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Review: More than Just the Talk by Jonathan McKee

More than Just The Talk

I just finished a book that made me so uncomfortable I didn’t want other people to see me reading it.  Usually feeling that way is a warning that something bad is going on, but in this case I think it was a good thing.   You see, I was learning about how parents can counter the youth culture—and, yes, the youth culture is bad, very bad, a whole lot worse than I imagined.  Our kids are facing a far different world than we encountered when we were young.

More than Just the Talk by Jonathan McKee is a book for parents, encouraging and empowering them to talk with their kids about everything, especially the explicit topics that many teens and even tweens have questions about.

Now, to avoid the filters I hope you have on your family’s computers, I will spell the crucial word as s-x.  This highlights one of the problems—the internet is so full of perversion that even naming something as glorious as God’s good gift to married couples can cause a godly blog to be grouped with evil ones.

Jonathan McKee does not face such internet filters in this book but he knows us parents.  In fact, he warns that many readers will be offended because ‘the purpose of this book is to help parents explain the explicit truth in a world full of explicit lies.’  And, yes, he is uncomfortably explicit, chapter after chapter after chapter.  He wants us parents to know what our kids face, and has distilled his years in youth ministry into 12 hard-hitting chapters, listed in this excerpt.  These topics apparently represent the kind of stuff that kids across the country are asking him.

His advice for parents, some of which is repeated over and over in various contexts, is simple:

  • Don’t over-react but be a safe person for your kids to talk to.
  • If you don’t know how to respond, stall for time by asking a question, or say you need to think about it for a while.
  • Don’t make kids think s-x is bad, but show them that the world has perverted God’s good gift for married couples.
  • Keep your eyes open for natural springboards to discuss all sorts of topics, including explicit ones.
  • Don’t lecture; ask questions, listen, respond, ask more questions, listen, respond….
  • Don’t rely on just one big ‘Talk’ but on many more casual ones, including those based on family Bible reading through the years.
  • Seek to understand your kids.
  • Help them understand the importance of fleeing from s-xual sins, which often includes actually going somewhere else and actively avoiding temptation.
  • Help them make a plan to flee such sins—in case of this tempting circumstance, I’ll do this and call that person for help; if that situation comes up, I’ll do that; I’ll avoid these tempting places, etc.
  • Show them how setting safeguards and having accountability can help.
  • Don’t dwell on kids’ past failings but help them turn to Jesus for deliverance, forgiveness, cleansing, and hope.
  • On the other hand, don’t let past sins justify future ones and don’t take God’s grace for granted.

Now, those of us who read the Bible together as a family (see Six Tips for Bible Reading), have many opportunities to think about both God’s design for marriage and the prevalence of s-xual sin.

Let us all pray for and use springboards to discussion, whether from life, the media, or the Bible, so that we can walk alongside our children, showing them the Biblical truth that s-x is a great thing inside marriage, but an evil outside it.

I recommend this book to all parents who wonder how to discuss explicit topics with their children.  I do not recommend it for teens, though.  Probably some of Jonathan McKee’s other books would be suitable for them.  Those books, as well as more parenting resources, are available here.

Once again I want to remind us all of Michael Catt’s brilliant guidelines:

1.When in doubt, don’t.

2.Be where you are supposed to be,

when you are supposed to be there,

doing what you are supposed to be doing.

As Catt says, those two rules pretty much cover every life situation.

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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8 Comments

  1. Just reviewed this one myself, so I was curious to read your impressions. I think McKee is really spot on with regard to life long conversations with our kids. It’s very Deuteronomy-based “while you’re walking along the way, while you’re sitting in your house” teaching. Glad to have found your review at Titus 2 linkup.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, Michele, you described it very well when you say it’s Deuteronomy-based. That sums it up exactly. Thank you.

  2. Annie Kate, thank you for doing this review. When I clicked over and read the sample chapter, it made me want to run and hide (or do some very extreme sheltering of my children). My boys are still very young, and it did make me start to think about what kind of media habits they’re forming, as well as what kind of communication habits we need to be forming even now with them.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, Nelleke, that was my reaction too.

      I think that by teaching your children about the Lord, by exposing them to good music, good art, good literature, the beauties of nature, and the wisdom of the ages (as a Charlotte Mason education does) you are already preparing them in many good ways.

      May God help us to raise our children faithfully and to trust him for his blessings. And may he work mightily in our children and their friends.

      1. Yes, we are trying to teach them to love what is good, and true, and noble. I think what makes it hard for me as a parent is knowing I can help, but cannot control what they will love, or infuse them somehow with self-control. They themselves must be guided by the Spirit, and learn to fight temptation.

        1. Annie Kate says:

          No, we cannot control these things. But we can trust God who loves them. I suppose that’s why we need to be reminded over and over and over that praying for our children is so important.

          Do not be discouraged, Nelleke. Instead be strong and of good courage, for the Lord is with you as you raise your children for him.

  3. Carol says:

    ‘Our kids are facing a far different world than we encountered when we were young.’ My older son was part of our youth group leadership & he made a comment that even over the past couple of years the intensity of the stuff kids were into has escalated. I really agree with the author about being pro-active. Reacting & trying to keep everything away from them as young aults doesn’t teach them how to handle these things – adults struggle in these areas, too. But it’s so uncomfortable & I often abstain from discussing something with the older ones because my youngest is usually present.

  4. Annie Kate says:

    You are right, it can be difficult when all our children are around at once. There is value in having more private conversations, but these discussions cannot usually be scheduled. Praying for them is a good idea. Perhaps McKee’s book for teens would be helpful too; I have not yet read it.

    Keeping things away from our young adults does not work. Modelling how we keep sinful/tempting things away from ourselves is a good idea, though. After all, we are all sinners, both parents and kids.

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