A mom discusses the importance of talking to your children about what they may encounter when they go to college.
We recently took our 18-year-old to college orientation day. The first day we learned about fun social events to help get students settled in. Day 2 included “Sex Discussion 101—a fun way to ask all the questions you want.” Two days into their new college life, not knowing anyone yet, students were being encouraged to discuss sex together—and with adults who likely don’t hold the same values as our family does. I was worried, but I found courage and now want to offer some advice.
Parents, it’s no lie when you hear folks say, “If your kids aren’t learning about sex from you, they are learning about it from someone else.” Even when they are learning about it from you, they are still hearing from other sources too. Take the opportunity to talk to your kids from young ages on up, and not just once. Include all topics. Don’t assume they “get what you mean.” Be specific. Ask for your teens’ thoughts on certain matters. Give them space to talk without pressuring them to conform to what you may want. Plant the seeds along the way but know you can only leave the growth of those seeds in the Lord’s very trustworthy hands. And take heart! Your children are listening to you and value what you tell them above all others.
Your children will face decisions such as their roommates asking if their girlfriends or boyfriends can sleep over in the dorm room. Discuss with your teens exit strategies at parties. Discuss how they plan to carry themselves daily in a manner that will act as a defense against any allegations. They are going to need these memories to help them make decisions that support their values and goals in life.
Ask your teens what those values and goals are in their lives—academically, spiritually, and relationally. Help them vocalize what it might take to achieve these goals. Where will they find help along the way? Their bodies may look all grown up, but their heads and hearts still need the guidance Dad and Mom can provide. Don’t shy away just because they act like they’ve got this all figured out. They don’t.
Our best defense for our children is prayer. Start now, and do it relentlessly. Our Father in heaven is listening! Regularly let your children know you are praying for them to remind them of the blessings you are asking the Lord to give them. We don’t parent out of fear, but rather out of love, hope, anticipation, and trust in the Lord’s Word—that is exciting!
Then encourage your children in the Lord—for he has done marvelous things. They need to hear about your faith and the ups and downs you’ve experienced. We don’t merely have a God who resides in the words on the pages of a book. We have a Mighty Counselor and Friend who is alive and active! Let your God shine at home with your family. They need to know they have a Savior who loves them and will help them even when the going gets real and tough.
It’s evident that we haven’t always taken to heart the seriousness of 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I am so thankful Jesus has paid the price for us. We can rest in his promises, no matter where we may fall short as parents or what may come our kids’ ways as they head off to college.
Read a college student’s perspective on the importance of open communication between parents and their children in college.
Author: Mary Sieh
Volume 105, Number 3
Issue: March 2019