Dads: Birds and the Bees Talk Not Just for Sons

By on Tuesday, 25th October 2011

How did you learn about the birds and the bees? A new study reveals that a vast number of daughters say dads should do more to prepare them for sex and dating.


Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, child and adolescent psychologist and “Early Show” contributor, joined “Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith to discuss how important it is for dads to be in on that sometimes awkward, but always beneficial, conversation.



According to Hartstein, having “the talk” early in this day in age is very important.



“We have so much research that supports the fact (that) starting it early and having it continuously protects all our kids, daughters and sons, from making bad decisions in relationships, sexually, posting inappropriate pictures, sexting — all that stuff has to start as early as your kids start talking to you about it,” she said.



Harstein says the “exhibitionist kind of culture we have now” — where kids are putting inappropriate pictures on Facebook, sending them to one another and having them go viral, and not giving it a second thought — has to be included in the big picture.


So how does the new study break grown in terms of the assumptions we have long held about male and female roles and parents’ relationships with their sons and daughters?


“The talk in and of itself is a protective factor,” Hartstein explained. “What the girls really reported was that having their dads more involved teaches them what to look for more appropriate in a relationship, so they are going to have better communication with men, have better trust in men because their dads are part of it in teaching them kind of what a caring man looks like and can be a dad or father figure, a strong male influence to be that person, to teach them how to say no if they want to say no. How to set limits when they want to set limits and do it comfortably.”


“Was there an actual direct correlation then between the young women who had conversations with either their fathers or step-fathers or significant male in their life and the kinds of behaviors they engaged in?” Smith asked.



“It definitely decreased any sort of sexual acting out, risky behaviors, they used contraception more, they were able to stand their ground and set limits more effectively. So, it did have a direct correlation to their actual behaviors and it actually opened up their ability to just talk about sex with their partners, which so many young women do not do at all,” she said.



What can get fathers, who traditionally back off of this role, do to start off this important conversation?



Hartstein pointed out it’s important for fathers to be able to just be in the moment with their daughters and have mothers help create opportunities for them as well.



“The first thing they need to do is just listen. Listen to what your daughters are saying. Listen to how they are talking about themselves. Listen to what they’re saying about their lives. And get involved in that,” she said.


Secondly, Hartstein suggests talking to them and get involved in their school, their extracurricular activities, and be around and available as much as you can.


Lastly, Hartstein said, “You really want to teach and model respect to your daughter…so that they feel that internally, and can put that to use in any relationship they have.”


“You want to kind of be a fly on the wall, but be involved at the same time. So, you want to just be a present presence all the time essentially so that they know you’re there and you’re listening and they’re not afraid to share with you when you need to,” she added.



Smith points out the “real bottom line in the whole thing is fathers need to really get involved with the young women in their lives.”


“They are as much a protective factor if not more in many ways and their involvement is really underestimated. So the more involved they are, the better off they set their daughters later,” Hartstein said.

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