They say 50 is the new 40. So, 20 is the new 30? 10, the new 20? I heard that youth is now defined as ages 17-24. Young adulthood is starting later and later. 21-year-olds are more like what we were at 17. At the same time, kids today are exposed to things at a much younger age than when I was growing up—but they are less mature and able to handle it, in my opinion.
You probably know where I am heading here: SEX. All of my boys have ADHD, which we know means they are emotionally immature. They also have no filter, which means they think it is okay to tell me things that I would rather not be privy to. At the same time, I am glad to know what’s going on so I can step in when I need to and educate when necessary. There were times when my son, when he was between 15 and 16, would share things with me that had gone on while he was at his girlfriends’ homes, supposedly under the supervision of their parents.
I recall his first serious girlfriend and how much time he wanted to spend with her. When she was at our house, they were always in a room with doors open—and I would find the need to pass through that room, several times. He happened to share with his dad that they had more alone time at her house; his dad took advantage of this candid moment and tried to get as much information out of our son as he could, and talk seriously with him about what was going on. We had both had “the Talk” with him years earlier, and subsequently any time a teachable moment came up. As it turned out, most of what was going on with them was just talking about what they wanted to do, but his dad sensed this talking would turn into action before too long.
I did not want to let him know that his dad had shared these conversations with me because I certainly wanted him to continue trusting him, but at the same time I felt I needed to step in somehow. Since none of the kids drove at that point, transportation was up to us. I met both of his girlfriend’s parents on several occasions and we even spoke on the phone to arrange their “dates.” I took advantage of one such phone call and told her mom I was concerned that they were getting more serious and that I over-heard “I love you” on the phone. I mentioned that I was not leaving them alone at my house and she assured me they were well supervised over there as well, but she would “bump it up” anyway. She then told me that she and her daughter had spoken and she was sure her daughter was not going to have sex any time soon. I did not tell her what my son shared with his dad, which got more detailed over the months. As it turned out, they broke up without ever having sex.
In comes the second long-term girlfriend. This girl was very sweet, even brought us home-made baked goods when she visited. After several months of dating, my son was invited for the weekend up to his grandparent’s home in the mountains. He wanted to bring his girlfriend along. We all decided this was not a good idea and he angrily blurted out, “We’ve already had sex, so I don’t see what the problem is!” Yikes! I, again, had been assured there was adequate supervision during visits. I assumed they must have gone out at some point, away from the house. How else could this have happened? Nobody was driving yet, none of their friends had a car.
As a parent, I knew the day would arrive eventually. I did not expect to find out the way I did, with it blurted out that way. I figured I would never know. (I thought that maybe when he had his first child after getting married I would figure it out…) We eventually found out that her dad had mowed the lawn while he was there and they took advantage of that opportunity. We had a very long talk, yet again, about protection, diseases, all things he assured me were just common sense and he asked if I thought he was stupid!
Anyway, I still felt the need to do something, even though it had already happened. I tried the same tactic, telling her mom that they were getting quite serious. I did not want to break my son’s trust and certainly did not want to alienate the girlfriend, so did not tell her mom what I knew. Her mom vehemently assured me her daughter knew what was at stake, and having been adopted, knowing her own birth mother was a young teen, would NEVER risk the chance of having a baby at such a young age. I certainly did not want to blurt out that she had already had sex with my son. Some may say I should have told her, but I felt I did the right thing by making her aware so she could either start the conversation with her daughter or bump up the supervision.
After this, I started speaking with my friends who had daughters the same age. Surprisingly, they all seemed to have the notion that their daughters were not having sex, even the ones with long-term boyfriends. Who did they think our boys were having sex with?
You cannot prevent every opportunity, but you can certainly do your best, educate and hope your kids make safe choices. I was pleased to find out that my son’s physician starts talking with his patients pretty early about sex, and assures them they can call him confidentially with questions and concerns.