Make Your Values Clear, Then Listen to Her
You might want your daughter to wait until she’s married. You might think sex is OK after a certain age, or in the context of a loving, committed relationship. “Parents play an important role in conveying their values,” says Kantor.
But before you tell your daughter exactly what she can or can’t do, understand there’s only so much you can control. Share your values, and then give your daughter room to explore her feelings. The best conversation is one that makes your daughter feel she can talk to you about anything.
Prepare Your Daughter for Peer Pressure
Peer pressure comes in many forms. It could be a boy in the back seat of a car. It could be kids at school. Or it could be your daughter’s personal desire to fit in. If she believes that everyoneelse is having sex, she may push herself, as well as her boyfriend, to move too far and too fast.
You can use facts to dispel the myth. For instance, less than half of high school students report having ever had sexual intercourse. And only 13% of teens report having sex before the age of 15. Kantor suggests statements like, “The fact is, most people your age are not having sex.”
Even as your daughter gains independence in some areas, when it comes to sex and dating you can and should stay involved.
“Parents need to set guidelines,” says Kantor. Don’t allow your daughter to spend a lot of unsupervised time with her boyfriend. And don’t allow her to date someone who is two years or more older than her. She might be relieved that she can use you as an excuse for saying no.
Admit That You Don’t Understand
What if your daughter says you don’t understand the pressure she’s facing? Agree with her, says Cohen. As a mom, you can say, “I probably don’t understand. Maybe you can help me.” Then ask open-ended questions like:
- What are the pressures?
- What are your friends doing?
- How do decisions about sex get made?
If you have your daughter’s trust, you can help her think through what she would do or say when the pressure is on.
Treat Dating as a Learning Experience
Girls start dating for a lot of reasons. Dating can provide someone to go to the movies with. Girls who can change her Facebook status to in a relationship may feel a rise in social status. Often, though this probably doesn’t motivate a lot of teens, dating is a chance to deal with rejection.
On a deeper level, dating gives kids a chance to learn about relationships. If your daughter is dating, she may have stronger emotions than she’s had so far in her life. As a parent, this is one of those opportunities to help your daughter learn through experience.