I recently read a book I recommend for every parent of a teenage girl, or if your girls will soon become teenagers. A heads up: they all do eventually. The book is called Girls Uncovered. Now hear me out. It’s subtitled: New Research on What America’s Sexual Culture Does to Young Women.

There’s definitely a lot of research behind the work of the co-authors, both longtime OB-GYNs. One (Joe S. McIlhaney, M.D.) founded The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, while the other (Freda M. McKissick-Bush, M.D., FACOB) chairs the board of directors. Because the authors are physicians, there is a lot of medical information, especially regarding STIs (sexually transmitted infections), and the physical effects of promiscuous sex. To my own astonishment, I made it through these sections that read a lot like an A&P textbook. I’m not much into science, but I suppose when I’m really interested in the topic, I’ll put aside my dislikes. And I’m definitely interested in “covering” our girls (13 and 12).

McIlhaney and McKissick do provide a lot of information from their research regarding America’s pervasive sexual culture. Pervasive, when you consider a popular song among even middle schoolers is LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Many of the numbers are downright scary, like this one:

Sexually active teen girls are five times more likely to be victimized by dating violence than girls who have never had sex.
But they offer a lot of encouragement too:
Even when your daughter gives you a dumb, stupid, or blank look, just keep talking. You are probably influencing her behavior more than either you or she may realize.

Girls Uncovered is obviously written for parents of girls, and they write little of how “casual” sex affects boys. They claim that “sex is sexist,” that sex is riskier for young women than men, both physiologically and psychologically.

In a large-scale survey, men overwhelmingly said they engaged in sex for the first time because they were curious or “ready” for sex. Women, however, overwhelmingly answered that they did it out of affection for their partners.

I’m not sure society asked, but here’s what the author-physicians advise to change the sexual trends they unearthed in their research:

  • Society must recognize the important roles that parents fill in guiding their daughters through childhood, adolescence, and their young adult years.
  • Society needs to combat the frequent media lie that parental guidance is uniformly bad, intended only to keep kids from getting what they want.
  • Society also needs to stop repeating the lies that casual sex is good and even healthy.
  • We also need to expose the lie that cohabitation before marriage is a “healthy” or “intelligent” choice.
  • We can help girls grow up in an environment that doesn’t pressure them to meet a specific standard of physical beauty.

In case society isn’t listening, they also offer help for us parents who want to protect and inform our girls, including providing a healthy model of marriage and for fathers in particular to continue appropriately tickling, touching, and roughhousing the way they used to do before their girls started filling out.

Indeed, they comment that girls who spend time with and have good relationships with their fathers are likely to marry men like them. (“I want a boy just like the boy that married dear ol’ mom.”) I think I may be on the right track, since one of mine recently declared she wanted to marry a pastor. I must, through God’s grace, be doing something right. (“Butterfly kisses after …”)

Fathers (and mothers), though we might like to hide our girls away in a tower, the truth is that some guy may happen along and climb that tower. (Somewhere in here is a reference to Bernadette Peters’ character in Into the Woods.) What will she do then? We need to teach and … well, parent our girls. Drop what you can to be there when they wake up, when they get home from school, and when they go to bed. And eat dinner together. Those are easy steps to take. For more, read the book.

Add Health reports that children are more likely to be healthy, happy, and engaged in good behavior (avoiding risky behavior) if their parents are physically present with them at specific times: when they get up, when they come home from school, when they eat dinner, and when they go to bed.