Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Teenage girls and birth control

Although this isn't really a topic of discussion in my own house, it's been coming up a lot in my real life as well as on the internet, and today my parent's group really dug deep into the issue. My thinking is that when your daughter becomes sexually active, it's your duty as a parent to take her to the doctor for a check-up, and for a prescription for birth control. Unless you want to be a grandmother early on, of course. I'm not really wanting grandmother duties just yet, so the Girl has been on birth control since she became sexually active. It's been a while now, she's settled down with her boyfriend and I really don't need to discuss sex anymore with her. She's doing it, I can't control it save locking her in a cage, and sex in my eyes isn't a bad thing. Sure, I wish she had waited, but I'm a realist and I know that NO parent can control their child's sexuality no matter how much they try, and teenagers have sex.

[Non-parents and parents of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, here is where you get to scream "she can't control her kids, she's a terrible mother, I know I could find a way to control my kids sexuality because I'm smarter, a better parent, and more in control.]

To which I say, "hahahahaha... freaking clueless geeks. You don't know what parenting a teen is like, so perhaps you might shut the fuck up and learn without passing judgement and thinking how superior you are."

Of the parents in my group, ALL of their teen daughters are sexually active and on birth control. Except one mom, whose daughter just recently became sexually active and the mom is having a REALLY hard time dealing with it. It isn't the daughter's issues that are creating disharmony in the house. It's the mom, who we all love to death, but who is very controlling, OCD, and has her nose up her kid's butts more than any other mom I know. The mom was sure her daughter wouldn't give up her virginity in her freshman year of school, but it happened and now the mom is utterly furious with her daughter's expressions of rebellion, sexuality, and a lack of responsibility about protection.

The mom did all the right things. She took her daughter to the doctor and got a prescription for BCP. She dropped off the prescription at the pharmacy, and then she told her daughter that she would have to pay her own co-pay and pick up the prescription herself. And with that, the crowd went wild! We all told her that playing with BCP is playing with fire, and that she had to get them for her daughter and that BC isn't a place to draw a line in the sand. Which we all believe, especially the mom whose daughter got pregnant her sophomore year of high school. But this mom had a really hard time hearing what we were telling her because it's her baby, and her baby didn't tell her she was sexually active until well after the fact. And her baby didn't use any protection. And her baby didn't give up the information willingly until her boyfriend dumped her.

While I understand her position, and nobody wants to hear that their daughter is sexually active, just this year we've helped a parent through his daughter's abortion, dealt with a pregnancy scare, and with my own daughter's sometimes inappropriate sexual behavior. We know that kids have sex. We know that we cannot control it unless we lock said child up. We know that it can happen inside your home just as easily as out in the world. We know that the world is filled with bad things that we didn't have to confront as kids, but we cannot control every aspect of a teenager's life, and if we think we can, we're doing our kids a disservice by being so over-protective/controlling.

Teenagers are more like grownups than kids. They are big and tall and do everything themselves. They hide in their bedrooms texting their friends who are now their confidants. They are pushing themselves out of your nest, they're stretching as far as they can. Which is normal adolescent behavior. And that includes sex.

BUT... sometimes society goes too far in providing teens a way to keep their sexuality private. Meet Mariah, parent of teens and pre-teens. Her daughter's high school in southern California gave her daughter a depo-provera shot without parental permission. A shot that made her daughter sick. Really sick. The only reason that Mariah even knew about the shot was that it made her daughter very very sobby and emotional so Mariah dug deep to find out what was going on and discovered the shot.

Now, this is NOT happening in our high school, and if it were, I would have gone ballistic just like Mariah. I do not believe that birth control is the responsibility of the school, especially since they do not have the child's medical records that might indicate that this shot could compromise the child's health. Without going into why, if the Girl had gotten this shot, it could have killed her. Dead. No way could her body have handled this shot. At all.

Some schools give out condoms, and I don't have a problem with that. Our school does, and my kids have been known to help themselves when they visit the nurses office, but in any case, we always have condoms in the house. Lots of them. Mom provided, kid approved. I grew up in a house with free-for-the taking condoms, and it worked for us way back in the 60's. Unless you have a kid with a latex allergy, condoms can't really hurt anyone.

I know that there are some parents of teenagers that are positive their kids aren't having sex. They are probably right. Not every kid is. But if you have an attractive daughter, one that is interested in having a boyfriend and pays a lot of attention to how she looks and presents herself, the chances are pretty high that sex is going to happen by high school graduation. There are always going to be science geek girls that will remain virgins through college, but really... if your daughters are looking good to the boys around her, you can bet that at some point birth control is going to become an issue in your lives.

When it does, be open to it. The biggest lesson is that you CANNOT control a child's sexuality. If you think you can, start therapy immediately because your heart is going to be broken. Doesn't that suck?

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Blogger Mariah said...

Well said--I am beyond pissed, Amanda will be fine, but what if?
What if she had permanent headaches from that shit. BCP is what I would have suggested, and what ANY clinic SHOULD have given her. Her school crossed the lines for sure, and sadly there is nothing I can do about it

25/2/09 1:09 PM  
Blogger SP said...

I have boys and I do not believe that Thing1(age13) has had sex yet. However, he does have a steady girlfriend and I know that it will happen eventually. I just wish there was a way for him to be more proactive about birth control. Condoms are imperative, YES. But they break - OMG! I do think that when he's ready or shortly there after he'll talk to me about it. I hope I hope I hope.

25/2/09 2:09 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

SP, I think they should make condoms for teens in a nice ripstop nylon. Because if most teen boys are like MY teen boy, every single condom is going to be ripped to shreds just putting it on. OY!

25/2/09 3:09 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

WELL SPOKEN... I have a teenage son with a steady girlfriend, and I have no desire (YET) to become a grandmother... so talking about pregnancy prevention is a MUST... I'm a realist and know it's happening... My own mother worries about them becoming pregnant... We have to help these kids and make protection easy for them to obtain... not put roadblocks in their way... they only put their heads in the sand and go into denial -- it's not going to happen to us!!!" Condoms in the house --- awesome idea...

25/2/09 4:36 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I salute you all. I have no children but was a VERY randy teenager and young adult. My family did "Don't ask - Don't tell" long before Bill Clinton every thought of it. So many parents turn a blind eye to their kid's sexuality and are so surprised when a pregnancy occurs.

Hats off to you all!

25/2/09 5:30 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

I hear you. I made sure my daughter established a relationship with the family doc -- on her own, not through me. She's 22 now, and I'm not a grandma yet. Something went right with this one.

25/2/09 6:46 PM  
Blogger iagreewithme.wordpress.com said...

If you have a sexually active son, please do not assume that his girlfriend's mother is proactive and able to manage birth control for the girlfriend. You might need to have a frank and honest discussion with both your son and his girlfriend. If you have a solid relationship with your teens, they will probably let you know when they begin to think about sex or begin to have sex and this is the perfect time to talk to both the boy and the girlfriend. Make very certain that condoms AND bcp are being used because condoms alone are not a good idea and bcp without condoms are also not a good idea if you would like to avoid being a grandparent. Without divulging too much information, although I am certain I blogged about this at the time, be prepared to manage your son's girlfriend's birth control too. This gets extremely tricky because you may need to request that your son's girlfriend talk to her parents honestly and some of them are very afraid to do this. Then you are in a position of taking care of something behind another parent's back. All I can say is please do not assume that because your son has a girlfriend that the girlfriend is on bc and that condoms are enough. They are not. Life is complicated when your kids are teenagers!


26/2/09 12:03 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

A, Son doesn't have a girl friend, and I'm pretty sure he's never been sexually active other than making out. He tells me pretty much everything and what he doesn't tell me, he tells his therapist and she clues me in to the big stuff, and so far there hasn't been any even remote hints that he's having sex. His girl friends are all friends. He's sort of geeky and a GF would scare him to death right now. He's having enough trouble just maintaining a lot of good meaningful friendships.

But I agree with you. I'd certainly ask, just as my daughter's parents asked me (of course, they have a 17 YO daughter who has a 7-month old baby). I don't think I'd go against a parent's wishes if they didn't want their minor on BC, but once she turns 16, planned parenthood will take her as a patient.

It's all SO complicated. Remember when the biggest worry we had was getting them to bed before 9 pm?

26/2/09 12:32 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

Make that "daughter's BOYFRIEND'S parents. Ooops!

26/2/09 12:33 AM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

AMEN Sistah. Here in the South, there seems to be a very persvasive trend toward teaching abstinence, telling them that God wants them to stay pure, and thinking that's going to be enough. GAH!!

I have no gripe with parents who want to teach abstinence. But we have to be real. We can tell them, but they aren't going to listen. And we have to be prepared for that. I've told my sons that sex is a very special thing when circumstances are right, and an awkward, embarassing thing when they're not. But I'm a realist. When they are in the throes of passion, all reason goes out the window. Just like adults.

It's harder with boys because there is no prescription. God how I wish there was. All I can do is continue to preach about the importance of safe sex and talk, talk, talk to them about all the facets of sexuality.

Good for you for being a realist. There's no gaurantee, of course, but I think the steps you ahve taken will greatly reduce the odds that you will become a grandmother anytime soon.

26/2/09 6:56 AM  
Blogger iagreewithme.wordpress.com said...

I think this is a great blog post and appreciate that you are putting it out there about being honest,open and proactive with our teens about sex. I feel sometimes parents feel if we talk about it, we say it is ok, and actually what really happens is that if we talk about it, we can let them know what our values are and oh by the way, this is how you protect yourself and your partner from STDs and pregnancy etc...It also makes it a lot more likely that they will turn to you when they have an issue or problem instead of their friends or another adult. And let's face it, having your teens want to talk to you during their troubled moments or days or years is what it is all about. And yes, I do recall the days when our biggest worry was the proper bedtime! LOL

26/2/09 11:00 AM  
OpenID madgetastic said...

Thanks for posting this. I have younger ones, but am also a realist and know this is in my future.

I'm especially concerned for my daughter who is not so hot with the social cues. Am planning to be vigilant with the openness so she doesn't find herself in a situation she doesn't understand. Boys can be so very persuasive.

Again, thanks.

26/2/09 12:48 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

Hmmm...on the one hand, I agree, sort of. Frank, repeated, and two-way discussions about sex and sexuality are imperative, period. I was born at night, but it wasn't last night.

But I do wonder about how hard it is for parents to give impartial and sensible advice while still not watering down their own message, which in our case will be that it's sensible to wait until you're mature enough to accept ALL of the potential consequences of your actions. (At the moment we have a 3 1/2 year old and we're pregnant with a -- gasp!! -- girl, so the sex-ed discussions that take place in our household are more of the "boys have a penis" variety.)

And for the record, I wasn't geeky and I did fine with the opposite sex, and I waited a long time to do it, mostly because of the message that I got from my parents: it's sensible to wait until you're mature enough to accept ALL of the the potential consequences of your actions.

As usual, parenting is quite the juggling act. But I do think that, in general, kids are listening, even when you think they're not.

26/2/09 7:37 PM  

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