While it’s important to talk with your children about sex, it’s perhaps even more important that Christian parents talk to their children early, and often, about relationships. My daughters are 12 and nine years old, and for years already, they have heard from us that one of the most important qualities we hope they will look for in a boyfriend is that he is a committed Christian. 

Character qualities 

Additionally, we have discussed many character qualities that we hope they will look for in evaluating friendships they may wish to pursue and deepen as they get older – qualities such as courtesy, honesty, trustworthiness, a good sense of humour, the ability to admit when he is wrong, to treat them well and to have goals in life. 

At the same time, we encourage them to work on becoming the kind of young women who will make good partners for another, developing traits like loyalty, faithfulness, humility, the ability to say clearly what they think and feel but also the ability to allow others the freedom to say what they think and feel. 

Solid, godly choices

This is all preparation that we believe is crucial for their ability to grow up into young people who will make solid and godly choices about relationships. We hope this will help to protect them from boys who only want one thing from girls. We hope that by starting these conversations early, and openly, they will continue to talk to us when peer pressure encourages them not to. (Already my daughter has peers who are appalled that she shares so much with her mom. I cheer inwardly every time I hear that!) We hope this will enable them to decide that having no boyfriend is better than having a boyfriend who is not a believer, who treats them badly or who is directionless.   

Start early!

In some ways, it’s easy to tell kids not to have sex before they’re married, and we would absolutely advocate telling children exactly that. However, let’s also hold out a promise to them of what a godly, intimate relationship can be like and offer them a roadmap for how to get there – not once they’re leaving home but by pointing them in that direction throughout their childhood and teen years. Start early – they listen best when they’re young! 

Wendy Kittlitz is vice-president of counselling and care ministries at Focus on the Family Canada.

© 2010 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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