DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter talks to me about her life, including telling me about what her friends are doing relationship-wise. For the most part, they are still “innocent” -- meaning no sex, at least among her close friends. What they call “hooking up” is what my generation used to call “making out,” i.e. kissing and touching.
I’m relieved to know that my daughter hasn’t taken it further. She tells me she hasn’t met anyone yet to even do the hooking up with, but it feels inevitable. I’m trying to remember my teen years so that I can stay cool. I haven’t told her to wait until marriage or risk going to hell, but I do want her to wait. How can I convince her that she doesn’t have to rush into anything? -- Coming of Age
DEAR COMING OF AGE: Rather than instilling fear into your teenager, which rarely works in a healthy manner anyway, talk to your daughter about her body as her sacred vessel. Tell her that if she thinks of her physical being as precious, it will be easier for her to resist the hormonal temptation to be intimate before she is ready. Recommend that at the very least she refrain from sexual activity until she is in a committed relationship where she and her partner love each other. Note that it takes time and experience to reach that level in a relationship.
Meanwhile, it’s OK to hook up occasionally as she is discovering herself and her interests. Just be mindful of what her limitations are, and encourage her to make them known to whoever she is with. Also, remind her that she can always come to you to talk or for help without judgment.