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I am a father of 3 beautiful daughters, all of whom are 7 or under. If they are anything like their mom, I know they will grow up to be beautiful women (both inside and and out).

One thing that scares me already is boys. I know based on how my gender thinks that a lot of them, especially in the teenage years, have one thing in on their minds when it comes to their relationships with girls. I don't want my daughters to fall prey to these kind of guys.

Even if my daughters do find a boy that actually cares for them, I would still prefer they remain abstinent till marriage (both for religious reasons and personal preferences).

I found some good articles on how to talk to teenagers about abstinence.

But my question is how can I live my life as a man and a father when my girls are still some years away from getting their first menstrual cycle to inculcate in them that they will not choose sex in those early years?

Should I spend more time with them, should I give them more physical affection, should I speak to them now about sex and boys, should I myself try to practice more restraint and self-control in my life?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    How broken-hearted would you be if they decided to NOT be abstinent? Are you willing to talk to them about alternatives to abstinence as well? These two factors will vastly change your approach! But One thing I would like to note already: No matter what you do, not not make them SCARED of sex. They need to be able to make an informed decision, rather than panic and be scared to talk about it when a potential Significant Other brings the topic up. – Layna Dec 13 '17 at 15:01
  • Please remember to use comments for asking about clarification -- if you're answering OP's question, write an Answer :) – Acire Dec 13 '17 at 17:51
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    Would you be ok with rephrasing the title into “... who should be...” or similar? I don’t think you can really predict the future, no matter what your principles and beliefs are. – Stephie Dec 14 '17 at 11:32
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You really can't talk about abstinence to a 7 yr old. You will have to wait till they are at least 11 to have that talk. What you and your wife can do now is to get involved in their lives and give them unconditional love and support.

Try to make sure that they are free to talk to you/your wife about anything which happens in school. Their friends, their problems, their teachers, anything. Make sure you listen attentively and don't judge them or advice them unless they ask (exception being some major problem which goes against your faith or principles).

As they grow older, you can have the talk but focus on why it's important to you. You can mention religious reasons but instead of putting a fear that God will be angry if you do it , give examples of what can go wrong (neighbors/relatives who have faced problems at young age) so that they would understand why you are telling this.

Lead by example. Avoid any major fight with your wife when they are around. They need to understand that married life and family can be a very happy thing and something to look forward to in their future.

Don't prevent them from talking to boys or bringing her friends over to her house. Many overly strict parents have kids who rebel as soon as they get a chance. Tell them that they can have friends, they can even have a special friend who cares for them but they need to follow certain rules. Explain that there is a proper age for everything and this is the time to study and cultivate good friendships which will make their life easier in future.

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This is a simple answer to a broad question: treat your wife with the utmost respect, and behave in a manner consistent with what you're trying to teach them, i.e. keep the tenets of your faith. Also, it helps if the two of you parents are visibly happy!

If your daughters see that you walk the walk, that it works, and that you would never force your will on your wife, a 'boy' who would pressure them for sex will look very bad indeed to them, and will not be an example for love that they have seen at home.

No guarantees in life, but you asked.

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    This only seems to help when they are being pressured - it doesn't address when the girls want it as well? – Erik Dec 16 '17 at 11:43
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Let me address your question from personal experience, coming from a religious background, with a father who was not a good example in many ways, and with a husband who is everything my father should have been, and more, for his daughter.

When they start developing feminine characteristics, don't reject them. My father was extremely uncomfortable with women in general, so when I started changing from a little girl (cute, biddable, not threatening) to a young woman (alien, threatening) he didn't react well. He once caught me plucking my eyebrows and it threw him into a rage. If I wore makeup he made me wash it off. This taught me that there was something shameful and bad about being a woman, and that growing up brings rejection and had cost me his "love".

Please, show appreciation for your daughters' attempts to grow up. Tell them they look pretty. You might even read some of the more popular guidebooks for girls on how to dress, etc, so that they know you are interested and you can stay informed. If you are worried that growing up means the possibility of unmarried sex, it may cause you to unconsciously reject their growing femininity.

This may sound a little unlikely, or irrelevant to your question, but if your daughters perceive you disapproving of their femininity (makeup, dating, dressing like the other girls), when you talk to them about abstinence, it will just be "one more thing that dad disapproves of". If you can embrace the idea of your daughters becoming young women, and don't pick your battles over things that aren't that important, they know that this is different, and more serious.

You are going to be their first experience with masculine attention and appreciation. Many men are uncomfortable with that, but for your daughters' sake, if you are, please try to push past it. We don't want our daughters to feel their looks or dress are too important, but, especially to a teenage girl, it is very important. Tell them, with a hug, "you are almost as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside, and that's pretty beautiful."

Be conscious about how you speak about all women. If you disapprove, disapprove of their actions, not their appearance. Don't single gender sins out for special disapproval, and apply the same standards to men as to women. If you model respect for women to your daughters, they will learn that they should expect to be respected by the boys they interact with. And they will learn to respect themselves. Often, girls will allow themselves to be led into sexual situations because they are starved for respect or affection. As long as you provide plenty of that, they are less likely to feel they need to seek it from their peers. Note that I said need, not want. Teach them that they are deserving of respect, and that they have yours, and they will expect it from their male friends.

As a side note, I understand the dilemma you may face regarding birth control. If you explain about it, and do not express enough disapproval, it might feel like you are giving them permission to have sex. But if your daughters are ignorant of the need for it, there's more likelihood of a pregnancy, which is far worse than premarital sex. My personal compromise has been to let the schools take care of the sex education (if the material my daughter has been studying is any guide, they are quite thorough) and just stay out of it. I tell her "I hope you never have sex with a boy until you are married, but if you do, I hope you protect yourself".

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First, wait until they're older. At the very least, you should wait until they hit puberty; at this point, the only sex stuff you should need to talk to them about is to make sure that they know that they can always talk to you if a grown-up touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Second, once they get older, depending on how rational they are, you might want to talk to them about the downsides of becoming sexually active; leaving aside obvious things like pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the like, there are also mental and emotional downsides to becoming sexually active that aren't often talked about.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Please cite your claims. – mkennedy Dec 28 '17 at 2:47
  • @mkennedy Here's an infographic that displays different statistical facts, with references to the studies that they were pulled from. Is that good? i.imgur.com/IoeqiXb.jpg – nick012000 Jan 18 '18 at 9:48
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    @nick012000 - no, that image is definitely not suitable. It does not have well referenced facts, and is very obviously biased towards a particular religious view. I have deleted the final para of your post as you haven't backed it up. – Rory Alsop May 4 '18 at 7:28
  • @Rory Alsop - That image does have referenced facts. Did you read the scientific papers that it references in links at the bottom, some of which were made by the CDC? Please revert your edit, unless you mean to imply that the CDC isn't a reliable source. – nick012000 May 10 '18 at 4:03
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    I read the papers, yes, all of them, and that image is very much not a good source. It has taken a biased subset of statistics in order to create a specific message. So no, I'm not going to revert the edit. Not because I think the CDC is unreliable, but because the image is. – Rory Alsop May 10 '18 at 7:04
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This is a more complicated query than it may at first appear- daughters and abstinence.

It covers topics from religion and faith, sexuality and maturity, to pressure or guidance as well as questioning when the suitable time is to approach each of these as well as other areas.

Religion/Faith

I can only draw on what you've said and read into it as it's not outlined too clearly- but the point being, Abstinence itself has strong ties to faith and religion- it's possible to want Abstinence without being inherently religious, but the question is: is your family religious?

If you practice at all, either at home or by visiting a place of worship, I'm sure that they'll bring up the topic themselves at some point, or you could possibly inquire to see if there's anything that will be approached in the future.

As more clarity is needed in this field, I'll leave it at that.

Sexuality and Maturity

At their existing age, it's safe to say that the most they've heard of is boys kissing girls and that's hopefully it- their school will approach the topic themselves sooner than later and that's when it would be best to also approach things at home as well. They'll have questions, you can give answers. You may be able to find some literature to work through from the school, or through other avenues such as the almighty internet as well as potentially your Doctor if needs be.

It can give you an insight into some topics to approach and potentially how, without trying to enter the field at the age they are currently as this would either not be taken on board, or cause more trouble than actual help as it can be confusing and too much.

Bear in mind that there's every chance they'd be more comfortable speaking to their Mother about it, rather than their Father- this is very much an Apples and Oranges and case-by-case basis thing as this could be the other way around- but if they feel comfortable about it with you, there's no harm in that. Just be supportive and understanding and give them a chance to come to you in their own time and way rather than push.

They aren't at an age now where it's probably appropriate to worry or have any approaches yet, perhaps ask at their school when the topic is going to become involved and work your way from there. As they grow older and will understand more and in better detail what's being discussed, it could be that you won't need to expand on much at all, they'll draw more from your behavior and example as a familiar foundation than directly ask.

Pressure and Guidance

The whole process of someone learning the "ways of the world" as I'll put it- isn't always one of easy flows and a dynamic and wholesome experience. Some teachers, religions and families deal with the topic in drastically different ways. Some leave it entirely down to the schools, others down to their religious choices and some won't even approach the topic and just leave the kids to work it out themselves.

However, letting them know that you're there and you're approachable about it is what's important. You can't always help if one or both are shy and feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask things, but I'm sure your relationship is strong enough that if they want to, they will.

Throughout their development there's no telling precisely how they'll mature and behave- it could be that they'll rebel and throw the "shackles" as they could see it of religious and parental restrictions and push the boundaries, or they could move in the same steps as you and be sensible, there's no way of knowing.

What is important is giving them the chance to make their own, informed decisions, with the correct and relevant information available. Be fair and non-judgemental, it isn't just Boys that are the one's that push sometimes, there is such a thing as teasing (and the resultant issues that can cause!), if you do go that far here's how you can be safe, "no" is always an option, there's no rush to do anything, etc.

Ultimately a lot of it comes down to choice- they always have a choice, but you're their parents and are there for support, guidance, comfort and help. They can choose to do what they feel is right or what they want, but you're there to give advice if it's needed.

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Sorry for phrasing it like this, but you don't own your daughters. You can raise them in your religion, you can treat them with respect, you can treat their mother with respect so they know how it looks like, you can raise them with self esteem and strength so they'll have tools to reject unwanted advances, and you can provide them with accurate information about health, bodies, sexuality and relationships, but you cannot make decisions for them. You can only aspire to ensure that the decisions they make are informed and fully consensual.

PS: Abstinence-based education has been shown to increase the rate of teenage pregnancy and have no effect or even a little increase on the rate of transmission of STDs.

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