conversation with them makes it a more comfortable subject.

Start early.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. We want to be the first ones to talk to our kids about marriage and sexuality. Don’t wait until they are coming home with information they heard at school or on TV. We should be teaching them, not correcting the things they have already learned.

Be clean, not crude.

This means no redneck theology. No “Adam and Steve” jokes – not at home or in the pulpit. Don’t allow cultural prejudices or preferences create an unloving environment in our hearts, homes, and churches. We want our kid to believe that we will love them and walk with them no matter what. Our conversations should be open and honest, and our kids should feel encouraged, not condemned.

Think management, not triumphalism.

What I mean by this is that we are all still managing our sexuality, myself included. We all still struggle, just like our kids. It’s not a battle to be won. When we talk to our kids, let’s remember our theology – we are all still sinners recovering and pursuing God’s design for our lives. The only way we can manage our sexuality is by believing and trusting in the gospel.

So learn to put on your best poker face, and get ready to talk to your kids about sexuality and marriage – not just once, but as often as possible, as clearly as possible, and always keeping God’s design in mind.