We all know that marriage begins long before a woman walks down the aisle. The way she views the intimate aspects of marriage are influenced years and sometimes even decades before any man places a ring on her finger. Therefore, one of the best ways to help our daughters grow into vibrant women who have vibrant marriages is to help them grow into a healthy and biblical understanding of sex. May our parenting be a stepping stone to their sexual fulfillment within marriage rather than a roadblock. I’m thrilled that my friend Sheila Gregoire has worked with both of her adult daughters to provide a wonderful resource for moms to talk with their young daughters about sex. I’m a fan of all three of these women! I’ve loved Sheila’s blog, I’ve already read (and greatly enjoyed) Rebecca’s book, and have laughed with and forwarded Katie’s You Tube videos many times. They are joining forces to provide a wonderful resource for moms and their daughters.
I’ve been called “the Christian sex lady.” I speak every year to thousands of women about sex. I blog about it almost daily.
But even I was absolutely terrified when it came to teaching my own daughters about sex and puberty. In fact, my husband had to sit me down and tell me when it was time to get our youngest daughter a bra.
It’s not that I didn’t notice. It’s just that I was very good at avoiding what was ever-so-obvious right in front of me. Katie was only ten, and she was still a little girl with Barbies. I wasn’t ready for this!
Looking back, there isn’t a whole lot that I did right when it came to talking to them about growing up.
When Rebecca, my oldest, was ten, I took her away for a weekend to explain the facts of life. We used a program to help talk about sex, and the main aim was to teach her that she wasn’t supposed to have sex until she was married, and then encourage her to pledge to wait.
Honestly, she was so grossed out by the whole thing she would have pledged never to talk to a boy again! Reflecting on it now, Rebecca says that the hard-hitting “you must wait” message gave her the impression that Jesus loved her mostly because of her virginity.
I receive emails everyday from young wives struggling in their marriages because they grew up with shameful messages about sex–or else they were never told much of anything at all. One woman told me she learned about sex because her mom put a bookmark in the encyclopedia under “sex”. Another woman told me that as soon as she started to develop breasts her mom gave her such a long talk about modesty that it made her paranoid that older men at church were staring at her. She took refuge serving in the nursery. These women desperately want great marriages now, but these messages are hard to eradicate.
One of the most important parenting missions is to raise our daughters with a healthy view of sexuality, pointing them to their worth in Jesus and to the beauty that God made us for. It sets them up for a far healthier future marriage, and a far healthier self-image. God made sexuality to be beautiful; it’s the world that has corrupted it and added shame to it. We must reclaim it, and point our kids on the right road. We simply must get this right.
Yes, it starts with giving them the right information about puberty and the facts of life. But it doesn’t end there.
It also needs to involve keeping the lines of communication open, even, or especially, in the teen years. I did manage to muddle through the facts of life–barely. But we never talked about porn (even though teenage girls are the fastest growing group of porn users). We didn’t talk about masturbation (my girls were good girls, after all!). And I certainly never told them about male anatomy or what their guy friends were going through! It’s in the teen years when kids need us to continue those conversations by making them more personal. Our job isn’t done when they know about the mechanics of sex; they need our help navigating how to handle relationships, peer pressure, and body image issues.
Sound intimidating yet? Well, here’s some good news.
It’s okay if you’re scared.
Really! Kids don’t need perfect parents. They need authentic parents who aren’t afraid to be real with them.
It doesn’t matter if you’re scared. It only matters if you let being scared stop you.
I let being scared stop me from having some important conversations with my kids. And I was scared of a lot of things. I was scared that they may have sexual feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with. I was scared that they may realize that I had sexual feelings! (what would happen if they realized what my husband and I were actually doing?!?) I was so scared of the subject in general that it just seemed easier not to say much of anything at all.
I’m sorry that I missed the chance to guide my girls better when they were younger. But as they grew older, and I got more comfortable, God’s grace covered a lot of my mistakes.
My daughters are 20 and 22 now, and they have ministries of their own. Rebecca has a big book coming out in October called Why I Didn’t Rebel: A 22-Year-Old Explains How She Stayed on the Straight And Narrow–and How Your Kids Can Too. Katie has a large YouTube channel hoping to introduce millennials to Jesus in an unintimidating way.
Recently we were laughing about the mistakes I made talking to them about puberty (Rebecca remembers learning that the penis was like a finger. That really confused her. If guys have a finger there, then why do they need to scratch so much?).
After the hilarity died down, and we started thinking about how moms can do it better, we decided to try to help. We created what we wish we had had: an online, video-based course for moms and daughters called The Whole Story: Not-So-Scary Talks on Sex, Puberty and Growing Up. My girls star in the videos teaching about body changes, sex, peer pressure, boys, and self-care, while I provide coaching for moms. The videos start the conversations, but then discussion questions, checklists, and mother-daughter activity ideas help moms continue them.
Check out The Whole Story!
Your girls are going to get messages about sexuality, body image, and relationships from school, from friends, and from the media. But what they really need is to hear from you. And you can do it! God appointed you, as a mom, to do this. Even if you’re scared.
Sheila Gregoire’s course The Whole Story is available for moms with daughters aged 10-12 or 13-15. It’s not a replacement for moms; it’s a resource to start those important conversations, and make it much easier to continue them.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Inspirational Speaker, Marriage Author and Blogger