Sex education can be awkward when you’re a dad having to talk about sex with your daughter. Dads always struggle a little with daughters. The familiar common ground that you share with sons is replaced with the foreign terrain of dress up, dolls and glitter. Then, just as you’re getting the hang of a French braid, things change. You’re faced with a new set of challenges: hormones, make- up and every father’s nightmare. Boys.
Having the sex talk is a rite of passage for every parent. Admittedly, it’s easier for dads to discuss ‘the birds and bees’ with boys. You share anatomy, perspective and experience. It’s almost a nostalgic moment, where you get to pass down your manly wisdom. The same insider knowledge can make the father-daughter discussion difficult.
You might be tempted to delegate the topic to mum, or skip it all together. But this is where you need to step up to the plate. Remember, it’s not just about the biology side of sex education, but the emotional support too. By giving your daughter a healthy male perspective on relationships you can help empower her to make good decisions.
Studies have shown that most teens want to be able to speak to their parents about sex. They feel safer and more confident when they have someone to share their concerns and questions with. School sex education classes alone don’t cut it.
Make sure sex and relationships is an open and on-going topic your daughter can approach you about. Don’t wait until she’s introduced you to her boyfriend, start the dialogue before she becomes a teen. That way she will be more likely to come to you with her questions later on.
We often dismiss teen relationships as puppy love. Those first experiences don’t seem important in the big scheme of things. However, many young women experience emotional, or physical abuse in their teens. Don’t be afraid to talk about what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment from a partner. Equip your daughter to be able to recognise when someone is being controlling, disrespectful, or abusive. Being able to spot these signs early on will help her to make healthy choices.
Having a good relationship with your daughter is the best way to ensure she knows what a healthy relationship looks like. Your support, respect and kindness set the bar for future relationships. So spend one-on-one time together get to know her. It’s no surprise that studies suggest women who have had good relationships with their fathers ‘are more apt to have the kinds of skills and attitudes that lead to more fulfilling relationships.’
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or chat forums, many teens are socialising more online. Although they may seem more confident with new technology, many need guidance to recognise potential risks. Take time to talk about appropriate online behaviour and set ground rules. Go through privacy settings, how to block and report abusive, or inappropriate content, and advise her to only interact with people she knows.
Sexting is a growing concern, with as many as 6/10 teens saying they have been asked for explicit images and videos. Girls may want to appear more mature, feel pressured to impress, and not know how approach the situation. Have a talk about appropriate message content and make sure she knows that treating someone with respect applies everywhere, including online.