When I was young and reaching the age when boys begin to notice things they didn’t notice before, my dad handed me a book and said, “Read this. If you have any questions, ask your mother.” That was my first exposure to sex education. Of course, the sterile book that they had handed me was nothing compared to the stimulating conversation that I would find among my peers and classmates during reading group time at school. Unfortunately, words in black and white hardly prepared me or educated me in the same way that conversations about blow jobs did with my friends.
That was a long time ago and the times have certainly changed. Sure, that’s a phrase that most every generation seems to use on the one that comes behind them, but in the realm of sexuality, there is not much question that what we are experiencing today is unparalleled compared to what we had seen before. What was once forbidden and not talked about is generally plastered on the front page of the papers or “rag sheets” in the checkout aisle of the grocery store. Whereas, once upon a time it might have been acceptable and even effective for parents to have one talk about sex with their children, that one talk is no longer enough. It has to be a conversation that lasts not minutes, but months and years.
Jonathan McKee makes his living researching youth culture and speaking to and writing about youth. I was exposed to him when he came and spoke at a youth weekend at my church. He’s the real deal, not pulling any punches in presenting the hard facts about youth and the youth culture of today. While there were times that he felt a little “salesman-y,” his material was spot on, informative, and relevant.
In his book “More Than Just the Talk,” he presents research and statistics that some parents might not be comfortable in addressing. The extent to which the youth of today is bombarded with sexual information is astounding as compared to the past. A sexual lifestyle and the glorification of sexual promiscuity and licentiousness is everywhere: books, magazines, movies, music, and even video games. McKee gives just a few examples of just how explicitly this is the case. He says that kids will learn about sex regardless of whether or not their parents tell them, so shouldn’t it be up to parents to present them with information before they find it out for themselves?
Because of the vast difference between the culture of today and the culture in which most parents grew up, there is a tendency to overreact when faced with today’s culture. McKee encourages parents not to overreact but to interact. In fact, he repeats this over and over again throughout the book. Overreaction results in your children thinking that this will be the reaction every time they bring something to you, causing them to go elsewhere with questions, concerns, and problems.
McKee stands firm on the principle that sex is a beautiful thing which was designed to be enjoyed by a man and a woman in marriage. With humor and biblical support, McKee presents his case for constant conversation between parents and children when it comes to the area of sex, intimacy, marriage, and all things relating to these issues. He aims right at the questions and issues that are most facing the youth of today, taking whole chapters to deal with tough questions that are based upon questions that he has heard from youth who have heard his talks or who have read his blog.
He explores the ideas of how far is too far, of how to address your son and daughter individually regarding sexuality, masturbation, same sex relationships, fleeing sexual temptations, pornography, surviving past mistakes, and more.
While there are occasions that he might come across somewhat preachy or even self-promoting, one must realize that this is what he does for a living and also realize that self-promotion shouldn’t be frowned upon when the information that is being offered and shared is as relevant as the information McKee shares.
Jonathan McKee presents his case from a Christian and biblical point of view, so some might come to this book with a different worldview and disagree with some of what he says. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. While that is the lens through which he looks, speaks, and shares, he doesn’t hesitate to use current and relevant statistics and information from the medical community to support these views. Even he admits that “the Bible tells me so” won’t get you very far when it comes to convincing today’s youth of the appropriate approach towards sex, sexuality, and sexual relationships.
Some of the material in this book might be shocking and after reading it, I can understand how McKee has encountered parents who simply throw up their hands in surrender to say, “This is too much, I can’t do this” in regards to guiding and directing their children in this area. It’s not always the most comfortable read nor are the statistics particularly encouraging, but the information and helpful considerations that McKee presents in this book can go a long way in helping to begin conversations with youth that will help them to address issues with you rather than apart from you.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Bethany House. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)