Your little girl is not so little anymore. She has been on dates with boys and you are fairly certain that she has kissed a few. But have the romantic interludes stopped there? You and her have had ‘the talk’ and you are pretty sure that she understands your position on the many dangers of having sex too young. She has a nice group of friends, and you haven’t seen anything that makes you think she is anything but virginal.
Then one day, she says, “Mom, I lost my virginity!”
According to many statistics the average age that a girl loses her virginity is 17 years of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 35% of high schoolers are sexually active and around 13% of the female population loses their virginity as early as 15 years of age. For girls who lose their virginity at 15 and younger, statistics indicate that the vast majority are with males that are at least two years older than them, and believe that the age gap in relationships among teens plays a major role in the age of virginity loss. In other words, if you are allowing your teen daughter to date an older male, the chances are higher that he will ‘pressure’ her to have sex younger. Sadly around one in every four sexually active teens contracts a sexually transmitted disease within the first year of having intercourse. The good news is that the trend in the United States since 1997 has been decreasing for teenage pregnancies.
One of the reasons that virginity loss is occurring younger and younger is because today’s western teen is hitting puberty at least two years earlier than in previous generations. And with puberty come the sexual hormones. Still, just because they are hitting puberty earlier and earlier doesn’t mean that their brains are more cognitively developed, which is why so many teens make such poor decisions.
The question is, once you know that your daughter is no longer a virgin, how do you respond?
The key here, according to experts is NOT to be judgmental. While you may be dismayed, disappointed, angry and even saddened that she has swerved from YOUR moral compass and teachings, the truth is the worst thing a mom can do is inhibit communication by making her teen feel judged. This is especially true when it comes to sex. The fact that she chose to be honest with you, (or that you found out) is a good sign that there is a great deal of trust and openness in the relationship. This is also a good time for parents to re-communicate the reasons that they are against premarital or young sex, and to ensure that your teenage daughter is taking the necessary pre-cautions and has the proper education from you in regard to her sexuality, sexual relationships and the risks and dangers associated with such. Sure, the conversation may be awkward, filled with eye rolling and signs of exasperation from your teen. But believe it or not, she IS listening!
This is also a good time to introduce them to another aspect of their womanhood and take them to the OBGYN for a check-up. Considering the prevalence of teen sexually transmitted diseases, and the impact they can have on her future and fertility – it is important to make sure that she is healthy. When you take her to the OBGYN, you can also ask for advice on birth control. For many parents, they believe that offering birth control is only condoning early sexual activity. However, what many parents fail to realize is that your child is likely to do it whether you like it or not. Especially if they already have. So it becomes in your best interest and theirs, to offer protection against pregnancy, which also can have a negative impact on their young life.
It is important that parents also understand the teen culture of relationships is very different from that of an adult. Your child may fall in love with one person this week and two others the next. Is your daughter planning to have sex with everyone she thinks she love? Does she know have a measure for deciding who she will have sex with in the future?
Teaching your teen daughter how to ensure she is in a healthy relationship (without abuse) is an important responsibility of parents. Planned Parenthood advises to ask your daughter the following questions so you and her can open the lines of communication that ensure she is with a male who truly respects her. Consider the fact that according to Planned Parenthood, 1/3 of females are in abusive relationships as teenagers.
- Do you talk openly about your feelings with each other?
- Are you able to work through disagreements?
- Do you listen to each other’s ideas?
- Are you proud of one another?
- Do you trust each other?
- Do you appreciate each others’ need for friends and family?
- Do you both admit when you’re wrong?
- Do you both forgive mistakes?
- Do you both compromise?
- Do you always feel safe around each other?
Remember that teenage girls can be easily swayed by older boys, and that ultimately you hold the permission slip which either allows or disallows a relationship. That being said, just because you know your daughter has had sex, doesn’t mean that she should be confined to her room until she is 30 years of age. While the sexual relationship may have occurred too young for your liking, the bottom line is that shaming her will only cause an onslaught of negative self image. Your number one priority should be ensuring that your daughter is safe. Do your very best to ensure that your daughter is in a safe relationship.
Growing up is hard to do! And this is especially true for mothers of teens. Your number one priority is to make sure that your response keeps the lines of communication open, because chances are this is one of the times in life when you will need to remain most vigilant and involved in her life.