Talking Birds and Bees to Your Teenage Daughter
You may be wondering why there’s a need to talk about sex with your children. After all, your parents may never have uttered even the mere word around you. Indian society is conservative when it comes to discussions regarding sex and sexuality and it can be a highly uncomfortable idea to discuss the topic with your own daughter.
But, in a world that’s ever-evolving, gathering information about anything has become very easy. However, that source of that information may not always be safe and reliable. And, with the increasing amount of sexual violence towards young girls these days, it becomes very important to bring up the topic of sexuality around your teenage daughters.
Why do you need to talk to your daughter about sex?
Sex is something that most human beings are biologically wired to engage in. After puberty, a person becomes naturally curious about their sexuality and it can lead to them trying to gather information on the topic from wherever possible. It is very important to ensure, as a parent, that the source of that information is safe and genuine. And, what is safer and more reliable than parents?
The problem with most Indian parents is that they assume their kids will naturally find out about sex from wherever and only perform the act after their wedding. That might have been the case once upon a time for many people, but the world has changed quite a bit. And, with the rising amount of casual sex and sexual violence, it has become paramount that teenage daughters have a safe and secure source for gathering this information and learning about things like consent and safe sex, both physically and emotionally.
When is the right time to bring up the conversation?
There isn’t a cookie-cutter rule that dictates one right time to bring up the birds and bees conversation with your teenage daughter. You will know it’s the right time when your daughter starts to become curious. If she doesn’t come and share about it with you herself, try to figure out from her actions.
Ultimately, you should try and maintain a friendly relationship with your daughter so that she trusts you enough to bring up the topic herself.
Is it part of caring for your teenage daughter?
Giving your daughter the right education regarding all subjects is a very essential part of caring for her. Sex education falls under that spectrum and it is very important that she learn about sex in the right way, so that she is well equipped to take healthy decisions about her emotional and physical well-being.
So, how do you bring up the birds and bees talk?
There is no one way to bring up the topic of sex with your daughter. In fact, it is best if you provide her with a safe and friendly environment so that she is able to approach the subject herself. Nevertheless, here are a few ways in which you can start the conversation.
Start by breaking the ice - We understand that it can be an awkward conversation for most parents to engage in. However, it can be made easy by engaging in friendly banter with her first. Start by making light-hearted jokes about the idea of dating and marriages and slowly get into the topic about intimacy in an adult relationship. It is important that she feels comfortable to talk about these topics around you first, instead of suddenly turning yourself into a biology textbook.
Remember that she may have a different opinion on the subject than you - No matter how much you would like to believe that your daughter will have the exact same views and opinions as you regarding sex, it can be quite far from the truth. Especially with the generation gap, it can be that she has very different opinions about dating, relationships and sexuality. In fact, there is also a possibility that her sexual orientation would be different. It is important to keep all these things in mind while approaching the subject and your ultimate goal should be to engage in an honest and open-minded conversation about sex and sexuality. Otherwise, you risk pushing her away or putting harmful thoughts into her head.
Talk about both the emotional and physical aspects of sex - It is quite possible that the conversation can become very awkward for you and you may end up brushing just the mechanics of sex briefly and be done with it. But, it is important to remember that sex is not just a physical act and a lot of emotions are involved in the process. It is essential that you broach the emotional aspect of sex while having the birds and bees talk, instead of just turning the conversation into a ‘how babies are made for dummies’ guide.
Teach her everything about consent - One of the most important aspect of sex is consent. It is important to learn both how to ask for it and give it successfully. Don’t assume that just because she’s a girl that all she needs to learn about is how to give consent. She may get twisted ideas of male sexuality in that process and assume that men are always up for sex and it is on the woman to decide whether or not he can get it. If you are unclear on the subject yourself, research a bit before sitting down with her. But ultimately remember that consent is one of the most important lessons you can giver her about sex.
Make sure it’s a conversation and not a lecture - Often, parents make the mistake of turning the birds and bees talk into a lecture rather than an open and honest conversation. Make room for questions and keep the end of the conversation open so that she feels comfortable in coming back to you again another day if she needs it.
Don’t make assumptions about her knowledge of the subject - It is easy for parents to simply avoid the topic and assume that their child knows everything. If you are talking to her about the subject, understand that she doesn’t have adequate knowledge and that it would be wrong to assume what she does or doesn’t know. Keep it open so that she can ask you questions and give direction to the conversation herself.
Impart your own values without forcing them on her - As parents, we always want our children to think and act how we do. But, it will not always be the case and the best thing to do is to accept it. You should always impart your values to her and let them know what your idea of right and wrong is, but don’t assume that it will automatically become her ideology. Do not try to force her into acting a certain way. Instead, if you have any lessons from your life that you want to share with her, do so and let her know that you would like it if she learnt from them, but that you are there to talk if she ever needs it.
- Talk to her about contraceptives and safe sex - Lastly, another important aspect of sex is contraceptives and safe sex. Give her ample knowledge on safe sex practices, STDs, unwanted pregnancies and everything else so that she is well-equipped with that knowledge to make better decisions. After all, at the end of the day, you would want her to be safe above everything else.
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