Give her plenty of opportunities to make choices. Don’t try to control every aspect of your daughter’s life; allow her to make her own choices as much as possible so she can develop critical thinking skills, grow in wisdom, and become more independent. Realize that allowing her to make decisions about things such as what music to listen to or how to wear her hair will give her the confidence she needs to learn how to make choices about far greater issues – like sex. Understand that teens often rebel by becoming sexually active; let your daughter know that she has the power to live her life without fear of being overly controlled by you. Show her that you respect her enough to let her grow.

Help her recognize and avoid abusive or addictive dating relationships. Talk with your daughter about what constitutes emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Get to know her boyfriend well and discourage any secretive, isolating behavior. Never hesitate to intervene when you suspect trouble. Be your daughter’s advocate, helping to protect her from unhealthy dating relationships. Help her make a complete break from any unhealthy relationship she may be involved in now. Give her new, healthy activities to focus on to replace the time and energy she had been spending on the relationship. Evaluate any new potential boyfriends carefully.

Offer hope if your daughter thinks she’s gay. Try not to react in fear or anger. Instead, pray for the wisdom and strength to talk with your daughter openly about the issue without driving her away. Reassure her that you want a close relationship with her no matter what. Be humble and compassionate as she struggles. Provide counseling for her to talk about her sexuality with a professional who can help her deal with her concerns.

Adapted from Mom, Sex is NO Big Deal!: Becoming Your Daughter’s Ally in Developing a Healthy Sexual Identity, copyright 2006 by Sharon A. Hersh. Published by Shaw Books, an imprint of WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Co.,

Sharon A. Hersh is a licensed professional counselor and the mother of two teenagers. Author of the acclaimed Bravehearts and three previous books in the Hand-in-Hand line for mothers of adolescent girls, Sharon is a sought-after speaker for retreats and conferences. She lives with her family in Lone Tree, Co.