The New Flirting-What’s a Grandparent To Do?

written by Cavin Harper
8 · 17 · 19

Today’s grandparents are faced with challenges unlike any other time in human history, especially in the arena of sexuality. The Sexual Revolution has changed the face of sexuality in many ways for which grandparents are seeking help and answers. How do we deal with all the modern attitudes towards sexuality and the impact that digital technology is contributing to those conversations? As our guest blogger today, Shelly Donahue, declares, “It’s a new day!” And boy, is she right!

Shelly is the founder and director of Tall Truth, an organization committed to telling the truth about sexuality, and educating parents and grandparents about the issues and ways to address these issues with our kids. I think you will find her blog today enlightening and hopefully motivating. We can have an impact on the conversation, Grandma and Grandpa, and Shelly offers some practical advice for doing just that as she talks about the “new flirting” practices among young people today. So, here’s Shelly’s article…

The New Flirting

“Shelly, why did Katie send me a naked picture? I don’t even date her, and I didn’t ask her for it? She sits next to me in math class and now when I look at her, I don’t see her the same way. Why did she do it?” asked Grant, a 9th grade Christian boy. 

WOW! What a different world our kids and grandkids are growing up in from our world as grandparents. I remember the days in school when your best friend would tell you that so-and-so liked you and asked if you liked him, and then she’d tell him your response and it would give him permission to pursue you. We flirted, we dated for a couple years, we kissed, we fell in love, we got married and then…. we saw each other naked on our wedding night – God’s way!

It’s a new day! A sexually-crazed day for our kids and grandkids when sexting (sending naked pictures over text messaging) is the new flirting – YIKES!  As a Christian teen relationships expert, with an emphasis in sexuality for the past 39 years, and hearing parents and grandparents say, ‘How come I’ve never heard this stuff before?’ I am committed to sharing what works.

I’m convinced that the problem in America is not teen pregnancy or teen STDs – the problem in America is teen sex. Let’s direct our children to delay sex. Let’s guide them toward the wonderful purposes God has made for sex in marriage and the benefits of healthy relationship skills in their teen years.

Teens do what they know until they know better. When they know better, they are much more likely to do better! I want to help this generation reach their hopes and dreams by honoring themselves and one other. When teens know why they should wait for sex, when they know how they can wait for sex and when those that care about them support their choice to wait – this generation can wait! They will wait when you teach them – and a good place to begin is in the management of their cell phones. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Be a healthy model with your own phone usage.
  2. Empower your grandchild to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, to understand their identity in Christ – that their worth comes from their Creator.
  3. Remind your grandchild you’re on their team and that you want them to reach their hopes and dreams for their future.
  4. Be intentional about teaching your grandchildren God-honoring, biblical truths about sexuality, respect for self & others. The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you want them to do to you” is a good starting point. Ask the Holy Spirit how you can do this effectively. Grandchildren will listen to their grandparents if they know they care and take an interest in their lives.
  5. Brainstorm with your adult children about the pros and cons of phone technology, and how you can best reinforce their parents’ desire to do what is best for their children. What specific rules can you help reinforce with your grandchildren when they are with you? How can you work together to teach them to guard against the dangers this technology presents?
  6. Discuss with your adult children the idea of celebrating a phone/technology rite of passage event.
  7. Be willing to discuss with your grandchildren why it is important to not send or receive provocative and inappropriate photos.
  8. Applaud them when they comply with family rules set by their parents… and you.
  9. Create a central charging station in your home for when your grandchildren stay overnight with you, one that is visible to all.
  10. Create a safe place where your grandchildren feel comfortable and confident about discussing anything with you.
  11. If they goof up, forgive them, release them to the Just Judge, bless them and get them back on track.

The research says that the number #1 reason children will delay sexual activity is that their parents were intentional about teaching them. Grandparents are a huge asset for reinforcing that teaching.

We can’t give what we don’t have – we didn’t have this information when we were growing up because we didn’t need it. Not so today. It’s time to be informed, equipped and empowered as a parent and grandparent about how to raise the bar of sexual self-control in our kids’ lives. It can start with their cell phone usage.

Shelly Donahue

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Cavin Harper


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  1. Roxanne Max

    Thank you Shelky
    This is a deep and scarry truth but when they know they are loved its easier to get them to open up too. There are many challenges before them let us be Jesus to help them.

  2. Lillian

    Excellent article. I will share with my prayer group. Thanks.


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