You don’t have to be an expert to discuss sex with your daughter. If you feel uncomfortable talking about it, just say so, but let her know that you are willing to answer her questions. Having a rewarding sexual relationship is part of a happy and healthy life, therefore, it’s important to give your daughter the information she needs to make responsible choices when the time comes. Teaching a child about sexuality is an ongoing process.
Approach the issue of sex with your preteen, keeping in mind that she may be curious and want to be reassured that the changes happening to her body are normal. Don’t wait for her to come to you with questions. Talking to your daughter about sex may be more effective if you discuss the subject before she becomes sexually active. Start the discussions well before puberty to encourage a positive attitude about sex.
Explain biology of reproduction, but be correct when discussing anatomy. Use the right terminology, especially when talking to a prepubescent girl. Describe how the reproductive system works so that your daughter knows what to expect when she starts menstruating.
Give your daughter age appropriate answers to her questions. Part of sex education includes teaching her values as well. Be honest no matter how surprised you are by her questions. You might not have to go into as much detail for a preteen as you would for an older adolescent who is thinking about dating. Let her know that it’s OK to talk with you about sex.
Explain that people having sexual relationships is a normal part of life. No matter what her age, if your daughter is old enough to ask questions about sex, she is old enough to be told the facts. Tell her that having a close or intimate friendship with someone might not necessarily lead to a romantic relationship but could one day when she is older and ready. Point out that it’s healthy for her to have platonic friendships with same-age boys.
Share some relaxed time alone with an older adolescent or teen. She is more likely to be in the mood to talk when she feels comfortable. In most cases, Mom or another trusted female usually does the talking. “Daughters can feel uncomfortable if Dad is present during discussions about sex,” says Dr. Phil McGraw, best-selling author and syndicated daytime talk show host. Most kids tend to feel more at ease talking about such a personal issue with the same-sex parent.
Discuss the issue of dating with a teenage daughter who attends high school. Before that time, your daughter may still be hanging out with a mixed group of friends. Explain that love and commitment are critical factors in responsible sexual relationships that are based on a history and mutual respect between the two people. If your daughter is old enough to date, caution her not to confuse sex with love. Offer advice about how to have safe sex, yet make it clear that sex and dating do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Encourage your daughter to wait to share sexual intimacy with a partner she cares deeply about beyond just physical attraction. Talk to her about the advantages of abstaining from sexual intercourse until marriage. Point out that abstinence prevents getting or passing on sexually transmitted diseases and prevents an unplanned pregnancy. If your teen confides that she has already had sex or is considering becoming sexually active, talk to her about the various forms of contraception. Provide her with basic information about male and female condoms, diaphragms and oral contraceptives.