“My daughter sexually active? NEVER!!!” That statement is one that all parents of teenage girls would really like to believe. However, according to research commissioned by Durex, the reality is that most teenagers in the UK will become sexually active by the time they are 16.7 years old. With this in mind, it’s down to us as their parents to take a deep breath, put aside thoughts of getting that hunting rifle, and address it as responsibly as we would like our teenage daughters to.
In a recent survey, only 2% of teenagers admitted to having told their parents the truth about being sexually active. If you’re one of those lucky parents whose daughter felt she could come to you, well done! Since the majority of teens don’t, we have to use our own instinct to figure out what’s happening in our daughters’ lives. Most teens think they hide it very well from their parents and truly believe that their parents have no idea. The reality is, most teens are thinking about, talking about, and actually having sex. Tough pill to swallow isn’t it? The worst part about it is that they feel they are invincible. They don’t think that they will ever get pregnant or catch something dangerous and therefore birth control and condoms are far from their minds …unless you count blowing it up, filling it with water and dropping it from the 2nd floor of the school building!
In the US, studies show that 67% of reported pregnancies are unplanned and this figure is not dissimilar in the UK. This figure includes teens. The most efficient way of preventing an unplanned pregnancy is to use an effective method of birth control. Whilst we would love to trust our daughters and the young men in their lives to use condoms, the fact is, between your daughter and her prospective lover, they may not have one and teens are about as impulsive about sex as they are about ice cream! So in the absence of a condom, pregnancy is something your daughter can be fully in control of given the opportunity. The fact is that without birth control, she will still have sex and could become pregnant. Allowing your daughter to take the pill responsibly, although painful for a parent, could be the only way of making sure that she is not forced to pass up all the amazing opportunities that life will present her with. Allowing your daughter to take the pill is a small price to pay to ensure her long term security by allowing her to grow up and finish school, college or university and create that life she deserves without the pressures of bringing up a baby.
The stark reality is that teens are having sex all around us. While some are in committed, loving relationships most aren’t. Even if your teen isn’t having sex right now, she’s probably thinking about it, or there’s someone else thinking about having sex with her. Honest dialogue is the answer. Explain that teen pregnancy is a real possibility, and explain other risks associated with sex. Don’t suggest she goes on the pill “just in case”. If she is contemplating it, there is nothing wrong with making it clear that you’re not happy about it, but the important thing is that you respect her decisions and she knows that you love her anyway. By talking to her like this, hopefully, she will feel safe to discuss it with you now and in the future.
Just because you’re allowing your daughter to take the pill doesn’t mean that you’re allowing your daughter to have sex. Try to separate those two things in your mind, it makes it easier! Not taking the pill won’t stop her from having sex but will put her at risk of pregnancy. Teens will always find a way. In the car, at the bottom of your garden, at her boyfriend’s house, it doesn’t matter what restrictions you put on your child, she will find a way if that’s what she wants. Therefore it’s important to understand that you’re actually being a responsible parent rather than one that turns a blind eye due to ignorance. Once you’re accepting of her situation, you can ensure that her sexual health is always being looked after. Proper medical care, checking for sexually transmitted diseases and gynaecological checkups are easier to handle. Taking her to your family doctor shows an element of trust on both sides. Remember, your teen doesn’t need your permission to go on the pill. There are plenty of family planning clinics she can go to behind your back.
And if after this you’re still unsure, remember one thing. Allowing your teen to take the pill now is one way of protecting her future. Isn’t that exactly what you swore you would do the moment you first saw her 10 tiny fingers and toes…?