How I Want My Daughter to Learn About Sex

By | January 28, 2016

mother-429158_1920A few years ago, I attended a Christian women’s conference. One of the breakout sessions was titled, “Sex! Now that I Have Your Attention, Let’s Talk About Sex.” It got my attention so I went.

Christian conversations about sex always interest me because it reveals so much about your background and how you were raised. If you read my last blogpost, I gave you a glimpse of part of my childhood. I grew up in an incredibly sheltered community during my preteen and early teenage years. One of the rules of this community was absolutely no dating until after college. This must have been awesome for my dad, who at the time had 4 daughters ages 10-15, although this did not shelter us completely from the arena of relationships and boyfriends.

The culture around sex has changed so much in the last century. In the 1950’s, episodes of I Love Lucy depicted Lucy and husband Ricky sleeping in separate twin beds. Sex and even pregnancy was taboo on public television. Fast forward to today when most shows and movies depict tons of premarital sex and very little sexual satisfaction after marriage. All of these subtle messages are inundating us all the time. It makes me worried about the philosophy my children will have about sex.

So, back to this women’s conference. It was a relatively conservative Christian conference so I expected one of two things: (1) either the presenter is all about no premarital sex and how she maintained her purity and virginity until marriage or (2) she had a horrible experience like she was molested as a child and how she overcame the baggage that comes from experiencing that. I was surprised but the focus was on neither.

I don’t remember her name so for the sake of this post, let’s call the speaker Jill. Jill did not focus on her own experience with sex as an adult but on how her mother introduced sex to her as a child. I was blown away and for the first time felt like I had a tool on how to talk about sex and how to approach sex with my children.

Jill was always a curious child, especially when it came to sex. She grew up on a farm and watched the animals mating and a few months later, giving birth. One day, when she was about 8 years old, it clicked and she thought, “Surely not mom and dad!” so she went and asked her mom, “How are babies made?” Her mom told her point blank the mechanics behind making a baby. Jill was like, “EW! I never want to do that!” Her mother responded by saying, “When you grow up and meet someone who will love and care for you, it’s a very special thing you share after you’re married. Right now some things are very difficult to do because you’re not ready, but when you get older you will be. Look at baby brother. He can’t walk or jump yet, but when he is ready, he will. We can’t expect him to do those things now though.” Jill’s classic response: “I don’t ever want to get married. I just want to live with you forever.” Her mother’s classic response: “Daddy and mommy would love that very much.” Her mom also went on to explain to her that this conversation about sex was between her and mommy. Her mom said, “If kids at school want to talk about it, you tell them that that’s something you talk about only with your mom.”

After a while Jill approached her mom and said, “I want to see what a naked man looks like.” Whenever I tell my friends this part of the story they all kind of freak out like, “What kind of child says that or wants that?” I am no psychologist so correct me if I am wrong, but I think it is completely normal for children to be curious about these things and it’s our culture and the way we were raised that make it seem like it’s something bad to be curious about sexuality. Not all kids are this curious, but some are.

So Jill’s mom says, “Well, you have your little brother and you remember when I would change his diaper.” “No, mom, I want to see what a grown up man looks like.” “Well, daddy isn’t going to model for you, so you’re just going to have to wait.”

Well, the day came when she finally got to see what a naked man looks like. Her aunt had just moved into a new house and it was moving-in day. The kids were running around the house looking into all the rooms, opening all the cabinets and just doing things that kids do in a completely empty house. Jill opened the stove and found some Play Girl magazines from the previous owner. She grabbed one of them and ran to the bathroom. After she skimmed through it, she found the centerfold. There was a man without a stitch of clothing, in the middle of the woods with a motorcycle. Jill went outside, grabbed her mom and dragged her to the bathroom with her. She opened the magazine to the centerfold and exclaimed, “LOOK, MOM, A NAKED MAN!”

At this point I was flipping out. If my daughter had come to me with a Play Girl magazine like that I would be like, “Where did you get that? That is so bad. Don’t ever look at those things again!” But the way this mother handled the situation blew me away. She was totally calm and said, “Uh huh. Isn’t he handsome? God made our bodies to be so beautiful.” She commented on how the curtains matched the drapes and really let her daughter dwell on it. After a bit she said, “You know, God wants us to use our bodies to glorify Him, but unfortunately, the people who took this photo weren’t trying to give glory to Him. Although this man is very handsome, do you know if he is kind? Do you know if he is caring? Do you know if he is honest? We don’t know these things and those are the types of things that really make a man attractive.”

Of course, Jill grew up and got married a virgin, but the point of her presentation, at least for me, was more about how we approached sex than about how we avoid it. I grew up where even talking about sex was bad. The sad thing is, the world is talking about sex nonstop so if we as parents and Christians aren’t talking about it, then the world will be the only resource our children will have when they are developing their own philosophies about sex.

So here are some tips about how to talk about sex with your daughters (I think boys function differently than girls and I am still developing the approach I can work with when approaching this subject with my son- hint hint to daddy).

  1. Keep an open door philosophy with your kids. Jill’s mom was approachable, available, and nonjudgmental. Even when Jill was getting older she felt absolutely comfortable taking her mom into the bathroom with her to show her the Play Girl centerfold. We want to keep as much openness as possible between us and our children especially in the preteen years so we have an open window into the kinds of things they are dealing with at different stages of their lives. This doesn’t mean we have to interfere if they aren’t doing what we want or if they aren’t telling us everything, but we want to know what is going on in their lives until they are mature enough to know what is right and wrong and what is appropriate and inappropriate.
  2. Don’t EVER freak out if they say or ask anything. We should encourage curiosity by respecting their questions or comments. In the event that they tell you about a molestation incident, it is even more important to remain calm, communicate that you believe them, and have a sense of urgency, but not anger about dealing with the issue. Kids automatically think you can’t handle the truth if you react with anger. I think this applies to everything they tell you. If they tell you they got in trouble at school and you freak out and get angry, they probably won’t tell you if they got molested because kids hate seeing their parents upset. Calm communication is key.  Let your kids know that you are listening and are trying to understand what they are saying. Affirm them if the other person is at fault or explain the consequences if they are at fault (in the event that they got in trouble at school or something like that). Child molestation is NEVER the child’s fault.
  3. Tell them that sex is a great thing that is definitely worth waiting for. Sex isn’t a bad thing as long as the context is good. I think letting your kids, at a very young age, ask all the questions they want about sex is important so they know that you don’t view sex as dirty or bad. As they get older and more mature, be sure to tell them that there are many people who have made sex into something that is horrible. Tell them about how they can protect themselves from the people and situations who want to hurt them through sex.
  4. Be realistic in your expectations about sex with them. This conversation is probably suited for our older girls. I have a few friends who never kissed until their engagement or well into their dating life. I even have a few friends who never kissed until their wedding day. This is awesome, but the majority of my friends were definitely not virgins on their wedding day. In our Christian communities it is so easy to put this pressure on our girls to be virgins until their wedding day that they feel that if they aren’t virgins on their wedding day, their life is doomed. I honestly believe that sex outside of marriage is sin and needs forgiveness, but I want my daughter to know that “sex outside of marriage” involves a huge spectrum of emotional and physical risks. Some friends never had sex with anyone else before marriage except with the one who eventually became their husbands. Some had tons of casual sex partners. Some people were prostitutes and strippers before they met Christ. These scenarios are all very different and all have very different types of emotional and physical baggage. I want my daughter to know that her decisions about sex will impact her marriage and that I hope she can be a virgin on her wedding day but that the choice is hers. This would probably be the time to talk about birth control too. Oh my gosh, I’m getting scared thinking about this even though my daughter is not even 3.

Every child is different and needs a different approach. Jill was an exceptionally curious child but yours may not be. Your child may not feel comfortable talking about it with you. That may mean that kids are already talking about it at school or they just don’t care at the moment. Either way, I do think that it is the parents’ responsibility to have this conversation with their children.

Please comment below if you have found any good resources on this topic for girls and/or boys. Please comment below your opinions on this topic too.

(Disclaimer: I am not a therapist so my views should not be taken as professional advice. These are just my opinions.)

 

 

Category: Kid issues Parenting Stories Tags: , , , , , ,

About Maria

I am a pastor's wife, mother of 2, sister to 6 siblings, and daughter of a retired US Army veteran. I have a lot of ideas about how relationships within a family work, how they should work, and how women are key in making the home a place of little strife (I don't think you can eliminate strife altogether). I enjoy being with my family, public speaking, mentoring, singing, reading, and just enjoying each day to the fullest. I would love to hear your feedback on my opinions. If you like what you are reading, please check the box for news updates.

15 thoughts on “How I Want My Daughter to Learn About Sex

  1. Silvia

    I love it!! I know it will come up, mine are 4 and 6, and saw tampons the other day…you know when we were growing up my mom told us if we used them we weren’t virgins anymore. Lol. But I’m all about being open, calm. And appropriate.

    Reply
    1. Maria Post author

      Thanks so much for commenting. It is funny the things we were told when we were younger. I think being open and being appropriate takes so much wisdom. Hopefully, we can rise to the occasion. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sarah

    I think this is all good advice. I found myself telling Ezra not to touch his penis because it is dirty (he’s 1) but then I realized that body parts should not be seen as negative. So now I tell him not to touch his penis because he should keep it clean 😝. Also, i think it’s especially important to teach young girls that thier worth and purity are not tied to their sexuality/virginity. Here is an excellent article about this.

    http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/virginity-not-point

    Reply
    1. Maria Post author

      That is so true. My main concern for my daughter is about her self worth and self image more than her virginity, although that is important too. I would honestly rather have her lose her virginity before marriage and end up marrying happily than be a virgin at marriage with low self-esteem and end up living unhappily because she ended up choosing her marriage partner poorly due to her low self-esteem. Of course, best case scenario is that she is a virgin at marriage with great self-worth/esteem and she chose her marriage partner well. At the end of the day, it is her choice and I want her to know that I love her and accept her unconditionally and that I am open to her about her experiences with sex and all of the above. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  3. Grace C

    Maria,

    What an insightful, relevant, applicable post! I honestly started to think about the sex talk. Now that Kelly comes home and tells me so and so kissed him and asks what boyfriends are (I know, at 6!!!). I love how Jill’s mom approached it. Open door, open communication seems to be key so our children are always comfortable talking to us. So true..even if WE parents don’t talk about sex, the entire WORLD is — music, movies, TV shows, friends…

    Reply
    1. Maria Post author

      It’s scary how relationships and sexuality are everywhere! It’s great that you are gearing up for this talk! May the force be with you.

      Reply
  4. Charles

    I’ve always held reservations on having a daughter, for the exact reasons this article was written. The thought of having to deal with this topics still makes me uncomfortable. I think your advice is sound and insightful. I plan to share it with my wife- and although we don’t have any children yet, I imagine it will still take me sometime to getting used too.

    Reply
    1. Maria Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Charles. It is super scary to talk about it with our children. I actually feel more ready to approach this topic with my daughter than with my son, though. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl. hahaha. Also, I think our fear of this topic is also because most of our parents didn’t really talk to us about it so we don’t even know how that conversation would go. I’m sure you and your wife will be AWESOME parents.

      Reply
  5. Joshua

    Wow, wonderful post and great topic! It sounds like you really challenged yourself to open to greater love than you had allowed before. It’s such a powerful opportunity to transform anger and guilt into compassion and evolution. Big kudos!

    The one line that felt like it carried an more rigid injection of fear was “I honestly believe that sex outside of marriage is sin and needs forgiveness”. Now, I am not the fear and sin police, so you are certainly entitled to believe whatever works for you – but because I came across this blog and saw a perfectly good comment box at the bottom I figured I might as well use it!

    I am so excited for the day that religious beliefs can cross this threshold that god’s love is conditional! As an emotional healing facilitator, I’ve found that sin is perfectly synonymous with self-hate. I help people to release themselves from the fear of sin and to reclaim their true innocence by releasing deep body tensions and thereby ‘miraculously’ curing disease.

    It seems unlikely that an all loving Christ would want to be remembered for the times he felt angry and frustrated and accused people of ‘being bad’, as if god is an angry parent with his hands on his hips holding a grudge which he can’t instantly forgive. If god can create a huge rainforest and the deep sea, instant forgiveness seems like it would be a breeze – especially considering that holding a grudge is physiologically just body tension waiting to be released by the human holding onto it 🙂

    A Course in Miracles, said to be written/channeled by Christ himself, talks about the fictional notion of sin, as a concept. Here’s a helpful an excerpt from a article about it:

    “…Sin is a destructive force, damaging other people, our relationship with God, and our own soul. The only way that sin can be actually unreal is if it does not really do this damage. As the Course says, “What has no effect does not exist” (T-9.IV.5:5). Sin can only be unreal if it has no effect. And this is precisely what A Course in Miracles teaches.

    How can sin have no effect? Let’s explore this by going down our list of those three things that sin seems to damage. First, our sins appear to damage the other person, whom the Course calls our brother. Our attacks can appear to destroy his property, bruise his ego, and even injure his body. Yet A Course in Miracles makes the radical claim that our brother’s true Identity (which the Course capitalizes in honor of Its magnitude) is none of these things. In reality, says the Course, our brother is a changeless, eternal being, who has mistakenly identified with his ego, his body, and his property. This idea has the most sweeping implications. One of these is that, by definition our brother cannot be hurt, for he is changeless. Speaking of his reality, the Course says, “The winds will blow upon it and the rain will beat against it, but with no effect. The world will wash away and yet this house will stand forever” (T-28.VII.7:3-4). Our “sins” have no real effect upon our brother, and so they do not exist.”

    The whole article is here: https://www.circleofa.org/library/articles/there-is-no-sin/

    Much love and thanks for the great work – I have great trust in your path.

    Joshua

    Reply
    1. Maria Post author

      Thanks, Joshua, for your incredibly thoughtful comment. I really appreciate how you said that we are both entitled to our own beliefs. I believe that sin is very real because of the damage it does all around us. Perhaps you were just talking about fornication as sin. Were you also suggesting that murder, theft, and lying are also not sins (I am asking for clarification and not sarcastically- it’s hard to relay emotions through writing sometimes)? Also, because of sin, Christ came down to earth and had to die. Although this concept is hard to digest, I think true healing comes from realizing and admitting our wrong and asking forgiveness from those we have impacted and harmed. The New Testament tells us clearly to flee from and abstain from fornication, so that is the basis for my statement that sex outside of marriage is sin and needs forgiveness. Again, thanks for your perspective (I love learning about perspectives that differ from my own) and your encouragement.

      Reply
      1. Joshua

        Thanks for the beautiful reply, Maria!

        I totally recognize that we will have differing opinions here and I’m definitely not trying to convince you of anything, but I do sense that you would genuinely like for me to share mine. The internet is pretty magical when we come across opportunities like this, isn’t it?

        I’m going to share a lot of information with you below, and I just ask that you remember that I accept you as you are, even with your differing beliefs. My beliefs are ever evolving as well, and I don’t claim any end point or ultimate realization in myself.

        I understand that you are working off the New Testament as a teaching device, whereas I’m not able to do this in a literal way because of the many mis-translations and misunderstandings coded by humans within it. From my understanding, Christ was a Tantric master who learned practices from the gnostic and sumarians and healed himself through recycling orgasmic energy without climactic ejaculation – very different than the teaching of non-fornication. Learning this art form is actually where the honeymoon ritual derives from. You can read a bit more about it here: http://gnosticteachings.org/books-by-samael-aun-weor/marriage-divorce-and-tantra/452-tantra.html

        I’ll start with the parenting metaphor, a great one that you offered. I’ve found that emotionally healthy people tend to treat their children very (VERY) differently than those who have not yet found the means to forgive someone or something in their lives. The notion of discipline in most households is ‘You do something bad/wrong/sin, you get punished’. This is , as I see it, the very foundation of our modern subconscious being primed for conditional love from both parents and the universe (God). Most discipline happens because the parents get annoyed/angry/frustrated and NOT because the kid is actually doing something ‘evil’. If a 2 year old child grabs a knife from the dishwasher for example (my nephew used to do this all the time), it may be scary for the parent, and the parent may want to discipline their child by teaching them “You play with fire, you get burned”, but the real issue here is that they are becoming the one doing the burning which puts the parental bond relationship as the lesser priority in the child’s life.

        Now, I’m not saying I expect anyone who read this to suddenly stop disciplining their children. The real work is internal, seeing how we discipline ourselves and then pass these rules onto our children. When we become more emotionally clear, and we release the fears dwelling in our organs in the form of cellular debris, we naturally make more loving (Christ like) choices toward our children. Instead of sending them to the corner for taking out the knife, we might teach them how powerful sharpness can be in a way that grows the bond stronger. The truth is, we can have it all, and forgetting that fact is exactly how the self-managing idea of sin came to be formed.

        Here are some links related to other parenting styles: http://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/10_Ways_To_Guide_Children_Without_Discipline

        http://www.positive-parents.org/2011/07/nonpunitive-discipline-lazy-parenting.html

        My sentence that you suggested may be mistyped: “I am so excited for the day that religious beliefs can cross this threshold that god’s love is conditional!” – It wasn’t mistyped but perhaps not super clear. I was saying that I am excited for the day that religious beliefs move beyond sin, which from my point of view indicates a conditionally loving god.

        I was recently hanging out with a group of friends who are part of the conscious life movement, and one of them asked me “If you could get to where you want to go tomorrow, would you do it? Or are you enjoying the ride of getting there?” My response was that the question implies that we have somewhere to ‘go’. The emotional journey is one of remembering our innocence that we’ve always had. That’s all Christ came down to do for us as well, in my opinion, is simply to help us remember our innocent hearts.

        Murder, theft, and lying are acts of people who have no remembered their innocence. When we allow these acts to offend us, we simultaneously forget our innocent hearts as well as those of the offender. This brings to mind the second of the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing anyone does is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” The four agreements can be seen at:
        http://launchbox365.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/4agreements.jpg

        Here’s a video that truly moved me after the Paris attacks:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ-1iA-56k0

        No matter who we are, where we are, what we do, we always deserve more love, not less. If we act out of scarcity and fear, we deserve more less. Punishment is not rehabilitation. Jails are like the punitive parent, and they are not fixing our society. Jails only exist because they are a reflection of the concept that sin can possibly exist. If sin didn’t exist, they would be rehab centers. If sin didn’t exist, people would more likely ask for what they need than steal it out of desperation. By going one level deeper, past a reality where sin is a necessary concept, we liberate ourselves from hate and anger, toward ourselves and others.

        I realize that this is all just a choice, and as we both mentioned earlier we are all free to believe whatever we choose.

        Thanks so much for your time in reading, I hope to have contributed something valuable to someone’s life.

        Joshua

        Reply
        1. Maria Post author

          Thanks for your comment. Definitely something to think about.

          Reply
    2. Maria Post author

      Also, I do believe God’s love is unconditional (in your comment you said that God’s love is conditional, but I think that was mistyped). Just because He has set boundaries for us does not mean that He is unloving. I believe that loving parents must discipline their children. Again, thanks for your comment. I was really excited to see that you had really thought out your comment. I wish you the best in your work too!

      Reply
  6. Angela Cho

    Hi Maria,

    First of all, I want to thank you for your post. It opened a lot of ideas for me to think and process out.

    Theologically speaking, could you argue sex was not a process for creating children? Because then, Adam and Eve would have had kids in the Garden of Eden instead of having to wait afterwards. Therefore, the purpose of sex could to encapsulate the relationship (fun, love, etc etc).

    I think what is important is to realize is sex is not present in just humans, rather in animals as well. If animals have no soul, can they view sexuality as sacred? Therefore, is human sexuality “special” in comparison to sexuality found in other organisms?

    Finally, people like to argue that lack of sex is one of the factors why couples divorce. Other people argue that waiting for sex increases the bond between 2 people. What is a reliable way to find credible sources rather going on Reddit or Youtube to learn more about sexuality?

    I understand this post is very lengthy , however, these were some topics I was wrestling with for a long time. Again, thank you for your post. God bless.

    Reply
    1. Maria Post author

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments and questions. First of all, I am not a theologian or a sex therapist so I cannot speak with complete authority. I do believe that God made sex for pleasure and not just for childbearing. First Corinthians 7:3-5 tells husbands and wives to give each other sex so that Satan can’t tempt them. To me, this seems to mean that we should have sex even if we don’t intend to have more children. Sex is great and God made it to be.
      I think sexuality for humans is “special” because of the kind of creation we are. Of all the animals we have the ability to communicate, to create and make things, and to remember. In no other mammal species are babies born to their mother as fragile and helpless as in humans. Human babies need the longest time with their parent(s) in order to grow up and function in their societies than other animals. Perhaps this is why sex was supposed to stay in the context of marriage so that both mom and dad are present and committed to raise their child together. If you have kids, you know that it would be even better to have grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles help in raising the child to give mom and dad a break too. My heart goes out to all of my single mom friends. I truly respect them for being able to maintain their sanity and raise healthy and happy children on their own.
      My views of sex are mostly shaped by my understanding of the Bible. There are many cultures where it is okay to have sex outside of marriage. Because the Bible says it should stay in marriage, that is something I promote. However, I do believe there are a lot of religious authorities out there who misconstrue what the Bible says about sex. I encourage you to study your Bible on marriage and sex. Books might be more reliable than the internet when searching for answers about the Bible’s perspective on sex. Look for books by Christian authors who have master’s and doctorate degrees. Make sure they are quoting a lot of scripture because, technically, you can start philosophizing a lot and sound Christian, but not actually be Bible-based. Talk to female married mentors you respect and who seem to have happy marriages.
      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.

      Reply

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