"My daughter has become sexually active with 'her boyfriend'. She was sneaking out on the nights my husband works. We have had one pregnancy scare already. Do I - or do I not - put her on birth control? We are currently on Week 2 of your program."
YES! Just do it. Wherever you stand on pre-marital sex, you need to address the reality of your daughter engaging in sexual activity and it's consequences. Be honest with your daughter starting first with the science of how the various forms of birth control work. Don't forget to address all those myths floating around. You want to make sure your daughter has heard it from you before she hears it in the locker room. She is more likely to value your advice if you offer it freely. It's okay to be uncomfortable. It's not okay to hide your head in the sand.
Parents are often in denial …they may fervently want children to delay sexual activity, but if you know for a fact that your daughter is having sex, then the responsible thing to do is to warn her about sexually transmitted diseases and help prevent her from getting pregnant.
Parent's Next Question:
"Thank you. We struggled with the "giving her permission" part of it. Considering the cost, is it one of those things she has to "earn"? In other words, should she pay for it with her "chore" allowance?
Also, she has become interested in piercing and tattooing to the point of piercing her own lip with a safety pin and is now engaging in trying to create her own tattoo gun and cutting into her skin. The lip piercing she did a few months ago and we were "secretly" hoping it would infect and we would have to take her but she read up on how to take care of it, too. We discovered last night that she was on the internet finding directions on self-tattooing. The type that prisoners do. My husband found the paperwork on a couch in the living room. We almost think she wanted us to find it.
I monitor her IM and limit it as well. I found she shared this tattooing info with "her 15 year old boyfriend" and was hiding her initial markings with a wristband. I left for work this morning, told my husband about it (who is now home sleeping). He is thankfully on vacation this week but we are both a bit distraught over this. What do you recommend for how we handle this today?
You are a godsend right now. Thank you."
Re: ...should she pay for it with her "chore" allowance?
I'd have her pay half. Her willingness to go along with the whole birth control thing is worth much more than the cost of a month's worth of pills.
Re: tattooing. If she's going to get a tattoo, she really should consider having it done professionally. Professional studios usually take pride in their cleanliness. Here are some things to check for:
- Make sure the tattoo studio has an autoclave (a device that uses steam, pressure, and heat for sterilization). You should be allowed to watch as equipment is sterilized in the autoclave.
- Check that the tattoo artist is a licensed practitioner. If so, the tattoo artist should be able to provide you with references.
- Be sure that the tattoo studio follows the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Universal Precautions. These are regulations that outline procedures to be followed when dealing with bodily fluids (in this case, blood).
Tattoos and piercings really fall into the "pick-your-battles-carefully" category. Most parents have bigger fish to fry (i.e., more serious problems to address).
Mark Hutten, M.A.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents