Talking about sex does not come easily to everyone. Some people may be shy to talk about this subject especially with family members. As children start to grow up and to develop into teenagers, it is very normal for them to have questions about sex. If they are curious, they are going to look for information and as we all know, the internet is not always a reliable source nor is asking their peers. Thus, having a conversation with your children about sex is important so that you can provide them with accurate information as well as having discussions around the topic. The following are a few points you may want to discuss with your daughter.
Puberty – Having a discussion around ways they expect their body to be changing is helpful so that they know what is to come. Not all children develop at the same age and they need to know this. Girls might be comparing their body to their friends’ and if they haven’t developed yet e.g. breasts and menstruation, they might feel like something is wrong with their body.
Consent – Teaching your daughter about consent is very important. When they are still young, teens might have not yet developed assertiveness skills or easily succumb to peer pressure. They need to know that for anyone else to touch their body they need to give consent. It is not a given that because they are in a relationship, the other person can do whatever they want with them.
Contraception – There is the misconception that if you teach teens about sex and contraception you are encouraging them to go and have sex. Research shows that sex education programs that teach young people about both abstinence and contraception do not increase sexual activity nor lead youth to engage in sex at an earlier age (Kohler, Manhart & Lafferty, 2008). Your daughter needs to know that using contraception is not only to avoid getting pregnant but also to reduce the risk of acquiring any sexually transmitted diseases.
Respect – Learning to respect oneself is very important, unless one does so it can be difficult for another person to respect you in return. As much as respecting oneself is essential, your daughter also needs to understand that she needs to treat the other person with respect too. Values such as honesty, loyalty and trust are some of the common foundations to develop a healthy relationship. Thus, your daughter needs to be aware that if both parties in the relationship are treating each other with mutual respect, she can have a healthy and happy relationship.
Starting up the discussion about sex with your daughter can feel uneasy however, if you feel awkward and comfortable yourself your daughter may easily feel the same way. You want to build a trusting relationship with her where she can talk to you about sexual development if she needs to. Sex education is an ongoing process it does not have to be a one-off big talk. Short and frequent conversations can work better.
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.
Kohler, P.K., Manhart, L.E., & Lafferty, W.E. (2008). Abstinence only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42 (4), 344-51.