Dear Space Cadet!
I've been a fan of your "From My Orbit" columns. You have so much wisdom, and I'm confident you can help me:
I have a 16 year old daughter who dates 15 year old boy. My daugter & I have a pretty good relationship, she share things with me (something I've never done with my mom).
Well, she wrote me a note the other day telling me that she wants to have sex with this boy. Just to let you know, we've talked about sex before, I mentioned that I expect her not to have sex until she's 18 (& moves out). I presented all obvious reasons to wait - physical & emotional. This boy she's dating is very decent and intelligent, but he already had sex with his ex-girlfriend & of course, he wants more (and she wants it too now).
Please help me to present more arguments on the emotional side, why at this age they are not ready for sex.
In the meantime, I mentioned that if she wants me to schedule a visit to ob/gyn to talk about birth control options, I'll help with that. I'd rather prefer her having safe sex than me being oblivious to reality. But the truth is I want her to postpone it, she's only 16!
One more thing: I wouldn't want her to be on a pill, because we have very strong breast cancer history in our family, but you know how are teenagers and condoms...
Your advise will be very much appreciated!
Oh, don't start in too early with the appreciation! Because I'm going to tell you something: Your wishes for your daughter, while they are noble, are not going to be able to dictate what she ultimately does. As soon as you present an "argument," you have essentially set yourself up against her.
And that's not what you want to do. You need to be on her side. See, boyfriends come and go, but moms are forever. You want to be in a place where, even if she does something that she knows you aren't for, she can still come to you.
You already are in a good place: You want the best for your child — safe sex over unsafe sex, if sex is what it comes down to. You're willing to make an appointment for her to talk about birth control options with a doctor, and you're willing to get her The Pill (they're a lot better these days with the low-dose hormones than they used to be when it comes to cancer — smoking is the big no-no). You are in a place where you are facing reality. That is very good. (If you think about it, if you wait until she's 18 and moves out, she will have to go through all this on her own with the Pill and the doctor appointments. I know, I know, the chorus of "she's an adult then!" will ring up, but hey, how mature are 18-y-os in general?)
I get the feeling that you have laid out for her your expectations/wishes. Have you talked, really talked with her about the emotional side? I don't think I have any more wisdom there than you do. I think we're both aware of how much more intimate a relationship gets when sex (or even nudity) comes in. I think we've both had experiences sleeping with people that maybe weren't worthy of it, and not necessarily knowing that at the time. I think we've both dealt with what it means to be a sexual woman for ourselves in an age when women are supposed to be sexual for everyone else and vice versa.
In sum, there is a lot of noise out there about sex, and your job as a parent is to get your daughter to tune into the signal her own body and brain are sending her.
Instead of telling her the circumstances under which her virginity may leave, ask her about what *she* wants, and what she thinks having sex will do for her. It's so uncomfortable, but she may talk herself into that signal, and realize she may be feeling like she should do it because all her friends are and she doesn't want to be left out. She may really be in love with this 15-y-o boy, and she may really feel ready, too. She may realize she's just ready for a vibrator, which, as I've pointed out before, is a lot more trustworthy than any boy.
The thing is, having sex won't automatically change her or her character. But it does put her at quite a few physical risks and in a place where she is very vulnerable to this boy. She can't just weigh the odds (teens, it has been shown in surveys, will say it is rational to play Russian Roulette for something like $2 million, even though there is no rational reason on this Earth to play it — they don't understand odds) and game theory this out. She has to know that the boy who she is going to sleep with is doing it with her for the right reasons. So you may want to ask about this ex of his and what happened with her, and where she sees herself with him.
You can also tell her that if she's not ready to buy condoms, she's probably not ready to have sex, either. It's pat, but it's true.
The other thing I'll say is that in this day and age, virginity is looked on as something like a stigma. There is a lot of condescension to virgins. It may be that in this day and age, there is something to be said to losing your virginity to a boyfriend you really care about rather than waiting for an arbitrary age, or worse, feeling like you have to get it over with by a certain point. Once it's gone, the pressure is off for pretty much ever after.
My next piece of advice to you is when your daughter indicates that she's sexual, you let her have that space in her life to herself. It's not an area that you're responsible for. You love her, and want the best for her, you can help her cultivate an understanding of "the sexual life" but not necessarily her sexual life. As long as the rest of her is thriving — good grades, happy, active in her school/community — there's not really a reason to freak out about that part of her life.
Good luck! And big hugs!