It’s no secret — the teenage years can be tumultuous. With added responsibilities, lifestyle changes, endless peer pressure, and poor cultural examples, “teenagehood” is a time of difficult decisions, awkwardness, and maybe just a little whiplash.
Add romance and relationships to the mix? No wonder parents are frazzled.
Every godly parent wants their children to make wise choices, especially in areas that will affect the rest of their lives — like sexual purity. Many, however, struggle to give the right guidance as they slowly release their babies into the world.
I’m eighteen years old and have never been in a relationship. Although I sometimes struggle to see other young people my age date and even get engaged, for now I’m joyful in my singleness and passionate about pursuing purity. The Bible’s picture of purity is beautiful to me. I couldn’t be more thankful for the one thing, humanly speaking, that’s made the greatest impact on me in this area of my life: my parents.
As a teenage daughter with a front-row seat in the arena of romance and relationships, I have a bit of an insider perspective. And I know, from personal experience, that even if you think you’re the last person who could have an effect on your daughter, you’re actually the most important one who can — and here’s how.
1. Show how much you care about her — not just her purity.
I’m in awe of how much parents do for their children. Seriously. The amount of sacrifice and love they pour out daily blows my mind. But often, when it comes to purity, parents lay out a list of dos and don’ts, how-tos and how-to-nots.
Giving her a book isn’t going to cut it. Telling her abstinence is important isn’t going to make her fall in love with purity. Laying out rules for dressing modestly isn’t going to give her passion and conviction.
It’s important to communicate those things, but it’s even more crucial to share your heart, encourage her to share hers, and listen when she does. Taking the time to answer her questions, build her trust, and talk through tough issues will transform her perspective. Trying to understand struggles, and investing in her daily, will show her you care more than anything else could.
My mom is a great example of this. I know I can always come to her, and she’ll be there to encourage and pray for me, as she’s done many times before. She genuinely listens and gives guidance regarding the matters of my heart and my daily problems. Even though it takes time, effort, and sacrifice, she’s faithful to pray for me and my future spouse. Her consistent care influences me more than everything else she’s taught me. Because she cares, I care.
2. Take the time to share the “Why” of purity.
A while ago, I asked several girls, “What did your parents do that impacted you the most?” I loved this answer a friend shared: “Something I’m so thankful my parents did was help me understand the why behind purity. They didn’t just say, ‘You need to do this and don’t do that,’ or, ‘The Bible says so.’ But they showed me from Scripture why it matters to God, why it matters in culture, and why it should matter to me.”
Exactly. In our culture, purity isn’t applauded; immorality is. If you merely tell your daughter she should save sex for marriage, but don’t tell her why, she’ll be confused by the contrary messages she receives everywhere else. But if you explain God’s design for sexuality, the consequences of premarital sex, and how special it is to save her heart and body for her future spouse, she’ll have a greater understanding of the meaning behind your words.
One way to clearly establish the why is to share both your personal mistakes and successes. If you and your spouse regret how you first handled your relationship, share the story with discernment, and tell her you want more for her. If you did it right, share the things you’re glad about, and give her a vision for what a beautifully pure relationship looks like.
Taking a radical stand against the impurity in our culture means risking exclusion and criticism, and a girl needs to clearly understand the why — why it’s important to you, them, their future spouse, and God.
3. Create an open conversation about purity.
Let me share a little secret. Girls have lots of questions, but they often feel too awkward to ask. It’s not that they don’t trust you; they’re just not sure how to ask and don’t know how you’ll respond. I know this from personal experience, but I’ve also heard it from many other girls.
As I talk to girls about these issues, I often get responses like “I really wish my parents had talked with me more about sex, friendships with guys, etc. I think their generation was told, ‘Wait till they ask,’ but I was so uncomfortable. . . .” Or, “To be honest, my parents don’t talk much about it with me.” Or, “I wish they’d told me about how to relate to boys . . . and been more open about sex.”
On the flip side, other girls have said, “I really appreciate that they were never cryptic about sex. They didn’t discuss it in detail until we were mature enough, but they didn’t avoid it either. This might be kind of scary for other parents to consider, but it helped me that they answered all my questions as fully as they could without being inappropriate.” Or, “On the positive side, my mother really tried to take the time to help me. . . . I’m so grateful she invested in my heart and wanted to protect me.”
As parents, it’s important to openly discuss difficult topics like sexuality, friendships with boys, and what purity actually means. It might be awkward and uncomfortable, but your daughters desperately need your guidance on these topics. Be discerning, conscientious, and age-appropriate, but don’t shy away from the tough stuff. It’s what she needs to know to thrive.
4. Point her to Jesus in her pursuit of purity.
Eventually, every parent will come to the place where they’ve done all they can. Your baby girl will grow up, move out, and begin life on her own. At that time, the one thing that will stand is how you showed her Jesus. Above everything else, this is number one. You can only control and teach so much. Only Jesus can truly guide her.
I’m at the point in my life where I’m beginning to make greater decisions and become independent of my parents. And I’ve never been as thankful as I am now for the firm spiritual foundation laid for me from youth. They took me to church, taught me to read the Bible, and modeled a lifestyle of prayer. They challenged me to think hard and deep about the things of God, and approached me if I began to stray.
They pointed me to Jesus by reminding me of how worthy he is of all my worship and affection. They also reminded me of my worth to him — that I’m cherished, beautiful, and pursued by the One who loves me even more than they do. Each of these became a mold that formed me, and continues to shape me, as I branch out into the world of adulthood.
But more than anything else, they pointed me to Jesus by showing me that my purity matters because of the spotless purity of my Savior. In my own strength, purity is impossible. But by his death he cleansed all my sins and washed away the impurity of my heart with his shed blood. He was pure in my place, and he equips me to pursue purity by the grace he gives daily through faith.
It comes down to this. The most important thing I’ve learned from my parents is to pursue Jesus. It’s what will stick with me all my life and what I’m eternally grateful for. And through my pursuit of Jesus, he leads me to pursue purity. Both are journeys I’ll never regret.