Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Guiding Your Daughter Into Womanhood

Guiding Your Daughter Into Womanhood

Robin Jones Gunn and Jenny Coffey stress that Mom should be the safest person in her daughter’s life – where the conversation about puberty and development can be ongoing. The duo explains that a girl’s self-image and self-esteem will be profoundly impacted by how parents navigate this child’s first exposure to sexuality. Robin and Jenny also describe how moms can initiate the “sex talk” conversation with their daughters.
Original Air Date: July 20, 2023

Preview:

Jim Daly: Welcome to another edition of Focus on the Family. I’m Jim Daly, and today we’re gonna address a rather sensitive subject, uh, something not suitable for young ears, so certainly put your, uh, earbuds in or listen later, uh, whatever is comfortable for you. But the topic is certainly something you should listen to. It’s on puberty and, specifically, daughters and moms, and how do moms constructively talk about this subject, uh, prior to a young girl encountering that significant change that is going to occur? Obviously, I’m no expert in this topic, (laughing) but I’m grateful that, uh, we do have experts in here. I had two boys, so I am way out of my element on this one. But, first of all, we have Jenny Coffey. Uh, she is here with us. She’s a marriage and family therapist and member of our very own counseling team. Um, she’s also mom to four children, three girls and one boy. What are their ages, Jenny?

End of Preview

Jenny Coffey: My oldest is 11, then 10, and then my son is eight, and my youngest daughter is six.

Jim: So you’re living this. You’re right there (laughs).

Jenny: Oh, we’re in it. We’re in the middle, yeah, yeah, very much, yes.

Jim: That’s funny. We also have the wonderful author Robin Jones Gunn. Uh, she is an author, speaker, podcast host, and she’s probably best known for her Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series of young adult novels. That’s pretty good. Well done. Uh, Robin has two grown children, including her son Ross, who is also, uh, running the video stuff for us, I think, somewhere (laughing). So, uh, he is a great young man. Robin and Jenny, welcome.

Robin Jones Gunn: Thank you.

Jenny: Thank you.

Jim: It is so good. And let me tell you, Ross is a great young man.

Robin: I like him.

Jim: We enjoy having him here (laughing). You did a good job raising that lad. Um, unfortunately, John’s not here, so I get the duty of all of it today. I will not have lunch with John because of that (laughing).

Jenny: Yeah, he doesn’t-

Jim: Isn’t it a little interesting that he chose this topic not to show up for?

Jenny: Uh-huh.

Robin: Yeah, we were wondering about that.

Jenny: Very convenient, yeah.

Jim: Yeah, yeah, no kidding. I’m going to go after him when I see him in the hall, “What happened to you?” He probably, you know, (laughing) had a bad hair day.

Jenny: Yeah (laughing).

Jim: Well, let’s start by describing the important relationship between mother and daughter. Uh, Robin, you say a mom should be the safest person for a daughter-

Robin: Oh, absolutely.

Jim: … but that’s not always the case, uh.

Robin: No.

Jim: What do you mean and what does safe look like?

Robin: It’s that the mom has made the initial attempt to start this relationship, this conversation, as the daughter’s getting older so that the daughter will feel comfortable always being able to come to her mom with questions and that it’s set up so that the daughter has that place of, “Well, I heard this at this school, but I can go home and ask my mom-”

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Robin: … and so that she becomes that haven for her, really.

Jim: Yeah. No, it’s good. Jenny, describe, uh, your relationship with your mom.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: How did that work?

Jenny: Yeah. So my mom definitely was my safe person growing up. Um, I’m so grateful for … she’s such a gentle soul. She’s (laughing) she is truly like the, um, what is it, is it Suzy Homemaker? What do people say?

Robin: Yeah (laughing). It used to be. Yeah.

Jenny: What is that? Was that the phrase? Okay. Um, yeah, she was very Suzy Homemaker and, uh, uh, in a loving, wonderful way. Um, and so I always knew, as a kid, she was very much that nurturer and my dad was … they very much took traditional gender roles, absolutely. And so, um, that was one of those things that, in anxiety or any of those types of things, I always ran to my mom and, and she felt like a safe place for me.

Jim: Yeah. Robin, we’re basing this off your book, uh, Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman, which is filled with great insight. We’re not going to be able to cover everything. This is more of the discussion around the topic.

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But, in there, in that book, you describe a listening language, something you use to improve the conversations with your children. I’m sure that applies to both sons and daughters-

Robin: Yes.

Jim: … especially in their teen years. Uh, what is listening language?

Robin: Well, actually, it came about naturally, was when our son was in high school and he came home from school and I asked him, as moms always do, “So how was your day? What happened today?” And-

Jim: You got more than a grunt?

Robin: … this time, (laughing) he just had lots to tell me, and I realized, if I interrupt him, like I often would, or if I’d say, “Well, that’s not fair. You need …” You know, I was trying to solve his problems for him, then he would just stop talking and it would become sort of shifted on to me to do something about it. So this listening language kind of kicked in where I just, just had eyes only for him and just said, “Hmm. Ah. Oh. Hmm,” and so that he could keep going. So that listening language is just being so attentive. And then I had three questions that came very naturally after that. The first was, “How do you feel about that?”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Robin: That’s a great question for sons because it’s just like, what, three emotions? “I’m angry. I’m … (laughing).” But let him be able to formulate, “Well, I think it wasn’t fair.”

Jim: Well, it’s open-ended.

Robin: Yeah. “I feel like I got ripped off or …” And so then, uh, the next question was, “What do you think should be done about that?” And he kind of went, “Well, I thought maybe you could … well, I thought … well, uh …” And then, when he had sort of a solution to the problem, I said, “And what are you going to do about that?” so that I’m helping him mature and become the one who’s solving his problems and moving forward.

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: So, with daughters, same thing, there’ll be a lot more words and emotions (laughs).

Jenny: Yes, yes, yes.

Jim: Really?

Robin: Oh, yeah (laughing).

Jim: So in that in … describe that daughter conversation being different from a son’s, because, again, I, I raised two boys so I’ve never really had that father-daughter conversation. They just-

Robin: Well, it has to be, yeah, that you are all present, so you’ve put everything, uh, else aside and just, “Okay, tell me, what are you thinking and, you know, what are you feeling?”, but just that I’m listening to you completely. And, again, it goes back to that, “Oh, my mom really cares about me. She’s a safe person I can go to and talk to about these things.”

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: When our sons and daughters are young, ages eight, nine, 10, I’m trying to think when I … I think I took Trent out for the big talk like at about 11, 12.

Robin: The big talk.

Jenny: The big talk. Yeah.

Jim: And it was only a year later, I figured, if big brother’s on to things, that I got to get little brother up to speed a little quicker-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … so I think it was probably nine, 10. And, you know, talking to sons, I mean, basically, it was, “Oh, Dad, that’s gross.” That’s kind of where it went with them (laughing). Not having daughters, I didn’t have that chat. When you’re counseling or talking with moms, what are the ages that you would recommend today, with the culture as it is, that you have that chat with your daughter?

Robin: I think we would agree-

Jenny: Yes.

Robin: … it’s eight, eight or nine, or you’ve missed an opportunity.

Jim: See, that’s shocking to me.

Robin: It, oh, it is.

Jim: It seems so young.

Robin: It is.

Jenny: They say eight is too late.

Robin: Yeah.

Jim: Well, now, in schools, boy, if your child’s in a public school, they’re definitely getting exposed to it.

Robin: Right.

Jenny: And, really, what you’re wanting-

Jim: And Christian school too, to be honest.

Jenny: Oh, 100%. Right.

Robin: Yeah.

Jenny: What you’re wanting is you’re trying to beat them finding out somewhere else, and that sounds … I don’t mean that to sound anxious, like don’t feel anxious about it, but really trying to have the deeper conversation before they would hear an in-depth conversation at school or through friends, which really isn’t probably going to happen until third or fourth grade, where it would be really in depth. They’re going to hear things probably, um, but, yeah, I think we agree, eight or nine.

Jim: Yeah. I mean, that, again, it feels, oh, it feels so tragically early, right?

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Robin: Well, it used to be fifth grade was the year for the big talk-

Jenny: Right.

Robin: … and many schools have now moved it down to fourth grade-

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Robin: … just because-

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: … in our Western culture, health, bodies changing, developing-

Jenny: Yes.

Jim: See, I react to that because, man, at that age, I don’t think a school should be talking about that. That should be the parent.

Jenny: I was in fourth grade.

Robin: Yeah.

Jenny: I’m 35-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … and mine was fourth grade.

Robin: Yeah.

Jim: Fourth grade, I mean-

Jenny: So, I mean, that wasn’t, that’s not that new of a shift-

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: No.

Jenny: … to fourth grade.

Robin: But that it has to be the mom’s initiative to say, “I want to start this convers-”

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: Yes. Right.

Robin: … and that’s the main thing that we have to remember. You’re not having the talk. It’s not just one and done. It’s you’re starting a conversation so that, as a mom, you’re building the bridge so that your daughter can feel comfortable walking back and forth, as years go on, and develop that relationship. Too many moms that I talk to said, “Well, what I did is, ‘Here I am on womanhood side and there’s this river between us,’ and I just told my daughter, ‘Hey, if you have any questions, (laughing) just let me know.’” And-

Jim: Probably not too helpful.

Jenny: No.

Robin: No, because then the daughter is put in the position that she has to be the adult and start building the bridge. So moms need to be the ones to say, “I’m going to, I’m going to take that step so that you feel safe again-”

Jenny: Yes. Yes.

Robin: “… and that you can come back at any time. The bridge is open.”

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: We’re at this point, I was going to ask this in a moment, but your experience as a young girl-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … was not a very positive one, which is one of the reasons you say you wrote the book-

Robin: That’s true.

Jim: … to help other moms do better than your mom did.

Robin: That’s true.

Jim: Not to be too … you know, we’re only equipped to do what we can do-

Robin: Yeah.

Jim: … and I’m sure your mom didn’t have a great instruction from grandma would be my guess.

Robin: Exactly.

Jim: And so … but what were some of the contours of that, uh, moment for you, and how, how she failed, if I could say it that way?

Robin: Well, I was terrified. I was only 10 years old and my body had begun to change and then, here I am, I don’t know what’s happening. And I, finally, after two days, went to my mother in tears and said, “I think I’m dying,” and when-

Jim: Right, ’cause your period had started.

Robin: Yes.

Jim: You’re bleeding.

Robin: Yes.

Jim: But nobody had talked to you.

Robin: I had no idea what it was.

Jim: That’s, that’s tragic really.

Jenny: That is.

Robin: Yes. And so my … I can just see the moment. My mom was adjusting the heat on the wall (laughs) and she said-

Jim: Huh.

Robin: … “Oh, you’re bleeding? Well, go get a Band-Aid.” And I said, “I don’t think that would help,” and she said, “What’s the problem?” And I kind of pointed and she said, “Well, don’t you know what that is?” And that established this sense of shame between-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: … my mother and I that, anything in the future, I had to figure it out.

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: Like, “I, oh, I, I’m 10. I should know these things.” And then she just provided supplies, shut my bedroom door, gave me a little booklet held together with a single staple, and I just learned about body parts. And then we, she told me to come set the table for dinner after I’d taken care of myself.

Jim: And that was the last time you chatted.

Robin: That was it, ever, yeah, ever.

Jim: That’s such an island.

Robin: And so then I was really determined-

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: … with our daughter, I’m going to set aside a time where I am making it a celebration. God made you this way. Your body is doing what it’s supposed to do. Since the beginning of time, every single woman, this is, this is so that you can nurture and bear new life. Wow. Let’s get excited about that-

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: … and really make it so that she feels the honor of being a woman. And it turned everything around in, in her generation for, I’m sure, just many, many generations of shame in our family so that there was this chance for her to have this deep sense of, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Robin: “God made me just like this.”

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: Boy, that is really good. You’re listening to Focus on the Family. I’m Jim Daly talking to Robin Jones Gunn and Jenny Coffey. Uh, we’re talking about Robin’s book, Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman, and you can call us here at 800-A-FAMILY to learn more, or visit focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Now, Robin, you did reconcile with your mom.

Robin: Yes.

Jim: So how did that go, and did you actually get that out on the table? “You remember, Mom, when I was 10 and this is what-”

Robin: No, I never talked to her about that, but I had, I knew I was holding in all this kind of bitterness that I didn’t have a relationship with my mom. As a young teen, “Oh, I like this boy,” I couldn’t tell her.

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: I had to figure out everything on my own. So then, when I married, I have a couple kids, and I realized (laughs), a couple things I was doing, I was turning out just like my mom, and with these-

Jim: And that scared you.

Robin: Oh, terrified me.

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: And then I realized I don’t want this soul wound to not get healed.

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: I need to go to counseling, which I did, which really helped, and then I was able to forgive my mom fully and move forward, and it put me in the position to say, “I can go to her. She, the bridge is not there, she didn’t choose to come to me, she’s still not coming to me, but I can go to her.” And I would, every time I talked to her on the phone or see her, I would tell her, “I love you, Mom.” And my mom’s still alive, she’s 95, and for years, going to her, being the one to say that, and then that beautiful day when I heard it back, “Love you too,” just kind of small. And, just two weeks ago, my husband and I were visiting my mom in the retirement home, the nursing home where she lives, and I, I always lean over and give her a kiss goodbye and te-, and look her in the eye and say, “I love you, Mom.” And, this time, we said, “Well, we need to get going,” and I’m picking up my things and she said, “I love you so, so much.” And I went over and gave her a little kiss and told her I loved her, and we were leaving and my husband took my hand and he said, “You heard that.” And I just thought, “Everything’s redeemable. Like God can do anything.”

Jenny: Yes. Yes.

Robin: But, as the mom, that when I was a mom, the gift of being able to start that closeness and relationship with my daughter early has then healed a- all the way across the board.

Jim: Well, I mean, one of the big differences perhaps in that is spiritually, being aware, being in tune-

Robin: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jim: … being a daughter of the Lord. That’s how the bondage is broken.

Robin: Exactly.

Jim: … is through that commitment.

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, we need to emphasize that-

Jenny: Yes.

Jim: … so you don’t have to continue to live in those chains, uh, metaphorically.

Robin: Well, I’m sure, in counseling, you see that all the time-

Jenny: Yes.

Robin: … with the shame base that just is supposed to be the motivating-

Jim: Oh, without a doubt. In fact, Jenny, I wanted to ask you, ex- explain how children will imprint their first exposure of anything related to sex or their sexuality.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So often, when there’s a disorientation sexually, there was some event that-

Jenny: Yes.

Jim: … occurred in a child’s life.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It could be molestation, it could be exposure, a whole host of things.

Jenny: Yes.

Jim: But it’s amazing how we’re wired, even as little children, and how big an impact that can become-

Jenny: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.

Jim: … to set us on a spiral down-

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … as to our identity, who we are, our worth, our value-

Jenny: Yes.

Jim: … all of it.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It’s, uh, like a bundle, and I think, for girls, particularly so.

Jenny: Yes. I think it’s a way that the enemy tries to take something, like Robin was saying, that God created and, and just weave his way in there to create shame as early as possible because, if there’s shame, then there won’t be this growing into who God created them to be, physically, emotionally, mentally, all of it. And so I want to say, first, that this isn’t something where it’s like, oh, if you didn’t handle it well, that’s it. You’ve imprinted that and that’s done and that’s the way it’s going to be. But we do absolutely know that a child’s first exposure to anything sexual, whether it’s the talk or, or (laughs) anything, uh, pornography, that the way we handle it as parents is going to 100% impact the way that they view sex, whether it’s shameful or whether it’s just kind of a natural part of who they are.

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I think, too, for girls, trying to, you know, understand empathetically what they’re going through.

Jenny: Right.

Jim: Those changes are right there.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, again, they start their period. Th-, you know, their bodies are changing-

Jenny: Right.

Jim: … the contour, their breasts are developing, et cetera.

Jenny: Right.

Jim: Boys are a little more hidden. We get laughed at because our voice is cracking, you know.

Jenny: Right.

Robin: Right (laughs).

Jim: You don’t really see a lot other than that-

Jenny: Right.

Jim: … you know, a little bit of muscle development. You grow taller. You grow four inches your sophomore year.

Jenny: Right.

Jim: It’s not as dramatic, and not as closely related sexually, uh, that, that girls experience, I think. Is that fair?

Jenny: And it’s also not as sexualized.

Jim: Right.

Jenny: I mean, boys’ development is just not going to be as sexualized as, as female development.

Robin: Right.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. But so, again, girls are bearing a different burden-

Jenny: Right.

Jim: … becoming women.

Jenny: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: And how does a mom talk to her daughter about that? What does that sound like?

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Robin (laughs)?

Robin: Well, what I did with our is … so this worked so well with our daughter. She was a real girly, she still is, a real girly girl, loved tea parties, and so I intentionally set up a time where we could be just the two of us, and I got all the cute little cupcakes and had a little gift bag for her with all the supplies she’d need when she started her period, and she was 10 years old. And I sat her down, we had music going, it was just this lovely evening, just the two of us at home, and I said to her, “I want to be the first one to welcome you to womanhood. Your body’s going to change. I’m going to tell you a little bit about things you may be noticing already, and then I just want to celebrate that God made you this way.” So it was, as you’re saying, so entry level.

Jenny: Yes.

Robin: It wasn’t like, “I have to cover all the bases. I’m terrified. I don’t know how to explain this,” but it was rather just setting up that comfortable time. And it turned out to be so sweet because she was so relaxed to start asking the questions that weren’t the ones I would’ve thought she would’ve asked, but that was what was … “I heard at school,” or, “This, you know-”

Jenny: Yes.

Robin: “… friend of mine said …” so we could address all that. And then there were more conversations as we went on, but that established it. So, if you, if you don’t have a girly girl, that’s just fine, but it’s setting that time. Like maybe it’s hiking, and so, “We’re going to go out and take a picnic and, you know what, while we’re out here, I just want to talk about how God made everything for a purpose and He made your female body to nurture and bear new life, and I want to celebrate that that’s going to be happening and your body is going to be changing.”

Jim: In fact, what did your daughter say when you told her that? It’s pretty profound.

Robin: Well, she, this, it was really (laughs) amazing because she said, “Well, so boys don’t have that every month, do they?” And I said, “No,” and she goes, “And, and like even angels can’t have babies, can they?” “Nope, only a woman’s body is created by God to nurture and bear that new life.” She goes, “Well, then it’s an honor to have that (laughing) every month.”

Jenny: That’s cute.

Robin: I’m like, “I never thought that, but-”

Jenny: Like give it some time.

Robin: “… that’s good (laughing).”

Jenny: But it’s still cute.

Jim: But what … I mean, amazing, though, that, that she could comprehend that.

Robin: She saw it elevated. Yeah.

Jim: It’s too bad we don’t have that across the board-

Robin: Yeah.

Jim: … in schools and-

Robin: Yeah.

Jim: … in other places where they can learn that.

Robin: But that needs to be the mo- … it needs to be the parent.

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: And here’s the thing, if the mom is not present, not available, that then the dad can step up and do something just as personal, without being embarrassing, to just … and there was, when I was doing the research for the book, there was one really sweet story that came to me from a you-, a young woman who said that her parents were very open and always talked about sex at the dinner table, it was a very common thing, so she didn’t have any surprises. And then, when her mom was saying, “Now this is … we’re going to go shopping and get the things you need,” and she was going to take her for shopping for her first bra and just made it a whole girls’ day event, and then she said the, when the day came that she had her first period, her mom told her dad. When he came home from work, he had a big bouquet of flowers-

Jim: Aw.

Robin: … and he said, “I want to be the first man that gives you flowers,” and just-

Jim: Yeah, very sweet.

Robin: … you know, gave her a big hug and like what, what a founding that is-

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: … a grounding and that-

Jim: Well, that it’s positive.

Robin: … affirmation.

Jenny: Yes. Yes.

Jim: Yeah, that it’s not something you hide.

Robin: Right.

Jim: You don’t tuck it under the rug-

Jenny: Right. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: … so to speak. I, I’m thinking, I mean, I guess, for the mom that this is coming up, she’s got six, seven, eight-year-old daughter. I mean, the eight-year-old would be right there at the precipice.

Jenny: Right. Right.

Jim: Uh, describe, again, that on ramp, best advice you would have to create that language. You know, we’ve got just a few minutes left. I want to make sure that moms-

Jenny: Yes.

Jim: … really have that takeaway value, “So, okay, I need to do this.”

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What would you say this is?

Jenny: So we definitely say, and I can say this from experience and then also clinically, to let them lead the conversation. So I don’t mean that as let them be the parent, like what Robin was saying.

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But you have to open the door for that.

Jenny: Yes, 100%.

Robin: Exactly.

Jenny: So it is our job as parents to build that bridge-

Robin: Yep.

Jenny: … but then allow them, based off of maturity, based off personality, based off a lot of different factors that you’re going to know your child best, allow them to continue to lead the conversation. So you start it. You give them kind of the, the basics, the underlying of what it is that you want to address, and then let them keep going if they want to keep going. My oldest, oh, man, I mean, she’s me, and my second daughter is my husband, so that’ll be interesting (laughing) to see how the differences-

Jim: That’s another show (laughing).

Jenny: That’s another show. Um, but, my oldest, I mean, just went down the rabbit hole, way more than I was expecting, but all very … we were just laying in my bed, it was a very-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … ’cause the kids always say that our bed’s like a force field and it’s safe, so I love that.

Robin: Oh, that’s great.

Jenny: I love that they feel like they can come in-

Robin: Yeah.

Jenny: … and, and just be there. Um, but it was like a, um, Saturday morning, she just came in and, and we, we chatted and it was very comfortable because that conversation had already been segued into. And I think that would be the encouragement, too, is don’t make it this like, all of a sudden, the kids are like, “What are we talking, what are we talking about?” Um, so she kind of knew what it is that we would discuss, and then we just laid there and kept talking.

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: And I let her continue to lead based off her comfortability-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … ask clarifying questions. And so there’s the difference between, in my opinion, like the puberty talk and a sex talk. I think those are-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jenny: … somewhat different.

Jim: Yeah, I agree.

Jenny: We kind of had both-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … because she just kept going-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jenny: … but that was really based off of her … she’s my oldest, so I think maturity level-wise and just-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … “What about this and what about that and …” So we just … and it was so great. It was, it was great for me to feel like I could set that stage for her well-

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … and it felt like an honor to do that for her.

Jim: Yeah. Robin, you’ve written the book, you know, Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman, given what Jenny’s added to this, the, the, the discussion about it, how do you know you hit the goal?

Robin: Well-

Jim: What should the, the end, you-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … as the mom, she be going, “Okay, she’s got it?”

Robin: You’ll have evidence by how she continues to open up to you or-

Jenny: Yes.

Robin: … not open up, and then there’s always redos. There was one mom that wro-, reached out to me and said, “My daughter’s 17 and I think I just really blew it. There’s no hope for me.” And then she said, “What if I went back and just started a conversation with her now?” I said, “It’s never too late. Just tell her, ‘I wish I would’ve said something five years ago, 10 years ago.’” You know, and that turned out to just be the turning point in their relationship because now the 17-year-old, instead of rolling her eyes, was saying, “Yeah, I wish you would’ve too, but now can I ask you some questions? What was it like when you and Dad got married?” or these things.

Jim: Yeah.

Robin: So that it’s always redeeming what’s there. It’s never too late

Jenny: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jim: And you think about the, just the bombardment of the culture.

Robin: Oh, yeah.

Jim: I don’t know that you can do enough in this area to counterbalance the messaging that our kids are getting today.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So I’d say be courageous, both mom and dad-

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and do everything you need to do to prepare your kids, you know, spiritually, emotionally, and certainly physically.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Let me ask you, too, Robin, you compare a young girl’s heart to a treasure chest. Uh, let’s end there. What, what is the analogy?

Robin: Well, that you want to be making sure that the things that are going in that treasure chest are true jewels and that she will retain those and keep those, because friends at school or she’ll hear things and if she-

Jenny: Yeah.

Robin: … takes those lies and puts them in her treasure chest and says, “That’s who I am,” and her identity is becoming based on what’s not accurate. This is a mom and dad’s role, again, to be saying, “Here’s truth, and this is you. This is who God made you to be,” and putting that in her treasure chest, then that stays the rest of your life, you know. It really is where the … as individuals, we look there to remember who we are and what we are created to be.

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, again, I think you have to come up with so many metaphors and analogies for your kids to catch at age-appropriate levels.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And I remember, with my boys, it was about, you know, God’s got a great wedding present for you. It’s going to be awesome.

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But, unlike Christmas presents, you can’t peek (laughs). You know, that’s kind of the analogy I used (laughing).

Jenny: That’s good. I like that.

Robin: Yeah.

Jim: You can’t open this up on the corner-

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: … to find out you got the favorite Lego, right (laughing)?

Jenny: Right.

Jim: And they got it. I mean, it, you know, and thank the Lord, to my knowledge, they’re really doing pretty well in that area, and, and now they’re in their twenties.

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: And, you know, it’s, it’s the kind of connection you want to have, and, certainly, that’s true for daughters as well.

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Thanks for being brave enough to come on (laughs) and talk about this and helping me out a little bit here (laughing).

Jenny: You did great.

Jim: I was, I was a little nervous-

Jenny: Yeah.

Jim: … but you managed it for me very well (laughing). Robin and Jenny, really, uh, great content, a good program for moms particularly. Let me just add, if I could, about dads, what … you, you had that wonderful bouquet of flowers story a moment ago, Robin, but, you know, there are single parent fathers that have daughters. They’re probably feeling like they’re out of their element. Wh- what can a dad do to augment, even if mom is in the home-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … uh, a bit of this for her daughter? I would only say, in Jean’s experience, for example, her dad just … I think her mom kind of chastised her father getting too close, and so he like backed up entirely, stopped hugging the girls.

Robin: Oh.

Jim: And there, there was nothing fishy going on. It was just like a weird thing of the-

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … ’60s and ’70s-

Jenny: Right.

Jim: … that people did. But, you know, he just pulled back and stayed away from that-

Jenny: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … in every way. That’s not healthy either.

Jenny: Mm-mm.

Jim: Wh-, so what do you do?

Jenny: Yeah, I think speaking to … ’cause the majority of the people this is applicable to are going to be my generation, the millennial generation, and so I think that we’ve seen a real shift in parenting in a positive way, where-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jenny: … it’s much more collaborative than it was even when I was growing up. And so I would just really encourage dads like, yes, I do definitely think that moms, because they understand empathetically, are the ones who are going to like lead that conversation, but and, and so I had the initial conversation, but, honestly, in our house, it’s a very like … my daughter, my oldest, will talk in front of my husband just as naturally as me, and that-

Jim: Which is great.

Jenny: … just blesses me to-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Jenny: … I can’t even … it blesses me so much because I think that is so vital and it shows that she doesn’t have shame around it because, if she did-

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jenny: … she wouldn’t do that. And so those pieces, like you were saying, Robin, of you notice, “Okay, maybe we do need, uh, a do-over, or we do need to have a separate conversation-”

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jenny: … if you’re picking up different signals from your kids that it’s like, “Maybe this didn’t go like I thought it did-”

Robin: Yeah.

Jenny: … but, really, I would just tell dads, like, “You have arguably just as much power and influence as a mom does,” especially in this day and age.

Jim: Well, and I would say look for that ability to augment-

Jenny: 100%.

Robin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … what mom’s doing and talk about it ahead of time.

Jenny: Yep.

Jim: That’s a good idea. Well, I can’t recommend this book enough, Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman: A Mom’s Must-Have Guide. Robin, well done, way to go. And we want to get this in your hands if you can provide either a one-time gift or, even better, a monthly gift that helps us through the year. It’s what Jean and I do to support Focus on the Family. That would be really good, and we will send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. Robin and Jenny, thank you so much for being with us.

Jenny: Thank you, Jim.

Robin: Really, appreciate it. Thanks.

John Fuller: That’s how Jim Daly concluded this Focus on the Family broadcast, his conversation with Robin Jones Gunn and Jenny Coffey. And you can donate and get Robin’s book when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And, coming up tomorrow, Dr. Del Tackett is back in the studio with us to describe how you can engage your neighbors with the love of Jesus.

Dr. Del Tackett: Yes, we can have a good world view, but if it doesn’t impact the people who live around us, uh, then we’re not doing what the Lord wanted us to do and we’re going to see our culture continue to decline.

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

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Before Your Tween Daughter Becomes a Woman: A Mom's Must-Have Guide

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