This is one of those moments we all dread: discovering that our little girl (or boy) may be pushing the limits sexually with their boyfriend or girlfriend. One of the moms I work with found herself in this situation just a few days ago: she was vacuuming her daughter’s room, and when she lifted the bed skirt, she found a Forever 21 bag. Her knees went weak as she pulled out lacy thongs and a sheer baby doll top.
She knew that her daughter had been hanging out with a boy in her class, but her daughter had insisted that it “wasn’t serious”: they “were NOT dating”. Now she knew, whether they were dating or not, something was going on—either with that boy or someone else—and she wasn’t too happy about it.
Now, if you’ve been to any major retailor in the past few years with your daughter, then I’m sure that you’ve noticed that the clothes marketed to our tweens, teens and even little girls are becoming more and more sexualized. Whether it’s push-up bras for 12-year-olds, or thongs for ten-year-olds, it can be pretty challenging to find seemingly “appropriate” undergarments (and outer-garments) for our daughters, even when we stay away from the official “lingerie” section. And, around Valentine’s Day, it seems as if pressure is especially high for our daughter’s to “do something sexy” or dress sexually for the guys around them.
Additionally, our daughters, and our culture idolize women like Rihanna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. One just needs to take a look at the Super Bowl half-time show to understand that the media is pushing our daughters towards sexualization, conveying that their value comes only from their sexual appeal and sexual behavior. The women our daughters look up to and the shows that they watch often objectify women—leaving our little girls to believe that they are objects meant for others’ sexual use.
I mention this because our daughters are, in part, products of the culture we allow them to be exposed to, and around Valentine’s Day, they push the limits to gain the attention and affection of the guys around them all the more.
As parents, it’s important for us to be involved in regular conversation with our daughters about what is going on in their lives—in whom they are interested in and whether they want to date a particular boy. Engaging in regular, honest conversation about sex and boundary setting will help your daughter understand where you are coming from when you tell them they can’t keep that sexy underwear or lingerie that you found. Recognize the pressures that your daughter is facing to “keep up” with the culture and with the girls that are sexually active in their class. Provide your daughter with a listening ear, but also remain firm and, if necessary set new rules and boundaries to help your daughter stay out of trouble.
Also, once you’ve honed in on your daughter’s intended audience, then it’s a good idea to talk with that boy’s parents and also that boy. Help them to understand that you are concerned that they may be planning on being sexually active, and explain that you don’t want them to be left alone, without parental supervision or with doors closed.
In the end, kids will be kids, and chances are, if they want sexy underwear, at some point they will find a way to get their hands on it. Don’t be naïve in thinking that they may not have a rather forward use for that underwear, rather than just being able to wear something for themselves that’s “cute”. Help them to understand that what they wear communicates a message to those around them, and that, if they are Christians, then it’s worth thinking through how that message can honor God. Likewise, what they do with their bodies matters—both to you and to God, and you want to help them to walk in a way that honors the Lord. Ask them how you can help support them towards purity, and consider looking over some of our helpful information in “The Talk” regarding how to have ongoing conversation with your daughter on matters relating to purity, sex and pornography.