Posted by: Ella | 2012-11-23

Daughter and sex

Hello CS
I''ve had an uneasy feeling for a long time about my 17year old and her boyfriend. Spoke openly to both of them and was assured they won''t do something ''stupid''. Also was told by her that I should trust her etc. etc. Her younger brother found a condom wrapper in her room last week and brought it to my attention. I kept quiet, trying to work things out for myself - actually trying to convince myself there is an explanation.

Last night I went to her whilst she was pottering about in her room and took the wrapper out of the drawer and showed it to her. She said nothing and I ask she just has to say yes, or no. Yes was the answer. I am devastated. I have been crying a lot since and eventhough I know it''s not about me it just feels as if I have lost my little, curly-top girl. I am so upset with her that currently I don''t want to be in the same room as her. Mainly because I trusted her with my entire being and the trust is gone. A lot of things have been said this morning and both of us were in tears.

I want to ''punish'' her but don''t know how. I know to forbid them seeing each other will be futile and probably make the situation worse as they will find ways to see each other and I certainly can''t control that. I just need some pointers.

Putting her on the pill I will not consider. Its like giving her the ''go-ahead''. I know I am acting out of anger currently but I just feel if she wants to have sex she has to take the responsibility upon herself to be safe. Should she fall pregnant, she will have to forfeit her dreams and aspirations of studying and travelling overseas. That will be her choice. Its harsh words, I realise. Just so angry and disappointed.

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Our expert says:
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The time comes when one has to face faces. Well before 17, nobody remains "my little, curly-top girl". Though it may shock many parents, current law and regulations allow kids alarmingly young to receive contraceptives and even abortions not only without their parents consent but even without parental knowledge.
Trusting is not enough, as you have discovered - the best safeguard is continuing open, frank, caring but not condemning discussions with a growing child / young woman, so that she feels able to discuss anything with you, not fearing condemnation or catastrophic reactions.
The fact is that we cannot "control" our children, however much we might want to do so in order to protect them from coming to harm - only they can be helped and encouraged to control themselves, to understand and believe in the risks and the value of avoiding them.
Evidence shows that providing contraceptive advice and contraceptives themselves, does NOT encourage young people to be more promiscuous, but to be more cautious, and to run less risks overall.
Putting her on the pill may be a really wise decision ( and she is already free to arrange this herself at government clinics or other services ). It reduces the harm that might be caused by what she may well do anyway, without actively encouraging her to become promiscuous. Please don't reject that possibility without thinking very carefully, and perhaps discussing it with a counsellor who could help both of you to have more useful discussions between yourselves.
If she allows herself to fall pregnant, yes, it will inevitably cause her problems and limit some of her choices in life, and she needs to be encouraged to think about this.
You are wise to decide to take a few days to think this through and digest it, and not to allow yourself to make repid and emotionally based decisions you might later regret.
As JS says, you asked her to be truthful, and she was - make sure she doesn't feel punished for having been truthful, or that discourages her from remaining frank and truthful with you.
She WAS truthful when you asked her - yes, she didn't rish to tell youbefore you asked, but given the response she received, is it really very surprising she wasn't keen to tell you ?
At her age many girls are sexually active, bear children and get married, and she would be allowed legally to do so. Yes this is very upsetting for you - but indeed be pleased she was using condoms rather than having sex without any protection at all.
When you calm down, have a long calm chat with her - not accusing her or blazing with fury or disappoinement and pain, but explaining why you felt so upset, and why you feel it is so important for her to be more cautious. Explain what you know about the various risks and disadvantages she has been risking, and why you'd like her to keep more pleasant options open for herself in life.
Remind her that she has decades ahead of her to enjoy responsible sex in her life - the whole apparatus and possibility won't wear out within weeks. But it is always, as science shows, far healthier physically and mentally for the woman and her eventual child, to start a bit later and to avoid early pregnancy.
Comet raises another point I wanted to raise - her brother behaved sneakily and badly. How did he come to find the condom wrapper in her room ? Does he make a habit of sneaking into her room to search for whatever he can find ? Isn't that really bad behaviour which should not be commended and rewarded ? Maybe he wanted to get his sister into trouble.
Thanks to our many readers who have contributed sincerely and helpfully here.
Leila I would disagree with - rushing them into marriage at this stage would be very unwise indeed.

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Our users say:
Posted by: me | 2012-11-25

grow up you stuiped lady its part of life

Reply to me
Posted by: Leila | 2012-11-24

Hi Kelly.Obviously it is best to postpone marriage in order that she may study, travel and do the stuff early in life. But if you come to think of it, some young people dont seem to concentrate on these prospects as much as they should. What happens if she falls pregnant? The baby needs a stable family home/life. That is why I suggested getting them married. I in no way condone forced marriages or punishing them for something that can be foreseen. At that age it is hard to draw the line when to stop during intimacy.
I wish young people would concentrate more on other exciting things in life - things that is be done best before marriage.

Reply to Leila
Posted by: Maria | 2012-11-24

Anon, great post. I like your way of thinking.

Ella, have to taken her to be tested for HIV and other STD''s?

Kelly, you come across as being VERY young yourself and completely unable to see the situation from a loving and concerned parent''s point of view.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Kelly | 2012-11-24

Hi Leila

I would not agree with that. I do know where you coming from though but that is so old age thinking, a thing our parents would say and do.

Having them get married is not going to help her in any way, she is only 17 and we both know at that age any guy we might have been with to us at the time you thought he was ''the one''
Once you older you come to see things differently and realise how immature you really were and that you were not ready to make the decisions you made back then.

She still has to finish school, study, she wants to travel. All best done before marriage. Yes, if she falls pregnant then marriage might be an option esp. For the baby but that''s not an option right now.

Marriage is not something that should be forced onto kids as punishment for having sex at a young age. If the 2 of them are good together, he loves her and he makes her happy then leave them be but stress safety.

Reply to Kelly
Posted by: Leila | 2012-11-24

Best solution now is to get them married as soon as possible.

Reply to Leila
Posted by: Anon | 2012-11-23

I am the mother of two teenagers 17 &  16 (who I hope are not sexually active yet) and can understand your anger and disappointment. Here are a few thoughts that I hope help you:

Your daughter will probably tell you that she could not discuss this with you because she KNEW what your attitude would be. You are disappointed that she has been dishonest with you. Maybe explain your disappointment and tell her that you understand why she did not tell you.

Sadly, many teenagers are sexually active long before they are 17.

At least your daughter is being responsible by using a condom.

At least she is in some kind of " stable"  relationship. (if you don''t have any problems/issues with her boyfriend you are also quite lucky in this regard " Is he basically OK?).

She is probably feeling somewhat ashamed  you should consider at least praising her for the fact that she is using condoms and is in a " stable"  relationship.

If I was you (and I could be you very soon) I would find this very awkward to deal with as you will now never be able to relax when you know she is with her boyfriend and especially in your own home. Maybe you need to discuss with her that (one of your main problems may be that you will struggle to now relax in your own home - in which you have rules that need to be obeyed - there are good reasons for these rules). Is she allowed to have boys in her room? (I have discouraged this in my own home) What you do not want to do is end up with a situation where they are having sex in dangerous situations (eg parked in cars) and in addition point out that it can''t be much fun if they are nervous about being caught! (which is why I would prefer my children to choose to be sexually active when they are no longer impermanently living at home). Maybe you need to air these issues with her. I also have much younger children in our home (the impacts on them need to be considered) - I am not advocating teen sex (I think it has the potential to cause many lifelong problems) and while I do not have any strong religious/moral views I do think that it is impractical to be sexually active at an age where you are not able to handle the emotional or practical consequences) but now that you are facing this situation you may need to put your own views aside........

I realise that this is difficult and fraught with issues and would be interested how other mothers handle sexually active teens or even older children (say in their 20''s) still living at home after school. I have tried to give my own teenagers the message that while I do not encourage teen sex I would expect them to let me know if they are intending to be come sexually active (so I can help them obtain birth control &  condoms) (I also live in hope that in a pressurized situation they will THINK because they know they should speak to me first) and that sex should be in the context of a loving and stable relationship. I have at the same time stressed that sneaking around and having sex as a teen in your parents home (which I do not support) is not a great situation to be in and that it would be sensible to have sex when one is independent &  more able to cope with the responsibility &  consequences (and enjoy it). One day I will find out if my strategy has worked - I hope not too soon!

While I can completely understand your anger &  frustration maybe take a step back and realise that you would have probably had to face this at some point and this could be worse .

Reply to Anon
Posted by: Comet | 2012-11-23

I was 16 when my parents discovered I was sexually and my parents were, needless to say, not impressed. However, rejecting her and wanting to punish her is far from a good way to handle it. She more than likely wants to be treated as an adult, not a child who stole a cookie. The fact that you are quite willing to let her make a mistake should she fall pregnant is very spiteful. What was her brother doing in her room anyway? Are you willing to punish him for the lack of respect and invasion of privacy, or is snooping an everyday thing in your household?

Reply to Comet
Posted by: Kelly | 2012-11-23

Also I think you should take her for coffee perhaps in the morning, once you''ve had enough time to calm down and apologise to her for the way you reacted.

You should let her know that you realise she''s an adult and free to make her own decisions but all you want is for her to be safe and resposible for her future.

You say ''Mainly because I trusted her with my entire being and the trust is gone'' Jaw dropping! Why put the weight of the world on her shoulders?

Reply to Kelly
Posted by: Kelly | 2012-11-23

OMG! Seriously her having sex has absolutely nothing to do with you! No matter how open your relationship is with her if she did not come to you in the first place and tell you, that just means she was not comfortable discussing it with you.

I feel on her part that you totally invaded her privacy and she should be the one angry at you! Yes, she still stay in your house but be glad she''s not doing it elsewhere. Be glad that they using condoms too! You know I am actually angry at you for the way you dealt with the whole situation. I''m sure she feels horrible but hey, she''s 17 and this is what she''s decided.

Congratulations for also making her feel like a failure in your eyes. I''m sure it wasn’ t meant for anyone to find the wrapper, that was undoubtedly her mistake and they should''ve been more careful but hey at least now you know (not that you had the right to)

I think the thing to do now is calm down, she is still you daughter and she still deserves to be treated the same as before. You def. need to speak to her about birth control if she''s not on anything and advise them to go for HIV testing.

Poor girl, what on earth do you want to punish her for?
You cant take back what she has done now but you can give her good advise and make sure she know she can speak to you in future. You also should not be wondering why she hasn''t come and spoken to you about this before...go figure!

Reply to Kelly
Posted by: please! | 2012-11-23

" punish'' her? please. That will only give her sexual guilt issues in her adult life. She''s 17. The fact that you want to punish her for not telling you she''s having s-x is the reason she didn''t want to tell you in the first place. Because you obviously don''t have an open, trusting relationship with your daughter!

Instead, why not have an open conversation with her about pregnancy, single parenthood, std''s, and the importance of having an intact reputation in her 20''s. At 17, she is not breaking the law, as the age of consent is 16. Age of consent, means that the law recognizes that she can choose her own sexual partners.

You should trust that you raised a decent daughter who makes smart choices. Don''t let this become a wedge in your relationship. You did know it was going to happen some time? Just love your daughter right now, because she really needs her mother to understand.

I am truly not trying to be harsh, I only want you to look at it from her point of view. I hope that you understand what message I am trying to convey?

Reply to please!
Posted by: Ella | 2012-11-23

Just Saying -

Truthful? She was not being truthful. If I had not seen the wrapper she would not have said anything. The fact that they are using a condom is hardly consoling.
Apart from that she told me it happens in his parent''s house when they are alone. Another lie as I spoke to his mother last night and they are never alone there. She then only admitted it happens in my house when I am out with her younger brother.
And I allow them to spend time at my house alone as both of them said they will not do be irresponsible and I should trust them.

So maybe I am not missing the point!

How was I to react last night? A pat on the back and say: well done  welcome to the grown up world my love! Let''s have a drink on that?

Thank you none the less for your response and as I said, I shall ponder the advice received and make my decision re the Pill.

Reply to Ella
Posted by: Just Saying | 2012-11-23

While I understand your devastation at finding out that your little girl has grown up, I have to wonder why you asked her for the truth if you weren''t really going to use the truth constructively? She was truthful with you, and now you are showing your dissaproval. Is that not going to push her away? You say that if she wants to be active, she needs to make sure she is safe. She is being safe by using condoms, and you are not happy? Please rather draw your daughter towards yourself rather than push her away. Pusing her away will only end up in more heartbreak which could mean pregnancy and early marriage. She has been honest and open with you, try to understand how much courage it took on her part to tell you that she was active. Please rethink your stance on putting her onto the pill. You are not going to stop her being active.

Reply to Just Saying
Posted by: Ella | 2012-11-23

Chris, Sally &  Maria -
Thank you for your valuable and sensible responses. I am going to give myself a time-out for a day or two just to digest the advice and calm down. Will make a decision then.

Reply to Ella
Posted by: Maria | 2012-11-23

My daughter is 10, I can only imagine what it would be like to be in your shoes. The unfortunate truth is, nothing you do will stop her from having sex. Your role now needs to be educating her so that she stays as safe as possible, and talking to her about values and self respect. Good luck, it''s hard this parenting story. Don''t take the decision she made too personally. We do our best for our kids but in the end they decide for themselves how they will live their lives.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Sally | 2012-11-23

However difficult it is, perhaps you should rather try and accept that your little girl has grown up. And please rethink your stance on the pill - I was in the same boat at that age and my parents also saw the pill as them giving consent for me to have sex outside of marriage. They assumed that if the pill was refused, I wouldn''t do anything " stupid"  and that I had too much to lose to take silly chances. Kids at 17 however don''t think that far ahead  the result was me pregant and shotgun wedding at 18. Today I am 50, I have two beautiful, successful children. But there are days when I wonder how my life would have been if my eldest had been a planned baby later in life...please work with her on this rather than punishing or going emotional on her..for her sake and your own

Reply to Sally
Posted by: Chris758 | 2012-11-23

Ella I know how you feel and it is hard to overcome. by putting her on the pill might just be what you have to do although it is difficult to do!! Chidren are sexually active at a much younger age than your daughter!! My daughter is 21 when she became active and for me it was so bad for she was my youngest!!

Rather help her and talk to her or else she might fall pregnant and that would be worse for you and for her!!

Best of luck!!

Reply to Chris758

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