My son asked me one Friday morning if he could stay after school to bike with his friends. I said yes believing with my whole heart that’s what he would be doing; he’s stayed after a few times with them before and was always where he said he’d be and with the kids he’s said he’d be with.
And since his father lives a quarter mile from the school, he planned on meeting him there at 4 and spending the night.
An hour and a half with his friends after school is a freedom he loves, and deserves. I remember all too well the carefree days of doing the same with my friends after school. Most of the time I was where I said I’d be, and with whom I’d told my parents I’d be with, but sometimes I wasn’t.
Sometimes I was smoking, or drinking, or making out with my boyfriend behind the school– and I was a “good kid” who got good grades and never got in trouble in school or missed curfew. I was normal for experimenting in these ways. I wasn’t a troubled, bad kid looking for attention.
I know most teens will dabble with these behaviors. And I’ve also known my own kids wouldn’t be any different; they’d have their dabbling days, too, but that doesn’t mean you are prepared for it when it happens.
The morning after my son “went biking with his friends,” I picked him up and he seemed off. Then I looked at his neck and he had a fresh hickey. I can’t explain it, I just knew.
I looked right at him and said, “Did you use a condom?”
His face flushed immediately. He answered yes.
“Was this your first time?”
Again, his answer was yes.
“Was it her first time?”
Again, he nodded his head. She had been his girlfriend for a few months and they had never had any alone time until that Friday afternoon when he decided to ditch his friends, and go to his father’s condo before he got home from work since he lives near the school.
My son could have easily lied to me. I mean, I think I would have known he was lying, I knew by looking at him that morning something had happened, but if he hadn’t told me the truth, I wouldn’t have had any real way of knowing.
I’ve always been very open about sex in our house. I’ve been telling my kids about the birds and the bees before they entered kindergarten because I quickly found out, if you don’t tell them, another child will. And it probably will be incorrect information.
The discussion has continued as they’ve had questions, or we’ve seen a show or heard a song. We’ve covered it all– how a baby is made, oral sex, masturbation, and consent. I discussed the Brock Turner case in detail with my son when it happened and he was 12 at the time.
I never want the subject to be taboo, I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me if they have questions, need advice, need protection, are confused, or have something happen to them they need to talk about.
Sex can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be scary and leave you with feelings you aren’t sure about. As a woman in her 40s who has started dating again, I still get confused about sex and I’ve been having it for over 25 years. There’s no way our teenagers should be starting this journey without a trusted adult, and that trusted adult should be one of their parents.
We need to be open so our teens will come to us. It doesn’t mean they will think we will be okay with them having casual sex with a bunch of different people; it will make them feel empowered to make safe choices they are comfortable with. It will help them decide who is worth sharing their bodies with. It will give them the correct information about things like STDs, pregnancy, and consent— and they need the correct information.
Don’t leave it to their friends or health teacher to talk with them. Don’t let them go experiment without having a support system. Don’t let them feel ashamed for wanting to be intimate. The truth is, they will do it with or without you being involved.
Talk to your teen all the time about sex without judgment because they are going to want to experiment, even if they wait to have intercourse.
My son didn’t tell me any details about what happened that day– that wasn’t the purpose of our talk. I didn’t tell his girlfriend’s mother either, although I debated it.
I did encourage him to tell her that they both could talk to me anytime and come to me with questions they had. I did remind him he needs permission to touch and kiss her each and every time, just as she needs permission from him. I did remind him about the importance of protection and how having sex should be saved for someone you really care about, and it’s between the two of you. Details about your sex life do not need to be shared with anyone expect for those you trust.
And by staying calm and having a talk about it, it brought us closer together and he trusted me enough to come to me again with questions and concerns.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard on me– I wanted to cry; I wanted to tell him he wasn’t ready; I wanted to keep him locked in his room, and tell her mother to keep her locked in her room, and hope it wouldn’t happen again until he was 20, but I know how unrealistic that is.
Our teens want to have sex; they are going to have sex. And we need to talk to them about it.
The writer wishes to remain anonymous.