When I was a teen, the thought of telling my parents about my sexual struggles absolutely terrified me. I knew I needed help, but for some reason they were the last ones I wanted to be honest with. It took me several months of praying and wrestling in my heart to finally gain the courage to be honest. With tears streaming down my face, I told them everything. They lovingly embraced me and encouraged me. They assured me that they were on my team and wanted to help me overcome my sin. For the first time in years, the weight of my guilt lifted just a bit.
If you’re the parent of a teen daughter, I can assure you she has questions, struggles, and sexual longings within her heart. This was true for me. It’s true for every young woman. As the founder of GirlDefined Ministries, I’ve received hundreds (if not thousands) of emails from young women confessing their “secret sexual sins” for the first time ever. They’ve been carrying the weight of their sexual struggles alone, feeling too ashamed or intimidated to talk to their parents. They want help, but they just don’t feel like they can be honest.
It’s not uncommon for their emails to express things like:
- I have so many questions!
- I don’t know who else to talk to…
- I’m writing to you because I read that you struggled too…
- I feel so alone…
- I need someone to guide me…
- Can you please help me?!?
These are real statements from young Christian women who are secretly struggling with sexual sin and don’t know what to do. They want to embrace purity but don’t feel like they have anyone in their life they can talk to. As much as I love helping these girls through email, it’s not enough. They need more. Much more. They need parents who can love them, guide them, and help them each and every day.
One of the best ways you can care for your daughter’s heart is by being someone whom she can share anything with. With that being said, I want to offer you three specific ways you can begin building that kind of relationship with your daughter.
Pursue an Intentional Relationship with Her
Hands down, this is the most important thing you can do. Everything else builds upon this relationship. It’s not enough to just “see” your daughter every day—it needs to be much more intentional. Make it a daily point to ask her about the things she’s interested in. Take her out on one-on-one dates to do special things that aren’t a part of your normal routine. Laugh with her. Cry with her. Encourage her in her successes. Invite her friends to hang out at your house. Regardless your daughter’s age, it’s never too late to begin building a relationship with her.
As you get to know her more deeply, allow her to know you more deeply too. Many parents don’t like to talk about their past (or current) sexual struggles with their kids, but this is a missed opportunity. If your daughter thinks you’re perfect, she won’t feel comfortable sharing any of her struggles with you. Your openness and transparency will become a bridge of trust and authenticity in your relationship. Invite your daughter into your life by sharing how you overcame your own struggles and failures.
Actively Guide Her Heart Using Counsel from God’s Word
Whether you like it or not, your daughter is being raised in a society that doesn’t value sexual purity at all. In fact, it’s hostile towards purity. Whether it’s on social media, in the movies, at school, on the internet, or with her friends—your daughter is constantly being fed the message that sexual boundaries are oppressive. She regularly hears things like:
- “Saving sex for marriage is totally outdated.”
- “Everyone’s doing it…it’s a normal part of teen life.”
- “There’s nothing wrong with looking at porn.”
- “Your body is your own and you can do whatever you want with it.”
- “Being seductive will make you powerful as a woman”
- “Flaunt your body and show them what you’ve got.”
With these type of lies filling her mind every day, she needs to be taught what is true. She needs to learn what God’s word has to say about sex, lust, purity, and victory in Christ. She needs to gain a positive perspective of sexual intimacy from a biblical worldview. The more she’s equipped with God’s truth, the more she’ll be aware of the lies.
Help Your Daughter Think for Herself
Rather than just giving your daughter a list of rules and boundaries (don’t kiss boys, no dating until 16, save sex for marriage, etc.), train her to think for herself. She needs to be taught why something is wrong much more than just being taught, “It’s wrong.” Your daughter needs to learn how to use discernment for herself. One day she’ll be out of your house. She needs to be equipped to fight the battles for purity on her own. She needs personal convictions that she can firmly stand on.
While your daughter is still living in your home, be proactive about helping her understand why purity matters, why God created sex for marriage, why porn is harmful, etc. Here are a few great resources that can help you get started:
- And the Bride Wore White, by Dannah Gresh
- What Are You Waiting For, by Dannah Gresh
- Sex and the Single Girl, by Juli Slattery
- Lies Young Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free, by Nancy Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh
- Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), by Joshua Harris
Raising daughters in this day and age is no joke. My prayer for you and your daughter is that you would become a unified team, fighting the battles for purity together. Rather than sending an SOS email to me at GirlDefined, your daughter needs to know that she can turn to you for help. She needs you to be her greatest confidant, her wisest counselor, and her most committed teammate. Regardless of how hard it may be to get there, do whatever it takes for that to happen.