I’m Michael Johnson and my wife, Julie, and I are partners in parenting our own brood of “blessings from above,” consisting of three homegrown and two adopted children, ranging in ages from 13 to 21.
In 2003 we founded Future Marriage University (FMU) to empower future generations to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE they fall in love. Because, of course, once youngsters fall in love, everything you say comes across to them like an adult in a Charlie Brown holiday special: Wha wha wha, wha wha wha.
To accomplish this daunting objective, we provide what we call Love Education (LoveEd for short).
LoveEd: the missing link between the sex ed you get in middle school and the premarital counseling you don’t get until you think you’ve already found “the one.”
(Yes, we know. You wish you would have had something like that growing up. We hear that a lot. Precisely how we feel. And why we do what we do.)
Now before we begin, let us encourage you to put away that silly notion of having “the talk.” It’s going to take far more than one talk to prepare your offspring for relational success, but that’s OK, because kids don’t need a talk so much as they need a relationship.
No, not with a girl or boyfriend.
A relationship with YOU!
Yes. Sometimes that’s hard to believe. Once a child’s age reaches double digits, they can act like they need a parent like they need another pimple, but the reality is this:
No one can replace the influence you were called to have in your child’s life. No one.
Of course, you know the impact a parent has on their child because you know the impact your parents had on you. For better or for worse. And while that is surely an awesome responsibility, remember this: God knew you were just the right parent for your child(ren) and they just the right child(ren) for you.
Does that fact magically make the sun come out and the flowers bloom in your parent-child relationship?
No it doesn’t, but we hope it’s a truth you can cling to as you prayerfully proceed (and you’ll need as much prayer as anything you’ll find here) to address issues like dating, pop culture, courting, porn, puberty, sexting, and the latest app from hell.
Now having said all of that we have good news and bad news:
- First the bad news: none of the resources you find here were written to parents.
- Now the good news: none of the resources you find here were written to parents.
Why is it good we’re not writing to you? Because since 2003 we’ve been writing and speaking directly to kids just like yours! That means, you can feel confident sharing our resources directly with them.
But don’t just pass the buck. Remember:
Your kids don’t need helpful information as much as they need healthy relationships, especially a healthy relationship with YOU!
Before we get to content, here are three suggestions for engaging in these discussions:
- Pick just one or two posts/videos and have your child read it by themselves first. Then discuss with them afterward. That way you enable the post/video to break the ice, and give you a common starting point from which to launch off on a thrilling discussion of relational adventure!
- Agreement can’t be the goal. Let your goal be mutual understanding. More than simply telling your child what they should believe or do, you want to know what they do believe (and why), whether you agree with it or not; whether it scares you witless or not. And you want them to understand what you believe and why.
- Focus more on your relationship with your child than on the issue at hand. If your child comes to believe you truly want what’s best for them (albeit in your antiquated, fuddy-duddy, uncool sort of way) it can help keep their heart soft to the truth.
Now, here’s a parental playbook to get you started with suggested readings for each of the main topics we address around FMU headquarters: sex, dating and relationships…
Let’s Talk about Sex
Whew! What a daunting task! Talking with a child about “the do” (That’s what the kids are calling sex now. Well, at least they were five minutes ago. The terminology may have changed multiple times since then, but we can’t update this section hourly.)
Here’s a great place for a parent to start: our Date Night Advice (DNA) series: The Sexual Intercourse. In this dialogue about human sexuality, we present ten insights we believe you’ll find as compelling as your child will.
The series begins with this post about a certain city in Pennsylvania known as Intercourse. It has also been our #1 most read DNA post for the last two years! (I guess people really like Pennsylvania.)
We’ve also addressed sex multiple times in our weekly LoveEd broadcast featured on our FMUniversity YouTube channel. As a parent, you might want to start with the video below, which addresses the widely held assumption of the kids today that sex is the most important part of a serious relationship.
Yes. We know you just laughed, but the kids are not laughing.
They’re dead serious. As are many adults.
To Date or not to Date? That is the Question.
Since we’re all parents here, we figure we should first address the whole dating/courtship debate.
Simply put, we don’t say much about it at FMU, because for starters, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what courtship is. We’ve seen it look a lot like arranged marriage, and we’ve seen it look more like. Ah. Plain ol dating. And, of course, everything in between.
Rather than getting tied up in what you call it, we’re all about how you date. And even more importantly why you date, so we spend a lot of our time casting vision, uncovering motives and clarifying the purpose and goal of dating.
If that makes sense to you, a great place to begin your journey would be this DNA post I (Michael) wrote on the evening of our eldest son’s senior prom. It’s part of a DNA series called Purpose-Driven Dating where we set out to reclaim the lost art of dating.
Speaking of Purpose-Driven Dating, we introduce and then break down that concept in a series of LoveEd broadcasts featured on our FMUniversity YouTube channel. Here’s the first episode in that series.
Where do You Most want Your Child to Succeed?
We already clarified at the top of this page what you already know, but the kids can hardly believe: relationships are so much bigger than sex and dating. However, I’d like to challenge you on a different front: which do you believe is the most important part of your child’s future: their career or their relationships?
Let me put it this way: where do you most want your child to succeed?
If you had to pick, would you rather they wind up in a rewarding, high-paying career or in a life-giving, life-long marriage? And if you’re still not sure which you would pick, think about yourself for a moment. When you’re lying on your death bed, which will matter most: your success at work or your faithfulness at home?
If you picked relationships, marriage and home, then you are most assuredly in the right place, because at FMU our end game is to equip you to empower your children to prepare for their future marriage like a successful career: intentionally, intelligently and IN ADVANCE!
In fact, we’d like to encourage you to consider making the kind of commitment I (Michael) make to my children when they turn 13. Yes, I give them a promise ring, but the promises made are mine. Not theirs. And they’re more about our children’s relational future than their sexual purity. You can read about it in this DNA post.
Regardless, as you’re probably well aware, not only does our contemporary culture do little to prepare us for marital success. The priorities and perspective of our culture actually threaten the future marriages of our kids before they ever start dating.
To illustrate that, here’s another LoveEd broadcast from our FMU YouTube channel. As you ponder what we’re all up against in seeing our children understand, prepare for and discern God’s call to marriage, I think this video will resonate with you.
Too much to Lose! So much more to Gain!
The stakes are high and the threats are real, but you’re the parent for the job!
So what are you waiting for? Start preparing your son(s) and/or daughter(s) for their future! And invite other parents to join you!
If you like what you read here, consider hosting a FMU LoveEd Parental Guidance conference or retreat in your area! We take this show on the road.