Do you feel uncomfortable talking about sex with your daughter? Here are a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
Salt-N-Pepa might have produced the song “Let’s Talk About Sex”, but if you’re a mom of a growing girl, you’re probably not singing it! Discussing sexuality is hard. Where do you start? How much is too much?
As women and mothers of faith, how we present sexuality to our daughters has the power to shape this pivotal part of their worldview.
Though we have the guidance of God’s Word on sexuality in general, how we talk about it to our daughters is individual. Each girl needs a personal approach that takes into account her personality, fears, and questions. That’s why you – her mother! – are best equipped to discuss sex with your daughter. School and church might provide support, but they cannot address her concerns on the personal, spiritual level she needs.
This said, there are a few ways parents go wrong when discussing sexuality with their daughters. I see these themes recur as I counsel young women battling sexual sin.
Following are five things not to do when discussing sex with your daughter.
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1. Don’t Concentrate on the Negative.
The purity movement of the 80’s and 90’s was well-intended, but much of the material was fear-driven. Rather than concentrate on the beauty of God’s sexual design, young people were taught to see their sexuality as “bad”; a shameful burden to bear prior to marriage. Once married, these same young people struggle to release the shame of a negative sexual perspective.
Instead of concentrating on what not to do sexually, teach your daughter the beauty of God’s design for sex. Help her understand her body and why it works the way it does – that her design is for mutual enjoyment in marriage! Show her that sex is a positive, amazing creation of God, and as such deserves honor and respect prior to marriage. It is the value of our sexuality and our love for God that leads us to wait; not fear of what happens if we don’t.
2. Avoid Treating Sex as Shameful.
Shame is not a motivator to obedience. It is shame that drives us into secrecy (see Genesis 3!), where the Enemy continues to work lies of defeat and bondage into our sexual perspective. When we talk about sex as if it’s shameful in and of itself, we send the message that God’s beautiful design is dirty, evil, and gross. These messages are not quickly forgotten by young minds!
The Enemy wants to destroy the sexuality of our young women, and he does this by binding them to shame. He can then use shame to lead them into sexual sin before marriage, and to chip away at intimacy within marriage. When discussing sex, present it as the biblical, beautiful design that it is – and make it clear that shame only comes when we transgress that design.
3. Try Not to Get Embarrassed.
I write about sex on a weekly basis. I am no longer embarrassed that friends and family read these words (hi, Mom!), but the Lord had to break down some walls for me to become this comfortable! He may need to do the same for you. If you’re embarrassed to talk about sex with your daughter, spend some time in prayer asking God why you’re embarrassed. What are you afraid might happen? Are you worried her view of you will change? Ask God for wisdom in how to discuss this topic without an attitude of shame.
Your comfort level when discussing sexuality sends a message to your daughter. If you’re at ease, she is reassured that this topic is nothing to be afraid of – and she’ll be more likely to come to you with her questions.
4. Don’t Avoid Her Questions.
Speaking of questions, don’t we all want our daughters to be comfortable coming to us with their concerns? I know that’s what I want for my girl! There is no better place for your daughter to ask her questions than in the safety of her relationship with you.
In order for her to feel comfortable coming to you, however, she needs reassurance that you will listen without judgment, fear, or shock. This is tough, and may require practicing a “poker face” for those conversations! Young people today are exposed to sex at a far earlier age than you may expect. If your daughter asks, “What is masturbation?” at eleven years old, shock may be your initial response, but don’t avoid the question. If she’s hearing about it, it’s relevant for her stage of life. If you don’t talk to her about it, she’ll find out from someone (or somewhere) else.
5. Stop Viewing the “Talk” as a One-Time Event
Finally, the “talk” is not a one-time chat. It should be a continual conversation, from when your child first recognizes her body parts to the day she leaves your home. A singular sex talk sends a message of unavailability: the conversation is over, never to be brought up again. A lot of young women won’t come to you of their own volition; they’re too shy. You may have to schedule a monthly “girl’s date” to talk about life in general, integrating discussion of sexuality into that talk. You could work through a book together, or even study Song of Solomon together once she’s a teen.
If you consistently make yourself available to discuss sexuality with your daughter, she will become more and more comfortable discussing it and coming to you with her questions. By being the point person for her understanding of sexuality, you’re engaging in battle for your daughter’s spiritual and sexual identity.
*This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Series on discussing sexuality from a biblical perspective. You can read Part 2 “How Your View of Sex Affects Your Daughter” HERE!
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Phylicia Masonheimer is an author, speaker, and founder of Driven Women. She teaches strong-hearted women how to follow Christ’s call in work, home, and the world. She writes about the Bible, productivity, and sexuality on her website, and her book on biblical sex can be found here: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. She lives with her husband and daughters in northern Michigan.