I recently wrote about sexual confidence; let’s talk now about how to define female sexuality to a generation that is getting mixed messages.
Simply put, be direct and call it what it is.
Ask What You Want to Know
We have to be honest about sex and not be afraid to ask the hard questions. While it may be convenient to sugar coat the sexuality that’s right in front of us, it’s not fooling anyone. An 18 year old can smell bullshit a mile away. They seem to have radar for it. Glossing things over doesn’t fool a teenager, and it makes them feel like you don’t respect their intelligence when you do.
What do I mean by the hard questions? I mean those questions every parent wants to know such as:
Are you having sex?
Are you using protection?
Do you know how to recognize a STD on your partner?
Do you know how to recognize a STD on yourself?
Do you know the different types of birth control?
As a teen sexual health educator I asked these questions daily. It was my job to educate teenagers about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. I could have just came in and lectured and gave out pamphlets about the importance of abstinence, but I took a different approach.
Because to be honest, I already knew the kids I was working with were sexually active.
Instead of coming in to do my obligatory spiel, I began by asking them what they already knew about sexually transmitted diseases.
Do you know what that did?
Besides shock the other adult in the room, it made the teens trust me. They knew that I respected what they had to say and that I would be open to their experiences. They knew we weren’t about to play the game where a grown up says:
“Sex is bad” (wink wink)
And the teen responds with:
“Ok I won’t do it.” (wink wink)
It would have been a waste of time, and I felt my message of disease prevention was way more important.
We can do that every day with the young women we have relationships with. Instead of hoping they aren’t having sex, we should ask them if they have questions about sex.
That is what we want to know, right? Regardless of our individual beliefs, the end goal is that they are safe. If we can get our questions answered, while ensuring that our daughters have the information they need, we are well on our way to raising healthy sexually confident females.
At Home Tips
We should start our conversations by sticking to the point. Don’t waste your time with the beat-around-the-bush questions. Flat out ask her: “What do you think about sex?”
If I had to summarize what my experience as a youth sex educator taught me, I’d put it into three main points:
By getting straight to the point, you not only let them know that it is safe to talk about the subject; you also give them the opportunity to think seriously about the topic. With the teens I worked with, that approach was shocking at first, and they tried to scare me away by asking as many inappropriate questions as they could. By my second visit, however, they were eagerly waiting for me to answer their questions.
Staying serious is extremely important with teens. Remember, they expect us to not want to talk about sex. To them, sex is the adult privilege that we think we are hiding out of their reach–so many teens will do whatever they can to make the conversation uncomfortable. By ignoring their attempts to freak us out and just sticking to the point, we can establish ourselves as an authority on the subject that they can trust.
Once you have gotten past the teen’s defense system and they begin to express their concerns about sex, you have to be sensitive to their feelings. Teens may say some really off-the-wall things. It’s to be expected when they’ve got media and other teens to educate them on sex. Know your teen enough to know when they are just screwing with you, and when they truly just don’t know any better, and then gently correct their misinformation.
The point of all this is to say one thing–the next generation of females is searching for role models. Rather they want to admit it or not, they are watching what we are doing, and are figuring out ways to do it too. We have an awesome opportunity to teach them the good and bad things about sex. It’s up to us to seize it.