Janine Sherman is the co-author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom and Heath, Sex, or Whatever. This clever and useful book, featuring sample conversations, suggested talking points, Q&A’s, and real life stories, is designed as an “ice-breaker” to help initiate frank, productive discussions about health, sex, body image and dating between mothers and daughters. She has outlined the following “don’ts and do’s” for engaging in an effective conversation with your daughter now.
Don’ts and Do’s For Opening Dialogue with Your Daughter
Don’t say “you are too young to have sex and I want you to abstain till marriage,” even if that is how you feel.
Do admit that she is feeling like she is ready to have sex, and those feelings are normal, then…
Ask her why she wants to have sex. Does she think it will make the relationship stronger? Is she curious? Is she being pressured by her boyfriend or peers to have sex?
I was recently told by a 15 year old patient “all my friends are having sex and it just isn’t a big deal“
Don’t say “if you get pregnant or get an infection you are on your own.”
Do ask her if she understands the long term effects of having sex.
- What would she do if she were to get pregnant? Abortion, adoption, or raising a child at the age of 16 or 17? It doesn’t matter what choice is made; her life is forever changed.
- Infection? Is she ready to accept the risk of a sexually transmitted infection? Remind her that 1 in 4 sexually active teens gets a sexually transmitted infection. Some, such as herpes, never go away.
- Psychological? Does she really understand the potential emotional impact of her actions? Girls become more attached after sex than boys. The frontal part of the brain, which is responsible for understanding consequences, is not fully developed until well past age 20, and in general, this part of the brain is not developed enough before the age of 18 to truly understand the emotional consequences of sexual activity.
- Effect on her relationship? How will she feel when the relationship ends? Is she and her boyfriend wanting to have sex for the same reasons?
Don’t forbid her to have sex, ground her, or restrict her from seeing her boyfriend.
Do tell her that in your opinion she is too young to have a sexual relationship but in the end you want her to be safe and healthy.
- Tell her you want her to go to see a health care provider to learn how to be safe. This may include being tested for sexually transmitted diseases and learning about birth control.
- Remind her she should insist that her boyfriend also go to a health care provider to be tested as well.
- Remind her if her boyfriend is really pressuring her and she doesn’t really feel ready, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. At 16, it is time to focus on herself and her passions and becoming the woman she is going to become.
- Tell her that you love her and that you are glad she came to you!
When all is said and done you cannot lock her in her room to keep her from having sex, and so it comes down to her choice. However, most girls who go to their mom in a situation like this she wants to hear what you have to say. Therefore, if you talk they are probably listening, if you scream and yell, she will probably tune you out.