We receive a lot of questions about masturbation! It can be an uncomfortable topic, but one that we think is very important to tackle. We did a show about this in 2017, but wanted to bring a psychologist on the show to walk us through the grey area that surrounds this topic. Is it normal? Is it a sin? How do I talk about this with my kids? In my marriage? We cover it all.
We receive a lot of questions about masturbation! It can be an uncomfortable topic, but one that we think is very important to tackle. We did a show about this in 2017, but wanted to bring a psychologist on the show to walk us through the grey area that surrounds this topic. Is it normal? Is it a sin? How do I talk about this with my kids? In my marriage? We cover it all.
Dr. Wayne Chappelle is a licensed clinical and sports psychologist and board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology. His work is centered on helping others manage and improve their emotional, relational, and behavioral functioning when having to adapt to a broad range of life challenges and stressors. This includes overcoming anxiety, depression, and trauma, as well learning to thrive and reach one’s fullest potential under extraordinary conditions.
Over the past 20 years, He has been conducting psychological assessments, treatment, and performance improvement programs for individuals and organizations operating in uniquely challenging conditions. He’s been fortunate to have over 90 publications in national and international peer-reviewed journals in behavioral science. He is a regular speaker at national and international organizational conferences in operational, sports, industrial/organizational, and clinical psychology.
Dr. Chappelle has served as a consultant to military and commercial agencies, designing and implementing comprehensive psychological assessment and development programs to improve the selection, readiness, and performance of personnel in high demand, high pressure occupations (e.g., professional athletes and coaches, Fortune 500 senior executive staff, Presidential aircrew, military generals, special operations personnel, as well as intelligence and cyberwarfare operators).
Dr. Chappelle has consulted with senior executive leaders of large multi-site, national and international Christian faith-based organizations. This includes assisting pastoral leadership in their own personal development, so they are more equipped to manage the stressors they face in both their personal and professional lives.
Transcription is done by an AI software. While technology is an incredible tool to automate this process, there will be misspellings and typos that might accompany it. Please keep that in mind as you work through it.
Kim, I’m going to all these events and one of the questions that I’m getting more now than I’ve ever gotten before is about are you ready for this?
I don’t know girl.
Don’t blush, don’t blush.
Masturbation. You know what? It’s one of those weird topics that is, I don’t know. For me, anyway, it’s easy to avoid and want to avoid because it’s awkward, Whether I’m talking about it with my kids or my husband or you it’s just a weird topic.
Well, here’s the thing. I think the church has gotten a lot wrong about this. I’ve listened to a lot of Christian podcasts on this idea and it’s always just like it’s sinful. Don’t do it. And I get that because you know masturbation isn’t in the Bible. But where your mind goes is in the Bible and for sure you should not be masturbating to porn, like that is sinful, right. But I think we’ve gotten it all tangled up and we’re missing a few things. So we’ve been networking with a psychologist in the background to get a little bit more educated on this subject and we thought we have to bring him on the show because the way he educated us on this topic he needs to do it for you guys.
We want to look at this in terms of science, but also faith. How do we honor both in this conversation, and Dr Chappelle is going to walk us through what the conversation about masturbation looks like with little kids, with teenagers and even in your marriage, so all those parts of life where we may struggle with what this looks like. He’s going to give us some great talking points that hopefully, when you’re done listening, you can walk away with something you can start as far as a conversation today.
Tune in y’all. I have spent hours with Dr Chappelle behind the scenes and every time I talk to him I learned something new. I’m so excited to share Dr Chappelle’s expertise with you today. Welcome to the Next Talk podcast. We are passionate about keeping kids safe in an overexposed world.
It’s Mandy and Kim and we’re navigating tech, culture and faith with our kids.
Welcome, dr Wayne Chappelle.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest02:10
Well, thank you, mandy, I appreciate that.
Tell us about yourself, personal and professional. We want our audience to get to know you.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest02:17
Sure. So at a personal level, I’ve been married for about 29 years to an amazing woman who I met in high school and we dated a couple of years and eventually got married when we were in college. I have three kids, ages 16, 18, and 21. And, being married for 29 years and a father of three, I’ve really enjoyed the process. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been definitely rewarding and a wonderful experience.
What about professionally? Tell us a little bit about your background.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest02:50
For sure. So I have a PhD in clinical psychology and I’m board certified by the American Professional Psychology Board. I got my PhD from George Fox University. What’s interesting about the PhD program at clinical psychology there is, as you’re studying the science of psychology, you are also putting classes with those who are seeking masters in doctoral divinity. So we do a lot of biblical studies and a lot of Christian theology classes. I have about 90 publications in scientific literature and I’ve been practicing for a little over 22 years, and most of the people who I work with are military and professional athletes, as well as Division I college athletes, olympic athletes and a good percentage almost half of my client load is church pastors, and these are all individuals who have to work in very high-demand, high-pressure environments that are also requiring a good deal of self-discipline, and they’re oftentimes separated from family for extended periods of time.
First of all, I just want to say I think you’re so brave that the first guest show that you do with us is on masturbation. Yes, and we’ve talked about doing other shows first before the masturbation. But this conversation is so important and we’ve tackled it before at Next Talk. But we really feel like you have a lot of good advice in this area. But I want to ask you first about husbands and wives being separated, because one of the questions we get a lot surrounding masturbation is is it okay in a marriage?
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest04:27
Yeah, that is a really good question. I think there’s no real simple answer to that. A lot of times people will come at it from a yes or no perspective and have very strong opinions about it. I think what’s really important to know is also that 90% of adult men and over 85% of women masturbate, whether they are married or not. So we know it’s happening and that means it’s also happening with couples who are married.
And even though there is strong opinions out there about yes or no, there are certain conditions that don’t fit the traditional mold. So what if you are a military member who’s been deployed or is going to deploy for an entire year and you’re going to be separated from your spouse? Or perhaps you’re a professional athlete who has 100 plus days on the road and you want to live a Christian life that honors God and you want to be able to navigate that sex drive and the sex arousal that you have, but you also don’t want to take it in a direction that leads you down to sin. So it’s a very complex topic with no easy answer.
Well, within a marriage too, I imagine the first step of that is the conversation. So I’m being deployed, or I’m a professional athlete, or I am doing this thing where we’re going to be separated, but I still have these hormones and these feelings for you. And having the conversation between man and wife instead of just assuming we’re on the same page.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest05:57
That’s exactly right. Half the battle in that is being able to just communicate to each other what your sexual drive is and what’s going to be allowed and how you’re going to manage that experience. There’s certain ways in which you can manage that experience that we know would not be honoring to God. But then there might be ways in which you can manage that experience and navigate that sex drive that you have for your spouse in ways that is honoring of God. But we do know there are a list of things of what not to do if we go into that direction.
Yes. So I want to talk about that, because masturbation is not in the Bible, right, but where your thoughts go is in the Bible, and so that’s really where the sin part comes in in my mind is the thoughts that are happening during the arousal or the masturbation, and so my thought process is they’ve communicated up front that it’s okay to do, and there’s communication around all of it and they’re thinking of each other. Then I think it’s okay. I don’t think it’s okay if you’re on the road or you’re having a busy season of life and you’re masturbating to porn or you’re masturbating to a thought of somebody else, like that’s sin. What do you think about that Is am I on the right track there? Because that’s my take on it, that’s my hot take on it.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest07:13
Absolutely so that’s part of what not to do right, and so one of the things that we’re taught in the Bible is to not have sinful or lustful thoughts over another person. So if you’re married, your heart and your mind should be for your spouse, and if you do have lustful thoughts about other partners, or we’ll say spouses that are not yours, or perhaps some other people that are not a part of that marriage, then you know you’re going in a wrong direction. So you’re having sinful lustful thoughts. Or watching porn would be inappropriate if you’re masturbating to that. But what about if you have thoughts about your spouse? What if you have sexually aroused, romantic and appropriate thoughts for your partner, for your spouse? You’re in love with your spouse. You think she’s beautiful, as an example, you are very attracted to her, and this is something that you talked about and discussed. I think that’s more honoring God than if you decided to go in the direction of looking at watching porn or engaging in sinful and lustful thoughts.
I’m thinking about the song of Solomon and his very passionate thoughts about his wife. It’s a beautiful, excited love, physically and emotionally for this other person, and that is in the Bible. I don’t believe that it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t meant to be an example of how we are to love and honor and look forward to this gift of sex that God has given us. I do like that we are talking about these extenuating circumstances, but also that it all evolves around the conversation. So, whether or not there aren’t extenuating circumstances, like you’re not going overseas and you’re just going to work today, the conversation is what are we going to do and am I okay with this? You need to be on the same page with your spouse, otherwise, I do believe it’s sinful, because then it becomes a secretive act and that can go down a whole nother path. Whatever we’re talking about, whatever situation that the bottom line is, it’s communicated and agreed upon within the marriage.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest09:23
Absolutely, and so you’ve got to have an open, honest, transparent relationship. That’s so important to having a healthy marriage. So is being able to meet each other’s sexual desires and needs, both man and woman, because we both have strong desires and needs.
There are those extenuating circumstances in which spouses are going to be separated from each other for extended periods of time and rather than being reactive in that situation, it’s better to be proactive and intentional by having the conversations ahead of time and then being open and honest about your sexual drive, your sexual desire and how you’re going to appropriately navigate that or manage it in a way that’s consistent with God’s will. Now I can tell you, just based upon my experiences in doing counseling, that when a man calls his wife and says to her man I am separated from you. I’ve been missing you for two to three months and I’ve been having these very sexual thoughts about you, almost consistent with the song of Solomon. Imagine what the partner feels, the wife feels, when she hears that from her husband You’re separated from me, you’re gone and you may have all these temptations and yet your eyes and your heart are still for me. So imagine what that does when you have that open and honest communication about sexual attraction and sexual arousal. You’re separated, but yet you still communicate that to your spouse. It strengthens the bonds well beyond what you can imagine.
Now how do you manage that If you have that sexual desire and that intense sexual drive and you’ve tried strategies to pray and help God, help you navigate it so it doesn’t bring you in a direction of sin. Or perhaps you’ve tried to think other thoughts so it’s not interfering with business decisions and other sort of things that you need to get done, but it’s still there. How do you appropriately navigate that with your spouse? And if you have these conversations ahead of time, then it helps you be on the same page and meet that need that you have while simultaneously strengthening the relationship.
To me, that is a glimpse of sexual freedom the way God intended it. That’s what that is to me, and we are missing it because we’re afraid of the conversation. So I love that you set that up for us. And the other thing I want to say to our audience. Dr Chappelle is talking about people who travel in our park because that’s who he works with, but I’m thinking about going through a rough pregnancy, having a tough sickness, not being able. These are the kind of conversations, going through a very busy season where you don’t see each other a lot because you’re carpooling everybody everywhere. You still need to be talking about masturbation and what are the guidelines and what are the rules and why don’t we both okay with within this marriage?
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest12:11
This particular topic really surfaced for me, especially with pastors, because during the epidemic with that we had with COVID, one of the protocols was, if one of you had ended up getting tested positive, they would separate you for three to four weeks and they’d be living in the same house. But they’re not connected with each other and they’re completely separated. And I had pastors going how do I navigate this? What do I do in a healthy way? I don’t want to look at porn, I don’t want to have sinful thoughts. I still crave my wife, who’s 20 feet from me, but I can’t touch her. What do I do? And so we came up with these very creative ways in which they can meet the needs that they had for both each other, but in a way that was honoring of God and not sinful.
I feel like it’s freedom that we are looking for here, instead of just the normal message of masturbation is send, don’t do it, and I think most people go there because of the thoughts we can’t even hardly think of.
A thought of somebody masturbating healthy, like that’s a weird thought in our broken sexualized culture, and so I love that you’re presenting that for us. I do want to move Wayne from the marriage part to more of the parent part here, because I want to cover this from all different ages. But we’ve been talking about a base conversation that needs to happen before we can move into the masturbation conversation with our kids, and that is this, this idea of erections and being aroused by something and then automatically assuming that’s who you are. So I know I’ve learned a lot in studying this topic about spontaneous erections. Like obviously we have a lot of mom listeners here and we’re raising sons and so we don’t know all this stuff, and so before we dive into the masturbation conversation as a parent, I want to talk about arousal and erections, and can you speak into that from your expertise level here?
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest14:09
Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I think the human body is one of the most amazing creations. It’s not the greatest creation, and we can explore our world with great depth, to the highest mountains, to the deepest oceans, and yet the human body still continues to evade us. There’s so much that we’re still learning about it, but there are certain things that we do know that help us understand the topic of sexuality. Now, one particular issue that’s really important to know is there are parts of our body that have bundles of nerve fibers that are responsive to touch. So things like your fingertips, your face, your forehead, your neck these are all parts of the body that are particularly sensitive to touch. But some of the largest and greatest nerve bundles that are sensitive to touch are within our genitalia. That’s how God designed us.
So what’s interesting about this is just simply touching genitalia in a specific way can lead to arousal. You don’t have to have a sinful thought or be exposed to some kind of sinful sexual imagery to end up being aroused, and I think a lot of parents out there get worried because they might see their five-year-old having an erection or their young daughter self-stimulating going. Oh my gosh, they must have been exposed to something when in reality, sometimes the arousal can occur just by incidental contact, perhaps a young kid just exploring himself and all of a sudden is like that felt pretty good. I don’t know why I’m doing this or why it feels good. I just know it does feel good and I know it feels good when I do this. So I’ll just keep doing this over and over.
You know, as Christians, a lot of times I think we couple thoughts and emotions together, experiences and judgment together. And being able to separate arousal and sexual sin I think is a struggle, because so many parents, especially, like I said, as Christians, we think if I’m aroused it’s because I’ve seen something or I’ve thought of something that is sinful. And that’s not the case and I believe that’s what you’re saying here is it’s science and God made us that way that scientifically, our bodies respond in a certain way, and I mean it could be as simple as brushing up against the wall for a boy or a girl just sitting a certain way on something, and they experience a sensation and they’ve had no thought there is no sexual sin. But we automatically tie those two together and I think that’s a stumbling point for most of us.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest16:48
Absolutely, and I think it’s one of the parents’ greatest fear is if all of a sudden they see that their child is having some kind of aroused reaction, that automatically they assume that there’s some sort of exposure that has occurred or some kind of sinful thought. But in reality, like you’re saying, the way the body has been designed and God designed us to be sexually aroused based upon this touch. There are many experiences that people have where they incidentally get aroused or unintentionally get aroused of no fault of their own. For young kids like age five or six or seven, that’s incidental, they’re not as embarrassed by it. But if you’re an adolescent that’s walking through the hallway in school or you’re sitting in a Bible study class and all of a sudden you have an erection or you start to get aroused man, then all of a sudden there’s thoughts or worries Uh-oh, what’s going on here? There must be some sort of sinful thought. Now, yes, sinful thoughts can lead to sexual arousal, but they’re also both very independent of each other.
I think that’s super important to recognize, especially when kids are young. But as they’re getting older and they’re exposed to more, I think the conversation changes to first exposure and you know, mandy and I have been talking a lot about this.
Yeah, you know, you’ve got a kid being exposed to something and they’re getting an erection from it. So then, all of a sudden, I’m this and the kids, we’ve seen this. They live in a culture of very sexualized, very label oriented, you know, boxes to check. Am I gay? Am I, you know? Am I attracted to this? Am I attracted to that? Can you help us with that? Can you help navigate this conversation?
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest18:29
So there’s a lot of studies out there by the Kinsey Institute, which really looks at the different situations that lead to arousal, and what they’ve discovered is images that lead to sexual arousal or certain experiences that lead to sexual arousal don’t always dictate one’s sexual orientation.
So even though you may have been exposed to some sort of example of same sex exchange and be semi aroused by that, it doesn’t mean that that’s your orientation.
In my experience of working with juvenile offenders who had been raped at a young age by an older male, an adolescent ended up physiologically responding to the rape with an unexpected erection, not realizing that, as they were being raped, it was stimulating parts of the prostrate, which is something that leads to erection.
And because they ended up being aroused or having erection, despite the fact that they hated the experience and they were being traumatized by it because of the way that their body responded, they automatically assumed therefore I must be gay. And so, in addition to be traumatized by the rape, they struggled then in silence with potentially being, or believing that they were therefore gay. As a result, because they assumed that this is what their sexual orientation was, they began to seek out those same sex experiences and use that as a way to validate, not realizing that even though their arousal was occurring in response to those experiences, it didn’t necessarily mean that’s what their orientation was. And then they get really confused when they look over and they start having natural experiences of sexual arousal to someone of the opposite sex. And now they’re like, oh my gosh, what am I not understanding? The physiology simply behind the arousal process in touch and all the nerve fibers.
This is a perfect example of why we cannot be afraid to learn about science and God and how he created us. Because if we were afraid to talk about this, then we can’t have the conversation with our kids. And they’re out there, these horny adolescents getting boaters and then slapping labels on themselves about their identity, and we’re not even educated to talk about it. We’re just saying, okay, yeah, you’re that, you’re that, you’re that? Nobody’s having good conversations about kids, about their arousal, their body and sex and what God says about it. And that’s why I love having you on and speak into this space, dr Chappelle, because I think it’s extremely. I think it’s going to be life changing for some of our families.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest21:17
I hope so. I know it’s a difficult topic and, even having a PhD in psychology and working with others, it’s not easy as a dad to sit down with my own daughter and my own sons to say, let’s have this conversation, especially when that’s not a conversation they want to have with dad.
It’s awkward, no matter who you are. I mean, it’s never going to be this casual. Yes, let’s just talk about masturbation again tonight, but again, it is one of those conversations that equips our kids to understand what’s happening with their bodies and how to navigate that and we all remember being adolescents and how confusing that time was and to be able to have this type of scientific information and also the foundation of faith and merge those two together. Then we get to come to the conversation of boundaries, like how does that work? How does that work when we see what God says about sex being between a man and a woman? How does that work with taking our thoughts captive and how does that work with then, should I do this or not? I feel it naturally it’s hard to process all of those things as a parent, so I’m imagining, as for my kids, would be totally confusing.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest22:27
Oh, absolutely. If you take a step back, science shows us that the sex drive is absolutely powerful. It’s as almost as powerful as the desire for food and water and safety and shelter, and it’s not something that you can control fully, of saying, hey, I’m never going to have a sexual arousal. So that sex drive is very powerful and it can shape the way that we think about things, the way we do things. It can shape our approach to relationships. And because it’s powerful and if you’re a healthy individual, it will always be with you we have to be able to educate and teach people how to navigate it appropriately. And if not, the world will do it for us.
And when I think about it as a dad sitting down with my kids and wanting to talk with them, even though it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable for me and for them, if I don’t have that conversation, we’ll teach them that there are no boundaries. They will teach them this is what to do when in reality, it’s inconsistent with what we know as God’s word and it only leads to a path of destruction and harm. So for me, sitting down with them, I want to have a list of okay, here’s what not to do, but also here’s a list of what to do, because I don’t want to tell them no, no, no, and shame them, and then now they have no idea how to manage it and they’ll simply go to their own impulses. So I’ve got to give them a strategy in terms of how to not only think about it, but also how to manage it.
So, wayne, thinking about boundaries for different ages, let’s just give a practical example for younger kids. So say, we walk in and we see our young kid rubbing up against a teddy bear. What is something we could say to them that wouldn’t shame them but would also create a healthy boundary and clear direction on? Maybe we don’t do that, but why we don’t do that?
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest24:12
Absolutely so. Understanding the emotional age of your child is really going to be critical to the type of feedback that you give your kid. So, understanding that your child is five or six, their ability to process information and understand abstract concepts is going to be a lot more limited. So you probably want to be very concrete, but the first reaction is oftentimes a parent will have panic oh my gosh, the child is rubbing up against a teddy bear, whether it’s a boy or a girl, and therefore they must have been exposed to something or they’re having a sinful thought. Just take a deep breath, relax, because that’s oftentimes very common and very normal.
And an example that these kids are not having sexual sinful thoughts.
They just are doing something in which they’ve explored, discovered their body and they realize, whoa, this feels good, but you got to be able to put a boundary there that says, okay, let’s talk about this, because now they’re also vulnerable, because if they like the touch and it feels good to them, that puts them in a state of vulnerability in which they will allow other people to touch them inappropriately.
So it’s very important that you one, reinforce the nature that the teddy bear wasn’t built for. That that’s what we use teddy bears for Two, that you let them know that stimulation is something that’s common and it happens, but it’s not something that you do in public, that this is the way that we touch our genitals is something that happens in private. We only allow certain circumstances in which we allow for touch. So you keep the private and you talk about the limitations in terms of the touch right, and then the next thing you say is and it’s not something that you want to do all the time, even though this is something that feels good, it’s not something that we want to do frequently.
I think that’s good. So it’s not made for that. Whether it’s a poll on the playground or it’s a teddy bear, this is something that is done in private and not so frequently. The very concrete basic things you could tell to a young kid that they could process. I think that’s really helpful. Don’t let other people touch it either.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest26:23
Even if you’re not catching your kid humping a teddy bear at preschool or whatever and you have to address it. You know, other good times to have this conversation is when you’re giving your little kids a bath and when you’re going to be a nutrition. You know you can have just this conversation of. Your private parts are private. Only you get to touch them with these exceptions and you’re just laying out the guidelines for your kids about what’s appropriate and what’s not. You’re creating boundaries around their private parts at a young age.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest26:50
In a way that they can understand. It’s really important, I think, for parents to be relaxed and have this in their mind ahead of time, because sometimes the approach is very reactive. They panic and they go oh my gosh, this is terrible, don’t do that, this is horrible. Before they know it, the kid feels bad about disappointing their parent, but they feel good about what they did. Now they’re confused and they just go start doing it in private.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest27:19
Secret. Now, all of a sudden, a secret is surfacing. Because they were ashamed, they were embarrassed and they didn’t feel comfortable talking to mom or dad about it because of the way that mom and dad reacted to it.
And they feel shame in how God created them. And again, this is part of us having to look in the mirror and get over our own baggage. Nobody taught us to separate arousal and how you were created from sex. Nobody taught us that. This is a new concept that I’m learning from you, Dr Chappelle, and so I’m glad that we are able to have the conversation now, because this can prevent a whole lot of different paths or dark, shameful places that our kids are going with sex and sexuality.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest28:02
This is where it starts too, because if you have a positive, non-shameful reaction to them when they’re young, they’re going to remember it. A lot of times people don’t remember what we said to them, but they do remember how they made us feel, and if we feel comfortable and if we feel appreciated and not embarrassed or ashamed, we’re more likely to approach that person later on down the road when we have a similar experience. So this is where you begin, at the age of four or five, and you have these conversations that allow for an increased level of comfort without hammering them with shame.
The next thing is as they get older. And again, masturbation is a boy-girl issue, but I do want to want you to talk about wet dreams here. Help us understand that what are wet dreams? And tell us how to handle that as a parent if it happens.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest28:51
Yeah. So what’s interesting about this is with wet dreams there’s this assumption that it only happens to boys, but in reality it actually happens to girls as well too. So something to kind of embrace. Really, what a wet dream is is oftentimes referred to from a scientific standpoint is nocturnal emissions. So these are experiences that occur when you’re hitting puberty and the body is going through a tremendous amount of change to include a lot of hormonal changes and you have a lot of release of growth hormone.
Now, as you’re sleeping, you can end up being unintentionally aroused based upon how your genitalia is brushing up against the sheets or whatever rubbing that might occur, or drops in blood pressure. And it’s usually occurring during REM sleep, which when you’re dreaming the most and you’re in the deepest age of sleep, and as a result, you end up having a highly aroused experience. And you wake up sometimes and you see that you’re still aroused and you’re like whoa, what happened there? Sometimes the arousal can occur based upon romantic, non-sexual imagery. Sometimes it occurs unintentionally and we don’t know how other than our body was reacting at night to these changes in hormonal increases, and sometimes it can occur based upon certain lustful thoughts. But it doesn’t mean it occurred that those nocturnal emissions and that arousal that occurs is automatically linked to simple and lustful thoughts.
So what we need to know as parents is it’s healthy and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean your kid is sinning or we don’t want a parent rushing to like oh my gosh, my kid is watching porn and now he’s having wet dreams every night. That is not the case. He couldn’t be watching no porn, and this is the body’s natural way of releasing the hormones that are happening.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest30:52
This year, your child could be on an island out in the Pacific and the only person there, and still having this sort of experience, completely isolated from the rest of the world. So, yes, it’s very normal. It’s very, very natural. It’s something that often occurs in most adolescents and it’s not anything to be panicking about.
Yeah, and I think a practical way just to make it non shameful in your home is just to be like and a mom gave me this advice years ago and I just thought it was so good she was like I just tell my kids, hey, if you need me to change your sheets or you want to put your sheets in the in the wash, like no questions asked, like your body’s changing and it’s, it’s cool, like I just need you to know I’m here to help, kind of thing. You know, that way it’s not like a shameful thing, like acknowledging your body’s changing, and you may wake up with stuff on your sheet. I just think that’s a very nonchalant way to make it not a big deal but to say, hey, I see you, everything’s okay, you’re going through puberty.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest31:53
Absolutely. If you bring in the conversation, you bring the topic into a broader conversation, such as wow, I see that pretty soon you’re going to be shaving, you know. Or or wow, I just went out and I I bought clothes for you and three months later, your two inches taller and none of this works. And so you’re growing, and part of the aspect of growing and your body changing is this is going to be a natural experience that you might end up having. If so, just I just want to let you know it’s normal, it’s not anything to get worried about, but there are some things that are probably not a good thing to do. If you have this, you know you start walking in a direction that you probably shouldn’t be going, based upon what we know is consistent with God’s will.
I think that’s really a good. Turn back to the boundaries conversation for the older kids. I love that you normalized it, and you too, mandy. I think that’s so helpful. I mean, we all know what it’s like to be embarrassed, and if we can normalize something for our kids and just give them a practical, non lecture conversation about here’s what’s happening and I’m on your side, I’m on your team, it’s going to be okay. I think that just helps so much, and so I love those examples. But you mentioned a minute ago, Dr. Chappelle, about some of these experiences, and some of the masturbation conversation does turn to a place where it’s being stimulated by something not good, and this is where we need to talk about boundaries. How do we introduce that conversation and what are some practical things we can talk about with our older kids?
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest33:25
When I think about talking to kids about very uncomfortable topics, it’s usually what am I going to bring up, when am I going to bring it up and how am I going to bring it up? And so it really reinforces the notion that it’s not just about how, but it’s also about the when and the what. And it really, I think, speaks to parents about having in their mind being very proactive and very intentional ahead of time, taking a moment, thinking about what they want to bring up, how they want to say it and when they want to say it, based upon what they know of their child and the timing, so that they can increase the likelihood that they have a positive experience in collaboration. And the formula is not going to be exact for every kid. The way that I approached my youngest son was a little bit different than the way I approached my my eldest son, because their personalities are so different and the experiences and the struggles that they were having were very different. So I think the first thing is there’s no singular, perfect algorithm.
The second thing is I think it’s important to just acknowledge how uncomfortable the topic is. Once we acknowledge it and we share with the child that this is something that’s not easy for either one of us to talk about, it helps decrease that pressure. It helps both. It talks about the elephant in the room. Right, this is not easy, but we got to do this and this is important. And then you keep it brief.
Sitting down and having a long conversation for 45 minutes. Most kids attention span is going to be about five to 10 minutes, so make sure that what you have to say is set up front and set up very quickly. Also, no, it’s not a one shot deal, it is a continuous thing. And so letting your kid know, hey, we’re going to have these conversations, I know they’re going to be unpleasant. I’ll make sure that we get the timing right and or at least I’ll listen in terms of your input on when we should talk about these things. But we have to talk about them even though we’re uncomfortable about it.
And we’re just going to constantly do this because what you’re struggling with today might be different from what you struggle with tomorrow. What you’re able to feel good and comfortable navigating. That’s not a pressure today. It could be a pressure for you tomorrow that is difficult for you to navigate and for me as a parent. If I’m not talking to you about these sort of things, I’m not doing my job. So I want to do my job well. And if I wasn’t talking to you about these things, then it meant that I either didn’t care or I just didn’t love, and this, for me, is something that I want to show, that I as part of my love, and it’s something that I sometimes don’t want to do, but I know that I need to do.
You put that so eloquently. This is how I would say it in my home. Dr Chappelle, I would say we work with kids all the time at Next Talk and they have been taught no sexual boundaries and they’re masturbating to everything. So we got to have a conversation. There’s an urgency and an unfilteredness that I have in my home. I think that’s often not the best, but I do think telling them why we got to have this conversation, like there’s a lot going on. You can get educated about sex anywhere and everywhere now and what I want is for you to have a healthy biblical view that’s safe and that’s why this is really important to me.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest36:50
One of the things that has to be brought up in the conversation is the thing that pastors talk about most, which is this masturbation, along with sinful, lustful thought, what we see or what we think about. So part of the boundaries with sitting down with these kids, and our children in particular, is to say, hey, let me talk to you about why pornography is dangerous. Let me share with you why it’s so attractive and why it’s so arousing. But just because it’s arousing doesn’t mean it’s good. Being aroused is okay, but how you get aroused can make the difference between whether you’re living a life according to God’s will or whether you’re living a life of sin, and so if you are using pornography as a way to get aroused, then you’re tracking in a direction that not only is destructive to relationships, but it’s harmful to the mind, in part because it can be pretty addictive. It can release neurochemicals like dopamine in your brain and other sort of neuro chemical exchanges that we just want to repeat over and over. But, more importantly, it gives us a warped view about what relationships and what sexual relationships look like between a man and a woman, and that can be hard to undo once you have that, and so that’s a very important conversation to have with them, because they’re going to be exposed to porn sooner rather than later, oftentimes, unexpectedly.
It’s going to happen at church, based upon somebody that they were sitting next to, or in the classroom, and or it may not have to be the visual imagery that you get through porn, which, by the way, is so prevalent more prevalent today than it is in ever our history and more accessible to our children, especially off the cell phones. But the other piece, then, is what they think about, and this is where we have to teach kids really how to think about sex. The world will tell them to think about being aroused through threesomes and frivolous exchanges and other sort of things, when in reality we want them to let them know that the arousals between a man and a woman, sort of like the Son of Solomon, teaching them very early what not to think about and what to think about when they are sexually aroused is going to be very, very important, because that sets the standard by which they then enter a marriage.
I just feel like we missed it. We have missed so much because we’re afraid to have this conversation, and that’s what you’re enlightening us on today. Look at all of these layers of conversation we get to have with our kids if we’re not afraid of the masturbation word.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest39:30
It’s interesting too, because many parents are like, oh my gosh, my kid’s in the shower again. What are they doing? Or I see the bottle of lotion there again. What’s happening?
And for some kids, being an adolescent is very stressful. I think about my own life and the challenges that I face as a teenager, and they’re not things that I want to relive. So I think about how stressful it can be just for all the pressures that they have to go through, and knowing that masturbation does lead to a sense of stress release. It does have a positive emotional experience that sometimes is associated with it. Sometimes our kids use that as a go to navigate the stress that they’re experiencing, and so, if we see this happening quite frequently, oftentimes our kids are struggling with how do I replace my negative emotions with positive emotions in a more healthy and adaptive way? How do I expand my toolkit for stress management? And so that’s another thing I think we have to think about is your kid may actually be okay with not exposing himself to sexual imagery or pornography or lustful thoughts, but now he’s using this because this is their crutch for managing stress.
Like a coping mechanism.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest40:52
Yeah, for adolescents. You know, each person has a different level of sex drive and it can change even throughout adolescence, and so I know that my two sons have a different level of sex drives, right based on the conversations that we’ve had, which is great. I mean, I got to have these things because it lets me know where I need to help them, and it started with having these very comfortable conversations ahead of time. But I think it’s also important to know that sometimes we assume that masturbation automatically means that I am doing something sinful because of the way that I’m thinking or what I’m looking at, and I can tell you that, based upon my experiences of working with other people in this realm, that you can actually end up masturbating without having a sinful thought, simply because of the way the genitalia is designed and the nerve bundles that are there.
Well, I like what you said there, Dr. Chappelle, because my mind went back to. You know, we automatically go to a sinful thought, and it requires self discipline not to let your mind go there when you are engaging in masturbation. And my mind went back to the five year old humping the teddy bear, and it’s almost like that was just arousal. But now we’ve been corrupted by the world where we can’t be aroused without thinking, as in like we assume people are thinking sinful thoughts because we live in this broken, horrific, sexualized culture where we’ve been distorted, like we’re not just the simple five-year-old who’s just touching the genitals and thinking, oh, that feels good anymore, and I think that that just is a kind of a picture, a little bit, of humanity and what sin has done to the world in our minds, where we’ve gone with it. Now we can’t separate it out, and Satan has us all tangled up in what it means now. So this concept of okay, the thought where you go when you masturbate I think, though, parents are afraid that if they say it’s okay, then we create a situation where it’s like have at it, just do it all the time, kind of thing, and I think this is where boundaries come in very big, and also the conversation of what is sex, because to me, sex is between two people, right? My definition of sex would be between two people, and God is very clear the parameters about that, right? This is a gray area in scripture and this is why you get all the sorts of Christian viewpoints on this, because, again, masturbation is not in the Bible, but where your mind goes is, and so we have to be very careful about that. But I think it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about how God created you for sex within a marriage and one day you get to please your spouse, and that is so important.
I feel like the church has really messed this up. We don’t talk enough about pleasing your spouse sexually, and so a lot of people are like I don’t want a Christian marriage because what it’s? This clutching pearls type of marriage, boring yes, thank you for that word, boring and in reality God has created us for sexual freedom, like have fun in the marriage, like experience it, right. But if we miss the conversation about masturbation with our kids, I think it becomes more about the solo person, like it’s a selfish thing, like it becomes about me and not pleasing my spouse. And I think as our kids get older and as teenagers, they can understand this concept a little bit more. Where we can talk to them about the goal of sex is for you to be pleasured and your spouse to be pleasured. That’s the goal, the future goal in five to 10 years when you’re married. But right now we’re living with hormones and science and all of these things, and so let’s talk about the boundaries and the parameters of what that looks like.
There’s so many different layers here that if we could start the conversation when they’re young about what we’re looking forward to in marriage and about the natural things happening in your body. And it just develops over time. But again, like Mandy said, we’re fearful and embarrassed because it’s so uncomfortable.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest45:19
Absolutely. I think what you’re alluding to is that by no means are we saying go out there and have at it. There are no boundaries. In fact, what we’re actually saying is the opposite. What we’re saying is you’ve got to have really good, strong boundaries that are consistent with God’s will in order to do this right and to do it well. Now, there are certain exceptions, like we talked about between a man and a woman, when you are separated for extended periods of time, in terms of how to allow for something like this, but in a way in which it’s between you and your spouse.
Now, when we look at adolescents and they have this powerful sex drive and we know when we look at the research, that the vast majority of adolescents, both male and female, are masturbating we have to be able to then set down some very what I would consider healthy rules so that they can remain disciplined. If we tell them not to think about it or not to have or get aroused at all, we’re just gonna fail. They will. The body will naturally respond and get aroused. So being mindful of how you navigate your arousal is absolutely critical. So what we’re essentially saying is here’s what to think about, here’s how to think about certain things, and here’s what to do and here’s what not to do. It’s not an easy answer, it’s not gonna be a perfect recipe for every child, but it’s something that you should have in place so that you help your child manage the experience. If not, they’ll figure out a way to do it on their own, which will lead to teenage pregnancy and other sort of things.
I wanna take just a step back, though, for you, manny, in the sense that what you just also got through saying was, I thought, very insightful and very powerful, and that is sexual arousal and pleasure is a God thing. It is something that we are designed to have and fully enjoy and embrace and appreciate. It is something that both should mutually enjoy, and there’s a lot of things that get away in the way of that. Past traumatic experiences, un-miss-information about the body, sexual response cycle, our own discomfort with the way our bodies look or the opinions we have about sex in general. All those things can get in the way, and it’s already difficult enough to have a wonderful, mutually satisfying sex life. It makes it even more difficult when we don’t have the conversation early, address these things in a very healthy way and then be able to do it in a way that says embrace it, but embrace it with boundaries.
You know a lot of times at Next Talk whether we’re talking about alcohol, social media, whatever. One of the things we always say at Next Talk is we need to teach our kids to have this conviction to Jesus and know the line Like. Know the line, you know so like I allow social media. Studies show social media makes people depressed and so I have to educate my kids on knowing the line, knowing when you have to turn off the social media, knowing when you have crossed a line in how you’ve communicated something on social media or something you’ve shared. And that’s a continual process because we’ve got kids.
Their minds aren’t, their brains aren’t fully developed, right, they’re impulsive and so, navigating this from a perspective with your kid of you know I can’t tell you if it’s right or wrong because I don’t know what’s going on in your mind. That’s between you and God. What I can do as a parent is educate you on what is sinful thought and what is not sinful thought and what is healthy and what is not okay, and then you have to press in to is this okay for me? Is this okay Like you have a personal relationship with Jesus that sees you in all things and I’m not there, I’m not in the shower with you. I don’t know what you’re thinking.
You know I’m not in your mind and so pushing our kids into this space of this personal conviction where you got to know the line and I’m here if you need to talk about something, if you’re struggling to know the line, we can talk about that. But that is my job as a parent is to help you know the line and know the boundaries about all things, but masturbation too, and I think we’ve been the worst at masturbation because we’re so afraid of it and we have gotten into this comfortable space of it’s said don’t do it. And then we miss all of this, everything that we talked about on this podcast. We miss. We miss educating our kids and then through adolescence with their changing body, and then teenagers as their hormones grow and then helping them establish healthy marriages. We’ve missed all of that. I mean I’m sitting here thinking this is why our generation is so screwed up because we never talked about sex. This is the answer to so many things in my mind.
Masturbation is the answer. Who would have thought?
Conversation. Sorry, that’s what I meant. Yes.
But why not use masturbation as a way to have all these layers of conversation? And I think that is the cool thing that I am seeing with this.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest50:26
We think about having this conversation with our kids when they’re five. And then we think about having this conversation with our kids when they’re in their adolescence, and then we think, okay, once they’re married, everything is good. But in reality, we’re always a parent and that means that we should be having this conversation throughout the course of life, because what you wrestle with as an adolescent might be very different when you are married and you’re having your first child and you’re struggling with getting back into a healthy sex life, right. So if you’re able to set this conversation up now in a way that’s healthy and meaningful and you’re able to talk about these things in an honest and transparent fashion, this is the gift that keeps on giving, because it will help you navigate and be the best parent for your lifespan, and because this is the most difficult topic oftentimes to address.
Imagine, once you get this right, how easy are other things are gonna happen for you. So that’s just one of the things that I wanna throw, even though we’re focusing on kids right now. It’s just something. That is something keeping the back of your mind, because I think my daughter, who’s 21,. She has been dating this boy for gosh about a year and a half. He’s a great guy. I think he’s fantastic and I got an idea that she’s probably gonna get engaged to get married here and I can be pretty honest with you. I think she’s gonna be talking to mom or dad about what the wedding night should look like, and then even afterwards, and I wanna be there for her, no matter what her age is.
I think that’s a beautiful picture that is so foreign to most people, like the idea of having this safe place in your parent from the time you’re a child all the way through marriage and having children. I think most people are thinking I can’t even imagine that. Like to be able to just pick up the phone and say, okay, I’m struggling with this, or what does this look like? Or do you have an idea of how I can walk through this? It’s just, you’re right, the gift that keeps on giving. And really, as parents who wanna change generations by having open communication and being able to talk through the difficult things, being a next talk family, this is what we’re talking about Doing it differently so that our kids can have a safe place when they’re not kids anymore and so that their kids can also have a safe place.
It’s like generational change, which is super exciting. So I just wanna thank you for painting that picture. For us. This is just not a conversation about masturbation. This is a conversation about changing the way we approach difficult things so that our kids can navigate them all the way into adulthood, which is just a beautiful thought. It’s a beautiful thought, so thank you. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Dr Chappelle.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest53:13
You’re welcome. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Thank you for your wisdom, Dr Chappelle. I learned a ton. I hope it was helpful.
Dr. Wayne ChappelleGuest53:19
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