The importance of talking about sexuality with your daughter


Talking about sexuality with your daughter is something that can be difficult, but is also very essential. Her body changes, she falls in love for the first time, and develops sexual feelings. Sex is easily accessible to her online, which comes with a certain risk, so it’s important to make sure she’s prepared.

Not enough sexual education at schools and at home

Research shows that sexual themes aren’t discussed a lot in school. Only 33% of all children was taught about changes in the body during puberty. That percentage is even lower when it comes to discussions about sexual boundaries: only 25%. That same study also concluded that 49% and 59% of youmgsters, respectively, talked about these topics with their parents. 30% didn’t speak to anyone about it. Base don this data, it’s safe to say that many children don’t get (enough) sexual education and can’t or won’t talk about it with others.

From romcoms to porn

Where ‘we’ used to watch romantic movies – you know, those movies where the geeky girl eventually gets her first kiss from the most popular football player in school – we now can’t imagine life without the internet. Everything is within reach: social media, dating apps, chatrooms, and porn. Especially the latter makes young people look at sex in a very different way, which makes it even more important to talk about sexuality and everything that comes with that with your daughter.

Talking about sexuality with your daughter

Changes in the body during puberty, procreation, consent, love, pressure: there are countless issues you can discuss with your daughter.

Sexual education: at what age?

Are you going to wait until your daughter gets sexual education at school? Or until she comes to you with questions? In that case, you take the easy way out. According to sexologist Eveline Stallaart, parents underestimate the age where children figure out what sex is and how it works. That’s why there’s no harm in telling your toddler that babies come from two adults ‘cuddling’ and giving your 7-year-old a good educational book so they can learn more. Children are curious, they just don’t want their parents to know.

On average, most 7 and 8-year-olds know that intercourse is needed to get pregnant. And for most children, when they are around 9 years old, it becomes clear that people can have sex for other reasons as well.

Heading towards puberty

Your daughter’s body starts to change when she hits puberty. Usually this happens when she is around 11 years old. Pubic hair, armpit hair, and leg hair starts to grow, breasts start to develop, and on average, girls get their first period when they’re around 12 or 13 (of course this can happen a couple of years earlier or later as well). Your daughter is becoming a young woman! It’s important to tell her more about the options regarding menstruation, so she can choose what products she wants to use when she gets her first period. Make sure she knows that menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of and help her buy the right menstrual cup, pads, or tampons. This way she doesn’t have to worry about leaking.

It’s not just her body that changes during puberty, her brain changes as well. Because of the amount of active hormones, her emotions can be all over the place. Tell your daughter that it’s normal to feel happy one moment and insecure and sad the next. Crushes and sexuality are also controlled by these hormones.

Sexuality and intimacy

Deborah Roffman, author of Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids Go-To Person About Sex: “If we want children to understand that sexuality is connected to intimacy, we can teach young children (younger than 10) how physical and emotional intimacy are connected. You can do this by talking about the pleasant feeling you get from hugging: it makes a child feel safe, loved, and protected. That physical contact is diametrically opposed to the physical contact in porn.”

Porn analysis from 2010 shows that 88% of porn scenes contain verbal and physical agression towards women: men who hit them, shout at them, and suffocate them, and of course the actresses pretend to enjoy it all. A British study concluded that among young people, 53% of boys thinks that porn is realistic. The amount of girls who think that is lower: 39%. Although 41% of the participants felt curious when they first watched porn, there were also plenty of negative reactions: shocked (27%), confused (24%), and even disgusted (23%). Still, 39% of 13 and 14-year-old boys want to re-enact what they saw in porn videos, while most girls were mainly worried about it. A 13-year-old girl said: “They can try to force us girls to do things (in a certain way) that we’re not ready for.” Another young girl said: “It makes me sick to think that my parents would do something so violent.”

The dangers of porn and sexting

The fact that many parents struggle with sexual education is because of the new forms of sex that exist nowadays, like porn and sexting. It’s very important for your daughter to know that porn is very different from sex and that sending nude photos can have major consequences for the rest of her life. By talking about these subjects, you can protect her from these things to some extent.

Like we mentioned before, many young people think that sex is what they see in porn videos. Both boys and girls think that. It’s your job as a parent to make sure your daughter (and your son as well) knows that this is not true. They need to know that girls can and are allowed to enjoy sex as well, that they have the right to have an orgasm, and that they most likely won’t get an orgasm from penetration alone. In addition, porn can be addictive. If young people watch porn every time they masturbate, their brain gets used to that. This can lead to sexual problems, because in some cases ordinary sex with an ordinary boy or girl isn’t arousing enough for them.

Many girls experience this scenario: the boy they have a crush on asks them to send a photo of her naked breasts, she eventually does, and the photo is shared throughout the school and outside of it as well. Sexting at a young age is rarely a good idea, especially if a boy threatens not to like you anymore if you don’t. Deleting a photo from the internet is practically impossible, so it can keep resurfacing, even in combination with your name in same cases. There are even boys and girls who committed suicide after they send a nude photo to someone who posted it online.


Consent is essential. Your daughter needs to know that she can say ‘no’ at any time, even when she’s already lying in bed naked with her boyfriend for example. Even when she said she was ready for her first time. And even if her boyfriend wants her to give her a blowjob, but she doesn’t want to. If he tries to force her, she might realise he’s not such a prince charming after all if she knows about consent. By the way, it’s not just important to teach your daughter she’s allowed to say ‘no’, it’s also important that she knows that she is also allowed to say ‘yes’ without shame if she does want to have sex.

Your emotions are valid

Don’t make your daughter feel ashamed when she wants to talk about her sexuality. Emphasize that you understand it’s scary and exciting to feel those butterflies in your stomach, masturbate for the first time, secretly watch porn, have a crush on someone of the same sex, and have sex for the first time. Make sure she knows her feelings are normal and she’s allowed to express them. It’s also completely normal for your young teenager not to be interested in sexuality at all yet.

Talking about sexuality with your daughter: where and how?

Roffman recommends to have this conversation at a casual private moment, like in the car or during a walk. This makes it feel a little less intense, because you don’t have to look at each other. Try to make it a conversation and not a lecture about what to do and what not to do. It’s also important that you’re calm, so your daughter doesn’t feel like she’s in trouble.

Young people often try to avoid conversations about sex and porn with their parents at any cost. But that doesn’t mean they don’t listen when they don’t respond to you. There’s no harm in admitting that it is uncomfortable for you too to talk about, for example, the difference between sex and porn.

Circles of Sexuality

A relatively new type of sexual education is Circles of Sexuality. In this model, all sexual feelings, thoughts, and behaviour are summarised, including issues like body image, contraceptives, and transgressive behaviour. Read more about Circles of Sexuality here.

Books that can help

There are many books available that can help you talk about sexuality with your daughter.

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