Dear Dads: Your Daughter Will Grow Up to Have Sex. Deal With It.

When I was young, my dad had a running joke that he would not let me get married until I was 30, 60, or 90. He never said that to my brother. I always laughed it off because I knew he wasn’t serious. I married before age 30, after all. But my husband asked something similar about our daughter the other day that made me think.

“Why would I want to think about my daughter having sex in the future?”

That’s when I realized how pervasively men fear the thought of their daughters doing what grown folks do. Somehow, I am able to objectively look at my little girl and understand she will not always be so little. She will grow up and she will want to have sex. That thought does not frighten me. It’s a fact of life.

I’m not saying fathers need to picture the act. No. Please note I am also not talking about sexualizing our children. I am specifically referring to the avoidance of seeing daughters as full human beings. We prepare our girls for sexual activity by telling them not to engage in it, because we refuse to see it in healthy terms ourselves. We frame female sexuality in shame and negativity and male sexuality in terms of virility and positivity.

I have never heard any man say they hope their son grows up to have a small penis. However, I have often heard fathers say they hope their daughters do not develop large breasts or big butts. I remember when Kanye West said in his song “We Major, ” “Until you have a daughter / that’s what I call Karma / and you pray to God she don’t grow breasts too soon.” The natural maturation of a young girl into puberty is not “payback” for the sins of her father. A daughter’s sexuality is neither the shame nor burden of her father.

But I sought to answer my husband’s question as best I could. Why should a father want to consider that his daughter will have sex in the future?

In order for parents to steer their daughters into a balanced understanding of sexuality, we must broach sex not as a calamity to be avoided, but an eventuality to be prepared for. That means the jokes about sending her to a nunnery? They gotta go. We can encourage responsible sexual behavior, even religiously based behavior (i.e. abstinence until marriage) without shrouding sex in a cloud of dirtiness.

Our children take their cues about sex both from their parents and from their peers. Parents have to work overtime to counter the false narratives and myths about sex that kids inevitably share with each other. Girls whose fathers make chastity belt threats are not likely to approach their fathers for guidance about sex. Yes, Dads, there are decisions your daughters will need to make about having sex beyond just “Don’t have it until marriage.” Even though most fathers I know would be more than happy to delegate that conversation to Mom, girls still need fatherly input.

But this means you have to be mindful that your little girl will not always be so little. She will grow up and she may want to have sex. It’s a fact of life. There is nothing gross or disgusting about that simple fact. There is nothing shameful about her having breasts, a butt, or an attractive body. And furthermore, the negative mindset that we project on our daughters about sex will seldom prevent them from having it, anyway.

Dads, your daughters will become sexual human beings. Deal with it. She absolutely needs you to.

About Dara Mathis

Dara T. Mathis is a freelance writer and editor, the brains behind the lifestyle blog Truly Tafakari, and a lover of great homemade soups.

  • Erickka Sy Savane

    Excellent, excellent article! Yes, if father’s were to talk about sexuality with their daughters in a responsible way instead of just telling them not to do it and making them feel bad about their natural feelings towards the opposite sex, we’d have much more responsible young girls. I have two daughters and as they grow older, we will be having THIS conversation framed in this way. Thanks darling.

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  • Bijee

    Sending this to my husband!

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    • Harvey Pittman

      You should

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  • Val

    I love this. Thank you for writing!

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  • Dr. Beagleman

    Great piece. As a father of sons I want them to eventually fall in love with people who can be loved…without anxiety, fear or hangups. I love your thoughts here. Let’s all try to let our children grow up.

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  • mrzmlm


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  • BK37

    As the father of 2 girls, I have made some of these jokes in jest. That being said, I really don’t want to be the type of father who completely shelters them from sex as they get older. I went to school with women like that, and when they out from under their parents, they went buck wild. I plan on teaching them a twofold lesson in sex: abstinence (especially when they are in those early teen years) as well as comprehensive sex education. I want them to know the good, the bad, and the ugly so that they can make informed decisions vs. taking bad advice from their peers who may be clueless as hell.

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  • Harvey Pittman

    See its like this The Bible says in the book of Proverbs ” Train up a child in a way he should go. For they will never depart from it” With this on hand this is what you should remember in the future. That’s all I have to say

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  • e ray

    Nice article. As a father of two girls, I don’t want to deny them normal human feelings. However, I know how men in our society treat women and focus on their sexuality above all else. I want people to appreciate their personality and intelligence and not just the fact they’re developing boobs. Especially when they’re just going through puberty and are still kids, I don’t want them to have to grow up too soon and deal with longer-than-appropriate gazes from older men. I want to protect them as long as I possibly can. Once they are strong, adult women I am totally fine with it, it’s just the transition in between that I am going to have a problem with.

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