I Am Upset That My 14-Year-Old Is Sexually Active

Dear Dr. G.,

My 14 year old daughter is having sex. She lied to me and I had to confront
her to get the truth. I have talked to her about this subject many times as I
am old school and believe you wait until you are married to have sex. She knows
how I feel about it. I do not condone her doing this at all yet she went
behind my back and swore to me her and her boyfriend were not having sex. So
now that I know what should I do? I am hurt and feel disrespected. I have
no one to talk to and when I try talking to her she screams at me and tells
me that she doesn’t want to talk about it and to leave her alone. Please help. I am
57 years old and do not want to raise a baby.

A Distressed Mother

Dear Mother,

Thank you for reaching out. I understand your exasperation. It must be dreadful to feel helpless and to have no one to talk to. I believe that I can help you with this tricky situation. I sure will try.

I agree with you that 14 is way too young to be having sex for even the most mature young teens. I strongly believe that young adolescents do not have the tools to make important decisions about sex. Additionally, they are unlikely at their age to be able to handle the consequences of such intimate behavior. In my practice, I see many teens who have gotten sexually involved before they were emotionally ready and have then struggled with a variety of difficult feelings that they did not anticipate. And, many of them were surprised when they realized how emotionally connecting sex is and was. I have also worked with the teens who have struggled with pregnancy fears and it is crystal clear that they are not ready to deal with these potentially life-altering issues.

You share that your daughter lied to your about her sexual involvement. This must hurt but I am sure that she was afraid of both disappointing you and angering you. Teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and as you know often make poor decisions. Their struggle to be independent is often associated with engaging in behavior that they feel is synonymous with independence. Sadly, they often make risky decisions as they try to feel grown up and more independent.

Regarding what you should do- I suggest that you take your daughter to her pediatrician and even to a gynecologist. If she is going to engage in sexual activity then she should be speaking to both of these doctors. These doctors should educate her about sexuality and all that goes along with it. As your daughter’s mother you also have the right to set limits on your daughter’s behavior. You can set earlier curfews and do your best to know where your daughter is at all times. I know that this is no easy task but you can simply do your best here.

I certainly understand that you are not prepared to raise a baby. You must share this with your daughter in a place and at a time when she will listen to you. Perhaps you can have this conversation with a trusted adult present such as a good family friend or even a health care professional. Try to stay calm during this conversation. As I am sure you are well aware, teens shut down when their parents become emotional. Staying calm under these circumstances is a lot to ask but it is necessary.

I have another suggestion. Perhaps, you might consider getting your daughter on birth control. I am aware that this will be a painful decision but it might be preferable to all that comes along with a pregnancy. Think about this.

I wish you luck and peace as you consider your options. Please get back to me and let me know how things work out.

Dr. G.

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