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Progressive parents - thoughts on encouraging teen girls to explore their sexuality?

Poll Results: Would you encourage your high school aged daughter to explore her own body?

Poll expired: Mar 24, 2012  
  • 45% (10)
  • 54% (12)
22 Total Votes  
post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

A good friend of mine and I recently had a conversation about our 14-15 DD's sexuality, namely, we both have DDs who maintain they will stay virgins their entire lives and that sex is weird and gross. We are both queer and actively involved in the LGBT communities, which I'm sure influences our sex-positive beliefs, so we think it's pretty funny that we would raise kids who are so opposed to it. Anyway, she was toying with the idea of leaving some erotica out in the bathroom or something, to try and encourage her daughter to do a little exploration in that area. I'm sure my DD would be mortified and wouldn't touch it, but I understand her sentiment. We don't want our girls to grow up, never having masturbated or exploring their sexuality, to inevitably end up in some relationship that offers little to no satisfaction in that area. You have to know yourself to be able to tell the other person what you want and need, after all. Of course, 9th grade is young and definitely not the age to be fully sexually empowered, but it's a good age to begin the journey of figuring yourself out in all facets. I started "experimenting" a little around that age, and I think it definitely helped me figure out who I was and where I was going with my life which was helpful going into college. The last thing I want for my DD is to have sex for the first time and think, "Wow, I didn't get anything out of that, I'm just going to stay single forever" but I'm definitely in no rush to have her become fully sexually realized. We always strive for an open dialogue about sex, we've talked about masturbation before, but I want her to understand that sexuality is an important part of a person's life without thinking it's weird and gross. I know that's an appropriate response at this age, so it's not like it's an issue at all, I was just interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the subject.

post #2 of 23
You are sex positive so you aren't creating shame or fear and other than that I would step off. I don't think it's up to us to influence our kids sexuality. Honestly, I find sharing erotica, etc about as creepy and warping as telling them they should be straight or virgins till marriage. Oddly, I dont find leaving a very basic vibrator in its package in their bedside drawer wrong. I guess because there are no specifics.
post #3 of 23

Just as I don't think it's cool to repress a young person's sexuality, I don't think it's cool to push it on them, either. When they are ready, they will explore who they are, sexually. 

post #4 of 23

I think it's pretty normal for young teens to go through a phase where they are a little freaked out by sex/sexuality and their own emerging emotions.  In a way I think it's protective because they just may not be "there" yet in terms of either their comfort or understanding of what they're experiencing.  I think that if you are positive, non-shaming, and non-judgmental, you've left the door open for support and conversation...that's all good stuff for your dd.  Being more explicit doesn't really seem appropriate or necessary.



post #5 of 23
I wanted to come back and amend my post. The vibrator thing was a projection of my situation, my dd stole mine when she was younger and that was all kinda of awkward, in your/your friends situation I think buying a vibrator would be disrespectful.
post #6 of 23

I consider myself a sex positive parent and even went to a weekend workshop several years ago on Sex Positive Parenting, which was wonderful and enlightening.  I believe that all children should learn about their bodies and feel free to explore their sexuality.  But I think as long as these discussions are ongoing at age appropriate levels, kids will learn on their own.  Some children are interested sooner than others and I think that is something they need to determine in their own time frame.  My two girls are 17 and 15 and they both have brought up many subjects with me and we have discussed these non judgementally and openly.  I want my girls to have a glorious sex life when they are ready but I have never "forced" the issue on them.  My 17 yr old has been with her boyfriend for 2 years and they have been active for over a year now and they protected and enjoying a wonderful emotional and physical relationship.  My 15 yr old has just recently started dating her first boyfriend and they are not sexually active now, but when the time comes and they are mutually ready and safe, I will provide them with all the information and support they need. 


My advice to you is to make sure your daughter knows she can talk to you when she is ready and let her know you will support her and guide her in her decision making.  I would just sit back and wait for her to come to you when she's ready however continue the discussions along the way so she understands that sex is not a dirty word and you will tell her anything and everything she needs to know.  Good luck and it sounds like you are heading in the right direction that your daughter will do just fine...when she is ready!

post #7 of 23

I think that a young person's sex life is something they generally prefer to keep private from their parents. Having aspects of our lives we keep private is normal and healthy.


I think that main thrust of parenting during the teen years is paving the way for independence. So my kids know that I am always open to talk about whatever / answer questions / provide access to birth control, but I wouldn't cross the line into talking to them about how to pleasure themselves.  That is not part of my role as a parent.


For an adult to think it is their job to teach a younger person how to enjoy sex  is to think the same way some child molesters do.

post #8 of 23

That is really something that most people tend to explore on their own when they are ready and not something I would want to push.  I remember my mom talking to me about masturbation when I was eight and that was embarrassing enough.  That is a topic that was covered in my dd's puberty class and one we covered a few times when she was younger.  There are some good books out there that you could have in the house that go into the subject without having to bring it up if you really want to make sure she knows it is okay.  If you have a local Planned Parenthood you might be able to get a good sex education class for teenage girls through them and that might help to normalize some of her feelings.

post #9 of 23
Edited by ChitownTracy - 7/19/12 at 7:46pm
post #10 of 23

A huge, for me prerequisite, component of being empowered is having boundaries respected.  Your daughter is already setting hers; it seems that she is, indeed, telling you what she wants and needs regarding her sexuality.  The way you respond to her opinions will teach her a great deal about whether her autonomy is honored.  Her body.  Her pace.  Her terms.

post #11 of 23

Considering how many sex-negative household there are out there and how few people decide to stay single forever, I don't think you have to worry about that. Especially not due to a mediocre first sex experience.


I wouldn't put any erotica where she's going to see it whether she likes it or not. When you think about it, that could really easily feel kind of sexual-harassment-y from her perspective, ya know? I can understand wanting to provide her with erotica, since getting free porn off the internet requires that you wade through a lot of super-disturbing stuff. Maybe you can stash some erotica somewhere and let her know where it's at in case she wants to use it OR avoid it.

post #12 of 23

I voted no to the poll because I think it is not positive, appropriate or respectful to encourage/pressure a teen girl to explore her body when she has said she doesn't like the idea of sex and finds it gross.


I would tell my dd that she truly doesn't have to ever have sex if she doesn't want to. I would tell her that sex can and should be a very normal, pleasurable experience but having sex or masturbating is not a mandatory act to being an adult or a woman. It doesn't make her more or less important or lovable if she chooses to abstain. She is the same person regardless.


I would let her know that I do not feel she has to make a vow or have her life planned out because things do change as you get older. She might get curious as she gets older or meet someone who she wants to share that type of intimate relationship with and that is fine. She should not feel bad about changing her mind after saying that she wants to stay a virgin.


I would let her know that if she does have questions about how things feel for me or wants to read something erotic or get a vibrator that is also okay. 


I would not think because my dd says she thinks sex is gross at 14 that she will never have a positive sexual experience or figure out what she needs to feel good. I would not think a less than stellar sexual experience would put her off of relationships forever.


post #13 of 23

Respect her privacy.  Two years from now they will see things differently.  I would have been very offended if my mom had "slipped" me any kind of erotica.  Not everyone likes that kind of thing and that is only one idea of sexual exploration, and I think that might create a turn-off of a first experience in its own way if perceived it as a deliberate but clandestine intervention from mom. 


She seems not to be ready for further discussion at this time and I would let it be for a while. 

post #14 of 23

I voted yes to the question, but wanted to qualify.  I wouldn't leave erotica around for her.  I would just encourage her to explore herself as her interest dictated.  



post #15 of 23
Interesting thread! I voted yes with a qualifier as well. Have I encouraged my daughter to explore her sexuality? Indirectly, yes, in that I have pointedly, purposefully ranted to her about how unfair it is that society has such a difficult time with women enjoying sex for pleasure's sake. Then Rush Limbaugh came along and masterfully demonstrated the rank hypocrisy under which he and so many people still operate. Are we STILL having this conversation??

Women like sex. Period. No other qualifier is necessary.

However that isn't what the OP was talking about. I don't think imposing so much of myself on my child's sexual experience, the way the OP described, is healthy at all. I don't want my daughter to associate some of her first sexual experiences with her mom. It's well intentioned but not well thought out.
post #16 of 23
I consider myself to be positive about sex however I think buying kids vibrators crosses the line into really poor boundaries, an unhealthy, enmeshed relationship, etc. I also don't think you have to teach kids to enjoy and explore their bodies. Then again, I have a three year old boy who I am constantly reminding that if he wants to touch his penis he needs to go in his bedroom or bathroom. For all you know, she's already exploring her sexuality. I sure was at that age and despite having some very open minded family members, there was no way I was discussing the details like *pleasure* with them. Maybe cold hard facts like stds and contraceptives but details-hell no. Respect her boundaries.
post #17 of 23

Maybe they don't really mean that "Sex is gross and I'll never do it", but it's kind of a way of sticking the fingers in the ears and singing "La la la la la I can't hear you", or a substitute for saying "Mom, I don't really want to talk about it?"

post #18 of 23

As far as vibrators go, I do think that subject can come up in the sex talks based on the comfort level of the child and the parents.  And if either of mine felt comfortable enough with me to ask for a vibrator I would get them one, but typically that's something most kids will not ask their parents and will get them from other means.  I do not have a problem at all with girls having vibrators but it's something I would let them ask for before just handing them one. 

post #19 of 23

I don't think this is too far off topic.  So I wasn't familiar with the term sex positive, though it seems obvious that the focus is on positive sex.  I looked it up and came across this article, Teaching Good Sex:




This is fantastic.  I love this teacher and wish I could sign both my kids up for his class. I wish dh and I could take his class! How totally refreshing. 


Just deleted a lot of content that's too far off topic, I need to start my own thread!


OP, hope we didn't scare you away. This thread is several days old!  



post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses, guys. I feel like I should talk to my friend about this again, having heard so many perspectives on it. Honestly, I hadn't given it too much thought and that's why I wanted to ask you all, since I didn't really know how I felt about it, while I appreciated her sentiment. I agree that unsolicited sex advice/leavings around can freak a teen girl out, but if she came to me about it, I would be as open as possible. She generally initiates the conversations, with such questions as "What's a blowjob?" or stories about her friends cheating on each other, which is more like the ethics of teen romance, and she has read enough books to know what she needs to know at this point. My DD and I have a very open relationship, so I'm not worried about her coming to me when she needs to, but I'm not sure my friend and her DD are so close. Anyway, I appreciate the responses and links and such, and I always look forward to hearing other people's perspectives on their situations.

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