Talking with Your Daughter About Sexuality and Dating

September 22nd, 2009
  1. Your discussions with your daughter need to start early, beginning by age 5 or 6. The topics will shift as your daughter matures.
  2. Remember that sexuality is confusing in our culture. Talk with your daughter about the extremes in sexual attitudes, from explicit images in the media to embarrassed silence on the part of many.
  3. Speak directly to her, using simple language to describe both feelings and activities.
  4. For girls, puberty may begin as early as 8 or 9. Many girls begin menstruation at 10 or 11 with physical development occurring two years earlier than it did 20 years ago. Our daughters need our guidance and support with this important stage.
  5. It is not one talk that makes a difference, but many conversations where you both talk and listen, sharing morals, values and examples.
  6. All of our daughters have sexual lives, whether with others or through fantasies and an important part of their growth is thinking about and experimenting with their sexuality.
  7. The wise parent recognizes that your daughter will be taking risks as she grows both sexually and in other ways, and will want her to have safe, healthy options even if she is doing something that runs counter to your values. Encourage her to talk with other trusted adults about her sexuality.
  8. Girls’ and boys’ sexual development and activity is still regarded very differently in our culture, the stereotypical double standard being alive and well. Help your daughter to see her own sexuality positively, recognizing that it is important to acknowledge her own sexual desire in a culture which discounts it.
  9. Red flags that help identify dangerous sexual risk-taking include unprotected intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases, unhealthy sexual relationships, repeated exposure to sexual victimization and other more general psychological problems including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and clusters of unhealthy risk-taking.
  10. Educate yourself about sexuality and sexual issues. You are your daughter’s best ally.