Talking to Girls About Sex
“Mom, do we really have to TALK about THIS?!?” They all respond the same way. Resistance and embarrassment, with a touch of fright. But, I insist. “Yes, we really have to talk about this. I’d rather have a conversation, but, if you are that uncomfortable, then you can just listen.” I take my girls on special weekend getaways at various developmental stages to talk with them about sex. It’s important to me. There is so much uncertainty and unpredictability in our culture surrounding sexuality – gender role definitions are changing, friends with “benefits” is common during high school years, homosexuality is becoming more mainstream with gay straight alliances on Jr. High campuses, and sex-trafficking is not something that is just happening in other countries.
While my girls initially express discomfort with the topic, over the years we have had some great conversations. I try to avoid lecturing, but the teacher in me sometimes takes over. They are good about reminding me to not “over explain” things when they occasionally ask questions. I’m also known for spouting random research details to my girls about sex. Once when I was driving my daughter and her friends to gymnastics practice I spouted out, “You know, girls who engage in regular sports tend to have their first sexual encounter at a later age than other girls.” My 16 year old daughter told me the next day that one of her friends in the car with us was already sexually active and that my spouting off random sex facts was awkward for her. She sometimes wonders if I will ever learn.
I know I’ve made my share of mistakes in talking about sex with my girls, but one thing I hope I’ve done a pretty good job at is keeping the dialogue open. I’m in the early stages of writing a book on talking to girls about sex and while I still have much to learn, I hope by sharing my experiences with others I can inspire more parents to talk with their girls about this often awkward topic. The working title is, “The How to and How Not To Guide: Talking to Girls About Sex.” On the surface the title speaks about guiding parents and other adults on how to talk to girls about sex, and how NOT to talk to girls about sex. But, there’s more to the story than that.
I’m reading You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church by David Kinnaman who says that for some young people “it feels like the church’s teaching on sexuality is behind the times” and that’s one of the reasons they are leaving the church. Well, I don’t want to be guilty of being behind the times on this issue and I sure hope my kids develop a lifelong faith commitment that helps them stay connected to the church at all stages of their lives. An early church leader, Tertullian, once said that the family is like a little church. I wonder if changing the church culture around this issue needs to begin at home with families. As parents, our kids look to us for guidance – whether they admit it or not. What messages are we communicating in our homes about sex? What spoken and unspoken values are being passed on to our kids? How are we, as parents, being repressive on this issue of sexuality?
I’ve been doing reading and research on this topic for a little while now and will be blogging about what’s going on in our culture and in our churches around this topic. I hope you will join me on this journey. David Kinnaman says we should get lots of help when coming up with book titles. In my next blog I’ll tell you the back-story on how I came up with my working title. But for now, I’m asking for your help. What do you think of my working title?