My youngest daughter just turned 15 today. While having lunch with my older daughter, who is 23 and living outside of our home, she told us that our 15 year-old had confessed to her that she lost her virginity to a 20 year-old man who often goes to a library activity that she attends each Thursday.
Her dad and I have not liked the library situation for a long time, but have continued to allow her to go (with an attempt to monitor her by having 1 of us there most of the time for the 3 hours that she's there) because older kids hang out around there plus there have been fights and other things that we have not liked. The reason we've continued to allow her to go is because she seems to love it so much. She's homeschooled, so she doesn't think she gets enough socialization and has gone out of her way to "fit in" with the other kids/young adults by giving up a lot of the stuff that she used to love, but will do just about anything to go each Thursday.
Obviously, we want her to be happy, but, especially with this latest revelation from our older daughter, it's time for us to take some kind of action. What would you advise about this? Our older daughter swore us to secrecy and I want her to have a friend to talk to (who better than a sister?), but we need to protect her from these older kids who are bad influences. This guy that she was with before contacted her on Facebook today, saying he wants her back.
She has violent mood swings, which makes her difficult to deal with and I want to handle things properly so that she doesn't hurt herself or run away or anything. This girl is so smart and so capable and has so much potential and we love her dearly. My older daughter offered to take her to Planned Parenthood for birth control pills, but that certainly doesn't take care of diseases or our other concerns plus I'm not sure how I could pretend that I didn't know about the birth control if she leaves it out like she does just about everything else. How should I react in such a situation or should I take her myself? She's already talked about taking the pills for clearing her complexion, so what would be better?
Thank you so much, Mark. I'm so glad that I have you to turn to.
This is a very serious matter. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be), you absolutely need to confront her on this. Some “swearing to secrecy” cases have to come out into the light – and this is definitely one.
- Get her started on birth control.
- She should be grounded FROM the library.
- Advise her of the consequences in the event she is found at the library or near the 20-year-old man.
- Also, you should attempt to find the name of the man who has had sex with your daughter and call the police to report it.
- Lastly, when the dust has settled, have “the conversation” with her re: sex as follows:
Sometime, when things are calm and everyone is getting along, have a conversation about sex with your daughter. Start with asking her what she may already know. Appropriate body language, facial expressions and responses are a must here. You want her to open up about a very private subject and feel safe talking about it. Body gestures of placing your hand over your heart or gaping mouth are not helpful. Keep your eye brows down to avoid the bug-eyed expression; it is natural to hear the staccato beat of your heart in your ears at this moment. Use responses like: "okay", "yes, that's true", "no, that is not true", "that is a common misconception." Avoid responses like: "a body can do that?", "for how long?", "let me grab a pen." You have to stay in control of the conversation.
After hearing what knowledge your daughter has, be sure to correct any false information she may have learned on the internet, at school or the local teen hang-out. Put off the mental list of security systems, chastity belts, teenage boy detection systems, and swat surveillance for later. Move on to the psychological aspect of sex and intimacy. Sex should not be taken lightly like choosing which bowling alley to go to on Friday night, no matter what the single neighbor next door does. Sex is mental as well as physical. Let her know that the scared, confused and embarrassing feelings that she has are normal and she should be feeling this way for a long, long, long time to come. This is after all a preparation talk about the future, distant future. If she is not afraid, modify the mental list and operation "Parent Watch" is a go.
Peer pressure is an issue for all teens. It is okay to be teased for being a virgin, let her know it is a way of breaking down her defenses and making her do something she is not prepared to do. Be vigilant about getting names without being too obvious, swat needs to update their system regularly. Being labeled Most Likely to "Remain a Virgin through High School" is an honor. Warn about relationship pressures she will face. It is natural to feel "in love" as a teenager, but that is not a precursor for sex. Feed the image of how he will look twenty years down the road with a pot belly, bald, drinking and flatulence problem. This could be the new form of birth control. Posters on the wall of every Planned Parenthood center of Brad Pitt and Joe, the out of work plumber.
Discuss the worst urban legends to reassure her that they are in fact, urban legends. Holding hands and kissing will get you pregnant. Nope, that just passes cooties. Men suffer violent and painful deaths from a sudden shift in blood flow to their "closest best friend." We women have collectively proven this urban legend false for centuries; marriage still exists. Men are diagnosed with terminal illness due to a lack of sex. You know, there was hope for this one. There is a lot of good information under divorce statistics to prove this one false.
Every discussion has to include consequences for unprotected sex. Having a baby at a young age or the desire to have one is a rising concern in our society. Guiding and explaining the trials and tribulations of parenthood can fall on deaf ears here, so be resourceful. We are so lucky to be living in a technologically advanced era. Imagine how many couples are video tapping the birth of their children. I'm sure there are proud parents out there willing to share in their experiences. The local library (go with her to the library) also has resources on conception to birth with all the misery and weight gain in between to draw upon for visual aids. Try not to lay this on too thickly, eventually you do want grandchildren.
Unfortunately there is also the consequence of sexually transmitted disease in our society. This is not an easy discussion for any parent to have with a teenager. Thank goodness the American Medical Association has issued pamphlets on various diseases for questions and concerns. Hotline numbers are located on each one for additional reinforcements. These pamphlets can be found in almost every clinic and doctors office. Take as many as you need to decorate your daughter's room. There is no such thing as being over informed.
And finally, remember to stress that you are always there to answer any questions she may have, and not to worry too much. Now, good luck, and don't forget that mental list.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents