Adolescent Sexuality – One Dad’s Perspective

This post written by guest blogger Robert.

Dr. Rayne is graciously letting me hijack her blog for the day, for a chance to offer my thoughts and perspective.

As the father of daughters, I sometimes wonder what my role should be in helping them develop strong values and accurate knowledge about their bodies, their health, and their sexuality. Fathers are often shunted to the sidelines when it comes to talking about sex, many quite willingly. My partner and I sometime (half-) joke that the girls can come to me for questions about drugs, and to her about sex. But it’s a serious question. I want to be helpful, but what can I offer? It seems to me that fathers have three main responsibilities:

1) Get your own act together. To be able to be a role model and a resource, you need to have your own values worked out, and be up to speed on health and sexuality information. What do you think about teenagers being sexual? Is it different now then when you were a teenager? If your views and values have changed, why? And if your basic sex information is out of date or rusty, brush up. There are lots of good sites – like this one – that can help.

2) Respect your partner
. How you treat their mother will be their first, strongest model about how relationships should be. Your actions will stick with them long after your words have been forgotten. Treat your partner with respect and you are teaching them to demand respect from their future boyfriends and partners. If you are abusive, or even condescending or dismissive to your partner, your daughters will see that as normal behavior, and expect that in the future.

3) Show up. You may not be your daughters’ first choice when it comes to questions about sex. You may end up as their choice of last resort – after their mom, their fiends, their cousin, racy novels and online tabloids. But at least they to should know that you are there. Your willingness and openness are supportive on their own. Be honest and open, even when it would be easier to pass the buck.

As fathers we have a responsibility to our daughters to be present and positive. Your daughters will benefit greatly if you do your part.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Wonderful post Robert – thanks for sharing. I’d like to point out that you may not have sons, but sons will gain equally from all your points. We need to raise our daughters to have the expectation of being treated respectfully, we need to raise our sons to have the expectations that they will also be treated respectfully and must treat others respectfully as well. In this day of noticing how men treat women, sometimes we forget to also talk about how women treat men – if it is less than respectful, it is not okay.

  2. It’s great to hear a dad offer his thoughts here. I plan to share this blog with all the fathers of my OWL class this fall (OWL stands for “Our Whole Lives,” a human sexuality curriculum developed by Unitarian Universalists and folks from the United Church of Christ for all ages–K through adults–I teach the 27-week, 7-9th grade curriculum). Most information about how to help adolescents is directed at “parents,” but Robert highlights the fact that moms and dads have very different challenges based on the gender of their children. Thanks, Robert.

  3. Thanks Margaret. I appreciate the comment.

    I’d be interested in any feedback or comments from the class that folks have.

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