“Where do Babies Come From?” Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
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Justin & Lindsey HolcombJustin and Lindsey live in Orlando and are parents of two young children, for whom they wrote this book. Justin is a minister and seminary professor. Lindsey now works at home, but previously served as a case manager at a sexual assault crisis center and a domestic violence shelter. Together they conduct a variety of training seminars to service providers, churches, and organizations about how to prevent, recognize, and respond to child, sexual, and domestic abuse. Lindsey earned a Master of...more
“Where do babies come from?” Don’t break out in a sweat just yet. Justin and Lindsey Holcomb help parents start the conversation with basic, biblical tools.
“Where do Babies Come From?” Justin and Lindsey Holcomb
Dave: At some point, every kid, little kid probably, is going to ask their parents, “Where do babies come from?”
Dave: Yes. Do you remember the conversation with my mom?
Ann: [Laughter] Yes, I was pregnant with our third and so we have a four- and two-year-old; we're at Dave’s mom, we're visiting her. I'm not showing, but she knows that I'm pregnant. She gets down real low to our two little boys and she says, “Boys, aren't you excited that the stork is going to bring a baby to your house?” And I am like, “What is happening right now?” I'm looking at Dave, like, “What in the world; is this what your mom taught you?”
Dave: Yes. Well, I didn't know, so I was just trying to figure out—no, the funny thing about it was we thought she was kidding; but knowing my mom, she probably wasn't kidding. She liked to cover things up.
Ann: Yes, she didn't like to talk about real issues, and so she would just kind of pretend and make things up.
So soon as we got in the car, I said, “Boys, I just need you to know that the stork does not bring babies.”
Justin: Santa Claus does. [Laughter]
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
We just heard from one of our guests today, which is really fun because we've got Justin and Lindsey Holcomb back with us in the studio today. We're going to talk about this a little bit. You guys, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Justin: Well, thank you. I don't interrupt the rest of the story, though. [Laughter] I was just having fun. Can you tell me the end?
Ann: Well, I just told them, like, “God makes babies.” I don't want to get into it too much because you've written a book about this very topic.
Dave: Well, it's interesting, the reason we're laughing is my mom was a single mom. She's with the Lord now. She's an amazing woman. And looking back, she was incredible.
Ann: She did a great job.
Dave: But we never talked about anything. You weren't allowed to talk about anything. I had a little brother who died when I was seven. He was 5 1/2 years old. We never talked about it after that day. It was never allowed to talk about.
This was in that category as well. You're going to talk about babies; that might mean we're going to talk about reproduction. I mean, that's why we all sat there when she said storks and we're like—first of all, I was like, “Does she believe that?” [Laughter] “I think she's not kidding.”
Obviously, you've thought a lot about this. First of all, you guys are parents to two daughters. How old are they?
Justin: Twelve and thirteen.
Dave: Alright, so I'm guessing you've had this conversation with them. [Laughter]
Justin: We've had many conversations on this. I think it started with us when they were probably five and seven, four and six.
Lindsey: They were little.
Justin: They were asking questions early and we just went with the conversations.
Dave: Yes, so you decided to write many books, not just this God Made Babies books. We had you on before talking about—what were the titles?
Justin: God Made All of Me is the one that we did on helping children protect their bodies from sexual abuse predators. The second one that we got to talk about was God Made Me in His Image, helping children appreciate their bodies, so body image. This one is helping parents answer the baby question, God Made Babies. We're trying to take all of the, what might be painful or difficult or awkward conversations and try to create resources for parents because we've had to have these conversations. We thought “Well, let's see if we can hand these over to others and see if they're useful,” and they have so far proven to be.
Ann: This is important to you guys because Justin, you're a seminary prof and Lindsey, you work at a nonprofit as an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, so this this area you guys have talked about, written about, why is it so important to you?
Lindsey: When we started having the girls and we were looking around for books like to read with them because we felt like that would be a helpful way to have some of these topics, we weren't finding anything that we liked or that we thought was theologically robust or accurate. And so, we thought, “Well, okay, what do we know how to do? Let's write.”
But Justin and I both grew up very differently. He grew up in a Christian home where his parents talked to him at length about anything difficult—you know hard, awkward conversations—but I did not. I probably very similar to you.
At the time, my parents were married when they had the sex talk with me but then they divorced. I was raised by my mom, and we just were kind of in survival mode. But when I had “the talk,” it was a video. I watched a video. There was no conversation, no rehash of what you just kind of—you know, it was sex 101, and then—
Ann: She just put the video in for you.
Lindsey: Just put the video on. We sat down, we watched it, and then we all went on our merry way. There was—I mean, I just had to figure things out from my peers, which is terrible and just kind of bumbling through life and then if you don't have those conversations, somebody else is going to have those conversations with you. And most likely your child's not going to get the best information or the most accurate. And then, of course, then you're married and now you're, you know, wanting to talk about sex and wanting to talk about how to engage in that as a couple but nobody's giving you a foundation for that, so it was a little tricky.
We realize, we're like, “Let's do things differently with our girls.” They are very talkative. From an early age we've been pretty honest with them, as developmentally appropriate, but they just started asking more and more questions like, “Exactly how does God make a baby?” [Laughter] so that launched us into that talk.
Justin: The reason it's important is Christians aren't usually the best talking about sex. We have this kind of what some people call dualistic. We think that the spiritual is good and the body's bad, and that's not how God made things. God made things with body and soul together, and they're supposed to be together, and we're going to have new bodies and resurrected bodies with the new heavens and new Earth so we're going to have resurrected bodies. We’re not just going to be floating around as souls in the afterlife.
They belong together and we either talk about sex as a necessary thing for procreation—it's tolerable, kind of dirty—or we worship it. I mean, there's just weird views from our culture and from churches. So having healthy conversations about reproduction and tying in sex to reproduction in God's creation; that just seems like a healthier way.
I think that our hope, and we're pretty confident on this, that if children start hearing about: God made them, how reproduction works, that it'll frame how they think about sex as they’re teenagers and in their 20s and get married and start having families. It'll frame us. We're hoping this is a legacy changing type of thing, framing how children and eventually teenagers and adults think about sex.
Dave: Yes, for you, as you guys know, for a lot of parents, this is the fearful topic.
Dave: Like, when and how am I going to have the talk with my son or daughter? You know, I can remember when I had it with my first son. He was seven; tell me, was that too late? Was that too early? And there's a part of me as a dad is like “They're done. Okay, tie it up with a bow and never talk about it again.” But I knew this isn't a one-time conversation, but I think a lot of parents think it is.
Lindsey: It is not a one-time conversation. You're accurate. It's we use the phrase “many and mini like”—small conversations a lot, often, and it can be awkward. Parents that haven't been raised in a home where sex has been talked about well will find it awkward. Or if there's a history of sexual abuse or painful trauma from just growing up of how things were explained or things that were done against people that were really inappropriate, it can be a really hard conversation to have. A lot of parents will worry “I'm going to mess it up,” “I'm going to say the wrong thing,” “I'll say too much.”
But we often encourage parents just keep it small because oftentimes if your child asks a question, like, “What's that?” pointing to a pregnant woman, they're not asking for the whole sex talk. They just want to know, “Oh, that's a mama with the baby in her belly.”
And then see what other questions they have. Usually they're like, “Okay, cool,” and they'll run off and play. And so that's why we say make it small, frequent conversations but to encourage parents that it is so important. I often tell them “You want to be the voice in their head so that when they have questions, they immediately think, ‘I want to run this by mom and Dad. I want to get their kind of analysis on this.’”
Justin: —a trusted resource.
Lindsey: Yes, they're going to be my trusted resource and that if you build that at a small age, that will carry through to when they're in middle school, when they're in high school, college. You know things come up that they're going to want to run to you quickly because they feel like, “Okay, Mom and Dad, this is a comfortable conversation I can, you know, bring this up to them.”
Ann: Well, Lindsey, was that hard for you? Because you didn't come from a family that talked openly about it; Justin did. It was easier for him. Did you find it harder or was it difficult?
Lindsey: That is a really good question. I think being married to him, we had had a couple years of marriage under our belt where a lot of conversations had happened, a lot of healing, and just realizing “I want to do things differently” because we weren't/we didn't have that relationship—with my sister and I with our parents—where we could kind of talk about things, good or bad. There just wasn't a lot of talking going on. They were in chaos with their marriage and then it became in survival mode, so I knew I wanted to do it differently.
And we, just kind of think from when the girls were little, started talking about, abuse prevention, naming body parts; just making it a regular thing. Then he would tell me stories about how things have been done so well in his family that I was like, “I want that for us.” I kind of learned from his stories, like, this is how it could happen. This is how we could have these conversations.
But I think the other thing that's important that I would encourage parents with is when you have a young child, you're getting the best car seats, you're getting the safest car, you're putting them in swim lessons, you're thinking of all these ways to keep them safe. This is another way to keep them safe—to really prepare them and equip them with this information—so that they have accurate information, so that they know if they see something, if a friend shows them something on their phone when they get older, they happen across something on the internet when they're doing a search for schoolwork, or if someone tells them something that's really just dark and dirty; that they're going to come and talk to you because they know Mom and Dad have had these conversations. It's not going to freak them out. They're not going to be so bewildered by this or grossed out.
So, it works. It actually—we put it to the test with our 13-year-old. When she started middle school, Justin and I both said to her like, “Hey, if you ever have any questions about anything, especially pertaining to sex, or anything you hear, you know, as you're going through middle school”—and she's in a really sweet middle school, but her—you know she's going to hear things—"come and ask us and we will answer you honestly, and if we don't know the answer, we're going to look it up and we'll figure it out.”
Justin: She saves all those questions for me now.
Lindsey: Yes. [Laughter] And she says it for bedtime.
Justin: I actually have a list of all the terms and phrases that she's asked me that she heard at her classical Christian school from the other classmates. Usually most of them have been boys just kind of shouting it out and a few girls have said some things, but I have a running list of about 15. I actually knew the answers to all of them but one. I actually had to look something up.
Justin: I told her/I was like, “I looked it up and this is what it is.” She was like, “Whoa, okay.
Lindsey: Yes, because kids are hearing new terms on TikTok or whatever the latest social media thing is. There’re just different terms that we're—we don't know what that means, so we'll go look it up and then we explain it to her. But how cool is that? We don't parent as experts at all. We are figuring this out as we go along. We apologize a lot.
Ann: But I think kids have questions. This is going to go pretty deep, but I was sexually abused. And when that happened, a boy told me, that was involved with that, he said, “You know that's how you have babies.” It wasn’t. He was incorrect. But my first prayers to God were “Jesus”—I wasn't a Christian. My family—I knew nothing, but I prayed for some reason. I said, “Jesus, please don't let me have a baby in the second grade.”
Ann: I prayed that every day because I saw in an encyclopedia, babies inside of a mother and how it can take a while, and I thought/I had no idea how long that would take. But for kids—and I was exposed to porn early. I was living in that all by myself, having no idea what to do with all that information/the incorrect information. And so, what you're saying is it's our job because kids are being bombarded with wrong information. You're saying as a family, as parents, let's ease their minds, bring them into safety and speak truth of God's beauty in it.
Justin: I love that point because when kids are asking the baby question, they're actually asking about themselves. They want to hear a story about like, “Where did I come from?” It's not/they're not asking for the mechanics of how babies are made. They're not thinking like that. Like they like fast cars. They're they don't really care how the engine works. They see a baby and a mom, and they go, “How is that happening? Where do they come from?” And they're actually asking the bigger question of themselves and so we get to actually tell them about how God wanted them in His world and made them on purpose. Like, what a great thing.
Your story is so true because—I mean, think about the need—so you asked Dave about he was seven too late. Probably not because, well, it actually depends on each child in the family, but probably not.
There is a point where it can be late. Just think about some of these statistics. One in five children are sexually abused before they're eighteen, so there's a lot of sexual abuse happening. They're going to have—there's more children than we know of that have your story.
Justin: The idea of a second-grade girl asking not to be pregnant, like people need to hear that. People need to be aware that that could be their child, their son or daughter, because they haven't had these conversations with them. Or to think about the fact that porn exposure/average age of porn exposure is 10.1 years of age, and the vast majority are not on purpose. They're not searching. They're bumping into it, and they feel—then the kids feel shame, like they did something wrong, so they're not going to bring it up.
Ann: —so it's a secret.
Justin: It’s a secret. Lindsey told me that early on—kindergarten, first grade, second grade—is when children start noticing pregnant moms and asking just normal questions. If you see a woman that you know who normally doesn't have like, looks like a watermelon, like that's a normal question to ask. Avoiding it makes them think that they're asking a wrong question or shameful question, like they're doing something wrong.
The point that we want to make with parents is you don't have to go to the mechanics of it for a while. I mean, you get to say like a few different levels like “Well, God made it possible.” Like that's the first step: God made it possible. We can get into the specifics, but God made it possible for a mom and dad to make a baby and they're like, “Okay, great.” That might actually be good enough. We got like a year out of that answer.
Ann: At what age would you think? You got a year out of that. [Laughter]
Justin: We did.
Lindsey: That's probably, I would think, four and five, because around four and five, it's very developmentally appropriate. They'll start noticing their own body parts, their own private parts, so they're going to want names for those at that age. But I think kindergarten, first, second, they're noticing pregnant women.
Justin: Then the next level is, God takes a little part from Mom and a little part from Dad and puts them together and puts them in the mom’s uterus, whatever language you want to use. So that's another/we got another year out of that. [Laughter]
And then finally, and then finally our oldest asked Lindsey, “So okay, how does God take the one part from Dad and the one part from Mom and put it together?” And she was like, “Oh, God puts it together,” and she's like, “You're not hearing the question. How?” Like she was asking for mechanics.
Ann: Yes, yes.
Justin: Well, that was a third level question. Many parents think they have to go straight to the mechanics of everything about male parts and female parts and you don't. That's actually the last step for these talks.
Ann: And if you have, like we had three boys, none of them asked those questions. You know, girls may be more curious. You might have a boy that's more curious. But our boys never asked those questions, so we had to initiate that.
Ann: And as parents, is that important if they're not asking? Okay.
Justin: Average porn exposure being ten tells you, you need to get there before porn exposure gets there. I'm thinking, I'd be saying nine would be my cut off. I have friends who have not done that and they're kind of regretting but also fearful of it, and “Now it's too late; what do we do?”
It's never too late. Mom and Dad need to have the conversations with their child at some point, so they know just for the sake of getting that pathway trod and letting them know like “I'm initiating this conversation,” “I'm starting this conversation,” “I'm not being passive with this conversation,” and “You can come back to me,” and then bring it up a few times. I mean practically, do it in the car. That's the easiest place—
Ann: It’s the best place. [Laughter]
Justin: —because you don't have to make eye contact. They're safer. And that's where I get some of my most intense questions. I love the fact that I get asked really specific questions because they're curious and they want - they trust me. The fact that they trust Dad to answer those questions.
Ann: Yes, especially with your daughters.
Justin: It’s the good stuff.
Lindsey: I think oftentimes people think, “Okay, I've got daughters, so Mom will have the conversation,” “We've got sons; Dad will have the conversation.” One way to encourage parents is: okay, our hope is our children grow up and get married, and if they don't, that's okay; but they're going to grow up and get married. We want them to be able to have conversations with their spouse that are easy, that are healthy, that are fun.
Justin: That are normal.
Lindsey: That are normal. And so having your spouse talk to your child who maybe is not their same gender is really helpful for the right now, but especially for the future. I would encourage parents, you know cross talk, like, go across gender lines.
But going back to the porn piece, this is why it's so important is even just in our kids sweet, sweet school, there are several of them that are on all of these different social media platforms where it's just unfiltered access and they are seeing things. If your child sees something that is dark and sinister and evil, they're going to feel the guilt and the shame and the darkness. If you can come alongside them and say, “Hey, if you see something, I want you to tell me so we can talk about it and so that you don't have to sit in that fear and that darkness on your own. We can bring Jesus into this and bring light into it so that darkness does not win.”
How cool is that: the role that you can play? Otherwise, they're just going to keep having these layers of shame build up and then you'll have a lot to unpack—you know when they finally do talk to you in a couple of years.
Justin: I still remember in 4th grade at a sleepover, a boy brought a magazine that he found from his brother's room. In 4th grade; it was some intense stuff. I'm so glad I had the category that I had because if I hadn't, and that's the first thing I saw—
Ann: Say what your category was.
Justin: The category of what my dad taught me. “God put the nerve endings where He put them. He made your body to be the way it is, and he made a woman's body to be the way it is. Isn't this amazing that God likes creating so much?” It was framed with almost mystery and awe of what God did and how cool it was, and this is what God did. He likes making things so much. He made other things to make things. So that was my category for what reproduction was; sex was a piece of reproduction and God's creating and empowering His creation to make other things, and so it had wonder to it.
Ann: So then when you saw porn in this dark side, it made you feel—
Justin: —afraid, looked violent and it looked cold, and it looked distant. I remember looking at that and thinking “That doesn't fit what I thought that was like at all,” because it was a distortion of God's good gift. I mean, it was like the gift that my dad described, a few years later I see it. I'm thinking “That's not even close to what Dad described and what I've learned it’s supposed to be like—you know just from hearing other people talk. It was from kindergarten to fourth grade; there are some other questions that were asked in conversations.
That's important for parents to hear, is as bad, as awkward as you think it might be, as bad as you don't really want to do the conversations, think about that possibility because that's actually most likely for most children. That's why I'm saying like “Man, risk it, risk it for eight, risk it for nine, risk it for seven, like get the conversations going if you can.” And that's—I mean literally, that's what the book is for is to really to make it—we don't do mechanics. We're literally setting the stage as easy as possible so a four-year-old, a three-year-old can actually hear the story and just kind of be like “Okay, God likes making things.”
Dave: Justin, do you remember after you saw that image? Because even now you're tearing up remembering the power of that. Did it become a secret? Or did you have a conversation with anybody?
Justin: I did. My mom asked me about it. The reason it got me is because no one asked me how I felt about it, ever. I've been through that before. I remember telling people like, “I still remember the image that I saw,” and then realizing, like, that was—I'm 49, so whatever—I mean, this is decades later. That's how powerful this stuff can be.
I did not have a conversation with my dad about it. What happened was my mom heard from another boy that was there, his mom, and she brought it up and said, “Hey, I heard that this happened; anything you want to talk about?” I thought, “Oh, what a relief.” I was like, “Yes, I don't even know.” She said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll have Dad talk with you about that. That'd be a really good conversation.”
I kind of wanted to avoid it because we had baseball. He was my baseball coach and we had baseball award night. And so, we went to the award dinner and on the way home I decided “I don't want to have this conversation with Dad,” and so I just thought, “I don't feel too good, Dad. I'm going to go to bed early.”
He let me save face and five minutes later he came in and unpacked some questions. He said, “What questions do you have?” I said, “What is that?” He described pornography and he described that you might look at porn; you're going to feel guilty when you do. And the desires, God put them there. How those desires are expressed is where we get off track, so desire for pleasure in marriage is great. I don't want you mixing up feeling guilty for that. He's teaching me stuff. I'm thinking, “Thank God Dad is talking to me”—
Dave: How old were you?
Dave: Here's what I want to say, because I know there's a dad listening, or a mom, that is scared to death. You know, we've had conversations with parents. They're like, “I'm just going to farm that out to the Christian school or to the youth minister or the church.”
Ann: But our culture is teaching it every single day.
Dave: Yes. I'm just saying get on your knees and ask God for courage and—
Ann: —get the Holcomb’s books.
Dave: Yes, get the book; that will really help you, but go in there, sit near them and open it up.
Shelby: You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb on FamilyLife Today. If you're eager to start having these tough conversations with your kids but you don't know where to get started, well make sure you pick up a copy of Justin and Lindsey's book called God Made Babies: Helping Parents Answer the Baby Question.
We'll send you a copy as our thanks when you financially partner with FamilyLife and help make more conversations, like today's, possible. You could partner with us, online, by going to FamilyLifeToday.com or calling 800-358-6329. That could be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift. Again, the number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
As parents, let's face it, having tough conversations with your kids can be well, just extremely difficult. Well, tomorrow Dave and Ann are joined again by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb to tell us, really, how to do that. You won't want to miss that tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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