Personal question for parents of college-age women

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Personal question for parents of college-age women
By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:17 pm: Edit

My D will be entering her soph year of college in a month or so. She has had boyfriends in the past, but has not been sexually active (yes, I know, I don't know everything she does, but I'm pretty certain this is true, so humor me for now :)).

As I think back on my upperclassmen years in college (heh), I am thinking more about the possibility of her becoming sexually active, and I'm wondering how others handle this. Yes, we've had the safe sex talk (more than once)as well as discussions about the emotional aspects of physical intimacy. But I'm just wondering how others feel about their daughters becoming sexually active in college, and what kind of emotional reactions you've had, if it has happened or just at the prospect.

By Czyrda (Czyrda) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:31 pm: Edit

Just make sure she's not like so many other girls I see at school who sleep with these loser party guys. Check those STD rates too.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:40 pm: Edit

gee, thanks, Czyrda, that's so helpful.

I was hoping to get some parent responses.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:47 pm: Edit

My daughter is younger, but I've passed on articles to her about things like the stunning rate of herpes and other STD'a among college students. Sometimes when I begin a discussion I quickly learn that she knows more than I do. I was not as aware of state of the art birth control as was her middle school science teacher who thoroughly covered this. Frankly, I think it's pretty unusual these days to not be sexually active by the time you're a college sophmore. It's great that she waited this long but I'd think she will be just fine unless you think she's extremely immature.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:07 pm: Edit

How do I feel? I don't - the ostrich approach has its advantages, you know. As a parent, there is not much I can do at this point to control her behaviour, not that I try too much. Besides, now is a bit late to think about doing something. We've had many a talk about values and relationships over the years, and certainly spouse and I try to lead by example.

I will say that spouse is involved in the politics of access to emergency contraception, so my D is well aware of that topic, and even checked to see that her school offers it.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:11 pm: Edit

Massdad -- I completely understand the ostrich approach! It's not even so much that I think I should be "doing something" or trying to control her behavior, it's more just emotions and thoughts as I realize it will probably be soon, assuming it hasn't happened already. I have definitely been harping on the safe sex thing (am I the only one whose kid says "I know, I know"...).

Mom101 -- I wonder if it is really that unusual to be a virgin at 19. Certainly the popular culture makes us think it's rare!

I really appreciate the comments and thoughts -- keep them coming!

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:29 pm: Edit

Hi Rhonda,

I really don't think that it is not that unusual, as many young women are having sex, many stil are not. I think we are raising young women who know that they have the last word concerning their bodies, and the choice really does belong to them. I also believe that some women are more confident, and don't feel the pressure to have sex if they feel that they are not mentally and emotionally ready for this step.
I can understand your concerns as most of us are sending daughters off to college also.

While we have talked extensively, lucky for me, my best friend (her Godmother, is an HIV/Aids counselor) who has told her first hand the number of young women she has had to counsel who thought it was something that happened to other people (she got to hear it from another source). We have had the talk about safe sex, emergency contraceptives, etc, and she knows that no matter what happens, we are there for her. In the end, all we can hope for is that some of the lectures and talks have sunk in and ultimately she chooses someone who totally respects her, and she makes the choice that is best for her.

The of the bigger issues is what do we tell our young women about men? Not to beat those of you who have sons, but, the conversations have to go both ways as parents, what are we telling our sons about how to treat women?

By Fredo (Fredo) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:33 pm: Edit

I volunteered to get my daughter (college freshman) condoms to which she just rolled her eyes - the physical equivalent of "I know, I know!" We've had all the talks, ad nauseum she would say, and I've stressed the alcohol and drugs can lead you to do stupid things you'll reqret aspect. But of course I still worry. I'm pretty sure she won't be a virgin when she marries and I guess I just want her to be emotionally mature enough to handle sex. I think she knows she's not ready - she gives me the right answers: I'm waiting for the special guy who really cares about me, etc.

But I think it's entirely possible that she's going to do something stupid. Because I know I did!! The emotional, mother side of me would love to spare her those stupid moments but the realistic side of me knows they're going to happen. Part of growing up.

So I just hope that she's got enough tucked into her head not to make those stupid moments disastrous events - just regrettable ones that she learns from.

Doesn't stop me from worrying but, really, it's out of my hands once she's on her own at college. I'll just to keep those lines of communication open (no matter how hard at times) so she can feel free to come to me for help and advice when she needs it - and condoms anytime!!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:41 pm: Edit

I have no idea if my daughter has been sexually active, or at least I don't want to think about it. She has a good head on her shoulders, I don't think that she puts herself in risky situations either physically or emotionally and I know that she has good friends to support her.

I imagine that she has been sexually active and that she had been involved in at least one emotionally draining relationship, but I wouldn't have even suspected that much if I hadn't come down to visit in the middle of something. ( Not that I witnessed anything, but her friends were acting a little weird and what I later found out was that she had been involved with a girl who I never did like because she was pretentious and manipulative, sad to see your kids find out you are right!)
I in general don't worry about her getting pregnant, however her male friends are much more present than female and often more attractive to boot.
What I have found works for me is the strategy I use with my 14 yr old. Watch a movie that brings up the topic and then discuss it. Somewhere I found a website that suggests that very thing with recommendations, I will see if I can find it again

By Poison_Ivy (Poison_Ivy) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:47 pm: Edit

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:52 pm: Edit

I was recently traveling with my very matue 14 yo and she stopped at Sex and The City while channel surfing. I was slightly horrified, but I know what's in Seventeen, Cosmo Girl and the other magazines she reads and that sex has been openly discussed often at the all girls school she attended. So there we were in our hotel room watching simulated sex together. After, I took the opportunity to get a read on her values re sex. I was happily surprised. She very matter of factly informed me that she didn't feel she would be ready for quite some time and that she wanted to date a lot of boys to be able to recognize deep feelings before she get's sexually involved. She further told me that she would of course have sex before deciding who to marry because he could be bad in bed. It was hard to argue with.

By Sac (Sac) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:56 pm: Edit

I think with a college sophomore, you just have to trust her instincts. Sometimes, the kids who wait the longest just get tired of their virginity being such a huge issue, and lose it for the sake of losing it. Sometimes, they will be intimate with the guy they think is the one, only to discover afterwards that the guy thought their intimacy was no big deal. The important thing is that your daughter obviously thinks enough of herself to have waited this long and -- even if she makes a mistake -- will survive it. My daughter used to tell me she had to learn by making mistakes. My response was that you can't learn from the mistakes that you only get to make once, like getting AIDS, or driving drunk. We can't protect our children from their mistakes, anymore than our parents could protect us from ours. As long as she knows she can rely on you for help no matter what, what she does with her body is up to her. I think you know that. Sometimes we just need reassurance that we've done all we can to prepare our children -- be reassured, it sounds as if you've done a great job.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 03:09 pm: Edit

I guess my kids are more sheltered than I realize. We don't have cable and if sex in the city was on we wouldn't be watching it. My 14 yr old took American girl magazine for years but now the only magazine she subscribes to is SG which is for athletes. I know that she is really interested in fashion and boys, but I think she gets more out of a Bobbi Brown guide to makeup ( which I highly recommend) than reading "teen" magazines.
On the otherhand I have seen some of her icons featuring Orli ( bloom) Elij ( Wood) and Dominick ( Monaghan) my eyes bugged out!

I realize that sex is a very strong drive, but I am glad that so far my daughters haven't gotten too sidetracked by hormones
( Incidentally, while I wouldn't deny anyone the right to have sex before they get married, most people are educable.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 03:19 pm: Edit

Emeraldkity -- I agree, sex before marriage in order to find out if you're "compatible" doesn't necessarily make sense. It sounds like a good idea, but it would be a shame to write someone off b/c you're not willing to give a few lessons, lol!

I really appreciate the discussion, it's helping me with this issue that I've been thinking about all summer. For some reason I didn't worry about it as much during her freshman year, but perhaps that's just b/c I worried about everything else!

14 is IMO a really tough age. We also did not have premium cable, and I only started watching SATC when it came on TBS (basic cable) a few weeks ago. 19 is a little different -- they're past a lot of the peer pressure issues, and coming into their own. So it doesn't seem unreasonable to think they may be having sex soon, and I'm trying to sort through my emotions and feelings about it.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 03:38 pm: Edit

"The of the bigger issues is what do we tell our young women about men? Not to beat those of you who have sons, but, the conversations have to go both ways as parents, what are we telling our sons about how to treat women?"

Well, as the mother of sons, I have been ever conscious that I was raising the husband of my future daughter-in-law and that I really want her approval of my efforts LOL. We have had so many conversations about being a gentleman (my southern upbringing) and the different emotional needs and reactions of men and women that recently one of my sons (a very sensitive and caring young man) told me I didn't really need to worry about him taking advantage or injuring anyone's feelings... that I should be more concerned with someone hurting his!

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:05 pm: Edit

Actually to me one of the bigger issues is what the media tells our young women. Anyone besides me concerned less about the sexual content/language of Sex and the City and more with the main character allowing herself to be emotionally abused by Big in hopes that someday he will decide he actually wants what she does? I never made it past the first season. Perhaps it improves? I don't agree much with censorship but banned Baywatch, Friends and other sitcoms that I believed sexist. In deference to that hoped for future daughter-in-law.

By Mini (Mini) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Chances are one or more of the kids of the parents on this list will turn up gay, which is much more interesting for those of us who aren't.

My wife's approach has been (besides the usual sex ed. bit) to say that when you can talk openly and honestly with your partner -- without giggling -- you might be ready. Or you might not.

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:25 pm: Edit

I agree with most of what has been said above, but I would add a couple of things. Firstly, it's probably not enough to offer condoms. If you think there's any possibility of your child (of either sex) being sexually active you should just give them to them. I realise that some may feel that that's encouraging behaviour that you might not be comfortable with, but if the situation arises, they're hardly going to break off in the throes of passion and come and ask you for one! Not only that, I'd be happier about my daughter having sex with a condom that she knows hasn't been kept in a wallet for goodness knows how many years. Secondly, I've placed a lot (A LOT) of emphasis on how drugs and alcohol can alter percptions, quite apart from possibly putting you into a bad situation.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:25 pm: Edit

Hey emptynester, I'll be you daughter-in-law! Sounds like you've done a great job, and the young women of the world will be thankful for it.
My Mom is not worried at all about me becoming sexually active, because she is confident that she has raised me to respect my self and be informed about my decisions. In fact, She is informing me as I type this that her obgyn said the STD rates at UCSB are epidemic! (I'm glad I'm not going there!). Between incurable and uncomfortable diseases, and the inconsiderate behavior of most men, and the fact that I am very very picky when it comes to dating-- I've decided to wait for a good long time. And I'm almost 20 now.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

Emptynester -- I had some of the same thoughts as you about SATC. I like the friendship they show among the women, and I think the writing and acting is good. But I don't think I'd really want a 14 yo to watch it, not w/o some discussion of the appropriateness of having sex w/people you just meet (I've only watched half a dozen episodes, and this has happened more than once on the show already!).

I'm curious what you found sexist about Friends? Not a show I like very much, but that's mainly because I never found it particularly funny.

Jennifer -- I agree with you about the condoms, and that is something I have been considering. I think kids are smart enough to figure out that giving them condoms is not an indication that you are OK with them having sex, but that you are concerned for their lives. It really is a life and death situation (scary!) now, with HIV -- much different from our days!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

The head of school when my daughter was in fifth grade talked to parents about being careful not to try to censor too much. These kids have so many venues from which to get info these day that the approach she recommended was to know what they are exposed to and talk about it. This has worked well for me. And I couldn't agree more with Anglophile, we raised a kid who makes good decisions. She will make mistakes like anyone else but I know she has great judgement and I am not in the least worried about her sexually.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:49 pm: Edit

my daughters freshman dorm had baskets of condoms in bathrooms and safe sex groups on campus passing them out.
She is also gay, which I didn't realize till she was a junior in high school, but it is making trying to parent her 14 yr old sister that much harder cause not only is she a more challenging kid in the first place, but when the older daughter skated through adolesence ( comparatively) I didn't get the chance to develop many skills.
My oldest was ( is) a cute camp counselor type, a girly girl, but also a computer/science geek, as she was through high school. Not the type ( I hope) to get agressively hit on.
My 14 yr old is much different. Much shyer except with her friends, but attractive in a sexy way, even though she doesn't dress it. I am thankful both my girls were late developers even though the oldest did eventually get size D which she is not thrilled about. Her sister is still fairly lanky although shock of shocks for a girl who last time she wore pink was when she was three and it was a favortie nightgown, she bought a pink plaid skirt at Target and it is adorable.
But I guess I am getting to clothes can change the way we think about ourselves.
I realize you don't have to dress like Britanny to act like her, but when young women don't leave any imagination to what color thong they are wearing, and they have their tongues pierced, I gotta wonder.
Gd I sound like such a prude! But I grew up during the 70s and my parents were so clueless. I had sex when I was 15 and saw it as a way to get attention at least physically. The way I looked was how I was validated but I see todays young women as so much more mature and respectful of themselves.
So many more programs to empower girls, that they don't have to be defined by their relationship to a boy as I felt I had to be.
So much better now ;-)

By Takiusproteus (Takiusproteus) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 04:56 pm: Edit

You parents don't give us enough credit.

If you have taught your kids how to read and how to be a decent person, they'll be fine. We're not self-destructive. Natural curiosity makes us read all there is to be read about contraceptives and sexuality... so we're all very well informed. =p
Keeping your kids from shows like Sex&TheCity doesn't do anything except make them resent your oppressiveness - it's not like we're complete sponges at age 18. We are very able to form our own opinions and have our own ideas.

Btw, only using a condom is not enough. About 15 out of 100 couples who use only condoms have an accidental pregnancy each year. (this figure varies from source to source and depends of course on whether you use the condom correctly etc etc... but you get the idea). Tell them to get spermicidal foam/gel and use that together with condoms. Spermicide alone has an effectiveness of something around 75%, so combined with condoms, protection is over 95%.

Heck, instead of merely giving your kids condoms before sending them off, go even further and take them to the doctor to get them a prescription for birth control pills too. Again, condoms aren't perfect. And, if they happen to get drunk/high and forget to use a condom in the middle of their passion, making sure that they've been loaded up on pills is a good way for you to make sure to protect 'em too (though not from stds of course, they should never only rely on those pills, but just in case eh) =p

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

I am so happy that my daughter has been educated at all girls schools for the last 6 years. There is a stunning difference in how the girls she was schooled with at 2 schools, one on each coast, see themselves as compared to other girls. Their self esteem is derived from their academic prowess, their athletic abilities, their community service and anything other than what boys like them. She is headed off to a coed high school which I also think is good, but I'm so glad she was empowered as a person by these schools. In this month's Seventeen Magazine, the editor thanks her mother for not letting her shave her legs in high school which apparently stopped her from dating. She encourages girls to use those key years to develop leadership skills and their interests rather than the chasing boys and applying makeup. I was really happy to see that.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 05:15 pm: Edit

I didn't see where anyone was "keeping " their kids from sex & city but it is inappropriate for young teens IMO to be watching shows regularly which depict casual sex/& or violence.Especially with no discussion afterwards.

I even hate even more those "family" type shows in which the mother is the witch and the father is the dolt. Gah! I really hate the media sometimes, although we are going to break down and get a TV next month cause at this point we can't even DVDs
I am scoping out a combo dvd/vcr cause so many of my favorite movies aren't on DVD. Pascalis Island for instance.
Some kids test all the boundaries but most are very glad the boundaries have been there. My oldests graduating class had a 4 day use of a parents cabin ( unchaperoned) and she was relieved when I told her that I wouldn't let her go.
( She hadn't even told me about it, but I heard from other parents)

I wouldn't recommend taking medication on the off chance that someone might have sex. If they are in a steady relationship or if they are taking it for other reasons , but I probably would recommend a diaphragm instead.
BUt don't have sex unless you have thought about what you are going to do if consequences.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

Things have changed in many ways since we were in college. Our definition of casual sex looks like a big time commitment the way hookups and "benefits" work these days with some kids. I think it's best to talk about the subject, breaking it down into components--STD, contraceptives, decisions and really the toughest part, the emotional implications.

For both boys and girls, that is the part that can really bring them down and the least expressible. Don't really expect much feedback when you talk to them about this. Until someone gets hurt, it's not something that really sits in the forefront of their minds when the hormones are raging, the music is playing and everyone is HOT. To check out the scene and players before jumping in is a really good idea. Common sense issues about making decisions about ones' sexual identity and lifestyles. They are not as easy to shed and change as a wardrobe and some kids don't quite understand that. There are those that can do the casual sex scene well, and those who cannot, and it's wise not to make impulse decisions in this area.

Not that they will follow your dictums, of course. You just hope that some of what you say sticks in their heads and tempers some situations, somewhat. Just as you advise them about all of the other things you want and don't want them to do, they will do as they please and make their mistakes once they are out of the house. But hopefully some of your words will whisper, ring and echo in their brains.

I never gave direct advice about birthcontrol or gave out any goods to them. But I made sure they had info on in their drawer about health service on campus including mental health clinics. Though they may roll their eyes at you, when things get rough, that is a resource that many of them do end up using for a variety of reasons. I told all of mine that many kids I knew in school visited those services and that they should not hesitate to do so. They have heard it all and may be able to help. Just found out now after S has graduated that he had a rough stretch where he was going regularly sophomore year--he didn't feel it helped him, but he did go for several months, he was talking to someone.

It's really a parenting issue that is very personal with the style of each family so specifics are difficult to give as many of the subjects are so controversial. An old friend of ours who was a real stud in college felt that nothing was going to phase him as he fully expected and encouraged his kids to sexually experiment in college. That was 6 years ago. He has had many tough issues with his 2 kids since then. His son took the bisexual, then homosexual and back to bi route. Which drove Dad absolutely wild. That was not what had in mind at all about experimenting. As I said, things have really changed in the breadth and depth of sexuality on campus. Then his daughter had some real issues with her self image. She found herself in relationships with many, many young men where she was "servicing them" on the quick. Somewhere, somehow she lost control and she found herself in a role that she did not like. The particulars about that situaton did not sit well with Dad either.

It's really tough out there, I think. Many more choices, many more gradations. More important to know ones self and not aimlessly go with the flow. I'm glad I am not starting college right now.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 08:57 pm: Edit

When my girls were juniors in high school, I suggested that, at their annual physical, they speak to our family doctor about birth control options. We have always had a very open relationship with our children and, having worked with teens for over twenty years in a counselling role, I know that trying to ignore the situation causes much harm. We have not censored what our children could read, see, or listen to and for our family, that has encouraged them to actually discuss any issues which they may have read, seen or heard, with us openly.

My older daughters are on the pill and both left for college with condoms in with their other drugstore items. Many discussions have taken place over the years regarding choices, respect, feelings, the influence of alcohol, etc. By the time they leave for college, those basic discussions should have already taken place. Fortunately, we haven't had to deal with the fall-out of relationship breakups, etc., though I have with many of the kids I've counselled. The most important thing parents can do is to be open and honest and welcome any discussion that your child wants to engage in with you regarding these matters. Censoring what they can watch, denying them any freedom as young teens, not allowing them the opportunity to make even the smallest mistakes, not allowing them the chance to make decisions for themselves, might all be appealing to some parents but, in the long run, it's the worst thing you can do to prepare them for going off to college and having to start from scratch at that point.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 09:52 pm: Edit

Not wanting to have cable and not wanting to watch shows that depict gratuitous sex/violence is a long way from denying kids any freedom.
My 14 yr old daughter even though suffers from anxiety so much that she won't raise her hand in class, took her first plane ride with the high school biology class to Maui where she surfed and snorkled, last fall, goes snowboarding regularly and just returned from a NYC/DC two week trip with a bunch of kids and a few parents.
Believe me, she had lots of opportunities to make decisions both on trips and at home.
I however feel that controlled choices growing up are a much better way to ease into independence than to have everything wide open as I see in some households when they are eight!

Additionally the choice of my oldest to attend her college was prompted by me. It wasn't even on her radar really, although it is one of those schools where folks my age had wanted to attend but their parents wouldn't let them!

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 09:58 pm: Edit

Emeraldkitty, I was not targetting you with my comments. They were general, in nature, and as a result of my extensive work with counselling teens. I didn't say that not allowing them to watch "gratuitous sex/violence" was denying kids any freedom. Reread my comment.

Again, they were general comments. Many families do censor much of what young teens (I wasn't talking eight year olds) read, watch, hear, discuss. From my experience, it is a mistake, and it's not for the usual reason that people cite, i.e., it makes them more curious, although that does also happen. Rather what it does is to often prevent them from ever entering into discussions of such subjects with their parents, which is not only sad, but can also prove to be dangerous.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 10:20 pm: Edit

I know that there are some kids who are censored, my sister for example ascribes to a religion where they are only to read "faith affirming" materials, and the only things they see on tv are football games ( for dad) and movies that have been approved, star wars is apparently good as is much of Shakespeare although I think that they aren't getting the gist of the classics if they think that the Bard and the Greeks aren't pretty bawdy to put it mildly.

I don't see people restricting their kids without discussion but I do see people allowing pretty heavy fare without discussion. Sometimes this is because they have older kids and so they aren't thinking about it, but other times it is because they think that because they look and sound older that they think older too.
Schools are also requiring students to read and watch pretty advanced material without letting parents know beforehand.

My 8th grade daughter read "Cut" in school a novel about someone who was selfdestructive and I had no idea until the counselor told me that she had supervised an intervention with her.
She has also seen horror films at school sponsored activities that led to leaving the light on for weeks. ( it was on a chartered bus)
I personally don't care what sort of special effects are possible nowdays, I think the proliferation of violence and abusive behavior is making us think that everyone is watching it so it must be ok
I certainly am not for censorship, but what is wrong with helping to make good choices and part of that is modeling!
Don't ask me how many 13 year old I know saw Kill Bill.

By Boysmom (Boysmom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 10:21 pm: Edit

I don't see why this is an issue only for parents of girls. We have always had frank and open discussions with my sons to the point that when I start to tell them when I think it is appropriate to have sex, they can recite it from memory. And there are many more issues than just when they are ready. I have discussed with them that both parties should be willing. Not just one talking the other into it or encouraging them with alcohol. And yes, I believe that happens to boys as much as to girls. Boys also have to consider that the girl may regret her decision in the morning and charge him with rape (I doubt that happens to a girl) or that he would have to deal with a girl that was not emotionally ready for it. Not to mention the fact that should an unwanted pregnancy happen, all the decisions are hers to make and he would have little, if any, say. She could abort his baby, give it up for adoption, or make him a father. None of those options is good for a young couple.

And of course, young men should be taught that this is a big decision not to be entered into lightly. Raising gentlemen is as tough in this day and age as raising a daughter.

By Patient (Patient) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 10:34 pm: Edit

I attended a parenting night at our high school in the spring. A counselor spoke about the issue of "hookups" and then the NY Times Magazine had the article about "friends with benefits" that has been widely discussed in our community among adolescent counselors as they are seeing this phenomenon a lot. I am wondering, alwaysamom, as a counselor, are you seeing this and at what ages?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 10:39 pm: Edit

Raising kis period is tough, and I don't think we are ever sure why they come out the way they do, good, bad or otherwise. My 14 year old is a child that inspires people to ask what I did. They think I'm being modest when I say she seems to have been born mature and self directed. I do come out heavily against any kind of censoring, I believe parents who think they are doing it effectively are kidding themselves. But when my daughter chose a boarding school for high school I had some initial panic about whether enough parenting was accomplished for her to leave the nest. When are we done?

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 11:22 pm: Edit

Patient, yes, I am seeing kids with those experiences but it varies from group to group. It's not as widespread in some schools as in others, however, it does exist. The 'hookup' issue is one which exists in every school to an extent, and always has, and probably always will. From my experience, there will always be a range of sexual activity in high school kids, from total abstinence and disinterest, to random coupling, to friends with benefits, to longterm relationships which include sexual activity. The issue that seems to be the buzz today is the friends with benefits idea. This seems to be a rather new phenomenon, and the usual ages are the mid-teen years, and then another spike in the occurence in about the sophomore year of college. I'm not aware of any formal studies on this, so we really only have anecdotal stories. In my opinion, it's not as rampant as some people think.

What is much more common now than in previous groups of teens is the occurrence of oral sex without the teens being in a relationship. This is starting at younger and younger ages which causes me to wonder how these kids handle it. The kids I work with are mostly 14+ but I have colleagues who deal with younger kids and they've seen this happening with kids in middle school. It's been discussed in this forum before and I don't want to repeat your previous discussions but it's very true that it is almost always the girl 'servicing' the boy. We all need to do a better job discussing these issues with our children, both girls and boys.

Mom101, I'm not sure we're ever finished with our kids. :) I, too, have one child who appears to have been born with a maturity beyond her years. She's been like that since she was a little girl. I admire her greatly and often tell her that she's far more mature than I am. :)

By Patient (Patient) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 11:26 pm: Edit

Always, thanks for the reply. Much food for thought. I have heard about the same as you report...

My mom used to say that my big brother (another one who was born wise) raised HER!

By Sac (Sac) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 01:22 am: Edit

Just want to add that condoms, even if they don't break, do not prevent all STDs.

Having both a daughter and a son, I've thought a lot about this issue of how I talk to them differently or the same about sex. I realized that part of the difference in our discussions is that they are very different people. Some people will experiment more, take more risks, than others in every arena -- sex being just one of them. I've never been sure that what I considered talks, and they considered lectures, were very effective. For example, I say that sex (including oral sex) should be part of a relationship. But what is their definition of a relationship?

The reality is that many of our kids, who will go on to graduate school after college, will not get married until they are close to thirty. I don't feel that's a bad thing. In fact, I think it's better than the days of marriages that took place too young because people didn't have sex outside of marriage. But it's not realistic to think that most of them will wait that long for sex.

The best thing I feel I've been able to offer my kids besides the example of a long, stable relationship with my husband -- and a lot of praise that I hope has helped them build respect for themselves -- is the concept that, whatever their choices,I will not judge them after the fact. Advice only goes so far. They make mistakes. The most important thing in my opinion is that they be able to turn to me for help if they need it and not worry that I will be disappointed or disapproving. That means that, although I've talked to them about the issues, I have emphasized that ultimately the choices are theirs. Perhaps this is wrong.

I think it's very difficult for kids out there these days. Everyone is playing by different rules.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 03:25 pm: Edit

I was so appalled by what I saw on the evening news every night when my kids were young that I found myself turning it off when they were around. Finally, when they were 6 and 7, the TV "broke" when we moved from the east coast to the west coast. We didn't get TV again until they left for college. We had friends videotape some shows, we went out to watch TV sometimes, we bought DVDs of some shows.... but it was a lot easier than arguing about it. (It got pretty funny for a while: teachers would say "watch X" as a homework assignment (debates, nature shows, etc.), and we'd get pretty enterprising trying to figure out how. (We watched Clinton's "Monica" speech over the internet, on a little 2"x2" window, at four frames/second.))

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:21 am: Edit

"I'm curious what you found sexist about Friends? Not a show I like very much, but that's mainly because I never found it particularly funny."

Rhonda, I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner to this; having a bit of trouble keeping up here. one ex: A prospective roommate impresses the apt holder by introducing him to barco-lounging in front of Baywatch with a cooler of beer. Yuck! The whole tone of the show offends me. I agree- not very funny.

We did the backwards tv thing-- didn't have one for the decade before becoming parents but acquired one before the first child was walking! And a vcr! Without these wonderful modern inventions, I am sure I would have been out "walking the levees" as my mom's best friend used to say. We did try to confine viewing to *educational* programming. OTOH we didn't have a computer available to our children until they were about 10 or internet at home till they went to high school. Much of our child rearing was not really that well thought out LOL

By Patient (Patient) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit

Sac, great post. The point about being sure that they are not afraid to turn to us in trouble for fear of being judged is so important.

By A2a2 (A2a2) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 01:10 pm: Edit

Not to say that you shouldn't talk to your kids before they run off to college, of course, but if somehow they didn't get the message in explicit detail in time, most colleges have some kind of program about safe sex and responsible behavior for sex, drugs and alcohol - during orientation. It's quite common for schools to distribute condoms and information about where to go for birth control, sexual assault hotlines, etc. It's a bit unrealistic to think that young people are going to get out of college without having sex - and it's also a bit unrealistic to think they want to talk to their parents about it after high school. I never talked to my mother about my sex life - and I'm pretty sure none of my friends did either.

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:33 pm: Edit

I'm going to be a college freshman this fall and am wondering if I should go on birth control or not. MY mother asked me today if I should (my 2nd cousin-18-just got pregnant). I am thinking it might be a good idea, afterall...I definately want to be prepared when the time comes. So, how should I go about this? Do most girls go on BC before school starts?


By Patient (Patient) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:42 pm: Edit

Ashley, my reaction to your question is that that is a question for you, your mother, and your doctor, and what other girls do shouldn't be a factor in your decision. JMHO.

By A2a2 (A2a2) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:50 pm: Edit

If you think you're going to be sexually active, then you can go to the health clinic at your college as soon as you get there. Maybe this isn't what you want to hear, but don't thing that you have to jump into bed with the first boy you meet the first time you meet him. If you're in a relationship, there should be time between your first kiss and your first sexual experience to get to know each other, to make sure he's someone you care about and who cares about you - and to get yourself on the pill.

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:54 pm: Edit

Thanks, I understand that this is a VERY personal issue. Still, as shallow as it seems, I would like to be able to compare.

I'm not planning on being sexually active at all, but still...I've never been in this sort of situation (college). Perhaps I will wait until I get there because, as immature as it sounds, I still hate talking to my mother about sex.


By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:33 pm: Edit

Please, follow suggestions to talk to someone at the health clinic. A BC pill will only reduce pregnancy, but not protect you from SDTs, HIV, herpes, etc.
It sounds like your mom was trying to open a discussion about your sexual experience. Perhaps, you could talk to her about relationships, qualities that you seek in a man, balancing his needs with your own needs, and other topics that are meaningful to you.

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:35 pm: Edit

My mother and I have discussed that before, she is the Manager of an Obstetrics Unit, so every time a teenage mother came in...

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit

My suggestion is to wait and check out the scene at your college. Generally, going on the pill is for someone in a long term relationship of sorts, though there are many who use it as backup as well. There are so many things you will be learning about your new environment, and jumping right into the sex scene is not really a good idea. The old "look before you leap" hold quite true. This is not a do or die decision that you have to make right now.

On a pragmatic matter, it is often more convenient to have an exam and the prescription right at the college since you are going to be there most of the year, instead of having to deal with the local doctor at home.

By Patient (Patient) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:42 pm: Edit

Hi Ashley, I actually thought that I had canceled that post because I felt that I was perhaps wrong! Thanks for being gracious and I understand your point.

And, I do second those who suggested the health clinic at school too. I only mentioned your mom because I think that you mentioned her--I know that I was the same way with mine, although my daughters are actually pretty comfortable talking with me about these concepts, if not their own individual situations.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:51 pm: Edit

The pill has many side effects and potential long term consequences and in my opinion, should not be taken lightly and without great consideration. Do extensive reasearch and don't lightly ingest any chemicals!!

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:00 am: Edit

I think I understand now. My friend worked at Planned Parenthood, and kept lots of condoms around. Since your mom sees so many 'accidental' pregnancies, she's trying to be extra careful

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:52 am: Edit

Mom101 -- I have to disagree about a girls' school being necessarily helpful in relationships with boys. I attended a girls' school through tenth grade, and I think partly as a result of that was often uncomfortable around boys (they seemed like an alien species) and definitely craved attention from them at the same time. All a very unhealthy combination. One reason I pulled my D out of a girls' school after a couple of years is that I saw a similar mentality in some of the girls there -- someone's brother would show up to pick up his sis, and the whole school would be a-twitter! From what I could tell, the opinion of the few boys they saw was MORE important than for girls who were in co-ed school and saw boys (nice ones, cute ones, ugly ones, geeky ones, etc) all day. Of course, each person is different, and what works/doesn't work for one person may be quite different for another.

I also don't believe in censoring, but of course not having premium cable is not exactly censoring. Also, there were certain R-rated movies my D was not permitted to see before she was 17 (as you all probably know, most kids see R-rated movies younger these days, since they are available on DVDs). American Pie is one example -- from what I could tell, it was probably pretty funny, but seemed inappropriate for a 14-year old.

By Fenix_Three (Fenix_Three) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 12:53 am: Edit

Many sources (not sure which) say that more than half of high school graduates are still virgins. At my school the non-virgin to virgin ratio is about 1:2. But, it does seem unusual to be a virgin after a year of college. It's very likely that after a year of dating the same person teens have probably gotten to... some forms of sexual activity.

By Dukegirl06 (Dukegirl06) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 02:25 am: Edit

Just wanted to add that as a female college student, I think most of us DO already know all those details about safe sex, STDs, pregnancy, etc. I, for one, have had some sort of sex ed since the 5th grade all the way through senior year in high school. On my campus, we continue that in our orientation programming and continued programming directed at student groups (greek orgs, other orgs, all of them), presented by students.

As a parent, I think you can be supportive of your child without being judgemental (at least openly), and allow them to start acting like an adult and make their own choices. That DOESN'T mean not to give advice or support if asked, but I wouldn't want it offered too much.

I would also suggest bringing up the option of birth control a couple times and maybe buying some comdoms once, but don't overdo it with the suggestions because it can be uncomfortable for you daughter (or son, I guess).

Finally, emphasize the importance of STD tests if something does go wrong/ there's a slip up but don't ask or expect to hear about it - they're an adult and that is VERY personal. And it probably wouldn't hurt to forward occasional (key word- occasional) articles about STD or teen pregnancy epidemics- he/she will roll their eyes and joke about it with friends but it never hurts to have OCCASIONAL, caring reminders :).

Just my 2 cents...

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 04:17 am: Edit

Rhonda, I also don't like the all one sex approach for HS and my D only applied to coed schools. However, for middle school in particular, I think it's a blessing in many ways in addition to those most know about like greater math/science skills being developed and the academic confidence that is derived as a result of not being shut down by boys at this age. The girls at my daughter's school were simply not distracted by boys at an age I feel is too young. My daughter is probably correct that none of the girls she attended middle scholl with have had sex. Yet many of the girls at our local coed schools, public and private, have had sex at 13 or 14. These are girls of well educated parents in a very affluent area. A friend showed me emails her 13 year old daughter had written to a boy that took my breath away. Who knew? That's when I kissed the ground that my daughter's emails were about math and the latest fashions in Seventeen.

By Funchatter (Funchatter) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 06:02 pm: Edit

I'm an entering college freshman. I have not even had a discussion about my own personal habits in college with my parents, and I don't plan to. Why? I don't need to.

It would never cross my mind to get involved in a sexual relationship while in college (or not married/financially grounded, for that instance). Mind you, I'm not against having a relationship per se; kissing, etc. But I think having sex in college is extremely irresponsible. There are so many factors to take in - including other people, such as your roomate(s) - that it strikes me absurd.

Above all, I think in this day and age, people often forget that the primary reason we go to college is to learn and to establish a career. True, having a social life is important, but in my opinion, sex should not be a part of an eighteen-year-old's "social life". Try figuring out what you're going to do with your life first and learh to handle some responsibility. When you get your own apartment, go do whatever you want. I just don't understand how people think of sex so lightly nowadays. Furthermore, I also do not understand how many colleges practically encourage this as soon as you step on campus.

Perhaps I don't understand this mentality because I was born in another country. However, there as well, sex among teens is becoming much more accepted and common (not to mention almost propagandized!).

I think other people can do whatever as long as it does not concern me or disturb my way of life, but I do not approve. I am eighteen years old. I'm thinking of what I want to do with my life rather than what artificial birth control hormone I want to inject so that I can be sure I'm not "getting pregnant" whilst sacrificing my morals for a few moments that in the end, one most likely comes to regret.

I'm not a prude: I have many interests and passions, and I like talking with friends, etc. My rationality has nothing to do with religion (atheist) or political beliefs (Democrat). I take time to make sure I'm making a responsible decision. I think oftentimes, these decisions simply are not responsible. Often, young people think they know everything and only realize that they don't when it's too late. My parents raised me very well in regards to this matter.

Maybe I'm missing something, but that's just my two cents.

By Plot93 (Plot93) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 07:17 pm: Edit

Well, I graduated from college in 2001 and am now studying for the GRE's, hoping to go to grad school before too long, if things work out well.

Just to add my two cents, there are lots of people in college who are sexually active, but I also knew many who weren't. As a Christian, I knew people who, like me, still believe that sex is something to be reserved for marriage. "No premarital intercourse."
My mother and I never had a talk about sex. The issue somehow never came up. She and the rest of my family weren't Christian, and I didn't agree with them on everything. She actually probably wouldn't have minded if I had become sexually active. I made up my own mind about such matters though and chose the high road.

As a parent, you can let your daughter know where you stand and what your views are, and I think it's a good idea to do so. Ultimately, of course, the choices are up to her.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 09:42 pm: Edit

It's really tough out there, I think. Many more choices, many more gradations.

Here, here. I have boys who talk to me.

Our parents made a big mistake not admitting that times had changed. We shouldn't make the same mistake. Times have changed.

By Tropicanabanana (Tropicanabanana) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 11:18 pm: Edit

Sex definitely should be (and is) part of an 18 year old's social life.

By Funchatter (Funchatter) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 02:47 am: Edit

Can you elaborate on that?

By Fenix_Three (Fenix_Three) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 03:55 am: Edit

It's one thing to abstain for sex for moral or religious (or both) reasons, but don't tell me that having sex is mutually exclusive of "taking the high road."
Anyways, having sex is not irresponsible, having irresponsible sex is... if you know what I mean. Funchatter, you said that having sex would involve "sacrificing [your] morals," but if sex isn't against my morals, and I am responsible, then why would I think sex was bad? You see, morality is subjective so you won't be able to change my mind on this issue.
As for whether sex should or shouldn't be part of an 18 yo's social life is up to each individual. My best advice is to stay true to your morals and values, act responsibly, and don't go into denial if something "bad" happens. It's always a good idea to think of potential what ifs.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 07:06 am: Edit

As a 50something mom of sons, I found this thread quite interesting. What particularly intrigued me was how many parents apparently feel it's their place to be actively involved in their college-aged children's sex lives.

To me,it is appropriate for college-aged people -- males and females -- to be having sex. I consider college students to be adults, and I consider sex appropriate for adults to be engaging in.

I think it's irresponsible for anyone, regardless of age, to avoid using birth control when they aren't in a position to have children or to have promiscuous sex. However, sex in the context of a loving relationship is IMO fine for consenting adults to have.

My thoughts are, too, that any conversations, education, etc. about sex should have been done long before children go off to college. Giving children information about your family values/morals about sex, love and marriage is something that should start at a very early age.

Just as children should be taught how to take care of their other health matters, they should be taught about birth control, and how to obtain medical treatment for themselves. Even if a college student is not sexually active, they still should know how and when to obtain health checkups.

Certainly college students and older offspring may wish to discuss sexual issues with their parents. However, I think that once a young person is old enough to be off to college, it is not appropriate for the parent to be intruding into their sex life by, for instance, asking whether their child is sexually active.

I do think it's appropriate for the parents to set whatever rules for their child that have to do with the parents' values in their home or in any home that the parent provides for their college student offspring. Thus, if the parent does not want the college student to have sex in the parent's home, the parent has the right to set that rule.

Similarly, if the parent is furnishing the college student with an apartment, it is the parents' right to say that this generosity will not be extended if the student chooses to live with a member of the opposite sex.

I also think that parents have every right to make it clear to their offspring that if the offspring choose to engage in sex, the offspring, not the parent, will be responsible for the consequences, including taking care of any children that result. This is another conversation, however, that needs to be initiated long before offspring go away to college.

I am a parent who hopes that my children wait until they are at least in their mid 20s before marrying. Everything I have experienced, read and seen indicates that people who wait make better marital decisions and are more likely to have good marriages.

Most of the people whom I know who have had longterm happy marriages waited until they were in their mid 20s to marry, and also lived together after college with their partner for a while before marrying, and that partner was the only one that they ever lived with (though typically, they had had sex with other people before meeting their partner).

If my kids follow this kind of path, that will be fine with me.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 08:49 am: Edit

Bravo Northstarmom.

By Funchatter (Funchatter) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 05:03 pm: Edit

Fenix, I never said that sex was "bad" or that I think you're a bad person for choosing to have sex. What I implied was that for me personally, my morals do not approve of this while at this young age. I am trying to understand why many people do choose this decision and why it is becoming "the norm" so to speak. That's why this thread is interesting to me.

I'm not trying to "change your mind", and I don't see why I would; the same goes for you. I'm just trying to understand your rationale, and hopefully you'd do the same for me.

By Zenacolleen16 (Zenacolleen16) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:22 pm: Edit

I don't know why, but as a high school senior I find this conversation very interesting. I know that many young people have posted here stating their reasons for not having sex--school, grades, morals, their futures...etc..I for one do agree with these reasons. However, everything changes when you've been dating a boy for an extended period of time--like a year or sometimes even less. Your mind begins to play games on you, not to mention the pressure these days in relationships. I agree that if your values are strong, then by all means stick to them. I do think that it would be great for parents to tell their kids that they at least have the option to go on birth control. Believe me, it would take the pressure off to know that my parents were behind me 100% no matter what, but I highly doubt that a conversation like this would ever come up because it's supposed to be understood that activities like sex are forbidden.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:32 pm: Edit

It is a totally different situation to decide that you aren't going to have sex, when you aren't in a serious relationship and there doesn't look to be any in the near future than when you are physically mature, legally an adult and in a relationship with someone that you are mentally close to, emotionally close and want to be physically close as well.
Also if you still decide you want to graduate college a virgin, what does that mean? No sex beyond kissing or everything but ____?
( Not asking for graphic details, just wondered what people considered s-e-x)

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 09:49 am: Edit

I'm glad others are finding this thread interesting/useful -- when I started it, I wondered if I was the only one concerned about these things!

Mom 101 -- I went to a Catholic girls' school myself, and I can tell you there were definitely girls in my HS who were sexually active before graduation (including at least one who was pregnant at graduation). This was in a wealthy school, too, with alum like Maria Shriver. I definitely think a girls' school at middle school age is great for some, and I sent my D to one at that age for some of the reasons you state, but I found that the girls in the class (of 25, so I knew pretty much all of them) were more boy-crazy than the girls she met in 9th grade at a co-ed school.

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