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.
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:
- If she doesn’t want to do something, it’s her right to say no and not to be pressured into it.
- If “Frank” pressures her into doing things she doesn’t want to do, he’s not worth her time.
- That you trust her to make good choices – giving her your trust is a powerful tool in keeping the lines of communication open.
- 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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