The Talk

On Man Up, a father and daughter kinda talk about sex.

A teenage girl talks to her father, who looks a little uncomfortable as he stares at the table.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images.

On a recent episode of Man Up, a dad named Adam was unsure how to talk to his 16-year-old daughter about sex. So he brought her on air, along with host Aymann Ismail. Their conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Aymann Ismail: So can we first just talk about how awkward this is for a second?

MG: My dad told me I was doing this a few days ago. Well, he asked me if—

Adam: I told you? I believe I asked you.

MG: You asked me if I wanted to do it, and I was: “Oh, I’m going to be famous now. I don’t know if I’m ready for all this,” you know? And I don’t know. It’s just kind of weird ’cause I didn’t know I was going to talk with him. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Adam: I was telling Aymann how difficult it is for me to talk about it because it feels like there’s all this—it’s just uncomfortable. Like the dad shouldn’t talk about it, don’t look at me right now. Aymann, we’re sitting in front—we’re like staring straight ahead, but we’re also staring into a mirror, so it’s like we’re sitting and looking at each other in the eye.

Aymann: MG was really graceful in giving us some tips on how to make this a little bit less painful. The first tip she had was to just keep it casual. That sometimes, when these things end up being too serious, it can be a little scary.

MG: It also just makes it significantly more awkward if you try to talk all serious when you’re just not normally serious. Talk about it like it’s a normal conversation.

Adam: This is a serious conversation, though.

MG: Yeah, but act like it’s a normal conversation and then it won’t be that weird.

Adam: OK. That’s a good tip. I know it’s always more natural to talk to your mom, but I always want you to know if you have questions about a guy’s perspective, or how a guy would see it, I’m there for you too, you know? I think I’m capable of having those conversations without making it too awkward because I do think a lot of guys can be clueless around stuff. I think maybe women underestimate how clueless guys can be.

MG: Yeah.

Adam: What do you mean, “yeah”? What do you mean?

MG: Guys can be stupid.

Adam: What do you mean, though? I’m curious.

MG: Just like, yeah, they’re like very clueless. You kind of treat them like they’re a little dumb sometimes, but it’s OK.

Adam: Yeah.

Aymann: The next thing that she suggested was understanding that this might not go your way, that if mistakes happen, that’s probably fine.

MG: Like, understanding that I might not want to take your advice. Like if you were to give me some advice about dating, I might be like, “Oh, like, what does he know? He’s my dad and he was on the chess team, so I mean … ” You know?

Adam: Oh, well, that means I think several moves ahead.

MG: Meaning I might not want to take your advice because I feel like me and you can’t necessarily relate as much, like from how you were when you were this age and me now. So, I guess, understanding that not everything might go exactly how you want it to and that that’s OK, if I make mistakes and learn from them.

Adam: Oh, yeah. Here’s the thing. I think the reality is you will, and I think your mother and I both know that, and it’s OK. I think what I always hope for you is that in the middle of that, you’re able to see the bigger picture, what’s going on with the bigger picture, and that secondly, that your mistakes aren’t, like, life-altering mistakes. I want them to be safe mistakes.

Aymann: So how do you guys feel?

MG: I mean, good. We don’t typically talk about this, so talking about it right now is like kind of …

Adam: For a national audience.

MG: It just feels kind of weird, but I feel like it’s a good thing that we talked about it.

Aymann: That’s a pretty good start. It obviously wasn’t the whole conversation, but to hear it from an expert, that’s just the right amount.

To hear the entire episode, subscribe to Man Up on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Look for the episode “A Father Tries to Talk to His Daughter About Sex.”