Most moms report feeling a mixture of feelings when they discover their daughter is having sex: fear, anger, grief, worry, shame, and guilt top the list. Not many report feeling proud, or happy for their daughter, no matter how old she is. (Think of the contrast of Dad punching Junior in the arm with a manly, “Atta Boy!” for his sexual activities. Hmmmmm.)
Perhaps moms feel negative emotions because they know all too well the exploitation that can happen to their daughters. We listened to guys lie to us about love as they tried to just get laid. Girls risk so much when they have sex: pregnancy, a ruined reputation, infertility, cervical cancer, physical or emotional abuse, etc. Mom’s worry. That’s normal.
Girls expressing their sexuality makes most people nervous. Mick Jagger could have all the groupies his heart desired and no one put him down, but Madonna expressed herself onstage and she was a branded a slut. The double standard is alive and well. There’s the reason Dad punches Junior’s arm for scoring but scorns and shames his daughter for being sexually active. Are you feeling ashamed of your daughter? If you have a son, do you have the same feelings?
Aside from the cultural inequality and a flood of swirling emotions, what can Moms do when they find out their daughter is having sex? Three things:
1. Breathe. Literally. Take in a deep breath to the count of seven. Push the air all the way into your belly. Then exhale to the count of eleven. 7-11 breathing calms your brain so you can think better and be less reactive. Your daughter needs you now more than ever. A freaked out mom won’t do her (or you!) much good.
2. Talk/listen. Let your daughter know you are aware she is sexually active. Listen very carefully to what she needs from you now. Is she scared? Happy? Confused? In Love? This is a time when your very best listening skills are needed. This is NOT the time to shame her, shove a Bible in her face, or do anything that makes her think you are turning your back on her in any way. You don’t have to agree with her actions, but if you want a life long, loving relationship with your daughter that will help her as she grows up, you need to allow her her truth. She’s now engaged in an activity that will change her life. Sex releases neurochemicals in the brain that will cause her to feel more emotionally attached to the guy(s) she is sexually active with. That creates a host of complications. Nutshell? Your daughter needs you on her side, not on the sidelines pointing a finger at her!
3. Doctor, Pronto.What type of birth control is your daughter using? She’ll need a check up with a good doctor. If you can go wtih her, all the better. Teens often feel they are ready for sex but not ready to put their feet in the stirrups of the exam table. In some ways your daughter is so grown up, in other’s she’s still a little girl. Be there for her. Make sure she knows the proper use of whatever birth control method she is going to use and that she uses it as prescribed. Encourge condom use even if she is on the pill. Make sure she gets yearly exams. If you can’t afford them, find a local Planned Parenthood office.
I know a lot of moms don’t want to deal with their daughter’s sex life. But we need to be emotionally able to handle our daughter’s choices, or we risk pushing our daughters away from us, for a long, long time. If you can talk to your daughter and you have a super close relationship, guess what? She may put off having sex until she is older. Research shows that a close relationship with mom can help teen girls wait to have their first sexual encounter.
If you work out your own negative issues with sex, you’ll also do better when you find out your daughter is sexually active. Healing our own wounds is the VERY first job a parent needs to do to parent a child.