Mother’s email: So what do you do when you know your daughter is under the legal age for sexual consent, which I understand to be 16 years old, and you know she is going out to a friend’s and will be having sex there? Sometimes with facebook monitoring software, you find out more than you want to.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a 16 year old who, in my opinion is ready to have sex. I’m not sure how they determined that legal age, but I’m not buying into it. Maybe the fact that they still have a teddy in their room or can’t manage their emotions when something goes wrong is a slight indicator!!! SERIOUSLY!
The first step to supporting our teenagers is to be in touch with the key beliefs they adopt for their lives. These key beliefs are SO impacted by the media and especially social media. Unfortunately, I believe many adults are out of touch with these beliefs and, because of this, don’t know how to effectively talk to their teenagers about their sexual activity.
Please take the time to read, think through and talk about these beliefs with your teenagers….This is the WHY that parents must understand to parent well. I don’t think any of us realise the impact that visuals like below have on our kids.
1) Girls should look sexy
I am often asked to be the umpire as mother and daughter argue about what is appropriate to wear. How short should their skirt be? How low should that top sit? What is normal these days and where is the line between modest and fashionable?
When we were young, there was only a small group of girls who wore revealing clothes. They were girls who wanted to draw attention to themselves! But parents, I’ll let you in on a secret; Sexually permissive looking girls are in vogue!
Girls believe that in order to look beautiful they need to look sexy. That means that the boundaries of beauty and sexy have been blurred together. And unfortunately I am seeing younger and younger girls trying to look sexy in order to be beautiful.
This may help you understand why you find it hard to get your daughter to dress like a lady or in anything that you think looks pretty. It may also help you understand why she won’t take a compliment from you about being beautiful when she is dressed in pretty clothes you have chosen from her. What she is wearing may be pretty but isn’t beautiful because it’s not sexy.
I want to offer a practical solution to this issue because this is such a big issue in so many homes. There are a few things parents can do… Instead of fighting with your daughter every time you go shopping, find a few role models that you daughter admires who have a dress sense both you and your daughter approve of. Or buy her a session with a young stylist for a Christmas gift as an investment into her developing dress sense. If you are combating a sexy, slutty image of beauty she is aspiring to, you aren’t going to be able to fight it alone. You may have to call in some additional help.
2) Girls should accept sex as a purely physical experience
Along with a sexy exterior, there is a great pressure on teenage girls to perceive sex as a purely physical experience. There is a great deal of pressure for girls to ‘put out’ without any expectation of commitment or a relationship in return. It is quite common for girls to go from boyfriend to boyfriend at lightning speed and cheat on their boyfriend without giving it much thought. Sex and relationship don’t necessarily go hand in hand. And although I don’t believe most girls are wired this way, I see many girls perform to this expectation and get caught up in this culture.
That means that one night stands and hook ups are not just for ‘sluts’ or a few ‘game girls’. It is accepted are normal. It also means that oral sex or anal sex is seen as entry level, something that you would do on a first date. There are also a range of other sexual experiences including faux lesbianism is where girls get involved in kissing and touching each other for the sole purpose of getting boys interested and threesomes where girls take it in turns to give boys oral sex are becoming quite common in our high schools. These experiences are increasingly being initiated by girls and are seen as part of having a good time.
When teenagers buy into the concept that sex is simply a physical experience, it opens the door to reckless experimentation and increases the risks greatly. I believe sex goes horribly, horribly wrong for teenagers when they begin to separate ‘themselves’ from the act of sex.
3) Girls should be sexually experienced
In previous generations, boys were more likely to be the ones that parents needed to pull into line and talk to about their relentless pursuit of sex and sexual content. Today, our girls are doing the pursuing and feel the need to look sexually experienced.
When we were younger, there were some teenagers having sex at fifteen. What I notice about this generation is that the type of sex teenagers are experimenting with is more ‘out there’ because it’s driven by pornography and media images. They are experimenting with adult pornography and sexually explicit imagery that you wouldn’t think kids would know about.
Our girls feel pressured to know about sex and be sexually competent at such a young age. They are feeling the need to know about sex in order to be accepted and they feel ‘out of it’ or like they are missing out if they don’t want to get involved. There is also a huge pressure on girls to have a boyfriend and sexually experiment. In a school setting I notice girls feel the pressure to initiate sex and sexual talk or get accused of being a ‘prude’ or ‘frigid’.
There is an entirely new sexually active teenage girl who has emerged. This new breed of girls are using the boys just as much as the boys are using them. They are forward, brass and hunting down the male species loudly and proudly.
This breed of girls are not timid about sex. They wear their sexual experiences like a badge of honour. I hear many young high school students announce, “This year I am going to lose my virginity”. And if teenagers haven’t done it by the time they have finished school, schoolies often see it as one of their main goals.
4) Girls should accept that their sexual experiences will be public
To me, one of the biggest changes between past generations and this generation is how public people’s sexual lives have become. What was once thought a private experience is now accepted as public. It is okay to have sex on camera in front of the whole world, in fact you can get an Academy Award for it. It is okay to brag about your sexual experiences on facebook, you can build a huge following by doing it and earn a lot of money from it.
Teenagers so easily get involved in sharing sexual information online. The reason is that they honestly don’t see sex as something that is private or personal. They don’t see anything wrong with rating someone’s kissing after a big night out!
Parents often are very shocked to find out their teenagers are involved in any type of dirty talk or activity online, simply because it’s not what they would have done at their age. But when you follow the facebook messages of teenage girls, there definitely is a blurred concept of intimacy which underpins all online communication.
My More Direct Advice: So what do you do if you know your 16 is going to have sex?
I’d advise that you be straight up about your knowledge. Tell them you know and talk to them about your need to protect them. Don’t compromise your job as her parent. I don’t want your girl, or any other, waking up at 18 realizing she ripped herself off. Your daughter’s thoughts and ideas will change dramatically over the next few years. Expect her to be really annoyed at you. Expect her to rant and rave. At the end of the day, your job is to be the parent and protect her. If her previous poor sexual experiences are opening the door to reckless choices, get her some help.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family.
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What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at www.michellemitchell.org for $24.95 plus postage.