What do you do when your teenage daughter confesses she’s struggling with sexual temptation?
I received this reader question the other day that broke my heart:
Hi Sheila. I’ve just had a conversation with my beautiful teenage daughter. She has a strong Christian faith but is struggling at the relationship and she’s shared that she just wants a boyfriend. She’s asking lots of questions about ‘how far is too far to go’ with a boy and while she understands and agrees with wanting to honour God and His design of sex in marriage and her brain and heart say ‘wait’, her body is shouting ‘now’!! She tearfully told me that her thoughts stray regularly to sexual things and, despite me assuring her otherwise, she is convinced no other Christian girl her age thinks of these things. She says she wished she could know what other girls think because she doesn’t feel normal. I love this child to death – help!! Are there blogs or books that can help her with this issue?
Wow. That’s a tough one. What do you say to a child who so desperately wants to follow God’s plan, but feels like it’s impossible? I’ve got my eldest daughter, Rebecca, here today to help us out and talk about how moms can handle these tough conversations with their daughters.
Take it away, Becca!
The teenage years are tough.
Kids go through so many changes, including hormonal ones, and they start facing issues and temptations they’ve never had to deal with before! But that’s why you, as a parent, can have such an amazing impact on your kids–because you have been there before, and you have enough experience to help your child through their struggles, even if you haven’t had the exact same temptations as they do.
First let me say that I can’t give you a magical formula that will take away all the awkwardness that you might feel with these conversations. But just because it’s awkward doesn’t mean that you can’t help! And your child so desperately needs your help–teenagers are pretty dumb, if I’m honest, and having an adult’s perspective, especially a parent who knows you better than you know yourself at times? There’s no substitute.
So here are some tips that I have for talking to your daughter when she’s struggling with sexual temptation. I hope it helps!
Let her know that there’s nothing wrong with her.
When girls have a sex drive, it’s seen as weird. We’re told all the time that guys struggle with lust, and the message is often that girls need to be the sexual gatekeeper, making sure that boys don’t go too far or get tempted. But in all my years in youth group talking about purity and sex and modesty, not once was it mentioned that girls might want sex, too!
So when a girl starts to feel sexual desire, she can feel really dirty and think “there’s something wrong with me!”
But it’s important to communicate both sides of the story–God made women to enjoy sex, too! And sexual desire is a totally normal thing, and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s like any other struggle, any other temptation, and she’s not dirty because of it.
Be careful not to focus more on the problem than you do on Jesus.
Whenever we talk about a struggle or a temptation, it’s really easy to make it the center of the conversation. But whatever you give your focus to expands! If you focus on the temptation and how bad the temptation is and how to overcome the temptation then the temptation grows. So yes, address the temptation and think of ways to help distract yourself or deal with the temptation when it arises. But also speak truth about God–and let that be the focus. Talk about how Jesus is our escape, our peace, our savior, and that He won’t leave us abandoned to fight alone.
When your daughter is struggling, coming at her with a list of “don’ts” isn’t a freeing message; it’s a message of condemnation. But talking about God’s truth in how he will provide a way out of temptation–that’s much more empowering and much more representative of how God works through us.
Start conversations early so that when there are hard conversations to be had, you’re both ready.
The truth is, though, no matter what the topic is, the best thing you can do for your daughter is to start building your relationship early. Preferably before any of these problems really start! If you’re in a habit of chatting and talking and sharing your hearts with each other, these conversations become much more natural and much easier. Additionally, you’ll know your daughter better and so be able to better help her!
That’s why we created The Whole Story. I really can’t stress how important it is to be able to talk about these things with your daughter. Yes, they’re scary conversations. Yes, they’re uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean they can be swept under the rug. So if you do struggle with talking to your daughter about tough topics, please try our course. We believe in the mother-daughter relationship, and we created the course to help you be able to talk about anything–not just what’s in the course. So give it a shot!
But honestly all this makes me wonder if we’re just setting kids up for failure.
Bear with me for a minute. If we actually think about what the Bible says, it says that if you struggle with sexual temptation to the point where you can’t really control yourself, the answer is simple: get married!
But it’s not so simple anymore. Why? Because kids aren’t ready for marriage until much later!
And even for those of us who do get married young, there’s a lot of stigma. But I just have to wonder, maybe the answer is to start fundamentally changing how we see teenagers and young people–instead of assuming kids will get married at 29+, maybe we need to start preparing kids to be adults by the time they hit 18, so that they honestly can get married if they’re struggling with temptation. Because it seems to me that we’re setting up a lot of teenagers and young adults for a no-win situation.
What do you think? Am I just crazy? How do you handle these hard conversations with your kids?