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:
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I just came across your blog (and web site). Kudos to you for treating the subject of adolescent sexuality honestly and legitimately. This country is in desperate need of more professionals like you.
I agree with your post here. I’m not sure how I would have reacted had my parents asked me every time I went out the door if I had condoms with me, though! lol
You might not have appreciated your parents asking you if you had a condom, but you would have been much more likely to have carried one! If nothing else, than to have avoided the conversation about why you didn’t have one with you. Remember, this is really just advice for parents who have accepted that their teenager is having sex, that they will continue to have sex, and have shown in one way or another that they are not having safe sex.
I live in Germany, and work for the US military here. There is a commercial on Armed Forces Network (AFN – the American TV network all over the world for American’s serving with the military overseas) where they show a teen with lots of piercings, wearing black, ripped clothing, heading out of the house and the mother is grilling him about who he is going to be spending time with, where he is going, when he will be home. The teen is cool with it, rolling his eyes and it is clear that this is a friendly, normal interaction. He gets to look the way he wants and he is respectful about giving the information his parent requires to feel comfortable with his comings and goings. I can easily see, in the context of that conversation, the statement by the mother “Let’s see them!” and the teen pulling out his wallet and showing his 5 comdons. It can be a loving, humorous goodbye ritual. Loving, non-sarcastic humor can go a long way toward building a safe relationship to discuss these issues, or at least impart your views in such a way that your child/teen/young adult can listen.
“the only reason to not wear a condom is if you are actively trying to get pregnant.”
You know, you just made me think of something.
Having come of age in the late 1990s, in an era where “wear a rubber, dude” is just modus operandi, I think if I ever decided to have kids, it would be weird and awkward and probably more than a little scary to have sex WITHOUT a condom.
I’m so used to having sex with condoms, and I’ve had sex without them SO few times (2x with my first partner, and there wasn’t much thrusting involved, and a few times with a monogamous partner that had a vasectomy) that it would be weird to not do it. I think the fear and paranoia would remain a bit, even if we’ve both been tested and we were trying to get pregnant.
Have sex without a condom? What an unthinkable thing!
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