The other day I was explaining to my 6-year-old daughter why a friend’s dog had been humping her leg, and the next thing you know it turned into a talk about where babies come from. Though I managed to keep it simple enough to satisfy her curiosity, I know that she’ll be back. As I start contemplating what I will say, it occurs to me that unlike my mom who was a single parent and had to have the sex talk with me, I have a husband. So what part will he play?
When I pose the question to him he says that while he doesn’t see himself having a detailed sex talk with ours daughters who are 6 and 4-years-old, he does plan to talk to them about the dangers of losing their minds to boys as they approach their preteens. “I feel like girls are particularly vulnerable so I want to explain to them that boys can be a distraction,” he says. “I want them to know that they have their whole lives ahead of them. And, of course, I will answer any questions that they ask me.”
But now I’m curious about how other dads are planning to handle the topic of sex with their daughters, so I reach out to new friend Bashon Mann, a divorced father of 7 and 9-year-old girls. He says that he and his ex-wife have been talking a lot about this subject. “More than a sex talk, we want them to know that they have a safe house where they can ask us anything and get a response that they can value,” Bashon explains, adding that his mom recently bought his 9-year-old daughter an “American Girl” book that addresses questions about changes to the body and how babies are conceived.
It’s a book that he wishes she’d given him when he was growing up because what he remembers most is his mom putting the fear of God in him to the point that he was afraid to even kiss a girl for fear that she might get pregnant. “It’s a tactic that doesn’t work,” Bashon warns, “because once you go to college and discover what sex is really like, you lack knowledge and discipline, then you have to learn it. I’m not saying I want my girls to have sex before college,” he clarifies, “but they need to be aware of what’s going on.”
It’s an interesting point because parents put so much focus on making sure girls get out of high school without getting pregnant, catching a disease or being promiscuous, but what about college?
I get in touch with my friend Lyte Epps because he has a 19-year-old daughter who just started college. How did he prepare her?
“I started talking to her around 12-years-old, maybe a little earlier,” he recalls. “But most of it was me saying things like, ‘I better not catch you with no boys!’ just beating it into her head.”
Though it didn’t turn out bad, he says he didn’t have to worry about his daughter messing around with boys until she was 17 and 18-years-old, while his friends had to deal with it at 13 and 14-years-old, he still plans to do something different with his 9-year-old daughter.
“More than any sex talk, I want to explain to her why it’s important that she respect her body,” Lyte says. “I want her to know that a man don’t have to love you to lay down with you and leave, but you’ve got a womb to protect. You’re the one bringing a child into this world, and there are diseases.”
It’s great to see dads being proactive, but to make sure that as many stones are being turned as possible, I reach out to clinical psychologist, Dr. Kristin Carothers of the Child Mind Institute to get some professional advice.
She says that appropriate talks about sex and sexuality should begin as early as 8 or 9-years-old. “If fathers are squeamish talking about sex with their little girls, a good place to start would be basic conversations about their friendships with boys and girls. Ask if any of their friends are ‘dating’ and what that means to them. They could also check out YouTube videos that provide accurate sex education information.”
She also stresses the importance of letting them know that:
1. They can ask questions and voice their concerns.
2. Physical attraction is natural, however it’s best to establish a friendship before intimacy.
3. They can say no to sex and if someone touches them without their consent they should contact you, the police or an adult immediately.
4. If they say yes to sex use protection, and have it available or let them know how to get it.
5. Know your limits when it comes to sexual activities and only do what you feel comfortable doing. Let the girl know there are different types of sex and the risks associated with each (vaginal sex: pregnancy, STDs, anal sex: tearing, STDs, and oral sex: STDs)
Okay, that’s a lot of stones turned. And what about you dads? Do you plan to have the sex talk with your girls?
This article first appeared on Madamenoire.com on 8/15/16