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Talking to a teenager about sex

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I'm not a parent, but I do have a teenage niece who will be starting high school in the fall. She is very pretty and very gregarious, and she has swarms of other kids (boys and girls) around her all the time. Previously she wasn't interested in boys, but she's starting to change in that respect.

The rest of my family is devoutly Christian (although her parents less so than my parents). I'm not sure if my brother and his wife have talked to her about sex yet, but I'm guessing any such talk would be in the context of abstinence until marriage.

I worry about her. I wouldn't freak out if she had sex as a teenager, as long as a) she uses contraception and :P she's doing it because she wants to, and not because some boy talked her into it. She's a well-behaved kid, but she does sometimes let peer pressure get to her. Unlike me at that age (I was socially awkward and not at all attractive), she's pretty and popular. I keep having nightmares that next year, she'll be a freshman in high school, some senior will ask her to the senior prom, and she'll be so flattered that she'll let him talk her into having sex after the prom even though she doesn't feel ready to do it.

I know she's growing up and ultimately it's her life, and she will learn from any mistakes she makes. But I'd really like to talk to her and give her a different perspective from her parents -- that it's okay not to wait until marriage, but that she shouldn't do it if she doesn't wholeheartedly want to, and that it's better to wait until you're with someone you really care about. She looks up to me and my boyfriend very much, and I think she might listen if we were the ones talking to her about it.

Any suggestions for having this difficult conversation?

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Though I'm not far out of my own teenage years, I think the thing I most wish someone had told me was something I first read in Atlas Shrugged, and later re-read in Ayn Rand Lexicon online.

"...because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man’s sense of his own value . . ."

Sex will not create anything. If you don't love someone, having sex won't create a bond, won't improve the relationship. No matter what anyone else tells her, boy or girl, ultimately sex should be an expression of how she already feels.

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Yeah, I think that's great advice, Dr. Radiaki. She needs to wait, at the very least, until there is a mutual love and respect between her and her partner. Although I had sex at a young age in high school, I did wait until I was in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a guy that sincerely cared about me; however, we actually thought the "pull out" method was legitimate. :P Anyway, I didn't get pregnant, but when my mom found out I was sexually active by reading notes I left laying around my room, (teenagers are so dumb) the first thing she did was take me to my first OBGYN appointment and have me put on the pill. In all seriousness, if I ever have a teen aged daughter, I will probably just take her to the OBGYN and have her put on the pill before her first day of high school, regardless of whether or not I suspect she may be sexually active, if not sooner. Of course, that won't prevent disease, so a serious discussion still needs to be had, but teenage girls are great at keeping secrets from their parents and are usually skilled liars. If your brother and/or his wife are not willing to have a serious discussion with their daughter, and you're sincerely concerned about her, I think you should go for it.

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I agree with Kelly and Scott. The conversation would definitely be beneficial for her but might cause some problems with your brother and sister-in-law. Be careful about how you approach it. And start by asking if she's talked to her parents about it yet, so you know how to structure your conversation.

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One way to structure the conversation that might make it easier on you, in the case that your brother hears of it, would be as a story. Instead of explaining to her why she should wait, consider telling her about your own life and why you waited, and what you think of that decision now. Coming from someone she respects, I'd think that would leave a more powerful impression on her while reducing the chances of conflict between you and your brother. It'll also help her feel more comfortable about the topic, so maybe she'll ask more questions that way.

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  • 1 month later...
I will probably just take her to the OBGYN and have her put on the pill before her first day of high school, regardless of whether or not I suspect she may be sexually active, if not sooner.

WOW! ever heard of enabling? The argument against getting a girl that young on the pill is that you may be making it "ok" no matter what you say in conjunction with enforcing the pill on her. Also, what a horrible breech of trust that would be. "you're too young and dumb to make your own decisions" is what any rational young girl would get from that. No girl would get "my mommy loves me and wants me safe" unless she has some mental debilitation.

Remind me not to have kids with you.

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WOW! ever heard of enabling? The argument against getting a girl that young on the pill is that you may be making it "ok" no matter what you say in conjunction with enforcing the pill on her. Also, what a horrible breech of trust that would be. "you're too young and dumb to make your own decisions" is what any rational young girl would get from that. No girl would get "my mommy loves me and wants me safe" unless she has some mental debilitation.

Remind me not to have kids with you.

Do you have children Chimera? I do both girls, and I can tell you that children are not nearly the empty headed morons you seem to think they are. The 1950's are long gone as are the days when girls only learned about sex from their mom. In the world today kids are bombarded with information not all of it good but then we don't want our children growing up in a bubble, or do you?

Parents that actually have relationships with their children as opposed to the 'seen and not heard' mantra espoused by parents of older generations actually do have the ability to influence their kids and what they say can and does matter.

There is no breach of trust in educating your children and in combination with that education taking steps (rationally explained) to protect them. I'm quite sure that K-Mac would not just take her child and put her on the pill without explaining the reason and rationale behind it.

Oh, and your last sentence is insulting in the extreme, offers nothing to the discussion and is completely uncalled for.

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Also, what a horrible breech of trust that would be. "you're too young and dumb to make your own decisions" is what any rational young girl would get from that.

The fact of the matter is that people who are not adults (and a hell of a lot of adults as well) have not developed their reasoning and judgements skills to be able to make all of life's decisions. That's why they have parents. Parenting is a subtle art of helping a child learn how to begin making decisions at a point in time when their maturity matches the maturity of the decision, helping them realize that they aren't yet able to make every decision for themselves without alienating them, and keeping them from making bad decisions that would irrevocably change their lives and which they would regret in 20 years.

You would need a hell of a lot more context about how Kelly would go about doing what she did before you'd even be able to propose that this is the foregone result.

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Parenting is a subtle art of helping a child learn how to begin making decisions at a point in time when their maturity matches the maturity of the decision, helping them realize that they aren't yet able to make every decision for themselves without alienating them, and keeping them from making bad decisions that would irrevocably change their lives and which they would regret in 20 years.

For the most part I am in agreement with this. But there is an aspect of it I can't stomach, the "it is a parents responsibility to keep a child from making bad decisions which they would 'regret' later on" part. I don't think that errors in judgement are always necessarily destructive to a child. There are many instances when a child makes the wrong decision, but the parent still lets the child make the decision and suffer any consequences of it. A child raised in a rational environment, and properly taught to apply his mind, can draw a conclusion about the ramifications of his action (with the help and guidance of his parents if need be). Of course, this doesn't mean that one should let their child jump out of a window to "learn from it", but it does mean that a parent should let go of the bicycle that their child is riding, and let the child fall if necessary. A good parent would be walking along with the child, showing him or her compassion and caring--but the child can't learn to ride a bicycle without falling.

You did include "irrevocable" and "in 20 years", but I still find the sentence troubling. The child should have been raised properly and taught by her parents the severity of the potential consequences of unsafe sex (which are irrevocable for sure). But the consequences of having safe sex with a partner who "talks her into it" are much less irrevocable, and the accompanying lesson from it can only be worked out in the girls head, as it generally is a self-esteem issue.

My conclusion for the original post: In this instance, I don't believe it is proper for stellavision to be talking to the child about this subject, unless she consults with the parents first and they feel that it is appropriate.

Edited by adrock3215
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WOW! ever heard of enabling? The argument against getting a girl that young on the pill is that you may be making it "ok" no matter what you say in conjunction with enforcing the pill on her. Also, what a horrible breech of trust that would be. "you're too young and dumb to make your own decisions" is what any rational young girl would get from that. No girl would get "my mommy loves me and wants me safe" unless she has some mental debilitation.

Remind me not to have kids with you.

It sounds like Zip and Kendall have already said what needs to be said here. I would just like to add that I was heading for a teenage pregnancy and my mother and father's actions not only rescued me, but made me wake up and realize the consequences of my actions. When I think of all the things that my parents did absolutely right, getting me to the doctor and putting me on the pill might be number one. My parents and I are very close now despite the awful times they went through when I was a teenager. I give them a ton of credit for raising me to be the wonderful person I know I am today.

Perhaps you would rather your daughter have four abortions without your knowledge before she graduates? (I knew a girl like that.) Perhaps you would rather her be 8 months pregnant while walking across the stage to accept her high school diploma? (I knew a girl like that.) Perhaps you would rather her go to college, get pregnant during her first sexual experience at age 20 and get an abortion without your knowledge, an abortion that she regrets to this day? (That happened to my best friend, who saw what I went through in HS and how my parents handled it, and STILL did the wrong thing because her parents didn't do the right thing.)

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I don't think that errors in judgment are always necessarily destructive to a child.

You're right, they're not; however, that would depend on the frequency, the situation, the child, the parents and the severity of the mistake. Something else to consider, even if the parents do all they can to prevent their child from making bad decisions, the child will still make plenty enough on their own, and many without their parents ever knowing.

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Any suggestions for having this difficult conversation?

Depending on the nature of your relationship with your sibling and how much you care about jeopardizing it, I would be very cautious about anything of this sort you were to say to her. Many people take great offense at someone else "trying to raise their child." Letting her over hear a conversation, telling a story, and reading atlas shrugged seem like some of the better ideas for avoiding discord.

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There are many instances when a child makes the wrong decision, but the parent still lets the child make the decision and suffer any consequences of it.

A child raised in a rational environment, and properly taught to apply his mind, can draw a conclusion about the ramifications of his action (with the help and guidance of his parents if need be).

Providing a child with the type of environment and conditions in which he can learn new things (like riding a bicycle) is different from not preventing a child from making a life altering mistake. So this will depend on the scope of the mistake one is allowing to happen. I don't think that we necessarily must learn from our own mistakes - rational child should be able to understand cause and effect relationships. So maybe I would have let my kid to make one - if I would objectively decide that he needs to learn this particular lesson "on his own back" (perhaps because it was not sinking in otherwise) and if he would not ruin his life by making it. Again we are taking about a child - if he gets to be old enough - he can do whatever he wishes. I do think that it is parents responsibility to try to prevent a child from making huge, life altering mistakes when they see it comming as much as that is possible.

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I do think that it is parents responsibility to try to prevent a child from making huge, life altering mistakes when they see it comming as much as that is possible.

I agree, as stated above, that you shouldn't let a kid jump out of a window in order to learn he can't fly. The question is(extracted from Part B of the third paragraph of stellavisions post), is having safe sex with a partner a life altering mistake, one in which the teenager must be stopped? I surmise that it isn't.

Moreover, in regards to the original post, I conclude that this conversation is not worth having with the young girl unless her parents deem it appropriate. Even if we come to a consensus that the parents should try to (I say try, because it will be almost impossible to stop her if she wants to) stop the teenager from having safe sex with any random guy, the conclusion that an aunt should step in does not follow.

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I agree that the Aunt does not have parental duty, nor should she assume to have such. I'd be beyond angry if my Sister-in-law tried to parent my daughters.

Now if the parents were negligent in their raising of the kid (I.E. not giving any direction) then there might be a case, but if the advice they give just doesn't fit with your idea of what advice should be given then I'm sorry, it's not your job to give your opinion. Cause we all know what opinions are like. :lol:

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The question is(extracted from Part B of the third paragraph of stellavisions post), is having safe sex with a partner a life altering mistake, one in which the teenager must be stopped? I surmise that it isn't.

That is not what I mean. I mean, for example, preventing them making a mistake of having unprotected sex.

Moreover, in regards to the original post, I conclude that this conversation is not worth having with the young girl unless her parents deem it appropriate.

This can definately be a touchy situation in a family. However, just talking to someone about appropriate way of treating sex in one's life (you can frame it in terms of talking about your own choices and the reasons for them instead of what you think she should be doing or not) is not stepping over the boundries (as it would not be in terms of expressing your opinion about any other value). I don't think her parents would disapprove of an advice that it should be with someone she cares for. I do think that going behind her parents to put her on a pill (especially knowing that they would not approve) would be stepping over those boundry lines. I would talk to my sibling first.

I have a niece (very young granted) and at any time if she asks me about something I will give her the truth without holding back information (if she is smart enough to ask that question she will be smart enough to hear the full answer) even if it contradicts one of her parent's views. I will give her my opinion, explain my reasons for it and leave it at that. The rest is up to her.

This is different from parenting a child - parenting a child is setting boundries for behavior - that I would not interfere with. I could talk to my sister about it if I think her decision is wrong but I would not get inbetween her and her child.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I cannot stress the importance of what Dr. R has pointed out. My (atheist) mother taught me when I was young that its ok to have sex before marriage, as long as it is safe, protected, completely consensual (aka I'm completely ok and comfortable doing so, and I can "always say no if I decide it's gone too far, etc") and with "someone that I love / is important to me"...

Ok that was certainly not enough. What is love? what makes someone special to me? I had no concept of valuing with which to make any use of the sentence "only sleep with someone that is special to you" ... I didn't wait for someone special because I was only told TO wait, not why to wait.. nobody explained to me WHY to wait, WHAT to wait for, or WHY to have sex in the first place. Nobody told me that the act of sex is not the end in itself nor is it the root of the value of sex. So, as a confused kid who was already so screwed up thanks to my ignorant - but good hearted - parents inability to teach me how to explicitly and systematically find and gain values, it was all just a hodgepodge in which the act of sex was just another floating abstraction with the words "only do it with someone special" attached as a tagline.

Just saying "wait" is not enough, just saying "its your choice" is not enough... Her choices in sex are going to be reflections of her ability to value properly and act on those values. Beyond talking about the right reasons to have sex, there needs to be constant guidance about how to independently value and judge... otherwise your "wise advice" will just sink to the bottom of a confused mud puddle.

Edited by athena glaukopis
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This is different from parenting a child - parenting a child is setting boundries for behavior - that I don't think that I have a right to interfere with regarding with my sister's kid. I could talk to her about it if I think it is wrong but not get in between her and her child.

That's a good way of putting it. I can't and don't want to take the place of her parents, but I also won't censor myself around her -- she knows, for example, that I don't believe in God, and I've told her why on occasion. I view a conversation about sex the same way: I'm not going to tell her what to do, I am not her mother. But I would like her to know that there's a way of looking at things other than what her parents tell her (religious, restricted) and the messages she may be picking up from her friends and the media (promiscuity is OK). She doesn't have to follow my advice, but I'd like to at least put it out there.

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Zip Said: "I can tell you that children are not nearly the empty headed morons you seem to think they are."

How is my expressing that they should have executive decision on their sex lives at puberty say that they are anything but the exact opposite of what you believe my position to be? I remember being a young teen going through puberty, so I remember that I was rational and could listen to the input of my parents and make good decisions even then. I may not be a girl but I'm betting if properly brought up to know for themselves, they can decide whether they need the pill or not. I had a girlfriend in highschool and we had sex often. We made sure it was protected of our own volition. Her parents weren't a necessary part of the transaction. Making a blanket statement that adolescents should be on the pill is rediculous. Also, saying "when I have a daughter I will force the pill upon her" is similarly rediculous. The pill also provides a false sense of security which probably wouldn't be conveyed by a woman who doesn't discuss things with her child and let her make her own decisions. They may be your child but you don't own them. I put more faith in children than most adults do.

Kendall said: "You would need a hell of a lot more context about how Kelly would go about doing what she did before you'd even be able to propose that this is the foregone result."

She said she would force the girl. She didn't say "contingent on xyz I will force her". She left no opening for input from her daughter. To me thats an insult to the child's intelligence. I also simply stated the false sense of security thing that I reiterated in this post. That's what the enabling thing meant.

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Making a blanket statement that adolescents should be on the pill is rediculous.

Who said that? It certainly wasn't me and I could find no evidence of anyone else suggesting that in this thread. I was simply offering up my past experiences and what I plan to do with my daughter (not yours.) Perhaps you and your girlfriend were not lying to your parents (which I find highly unlikely), but I was to mine. I do not trust a teenage girl to tell her parents the truth 100% of the time, flat out. If you do, you're not being realistic.

Also, saying "when I have a daughter I will force the pill upon her" is similarly rediculous.

No, it's not. It's responsible parenting in today's sex-crazed, multi-media environment. In addition to preventing an unwanted pregnancy, the pill has many, many other valuable side effects. If you care for me to go into this in some detail or further explain to you why the pill was right for me at age 15, please send me a PM and I can enlighten you. Fact is, plenty of teen aged girls are put on the pill whether they're sexually active or not to control other side effects of puberty. In fact, many drugs are "forced on" children constantly throughout their childhoods, such as vaccines, antibiotics, etc. Parents frequently have to "force" things on their children. It's part of the job.

The pill also provides a false sense of security which probably wouldn't be conveyed by a woman who doesn't discuss things with her child and let her make her own decisions.

You sure like to assume, don't you? Who said anything would be done without discussion? Before throwing around your baseless and insulting accusations, why don't you try obtaining the facts?

For your reference, the facts are, I had many, many, many uncomfortable, yet productive conversations with my parents and my doctor about sex and relationships. We had a consultation with my doctor about safe sex, the pill and a multitude of other important factors to take into consideration when engaging in a sexual relationship. We're not the dolts you make us out to be and we made an informed decision, together. If you think a 15 year-old girl is wise enough to make such a decision on your own, you're sorely mistaken and I feel pity for any daughters you may end up having. (Not with me of course. There's your reminder!)

They may be your child but you don't own them.

The hell I don't! I am legally, financially and morally responsible to them. A responsibility that, if and when I have children, I will take as seriously as my own parents did their responsibility to me.

I put more faith in children than most adults do.

Well, you have the right to your faith. I prefer to live in reality and let childrens' actions speak for themselves. IMO, having faith in children, particularly teenagers who tend to think they know a lot more about life than they do, is foolish, at best.

She said she would force the girl. She didn't say "contingent on xyz I will force her". She left no opening for input from her daughter. To me thats an insult to the child's intelligence. I also simply stated the false sense of security thing that I reiterated in this post. That's what the enabling thing meant.

Here we go again with the silly assumptions. Obviously, just handing a 15 year old a pick of pills and saying, "here" is absolutely ridiculous, but since I have to spell everything out for you, here goes...

I would obviously have a talk with my spouse, my daughter and a doctor before putting her on the pill. We would obviously want to be educated and have all the facts in front of us. In addition, a medical exam and a prescription are requirements. There would also be a discussion about how the pill only regulates a woman's cycle and prevents unwanted pregnancies, and as such, other protection must be used to protect against a litany of other diseases. Equally important, there would be ongoing discussions throughout our daughter's life regarding healthy relationships, of any sort, not just sexual. In addition, my spouse and I plan to live a good example of a healthy, romantic, loving relationship for our child.

I'm sure there are many other things that would be factored in, but I'm at work, and that's what I've come up with for you, thus far. Frankly, if it's not enough, I don't care. I owe you far less than that. I don't mind explaining myself or my positions to anyone, but your posts are rude, insulting and assumptive. If you have a question about something someone has posted, why not just ask?

Perhaps you and your girlfriend handled everything perfectly when you were teenagers (although I highly doubt it), but when it comes to something that could quite literally ruin my daughter's life, I will handle it how I see fit. I have full confidence in myself and my own life experiences, as well as my ability to continually educate myself and seek advice of those more knowledgeable than myself, to get myself, my spouse and my daughter through the sometimes trying times of female teenage years.

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http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8...1815845,00.html

I thought this story was appropriate for this thread, although I posted it elsewhere as well. This is what happens when parents have "faith" in their children.

I disagree with you about the cause. Notice that these teens want to get pregnant! I think this is a symptom of a bigger problem. From that article: "Many of our young people are growing up directionless."

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Well, as I said in this thread, there are other factors at play here and many participants. The having "faith" in teenagers point I thought was relevant for this thread due to earlier comments by ChimeraBlack. That being said, I think the ultimate responsibility/blame for this situation lies with the parenting, or lack thereof.

Edited by K-Mac
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