"Padding" the Facts of Life

As much as we fathers sometimes shudder to think of our little girl ever having sex with someone, we must understand that she needs a healthy sense of sexuality in order to be a healthy and happy woman.

It doesn’t help to fall into the over-protection trap and lead our daughters to see sexuality as inherently dangerous, dishonest or forbidden.

We have to find ways to trust and respect our daughters more than that. After all, if we ever hope to see grandchildren, our daughters will, in most cases, have to have sex first.

In addition to their fathers’ trust and respect, our daughters deserve accurate information about sexuality. We can prove our trust and respect by providing that information. When we always give her accurate information, we’re showing that we’re both trustworthy.

When my oldest started developing breasts, I knew it wouldn’t be long until she had her first period. I also knew that my ex-wife is not comfortable talking about sex. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm that I felt I could do it, but I decided I had to start talking to my daughters about it. So, I went and bought some pads and next time they were over, I got out the pads and some of their underwear. I explained to both girls what the pads were for and what their periods were going to mean, then I taught them how to attach the pads to a pair of underwear. Sure, their faces were red, but they learned and they knew what to do when they had their first period. Ever since then, they’ve come to me with questions and talked with me about their boyfriend problems. I guess I proved myself to them.


The more regularly you provide the facts, the easier it gets to do it. Plus, these conversations deliver what she needs: accurate information about love, sexuality, abuse, safety, self-respect, menstruation, conception, desire and what’s happening with her body and emotions. That’s a lot of territory to cover and, contrary to what most people think, there’s plenty of acreage for fathers to cultivate.

(Adapted from my book Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter.)

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