Question: Doug, I'm starting to worry about when to have "the talk" with my son. I want to do it before he finds out somewhere else, but I don't know if he's old enough. When is the best age to talk to him about sex?
Answer: This is a great question. The age of adolescence is definitely moving downward, so you can't assume that your son will reach puberty when you did. Generally, subtract about two years from the age you hit adolescence to figure out when he will.
You can also apply another rule of thumb that can sometimes be a little too obvious. When your son starts to smell, literally smell, it is time. When the body odor kicks in, it means he is getting the hormones he needs to start having his sexuality kick in.
Remember, as the dad you have the credibility and responsibility to talk to your son about sex. If you feel you need some help, I would recommend my DVD Shepherding Your Sons Sexually. You can do a better job than your dad did with you, and you can put your sons on the path to be sexually successful in a declining sexual world.
Also, I think it's very important as Christian men that we rid ourselves of a worldly idea of having "the talk." That type of talk usually means one very short conversation that is meant to give him guidance for the most powerful drive he will have to manage until the day he dies.
Instead of giving him just "the talk," get ready to have a season of discipleship with him. You will need to have regular sexual conversations to help him manage this amazing and powerful drive he has.
Imagine yourself as the first man in your family making it normal and healthy to sexually disciple a son. Imagine your great-grandson talking repeatedly to his son and disciplining him. God is looking for men who are willing to break the curse of sexual silence that is handed down from father to son.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is the founder and director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center, and author of The 7 Love Agreements.