5 Tips for Talking to Young Daughters About Modesty & Sexuality
Last week, I shared a few books on helping moms teach little girls about modesty, purity, and sexual safety.
Books are a wonderful tool for introducing information in a gentle way and opening the door for dialogue. But sometimes we moms need a little extra help in handling questions, addressing issues, and starting a conversation with our girls on these potentially sensitive topics!
Today, I’m going to share a few practical (and hopefully helpful) ideas for talking to our daughters about modesty and sexuality.
The goal is to guide our daughters’ hearts toward Biblical sexuality at a very young age… if our girls are old enough to ask questions, then it’s time for us to start talking.
In the Ocean Air, by Johanna Harmon
It’s really important for us moms to-
1. Look for Opportunities to Speak Truth About Sexuality.
If you and I aren’t telling our girls the truth about sexuality, then we can guarantee that they are learning false ideas about it from someone, somewhere. Much of the false concepts about sexuality are passively absorbed from peers and the culture.
That was certainly the case for me as girl, and one of the biggest lies I ever believed about my body was that parts of it were bad.
No ma’am, our bodies are not bad. They are special. So special, in fact, that other people are not allowed to see or touch them.
So special, that we cover them up with clothing. (Modesty makes so much sense when you lay the right ground work!)
As you bathe your toddler or dress your preschooler, talk to her about how special God made her body. Talk to her about appropriate touch (hugs and kisses from mommy and daddy, etc), and touching that is not acceptable.
Tell your daughters that anyone who tries to touch or look at her “special places” is doing a bad thing, and that she should tell Mommy or Daddy right away.
This shouldn’t be done in an embarrassing or fear-driven way, but very much as a matter-of-fact. Be comfortable and confident.
Look into your child’s face and smile and speak truth into her life about sexuality, even before she knows what it is. Believe me, the world will tell her plenty about sexuality soon enough… plant seeds of truth as early in her life as possible.
The Yell and Tell books from Debi Pearl are a fantastic resource for equipping young children with helpful information regarding sexual predators.
Think of You, by Pino Daeni
2. Don’t Be Embarrassed to Talk About a Woman’s Body with Your Daughter.
Girls notice things about themselves, and things about others.
They figure out that boys and girls have very different “parts” (especially if you have little boys in the house!).
They notice that Mommy wears a bra, and they might ask when they will get to wear one too.
They are very apt to discover your pads or personal items in a bathroom cabinet, and want to know what they’re for.
Do not withdraw from these conversations.
They are open doors to communicate truth to your daughter about the gift of her womanhood.
I talked a little about this in last week’s post, but, ladies, it is so vitally important that you confidently embrace your identity as a woman before you start to guide your daughter on her own path toward womanhood.
If you struggle in this area, I shared a little about this right here: Embracing Womanhood: Rejecting the Lies.
Anticipate teachable moments with your daughter, and don’t be afraid to respond to her curiosity with age-appropriate information, facts, and experiences.
3. Cultivate in her heart an anticipation of becoming a woman.
Years ago, I read the story of Ann Frank, a young Jewish Houlicost victim. The book is memorable in many ways, but one of the most profound impacts it had upon me was the fact that Ann, a young girl of about twelve years old, was very excited about starting her period.
Obviously I didn’t grow up in Europe during the 1940’s, so I have no idea what the culture was like then, or how mothers passed along information to their daughters. But somehow, young Ann Frank knew that becoming a woman was a very good thing, and she could hardly wait to welcome those changes like her older sister had.
Secret Garden, by Johanna Harmon
That put a new wrinkle in my twenty-first century woman brain!
Think for a minute about the way most women talk about their bodies, child bearing, fertility, sexuality, monthly cycles, etc. Most of what we hear isn’t very positive. What kind of message is that sending to young girls about womanhood?
Some day (probably much too soon), your daughter is going to grow up and change in so many ways… celebrate that with her!
Give your daughter the gift of looking forward to growing up. I don’t mean that in the sense of pushing our daughters to grow up too soon, but neither should they dread the changes that adolescence brings. Help your girl understand and anticipate young womanhood.
4. Take the Time to Mentor Your Daughter and Be Her Friend.
Relationships take time to build and grow. If we want our daughters to trust us to guide them in this journey toward womanhood, then we’re going to have to be willing to invest our time into nurturing their young hearts and minds.
I’m talking about carving out one-on-one time with our girls. Somehow, in the midst of running a household and wearing the many hats of womanhood, we have to learn to be friends with our girls.
Cultivate fun times, laugh, create, dream, talk and, above all else, listen.
This is where I’m at with my daughters right now (especially my oldest daughter, who is eleven). They need me… lots of me, lots of my time and emotional energy.
Reading by Candlelight, by Daniel Gerhartz
It isn’t always easy or convenient to give up some of my personal time and space in order to listen, share, and encourage… but I believe it’s an investment I’ll never regret.
5. Make Modesty a Positive Principle, Not Another Rule.
As my girls began to grow and became aware of the differences in our (conservative) family and other families, the questions starting coming:
Why does Grandma wear _________?
Why do some Christians wear ___________? Isn’t that bad?
Why can’t I do ____________ or wear ___________ like so-and-so?
Jeremy and I decided very early on that we would do our best to never make modesty a negative issue or just a list of “do not’s.”
Cramming a few (or a bunch of) rules down our kids’ throats is legalism, and it does nothing to shape their hearts toward godliness or purity.
Our desire for our daughters (and sons) is that they understand the whole picture of sexuality and modesty.
Some day (sooner than I would like to think), my girls really will grow up and I’ll have some new waters to tread in this journey.
For now, we are building what I pray and believe is a strong foundation of truth, knowledge, and relationship.
With God’s help, I will continue to build upon this foundation and trust the Holy Spirit to provide the grace and wisdom I need as a mom with young daughters.
At Water’s Edge, by Daniel Gerhartz