dad talking to daughter

“Dear Andrea,

As a father, is it appropriate for me to talk to my tween daughter about sex? Social Judo alerted me to sexual language between my 13-year-old daughter and her boyfriend and I want to discuss it with her. My wife thinks it will make our daughter too uncomfortable. Can you weigh in?”

Talking with your tween or teen about sex can be a challenging task, but it is a must. Too often fathers underestimate the level of influence they have with their daughters, particularly during the tween years. Dads tend to see girls in the early adolescent years as some foreign alien and often back away until they can start to see their daughter emerge from this awkward stage. This is an important time for fathers to stay engaged and to have the tough conversations about dating, sex, and relationships. While tweens and teens may not admit it, they do still want support and guidance from their parents. No matter how awkward it may be to talk to them about sexuality, do it anyway.

This is an important time for fathers to stay engaged and to have the tough conversations about dating, sex, and relationships. While tweens and teens may not admit it, they do still want support and guidance from their parents. No matter how awkward it may be to talk to them about sexuality, do it anyway.

7 Tips for Fathers

  1. The most important thing a father can do is to pay attention to what you are modeling. Your daughter is watching you and it is up to you to set the standard for how men should treat women.
  2. Show her what a loving relationship looks like in the ways you love her mother. Respect, compassion, honesty, and kindness should be embedded in the actions of love toward her mom. That should be the rule, even in cases of divorce.
  3. It might be best for her mother to take care educating her about her body and the physical parts of sexuality. As a father, you can teach her about what she should expect from a boyfriend.
  4. Talk with your daughter about how to tell when a man is really into a woman and what signs might suggest he is only looking for sex. She will look for your perspective because you are, after all, a man.
  5. When you see instances of abuse, sexual harassment, or disrespect, whether it is in the media, with your own peers, or among her peers, share your opinion loudly. Let her know with absolute certainty what behavior toward women is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
  6. It is important that you teach your child about sex within the context of emotions and relationship. Sex isn’t just a physical act and the portrayal of sex between adults in adolescent-targeted media often sends the wrong message.
  7. Know what your child is watching on TV, Netflix, and Hulu. The shows they are glued to can provide you with parenting moments about sex, love, and intimacy.

Raising tween daughters to make good decisions around sex and relationships starts with the first relationship they watch, which is the one between their parents. As with any tough topic with your children, listen more than you speak, talk with your child, instead of at them, and when they ask you the tough or embarrassing questions, give honest, factual and direct answers. Being an approachable parent starts early and if you set the stage from the start with positive communication strategies, you should get through any difficult topic with your tween or teen with relative ease.

 

Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.