When to Have that Little Talk: Raising Godly Children in a Wicked World

When to Have that Little Talk

             It is a mixed blessing when our children reach puberty. Our children are growing up. They are moving on to adulthood, leaving childhood behind. Soon all we will have left are memories and a few photographs. There are many dangers that our children must face, which require parents to teach about -- well, shall we say -- delicate subjects. Let's face it, I have a hard enough time talking about sex with my dear wife. The thoughts of instructing my own children is less than appealing. Yet, if I don't do it, who will?

             Puberty is the time when our children develop reproductive capabilities. They are experiencing desires that they cannot describe because they never felt them before. Their bodies are rapidly changing from child to adult form. The very changes are often awkward to handle. And everyone wonders, "Is this normal?" The common parental response is to avoid the topic as long as possible. Why embarrass yourself any sooner than you need to? But if we teach our children as they experience these changes, we can give them peace of mind. More importantly, we can guide them to follow the proper path to adulthood. Perhaps they can avoid the pitfalls that many of us took in our ignorance.

             God certainly did not leave us in the dark about our sexuality. There is a wealth of information throughout the Scriptures on a wide variety of issues. The details of what needs to be discussed with your child, I have put in a separate book, titled Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls and Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys.

             However, one question that I have been asked is "When is a good time to start discussing these things with my child?" Most parents recognize that we don't want to start too soon. Small children have no concept of sexual relations and don't need such a concept to function in this world. However, if we wait too long, our child might be caught off-guard in an embarrassing or possibly dangerous situation.

             When children are small, there is a natural curiosity about where they come from. Usually, a general answer is enough to satisfy their curiosity. For example, babies grow inside a special place in the mother's tummy. When the baby is old enough to live on its own, it is born. If they want to know how the baby got into the mother, explain that babies start when a father and a mother decide to have a baby. A seed from the father joins with a seed from the mother to form the baby. This is usually enough for most children.

             Sometime shortly before puberty, children suddenly become aware of their bodies. They become shy about letting anyone see themselves without clothing. This is a normal part of growing up. You may notice that some children become a bit chubby again. It is almost as if they are putting on baby fat again. This is the body's preparation for growth. Growing takes a lot of energy and a child's body will store up fat to supply some of that energy. About this time, it is good to mention that they will shortly be changing from a childhood to adulthood. These changes will include a lot of body changes. For both boys and girls, mention that one of the changes is a rapid change in the size of their bodies. While the growth happens, they will sometimes get clumsy as they readjust to their new size.

             For girls, moms should talk to the girls about periods. Talk about the monthly blood flows and instruct them on how to wear a sanitary napkin. It would also be good to have them carry one with them, since you never know when the first period will take place. This may bring up other questions, which you can address. If a question doesn't come up that you know you need to talk about during adolescence, save it for later. Make sure your daughter understands to let you know when her period has started. Once it has, plan on taking some private time when you can go into details about the responsibilities of being an adult and the additional desires and temptations your daughter will be facing.

             For boys, dads should talk to their boys about erections and wet dreams. These are usually the first indication a boy notices that they have entered puberty. Both body functions can be embarrassing when they happen. Tell your boys to let you know when these events happen and you will teach them about the responsibilities of being an adult, the new desires they will have, and the additional temptations they will be facing. Talking about growing up will probably bring up other questions that your son has been wondering about. Answer each one as simply and as openly as you can, but don't be surprise if some of the things you know you need to talk about does not come up. Save these topics for when your son has started growing and can understand sexual desire first hand.

             After your child has gained the ability to have sex, make sure you have a detailed talk with your child about sexual desires, the need for controlling those desires, and the dangers of Satan's temptations before they begin dating. In this corrupt time, you should also discuss the sin of homosexuality shortly after your child has entered adolescence. Many corrupt people know that children are easy targets for perverse sexual practices during early adolescence. They take advantage of the new desires in teenagers, who do not have experience, to lead them into sin.

Do you need study material?

Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Useful Tools

One of the questions I get repeatedly is "How tall do you think I will get?" While each individual is unique, there are calculations available to make fairly decent guess as to a child's final height. Two methods are available on the "Adult Height Predictor" page.

Related to this are questions regarding "Will I grow any more?", "When will I be able to grow a beard?", and the like. All such questions can be answered if a person knows what stage of development a boy or girl has reached. To help, there are two pages "Developmental Stage Calculator for Boys" and "Developmental Stage Calculator for Girls" which asks a series of questions about a child's development so far and then comes up with a estimated number for the Tanner Stage the child is currently at.

Your Questions

How do I tell my son about puberty?

First, as your child grows, look for teachable moments. These are times when your child asks you questions that can be used to discuss important matters without making it seem like a major production. For example, your little boy might tell you "I'm glad my legs are smooth like yours, mommy. I won't like them rough and hairy like dad's." You might respond that when their bodies start changing from a boy's body into a man's body that they probably will change their mind. They will likely feel proud of their bodies as each change makes them look more and more like a man. This might lead to further questions, or it might not, but you have introduced the subject of puberty to your son. He now knows there will be a time when his body will change. You also laid the foundation that it is something to which to look forward. Don't think you need to tell everything in one session. It is probably too much to handle all at once, so find occasions to dole it out a piece at a time.

The most difficult thing for a mother to handle is discussing with her son intimate details of sexual development and sexual urges. Teenagers already think their parents don't understand them, and the difference in gender makes this even more difficult. If you do not have a husband to discuss these matters with your son, I would suggest getting a trustworthy book (one that you have read and agree with its approach) and leaving it where your son can find it when he is curious. If you can find a trusted male, such as your preacher or an elder, ask one of them to spend a few days discussing the details with your son; then, when the questions arise that are too embarrassing to ask a woman, he has a reliable person to ask.

Finally, you might one day find your son involved in wrongful sexual behavior (playing "doctor," looking at pornography, or involved in heavy petting). Don't panic, but don't put the matter off. Get your information lined up as to why the behavior is wrong. (If you need help, there is material on this website.) Give your son a good talking to as to why it is wrong from a woman's point of view. Then get a trusted man to give your son another talk as to why it is wrong from a man's point of view. Learning the truth about the dangers of sin from multiple sources makes a major impact on most boys. Even when there is a mom and dad at home, I have been asked on several occasions to reinforce their objections with their sons. Almost always, the behavior stops when it is caught and dealt with early. (By the way, the talking to is supplemental to any punishment and not a replacement for punishment. "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15).)

How do you prevent teenagers from having pre-marital sex?


I have a 10 year old son who is being home schooled. He is in a Medieval, Reformation, and Renaissance unit and will be reading a version of The Canterbury Tales that has been translated into modern English by Barbara Cohen. In this book, specifically in "The Wife of Bath's Tale" there is a knight who rapes a maiden ("forces himself upon her despite all her efforts to stop him"). I'm not sure if I should explain what that means or if it would be better to read it as a read-aloud so I could just edit it as the knight "hurting" the maiden.

My son knows the biology involved with reproduction and that marriage is the only place for intimacy but does not have a detailed knowledge about what "intimacy" means. What age should ideas like prostitution, rape, molestation, etc. be discussed? I know most are going to read this and think "when the child is mature enough for that information," but what clues do I look for to determine that? He is, I think, curious about words such as "harlot" or "seductress" that he has heard from Bible passages or come across in his own reading. He has asked me to define those words and my answers have been to say they are women who are not respecting the purity of marriage between a husband and wife. Or I will say it is a woman acting like a man's wife when she really isn't. Maybe those answers have been too watered down? In public school we had the "talk" about our bodies changing in 4th grade. In 8th grade we had the biology of reproduction and I also remember learning about what rape meant. Finally in 10th grade we had the various contraception methods, homosexuality, masturbation, etc. taught in our health class. I do not intend to follow this schedule but mention it only as my "worldly" knowledge of when such topics are discussed. I fully expect your Christian answer to differ with that timeline.

My general answer for younger children is give them only enough to satisfy their question. The answers you have given are quite good and age appropriate for your son.

When is a good time to give more details? That depends on the physical maturity of the child, which varies greatly. Basically you will want to discuss matters of sexual maturation some time after puberty begins.

For boys, puberty generally occurs between 9 and 16. The first sign is a gradual enlargement of the testicles, which most boys don't notice. Second signs are genital hairs, which looks like pimples at first and then very fine hair, or erections. Generally by this time a boy needs some warning about what is coming up so he is not so worried about what is happening.

For girls, puberty generally occurs between 8 and 16. The first sign is either a growth spurt or menarche. Young girls need warning about menarche in advance to avoid a panic or embarrassment.

Both boys and girls generally put on weight just as puberty hits (the body is storing fat to prepare for growth); however, I have seen some children so skinny that their "fat" stage just makes them look more like a normal weight child. Similarly, it is hard to distinguish between overweight and a little extra overweight. You will also suddenly find your child extremely shy about his body when before he never gave a thought about you seeing him dressing. Finally, watch you child's feet. A sudden increase in shoe size is good indication that puberty has already taken place.

Once a child nears or passes puberty, my rule is that I will answer any question that child knows enough to express. It might be embarrassing for both of us, but if they are mature enough to think of the question, then they are mature enough to hear the answer.

As an example, one eleven-year-old boy was getting ready to do a Scripture reading that included this passage: "Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him" (Hebrews 7:9-10). I had asked if he knew all the words, and he asked me what "loins" meant. I told him that it was the pelvic reign. He was still confused, so I told him it was the area from the waist to the thighs. That just made it worse. "How can a son be in his father's loins? Babies come from mothers!" So I explained that the main part of the loins were the genitals and that when a man was old enough to have children, he would be able to produce sperm. A sperm from the father joining with the egg of the mother is what produces a baby. That satisfied him for the moment, but his mom told me later that that night he was full of questions about how a man's sperm gets into a woman. It caught her completely off-guard. I then told her of his earlier questions. Both mom and dad were too embarrassed to give the details his questions needed, so I had a short study with him over the mechanics of growing up. When he gets a bit older we'll talk about sex and his responsibilities to remain pure, but at the time his body had not matured to the point where he understood things like sexual feelings or how his body would respond to those feelings. If he doesn't ask first, I will bring the subject up when I notice he is beginning his growth spurt.

For an older teen, one who has gone through the bulk of his growth spurt, I try to make sure the parents or I sit down and talk about all the details about sex, except details on how sex is done. I make sure they are well informed about what sex is because many teens think only vaginal intercourse is sex. We talk about lust, pornography, and the dangers of trying to cut things too fine. We go over excuses teenagers use to justify having sex before marriage and why they don't justify it. It is also at this time that we talk about how people pervert sex: rape, prostitution, homosexuality, etc. All of these topics are covered even if the teenager doesn't think to ask a question concerning them. Our society is over sexualized and a teenager caught off guard won't know how to respond if he hasn't thought out the problem in advance.

I had a fourteen-year-old boy in the congregation who needed to know about his sexual responsibilities. I arranged to study with him. It wasn't more than two weeks after we talked about the dangers of having sex outside of marriage and being aware that it wasn't always the boys who try to seduce the girls that he came to me and said "You'll never guess what happened in school today!" A girl in his class came up to him and told him that she decided to lose her virginity and that she wanted him to be the one to do it to her that afternoon. The boy was so pleased that he knew exactly what to tell her -- "no way!" Knowing he was flattered by her advance, I pointed out that if he asked some of the boys in his class he will probably find that she isn't a virgin and that he would not have been her first. He confirmed my guess the next time we met. Based on what his friends told him, at least five other boys had already had sex with her. That made a great lead-in to a discussion of sexually transmitted diseases.

Don't think that talks about sex can be put off until the child is college age or even a junior or senior in high school. Surveys indicate that a lot of kids start playing around with sex as early as fifth or sixth grade -- if their bodies have begun to mature. Recent statistics indicate that two-thirds of all sexually transmitted diseases are occurring in people 25 years old or younger. One fourth of all new sexually transmitted diseases occur in teenagers. Kids are having sex at alarming rates!

Put off discussions until a child is old enough to understand because his body has matured enough, but once he has matured, you cannot ignore the topic thinking his innocence will protect him. The world won't spare him just because he doesn't know any better.

Can a ten-year-old have pubic hair?


Yes, if they started puberty early. For further details, see either:

"What is Happening to Me?" in Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys
"What is Happening to Me?" in Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls

My son, who just turned 11, has small amounts of pubic hair. He takes long showers. Is he able to masturbate? Does he ejaculate?

Any person is able to masturbate at any age; that is, any person is able to play with their genitals and cause sexual stimulation. Children generally do not do so because it doesn't enter their mind that it is possible, unless someone they know tells them about it. Unfortunately, with the wide spread information on the Internet, many children are learning things that destroys their innocence.

From your brief description, I'm guessing your son is in stage 2 of development as described by Dr. Tanner. A boy who has some pubic hair is already experiencing spontaneous erections. Thus, he is becoming more aware of sexual feelings and it is highly likely that he is exploring those new feelings created by his body. While each individual varies, most boys are not able to ejaculate until they reach stage 3. In stage 3 the pubic hair extends across the groin from thigh to thigh, but it is not dense. This is also the stage when boys experience their growth spurt.

This would be a good time to beginning talking to your son about growth and development. Many ideas concerning sexual matters will not yet make sense, but should be lightly touched upon in preparation for later discussions. For ideas about what to talk about, I would suggest the first three chapters of Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys. The chapters titled: "What is Happening to Me?," "Your Body," and "Care of the Body" would be particularly useful for your son at this stage.

Can a boy get an erection at any age? Can they get an erection from the time they are born, even though there is not sperm production?

Boys experience erections even before they are born. They start as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy. These erections are not like those experienced by adult males. While the penis becomes stiff, it doesn't swell. Nor does a young boy's mind connect such stiffening to sexual feelings, though you will find plenty of psychologists making this absurd claim.

About a year past puberty, a boy begins experiencing erections that are accompanied by sexual feelings. However, early on a boy will not realize what those feelings are. In addition, the erections are much more pronounced in that the penis changes size and length during the erection. The feelings and the discomfort from the changing size is a source of extreme embarrassment for most boys, mostly because they are unable to control the events. These frequent uncontrolled erections are referred to as spontaneous erections. Even then, a boy still hasn't matured enough to produce sperm. Sperm production and ejaculation generally begin about a year later.

Therefore, it is not a particular age but a particular stage of development. Dr. Tanner developed a scale for both boys and girls to determine how physically mature they have become. Boys develop erections where the penis swells during stage 2. They gain the ability to ejaculate during stage 3. The average age to reach stage 2 is about 12 and for stage 3 it is about 13.5 years old. I have written a small calculator to help boys determine what stage they have reached. It is at Tanner Stage Calculator for Boys. The girls version is at Tanner Stage Calculator for Girls.

Thank you for this information.  I am a teacher of sex education and child development for high school students that have a lot of questions. I appreciate your response and will pass this information on to my curious students.  I want them to know factual information versus them hearing rumors from their friends.

You're quite welcome. The book Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys came from the desire of parents in the Washington, D.C. area who wanted sexual information taught to their children from a biblical viewpoint. I spent several years researching the material and I continue to keep abreast with material written. If you ever need references to facts, just let me know. I am also more than happy to answer any question, and I've gotten some wild ones over the years. One took me three months to find the answer and I finally found it in a medical journal, but the boy received his answer. I will even consider making a guest appearance.

My son just turned 8 and is having erections. He tells me it hurts and burns. I told him to put a cold wet cloth on it so it will go down. My husband tells me it is normal, but he seems so young and it seems to hurt. Is this normal and any suggestions how to handle this?

By erections, I must assume you are referring to the normal stiffening of the penis that all boys have periodically from before their birth. For a boy to be having a full erection where the penis increases in size would be very unusual. Normally boys do not enter puberty until they are between the ages of nine and sixteen. Erections don't begin until a year to eighteen months after the onset of puberty. For your son to have full erections at age eight means he would have started puberty at age six or seven, which is just too early for normal development.

But returning to the more likely situation that his penis is getting stiff, but it is hurting, this too is not normal. I can think of a few causes, but I would recommend that his doctor take a look at him.

Is you son uncircumcised? If so, then has his foreskin separated from his glans yet? To find out, ask your son to pull the skin of his penis back toward his body as far as it will go without discomfort. Have him do it because you don't want to force separation if it hasn't happened yet. In about 90% of uncircumcised males the foreskin separates in the first few years of life. The rest don't achieve separation until after puberty. What I am wondering is if it is possible that your son is in the later group and it is beginning to separate, which is causing discomfort. If this is the case, then the best solution is to have your son pull on his foreskin away from his body to stretch it as far as it will go comfortably. Have him do it each time he goes to the restroom, bathes, or changes clothes. The pull will cause a gentle shearing action that helps the foreskin separate from the glans without tearing skin. Once a week or so, check the progress by having him pull the foreskin back toward his body. You will probably see some whitish, waxy material under the foreskin and on the glans. This is smegma, a natural protective coating. It is the same stuff that covers a baby's skin when it first comes from the womb. Take a warm wash cloth and have him gently wash most of it off. He might not get it all, but that is fine. Avoid using soap as any that might remain under the foreskin will irritate it. In several weeks, the foreskin will completely separate from the glans. Make sure your son knows to wash under his foreskin each time he bathes.

A second possibility is that if your son is uncircumcised and he got soap under his foreskin, it would hurt, especially when the skin is stretched from a stiffening of the penis. Have him pull the foreskin back an see if it looks red and irritated. If so, rinse it thoroughly and show him how to wash under his foreskin without using soap in that area.

A third possibility is that your son might have gotten a yeast infection under his foreskin. This usually comes from not keeping the area properly clean. If this is the case, you will need to ask your doctor to check it and advise as to what antibiotic to use.

Another possibility is that he has scraped or irritated the skin of his penis. A stiffening of the penis will stretch the skin, making it uncomfortable. Is there any sign of a red or roughened area on his skin?

A fifth possibility is that your son has an infection in the urethra (the tube within the penis). Usually when this happens, he will have pain or discomfort when peeing. Again, a doctor will need to examine it and prescribe something to kill the infection.

I am a Christian father from Germany. My wife and I try to raise our boys in a Christian and bibical way. I am a member of a small church in Germany. Unfortunately, we don't have home schooling in our country, so the liberal elements from outside sometime comes in my home to verify the education of my boys. I have to handle it and I pray to God each day that I will be able to raise my boys in His spirit.

I have some problems with my older son who is now 13 years old. I was looking for Christian parenting advice and I found your very helpful articles about raising boys.

The problem I have now with my older son is not easy to discuss for a Christian father, but I hope you do understand my fears that the evil could grow in my son and that I have to react.

I found a magazine containing nude women in his bedroom a few days ago and I also caught him stimulating himself in a sinful way.

Dear brother, I talked to my older sons, who are 11 and 13, about sexuality and God's plan for men and women, so I was terribly disappointed finding my older son doing that bad habit of looking at nude women and masturbating. I talked to him about it and I also told him that he has to be severely punished for that sin. I spanked him fifteen times with a belt on his buttocks. I also told him that he will get it again without talking about the same sin whenever I find him again in that situation. I told him he will get one more stroke each time. I told him why I have to do and I told him that I don't have to tolerate such magazines in my house. I did hope it would be over after the first punsihment, but unfortunately I found another magazine hidden under his matress a few days later. I was consistent and spanked him like I told him before. Dear brother, it's not easy for me to handle this problem. I pray to Christ Jesus that he may help me and I hope I am doing right in the Lord's eyes.

So what would you sugggest? Do you think I handle the problem in the right way?

Please brother, let me know about your suggestion. My son's buttock was sore after his punishment but not too bad. The second punishment when better than the first one because he was more accepting.

I am waiting for assistance. I hope you don't mind that my English that is not perfect.

I have several suggestions and I hope you will take the time to examine each one. Do not be concerned about your English, my German is far worse! I hope this reply is understandable and clear.

There is an organization, the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is trying to getting home schooling recognized as a legal option in all countries. It has activately supported home schooling in Germany, though it is has been declared illegal in your country. You can get more information at the HSLDA's Germany page. I happen to be a home schooling father myself, so I understand your difficulties in dealing with the government officials.

I agree that your son's use of pornography must be corrected, but by starting with a severe punishment, you limited your options when his offenses are repeated. If you had asked me before hand, I would have asked you to select a punishment more approriate for his misdeed and reserve the spankings for times he willfully disobeys. I am not a fan of using a belt because it is too easy to cause injury. Rather than repeat the information, please see: "A series of questions about spanking" as a starter and if you have additional questions, let me know.

The problem handling pornography is its addictive properties, especially in young men. Men are more visually stimulated in sexual desire as opposed to women who are usually more stimulated by the relationships. Though some women have a problem with pornography, it is much more a problem with men. Add to this that a teenage boy's sexual desire is just awakening and he has almost no experience in controling those desires. Therefore, you have a large and difficult problem on your hand.

It helps to discuss intimate topics, such as sexual desires, with someone else because in a household you live too close together. Parents don't like thinking that their children are having desires for sex, but then, children can't stand the thoughts that their parents have sexual desires. This makes talking about such things difficult with people you see daily and sometimes not in the best of circumstances. I have been asked numerous times to help parents deal with the problem of pornography, and here is my basic approach:

  1. Discuss in detail the process of growing up and how the reproductive organs work. The material I use in the first three chapters of Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys. A young man needs to know why he has the feelings and desires he is experiencing, but more importantly, he needs to know how his reproductive system works. It is very easy to confuse the physical processes for personal desires. Paul talks about this in that confusing section at the end of Romans chapter 7 (verses 14-25). Intellectually we might know we must behave in a certain way, but our body's desires pull us in a different direction. This conflict between knowing what we ought to do and wanting to do something different exposes a weak point in our defense against sin. Satan takes advantage of this.
  2. I then discuss the nature of sin and temptation at length using James 1:13-16 and I John 2:15-17 as the base passages. The chapter "What is Lust?" in Growing Up in the Lord, has a light introduction, but when a young man is already caught up in sin, he needs more information. See the sermon outline, "The Nature of Sin, Temptation, and Lust." After covering the basic material, I use a neutral topic of selling products to show how advertisers use these basic principles to get people to purchase their goods. I use comercials and print advertisements to have the young man identify which principles of lust are being used and what desires to which they are appealing. Once the young man understands the concept, I then point out that Satan is in the market to sell sin and he uses the same principles.
  3. Next, I define what is pornography. See the article, "A Look at Pornography" for how this is done. Using the concepts of how sin is sold, I then have the young man tell me how the pornography industry makes its images appealing. I emphasize the use of bright colors, the position of bodies to direct the eyes, and the common lack of the man's face to encourage viewer to imagine himself in place of the man. I also ask the young man if the sexual organs are of a normal size or not (they are not) and why would they make them to appear bigger than normal. If the young man pretends to be ignorant, I have in a large envelope the material the parents found in his room. I make him take it out and discuss it. If I can avoid it, I rather not see it myself, but one of the big problems of addictive sin is a denial that it exists or that the person has a problem with it. Some young men need an imaginary sledge hammer over their heads to admit the problem exists.
  4. Then, I discuss the dangers of pornography, especially its impact on his view of women and his future sex life. The article, "A Look at Pornography" covers these points as well. I put it as bluntly and as clearly as I can, even though it is embarrassing for both of us. I then talk with the young man about his personal motivation for looking at pornography. This is where it gets rough on dads because most of us don't want to know that our sons are having such thoughts.
  5. Finally, we have a discussion on why pornography is available. Certainly there is a reason why it is freely accessible on the Internet and put into magazines. The answer is that people make a lot of money off of it. The "free" stuff is just like the drug pusher giving a person a sample of his drugs. He knows that once the desire is built, he will come back for more, even if he has to pay for it. I also discuss how people become numb to pornography after repeated exposure because it loses it shock value. Thus, people will look for more material and material with more explicit images. The sellers know this and have it available for a price. I then ask if the young man thinks these sellers care about him or his soul. I want the young man to realize that he is being used; that people are using his sexual desires to make money off of him and they don't care if it ruins him in the process.

I would then ask the boy to destroy the pornography that you found and ask him to bring any other pornography hidden in his room out and destroy that as well. Let him know that you will be periodically checking his room because you realize how addictive it is. Tell him that you believe him when he says he won't do it again, but you know that if he realizes that someone will be looking over his shoulder, it will remove some of the temptation. If he does fall back into the trap, I would sit down and ask him why and wait for an answer, even though I'm sure I won't like it. I then would help him reason through whether his excuse was legitimate or self-deception. It is at this time I would consider using spanking, but there would be no need to continually increase the number of swats per incident, unless you come to the conclusion that the number chosen is not making any impact on him.

The subject of masturbation is a bit more difficult. To use pornography to stimulate one's self to orgasm is clearly wrong (Matthew 5:28), and the discussion above should address most of the issues related to this practice. However, I believe there is more to this. Please read over "Is masturbation unacceptable?" I would go over this in detail with your son. One of the things to realize is that almost every male experiments with masturbation at some point in his life. I suspect that there is a reason behind this and it is perhaps one of the reasons God made the male's sexual organs partially external. Yet, there are dangers of connecting sexual desires to sinful thoughts because those thoughts can lead to sinful actions. Another concern is that children are prone to repeative or complusive behaviors. Because masturbation brings on strong pleasures, a teenage boy soon is pursuing the pleasure for the pleasure's sake. This is not a good state of mind as it leaves the boy open to temptations. As difficult as it will be, I would go back to talking about the mechanics of sex and talk about the seminal vesicles, their role in sexual desires, nocturnal emissions and their purpose, and the reason boys masturbate. It will be hard, but you will be passing on your experience and judgment to your son.

Thank you very much for your helpful suggestions.In these moments I need a lot of spiritual and practical advice. You should know that my wife and I tried to lead our boys in the true Christian way and now I see how hard it can get when boys come to an age when they try to act up. I used corporal punishment in a mild form for years but only very rarely. My boys behaved fine most times.

But now my older son seems to have gotten in touch with evil. Like you suggested I talked to him very straight about sexuality and about pornography when I caught him looking at a porn magazine. I tried to do my best not to loose control of myself, but after talking to my son about looking at porn I did not feel he regretted what he had done. It seemed that he wanted to be rebellious and the evil made him talk bad. For example, he told me that many other boys in his class are looking at it and parents don't forbid it. That kind of resistance finally made me sure that he had to be disciplined. I told him that he is living in my house and he has to follow my rules and those rules don't allow evil magazines in our home. He also has responsibility for his younger brothers. If they find it, it also will guide them in the wrong direction.

That's why I responded very harshly the first time. I fear it can get a hard to bring my son back in line.

I did read all your articles and I am very grateful that you talk straightforward about physical punishments. In my case it seemed to be the last resort. I can't let things go and my son will find out that I will be very consistent. I followed your suggestions and talked to my son about pornography,.but it still seems that evil is strong because he still thinks that he is old enough to make his own decision. It is terrible.

I try to handle the belt very safe and double it, but would you suggest the birch from a tree? I only fear that it is not as effective on a 13-year-old boy. My wife doesn't want to talk much about that problem, it makes her feel uncomfortable, and she says it is for the father to handle it with his son. I agree, but I don't have much advice. That's why I am very grateful that you lend me your ear. Like you suggested, I told my son he has to bring all the pornography hidden in my house to me, but he lied to me. He told me there was no more pornography, but later I found some in our basement. His lying and resistance made me punish him with the belt. It seems to me that you agree because he was lying and refusing to bring me all pornography. Now I have to find out from where he gets it. I will go to school and talk to his teacher.

Today's punishment was severe. As I told him before, he shall see that I am consistent, so I hope he will finally reform. So far he has not asked me for pardon! He is strong minded and it seems that he wants to show me that he can take more strokes with the belt. I am afraid that it could become a struggle between him and me.

Please pray and tell me your suggestions. Today I will not gave him more strokes like last time, but only because you suggested this. Thanks for any advice you can give to me.

This notion that "evil" is controlling a child and that spanking will drive this evil out is not right. Your son made choices. Some of those choices are bad ones, but they remain his choices. Satan strives to influence the world against God, but he is unable to make anyone do evil. He is only able to encourage people to chose to do evil. He is powerfully good at it, but ultimately we must recognize that the consequences remain with the person who made the choice.

Second, spanking is used as a detrimental consequence for a bad choice. In the jargon of the psychological community, it is one element used in behavior modification. Negative consequences, such as a spanking, when combined with positive reinforcement, such as teaching, yield the quickest changes in behavior. Spanking does not remove sins. It serves as a warning not to chose to sin and demonstrates that bad choices lead to bad consequences. Spanking does not make a child good. It is a deterrent toward bad choices so that in the future the child will more likely make good choices. Spanking is not a cure, it is a tool.

One of my son's testicles is longer than the other. Should I be concerned?

You didn't mention your son's age, but I will assume he is still an infant. Generally, there is no concern if there is some variation in size. Few of us are perfectly symmetrical. However, if there is a large difference, then it is possible that one testicle is not developing properly. This should be checked out by a physician. In addition, there are two problems that can cause a person to think the testicles are a different size: varicocele and hydrocele.

A varicocele are caused by the veins in the scrotum swelling due to failed valves that causes the scrotum to swell on one side. It is a varicose vein in the scrotum instead of the leg. It happens on the left side more often than the right because of the direction of blood flow in the scrotum. Most men have discomfort or pain on the side of the scrotum that contains the varicocele. About fifteen percent of men between ages 15 and 25 get them. It is not directly dangerous, but the increased blood flow causes the testicle on that side to be too warm. Eventually that warmth will reduce or stop that testicle's ability to produce sperm. An operation is needed to remove varicocles.

A hydrocele is a build up of fluid in the scrotum, causing one side to swell. It happens frequently to young boys in their first few months of life. The dropping of the testicles into the scrotal sac sometimes leaves the opening in the adominal wall too large and it doesn't close up quickly. Often it will disappear on its own. If it doesn't a fairly simple surgical procedure will remedy the situation. Unlike varicocles, hydroceles are not painful, but if they get overly large, they can exert pressure on the testicle and in some rare cases cause damage.

Our oldest son is 14 and we have always spanked him. However, the last few times he has been spanked he has developed erections. How should this be handled?

When a boy gains the ability to have an erection, he has no control over when they happen. Since erections are physically caused by a muscle clamping down on veins returning blood from the penis, things that cause muscles to tense up will trigger erections. Especially early on, a boy does not have fine control over which muscles will tense and which will not. Such fine control is not likely to show itself during a spanking and spankings do cause a lot of tension.

For this reason, I suggest that fathers handle the spanking of teenage boys if such spankings are needed. The erections themselves should simply be ignored. They are a normal physical response to being spanked.

However, since you know that he has reached the age of sexual capability, it is time that Dad sits down with the boy and begins teaching him about reproduction and his new responsibilities to keep himself pure. See Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys for a study guide.

See also: Does my son enjoy being spanked?

Why has my pre-teen daughter started growing armpit hair? She's 10!

Auxiliary hair, such as arm pit hair can show up in a typical girl anywhere from 10 to 16 years of age. The average time for developing auxiliary hair is 11. So your daughter is within the normal range.

But a hedge?  At 10?  It's as thick as mine, black as midnight and hard to keep trimmed back.  Not to mention the 'other' place.  Could sex with our neighbor's boy have spurred this? I'm worried.

The color and thickness of pubic and auxiliary hair is determined by genetics and time in development, not by actions. Sexual behavior typically comes because a child has started developing. The exception to this rule is when a child has been sexually abused. Then a child may act in a sexual way from imitating the behavior forced on them. But such is out of character for a child, which is why we rightly get upset by it. However, sexual behavior doesn't cause development.