It’s hard to imagine that your little girl is growing up. But even harder to imagine is that your little girl is having sex. For many parents, the easiest way to deal with the fact that their daughter may or may not be having sex is to simply live in a state of blissful denial.
You may believe that you have taught your daughter to practice abstinence, or believe that your daughter is so innocent (and doesn’t have a boyfriend) that she isn’t interested in sex. According to surveys of high school students however – the truth is that around 47% of all high school girls have or will have sex by the time they graduate high school. And according to other statistics on teen pregnancy (despite planned parenthood classes incorporated into schools), your daughter has a 1 in 4 chance of getting pregnant by the time that she is 18 years old.
A study conducted by Teen Magazine, showed that most teenagers – around 67% are not comfortable talking to their parents about sex. And of this 67%, around 93% wished that they could have an honest, non-judgmental relationship with their parents that would allow them to feel comfortable having ‘the talk’ with their parents. Bottom line, is that no matter how well you know your teen – there are certain things they aren’t telling you. And the teenager, high school sex scene is one of promiscuity that often involves alcohol and drugs, which easily cloud any ‘life lessons’ and morality that you may have taught your daughter.
So what happens when you daughter comes home and says, “Mom, I want to go on the pill?” Should you allow her to? If you do, are you condoning teenage sex? And, does your immediate negative reaction to the question automatically shut you out from having an honest relationship with your teenage daughter?
The first thing you should realize is the fact that your daughter was up front and honest with you – shows that she has a great deal of trust for you. More than half of all teenagers, would NOT feel comfortable talking to their parents about birth control. So while the statement may be shocking – it is also a bittersweet reminder that your daughter and you have a strong relationship. This makes your response to her request for birth control even more important.
The last thing you want to do is explode and ruin the relationship you have with your daughter. You WANT her to feel as though she can come to you. Sure, you might not like the manner in which you are being approached (or the reasons), but at least she is trying to be mature and take precautions. Plus, in today’s culture there are A LOT of girls who are actually trying to get pregnant, like – on purpose. So kudos’ to you for teaching your daughter how to be responsible.
You also need to use this as a time for you and her to have an honest conversation about sex. Chances are since she wants something from YOU – she will be more apt to sit down and listen to what you have to say. This is a perfect time to tell her some of the things that you have learned in your life about sex, and to share you own sexual experiences if you feel comfortable. The bottom line, is that you want your daughter to know the rules of the road when it comes to sex – and you want her to get her information from YOU, rather than from a group of other teens.
You should also realize that if you say No, or become angered by her request – that she CAN get the pill through other means. Today, there are plenty of health clinics and doctors that will write your daughter a prescription for birth control pill. But, the best thing you can do is make sure that she sees a gynecologist that you trust and respect, and that you are involved in her healthcare. Additionally, you should discuss with her that while birth control can prevent pregnancy – it does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases which cannot only be life threatening, but can threaten her fertility in the years.
Also, realize that saying yes to the pill – doesn’t automatically mean that you condone your daughter having sex. In fact, quite the opposite can be true. But just because you don’t agree with her behavior, doesn’t mean that you are going to stop her from having sex. (Especially if she already is). So saying no and forcing her to use her own resources to avoid pregnancy etc. is really taking a risk.
Perhaps the best approach initially, is to take a few minutes (or days) to think about the request. Rather than act from your place of immediate reactions (which is likely full of a mixture of emotions), take some time so you can think things through all the way. Her honesty speaks volume for what kind of girl you are raising. And, it when it comes to your daughter’s health and wellbeing as it pertains to sex – it is definitely better to know what she is doing then find out she had a botched abortion, or is hiding a pregnancy from you. So think. Step back for a minute and thoroughly digest the way you feel with what is the best thing you can do for your daughter in the long term.
Every parent wishes their daughter would wait to engage in sex for as long as possible – even till marriage. But in today’s world, that is an extremely vivid stretch of imaginative thinking. Very few people today are virgins on their wedding day, and the average age of consummation (or virginity loss) for females in North America is 16.4 years. Keep in mind however, that many girls today are not even in high school when they have sex for the first time.
If a girl is not mature enough to take care of getting her birth control , she is not mature enough to be having sex. Both my daughters obtained a prescription for the pill on their own, and I admire them for it, and ,of course, was also relieved that they are protected. It is so much easier now, than before the pill was invented and ,believe it or not, birth control was illegal in my state, MA. I think just as many kids were having sex in t he ’50’s,or almost as many, but the fear of pregnancy and our parents wrath, made us be very careful!
Another thing to remember is that health care professionals are required to provide children with not only information about sex but also medication to prevent (and end) a pregnancy if requested WITHOUT parental consent. In some states, health care providers are required to give reproductive health info/meds/procedures to children as young as 10 years old (most states limit is 12 years of age). I am a registered nurse and work ER/Trauma/ICU. Very early in my career, I had a 14-year-old female as a patient in the ER who had come in because she had had an abortion several days before and had started having heavy vaginal bleeding along with an elevated temperature and lower abdominal pain. Her parents accompanied her but had no idea that their daughter not only had been pregnant but had undergone an elective abortion. During the initial exam, the patient told the physician and I that she had had the abortion but did not want us to tell her parents. We were legally required to keep her pregnancy and abortion confidential. This made it very difficult for us because we needed parental consent in order to take her to surgery and repair the damage but we could not tell the parents the cause of the excessive vaginal bleeding. We were finally able to persuade the girl to tell her parents the truth, they gave parental consent, and off she went to surgery. Unfortunately, the surgeon was unable to repair the damage done to the uterus from the abortion and the infection that had developed. The patient ended up having to undergo a hysterectomy. As a parent, it is important to remember that children in the US are able to seek and receive reproductive health care without your knowledge or consent. In this particular scenerio, the patient did not feel that she could discuss sex in general with her parents (they were strict Catholics). Had she been able to talk openly and honestly with them, it is possible that she could have obtained some form of birth control and avoided getting pregnant in the first place. It is possible that the girl would still have her uterus and be a mother today. This girl’s situation brought home to me how important it is for parents to not only talk to their kids about sex but to start talking to them about sex EARLY. Because of that patient, my husband and I spoke very openly and honestly about sex with our own children. When they began to ask questions about sex, we gave them age-appropriate answers. Any of our kids (including the boys) could have taught their 9-year-old female classmates about menstrual cycles better than the teachers. Our children are now adults and they all tell us that our openness about sexuality is the reason they never had to deal with an unexpected pregnancy or STI/STD.