Is Your 5-year-old Teaching Others About Sex?

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“Let’s Talk About Sex”

When my son was 5-years-old, one of his neighbor friends told him about naked women he had seen in some pornographic picture or video. He said in a matter-of-fact way, “Let’s talk about sex.” This friend roamed the neighborhood A LOT and when he wasn’t roaming he was in front of a screen. His family was religious, loving, but unaware of what their boy was being exposed to.

On another occasion, a friend of mine once told me of witnessing a different 5-year-old boy in the neighborhood laying on top of a slightly older girl kissing her mouth and trying to do other things that the boy had apparently witnessed elsewhere. The girl seemed to be enjoying the attention. I’m sure (or at least hope) the parents of the boy would be mortified if they knew what their son was doing.

I could go on and on with stories about children learning and doing things that would horrify their parents. And to this day, these parents probably still don’t know about it.

Both of these stories have two things in common: 1. A young child was exposed to sexual images and then tried sharing or acting on it, and 2. The parents of these children were not involved enough to know what was happening, let alone offer guidance.

Pop Quiz

True or False: Putting your kids in a lot of activities is the same as you being involved in their life.

The answer: capital F-A-L-S-E!

Don’t worry. If you answered incorrectly, you can still make up the points by reading the rest of this article and then applying it.

There is a disturbing trend in much of our society that is going undetected. It is this:

We parents are not effectively involved in our children’s lives and this is leaving them vulnerable to unhealthy messages about love and sex.

Now before you start to despair because you already feel over-booked with your kids lives, or before you begin to attack me….hear me out.

Oblivious to the Obvious?

There are several reasons why this problem is going undetected. Some of the reasons are legitimate while others are merely excuses. This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list.

  1. The illusion of involvement. We may feel that ensuring that our children are busy with soccer, gymnastics, piano, clubs, etc is how we stay involved in their life. Because we take them from place to place and book their schedules it can give us a false sense of involvement. Quality of involvement is as important–if not more so–than quantity.
  2. Parental freedom. The more we keep our kids occupied, the more we can get done. We can spend more time cleaning the house, at work, or on screens (TV, Facebook, etc).
  3. Uninformed voters. Many parents are simply unaware of the negative consequences of under-involved parenting. They could think: “I played outside all day and had very few personal interactions with my parents growing up and I turned out okay.”

I know that you want to your child to not just survive, but thrive. Your heart is all in! But it is possible to love a child totally and completely but not in the way her or she needs. It is possible for your child to be involved in so many activities without you actually being involved in their life.

Busy Doesn’t Mean Involved

Dr. Laurence Steinberg wrote:

Being an involved parent takes time and is hard work, and it often means rethinking and rearranging your priorities. It frequently means sacrificing what you want to do for what your child needs you to do.

Did you know that the strongest and most consistent predictor of children’s mental health, adjustment, happiness, and well-being is the level of involvement of their parents in their life?

Children with involved parents are also more likely to share if they have been exposed to pornography or if someone has touched them inappropriately.

Ok. To be completely honest, this article is about more than just parental involvement. I’m really just building up to talking to your kids about intimacy, sexuality, and its counterfeits. But, how can we teach and influence our children about these things if we don’t understand their hearts and minds? How can we understand their hearts and minds if we aren’t effectively involved?

Porn Kills Love

In our day and age, our children are going to be exposed to pornography. The question is not so much if they are going to see it, but when. We cannot control the choices of peers, the parents of our peers, and many, many other sources. Yet, the more connected and effectively involved we are, the more influence and guidance we can offer.

A student recently told me that her best friend was sexually abused as a child. Sadly, her friend kept it from her parents for many years because she didn’t know how to talk to them about it. In her friends’ home, they didn’t talk about the body, intimacy, and so on. It was taboo. She is now receiving therapy and getting the help she needs. But if this girl had a more open, communicative relationship with her parents, those years of guilt and depression could have been minimized. 

So What Do I Do?

You’re probably wondering how to become effectively involved in your child’s life to the point you can have regular chats about love, intimacy, and pornography. Stay tuned! I will be blogging about this and also publishing an ebook about this at the end of June.

Our friends at Educate Empower Kids (EEK) have created some fantastic materials to help parents guide their children. Check out 30 Days of Sex Talks and How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography. Check out this powerful video below by EEK that I feel summarizes what I’ve been trying to say.

Please help us strengthen families by sharing this article with your friends and family! Likewise, to see more of Dr. Tim’s articles (as well as articles by Dr. Rob), please also check out the rest of our blog and our Facebook page.


Why Loving Yourself Comes Before Loving Your Spouse

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To say that marriages need love is about as obvious as saying peanut butter needs chocolate.

We read about love, we watch movies about love, the most popular songs on the radio sing about love, and we even devote a holiday to love!

But what people might not know about love in marriage is one key factor: the importance of loving ourselves.

We Should Love Ourselves (in the Right Way)

It is my observation that we can’t fully love someone else while we are loathing ourselves. So, if we want to truly love our spouse, we need a healthy love for ourselves first.

I do need to give a quick disclaimer. There is a lot of selfish behavior that can arise in marriage under the guise of “loving oneself.” Please note that I am not suggesting that the way for us to love ourselves is to spend more money on ourselves, spend more time seeking selfish pursuits, or to become narcissistic in our thinking. I’m also not suggesting that we become disinterested in our own self-improvement.

What I am suggesting is that we need to think more kindly about ourselves. And we need to become a bit more patient with ourselves as we strive to make necessary improvements.

I once had a wise student who said, “If a friend talked to us the way that we talk to ourselves, would we be friends with that person?” That’s a rather thought provoking question, isn’t it?

In addition to thinking more positively, I am pleading with you to stop comparing yourself to others. This habit can destroy individuals and marriages!

Are Your Social Media Habits Helping or Harming Your Ability to Love Yourself?

Have you ever spent time on Facebook and thought, “Wow, everybody has either just lost 20 pounds, is on vacation, is celebrating an anniversary to their amazing spouse, just posted pictures of their perfect family, or just received an incredible promotion at work.”

I know that not every Facebook post is like that, but I’ve seen so many that are – you have too. How do these posts affect us? Is it possible that our social media consumption can impact how we feel about our own lives?

This may be the case according to research out of Sweden from the University of Gothenburg. These researchers found that, especially for women, as Facebook usage increased, self-esteem decreased.

Another study noted that those with low Facebook usage reported higher levels of self-esteem than both heavy Facebook users and non-users.

Interestingly enough, the second study suggests a potential benefit to what I like to call “social media in moderation.” In that study, people who limited their use of Facebook were not only happier than more frequent users, but also felt better about themselves than those who didn’t use Facebook.

Why is This So Important?

Earlier I suggested that learning to love ourselves comes before we can fully love our spouse.

When we think of selfishness in marriage, we usually think of individuals pursuing their interests without thinking of their spouse. This type of selfishness can definitely harm a marriage!

However, there is another type of selfishness that arises too often in marriages. This sneaky form of selfishness can arise from our own self-loathing. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself the following questions:

  • On days where you are “down,” what percentage of your time are you thinking about your partner’s needs?
  • How likely are you to selflessly serve your spouse when you are feeling “blue”?
  • When you aren’t feeling good about yourself, how readily do you demonstrate your love to your spouse?

We all experience some sadness of course. And there are some who struggle with clinical depression who may need medical help. However, for the rest of us, as we allow ourselves to remain mired in our own “pity party,” we are unable to give our best to our spouse.

Among other things, marriages need consistent attention, friendship, and passion if they are going to thrive. Since we all have a limited amount of time and energy, if we choose to focus inwardly we won’t be able to give the time or energy needed to form and maintain such a marriage!

Thus, loving our self is a first step to truly loving our spouse. In the words of 19th century Irish poet Oscar Wilde, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”


Please help us strengthen families by sharing this article with your friends and family! Likewise, to see more of Dr. Rob’s articles (as well as articles by Dr. Tim), please also check out the rest of our blog and our Facebook page.

Love: The Best Christmas Gift Ever!

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I’m guessing most of you women are already done holiday shopping – and some of you have probably been done since August. On the other hand, I suspect that most of you men are not done holiday shopping – and some of you probably won’t start until Christmas Eve.

Regardless of your gender or the amount of Christmas shopping you’ve already accomplished, let me suggest a gift that you can offer that will be more important than any other gifts you will give this holiday season – the gift of increased love for your spouse!

Allow me to explain.

Defining Love

Love can be defined in a variety of ways., for instance, defines love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. Meriam-Webster offers another definition: affection based on admiration, benevolence or common interests.

While I like these definitions, let me share two of my favorite descriptions of love. They are as profound as they are simple.

  1. Love is a decision
  2. Love is a verb

What do these principles look like when applied in a marriage?

Love is a decision

In my professional life, I teach a Preparing for Marriage class at BYU-Idaho. We discuss in great detail the importance of “choosing well” when it comes to spouse selection. As far as life’s choices go, this decision really is one of the most important!

Once married though, we must constantly choose if we will show love to our spouse (even when they may be less lovable). This often comes easily during engagement and the “honeymoon period” of a marriage. However, it’s just as important to keep loving our spouse as time goes on. Yes, this means loving them when they are grumpy, if they lose their hair, if they put on a few pounds, if they are challenged with depression, or even if they struggle with the same weaknesses for an extended period of time. You get the idea.

Love really is a decision! But, it isn’t simply a one-time decision made prior to marriage. We have to decide every day to truly love our spouse! This holiday season, I challenge you to choose today, tomorrow, and each day to love your spouse with all of your heart.

Love is a verb

Not only is love something we have to choose every day, but it’s also something that requires action. For instance, it’s one thing for me to tell my wife that I love her (and I do frequently). However, with 5 energetic children, she often feels even more love when I do the dishes or fold the laundry.

For your spouse, “showing love” may mean watching a sappy movie or enjoying a ballgame together. It might mean going out dancing or buying a thoughtful gift. Maybe it means taking more time to kiss or spending more time nourishing your sexual stewardship. And perhaps it could also include helping out more with the kids or with household chores.

While it’s critical to frequently say “I love you,” it may be even more important to consistently show “I love you.” And remember, showing that love each day is truly a choice!

Regardless of whatever other gifts you may buy this holiday season, give your spouse a little extra love this Christmas. This is a gift that will be truly treasured!



Please help us strengthen families by sharing this article with your friends and family! Likewise, to see more of Dr. Rob’s articles (as well as articles by Dr. Tim), please also visit our website and Facebook page.