The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

Should I Take My Teen to Get Birth Control Pills?

I don't know what to do about my teen and sex.

Dear Dr. G.,

I'm really in a bind. My 17-year-old daughter, who is a junior in high school, came to me last week and asked me to take her to the gynecologist so that she can go on the pill. She has been dating her 17-year-old boyfriend for a year and says that she is ready to have sex with him and that she wants to be protected from pregnancy. Here is my bind: I have always kept the conversation about relationships and sex open with my kids. But now that my oldest child wants to actually experiment with sex, I'm kind of freaked out and uncomfortable. I guess I could take her to the gynecologist and make sure that she gets educated properly about birth control and STDs that birth control pills don't prevent against. I would encourage her to talk to the doctor about using both condoms and oral contraceptives. On the other hand, I don't want my daughter to think that I am encouraging her to have a sexual relationship. The truth is that I wouldn't mind if she waited until she is a little older before getting sexually involved. I think that high school is a little too early and that maybe she should at least wait until college. I'm afraid that she will be devastated when her relationship with the first boy that she has sex with ends. Maybe she will be able to handle her emotions better in college 

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I guess I can be supportive and take her to the gynecologist or she can get her oral contraceptives without me. I just don't want to send the wrong message but I do want to respect my daughter's request for my support. Please help, Dr. G. This is such a tough topic. I've spoken to so many of my friends about this and they are equally divided about what I should do. Some say that I'd be crazy to help her get "sex pills." Others say that I should support her and be her go-to person. My husband says he will leave this up to me.

A Confused Mother

 

Dear Mother,

First, I would like to applaud you about two things. It is wonderful that your daughter trusts you enough to come to you about such a sensitive topic. She obviously trusts you deeply. This is a big deal and you should be very proud of the quality of the relationship that you and your daughter have. Kudos! Also, you are weighing the pros and cons of your actions and your daughter's actions before making a decision. Further kudos! Here is what I advise.

Talk to your daughter about the emotions involved in a physically intimate relationship. Too often, our kids do not realize that physical and emotional intimacy are so connected and they are surprised when sexuality leads to such an intense attachment. Then talk to your daughter about your own feelings that she wait a bit longer before having sex and listen carefully to her reactions. If she feels that she is ready to have sex and go on birth control after that discussion then I advise you to take her to the gynecologist. I am quite aware that not everyone will agree with me on this one but I am all about supporting our kids after careful and respectful discussion of pros and cons. Make an appointment for her, accompany her, and then talk to her about what she learned from the gynecologist.You are encouraging safe sexual behavior by taking her to the gynecologist. You are NOT encouraging her to engage in sex. It appears that she and her boyfriend have already made that decision 

I am not a fan of having our teens keep secrets from us and lie. I love when we are their go-to people for all things important. Help and support your daughter. This will further enhance the quality of your relationship with her.

Good luck. This is not easy for any parent.

Dr. G.

For more articles like this see my website:

http://drbarbaragreenberg.com/ 

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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