Archive for December, 2011

Birth Control, Teens & Timing

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , |

Dear Lora,

My husband and I are in for a turbulent time during my daughter’s pubescent stage of life.  I want her to go on the pill when she becomes sexually active, but my husband thinks that would just encourage her to be even more active.  I disagree and would much rather have a protected daughter than a grandchild before we are all ready!

Proactive Pill Popper

Dear Pill Popper,

I googled the term “Putting the cart before the horse” and oddly enough, found your address!  Are you a planner, or what?!?!

Let me take a wild guess: you probably had the names of your children picked out you before you even met your husband…you clearly hate surprises and have threatened to disown any relative who’s even thought of throwing a party for you without prior knowledge…and you’re also likely the reason the rest of us can never use our frequent flyer miles, because you book your trips 8 months in advance, right? On behalf of procrastinators everywhere:  Thanks a lot sister!

There are a lot of positive things to being a planner – for the most part, life runs smoother because there’s less stress surrounding things that are known and set in stone, and you no doubt save more money than the rest of us last-minute holiday shoppers.

HOWEVER, there is such a thing as being too in control, or should I say in “birth control”!   Case in point: jumping to a lot of conclusions about your daughter jumping in the sack.

First, let me give you some good news: despite your concern about her becoming active the minute she hits puberty, recent studies show American teens have sex for the first time around age 17.  In fact, they are waiting a bit longer than teens in the past.  Even better news, The Guttmacher Institute’s says 75 percent of teenage girls had sex for the first time with someone they were in a long-standing relationship with, and almost three-quarters of that same group used contraception during that encounter.

Now, I’m not guaranteeing your young lady is going to be super responsible, they are teenagers after all, and still lose it when you forget to pick up their favorite shampoo at the store!  However, I just wanted to point out, that you might be overreacting…at least a little.

I’m kind of with your husband on the “planting the seed”, this may not even be on her mind right now, but if you put the pill idea out there, she may think having sex isn’t that big of a deal and that you’re expecting it happen sooner, rather than later.  Even though you clearly are expecting it, she doesn’t need to know that — yet.

I think you need to put the birth control conversation on cruise control for a little while and focus your energy on another way to get your point across.

It would be fantastic if someone would invent an iPhone app for this moment, but the likely reason no one has is because some things in life still require face-to-face communication.  This is one topic that you can’t text, tweet or Facebook your way out of.

With that said, I think the most effective form of birth control isn’t oral contraception, it’s oral conversation.  Before you pick up the prescription, I think you need to sit down and have chat.

Make sure you don’t approach it as on of those “we need to talk” sessions, all teenagers (and husbands) hate those moments.  Instead, try to bring it up while you’re in the car driving somewhere.  Tell her she doesn’t even need to respond, just put it out there for her to think about.

Let her know she can come to you when she’s thinking about having sex and that you will help her get the protection she needs and promise her you won’t freak out…or tell her father.  For the love of God, do NOT tell her father!  Unless you’ve got one of those progressive husbands who’s able to handle this stuff.  Here’s hint, you mostly don’t.

I started doing this with our oldest daughter, Betsy, before she entered high school.  The first few times she was like: “Mom, OH MY GAWD, that’s SO embarrassing!”  Then immediately put her iPod on and tuned me out.

None the less, I continued to drop the conversation in every few weeks until I was able to work up to:  “I’d really like to see you wait to have sex until college” versus the one our parents used, which was “You need to wait until you’re married”.

I’m not saying that waiting until you’re married isn’t an important message, but I don’t feel like that’s very realistic in this day and age.  Men and women are waiting MUCH longer to get married, than even our generation and WAY longer than our parents.  I’m not sure the “holding out until you say ‘I do’ ” line is very practical for this group.  The goal is get to them to listen, if you sound old and out of touch, they’ll likely think your message is too.

Back to Miss Bets for a minute, she continued to flip out every time I brought the conversation up, but finally started listening when I began talking about sexually transmitted diseases.  She is a germaphobe, to put it mildly, so that was the thing that got her attention.  The idea of getting cooties from someone else completely grossed her out.  Find your daughters “cootie” moment and you’ll be off to the races with this topic.

When it’s appropriate, you can take the conversation to the next level and let her know you’re open to the idea of her going on the pill and suggest she can come to you without being condemned.

As you know, there are serious side effects to the pill – there’s a reason it’s prescribed by a doctor.  I know, I sound like one of those annoying pharmaceutical commercials right now, but you get the point.  There are other forms of protection out there to consider as well.

And remember, even if she does go on the pill, there’s almost no way to guarantee she will take it as regularly as she needs to ensure it’s effective.  If she skips just 1 pill, she’s back a square one and could open herself up for pregnancy.   The only things teenage girls do on a regular basis without complaining are condition their hair and go the mall.

I say open the lines of communication and put the kibosh on the oral contraception, for now.

Side note:  Remember, you have more to worry about than being a grandmother, as the pill doesn’t offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

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