When should I talk to my daughter about sex? It’s a question most parents ask, but there’s no easy answer.
Many parents put off talking to their girls about sex for as long as possible. Unfortunately, you’re not doing your child any favors by avoiding “the talk.” You don’t want her learning about the birds and the bees from other sources — like social media or the internet — because those sources may not be accurate or healthy.
The good news is that sex doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable topic. The key is to tactfully broach the subject before she even knows it’s supposed to be taboo. Here are eight clear signs it’s time to talk to your daughter about sex.
1. She’s Asking Questions
The first sign your child is ready to learn about intercourse is if she starts asking questions. A lot of parents worry about talking to their kids about sex. So, unfortunately they don’t talk to them as early as they should. However, this fear isn’t based on evidence. Abstaining from answering your daughter’s questions can make her even more curious and this could lead to misinformation generated from the media and friends.
2. She’s Going Through Puberty
If your teen is going through the awkward stage of puberty, she should understand what’s happening to her body and how the changes may affect her physical and mental state. One expert advises talking about puberty when your daughter is no later than eight years old, since there are some girls who begin menstruating at that young age.
3. She’s Talking About Boys
Jump right in and get your daughter the information and support she needs if she shows a heightened interest in boys. If you don’t, they’re more likely to be taken advantage of due to naivety. You don’t want that and it’s the right thing to do.
4. She’s Started Dating
See #3, above.
However, even when your daughter starts dating, it’s never too late to teach her how to have a healthy physical relationship with others. You should also use this opportunity to teach her about consent, her rights to her body, and what to do if she encounters a violent intimate situation. Since one in 10 students reported in 2017 that they had experienced some type of sexual violence, it’s very important to teach your child what to do in this situation. Remember, she could be sexually active already, so try making these conversations as comfortable as possible. Let her know she can ask you anything without feeling ashamed or judged.
5. You Find Sexual Content on Her Electronic Devices
If you monitor your child’s online activities and her electronic devices and you find sexual content, it’s definitely time to talk with her. There is so much sexual information circulated on the web, and not all of it is healthy or accurate.
Use this opportunity to share your values about the subject. Include your thoughts on safe sex, respect for others, and your moral or religious views if you have them. Wherever you stand on sexuality, be open and respectful with your teen. Don’t try to force her to adopt your viewpoint. Use gentle encouragement instead.
6. Her Friends are Sexually Active
If you’ve noticed your daughter’s hanging out with sexually-active teens, she’s probably considering becoming sexually active. Talk to her immediately so she can decide if she’s really ready and willing to make the leap.
7. Sex Ed Class Is Starting
If she takes a sex education class, talking to her about what to expect beforehand can help her avoid asking embarrassing questions around her peers. A general overview of sex should be fine at this point. However, give her the opportunity to ask you any burning questions she may have.
8. She Asks About Birth Control
If your daughter asks for birth control, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s already sexually active, but it does mean she may need some guidance from you. Use this opportunity to talk about all the available prevention methods available and also the pros and cons of each.
If you comfortably approach the subject of sex with your daughter, you’ll give your child a very valuable gift that could help her develop a healthy view of sexuality.