Talking to Our Daughters About Sex
You may or may not have already had “the talk” with your kids, your daughters in particular. You may be avoiding it like the plague, you may feel that there’s no need because if your daughter needs information she’ll come to you, or you may be confident that you’ve got the kind of relationship with your daughter that’s open and healthy, and not much slips by you.
Here’s the problem: regardless of how you would describe your experience or expectations in this area, there’s a good chance a lot is going on that you don’t know about.
Here are some facts to consider, from a survey conducted within the past few years:
- “Only 22 percent of mothers think their daughters are uncomfortable talking to them about sex, while 61 percent of girls say that, in fact, they are.”
- “…the actual number of 15- to 18-year-olds in our survey having oral sex (30 percent) is double the number mothers know about, or even suspect…”
- “…46 percent of girls that age who’ve had intercourse didn’t tell their moms.”
- “Seventy-eight percent of surveyed girls who are no longer virgins say they’ve had sex without using a condom, and 65 percent of them admit they lied about or hid it from their mothers.”
- “…a sobering 56 percent of girls who are no longer virgins have had sex without any form of birth control: Sixty-six percent of these girls have kept that a secret from Mom.”
- “Even among the few girls who had an abortion, many didn’t tell.”
- “…only 4 percent of girls say their moms are the biggest influence on their attitudes toward sex.”
Did anything there surprise you?
These statistics are direct quotes from an article by Liz Brody in O Magazine. Here’s a link to the full article (I definitely recommend reading the whole thing). The survey referred to is one that was conducted jointly with O Magazine and Seventeen Magazine, in which 1000 girls ages 15-22, and 1000 moms of girls those ages, were surveyed.
The words I would use to describe my reaction to this survey are distressed, saddened, and re-energized. It’s time to take control of this topic within our own families, get educated ourselves, and open up a dialogue so that we can say with 100% confidence, that the results of this survey don’t reflect what’s happening with our kids. Here are some resources from Oprah to get you started:
First of all, read the whole article. Make sure you have accurate information in order to answer any questions she may have, learn from what’s worked (and not) from the moms interviewed, and decide what approach you’ll take with your daughter.
Here’s a four-point plan for improving your next sex talk with your daughter. It’s another great resource.
If you know that your daughter is thinking about having sex with her boyfriend, Dr Laura Berman, a sex therapist who had been a part of this discussion on Oprah’s show, has a list of questions to ask your daughter and her boyfriend before they go ahead with their plan. You can find the questions here.
Dr Berman has also prepared a handbook for parents to talk to their kids about sex, regardless of their age. It’s great — get it here. And on that same page is a set of visual aids that you can use in your own talk, as well as a video of Dr Berman coaching a mom through the talk with her daughter.