Ashley: Okay, so the first question...
My daughter is a few weeks shy of 16. She is a good student, a good athlete, and very popular at school. She has a boyfriend who is (I believe) about a year older than she is. We assume they have sex, because she came to me six months ago and asked for advice about birth control. I'm okay with this, and in fact feel rather lucky that she was responsible about it. But everyone else seems to think I am a negligent or somehow terrible parent for knowingly allowing a teenager to be sexually active. I'm at the end of my rope with the judgments. What do you think?Carolyn responds,
I'm with you on a few things: I would rather my kids be open with me, even if it meant I had to learn about and then condone their sexual activity at 16; if I got the news about the sexual activity the way you did--by being asked about birth control, by a 16-year-old--I would not stand in the way, and if fact would try to help the birth-control process along; and I think people are out of line in judging you.Ashley: "A few weeks shy of 16th birthday" is 15. And six months ago is definitely 15. And while 16 is fine in most states, 15 may in fact we illegal. If that's the case, the parents should at least not advertise that they know about it. They can get charged with neglect, and possibly endangerment.
The one thing that really stopped me was your parenthetical. Maybe it's misleading, but it makes it sound as if you don't really know/know much about the boyfriend. If I'm wrong about that, great, but if you aren't well acquainted with him, then I think it's your job to get to know him.
Lulu: Oh, good catch. I wonder if that would change Carolyn's answer.
Ashley: I don't care about 15 vs 16, and I would totally do the same thing (minus the gossiping). They just might want to stop talking about it enough for everyone to judge them.
Lulu: Yeah, I wonder how all these people are finding out about it. Maybe the daughter talks about it?
Anna: It sounds like the LW is getting judged, not the daughter. The LW is a terrible parent, not the daughter is a slut or anything.
Lulu: Right, but if the daughter tells her friends, and her friends tell their parents, the parents might judge the parents. Like, the daughter's friends don't judge, they think it's awesome. They're like, "Well, MARLENE's parents let her have sex. They are TOTALLY COOL WITH IT."
Ashley: I see. Right. Ooh, there's a followup comment in the chat from another reader.
Why are you violating your daughter's privacy by discussing this deeply personal topic with anyone other than 1. her and 2. her other parent?Carolyn responds,
Oh duh, I totally missed that. Thanks.Lulu: Yup. We just covered that!
Ashley: I was just showing off that I caught it.
Lulu: So what's our advice? We're thinking denying and feigning ignorance would have been good strategies when it originally came up, but what can the LW do now?
Ashley: Change the subject, I guess. What do people do when others bring up topics they don't want to discuss?
Lulu: Yeah, I guess "I'm not going to discuss my daughter's personal life" works anytime.
Ashley: It is weird to say that if you gleefully discussed it before. Maybe,
"well, let's agree to disagree" and then shut up about it.
Lulu: Should we post this RIGHT NOW? SUPER TIMELY!
Ashley: DO IT