PODCAST: What Teens Need to Hear to Keep a Healthy View of Sex

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Podcasts | 16 comments

What Kids Need to Hear about Sex Podcast
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So if you’ve been loving what we’ve been sharing about The Great Sex Rescue–how do you make sure your kids grow up with healthy teachings?

Today on the podcast we tackled how to translate some of our most important themes into something that we share with teens–and we answer some of your parenting/sex questions!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Timeline of the Podcast

2:20 Talking to youth about sex
4:45 Is context more important that what you do with your body?
6:00 Focus on Wisdom + Consent
9:40 What we NEED to tell our teens about boundaries
15:30 Let’s discuss how messy the conversation around porn is with teens
20:55 Teens DO have sexual feelings, and that’s not wrong?
26:50 RESEARCH: Masturbation rates in teens
31:00 We need a nuanced conversation concerning masturbation
32:50 RQ: I caught my son looking at stuff on the computer!
40:03 RQ: My daughter keeps watching videos of horses mating!
43:30 RQ: Encouraging my husband to help with teen boys
45:25 Another happy review!

Main Segment: What Should I Tell My Teens?

We received a lovely email from a woman who had read The Great Sex Rescue, and was asked to do a talk to the youth group in her church for about half an hour. She was trying to distill the most important points into a talk, and she asked for our input.

So Rebecca and I went over what we think teens need to hear–and you may want them to listen to this whole podcast with you, too!

Our big points were:

  • Having sexual feelings/feeling attracted to people is normal
  • Don’t tell kids to stay pure until marriage. Chastity (or following God’s design for sex) is a lifelong thing, and it isn’t only about not having sex before you’re married.
  • Talk to kids about WHY God wants us to wait for marriage. Don’t make it into this sin/punishment issue, but instead a wisdom, make good choices issue
  • Teach kids about consent. Have sexual boundaries yourself, but also honor the sexual boundaries of whoever you are with. If someone doesn’t honor yours, they’re not a safe person
  • Porn use is widespread, sure, but it’s not inevitable. And girls can be tempted, too! Plus let’s frame porn as a justice issue. It’s driving sex trafficking.
  • The way to fight lust is to learn to treat others as whole people

I’m sure we said some other things, too, but listen in and see if there’s anything you’d want to add!

New Research: How Often Do Teens Masturbate?

A number of the evangelical books we looked at for The Great Sex Rescue talked about boys being more prepared for marriage because they masturbated beforehand. But these authors seem to ignore that the majority of girls masturbate, too. So let’s look at the actual numbers. It’s good to be aware of this because it can shape how we address it with teens (and Rebecca and I gave a few talking points, too).

Across age groups, more males (73.8%) reported masturbation than females (48.1%). Among males, masturbation occurrence increased with age: at age 14 years, 62.6% of males reported at least 1 prior occurrence, whereas 80% of 17-year-old males reported ever having masturbated. Recent masturbation also increased with age in males: 67.6% of 17-year-olds reported masturbation in the past month, compared with 42.9% of 14-year-olds. In females, prior masturbation increased with age (58% at age 17 years compared with 43.3% at age 14 years), but recent masturbation did not. Masturbation was associated with numerous partnered sexual behaviors in both males and females. In males, masturbation was associated with condom use, but in females it was not.

Prevalence, Frequency, and Associations of Masturbation With Partnered Sexual Behaviors Among US Adolescents

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Reader Questions: Kids, Porn & Curiosity

We had a number of questions that I put Keith on the spot for–since he is a pediatrician! 

We worked through these ones:

I was committed to open, honest, Christian early conversations with our kids (two young teens, younger son). So we started early and every couple years re-visited with more age appropriate information. We homeschool and have pretty tight “tech” controls (yeah right!).

So in November, I checked my young teen son’s viewing history on his device, as I often do. He was in the room with me and started saying “Oh No!”. So I stopped and gave him a chance to tell my husband and I what we were about to see.

“I just wanted to know what a clitoris was”.


“You said something about it when we had ‘the talk’… so I wanted to see.”

“Ok. I wish you’d asked Dad or I, because wandering internet gets nasty really fast”.

He said he had only seen pictures with bikinis, but when we looked it was worse and I was so gutted! I wanted it to be different for him.

We confronted him with the lying. We told him he’s allowed to know the information and we understand curiosity- but he broke the rules for using Youtube and the internet. So there was a consequence. We also said that it’s not sinful to feel aroused, but it is sinful to use other peoples private and intimate relationship for your pleasure like voyeurism. And we assured him that our Lord God is faithful to forgive when you repent.

So we have another chance with our younger child to try to get it right. And our son has shown the weaknesses in our tech lock down- never locked enough!

So the questions… -How do you give them information without them having just enough to get into trouble? -Is this going to lead to more searching of “information”? – Does that initial exposure to porn doom him to being a user? -How can they have healthy relationships with God and future spouse?
I knew the stats “80% of boys have seen porn by the time they are 13”. BUT it wasn’t gonna be my kids!

Hi! I have a nine year old girl who looks up YouTube videos of animals mating. I believe she became intrigued by this by reading books about horses that had chapters about breeding them. Her screen time is normally properly monitored but if she is using my phone to listen to podcasts she might arrange to be alone and look up some videos. I haven’t been wanting to scold her for an interest in something that is a science topic and is natural for people and animals. But I think she is drawn to it too much. And it may be starting to be a problem. I have told her no videos of animals mating and she agrees and is remorseful but then gets caught again. How do I stop this from growing into an unhealthy fascination?

How do I help my husband stay emotionally involved with our teen sons?

You’re telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!

Talking about sex with your kids doesn’t always go smoothly. 

That’s why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:

What Kids Need to hear about Sex
Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Anon

    13.40 and I’m cheering at your advice to de-gender advice on boundaries. I know my male cousins had huge issues with girlfriends pressuring them to have sex while dating, and in addition to the stress that anyone is going to feel when their date pressures them to go further than they feel is right, they also had to deal with a lot of confusion as to whether they were ‘normal’ guys, because they’d been taught that they would be the ones who pushed boundaries and the girls would be the ones who wanted to keep to them!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! We can’t always assume that it’s boys who will want to push boundaries. We really have to get rid of the vast majority of gendered advice to youth. Unless it’s about our biological bodies, let’s remember that most things can go both ways.

  2. Anon

    Applause for the parents who handled their son’s internet exploration so well. Just a thought – when explaining stuff to kids, make sure you define any terminology you use and stress that if anything is unclear, NO QUESTION is too dumb to ask . I remember being very confused by some things I heard when I was young, and I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t understand. Back then, there was no option but to remain in ignorance, but these days, I could well have ended up hunting around online for an answer. Also, find out who your teen prefers to talk to about these things – if you are struggling to discuss things clearly, then it may be better for him/her to speak with a (designated, trusted) other adult, e.g. uncle, aunt, older sibling.
    With the 9 year old – any chance her family can introduce her to some farming friends? Growing up around animal lifecycles is the best way to have a healthy view towards mating etc. And helping look after the animals might make her interested in other aspects of their lives, not just their mating! I usually find kids who’ve grown up around farm animals have a much more level-headed attitude toward mating – it’s not seen as something to obsess about or wink/giggle over, because it’s just a normal part of life.

    • Kristen

      I’m not a parent, but I really like your suggestion of figuring out who your kids might be more comfortable talking to (if, as you say, that person is trustworthy and safe, etc.). As the oldest child, I remember my brother and sister coming to me many times with questions about sex. My first response in my mind was, “I’m not having this conversation with you – no way!” especially with my brother. But then I realized they didn’t feel comfortable mentioning these things to our parents, and I would much rather they ask me things than Google them.
      Fast forward a few years, and my sister is dating a guy from her church, and they are discussing the possibility of marriage. I will definitely be getting her The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex for an engagement gift if they do decide to tie the knot. 🙂

      • Andrea

        I’d like to say something in defense of Google. I did the research, so y’all don’t have to! The ONLY way a Google search will yield porn (which is what I’m guessing everyone’s afraid of, especially for their kids) is if you actually type “porn” into the search bar. I typed in “penis,” “vagina,” “clitoris,” and “orgasm,” and no porn came up. There were Wikipedia pages on each of the organs, Healthline and WebMD sites, perhaps some research from the Kinsey Institute. Nothing but scientifically objective information written in dispassionate medical prose, information that can only be useful to people learning about their own bodies and how those of the opposite sex function.

    • Boone

      I agree with you. My three grew up on a cattle farm and growing up were in on a lot of matings and even more birthings. A few of the latter didn’t end well and they learned that it’s not a perfect world.
      About ten years ago we switched exclusively to AI. This was done because our bulls are owned by a syndicate of which we are members and actually reside in Montana. This is becoming the norm in the industry due to the value of the bulls and the ability to share expenses. Also, we are shed of the liability of keeping a bull that weighs as much as an F150. Traditional cow matings are becoming a thing of the past.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I like that idea of the farming friends! Yes, I think this is likely just normal curiosity, and my concern is that if the mom paints it as a sin, it can really cause some shame.

      • Anon

        Definitely! It’s so easy to harm kids’ views of sex by how we respond to animals’ behaviour. When I was a kid, we walked past a pair of dogs mating, and my mother shouted ‘that’s disgusting, don’t look at it.’ I was really confused because I’d assumed they were mating (I was about 8, but spent most of my summer holiday on a friend’s farm, so I was used to seeing ducks, chickens, sheep & cows mating) and I didn’t understand why that was ‘disgusting’…

  3. Bethany#2

    2 things! 1st I was that little girl in my past, very fascinated by our goat herd matings. It was a mixture of new misunderstood sexual feelings and curiosity about the whole mating process of my favorite animals. Only my parents never seemed to know anything about it, a consequence of a large farm and many balls to juggle. Part of why I want to be the sister who is always willing to talk about anything with my sisters and brothers. (Though they thankfully seem to be getting good guidance from my married brother! So relieved about that!!!)
    2nd is that I was just dealing with my toddler and realized that the whole topic of sex is like poop. My toddler likes to do it outside both her diaper and the potty. I’m trying everything I can do, to teach her how not to do this! But she has a limited understanding and therefore she requires constant help. ( I know that sex is a whole lot better than the poop. But having just finished the podcast, it was an interesting analogy!) I’m excited for her understanding to grow and achieve potty training.

  4. Nathan

    > > Having sexual feelings/feeling attracted to people is normal
    This is a hugely important item. Many people have lowered the bar so much in this area that sometimes ANY sexual feelings or thoughts are called lusting and sinful. And that likely creates a lot of problems for people and bringing shame where there is no need of it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! I think this is a huge issue. Probably the biggest that contributes to shame.

  5. Chris

    About things we should teach our kids; marriage does not equal sex. I did not grow up with purity culture but we definitely got the “wait wait wait and it will be great great great” message. I think that we should teach kids that just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have sex all the time. I definitely thought that when I was a teenager. We should teach our kids that marriage has many seasons and that sex is only one of them. And that many married couples don’t have sex at all. That might shock them but it also may comfort them. I was one of those kids who was convinced that married people had sex all the time except my parents who i was sure only did it twice. 🤣

  6. Sammy

    Thanks for this. I’m a youth leader with teenagers of my own. And my students are asking for this conversation. While I know some things I need to say (I was a child of the purity culture too–have the ring to prove it), it’s hard to figure out the other stuff. I’m still unpacking all the wounding from that culture, the shaming of female-ness, the modesty culture, and the pass that guys got–and I’m a 40something year old woman. If I can save any of my students from the confusion I felt in the early years of my marriage AND they understand that the purpose of waiting is not for shame by for freedom, I will have done my job well.

  7. AnonDad

    I’m thinking through materials to use for teaching my kids about sex. With my oldest 2 (both daughters), my wife used the Passport2Purity course from the Raineys/FamilyLife. It seemed like it was OK. No big complaints.
    I’d love to understand how The “Whole Story” differs from P2P as they seem to both cover a lot of the same ground, but I assume have a different approach.
    My 2 youngest are boys (currently 6 and 9), and it will be my turn over the next 1-4 years to take them through this stuff. As I’ve been reading Sheila’s blog and book (The Great Sex Rescue), I really appreciate her perspective on sex, and I’m interested in seeing how that carries over into the content for teaching kids about sex.
    Has anyone used both that can offer a comparison? Or does anyone have any critique of where P2P may get it wrong, and where “The Whole Story” does it better?


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