7 tips for having “the Talk” (discussing human sexuality) with your daughter

After spending months preparing for “the Talk” with my daughter, I finally bit the bullet and did it last weekend.  My daughter has been asking to attend the upcoming birth of our baby and while she didn’t necessarily need to know about the birds and the bees before then, I started to notice more questions coming up.  I figured it was healthier for me to sit down and discuss it in full than to keep putting her off and risk her seeking answers elsewhere. Here’s how we did it, but I’m going to have to do this a few more times (not to mention I’m sure there will be things to discuss down the road), so please feel free to give tips in the comment box.  Also, I’m gathering advice for my husband to use with the boys when they’re older, so if that’s your area of expertise, chime in!

Sex talk

You can read my reviews on books on Catholic sexuality here and here.

~1~

Plan ahead and pray ahead

I spent months researching this topic, and really, I think it was time well spent.  We weren’t in a crisis situation where my daughter needed the information immediately, so I was able to seek out books to augment the general discussion.  I also spent a lot of time asking God to show me a time that was right.  It ended up being very clear when the initial discussion should happen, and for that I’m really grateful. I’m also really glad I had all the books on hand and had thought ahead about what I wanted to say so I wasn’t fumbling (too) much. I “practiced” the discussionwith my husband beforehand and he gave some really valuable tips, too, so consider trying that.

~2~

Send your husband away with the other kids

I kept trying to figure out a good place to go with my daughter so we could enjoy uninterrupted time together, but everywhere seemed too public (a park?) or too weird (a coffee shop?).  In the end, my husband offered to leave with all the other kids and that worked out much, much better. Ask your husband, or another family member to take all the other kids away so you can focus on this special time with your sweet girl.  It will make her feel really special, and give you the ability the focus on the topic at hand.

~3~

Snuggle up while you chat

My daughter and I plopped onto my fluffy bed and laid out the books in front of us or between us.  It wasn’t awkward like a desk or table would have been, but it also allowed us both to look off in the same direction.  I think this gave my daughter some privacy to deal with some of the more heavy-hitting information without looking me in the eye the whole time. She’s also very tactile and wanted to hold my hand and be close while we talked.

SONY DSC

~4~

Choose a few books for the discussion, and a few for her to keep

Books I had on hand for the discussion:

Books we read together: 

These are affiliate links, but any way you get them, I think they are valuable.  🙂

The Care and Keeping of You, The Body Book for Younger Girls: We skimmed this together in order to make sure I didn’t skip any of the hot topics of development.

The Wonder of Me: Fertility Appreciation for Adolescents and Parents: This book I just used for reference on a couple of diagrams and images.

Wonderfully Made! Babies: A Catholic Perspective on How and Why God Makes Babies: I read this one aloud, pretty much in its entirety. It gives such a well-rounded perspective on human sexuality.

Books I let her keep:

The Care and Keeping of You (above)

Joyful Mysteries of Life: This is a lovely little chapter book. It’s a nice addition to the Wonderfully Made! book above and innocent enough that I’m fine with her keeping it to read when she has some free time.

I reviewed all of the books above either here or here.

~5~

Go to Eucharistic Adoration

After the hard-hitting discussion, I really felt the need to bring my little girl to our Lord. Our parish has Perpetual Adoration, so we zipped over there and sat in His presence for a little bit.  The quiet was nice for both of us, and it really felt like an important part of the conversation, even though we didn’t talk to each other while we were in there.

If you can’t manage Adoration, try praying a rosary or something similarly meditative. Bring the focus back around to God and remind Him that she’s all His, so He better fill in any of the gaps you forgot!

~6~

Do something special and “grown-up”

One thing I noticed was that was that my baby girl was a little fragile after the whole conversation.  Not scared or sad, but reverent and full of awe.  She gave me lots of hugs, held my hand a bit, and hung out with the adults most of the day. I really wanted to show her somehow that this was a momentous occasion, so I chose to take her out for coffee (she chose a decaf frappucino) and I bought her some camisoles that she wears as undershirts.

One other benefit to the Adoration/shopping trip combo was that it gave her some time to get her guard back up. By the time we met up with Kevin and the other kids, she had recovered any composure that had previously been shaken.

~7~

Be honest, be open, and be that way from here on out

I really think a lot of the fear of having the talk comes from our own hang-ups. Our daughters want to know and understand their bodies and their dignity, and as long as we can be open and positive with them, they are likely to see it as such. I plan to check in with her regularly to see if she has any other questions, concerns, or comments. Seeing as how I’ve made myself the “expert” for her in this area, I know I need to keep the channels of communication open.

~

Can you believe our babies grow up this fast?

SONY DSC

That’s all for today, folks. Chime in the comment box with ideas and tips you may have, and any questions too.

Make sure to head over to our hostess Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick take goodness.

Comments

  1. Love this. I had a bit of the talk with my oldest while I was pregnant. It came up so naturally and beautifully and the Holy Spirit was just so present. Remembering to just whisper a quick “Come, Holy Spirit” when I saw where the conversation was headed I think made a huge difference. I love how you talked about the awe and it seems like both of our kiddos were able to have a bit of that…which is exactly how it should be, I’d like to think. Sexuality framed in the context of love and God and life. SO very different from how I learned about things in the cafeteria in third grade :/

  2. Oh, Micaela!! Thank you so much for this post!! I was just talking to my friend/our pediatrician the other night about needing to broach this topic with my 9 year old, but feeling panicked about the whole thing. I have some of the resources above, so I will utilize those and research the others. My pregnancy seems a perfect time to talk to DD, so I have a feeling our talk will be this summer sometime. Thank you for sharing this information! Love the suggestion to pray about knowing the right time to talk. Pray for me?

  3. My husband insisted that he have the talk with our daughter. He was very straightforward and direct. Being a physician, he was anatomically correct and clear about the ever changing process of her body. At the same time he was soft, delicate, and respectful of her. My daughter emerged from the conversation closer to her dad. It was beautiful and amazing to behold.

  4. Good post! It’s funny how the opportunities for these discussions naturally present themselves. We’ve talked with our oldest, a boy, and in less detail with our next oldest, a girl. I realized there was a gap in my son’s education when he was trapped in the car with me overhearing an important conversation with my ob/gyn nurse practitioner. It was just the two of us, and we had a good conversation afterwards. We own the Wonderfully Made book, but I’ll be sure to check out the others.
    Carolyn Astfalk recently posted…Seven Quick TakesMy Profile

  5. My daughter is only 5 months old, but I’m so glad to have this resource for the future! Thank you Micaela 🙂
    ashley.elise recently posted…Michael’s BirthdayMy Profile

  6. I think #6 is so sweet, that she wanted to be close and ordered a decaf frappuccino. 🙂 So sweet.
    Denise Renner recently posted…The spiritual battle for domestic blissMy Profile

  7. You certainly do learn what works with your kids as they grow! I wrote on my blog about how we’ve done it in our family, too. Thanks for sharing.

    We’ve preferred to just keep it really natural and informal, in fact they usually end up happening in the kitchen while we’re cleaning up after dinner. I don’t know if we’ve gotten any books (although we did get The Care and Keeping of You by American Girl to introduce them to puberty-related girl topics – it doesn’t cover sex.)

    Sometimes it’s me, sometimes my husband, and sometimes both of us, depending on who’s there when she asks a question. The sweetest experience was overhearing her ask her dad “What’s AIDS?” because she was learning about Africa in school, and him answering that question led to a beautiful conversation about our family’s values on sex and how important it was to only share that with someone you’ve promised to love and be married to forever. I thought, “What a lucky girl to hear that out of her dad’s mouth so she knows that men aren’t the stereotypes you see on TV…”
    Jenny @ Unremarkable Files recently posted…7 Quick Takes about Forced Nostalgia, Funny Pregnancy Memes, and Why Teabags Will Be the Death of MeMy Profile

  8. This sounds like a beautiful moment for the two of you. What peace there is in knowing that beauty, goodness, and God’s glory can be found in even the most awkward situations. Thanks for sharing your research and experience with us.
    Amy @ The Salt Stories recently posted…St Gianna Molla: Making New Friends in HeavenMy Profile

  9. I’m so glad you wrote this! I think that it’s time I plan another chat with my oldest and a first with my second. These are great suggestions.
    Gina recently posted…1978, on the ‘ShireMy Profile