Before "The Talk" – Dealing with Our Past (Part 1)

  • Are you trying to raise your children with different sexual morals and standards than those you grew up with and lived out as a child, teen or young adult?
  • Are you embarrassed by your own sexual history, and does this make you feel hypocritical — or unqualified — to encourage your children to avoid behaviors you once engaged in?
  • Be encouraged. Regardless of your past, your testimony could very well be the script your children hold in their hearts and minds, which could help them walk in righteousness as they face tough temptations in the future.

After a little honest reflection, many parents will admit that their own sexual history is the roadblock in talking about sex with their kids. We have to acknowledge the wounds from our past — and work to resolve them and find God's healing.

Revisiting Childhood

When we begin to process our sexual past, some of us must begin in childhood because that is where the pain began.

In this fallen world, no doubt, some people have experienced poor, unhealthy loving relationships as children. Some of us may have felt we had to earn love and approval with our appearance, actions or through our achievements.

Other relationships may manifest in the form of sexual abuse from family members, close family friends or external perpetrators. The 2011 U.S. Child Maltreatment report found, of the reported child-maltreatment cases, about one in ten children (9.1%), 17 years of age and younger, had been sexually abused and about one in six (17.6%) children had been physically abused.

Those suffering from sexual abuse as a child may find Christian counseling helpful in working through such difficult issues from their past. Sexually abused children often cope with their emotional trauma by blaming themselves with thoughts like:

  • I'm not pretty or handsome enough (or too pretty or handsome)
  • I deserve this mistreatment.
  • Older people cannot help themselves around me.
  • I'm worthless and used up
  • Nobody would want me.

These kinds of self-statements can lead to self-hatred or self-loathing.  

Those experiencing sexual abuse are likely to have a warped view — or no understanding at all — of God's original, unblemished and perfect design for sexuality within the context of a stable, loving, lifelong, monogamous heterosexual marriage.  

Such false beliefs can foster unhealthy behaviors, such as eating disorders — trying to make ourselves more attractive or less attractive by using food as a coping mechanism. The false belief that you lacked intrinsic value may have led to substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide.

You may never have heard the truth: The abuse was NOT YOUR FAULT. It is never appropriate for one person to sexually abuse another. Never.

Some people have benefited greatly by gleaning wisdom from a qualified Christian counselor who can — with God's help — guide  us  to deal with our past in a healthy and restorative way. ... God knows each of us and He forgives, restores and values us — regardless of our past decisions and mistakes.

The Focus on the Family Counseling Department can help direct you to a qualified counselor in your area, if you need help. Find Focus on the Family referred counselors in your area.

Revisiting the Teen and/or College Years

Some of us may still be tending wounds from our teen and young adult years. Some of us may have been a part of the "sexual revolution" generation. We spent our teen and young-adult years in the "free-love" 1960s and 70s. During those decades, sexual behaviors which once were unthinkable or profanely taboo became commonplace. "The pill" largely mitigated risks of pregnancy — just one of the many consequences of sexual activity outside of marriage.

Parents, along with schools and churches, were caught off-guard by society's rapid disregard for long-held, traditional sexual mores. The lustful sexual rebellion has wreaked havoc on our nation and its stalwart institutions — family, government, religion and education.

Many adults still reap the consequences of being impressionable teens during the sexual revolution. Some still carry the physical and emotional scars of sexual activity outside of marriage. We may have had trouble bonding or finding true intimacy with our spouse because we had other sexual partners before we married. The results of teen pregnancy, abortion or sexually transmitted diseases may have taken a toll on our physical and mental health.

For some, a painful sexual past can often lead them to pornography. Easy access to Internet pornography has insidiously captured the minds of millions of adults and children. What starts out as an occasional glance can turn into an addiction that controls every thought, which then can lead to acting out these fantasies. The Internet has taken away the shame and fear of entering an adult book-video store and has secretly brought it into countless homes, libraries and businesses.

Learn how to better protect your marriage and children from pornography: go to Focus on the Family's Pure Intimacy web site.   



About the original author: Linda Klepacki is a registered nurse and taught abstinence education for more than 20 years.