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Raising Black Girls in the Age of HIV/AIDS: How to Have a Smart Talk with Your Daughter

Posted by: Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, Imperative President and CEO on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 12:00:00 am

More than 25 years ago, I was a parent of an adolescent Black girl, and one of the hardest tasks of parenting then, as it is now, was having the smart talk with her. What I knew then was that my job was not only to provide a safe and loving home environment, clothes (mostly school uniforms), and delicious meals that I took such pride in, I also tried to teach my daughter how to believe in and take care of her body, have confidence, and make the right decisions.

I know times have changed since my daughter was a teen, but if you are a parent of an adolescent Black girl who is fast becoming a young woman, having that smart talk is long overdue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2008 that a quarter of girls aged 14 to 19 were infected with some type of STD, while 88 percent of girls with HIV are Black.

All that means is: Black girls deserve to have and understand accurate information about their bodies, sex, and STDs and HIV. It’s time! As parents, we cannot leave conveying this information to chance!

Our Daughters Need Us

The best person to talk to your daughter about sex and HIV is you. So take the opportunity on National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day, March 10, 2011, to have “the smart talk.”  Our daughters need us to offer guidance and information as they navigate their lives in this era of social media, technology, and pop culture that are inundated with messages of sex.

Growing Bodies, Changing Minds, Family Values

As far as the actual conversation, it may be that this is the time when she leads and you listen. Be alert to certain expressions and feelings and try to avoid harsh judgments. You want to get some basic points across, but it’s important that she feels comfortable and knows that you won’t overreact to what she says. Girls need to understand that changes in her physical appearance are normal and happen to all girls.

Beyond changing bodies, young adulthood brings the constant challenge for teens to make good, healthy decisions. Transition to teenage years may result in loss of trust and communication with parents. Your daughter should have a clear idea of your family values and how that might influence her decisions about her body.

It can be difficult for you to think of your daughter making a decision that is outside of your cultural or religious beliefs. I suggest spending some time thinking about what’s most important for you to share with your daughter and how you will present the facts. Perhaps what is most important for parents to remember is the love and guidance our daughters need from us.  Parents’ words and actions still play a pivotal role in fostering positive self-esteem in girls.

Stay Informed, Be Aware

Raising Black girls in this era of HIV/AIDS means that parents must stay informed, know the facts and be aware of their daughters’ pressures, school environment and social friends.  What I know now that I didn’t know then is that sexual curiosity doesn’t change much from generation to generation. I’m glad that I had the courage to have that special “smart sex talk” with my daughter.  Today, I encourage her to have a smart talk with the adolescent girls in her life.

To find resources that will help you stay informed, I invite you to visit our two Web sites, BlackWomensHealth.ORG and ELEVATEConversation.ORG, to learn more about HIV/AIDS and find tips on how to ELEVATE the conversation about HIV/AIDS with your family and friends.  


Ms. Hoytt - this is the right blog for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Thank you encouraging our mothers to talk to our daughters. Too many times women simply aren't doing it because of fear. I'm a teacher and I recently had a meeting with a mother and father whose daugther is being treated for an STD and they came to the school blaming us for teaching her about sex. I couldn't believe it. I talked to the young girl and who was simply seeking love from her parents who are going through a divorce and she wasn't feeling loved so she sought love in the arms of an older student. She told me that she didn't want to have sex but needed to feel needed. Parents are so concerned that if they talk to their kids about sex then they will have sex. This is sad thinking, especially in 2011 with HIV on the rise. Thank you and everyone at the Imperative for working so hard to educate our mothers and daughters.
Posted by: randi on March 11, 2011 at 10:10:00 am

This is really great I surely promote you for encouraging this to our young people. i have been doing this as a Health /Parent educator for years. God Bless you all. Nurse C.Williams, M.A.
Posted by: Crystal Williams on March 11, 2011 at 9:41:00 am

In this day and time we as parents must have on going conversations with our daughters about choices. We must talk to them about how choices determines our destiny. We must also be an example of being good choice makers.
Posted by: Landy on March 10, 2011 at 1:37:00 pm

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