If you don’t answer your daughter’s curiosity and questions about sex, someone else—the media or their peer group—will. Be vulnerable with them about your sex education, and let them learn from your mistakes as well as your convictions.
It’s that talk that no parent is looking forward to in life. Yes, “The” Talk. A span of approximately twenty-five, long, awkward, minutes for both parent and child. A point in time where “all” the information which a young adult needs to know about sex is condensed and quickly gotten out of the way so all parties can attempt to save face and quickly forget the painful experience. For daughters this talk has historically been reserved for the mother, and only for the mother, but current research coming from New York University is suggesting that a father’s presence may be a major factor in the long-term sexual health of a girl.
Previous studies have concluded that girls who have open communication with their fathers — about everything — tend to have intercourse later in life and also have fewer sexual partners, both of which can be very good for sexual and mental health. But do they actually have to talk about sex to have this effect?
Time Magazine recently reported the findings of Katherine Hutchinson, associate professor at the NYU College of Nursing, who wanted to figure out whether fathers had a role to play in “The” Talk. As part of a larger study examining family influences on adolescent sexual risk, she asked a representative sample of 250 or so women aged 19 to 21 what kind of impact their fathers had on their sex education.
The answer was: very little. And, surprisingly, a lot of the women, most of whom were sexually active, wished their fathers had told them more. Specifically, they wanted to hear stuff only guys would know, about how to communicate with men and what the carnal landscape looked like from a male’s vantage point. “They felt that if they could have been more comfortable talking with their fathers about issues around sex, they might have been more comfortable talking to boyfriends or potential sexual partners about them,” says Hutchinson, whose study was published in the Journal of Family Issues. “And they wanted to know how to negotiate intimacy issues with men.”
So when it comes time for “The” Talk don’t shy away from your daughters, you have as much valuable knowledge to contribute to her development as her mother does. Fatherhood.com gives suggestions on how to make the discussion go more smoothly for both parent and child.
First, recognize that children are having sex at earlier ages, and that your kids are not immune to sexual temptation. This may be a hard pill to swallow for some parents but it’s the reality facing most kids today. Statics show that 40% of ninth graders have had intercourse, 75% of seniors have had sex, and when they reach college at least 90%. The talk may not be as simple as it was before either. According to a Rolling Stone report 75% of college students have experimented with oral sex, 13% anal sex, and more heterosexuals are involved in “part-time homosexuality.” Don’t be afraid to touch on these subjects with your children when they seem to be ready, it may not be easy for either of you but they will likely thank you for it later.
Second, learn why relatively innocent children become sexually promiscuous young adults. Many parents fall back on blaming the media or peer pressure when an otherwise good child goes sexually astray. Unfortunately, decisions about sex often become more about peer acceptance than what a child believes to be right or wrong. However, many times a gateway for these influences is opened when fathers are ignorant or silent on sexual matters.
Finally, teach your children the many good reasons for waiting. There are plenty of moral and religious grounds for waiting, of course. But the medical arguments alone are enough to make a solid case. Statistics show that sexually active teens risk great physical harm to their bodies. Millions contract sexually transmitted diseases. Your daughters especially are at risk because studies show that 40% sexually active teenage girls get pregnant.
When it comes to subjects about sex encourage your daughters and sons to be open with you, and invite their questions. Then take the time to answer in age-appropriate ways. Kids consistently say they want to learn about sex from their parents, but according to one survey, only 15 percent of mothers and 8 percent of fathers ever talked to their children about sexual intercourse. Push through an awkward conversation now for the long-term health and happiness of your children.
Jeffrey Feulner and the Men’s Divorce Law Firm believe that being armed with the proper education about any subject puts you in a stronger position. If you need more education on a legal matter contact us today.