Today I am thinking about my teenaged daughter’s sexual health.
This has been on my mind for a long time but in the last few weeks, since she told me about her “new big brother,” I have been trying to find a way to talk to her about boys and what their intentions and expectations may or may not be.
The “big brother” in question is a boy she met over Memorial Day weekend while visiting a friend. He’s seventeen — my daughter M is fourteen. This boy has already had at least one fourteen-year-old girlfriend… though I don’t know how intimate they were.
Apparently the boy is moving away soon to go to college. I’ll admit this is a bit of a relief for me because I see this friendship progressing rapidly and I worry that it could grow into more than brotherly affection. I’ve been very forthcoming with my concerns while trying to remain calm and rational. Although it’s been difficult, I feel that I have done a good job of being open to listening.
I know this is normal and we all go through it but I want to try and make sure she is prepared to do it safely, and on her terms.
I am painfully aware that M is quickly approaching the age where she won’t be able to resist the primal urge of her loins, and she will either pursue a sexual relationship or will give into pressure from a boy that she likes. I know this is normal and we all go through it but I want to try and make sure she is prepared to do it safely, and on her terms. I was unable to take charge of my own adolescent sexuality and my adult relationships have suffered as a result.
What parent doesn’t want the best of the best for their children? How do we strike balance between helping them achieve their goals while not imposing our own goals upon them? Expectations are normal and healthy; demands are not. As such, I refuse to take the stance of abstinence. I think it’s cruel and unrealistic and I will not demand it of my children. Instead, I want to make it easy for them to obtain information and birth control.
I contacted Planned Parenthood today to ask for advice and information on how to introduce my daughter to their services. They were incredibly warm and easy to talk to. The woman I spoke with confirmed that their services are confidential and if M were to go to them for any reason, she would be helped without having to call her parents. The lady also suggested that I allow M the responsibility to set the initial appointment.
Of course, I would like to be involved in M’s sexual health — my field of knowledge is reproductive health, pregnancy, and childbirth. However, I know that it can be uncomfortable to talk to your own parents about sex.
So, I will give her the reins to her own sexuality and not impose my own expectations and beliefs. She’s a very smart young woman. She knows how to make good choices. Most importantly: I trust her.