My friends, a long-time married couple, have only one child, a daughter who is 17.  Their whole lives are set up around her, and their daily existence revolves around hers. There is no doubt that there is nothing more precious to this couple than their much-loved only daughter. They are over-protective, I think, but who could blame them?

Daughters are the most magical and fragile beings ever. In their teenage years, they tremble on the verge of womanhood: they’re this heady mixture of innocence, fresh beauty and emerging sexuality.

A couple of months ago, this much-loved and over-protected girl started dating a boy who lives in a neighbouring country.

And so, what did the parents do?

Much to my admiration, this couple got on the plane with their daughter to visit the boy and the family (at no stage did a shotgun enter the conversation). They stayed in a hotel near the boy’s family home and the two families began the process of getting to know each other, as did the young lovebirds.  Last week, the boy flew over to Phuket to visit my friends’ daughter, and he stayed at their house….and was welcomed with open arms.

As a mother of five who has made many mistakes and learned from them, I was completely blown away by this couple’s wisdom.   Because you cannot lock sexuality away in a box and hope that it will go away until the “right” time. Like it or not, our sexuality is an integral part of us, a living being that grows alongside physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development. Thus, the best we can do for our growing children is give them the emotional support they need for this stage of their journey, rather than stonewalling them with ridiculous empty threats.

Just as we teach our children to walk, use cutleries, cross busy roads and be independent, so too comes the job of emotionally supporting our children with their journey into discovering their adult selves. Sex as we know, is complicated, confusing and could potentially lead to lifelong psychoses and hang-ups.

If our children can’t talk honestly to us, seek our counsel, as they navigate this perplexing maze, who will guide them?

Teaching children about relationships is not about creating divides (the “Them” vs “Us” mentality), bur rather, it is about showing them how to build bridges to foster positive fulfilling relationships in the future, including with the opposite sex.

So dear Daddies who parrot this dumb empty threat (do you know how to shoot, by the way?), please think carefully about your daughters’ sexuality. Don’t let them down.