I came across an article by Kristin Luce posted on Facebook, “Why I Want My Teenage Daughter to Have Sex.” It got me thinking. Our teenagers are growing up and it’s good for us as parents to provide some direction for our teenagers as they prepare to make decisions about their sexuality. Even though the title of our articles are different, there is a fair amount that we share in common. I thought there was another element that was missing and is probably the biggest reason why my letter to my teenage daughter would be different than this author’s letter.
WHAT WE SHARE IN COMMON
Apparently we both have teenagers that will be entering into the world of sexual exploration and we are understandably concerned that they may not be prepared. She is a Psychotherapist and Parenting Coach and I am a Licensed Counselor and Marriage Therapist. In reference to a radio call in a show, she heard of 17-year-old girl who wanted support to stay over at a boyfriend’s house even though her parents said “no”. She reports that many of the responses sounded like “When you are financially independent then you can sleep wherever you want. Until then, you are under your parents’ roof and your parents’ rules.”
I also think I understand the logic of this statement and support parents to act in alignment with their values. I share a concern that we often give our daughters a double message.
Psychologists have understood for years that being placed in a double bind is extremely problematic, especially for children. Gregory Bateson started to give us some understanding of this in 1950.
WHERE WE DIFFER
At this point in the article, my views start to shift a bit from the author (most likely because of differing values and beliefs). I believe and will share with my daughter that your sexuality is not only relational and biological, but spiritual.
The author states – “We give our children – and especially our daughters – a double message. We tell them that their bodies are their own and that they get to say “no” when it doesn’t feel right, but we don’t tell them that they also gets to say “yes” when it does feel right.”
As a parent who hopes to also impart the spiritual and moral component of sexuality, I would not encourage my daughter to say “yes” when it feels right. But I have witnessed the negative effects of young women and men who have gotten a different double message.
The double message I have seen looks more like this. We spend so much energy telling our kids that sex outside of marriage is wrong; they could get a disease or pregnant and that they should say “no” until they get married. We forget to tell them how amazing sex is. For some reason we leave out that sex is one of the most amazing gifts from God. So much effort is spent on encouraging them to say “no” we forget to talk them about when to say “yes” and how amazing that is.
So for example, this is the statement I want my daughter to hear, loud and clear: your body is an amazing gift, and you get to choose what to do with it. You get to say “no” when you don’t want to do something and you believe it is not good or right for you, and you get to say “yes” when it is something that you want and you know and understand that it is good. One of the hardest things in life is that what you feel like doing doesn’t always align with what you believe is good and right for you. This is probably truer about sex than other things.
I agree that “part of empowering girls is not getting in the way of their becoming sexual beings when it is right for them. Supporting girls in their adolescence is about allowing them to develop and explore, just as we would want them to develop and explore any other aspects of themselves. In particular, if we want to empower girls, we need to not overly scare or protect them from their own sexuality.”
This is the letter I would write to my own daughter as she navigates more deeply into her teenage years.
You are going to hear and see a lot of things about sex as you get older. If I am honest, I worry about it from time to time. I don’t want to ever see you get hurt and I would do anything to protect you. I believe that God doesn’t want to see you get hurt either and he talks to us a lot in the Bible about sex. Almost every book of the Bible has something to say about sex, and Song of Solomon is very descriptive of the love relationship in marriage. There is no better plan than the one He would have for us; that is true about sex as well. Here are just a couple things I hope you think about as you’re starting to learn and understand your sexuality.
First, God Himself invented sex for our delight; it was his gift to us intended for pleasure. You don’t need to think about it too much right now, but I want it to be really clear. Sex is an awesome and amazing gift from God when we experience it the way he intended it to be from the beginning. It is good.
I don’t want to get too preachy with you but we get direction early in the Bible about man and woman and marriage in Genesis. God didn’t really think it was a good idea for man to be alone. He came up with the idea to create woman. He then wanted to join them together, and it says according to that plan, you will leave your mom and dad one day and be united to your husband and you will become one flesh. At that point it, said the man and his wife were naked and they felt no shame.
It is an amazing thing that God has done, that you might have a partner one day. That before God and your friends you will make a commitment to one another for the rest of your lives. You will be able to be naked with your husband with no reason to be ashamed. You may feel a bit terrified and excited but you will have this amazing gift to share with one another. He will share his body with you and you will share your body with him. If you choose, that day you will enter into a special bond with one person that no one else would know. You will enjoy a physical, spiritual bond that I promise you is like nothing else that you will experience. It will blow your mind. I don’t want to over-hype it, but it is special and it is amazing.
Something to think about as you make that decision to save your body and sexual experience for just one guy, just your husband. When I was about your age, one of my pastors was talking to a group of us about this concept of the “two becoming one flesh” and it made sense to me then just as much as today. Think about your body and your sexuality like the sticky side of duct tape. When you put the two sticky sides together they bond together, they fuse. They can be pulled apart but, a part of each of you is left behind. As you share your body and sexuality with someone, you are giving / sharing a really special part of yourself with them.
I encourage you to be patient with sexuality. The author of the Song of Solomon gives great words of wisdom to young women, but it applies just as much to guys as well. “Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases”(2:7). If that doesn’t make sense now, it will. There are a number of things we can do to stir up love. One of the hardest things about waiting until you get married to have sex is being in love. You long for the day when your lives will be so intertwined that every aspect of your life will be linked together, including your sexuality. It is not helped by the fact that we live in a place where you are going to be bombarded by sex every day that you are alive.
For some people, having sex is just another desire to be satisfied, just like eating and drinking. If you choose to wait for marriage you may feel like you’re the only one. People may tell you that you need practice, or need to see if you are sexually compatible. Trust me – there are a lot of things in life that need to be practiced – but sex is not one of them. You have to decide if it is good for you, right and worth it.
Just a couple last things I want you to know. Sex is another part of your life and a normal part of growing up. Feelings and desires will awaken in you that you may be unsure of. Your mom and I are always here for you to talk to and listen and figure things out together. I helped you learn how to ride a bike and you did that in one day. That cookie thing; I should have never done that, I had no idea what I was doing. This whole sex thing – it’s a normal part of growing up. We got this.
Lastly, no matter what you choose, I will always choose to love you. There is not a single choice you could make about sex or anything else that could ever stop me from loving you. You are never alone.