10 Easy Ways to Talk with Your Daughter about Sex

how to talk to your daughter about sex, the sex talk, talking to your kids about sex

I have three girls—one who is grown, one who is just going through puberty, and one who is almost 3—and I am a firm believer in talking about sex. My husband and I both came from families where that didn’t happen well…OK, at all. And we were left to our own devices, which is NEVER a good thing when you are a kid. I never want my girls to feel as ignorant and underprepared as I was. Because whether we like it or not, our daughters turn into young women with sexual feelings, and if we love them, we want their experiences to be positive, love-filled ones. Ignorance makes it easier for young girls to be taken advantage of. And these days, unprepared sex can lead to all sorts of diseases and death, in addition to lifelong trauma. And while a vaccine like the HPV shot makes it seem like our girls are safe, not only are there risks associated with the vaccine, it only covers one small aspect of their sexual safety.

So here are my top 10 tips for talking with your daughter about sex:

1. Start early. Use real words for real body parts. You don’t have to use them all the time, but my 2½-year-old knows where her vagina is. Don’t shy away from describing the differences between boys and girls.

2. Show her you are comfortable with your own body (even if you’re not). If she walks in the room while you are changing, don’t hide. Be as open as you are comfortable being—and maybe even a little more. Watch your responses to sexual information or jokes (try not to be too disapproving). She will learn a lot more from watching how you are with your body and with your sexuality than by anything you say.

3. Start explaining at a fairly young age what is OK and not OK. If we want our kids to be safe, they have to know what is allowed and not allowed—among people they trust as well as strangers. Arm her with information to protect her from predators.

4. Make her aware of the world around her. If my 11-year-old lived in Afghanistan, she might be married by now—the third or fourth wife of an old man. If she lived in China 100 years ago, not only would she not be allowed to play soccer, but her feet would have been brutally mutilated so she could not walk. Listen to the news together. Let her know how lucky she is to be alive in this time and in this place.

5. Go to the museum. There’s nothing like beautiful paintings and sculpture from ancient to modern times showing the glory of nakedness, desire, love, and pleasure to express what sex is truly about. Use them as a tool to tell stories and explain the different aspects of love and desire.

6. Get her some books. For the gory details, it’s much better to let her read about it in a book (preferably with illustrations) than to have you be her only source. Just make sure you make yourself available for questions. I find Amazon.com has a good selection.

7. Take her to the doctor. I asked my gynecologist’s office when they like to start seeing girls. The receptionists said, “When they start becoming sexually active— around age 17 or 18.” Well, I think earlier. By then it’s too late. Don’t let her feel alone and unprepared.

8. Insist that she always use protection. Talking about protection is a good way to talk about sex, but also essential for protecting your girl. I always insist on them using condoms—because it’s not just about preventing unwanted birth, but about preventing unwanted and dangerous diseases. I have a brother who died from AIDS in 1985, so this is real for me. I also express my opinions about birth control. I think the pill not only messes with your hormones too much, but studies have shown that it interferes with choosing the right long-term partner. I think the forethought needed for the diaphragm, for instance, makes it harder to “just do it” with anyone at any time (therefore, I highly recommend it).

9. Encourage her to wait for true love. I was listening to a radio show where they were talking about the conundrum of what to tell your girls to wait for, whether abstinence while waiting for marriage seems too long and hard, what guidance can you give? TRUE LOVE! I wanted to shout into the radio (I was driving so I couldn’t call in.) Living with a lifetime of regrets over a bad first experience (or many) is nothing we would wish on any young woman—however, those regrets are too frequent. She deserves pleasure. She deserves to be treated well. She deserves to have her first experience be one that is a happy memory for the rest of her life.

10. Make her feel safe to come to you. No matter what mistakes she makes (and she will make them) you should hold back your judgment, control your reactions so she knows that no matter what, she can come to you for guidance, love, help, information, comfort, and safety. I got pregnant at 19 and kept my baby. It was the best decision I ever made. But I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my family. And that’s the truest love of all.


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60 Responses to 10 Easy Ways to Talk with Your Daughter about Sex

  1. anthony martin March 5, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Dear maria,

    I have a seven year old daughter who turns eight in june. Recently my wife and I. Have found out that our daughter has been part of a “game” played by another girl and. Herself that involvs sexual situations…we’ve talked with her abbout this and explained to her that what she’s doing is meant not for her but a for adults. Just last night we had another instance wherewhw

  2. anthony March 5, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Where the 12 year old “told” her to do this again. My daughter refused. (Thank goodness) but once again we were talking to her about tgis issue… we then learned that months ago another girl a couple years oldest told my daughter to touch hher vagina… (this is difficulct for me) then she touched my daughter. The girls parent are out of the picture and we cannot contact them so we were wondering if there was any advice you may have so that we can talked to our daughter about this type of thing..

  3. Scared child August 29, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    I am starting 6th grade and I starting to learn some things about sex from the students I just want my mom to sit me down and talk or give me a book so I can learn this the right was but I don’t exactly don’t know how to spark up the convo and I DON’T want my dad involved what do I do to let her know I am curios without letting her feel or me feel aquird plz help

    ~scared curios and needs her mom

  4. Scared child August 29, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    I am starting 6th grade and I starting to learn some things about sex from the students I just want my mom to sit me down and talk or give me a book so I can learn this the right way but I don’t exactly don’t know how to spark up the convo and I DON’T want my dad involved what do I do to let her know I am curios without letting her feel or me feel aquird plz help

    ~scared curios and needs her mom

  5. maria (farm country kitchen) August 29, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    Dear Scared Child, just ask her! Maybe when you two are in the car together alone? Also, there are some books we recommend in earlier comments, ask her if she will buy you those books, because she may not know what to tell you either. She’s probably just as scared as you are!

  6. Scared child again August 29, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    So I let her know I found out stuff from school or what do I say

    ~ scared confused and curios again

  7. Marissa January 25, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    Dear Maria,

    First off I want to thank you for your advice. I came to this page to seek answers in regards to speaking with my 11 Year old daughter about sex. After reading your article and some of the comments, I feel I am well prepared now. So thank you! 🙂

  8. Lebron March 16, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    I’m in 5th grade and I want a bra since my boobs hurt I don’t know how to ask also I want my vagina to feel good how to do that I kinda want a boys penis in there

  9. Rhonda Bitterman October 1, 2019 at 1:40 pm #

    I have a 16 year old daughter and like any other parent I have a hard time talking about love, sex, etc. with her. Can you tell me of some good books to have her read in regard to this? Thank you.

  10. SilverFoxGen September 4, 2022 at 7:55 pm #

    Lately my 16 year old stepdaughter and I have been conversing on the subject of ANAL sex and how she really loves doing it regularly. The conversation happened in my car after taking her shopping for microbikini thongs for a swimming pool party she had been invited to attend. She admitted that she felt uncomfortable speaking with her mother on this subject so she confided in me because one day I told her that I’m the one person she can always come to for advice on just about anything if she’s uncomfortable talking with anyone else and understands what we talk about stays with us. I’ve educated her on how she can not only enjoy it but also get the most out of having ANAL sex. I’ve recently bought proper ANAL lube and a BUTT PLUG starter kit which she and I watched the educational video that came with it. I completely understand why she’s having ANAL SEX & ORAL. She explained that she’s saving her virginity for marriage and knows I support her decisions. I told her ANAL sex is very natural and nothing to be ashamed of for loving it. I told her of how I was her age when I first started experimenting with ANAL sex with my girlfriend who was 14. She’s happy with the fact that I condone and encourage her to continue having ANAL sex regularly and as much as she possibly can to get used to the feeling of having her BOOTY HOLE filled.

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