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Ask Rene: My Teen Son Is Having Sex – Now What!

teenagers and sex

Rene, I got a phone call last night from my 17 year old son who said he needed $20 and it was a dire emergency.

I had quite a few questions running through my mind but not the one he sprung on me. He said that his condom broke and needed to buy the Plan B pill for his girl friend.

I did not know he was sexually active and this was a slam to me. I am glad he came to ask as I don’t want to be a grandmother. If he can’t afford the pill you know he can’t afford anything else.

I bought the pill but want to know how to handle this. I told the girlfriend if she needs me to take her to a doctor I would. Question, am I over stepping my parental boundaries by offering this to her and what do I do with my son?


Worried Mom

Dear Worried,

I know this is a shock to your system but there are some good things, some not so good  things and an opportunity to learn here. In a perfect world we would like our kids to wait and have sex when they’re ready, preferably a bit older than 17. But the fact is they did it, it does no good to hide your head in the sand and you need to figure out where to go from here.

First I want to commend you for creating an environment where you son felt comfortable enough coming to you when he was in trouble. That is no small thing. I also have to say bravo to him for using a condom and for paying enough in sex ed class (or to the commercials) to know what Plan B emergency contraception is. Sounds to me like you have a pretty smart kid on your hands who was being responsible. That said here’s what I would suggest.

TALK TO YOUR SON: It appears you have pretty open communication already so I would probably tell him that I was thankful he came to me. But I would also express my shock and disappointment that he is having sex. I would explain to him that sex is a big step and not one people are always ready for mentally and emotionally even if they are physically. Make sure he understands all he needs to know about sexually transmitted diseases as well. After you’re done giving your spiel ask him if he has any questions for you. He might one or two that you had not thought of.

TALK TO THE GIRLFRIEND: While I remain impressed that you have such clear communication with your son and his girlfriend, I do think this is where it gets a little tricky. You don’t mention it but I am going to assume she is also a minor. Your question was whether taking her to the doctor oversteps your parental bounds. On this, I would say yes. However, I also think even with all the talking, it’s probably not real likely that they are going to stop having sex and you said yourself you do not want to be a grandmother. So the question is how do you keep that from happening? Talk to the girlfriend and ask her if she is comfortable going to her own mother. If she is not, then I would find the nearest Planned Parenthood. You can make sure she calls for an appointment, perhaps drive her there, but I would stop short of assuming any sort of medical liability for her. If she and your son want to have sex, then he can accompany her to the appointment

GO OVER GROUND RULES: Just because you are helping facilitate birth control for the young couple does not mean you are signing off on them having sex all over your house. Lay down the ground rules and stand by them. If your son asks where they’re going to have “alone time” uh, not your problem. You don’t know, nor do you want to. If he’s old enough to have sex (in his mind) he’s old enough to figure that part out. And he’d better get a job that pays enough money or manage what he’s got in the event of another “dire” emergency.

Your son did a mature and smart thing coming to you when he was in trouble. It was the first step in accepting responsibility for this situation. But it has to continue and that includes, getting and utilizing proper birth control.

Good luck mommy!

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  1. Peppercorn16

    February 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think she’s over stepping her bounds she’s only looking out for her son and his girlfriend. They should be so lucky that she’s wants them to make sure they are taking the right steps since they both want to be frisky

  2. Rene Syler

    February 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I agree that she’s being safe. My answer was based on a legal liability. What if the girl goes on birth control and has some sort of adverse reaction? Looking at it strictly form a legal liability place, I would be really careful.

  3. kim

    February 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    good answer, rene. this is one awesome mom. she kept her cool, maintained a realistic approach and did the right things. guess where her son learned to also do all of the above?

  4. Rene Syler

    February 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm


  5. M.E. Johnson

    February 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    She sounds like a wonderful mom. Now I ask you readers should she tell the girl’s mom? I really don’t know what I would have done.

  6. Amanda

    February 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Rene, I applaud you, what you suggested to this mom is spot on. To Worried Mommy, pat yourself on the back, you have something many moms wish they had with their sons–an open relationship. He felt comfortable enough (though part of it was probably spurred on by the “OH MY GOD The Condom Broke” thought) to ask for assistance instead of acting like it wasn’t his problem.
    Discussing this with both of them, together, is a definite requirement. They need to know the ground rules, your assisting in purchase of the Plan B pill, which I know darn well is not $20 but at least double that, was not a permission slip to go at it like bunnies in the spring time. It was simply safety of your own personal sanity.
    I’ve written about this before, but growing up my mom put a lot of work into open communication with me and my brothers, and I can tell you it has paid off. I was the oldest, and I’m sure it was harder for her seeing her little baby girl reach the age of maturity and stupidity (yeah, you all know they show up at the same time). The second I was in what she deemed a ‘long term’ relationship she hauled my butt to the doctor for my very first pap, explained the importance of that particularly unfun, but necessary procedure, and also got me on birthcontrol. The first time is hardly ever planned, it is better to have something you don’t need than to not have what you do need. Up until the time that I got married, my mom continued to pay for my birthcontrol.
    When my brothers came up to the same age (16) she purchased a box of condoms, she sat them down, and she had the talk. Not the where your parts go talk but the “this is birth control, if I catch you having sex without it I will guaran-damn-tee that you won’t ever need it again…” talk. She also put a part in that conversation reminding them that sex is a two person thing, it’s not just for their enjoyment, when you have sex you’re giving a part of yourself to your partner, so it’s not casual.

    As to bringing this up to the girlfriend’s mom…oh hell no! I’m sorry, I’m sure that mom knows her little girl is having sex, I’m sure she even knows with who, and if she doesn’t it’s probably because girlfriend knows that if she ever spoke a word of it boyfriend and girlfriend would both end up at the bottom of a lake somewhere. Some parents would just rather keep their heads in the sand, but also, as a parent, I would HATE the parent who told me “so your kid and mine are having sex.” WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT! And also, think of the bog of quick sand you just threw girlfriend into…she’s going to walk in the door, not knowing you just threw that at her mother, and be squarely caught with the “So, you and boyfriend are having sex!” And if she denies it she calls boyfriend’s mom a liar, and if she confesses and mom is not understanding, she will find herself grounded and required to break up with boyfriend. Worried mom, don’t call girlfriend’s mom, instead, be open with girlfriend, if she’s not comfortable telling her mom about the relationship but wants to go on birth control, help her get to planned parenthood.

  7. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks Amanda, good for your mom for being so open about sex and birth control. I have always believed that just because you give them the information doesn’t mean they run out and do it; in fact there are studies that show that very thing ( Knowledge is power. Great to hear from you!

  8. abbi

    February 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Is it too much to ask one’s kids that they stay virgins until they get married? In my household, both of my brothers are in their twenties and still virgins as am I, their sixteen year old sister. I guess it helps that our mother implemented the “no dating until you turn 21 rule”. Honestly I think that though the mothers son has enough sense to take precautionary measures before having sex and after the condom breaks, the whole fiasco could have been avoided if only he and his girlfriend had abstained from engaging in the activity all together.

  9. Rene Syler

    February 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    @abbi, that’s great for you and your family but everyone goes by what works best for them. There are some people who do not believe kids need to remain virgins until they are married. That’s the way they parent and that is fine. To each his own. For me personally, would I like that to happen? Yes of course. Does that mean i’m not going to prepare my kids? Definitely not. They will and already do, know a lot about sex as no question is off limits. BTW, studies show kids who are armed with knowledge do NOT have sex more than kids who practice abstinence only. Good luck to you and your family and keep on doing what works for you guys!

  10. franssier

    March 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Yes I agree with Rene. It all depends on one’s surroundings. A kid told to avoid sex before marriage is going to develop a complex about his if he is surrounded by kids raised differently

  11. Whitney

    March 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Great advice Rene, I have daughters and I want to be the one that takes them to the doctor for nothing this serious. There’s only two people in my house having sex and we are both over 18. The end.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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