Ask Mommy: I Caught My Teenager In Bed With Her Boyfriend, What Should I Do?

Ask Mommy: I Caught My Teenager In Bed With Her Boyfriend, What Should I Do? March 7, 2018

Ask Mommy is a blog series in which I answer your parenting questions with the best advice I can muster. If you have a parenting question, send them to

I recently received this email from a reader,

Hi GM, I wanted to ask your advice. I caught my teenaged daughter in bed with her boyfriend the other day, and things have been awkward since. I’m worried for so many reasons: is she being safe? Is he respectful? I don’t know how to talk to her about this. Any advice you can give me is appreciated. Thank you.

This is a really good question and one that might be answered differently if I were a religious mom. As an atheist, I am free from any sex-shaming dogma that might cause me to see this incident as a reason for punishment or anger. Of course, I don’t see it this way. Rather, I see it as an absolutely normal and expected step on the way to adulthood.

The first step? Summon your inner Stuart Smalley. Face yourself in a mirror and tell yourself over and over, This is normal and it was bound to happen sooner or later. Say it until it really sinks in. It’s not an easy thing to face, that our innocent babies are buttering the proverbial biscuit. No one wants to think about their kids in this context. I find it helps to crack a beer, load up some old baby videos and ugly-cry for a spell over the fact that your babies aren’t babies anymore. It’s going to happen, though, whether we like it or not.

Once you have successfully convinced yourself that your daughter is not doing anything wrong, that this is expected and no one should be mad about a single thing, it’s time for step number two:

Pull up your big kid pants and just talk to her. You’re the adult in this situation. You’re the parent. You don’t have the luxury of avoiding topics because they make you feel awkward. That’s what you signed up for when you let your baby daddy put a bun in your oven. So, get down off the precious shelf, put on your best mom face and get to it.

The Gameplan

There is no question that the first thing I would do is get her on birth control. Like, yesterday. The sort of birth control that you don’t need to remember. Either an IUD or shot. No pills, because pills get forgotten especially by disorganized, rebellious, messy meanagers. There should be no room for mistakes here, not a single crack for a bouncing diapered oopsie to slip in. Even if you dream of being the world’s best grandma one day, that day should not come before the word “lit” has worked it’s way out of your daughter’s vocabulary. Get. Her. On. Birth. Control.

To do this, though, a conversation needs to be had. One in which the goal is open communication, not laying down the law. If you’re the easily embarrassed type, grease your wheels with a glass of wine first. Then sit down with her, just you and her, and open with a question about the boy.

“So… Frank, huh? What’s he like? Do you love him?”

Something along those lines. The hope is that your daughter is pretty happy about “Frank” and in true teenaged girl fashion, jumps at the opportunity to gush about him.

It’s important to avoid coming off as judgmental or angry as she opens up to you. You have to keep reminding yourself that she’s done nothing wrong. Even if she tells you that they have not been safe up until this point, do not get angry. Getting mad or impatient will shut the door to communication between the two of you; communication which you will need to ensure she remains safe going forward.

I would add, though, that if she does admit to not having taken safety precautions, that you should get her checked out for STDs when you take her to get birth control. Sometimes, just the process of being checked for these nasty diseases is enough to scare some sense into someone. Of course, we mustn’t underestimate the stubbornness of the teenaged spirit. This doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to talking to her about STDs. You’re still lodged on that hook until her hormonal fire stops raging.

You might also tell your daughter about some of your own experiences. You don’t have to go into every sloppy detail, but confiding in her about mistakes you may have made or exes who have come and gone is a good way to get her to open up about her own experiences. This can build an immense amount of trust around this topic and help your daughter to feel more comfortable being honest with you about it.

While you’re talking to her, you need to hit on a few points:

  1. If she doesn’t want to do something, it’s her right to say no and not to be pressured into it.
  2. If “Frank” pressures her into doing things she doesn’t want to do, he’s not worth her time.
  3. That you trust her to make good choices – giving her your trust is a powerful tool in keeping the lines of communication open.
  4. Make sure she understands that birth control does not prevent STDs and to do that, she would need to use protection.


Beyond that, I’d just suggest making sure she knows she’s loved and always has a safe space to talk about anything with you.

Of course, all of this advice is to be taken with a grain of salt, as I am no parenting expert and am figuring it all out as I go along, just like you are. This advice is simply how I would deal with the issue.

I want to know how you might deal with this situation. Let me know in the comments!

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  • Cozmo the Magician

    Greetings! Welcome to the heathen, baby eating, xtian hating, godless, no fun at all world of Patheos Nonrelious (; /snarky snark snarknessI’m not a mommy, or even a daddy. But I am a guy who has on occasion had sex with somebody’s daughter. Your advice sounds damn good. WAAAAAAAY back I was very lucky that the first girl I was sexually active with had a mom who made damn sure her daughter had birth control. Her mom was also somebody who DID NOT try and shame her daughter about sex. I was actually surprised when GF told me that it was her MOM who took her to get her diaphram and that she had a few frank and open discussions about sex with her mom. Looking back, now that I think about it her family was not religious so that might have helped.Good luck on the blog and greetings again (:

  • Good advice! My 18 year old daughter and I have had quite a few conversations along these lines. I tell myself, “sex is normal, don’t teach her shame or guilt about it, make sure everything is consensual on both sides, and make sure she is safe”. I might add that you should clarify slang terms too. I had learned 20 years ago that “hook up” means sex with no strings attached. Apparently that’s no longer the case – it means kissing, making out, or even just hanging out. So imagine our surprise when she said she hooked up with a guy and I asked if she used protection, and she said it never went that far….yeah, slang….

  • Clancy

    Welcome! While I have no need of parenting advice, as my one and only child is pushing 30, I enjoy reading this sort of thing. As a lifelong atheist, I also have survived the surprise of my daughter becoming clergy in a mainline Protestant denomination.
    The non-religious blogs often have to deal with argumentative Christian trolls in the comments, and I suggest you consider implementing an explicit comment policy. Check out the policies at Love, Joy, Feminism or Roll to Disbelieve.

  • Welcome to Patheos!

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. This godless dad has a college-age daughter and agrees wholeheartedly with your advice about “making sure she knows she’s loved and always has a safe space to talk about anything with you.” I’m not going to be a prude or a hypocrite. I know she’s grossed out by the prospect of talking about sex with dear old Dad, but she knows she can always come to me if she needs help or support.

  • Cryny

    Oh snap, you’re on Patheos now! Welcome to the party!

    I used to follow your blog a while back, then I kinda forgot about it since I’m usually over here… Looks like I have some catching up to do.

  • Thank you for the welcome! I’ve never really been able to wrap my brain around why some parents shame their teens for being sexually active. I mean, I know it often stems from religious ideas but it’s just so weird to me, having been raised by sex-positive atheists myself. Thank you for reading!

  • You sound like a great dad. Thanks for reading!

  • Haha, yes slang can really put a wrench in the communication works. You know you’re getting old when nothing your teen says makes any sense to you anymore. Thank you for stopping by!

  • So glad to have you back!

  • Thank you for your advice. I will definitely look at those policies. How did you deal with your daughter becoming clergy?

  • Anthrotheist

    I’m reminded of the awkward (but fortunately brief) conversations with my teenage daughter. Fortunately, the more conversations are had, the easier it seems to get.

    After the conversation that started, “So, are you using condoms every single time? Have you had a condom break yet? I say yet, because it will happen eventually, and that will be a very stressful month of your life; believe me, I know.”, I found it was a whole lot easier to have the conversation, “OK, you need to wash your bed-sheets way more often, and you need to learn to do it yourself from now on. Sex is a natural and healthy part of adult life and all, but also, yuck. Thanks.”

  • Bruce swingline

    As a father of a female, and as an atheist (both of us), sex and it’s workings, was never really an issue to talk about. It was just information and education. But I started the discussion way before she could even think about having a sexual partner. I didn’t go into the finer details of sex, when she was younger, just the basic knowledge that when she gets older some boys will want to have sex with her, will even try to push her into it, but it is her final say. The details of how sex works didn’t come until later on, when she started noticing the changes in her body and thinking. But by then it was just Q&A with us two. We even discussed masturbation, and that everyone, including those so called religious zealots, do it. It is natural, nothing to be ashamed of, just make sure you wash your hands afterwards.

  • Clancy

    To make a long story short, my wife is a mainline progressive Protestant, so Miss Clancy was exposed to religion and attended church regularly. When she went to college, I told her that I didn’t care what she studied, as long at it was something she loved enough to do the rest of her life, and to have a plan on how to make a living. She has a BA in German, which she still loves. Then she decided to get an MA in Linguistics. She was going to get a PhD, but decided instead to go to seminary and get an MDiv. She got a full tuition fellowship, so I paid room and board. She got a position as a solo pastor of a small church right out of seminary. She is a science-believing, LGBT-affirming, feminist, progressive pastor. She’s also a fine preacher, and I’m proud of her. I’ve been going to church most Sundays for 25 years to please my wife, and I guess I will for the rest of my life because we are moving to be near her.

  • Hugo Tryggve Larsson

    I hope someday we will see answers to questions such as “I Caught My Teenager In Bed With His Girlfriend, What Should I Do?” and “I Caught My Teenager In Bed With His Boyfriend, What Should I Do?” These are also subjects worthy of discussion, and I find it strange that we still don’t consider teenage MALE sexuality as seriously as that of teenage FEMALE sexuality.

  • Adrienne Reda Regnier

    I have two sons, now in their mid-40’s . (Yikes!) I raised them alone and the sex talks we had were almost always about the other person: about no pressure, about respect, responsibility, honesty, that “no” means “no” and sometimes even “yes” means “no.” At about 19, my older son said, “You know, you can’t really trust girls to tell the truth. They SAY sex is no big deal, but afterwards they ACT like it is a really big deal.” He was sorry that she was hurt.
    Together he and I figured out that maybe the particular girl he was generalizing about thought at first that casual sex would be great, but afterwards realized that having sex was more important to her than she had originally thought….I think it’s the intimacy.

    Maybe this 25 year old story can lend some insight…..?

  • John F

    If you’ve waited this long to talk or do anything, then you should tell her to not be as bad a parent as you.

  • Major Major

    Welcome to the site! I read the blog and I want to say that I enjoyed reading your article. As some one who grew up in a religious home the only real sex ed I got was from reading books, sex ed in high school and online porn. Given the current moral panic about online porn, both it seems from liberals and conservatives, what are some ways we can have honest conversations with our children about the subject? My son is currently only 11 months, but I figured I would start young.

  • Snowflake

    Hey and welcome! I look forward to your blog. I’m the mom of a son attending college. I am lucky that I live in an area where the public school offers comprehensive sex ed and our UU Society offered extensive sex ed. Also lucky to have a boy who will ask questions even if he is uncomfortable.

    Now, if you could suggest how to handle it when he comes home on break and my house looks like a non alcoholic frat party was had. Just kidding. Sort of.

  • Snowflake

    IIRC, you will be coming to the cold and snowy north. But we are blue in good ways in the boonies.

  • kerryberger

    Excellent response to this parent. It’s a sad fact that many, if not most parents are going to react negatively instead of being positive and proactive. My parents were very open about matters regarding sex and I was the same with my own son, though his Mom was less comfortable about discussing the matter with him. I would hope more parents will read your comments, Godless Mom, and I thank you for opening the doors for other parents that teenagers and sex is normal just as the flow of hormones of attraction are real.

  • Syzygy

    I don’t understand about the word “lit.”

  • Clancy

    Sooner than I thought, since they laid me off in January! My house in TX is about to go on the market, and we put in an offer on a place six miles from our daughter’s. We’re aiming for the end of April.

  • I agree. I’ve had so many people ask me questions about their daughters’ sexual activity, but no one ask me about their sons.

  • Haha, yes, tackling the tougher points definitely makes the rest of the conversations easier.

  • You and me both.

  • Thank you!

  • I have a teenaged stepdaughter and her room always looks like it was recently ransacked by Scully and Mulder. I have no idea how to handle it!

    Sex ed is so important. I am glad I live in a place where it is part of the curriculum. Thanks for reading!

  • Oooh, that is a fantastic question and I would love to use it as a basis for a blog post. Let me give it some thought. Thanks!

  • I don’t really think shaming parents for their mistakes is helpful. We all make mistakes as parents.

  • It can be such a difficult topic to navigate but I think that keeping the communication open is half the battle. It sounds like you’ve done a good job with your sons.

  • Excellent! It’s so awesome to hear from fathers who will talk to their daughters about sex and masturbation. My Dad was the same way, although he often had to hold back the giggles because he’s still a big, giant kid at heart, but I loved that we could talk openly about it.

  • Snowflake

    Awesome and welcome. Winter might be ending by then!

  • Clancy

    Yup. I wasn’t going to move while there was still snow on the ground.

  • lemsip

    Very badly written article. Sorry.

  • Geek the Form

    Sorry? For Trolling? if so I bit.
    Do you have constructive advice? Points you disagree with?

    I enjoyed the blog, both the writing style and the advice that seems spot on to me.

  • Almost a chimp

    Hip, hep, swell, cool, fab, neat, boss, bad, sick, ace, lit.
    Every generation has one. 🙂

  • Almost a chimp

    A bit rich to criticise somebody’s writing when you don’t even understand that Lemsip is a proper noun.

  • Morgan Lefaye

    Urban Dictionary can help a lot with decoding teenspeak. However, be prepared for abundant nastiness…

  • Snowflake

    Here’s hoping.

  • Clancy

    Yeah, and in 1971 there was a snowstorm on May 2 in Troy.

  • Illithid

    The state of my son’s room might possibly count as birth control. I know when there’s a girl he’s interested in because suddenly there is hygiene.

  • *poorly.

  • E.A. Blair

    The first time I got involved in a relationship where the sex was more than casual, despite out youth, we both agreed that birth control was our #1 priority. It was our decision, and the people at Planned Parenthood who helped us were very supportive and praised our course of action.

  • lemsip

    I can use a proper noun as a user name.

  • Almost a chimp

    But it remains a proper noun. Oh, and technically it’s a user-name; hyphenated, you see.
    You really are a kindergarten-level writer, aren’t you.*

    *no question mark; it was a statement of fact, not a query.

  • Yes, but it doesn’t sound right. I’m old and stuck in my ways.

  • safetynet2razorwire

    That ‘we’ are still using euphemisms like ‘in bed with’ rather than ‘having sex with’ speaks volumes
    about why North Americans remain so far behind much of the developed world despite ‘click of an
    icon’ easy access to a universe of knowledge about ‘carnal knowledge’. Here in my Canadas we at
    least insist on sex education in our school curriculum (sadly, some districts only provide bare bones
    reproductive mechanics – and fear-monger STIs.). In most regions sex ed includes at least a cursory
    look at parts of the sexual-erotic spectrum beyond the heterosexual. And, most places, birth-control
    and prevention of sexually transmitted infections are described and discussed. Including abortion –
    which is, of course, available on demand (with RU486 available on demand – at no charge in my BC.)
    Counter intuitively, despite all this sex instruction, accessible affordable modern birth control and the
    sexual safetynet of abortion (increasingly very early hormonal rather than delayed procedural) being
    an open gateway to promiscuity, teen pregnancy and soaring abortion rates – quite the opposite is in
    fact our national reality. Our national abortion rate is half that in Baja Canada (as I sometimes call the
    USA). Similarly, most of our other sexual health stats are superior as well. Knowledge begets health.
    (Ignorance, on the other hand, begets unwanted pregnancies, disease, and abysmal maternal death
    rates (and infant mortality rates) that put America far below the rest of the developed world – into the
    midst of the struggling nations – where maternal and child health are concerned. ‘Eating of the Tree
    of Knowledge’ brings, not death, but health.

    American culture will be adult – mature – when, at long last, a mom like the one cited in this article, is
    able to speak clearly about what her daughter was doing and why it gave her concern. Catching the
    couple naked is one thing – it may or may not mean they are, there and then, about to have sexual
    intercourse. Nor does it mean they are, there and then, about to explore any other erotic variation.
    “So. I blundered in on my daughter b___ing her boyfriend.” should not be all that difficult to say – and
    dealing with the daughter’s sense of her privacy being violated shouldn’t be that hard to get past (it
    could be a great mother/daughter ice-breaker opportunity). So, too, the mom’s nonplussed fluster.

    Couching the conversation in proper medical terminology is sure to make things uncomfortable and
    inhibit the exchange of information – because unnatural wording conveys and amplifies awkwardness.

    Until patriarchal religions began subverting the natural order – denigrating and vilifying nature – most
    especially human nature – more specifically human sexual desires – most specifically female desires –
    until that sad day mother and daughter and their community of female intimates passed around what
    they knew, believed, felt, hoped to be true. They passed along a sexual pharmacopoeia. They passed
    along stories – confessions – honest and full of the messiness of the wondrous adventure that is sex.
    Patriarchal traditions corrupted that natural intimate trust by turning some women from confidants and
    co-conspirators to treacherous betrayers. Despite the risk many women courageously committed to
    inviolable sisterhoods. Such relationships thrive even today – even now and in places where the price
    of discovery is … horrific. Even, for instance, in the Ayatollah’s Iran.

    The graphic novelist Marjan Satrapi created a delightful and moving little book entitled ‘Embroideries’.
    ‘Embroideries’ is, among Irani women a code-word for the surgical restoration of … the hymen. Yep.
    An intact hymen being the ‘surest proof’ of ‘chastity’ and ‘purity’ it became a common practice to ‘re-
    virginize’ a prospective bride when she left her youthful life of romantic erotic adventure for a new life
    phase dedicated to making a relationship and home to nurture her children in. For how many women
    is their mom’s, or grandmother’s confiding about their first lover – the one before their husband – and
    perhaps the sharing of a secret picture and letters.

    In a patriarchy it’s every woman’s moral right to be an outlaw. When the laws are not made by you,
    nor for you – how can you be bound by them? In the words of Victoria Claflin Woodhull (first female
    Wall St. broker/ first publisher of a feminist magazine/ 1st female candidate for president of the US)
    “I and others of my sex find ourselves controlled by a form of government in the inauguration of which
    we had no voice.” – an observation echoing that of England’s Mary Wollstonecraft a century prior – and
    that of, perhaps feminism’s first political martyr, Olympia de Gouges who plead women’s égalité, liberté,
    sororité to the patriarchal male victors of the French Revolution – only to suffer the guillotine.

    While the sexual education of our young is imperative – it is especially so for our young women – for
    there is in knowledge power. And since sex is, more often than not, used (even by lovers) to usurp a
    woman’s personal sense of worth and actual power, to know as much as possible of her own sexual
    nature, the sexual nature of her potential sexual partners, and all the realities from the anatomical to
    the socio-political and economic, is vital to every woman’s best interests. ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ to
    ‘Our Blood’ – shared wisdom is power.

  • MichaelBrew

    My daughter is two, so I still have a ways to go before I should need to worry about this, but my wife has asked me before how I’d handle the situation. I figured I’d just handle it the way my mom did when she gave me The Talk, which didn’t really have to include any discussions on where babies come from or the mechanics, thankfully, since I wasn’t really sheltered from information on what sex was. It was more a “be safe, use protection, I’m here to help if you need anything” kind of deal. I feel like that’s more common for when boys become or are perceived to become sexually active, while girls (or, more precisely, ovaried individuals) get way more big a deal made over it. To an extent that makes sense given that someone who can actually get pregnant will end up having a lot more unavoidable physical and emotional obstacles should that occur than the one doing the impregnating, but I feel both parties should still be getting basically the same drill.

  • Almost a chimp

    Me too. I’d swear my grandsons are speaking in tongues some days.

  • Priya Lynn

    I on the other hand thought it was fantastic.

  • Thank you!

  • boneheadaudio

    “Baja Canada”
    They wish!

  • Maura Hart

    excellent post

  • Cage KY

    This situation, conversation and advice happened with my ex-wife and daughter and was highly productive in both the short and long term. So kudos to you all.

    I, on the other hand, did not.

    My daughter was 14, the young man was 19. I grabbed a softball bat and broke both the boy’s wrists, three ribs and his jaw. I knocked out seven of his teeth, gave him a cauliflower ear, dislocated one kneecap, split his lips and tongue in several places and concussion to his brain that left him asleep for three days in an ICU.

    I was arrested, assault charges were brought forth and I chose a jury trial by which I was acquitted of ALL charges, including medical costs, except a misdemeanor for deliberately burning the kid’s truck to ashes on a public thoroughfare, for which I was fined $100 and trash hauling fees.

    I testified for myself and remember being asked why I showed so little restraint. I responded by offering the court my military DD Form 214 detailing my extensive and specialized combat training over a long 23 year career and various awards for combat and valor under fire. I then also offered up a detailed list of the armament in my home and how I went to great pains to choose a simple bat to express my rather self-controlled sentiments at the time.

    To this day, some decades later, I still have no regrets …and, in seeing this guy now in 20-20 hindsight, neither does my daughter.

  • MystiqueLady

    Actually, there are things you can do now to help when the time comes. Let her know that you love unconditionally, answer her questions openly and as honestly as she is prepared to hear, and maybe start introducing some books that deal with the normal things of growing up when she is able to read them.

  • MystiqueLady


  • MystiqueLady

    Can also me Hot (Sexy), High, and mildly drunk. I’m thinking in this instance it means HOT (aka Sexy).

  • Brianna LaPoint

    better late than never has become a favorite motto of mine these days.