Sex and the Young Teen

Last week, another mom found a letter to her daughter from my daughter, saying she was thinking about having sex with this boy. I grounded her, but last night there was a skating party for her school, and I allowed her to go. When I arrived 15 minutes early, guess who was there? The boyfriend. What can I do?

--A Parent Soup member
Question:

Most parents are uncomfortable dealing with the sexuality of their children. But the fact is that adolescents are having sex at younger ages. As parents, we need to educate them and not risk closing off the lines of communication. I do not mean to interject a commercial here, but I think you could benefit from reading the chapter on sexuality in our book, The Roller-Coaster Years. It will give you some ideas for opening the discussion with your daughter.

You do not want to send her the wrong message, that sex is bad. Punishing her might do that. What you want is to talk with her about what is appropriate for her at her age. At 14, she may be physically able to have sex but not emotionally mature enough to handle all the feelings that go along with taking such a major step. She may have strong feelings about this boy, but having sex is not the only way for her to express those feelings.

Why does your daughter feel she should have sex with her boyfriend? Does she feel pressured by him? By her peers? How does she see her relationship evolving with this boy? How would she feel if they broke up after she agreed to sex? Would she feel used? When you talk with her, try not to be confrontational. Let her know that you are concerned about her welfare and want to be there to listen and help. Try to stay close to her emotionally these next few weeks. Trying to restrict her movements or the time spent alone with this boy will not work. If they want to have sex, they will find a time and place. You stand a better chance of influencing her decision if you give gentle, clearheaded advice and let her know you are in her corner.

-- Charlene Giannetti, coauthor of The Roller-Coaster Years and Parenting 911

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