As the father of three girls, two newly-minted teenagers, I worry over the topic of boys, love and sex.
Like it or not, the girls have a growing interest in boys, and I suspect that interest will only increase over time. So part of my focus is on teaching the girls what constitutes a healthy relationship. What is love? Why sex is worth waiting for.
Love and sex
Earlier, I read an article on the All Pro Dad website titled 4 Things to Explain When Teaching Your Son About Sex.
The article of course pertains to sons, but I thought it appropriate for daughters, as well.
- What is love
- What intimacy is supposed to be
- Why sex is worth waiting for
- How to treasure women
These were the four points of the article and they are valid, but something resonated when I reflected and tried to apply it to my role as a father of girls.
First a story
By day, I teach 6th-grade English. A great group of kids and I’ve become very fond of the age group.
Last year, I taught a young man for whom my heart aches.
One day, he mentioned a particular girl was his girlfriend. She said she absolutely was not. At no point in the back and forth did I, or the girl for that matter, get the impression this young man was joking. As she continued her denials that she was his girlfriend, he became more and more agitated.
I managed to end the conversation and shared my concerns with the counselor. He had deeper issues that went back several years and included a history of being abused.
I ache for any child in that situation, but I also thought I’d be mortified if my daughters dated someone in like him.
The father role
Much of the conversations about puberty, growth, development, and sex fall to my ex-wife, the girls’ mother. But that does not exempt me from having a role, however little I want to think about these things.
The fourth point of the All Pro Dad piece hits home with the idea of love and sex where teens are concerned.
See, in this arena, I view myself as having three important roles.
First, I teach through actions what it looks like when a man treasures a woman. I show this with the woman I’m dating. That relationship bears particular weight because they see it in action. Probably more importantly, I show this in my dealings with their mother. It is not easy. She has the title ex-wife for a reason and yes, I get aggravated, but that pales in importance to the girls seeing a respectful relationship with their mom.
I show the girls what it is like to be treasured. I treasure my daughters in word and in deed. I’m there. Every school event. All the game. Every choir concert. Lord knows how many daddy daughter events. And even for the hell of it. I don’t miss my visitation time and I often ask for – and get – more time with my daughters. I show them love and tell them how proud of them I am with intentional and specific praise. All. The. Time. They know when they aren’t being treasured by some loser.
Finally, I pay attention, and intervene politely, if needed. About 3 years ago, one of my twins had a boyfriend. Just a kid at school and they’d text occasionally. Well, as I scrolled through the texts (yes, I read their texts), I noticed this boy was being quite ugly at times. Name calling. Joking to the point of being hurtful. This opened the door (along with an intentional approach to keeping the lines of communication open in general) to a couple of conversations about boys and how she should be treated. She made the right decision and “dumped his butt.”
When it comes to love and sex, and heck, life in general, my job as a father of girls is simple. I am to teach them what healthy male/female relationships look like, and help them sort out the differences when they struggle with it.