So your teenager is having sexual intercourse. That particular cat is out of the bag, and you’re stopping it is not the battle you are choosing the fight. The problem is that your son or daughter is having sexual intercourse without condoms. How do you fight that battle? Here are a few places to start:

  1. Take them to Planned Parenthood to get tested for STDs. If you have a son, and you are looking for a bit of aversion therapy, make sure he gets tested for syphilis. (It’s a particularly nasty little test, and is not always included in a general round of STD testing.)
  2. Make sure they know that minors (i.e., those under 18) can buy condoms. It is not against the law to sell condoms to minors. In fact, they can get them free from a number of places (google free condoms to find out where).
  3. Leave a big bowl full of condoms in your teenager’s bathroom. That way, you know your teenager has access to free condoms. Make sure there are enough condoms so your teenager doesn’t worry that you’re trying to keep tabs on how many they’re using. Refill regularly with no comments. (Costco is a source of great big boxes of condoms.)
  4. Ask your teenager every time they leave the house if they have a condom with them. Make them show it to you. Embarrassing? Yes. Drives the point home? Absolutely.
  5. Make sure your teenager knows how to put on a condom. You can teach them, your partner can teach them, or some other adult can teach them. But there are just several points teenagers need to know about this (check the expiration date, pay attention to the reservoir on the end, make sure the condom comes out still over the penis, etc.). If you have a boy, tell him to practice putting one on during a masturbation session.
  6. Educate your teenager (or have someone else educate them) on how to incorporate condoms into a romantic tryst. (What to say, how to convince an unwilling partner to use one, etc.)

Teenagers have sexual intercourse without condoms for many reasons. What you are trying to do with all of this education, of course, is to listen to each reason your teenager gives you for not using a condom and respond appropriately to it. As a sex educator, I try and instill the belief that the only reason to not wear a condom is if you are actively trying to get pregnant. In that situation, the assumed action will be to include a condom during sexual intercourse, and not wearing one would require discussion.