My daughter turns 14 next month. We have an open line of communication when it comes to the birds and the bees. My mom and I did as well, but it didn’t change the fact I chose to speak with my girlfriends about sex and not my mom. I’m aware teenage girls find solace in their girlfriends and would prefer to have those types of conversations with their peers. Still, I want my daughter to know she can come to me when she needs, with any question.
I’m not the type of mom who believes in locking my daughter away from the world in the hope of abstinence. The realist in me understands too well how hormones and teenagers work. I can only hope I’ve raised my daughter well enough to make an educated, heartfelt decision when it comes to having sex the first time. Saying that doesn’t make it any easier though. I don’t know any parent who’s excited about their child becoming sexually active.
You can put me on the list of parents who are terrified, but I won’t let my fear stand in the way of her preparedness. Please understand, I am not condoning sex at a young age. I was two weeks from 20 when I lost my virginity and was in a committed relationship—well, as committed as a 19-year-old can be. But I wasn’t the norm. Most of my peers had been having sex for at least three years by then. Everyone has their own timeline for when they are ready to have sex; mine just happened to be later than some.
No matter how I look at it, whether my daughter abstains as long as I did or chooses a different path, she will become sexually active at some point, and I have to come to terms with this.
In the meantime, there are a few things I want her to know:
1. Just because your girlfriends are having sex, doesn’t mean you have to.
You may find yourself at the local Starbucks with your girlfriends having a chat over coffee—this is when one of your friends will come out and say it. “Well, we did it. Tommy and I finally had sex.” Be curious; ask as many questions as you want the answers to. Nothing is too stupid. Don’t feel intimidated by her sexual activity because you aren’t there yet. She is just as insecure telling you she had sex as you are for not having had sex yet. Just please don’t feel pressure to have sex simply because your friends are. If you aren’t interested in having sex, don’t be afraid to say it; true friends will respect you and not pressure you into doing something you aren’t ready to do. If you are made fun of for being a “late bloomer,” don’t worry—your time will come, and there is no need to rush.
2. Don’t let him influence you.
He will wait, and if he doesn’t wait, someone else will. You may find yourself in a situation where you think you are in love with a boy. And to be fair, you are in love. When he holds your hand or looks at you longingly from across a room, you’ll feel a whole new world of emotion. You will have feelings you have never felt; your body will tingle from head to toe, and sweetie, it will feel incredible. But if you aren’t ready to go any further than hand holding or a kiss, you don’t have to. Exploring each other’s bodies is high energy stuff, but you can say no. He might be disappointed, as he is a teenage boy with raging hormones. But do not feel guilty for asking him to stop, no matter how far you feel you have gone. If he truly cares about you, he will understand. And if he doesn’t get it, he isn’t worth your time. I promise.
3. Use protection, and by protection, I mean a condom.
If you find yourself ready and feel it’s time to become sexually active, then please use protection. I cannot reiterate this enough. I’m not only talking about preventing pregnancy but also sexually transmitted diseases. You may feel intimidated by a condom, but darling, if you can’t handle a condom, you can’t handle the responsibility that comes with sex. Condoms are literally lifesavers. Also, I’m not ready to be a grandma, and you sure as hell aren’t prepared to be a mom.
4. You only have to do what you are comfortable with.
Sex is more than intercourse. There are many facets you will experiment with before or during your first sexual encounters. Only do what makes you feel comfortable. You don’t have to try something just because he said the last girl did. Not only may he be misleading you, but you also aren’t the other girl. You are you, and you get to decide what you like and don’t like. You get to decide what to do with your own body. You have a lot of time to figure that out.
5. ‘No’ means NO.
If you said “no,” it’s simple, it meant no. At no time did you do anything wrong or encourage him to go any further. Do not ever think you provoked him. If you say no and it goes further, it is rape. Report it, talk to me, your friends, a teacher, someone. PLEASE.
There is going to come a time when you are just going to do it. It may be pre-planned or spur of the moment, but when it does happen, please remember everything I’ve told you. Be aware of the step you are about to take and have confidence in your decision. You only lose your virginity once, and you’ll never forget it. It is probably going to hurt, it will not be like the movies, and you may not enjoy it.
You may not want to do it again for a long time, or you may want to do it repeatedly. Always be safe, not only with your body but your psyche. Having sex for the first time is a big deal. Know your body and have confidence in yourself. You are the only one who knows what’s best for you.
And finally, if you have any questions, I am here, and will never judge you.