Updates: “Parenting the Teens is Complicated” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Parenting the Teens is Complicated” who was wondering how much to restrict and limit his 15-year-old stepdaughter’s interaction with her boyfriend in their home after she became sexually active. Well, now there’s a new twist in the story:

Apparently, I already have an update. We literally just learned yesterday that the 13-year-old [sister of the 15-year-old] has been having sex with her boyfriend, too. Apparently, they had been using the “pull-out method” (face palm), and she lost her virginity the exact same day as the 15-year-old. She is being put on birth control immediately and condoms were also procured. That’s parenting for you; you are worrying about one kid and the other surprises you.

We actually aren’t as shocked as we were when we found out about the 15-year-old because the 13-year-old has been going on 20 for a couple of years now. She is actually a bit more assertive than the 15-year-old and told her mom point blank, “We only have sex when I want to.”

My girlfriend has settled on a doors-open policy when we are home. When we aren’t home, it’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. We also limit the boyfriend to being over on the weekends, but we will have to see what to do during summer vacation.

I should probably mention that I also have a 15-year-old daughter who is coming over to stay with us during the summer. She is definitely a bit more socially awkward, so we will have to manage that situation.

All this parenting stuff is challenging, but it’s amazing how quickly you can get used to a new paradigm. It’s an adjustment period.

Just to clarify: I am not the one having these conversations with the kids. I’m just the soundboard for my girlfriend. Though sometimes it makes me a bit more uncomfortable than it does her.

To respond to a few of the commenters:

1. Yes, either 13 or 15 is too young to have sex, I lost my virginity at 15, and my girlfriend was 13 when she lost hers. Both of the teenagers are at least in long-term relationships (durations of a few months) unlike we were at that time. To clarify, my girlfriend and I met when I was 16 and she was 15. We are doing our best not to be hypocrites.

2. Yes, the kids having sex in our house while we are home makes us uncomfortable, and yep… grosses me out. Doors will remain open when we are home.

3. Yes, part of the limits we put on were because the 15-year-old’s boyfriend is a little sex-crazy, and we wanted to cut down frequency. Apparently it worked though. During the same conversation with the 13-year-old, the 15-year-old mentioned that they hadn’t had sex in two weeks and she was quite content with that. (We assume blow jobs are still happening).

Consider this the last update unless one ends up pregnant (please no).

Um, wow. This kind of terrifies me as the thought of my own 13-year-old child one day having sex is one I can’t — and don’t want to — wrap my head around. It’s interesting that both you and your girlfriend started having sex at young ages, too, and seem intent on “not being hypocrites,” and I wonder how much these things relate to each other, if at all (it seems they must). For the record, I don’t think it’s hypocritical to look back at your behavior as a teenager from the vantage point of a 40-something-year-old parent and decide you’d prefer your own child avoid certain behavior and patterns and then actively set boundaries to try to make that happen. I’m also not so naive as to believe that setting boundaries and expressing particular attitudes guarantee certain teenage behaviors. But I do think doing so can help.

You say that you think that both 13 and 15 are ages too young to be having sex (I agree). Have you and/or your girlfriend expressed this to the girls? Do they understand the risks — physical and emotional and social — involved in having sex at such young ages? I hope that, in addition to providing birth control, you and your girlfriend are providing as wide a view as you can on the effects of early sexual activity. And I hope, as do you, that these young girls avoid pregnancy (and other potentially long-lasting negative effects).


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. Avatar photo GertietheDino says:

    Holy crap, they are so young!

  2. This update only goes to further confirm my idea of sending the girls off to a nunnery at puberty. 13???? I wasn´t even interested in boys at that age, let alone having sex (count me as another late bloomer).
    The teenage years seriousy scare the crap out of me. Especially with my youngest. Who is a handful at age 4.

    1. I’m sure everyone since the beginning of time has said this, but I feel like kids grow up so much quicker than we did. Although, I say that probably because I was a late bloomer too. I’m glad I’m not the parent of a teenager! I think I can see your youngest getting in trouble at a nunnery too though 😛

      1. Good point. Her name could even be substituted into How do you solve a problem like Maria. I have to come up with a plan B!!!

    2. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

      lol I embarrassingly was still playing barbies with my little sister and cousin at 13…and oblivious to the comments boys made about me. I attribute that though to my somewhat strict parents who wouldn’t let me go to the mall to “hangout” or to movies just for the hell of it. When they did let me go to the movies, my friends at the time were giving blowjobs in the seats and the boy who I was supposed to hook up with tried to make a move and I left at the very beginning and stayed in the bathroom the whole movie! Pretty glad thats how it turned out though.

      1. yeah at 13 I was a big ballet geek, so most of my time was either school, ballet, other dance classes, or slumber parties with my ballet friends haha

    3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Count me in with the late bloomers. At 13, I was way more interested in sports and school work. And Thursday night TV on NBC (The Cosby Show , A Different World and Cheers) and Friday night TV on ABC (Full House, Family Matters, and Perfect Strangers) (and then of course I’d fall asleep before the 9:30 PM slot began). To think, meanwhile, other 13 year olds were in serious, long-term relationships and having sex, blows my mind.

    4. My niece started only two months after turning 13 her parents found out. I too have no idea how that even happens when I think of how her dad (my brother) and I were at that age. Neither of us would have even been thinking about it I can guarantee you. It hasn’t worked well for my niece though, 5 years later I’m surprised I’m not a great aunt. Her parents bury their heads in the sand and just hope she’ll somehow come out alright – she would have had a much better chance of success if they were like the LW to be honest.

  3. I guess the plus side here is that they are comfortable communicating with you both (or at least their mother) about stuff like this… With that being said, at this point I think all you can do is educate, educate, educate. Keep being available for questions, check in periodically, and make sure they are aware of all of the options that are available. Lastly… eeesh. I don’t even have a child yet and this stresses me out.

  4. I don’t think anyone should be having sex if they are younger than I was when i lost my virginity! Oh never mind, that would probably put an end to the human race as we know it.

    1. As we know it, yes. But wouldn’t that also mean that you have fewer teenage parents and more older, wiser adult(ish) parents? So, not the end of the world but the beginning of a better prepared world?

      1. I believe my rep on this site is largely due to fine people like yourself taking my dumb jokes and somehow drawing out a few milligrams of denatured wisdom, like sucking the poison from a snakebite.

  5. Avatar photo Crochet.Ninja says:

    as grossed out as i was about sex at 13, several of the girls in my class were already having sex at that age. one had a baby at 13. i think it’s really hard to judge in general, you’d have to know the girls personally. i can also remember when i was 13 my 14 year old neighbor had a 21 year old bf and they were sexually active – but she actually was mature for her age. she went on to marry that guy and have 4 kids with him and were still married last i heard.

    unfortunately those cases make it harder for anyone else trying to judge other situations. me at 13? 100% naive and clueless. i know the mechanics, but i would have NOT been ready. hell, i was barely ready at 19 when i actually had sex for the first time.

  6. “It’s interesting that both you and your girlfriend started having sex at young ages, too, and seem intent on “not being hypocrites,” and I wonder how much these things relate to each other, if at all”

    My husband’s extended family just had a third generation teenage pregnancy. I don’t really know the details of their parenting styles or anything, but it makes me wonder.

  7. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    I know I’m going to sound like a judgmental jerk but if I were the LW I would have serious doubts about having my own daughter living in that house for the summer. I’m glad the girls are on BC and can talk to their mom about sex openly but the kids who were having sex at 13 weren’t exactly the ‘good’ kids when I was a teen and I have doubts that much has changed on that front. There’s a big difference between not being a hypocrite and being a parent, I worry that this couple is erring too far towards the former. Are these girls involved in sports or anything constructive after school? If not, that would be my first step. Seriously 13, mature or not, is too young and these girls need something other than their boyfriends to do.

    1. I think it’s a little unfair to say they aren’t good kids based solely on their sexual activity. In middle and high school some of those most sexually adventurous kids were the ones busy doing sports, student government, etc. Sure there were kids that got labeled ‘bad’, but they had just as much sex as the popular kids who looked good on paper.

      1. Right? I was having sex by then and I was a good kid by all accounts. Involved in school activities, great grades, didn’t cause problems, etc.

      2. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

        I agree that’s why I put good in quotes. However, the adventurous kids who had their lives together in my experience were the drama & band kids. With no mention of any other activities or achievements I’m going to stick with my original guess (note:guess, certainly not fact and certainly not true in all cases!). My main worry here is that the girls are being essentially left to their own devices.

      3. snoopy128 says:

        I think generalizing and stereotyping like this only serves to stigmatize or ostracize certain groups. Look at us, a bunch of grown ups making guesses at “who’s the virgin” (or the virginal group). Or even, guess the type of kid based on their sexual choices, which is equally as damaging.

      4. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

        That is a good point Snoopy and I’m really not trying to pigeonhole these or any other kids…I just don’t think the solution is to shrug and say oh well, rock on. Sex can have life altering consequences at any age and I think it’s worrisome that both these girls are sexually active so early.

      5. snoopy128 says:

        And I get that, there’s just a lot of conflation of issues going on in this thread in general and I found your comment a way to highlight that.

        People seem to conflate kids having sex= “bad” kids, and kids having sex= “parents without boundaries”.

        My stance (and that of many youth advocates), is that there are no “bad” children, only bad behaviours. So parenting without boundaries can lead to bad behaviours. However, would you really consider safe, emotionally/mentally/physically healthy/safe sex to be a “bad” behaviour? If so, at what age does consensual/safe/healthy sex become a “good” behaviour? Who can judge whether a person consents/feels safe/healthy other than the person themselves?

        Sorry, I’m starting this below because I also feel like it’s a bigger question that I’m posing.

  8. I started having sex really young and while I do wish I would have waited longer because I wasn’t emotionally ready, there were also benefits for me in the long term so I don’t regret it entirely. I think while they are really young, it’s a good sign they are talking about sex with you and their mom. Keep educating; some are ready at the age, and even though many may not be, that doesn’t mean they will messed up in the future.

  9. 15!? 13!? Good lord have they even started having periods yet?! Or atleast for very long? There can be a ton of health complications for them if they were to get pregnant that young. Not to mention the potential emotional & social consequences. That’s just flat out irresponsibility on EVERYONES part here. I understand you’re trusting a 15 & 13 yr old to use BC consistently but…again you’re trusting a 15 & a 13 yr old to use bc consistently! My friends could barely remember to feed their pet turtles & hamsters at this age.

    These are responsibilities that should not be bestowed upon children. They are not adults. They haven’t even completed puberty. Their brain is not even done developing. I don’t care how much they want to stomp their feet & claim they’re “ready”. As a parent you do have to know better than them, that’s your job. This just giving in to them bc they’re going to do it anyway is ridiculous. Did you never make a stupid decision when you were young? Don’t you atleast want to try to stop your kids from doing the same?

    As teens, my parents did all sorts of things they regretted later, or were able to look back on & say “that was a stupid choice”. Because of this they were able to tell me, from experience, why not to do any of the dumb things they did. I never had to go through the regret & heartbreak like they did because of that. Ultimately it was up to me, but when you have a good relationship with your kids, they will listen to you & not want to disappoint you. I didn’t want to disappoint them or have regrets later myself.

    You can’t go into this with the “I’m your parent! Do as I say!”, approach. But you can’t go into it with the “kids in control” approach either. There has to be respect, logic, reasoning, rationality & flexibility to have a good relationship with your kids. Heck, with anybody. Letting them do whatever they want is only going to set them up for unnecessary stress, heartbreak, & consequences that could have, and should have, been avoided.

    1. If you’re using the brain development argument then no one should be given any kind of responsibility or be allowed to have sex until their mid-twenties because I believe that’s when current research claims brain development seems to finish up. It doesn’t sound to me like they’re letting them do whatever they want. They put clear expectations is place. And I absolutely disagree that a parent “knows better” when it comes to this. The only person who will ever know if they’re ready to have sex is the person who owns the body, not anyone else.

      1. First of all, who said anything about not giving anyone any kind of responsibility because their brain is not done developing? I simply said THESE sorts of responsibilities should not be put upon children to make. They cannot perceive the consequences nearly as well. & yes they ARE children. Not even just by society’s standard (adulthood starting at 18) but biologically as well. Some have not even entered into puberty at their ages, let alone completed it. And secondly, you cannot say that a 21 yr olds brain is not different than a 13 yr olds brain, by development standards. A 3 month olds brain is nowhere near a 5 yr olds brain by development standards, but neither are done developing.
        Forget that this concerns sex for a minute. So a 13 & a 15 yr can make potentially life altering decisions? They can completely fathom the potential consequences? Especially intangible ones like the emotional consequences of a choice? A child can decide what’s best for themselves? At what age should this start? What is our job then? Just provide shelter & food for them & make sure they go to school?
        So I guess we are done parenting as soon as the child decides they can have sex? Wait, a child can decide when they can have sex? So I guess we better get rid of statutory rape then. Apparently at 13 we can decide we are ready to have sex now.

      2. Actually, I do believe they should have a say in life altering decisions. In most places, at those ages they are considered adults (or can be waived into adult court) in the criminal justice system. A 21 year old brain is different than a 13 year old. And a 25 year old brain is different than a 21 year old. And my brain and abilities and comprehension were different at 15 than some of my friends. Who gets to decide that arbitrary number of when a human being has control over their own body? “Done parenting” seems to be a bit of a stretch (a lot of a stretch). My mom still parents me to this day. And she knew when I started having sex. And she trusted me to make my decisions. And she trusted me to do the right thing (birth control, condoms, not letting myself be pressured). She made it clear that my body is mine alone. Not hers, not a boyfriend’s. No one else gets to control my body.

      3. But this is not “having a say” in a life altering decisions. This is a 13/15 yr old solely MAKING a life altering decision for themselves. That’s a lot of stress & responsibility to let a kid have. I mean if you’re giving them this sort of responsibility at 13, we are really going to have to change when people become adults. We should let 13 yr olds have jobs, own homes, go to war, run our courts etc Because apparently they can make life choices already like any adult.
        Parents do have sole responsibility and authority over their kids though. This authority is not allowed to be abused however, but we do have control over what they do. If the 2 yr old wants to run across the street, because it makes sense to him at the time, are we going to advise him of the potential consequences & let him decide to do it or not? & just stand back & watch? No, we physically pick him up & put him in the house.
        Obviously this is a different situation, one where we cannot physically stop our kid from doing something. That’s where the strength of the parent/child relationship comes in. My parents never abused their authority with me, they logically explained things to me & were reasonable & flexible. I could’ve always chose to go against them & do whatever I wanted anyway. But I didn’t see the point. Their points made sense. Besides I’d be an adult soon enough anyway. So until then I had to listen to my parents if I wanted to keep the relationship with them in tact, & I did because I cared about them.
        There does come a point where parents become more like “advisors” to grown children, or nearly grown children. But I do not believe 13 & 15 yrs old, & about something that could potential change the course of their life, is the time to take off our parent/authority role.

      4. We’ll have to agree to disagree. I really do believe that the owner of the body is the only one who can know when they’re ready. Sure, maybe this 13 year old isn’t ready. Maybe the 15 year old isn’t either. But that’s not up to us. And no matter what? They’re going to do it anyway. I’d much rather they have an open line of communication with a parent and access to birth control and condoms.

      5. I’d be interested to hear how you would stop them. Forbid it? Send them away to boarding school?
        At least they have an open relationship with their parents.

    2. Monkeys mommy says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. I can’t even hold this against the kids, they are just kids! And clearly they have no real parental guidance or direction at all. It is your girlfriend’s responsibility to parent her children, and frankly it sounds like she has failed in some ways. It was bad enough when you wrote in regarding the 15-year-old, but 13?? Ridiculous. And what about your daughter? Is this really what you want her exposed to?? What about your ex, her mother? Does she know what goes on in your house? If I found out my ex was allowing my daughter to be in a house where 13-year-olds were having sex, I would be in family court faster than you could say diaphragm.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Juliecatharine, I agree with you. I wouldn’t want my daughter in that house–not because the girls are bad, but because teenagers are much more influenced by their peers than by their parents. She will feel pressure to mature before she’s ready. Also I don’t get the parents’ “we did it so …” attitude. Yeah, we did a lot of stupid things,,,like drinking and drugs. That doesn’t mean my kids have permission to do it.

    1. Do you think ‘good’ kids don’t drink or do drugs? Because, again maybe this is just where I grew up but, the ‘good’ kids did their fair share of drinking and drugs. I don’t know, I think the parents are trying and it seems like there are some things they could work on like discussing the repercussions of sex on mental health. But, I mean I’m going to guess both kids will still keep having sex. At least this way they have birth control!

      1. They have birth control and an open line of communication which is key to their sexual and emotional health.

  11. museum_nerd says:

    I’m wondering what kind of ‘birth control’ other than condoms is being used? Not to nit-pick, but I would be very concerned putting 13 and 15 year old girls on the pill. With hitting puberty and being in such a developmental stage of life, I can’t imagine what throwing in one-size-fits-all hormones would do to the body. I was only on the pill from 22-25 and it messed with my body horribly, and it took years to get back to a normal cycle, moods, weight etc. after being off of it. That would be one of my concerns, plus I think that those kids are too young to really be making these huge decisions on their own, without a lot of guidance from the parents about emotional/physical consequences. But as a non-parent I can’t imagine how difficult this situation must be…still…just….too young. Cultivate hobbies! Sports! Friendships! Being a kid just doesn’t last long enough.

    1. There has been a strong push in some doctor’s circles to get sexually active teens on the IUD. It’s long term, super effective, and it does come in hormone free options.

    2. snoopy128 says:

      Can we clarify this statement please, puberty does not begin with menarch (or first period). puberty begins WAY before (years before). The period marks a developmental phase in puberty, but does not cause, or stop puberty. No literature out there to say that delaying the “first” ovulation has consequences.

  12. sarolabelle says:

    This is just strange. You know how my parents prevented me from having sex at that age?

    1. They sent me to Catholic school. Where sex before marriage was one of the biggest sins ever and we were told that from very very early on.

    2. They monitored who I hung out with. They had to meet all my friends and if I went over to any of my friend’s houses then they had to meet the parents of the friend before they allowed me to go over there.

    3. No sleepovers. I was never allowed to spend the night at anyone’s house, guy or girl ever.

    4. If I wanted to date anyone I would have had to have my mom or dad drive us around (to the mall, the restaurant, the movie theater, the arcade). This happened once and was needless to say, mortifying for me so I just decided to not date anyone anymore and wait until I could drive myself on dates.

    5. They didn’t let me get into a car with a teenager, ever. If I ever did, I didn’t want to know the consequences! So I never did.

    6. I couldn’t go to the mall, movie theater, restaurant or arcade with anyone by myself without an adult present. And my parents made sure the adult was present and that they met the adult before leaving.

    7. Went went places as a family – very very often. A lot of times I didn’t have time to hang out with friends because I was constantly with my family.
    8. If I ever wanted anyone to come over, my parents had to be there but most of the time my friends didn’t come over because honestly, at that age there was nothing to do at home. So I settled for sitting in a movie theater with my friends while my mom or dad sat 6 rows behind us.

    Good luck LW! If it were me I’d be a little more strict.

    1. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      I’m glad it worked for you…I have friends and friends of friends who this did the exact opposite. And it ruined their relationship with their parents because their parents were being so unreasonable. Another example of one size not fitting all.

      1. This.
        My one HS fríen who was never allowed to do anything because her father “knew what teenage boys were like” was the one sneaking out to have sex with her (secret) bf, while the rest of us were still virgins.

        I always had a lot of freedom and I had sex for the 1st time at 21.

      2. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        Yeah…I had the most freedom out of my friends and I was definitely doing the least “bad” stuff!

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Me too. I actually had all the freedom. No curfew, no rules that I knew of. My parents let me drive wherever, hang out with people they didn’t know, sleep over anywhere. … They had the ultimate trust in me, I guess. Or they were stupid, ha. But it worked. I did NOTHING wrong. Damnit, they tricked me. They reverse-psychology’d me! I could have had a life in high school!!!

      4. Mine were the same way. The only limit was they had to know where I was.

      5. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Same. I had no curfew either! But I didn’t actually *do* anything that would possibly require one anyway. So sneaky.

      6. I was the same and I was good, but I hung out with a lot of other kids in the same boat who were not as boring as me 🙂 I am apparently immune to peer pressure haha. I did try a screwdriver when I was 15 and I felt like such a rebel lol.

      7. Me too. A number of my friends with more controlling parents made pretty poor decisions and would lie to their parents constantly or sneak out to meet boys. Things shouldn’t be a free-for-all, but being too strict or controlling can have unintended consequences as well.

    2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I agree with a number of those points – like being more involved in who your kid is hanging out with and having a lot of family activities planned. But know what’s funny? The kids in my hometown who went to Catholic school were the worst of the worst! (If “worst” means “having teenage sex”; there were some wild ones at Catholic!) So I’m not sure No. 1 is effective, ha. Also, sometimes relying on teaching kids that “sex = sin” without sex education and what’s natural and not natural and whatnot can back fire. See the Duggars.

      1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Here’s another example of not all sizes fitting all: I went to Catholic, all-girls’ school, and we learned about contraception and all of our options when I was a freshman, so about 14. (hormonal bc, condoms (male and female), spermicide, etc.) It was kind of mortifying for many of us, as I recall. At the same time, our school had a reputation for being the “hoes on the hill”. It was a mixed bag as far as who was actually sexually active and who was not, as I recall.

  13. Sue Jones says:

    OK, so now I do have some advice. It seems to me that these girls have too much time on their hands. As was mentioned in responses to these previous letters it is a good age for these girls to be more involved with their group of girlfriends, homework and extracurricular activities. I would mandate that they start getting involved with their schools, join clubs, do activities outside of school such as theater, sports, music, anything that will keep them so busy that the amount of time they have to just hang out and boink their boyfriends is lessened. And I would also mandate that they take more challenging courses in school that require more homework. You can’t stop the sex, but they really should not have as much unstructured time together as it seems that they do. Your girlfriend is still the parent so she needs and can make this happen. This can be dialed down. These girls seem way too precautious and those girls have more trouble later during young adulthood because they aren’t focussing on what they need to be focussing on now , i.e. grades, skills, hobbies, friends. Read this please: https://myaccount.nytimes.com/auth/login?URI=http%3A%2F%2Fwell.blogs.nytimes.com%2F2014%2F06%2F23%2Fcool-at-13-adrift-at-23%2F%3F_r%3D5&REFUSE_COOKIE_ERROR=SHOW_ERROR I am happy that my kid is kind of a nerd.

    1. They are having sex. He wrote nothing about any other “deviant” behavior. Just because they are having sex at a really young age doesn’t mean they’ve ruined their lives.

      1. Sue Jones says:

        Did you even read the article? Not saying they are deviant, but they are both exhibiting “pseudomature” behavior and perhaps not attending enough energy to other developmentally appropriate things like school, friendships, extracurriculars, grades, etc. If you actually take the time to read the article that I posted rather than just assume you know what I am talking about you would perhaps understand what I am addressing.

      2. both my GF and I had sex at an early age and we are very successful. She is a business owner, and I am highly paid in a technical field.

        I should mention I’m the LW.

      3. So the truth comes out!

      4. I did read it. Thanks for assuming I didn’t but it sure seems like you know ALL about assuming.
        You don’t know his kids. He hasn’t written one thing about their “coolness” or social status. Instead, you are reading in between the lines. For all you know his girls could be nerdy kids who just happen to have had sex at a young age. Perhaps you could stop applying your judgement to children you don’t know.

      5. Anonymous says:

        Children who don’t fully understand the consequences of sex. The 13-year-old has no clue how sex works based on the fact that she is using the pull out method as her form of birth control…meaning she is VERY obviously NOT ready for sex.

      6. I didn’t say she was ready. You try stopping a kid from having sex. Let us all know how that turns out.

      7. Sue Jones says:

        Actually he has. “13 year old is shallow and spoiled… Think prettiest girl in school. Her BF is a football star already.” Being pretty and dating a football star has lots of social currency in middle school. Pretty much top of the heap at that age There are exceptions to every rule, but I would say that both girls, and especially the 13 year old are exhibiting high risk behaviors. Not everyone who participates in high risk activities gets burned of course, but high risk means exactly that – high risk. So booknerd, I am curious, do you think it is totally OK that a 13 year old girl is sexually active? What would you do if these were your daughters? Because that is the question that LW asked.

      8. No, I don’t want my kids to have sex that early, but guess what? His are. He can’t stop it. If they forbid it or send them off to boarding school, they are still going to have sex, except now there will be no trust in the parents. He and his partner are teaching them about healthy relationships and giving them protection. What are you adding to the discussion? You are shaming him and them and saying if only the weren’t so cool they’ll make it? Newsflash! Many of us had sex at very young ages and we made it out okay. Your fear based repetitive advice isn’t helping him in anyway. You are being judgemental. And actually, maybe you should READ his update, because he doesn’t ask for any advice, he was just giving an update. And or course you would say these are high risk behaviors, but who asked you in the first place?

      9. Sue Jones says:

        Wow, you seem really angry and defensive about this. My advice is and has been to get them busy and interested in doing other things. And I am all for the birth control. Nowhere did I say it would stop the sexual activity, but if they are busy and tired from, say, 10 hours per week of hockey practice or play practice or Advanced Math or AP classes homework, maybe they would have less sex.

      10. I love that you are telling me I’m angry, but you are the one making personal digs in each response. Get over yourself. It was the article you linked to along with all your other judgemental posts on this update. I’m not angry, but you are being really judgey, and your response to me was particularly rude. And snide. And smug.
        For the record, I was in all AP classes, having sex and smoking pot among other drugs at age 15. I went to a prestigious college and have had an amazing life. My parents forbid everything and were so abrasive and abusive I could never talk to them about anything. My free time was loaded with extracurriculars and sports I had zero interest in. I got excellent grades, was dean list and was a “high risk” child according to you. Somehow, I still found time in the day to have sex and do drugs while getting straight As. Do I regret my teenage years? No. It was part of my life that I learned from. You know, like most people do.

        How about letting him update us without your unwanted advice and articles telling him in twenty years his kid is going to be a loser? Not everyone is a statistic.

      11. Anonymous says:

        The article linked to was based on research and about the findings of said research. Surely an educated person such as yourself understands research is data driven and not personal and not about you. Anyway I am done here. Goodnight.

      12. It was a study of 184 kids out of one town in Virginia. I love that you add a personal dig in your last comment as well. Very mature!

      13. Sue Jones says:

        The post directly above was mine and it posted as “Anonymous”. There is another “Anonymous” who is not me (but who I am agreeing with a lot on this thread) FWIW. It didn’t post right away so I posted a similar comment below. Just for clarity’s sake.

      14. Yeah, as a social scientist, I’ve got to say, a study of 184 kids is probably not generalizable to the population of adolescents across the country. I’d be interested in seeing whether they were able to replicate the study in an entirely different set of circumstances, but that would take another 10 years. Also, I looked at the journal article itself and there could definitely be some self-selection bias since it seems like they took every student who agreed to be in the study (and whose parents gave consent).

      15. Sue Jones says:

        The article is based upon research and data. Sorry you are taking it so personally. But it really isn’t about you. It is a heads up for the LW and his GF. For myself, working in a scientific field as I do, I like research and data. Especially in the social sciences and I like understanding trends. This seems to have hit a nerve for you. Glad your wild adolescence worked out for you. And guess what? I was wild too at that age. Pretty much like you and maybe more. And I have also done well. But I am much older and by now I have seen several people I grew up with for whom it did not work out so well. Tragically for some, actually (I was a teen in the ’70’s and a young adult in the ’80’s which were wild free-for- all times with pretty much no rules or boundaries). Perhaps you and I are the lucky ones. But as I am now raising a middle school aged son who is barreling into adolescence like a freight train, I found the article to be educational and informative, not so I could be judgey, but so that I can perhaps support him to become a healthy teen and adult.

      16. It was a study of 184 kids. Surely in your research based field you can see how limited that is. Stop taking personal digs at me, it makes you seem even more petty. Nice try at sounding reasonable and nonjudgmental.

      17. These comments are still bothering me a bit (anyone that yells “but data!” will pique my interest), so I just wanted to comment on scientific studies in general. They’re fallible. My own recently-published study is fallible (and actually disproved some of my advisor’s results from his previous study, but I did some fancy footwork around that). There was just a very widely shared study based on even bigger data that turned out to be half made up (This American Life ended up having to retract their show on it). The most important aspect of any study is that they’re replicable and until they are, it’s really just a theory. Think about that one study that linked vaccines to autism and how damaging it’s been to the US despite so many other studies proving the opposite. Science is important, it does so much, but there are many forces that make a study invalid or non-generalizable. A single finding isn’t scientific fact, it’s a finding.
        Mic drop, I’m out.

      18. He also said they were good girls. Show me a 13 year old who isn’t shallow.

      19. Stonegypsy says:

        ” “13 year old is shallow and spoiled… Think prettiest girl in school. Her BF is a football star already.” ”

        Where where where did you read this in either letter? I have re-read both of them and I cannot find it. Admittedly I’ve been a little unfocused this week, and I have a bad headache right now. So seriously, where is this quote? I’m so confused.
        In fact, I just read both letters yet again and I can’t find that quote anywhere. So where are you getting that from?

      20. It was a clarification in a comment from the LW (the commenter’s name is “LW here”).

      21. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        ahhh okay. There were so many comments, I didn’t go through all of them. Especially since half of them seem to devolve into personal-ish attacks.

      22. Right below this little thread, which, like you I didn’t see until Sue So cleverly pointed it out.

  14. Quick note. I would probably be a little stricter, but I’m not dad. These are good girls. 15 year old is shy and sweet. 13 year old is shallow and spoiled… Think prettiest girl in school. Her BF is a football star already. She does get good grades and like able.

    We are aware of many of the kids friends who are also sexually active, but the parents don’t know. I suspect at least a few commenters have kids with secrets.

    I wish it wasn’t this way, but we are trying to parent with the kids God dealt us.

    To the commenter worried about my 15 year old, don’t. She is probably the single coolest strongest person I’ve met. The manage comment was more about dealing with all the social interactions.

    Yep. The 13 year old hasn’t had her period yet. Her mom and her didn’t realize that ovulation happens before first period. They are at planned parenthood right now. Condoms purchased last week.

    We are a nice upper middle class family living in a nice middle class city.

    Personally I almost wish I was ignorant like most people’s parents, but I’m proud of how my GF is being honest and open.

    1. Er…yeah…you can’t have a period (including the first) without ovulating. It’s not a chicken-egg thing.
      Although before I got on birth control I was ovulating and just kept constantly having periods because my body was freaking out. I’m not sure if a doctor would recommend being on birth control before menarche.

    2. And it just gets worse…

      Having sex before she’s even had a period? There’s just something inherently wrong with this… And yet you trust her to make the wisest decision for herself? She’s still a child, in nearly every manner possible.
      I’m pretty sure most doctors would be quite against this. & I’m also not sure how wise it is to put someone on bc before they’ve ever started menstrating. I’m no expert, but wouldn’t this delay starting puberty even more? The pill stops you from ovulating. For someone who’s never ovulated, what would it mean to never have those hormones released from a very young age? Basically shutting down the ovaries before they ever started. & the pill also adds estrogen to your body, what does this mean for someone not even in puberty yet? I’d ask a lot of questions at the doctors…

      1. snoopy128 says:

        Don’t worry, puberty starts well before the first period. Puberty usually begins around age 8-9, the period is just a side effect of puberty.

        And considering many pills mimic the hormones that are released.

        A quick literature scan shows that the main concern about starting on the pill before menarche is because it may mask the symptoms of why the period has not started, not because it will mess up hormones or puberty.

    3. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

      I’d be a little worried about starting hormonal bc before actually having a period (If that’s the direction they’re taking). I got mine at 13 and it was all over the place cycle-wise. I had it every other month till I was 17 (which was a godsend, let me tell ya). Obviously I’m no doctor so it may not matter- but I’d be having this conversation with the doctor to find out at least for my own peace of mind.
      Generally though, I feel like, if you’re too young to get your period, then you’re too young to have sex, so this situation is a little hard for me to fathom!

    4. Sue Jones says:

      So it sounds like you and your GF are both affluent enough and have access to lots of great extracurricular activities to keep these girls a bit busier so that they have a bit less time for sex and more time to develop their minds and their athleticism? And sometimes it is the rich kids you need to watch the most. (the private school in our area is known for its students having access to the BEST cocaine and the BEST heroin…. because the kids are wealthy, spoiled, and their parents are too busy to notice what is going on).

    5. Monkeys mommy says:

      LW, I am just going to say it. Your girlfriend is a moron. I thought the letter you sent in last time was questionable judgment, but 15 is not terribly uncommon unfortunately. When I heard she was freely letting her 13-year-old have sex, that solidified my opinion that she is a complete and total idiot, and you are not much better for going along with all of this. I think one thing that grosses me out is that you comment that while the 15-year-old has not had sex in two weeks, you assume blowjobs are still happening. Are you fucking kidding me? If I have to assume my kids are handing out blowjobs like lollipops, we have a serious problem. You may be right, I have kids the same age and they could certainly be hiding things from us, but like a previous poster suggested, we have them in activities and try to keep them busy. And I can tell you that if I discover they are having sex, they are not going to be rewarded for it like yours clearly are. Your girlfriend needs to step up and be a parent, and she clearly isn’t. It is also very telling that you brag about how the 13-year-old is popular and the prettiest girl in school. So that makes it okay, right? Oh, and I’m glad you and your girlfriend are so successful and have great jobs, you will need that financial success to raise the grandchildren I imagine you will have in the next two years.

  15. …Has everyone lost their minds? 13 is way too young to be having sex. Where are these kids finding the time to even do this? I was always getting shipped off to piano lessons, and french class, and sports. Literally TOO tired to be able to sneak away. I don’t know, I’m liberal as liberal gets, but yea, this parenting style is not for me.


    1. Teenagers are sneaky. I’ve seen people make out and give blow jobs (not actually see but you know!) at youth group retreats, at camps, etc. They find ways. Even when parents think they are being ‘good’ kids.

      1. snoopy128 says:

        I totally agree. I was in sports/extracurriculars from 6:30am to 8-9pm most days + homework and STILL found time to have sex.

        You can’t structure all of a youth’s free time, otherwise they can’t learn how to follow their own interests or cultivate their own interests. And some of that free time may be used to have sex (but mostly I used to to run, or get involved with drama, or volunteer, but still have “the sex”)

      2. I’m 24, so my teenage years aren’t THAT far behind me but wow I’m so shocked…I knew my friends were having sex, but I was always like “…I need a nap.” Wow my parents lucked out on me. Lucked out so much.

  16. I’ll pose another question… Why is a child even looking for sexual fulfillment at all? Why is she even seeking it out so young? Her life should be so full of 13 yr old girl things to even think about adult subjects.

    1. What is this comment for? To shame the LW, or his kids? It’s not being helpful. Kids have sex. You can’t control what they do or when they do it. I don’t want my kids to have sex that early, but I’d rather have an open relationship with them so I can continue to guide them in making good decisions.
      Have you forbid your kids from doing things? What’s the likely outcome?
      They find a way to do it anyway, but now, they do not trust you and lie to you.
      Save your judgement for your own (perfect, I’m sure) kids.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yikes. There is no shaming in this comment. Shanon was simply posing a valid question. A 13-year-old is still a child. EVERY parent forbids their kids from doing SOMETHING. That’s what parenting is all about…setting boundaries and setting limits.

      2. Forbidding works so well and has for ages.

      3. Maybe you allow your kids to do whatever they want, but most parents have rules for their kids. Good parents, at least.

      4. Yeah, normally when you forbid something what does a rebellious teenager do? If you would argue your points without making it personal, maybe you would garner more respect.
        I am a good parent, but I’d rather have an open relationship with my children then one where they feel they need to lie to me to live their life. Rules are one thing, forbidding a behavior you’ve been allowing….let me know how that works for you!

      5. And actually, her comment was not related to setting boundaries. It was questioning why a child needs sexual fulfillment, as if there is something wrong with her for having sex so young. None of your judgements are helping this father.

      6. Actually, it IS wrong for a child to want sexual fulfillment so young. I think most psychologists would have a field day with the fact that a 13 yr old, whose body is not even sexually mature, is seeking out & having sex.
        Also, she & her mother didn’t even know you have to ovulate first to have a period. Yet everyone in this scenario is being completely responsible…yeah.

        Are we going to start letting 10yr olds have sex? 5 yr olds? The real question is why is this even a priority for her? Why is her life not full of the things that keep busy most 13 yr old girls? I mean there’s a reason the average age of losing ones virginity is not 13. Or even 15.
        To whoever asked what I would do to stop my kids from doing this- There’s not a lot you can DO. But hopefully you have a good enough relationship with your kid that they listen to you, that your opinion of them matters to them, that they know you have nothing to gain & you just simply want them to choose the path that has the highest likelihood of success. Because you want them to have anything they want. That everything you expect of them, ask of them, is out of pure love & not your own ego or selfishness. What I’d say would probably be something like, maybe as a letter given to her when she becomes a teen-
        “You know I love you, right? Like more than anything in this world? You know I have nothing to gain by telling you this, that the only one who has anything to gain or lose is you. I want you to choose the path that has the best chance of leading you to everything you want in life. I don’t want to see you burdened with something that will affect the rest of your life before you even really live.
        Sex is always going to be there. You’ve got nearly a 100% chance of losing your virginity lol. It’s a responsibility, a big one that comes with many consequences, that you can decide to take on at any time. So what’s the rush? This time in your life, it’s going to be over so soon. School, all the activities you’re in, your friends, the sleepovers, staying up til 6am & being able to sleep til 3pm without having a job to go to, or a mouth to feed, etc it’s all going to fade away into adulthood. & you will never have another time like this, where you don’t have to worry about all the adult burdens. You are free right now, these years can be some of the best of your life. Anything is possible for you right now. So enjoy this, revel in it, don’t reach for the responsibilities & burdens yet. Stay free. Develop yourself right now & find out who you are, learn your own mind, become strong & independent, before you add someone else to the mix.
        You’re not going to be missing anything by waiting. Sex is not a train that only comes around once, lol. It’s always going to be there. There are no benefits to having it this early, but there are an awful lot of cons. So don’t do something now that you may want to undo as an adult. Just take your time, you won’t regret waiting. That’s guaranteed. I lost my virginity at 21, & I didn’t miss a thing by waiting. Besides the pain & heartbreak I saw my friends go through. Most people don’t find the love of their life at 15, you know lol. Teenage boys are annoying! & fickle lol. & if you do find him right now, sex isn’t going to seal the deal anyway. He will either be the right guy or not, whether you agree to sex or not. It’s called respect, & he will respect whatever decision you make, if he’s really the one.
        So just wait. Enjoy your life without worries & burdens & responsibilities. Sex isn’t going anywhere. You have your whole life to have sex. Enjoy being a kid, a teenager. Let all the other stuff wait a few more years. I love you.”

        Will it work? That’s 50/50. But I hope to be close enough with him/her that my words might mean something to them.

      7. snoopy128 says:

        Please stop using “appeals to authority” (a method of logical reasoning and argument) on authority which you do not have. You cannot make the claim that you think “most psychologists would have a field day” just because you think they would align with your argument. If you have a factual basis for this, then use that. But don’t generalize about a profession or knowledge base you do not have. Just as you said “I’m pretty sure most doctors would be against this” in reference to birth control before a period. Make your arguments, but don’t rely on facts or authority you do not have.

      8. Seriously? I didn’t even say that about bc, that was done by other people. & yet you only singled me out. I said I wasn’t sure how wise it was to put someone on bc before they’ve started menstrating, & to ask the doctor a lot of questions. Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea.
        The part where I said “I’m pretty sure most doctor would be quite against this” was about having sex before ever having a period. I can’t imagine one saying, “go for it!”. Especially when women who start having sex at an early age are at higher risk for developing things like cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia etc. Would you prefer me to find & post links to the studies, research & doctors opinion on this subject? Just google it, geez.
        As for psychologists comment, is this not common knowledge? I mean doesn’t the fact a child is interested in & seeking out & having sex not cause for alarm? Did no one take psyche courses in high school or college? Or how about just common sense? Does one really have to be a psychologist to comprehend this?
        I didn’t know I needed a degree in psychology or medicine to post an opinion.

      9. I think if you actually read anything about child psychology and sex , you wouldn’t be arguing this.

      10. snoopy128 says:

        Sorry, I attributed the second comment about birth control to the wrong thing, but the argument still stands. You can’t say you think most doctors would be against this without good proof.
        I took psychology in uni, but I would never posit to know what most psychologists think. I would just prefer you not pretend to know what experts think in general. You can post your opinion, but don’t try to pass it off as that of the general body of authoritative figures on the subject without proof.

        Children begin seeking out sexual behaviours at a very young age. Young boys and girls (even in infanthood)can be aroused and ‘play’ with themselves. Children go through a developmental stage where they start exploring the body (the playing doctor phase) which can also include touching themselves. To me, it logically makes sense that this exploration and play can extend to interests of their affection when they are at the age of noticing the opposite (or same) gender. So, no, I don’t think that following sexual urges in the teens is abnormal or deviant or bad behaviour. Personally, I would hope that they would follow the advice in your letter, wait, find other things to occupy their time/develop their minds/bodies/spirits until they are emotionally/physically/mentally/spiritually ready to have sex. But *I* also don’t believe that that readiness can be determined by age or anybody else.

      11. Actually that’s not even what I said. But great argument. If you actually read any of my posts you would read that I do not think it’s okay that a 13 year old is having sex, but what are you going to do to stop it?

  17. Anonymous says:

    At 13 years old, this is still a CHILD. At 15 years old, this is still a CHILD. Teenagers — ESPECIALLY at this young of an age — do NOT recognize the emotional, mental, and physical consequences of sex. You can tell teenagers until you are blue in the face “wait until YOU are ready” or “be sure your boyfriend doesn’t pressure you” but what do they do when a boy (or girl) tells them “I love you so much that all I want to do is have sex with you”? What do they do when their friends are saying how “cool” it is to have sex? They decide they want to be part of the “cool” crowd. I vividly remember in high school the dance team was divided into cliques based on who were still virgins and who wasn’t. It was absolutely disgusting. So you know what those who were virgins did? They went out to bang their boyfriends JUST so that they would be part of the “cool” crowd. Granted there are many, many other things wrong with that scenario but you get the picture.
    Peer pressure is a VERY real thing. Even the most cool and collected teens are affected by it. So they may claim that they were ready to have sex now, but what happens not if but when they break up with their boyfriends? What happens when other boys come calling simply because they have heard that your girlfriend’s daughters are both having sex? What happens if either of these girls get pregnant? Not to mention it is PAINFULLY obvious that the 13 year old has NO IDEA how sex and birth control works, and yet somehow, magically she’s ready to have sex????? That does NOT add up.
    I really do think your girlfriend is doing what she thinks is right by getting them on birth control but the only thing it is doing is telling them that it’s ok…even when the two of you are INSANELY uncomfortable with it in the first place. Not to mention like others have said it could be dangerous for the 13 year old to be taking birth control pills when she hasn’t even freaking had her period yet. I HIGHLY recommend putting your foot down, hard. Teach these girls how to go on DATES. Teach them how boys should be treating them. Teach them how to recognize situations that might not be the safest when dating. Teach them how to say no when they’re uncomfortable. Teach them how to respect themselves and others when dating. Be the parents. They have enough friends — they need someone to set boundaries and expectations for them. Quite frankly I don’t think this open door policy is NEARLY enough. It’s good to be open about sex, but honestly there IS such a thing as being too open about it.

    1. snoopy128 says:

      You can put someone on birth control without saying you are Ok with it yet. Putting the on birth control is just being safe. You can still tell them you are not comfortable with it and articulate why. But at the end of the day, it’s their bodies. Would you rather them be safe?
      It’s like saying you shouldn’t hand out condoms in sex ed class or that you should only teach abstinence, otherwise you are “encouraging” sex. The literature on this topic suggests the opposite. Making youth prepared makes them think about their decisions, makes them consider the consequences.

      1. Anonymous says:

        But it is VERY LIKELY that to these girls, “birth control pills” = “free pass” which it sounds like the LW and his girlfriend aren’t comfortable with. To me it sounds like they’re almost afraid to put their foot down and put some rules in place.

      2. I have to wonder how YOU know what these girls are thinking.

      3. snoopy128 says:

        No, it sounds like they aren’t willing to put down the rules that you think should be put down.

        You can’t tell what other people are thinking.

        I agree, this method doesn’t work without a conversation and joint boundary setting. But, what boundaries those are is up to the parents.

  18. Sue Jones says:

    I worry most about the 13 year old who seems to not only be starting to have sexual activity way too young, but who seems to be getting by on her good looks. Trust me, after having been to several high school reunions, the girls who were pretty in middle school mostly were NOT pretty anymore by their 10th high school reunion, even sooner if they gain a lot of weight. I just want to reiterate that I hope that she is also a good student and participates in tons of important activities like sports, music, dance, french class, etc. so she can develop her mind and not only see her main value in being pretty and having sex with the captain of the football team! There is nothing to be gained from peaking in life way too early.

    1. Wow. You are projecting!

  19. Anonymous says:

    To be honest I think 13 AND 15 is too young to be having sex. When I found out my mother was letting my 13 year old sister date a 21 year old, I became very upset. I didn’t speak to them for awhile because I thought my mother and sister were being irresponsible. It shouldn’t matter if she is “13 going on 30” or whatever as soon as a mistake happens and she gets pregnant she will still be a 13 year old not 30. Two years later, my sister is barely 15, and they are still dating, she was NOT put on birth control, and is now expecting a baby girl. I waited until I was 18 and in a long term relationship with my now husband. I don’t think any child should be having sex this young. But it is all a matter of opinion I suppose.

    1. Sue Jones says:

      13 years old dating a 21 year old? That is statutory rape in most states in the United States!

    2. Yeah, that was illegal and it still is. Your mother could be thrown in jail for allowing that.

      1. Anonymous says:

        My mother (once she realized she messed up and we were mad at her) and I both tried to press charges and they refused to do anything unless my sister came forward and made a statement. I’m pretty positive that’s NOT how the law works but they basically said there was nothing they could do.

    3. Anonymous says:

      My husband and I already tried dealing with the PD. They actually refused to do anything unless my sister pressed charges against him. Unless they have verbal proof that they had sex then they won’t do anything and same with my mother. She already tried to press charges and they still wouldn’t do anything.

      1. Sue Jones says:

        Unbelievable. The police certainly were involved in the case in WA state where the female teacher had relationship with the 13 year old boy, had 2 children with him in jail and later married him! I thought it was enough for parents of a minor to be involved.

      2. Sue Jones says:

        And isn’t a pregnancy in a 14-15 year old by a 22 year old pretty much proof?

  20. I’m appalled by some of these comments. It’s up to them what a 13 year old does with their bodies? Having sees at a young age doesn’t mean your life is ruined? The same way I was raised is how I’ll raise my kids. Until you can feed your own body with food you bought with the job you have, your body is not yours, it’s your parents, they gave birth to you. And sure maybe you’ll turn out all right, but sex is in my book a privilege, not a right. It comes with potentially deadly consequences. And your job as a parent is to keep them alive until they move out. All the females in my family before me had sex at young ages, and guess what? They all got pregnant as teenagers, and guess what? They all forfeited the chance to go to college and be successful. Even at 19 years old, I was still not capable of making good decisions. I got myself in more debt than I needed to be. And having lost my virginity at 21. I now have a Bachelor’s degree and am more successful than my parents were and are. And I haven’t gotten pregnant yet.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I have to say I’m pretty surprised by some of these comments as well. I work with kids — specifically teenagers — on a daily basis and it’s almost sad how fast they feel they “need” to grow up and how they “need” to keep up with their peers who are having sex, doing drugs, drinking, whatever. Not everyone will agree on this topic of teenagers having sex but as one who works closely with 13-year-olds on a daily basis I’m horrified at the comments about how 13-year-olds being mature enough to make their own decisions about sex when they don’t even know how to use birth control. As much as they rebel, teenagers crave boundaries.

    2. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      The only thing I see here is INCREDIBLY bad sex education…and judgement, but really…all I get from you family is no one knows anything about sexual education… so teach kids more than abstinence because kids will have sex. Got it! Great message!

    3. No, it actually doesn’t ruin their lives.

  21. snoopy128 says:

    People seem to be conflating kids having sex= “bad” kids, and kids having sex= “parents without boundaries”.
    My stance (coming from my experience as a behavioural support worker), is that there are no “bad” children, only bad behaviours. So parenting without boundaries can lead to bad behaviours. However, would you really consider safe, emotionally/mentally/physically healthy/safe sex to be a “bad” behaviour? If so, at what age does consensual/safe/healthy sex become a “good” behaviour?
    Who can judge whether a person consents/feels safe/healthy other than the person themselves?

    1. Thank you for being an actual voice of reason.

    2. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

      Snoopy, I think you have a really interesting point of view and I absolutely respect that you’re ‘in the trenches’-thank you for bringing your perspective to the table. For me, a 13 year old having sex produces a visceral ‘NO’ reaction that is coming across as BAD. I’m trying to tease out why because as you said–sex isn’t inherently bad or unhealthy, just the opposite, it’s awesome! I guess my true feeling is that having sex that young is dangerous behavior. No birth control is fool proof and I think we can all agree that anyone relying on the pull out method of contraception is playing with fire (thank God that’s being dealt with). Kids that young aren’t physically, emotionally, or even vaguely financially capable of dealing with the possible consequences of sex. I think it’s a parent’s job to protect their kids from behavior that could negatively alter their lives. It’s a difficult line to draw because it’s vital that children develop their own agency and a healthy respect and love of their bodies. However, I really believe that encouraging kids that age to explore activities like sports, academic clubs, drama, whatever, is the best way to foster their development. The LW’s family seems to have the financial means for this so I don’t understand why these girls aren’t being steered in that direction.

      1. I think that kids can be steered in those directions and still find time and ways to have sex. I don’t necessarily think that I would be excited that my teenager would be having sex, but I also know that you can’t police them all of the time. They find ways and places to do things if they want to make them happen. And while it might be dangerous behavior the most dangerous thing to me is labeling it is as bad and creating a context for the teens where sex = bad and therefore they are bad for having it. It sounds like the girls have a good enough to relationship to ask for BC and discuss sex with their mother. Which is great. Hopefully in those discussions with her they take away what the consequences of sex are. Because at the end of the day teenagers are going to explore their bodies and their surroundings and test and push boundaries. At least from what I remember of being a teen. Some of the kids who ended up in the worst positions that I saw were the ones who were scared to talk to their parents about sex and saw it as a bad thing. They thought they were sinning and being ‘slutty’ or ‘bad’ and that they couldn’t discuss it with adults. It makes me sad to think of any teenager who is shamed for being interested in sex and their bodies. They do need to be taught about the consequences and why sex is a big deal, but I hate seeing them shamed for it. It’s natural as their bodies change to be interested in what those changes are and what they mean and what all of those new feelings they have for the opposite sex mean.

      2. snoopy128 says:

        I laid out where I’m coming from because I think it really influences my perspective, not that I have authority on this.

        I really appreciate that you mention this visceral reaction and are trying to work through it.
        For what it’s worth, I do think there are many other things besides sex a 13 year old should be doing. Just because it isn’t ‘bad’ behaviour, doesn’t make it the best choice. And as teens grow, the line of agency and parental boundaries does change, which makes this particularly difficult. I still disagree with you on the fact that they can’t be physically or emotionally ready. Nobody knows that but the person themselves. However, they can definitely be financially ill-prepared, which is a huge component of this.
        However, I would like to challenge your assumption that teens (or any) who are having sex this early aren’t involved in activities. Most of the people I knew who were having sex in high school, myself included, were involved in activities 630am-9pm with a curfew, lots of friend time, family time, boundaries (with consequences) etc. Parents provide boundaries but they really cannot (and I believe should not) schedule and control every minute of a teen’s time. Part of growing up is learning balance- managing your own time, cultivating your own interests, and trying (and failing) to balance things in general.

      3. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

        Snoop, to the issue of physical/emotional readiness, while everyone is different, I just don’t believe that a 13 year old who hasn’t started her period is physically ready for the potential of pregnancy. Her body isn’t developed enough yet and while her chances of getting pregnant are relatively small, they are not negligible. Having an abortion at such a young age is bound to be emotionally trying now or in the future. I don’t think any middle school kids have the maturity to deal with
        those consequences without a lot of outside help.
        Regarding activities, I’m focusing on extracurriculars here because the LW doesn’t mention that they’re involved in anything. I don’t kid myself that teenagers won’t find a way to have sex if they want-clearly they can and will–but I think involvement at the least broadens horizons and teaches responsibility-some key things in making good decisions about life in general including sex.

  22. If I can address one thing that’s come up here in the comments: It’s simply not true that you have to ovulate before having your first period (or any period). It’s certainly possible to do so, but the majority of girls are anovulatory for much the first whole year after menarche. It typically takes 2 years for the cycles to regulate and for ovulation to happen more often than not. When ovulation does not occur, it’s not a true menstrual cycle but is indistinguishable from one for all practical purposes. The uterine lining will shed when it becomes “too full” or from a drop in estrogen levels.

    1. Redressa dropping a knowledge bomb. I want to like this more than once.

    2. That’s interesting – I know as a teenager I wasn’t ovulating and constantly had my period. However, I don’t think a 13 year old should be using the pull out method on the assumption they aren’t ovulating. It’s good to know the chances of her being pregnant are very slim and that she is now getting proper birth control. But still…13 is a bit young. I don’t think I was even allowed to have boys over to visit at that age, nor was I allowed to have a boyfriend. (I was super awkwars, so it didn’t really matter).

    3. Yeah, I remember my irregular periods as a teenager, guess many of those cycles were anovulatory.
      Another thing is that getting your period does not directly translate to physical readiness for sex or vice versa. For example, I definitely started masturbating way before I got my period. So I was obviously able to feel sexual pleasure and have orgasms before I first got my period. I think that’s fairly normal. For me it was a very long road from masturbating to sex with another person, but for some teens it might not be. It might not have been for me if I had met someone who wanted to have sex with me at that age.
      One of the things that would be valuable to teach to teenagers is that there are many stages of sexual exploration, and that PIV sex is not the ultimate goal. When I was a teen I regularly read a teenage magazine, and it talked a lot about non-penetrative sex. If we could get teens to stick mostly to hand jobs and blow jobs, that would reduce the risk involved by so much.

  23. Holy shit these comments…

    My mom asked me if i wanted to go on the pill when I turned 13. I declined, but it was and is very very common for girls to be on the pill at that age. Every Obgyn would prescribe them (after a checkup, of course).

    In my class, girls started having sex at 13, with mostly everyone having lost their virginity by the age of 18. We were average.

    But then, I’m in Europe, and we’re not that hung up about sex…. (But we do have lower teen pregnancy ,yay!

  24. bittergaymark says:

    Why are you even allowing a 13 year old to date?
    Honestly, if I ever had kids “serious” dating would so NOT happen until 15 or maybe even 16. End of story. If you treat your kids like they are 18 they are gonna act like it.

  25. Unwanted_Truth says:

    C’mon BGM, look , I don’t know if I had the gene or what , but by 2nd grade, I was all about girls. I was never sexually abused or otherwise, just like auto mechanic interest and knowledge, the interest I had in girls, came naturally to me. So as soon as I discovered an old BETA Porn Tape that was under my dads bed and learned wtf was really up….I pressed even harder when it came to girls. So let me say this, because although I am in my early 30’s , I have a very very good memory of when I was a kid and the things I experienced and went through. Had either my mother or father or any of authority tried to even remotely force, or enforce, me not to “date” or have serious feelings about someone I liked or was my girlfriend, they had hell to pay through my actions and rebel side. Just because the elders didn’t think it was ok, or because blah blah blah, fuck em’ , you know what? I didn’t hurt anyone, I didn’t impregnate anyone, I didn’t ever make any girl, woman, women , uncomfortable, and I was scared of sex actually, but was sure to be very responsible and careful when it came into that territory. Although I did and do have a father that was/is apart of my life growing up, it was mainly my mother in the picture, i learned easily, how to respect others and their choices. Although I had been threatened on many occasion that I would be out on the street as a teenager if I got anyone pregnant, I knew what the hell I was doing, and that damn sure wasn’t going to happen. For any parent to say “Hey you’re MINE , you can not and will not date that boy/girl/ or do this or that ” involving their child when said child is interested in that part of life really needs to remove their claws and screw to be honest. Unless of course said interest of their kid is an asshole and will do harm to them in some way or get them in trouble.

    My mother and family did well with me, I knew and remember who and how I was growing up, and although i am no longer the “trouble maker” that most parents didn’t want their son or daughter around, I turned out just fine without an adult record and know respect, responsibility , hard work ethic and freedom. Had i grew up like some of you all here, with strict married parents, religious and all, it would have never ever ever worked out for me, you, dad or anyone. Open communication and acceptance is key. Saying that a 13 year old “seriously” shouldn’t even be dating is totally asinine.

  26. Unwanted_Truth says:

    Btw, BGM, I don’t know what has or is going on in your life this past year, I don’t actually know you, but with all honesty you should cap lock the bitter beginning of your name. I’ve been reading DW and the frisky for years now, and you have always been one of my fav commenters to read, simply because, not only are you usually on point, don’t beat around the bush, and come real with it right off the bat, but dude you have progressively gone a little on the wayside. I can still usually see where you’re coming from in most cases and can agree to a point, but I see the more you post and get mad, the more “trollish?” ( i couldn’t think of the word sorry…) you become I guess, and lose sight of the big picture. Bring the old bgm back please.

    1. Monkeys mommy says:

      Actually, I think he has been spot on lately. Someone has to be willing to call a spade a spade. I am frankly astounded at the number of people trying to justify the logic of a 13-year-old having sex myself.

      1. Soccercube says:

        It’s true that you can’t stop a 13 year old from having sex but you can set a good example to help prevent it. 13 year olds are children. They DON’T know what is best for them. And this child clearly isn’t ready for sex. The pull out method? Jesus Christ…

      2. Addie Pray says:

        Seriously. What Monkeys Mommy said.

      3. Unwanted_Truth says:

        I never said he doesn’t call a spade a spade. I also said that for the most part he is on point “spot on” but his recent comment? No . I also didn’t say having sex at 13 should be A OK , but at the same time,saying a 13yo shouldn’t seriously even be allowed a bf or gf is bullshit. Period. Maybe in the eyes of law i was a child at 13, but i remember 13 clearly, and I was mature enough to have a gf. We can agree to disagree, but lately spot on isn’t exactly the case.

      4. Monkeys mommy says:

        I do not think a 13-year-old should be dating. I agree with BGM. And going on my family summer vacation?? Hell to the no.

      5. bittergaymark says:

        I think it is HILARIOUS that my stance that 13 year olds should NOT be dating or banging one another is so out there that it strikes some as I must be trolling?! Say what?

      6. Anonymous says:
      7. soccercube says:

        Totally agree. Maybe the 13 year old’s mother was a teenage mother herself and that’s why she has a pretty cavalier attitude towards her daughter trying to act like an adult. Because if the 13 year old was already going on 20…the response is to let her continue to act like a 20 year old and let her date? Honestly,is it really that shocking the girl is having sex now?

      8. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        If there’s one thing I’ve never thought of you as, it’s as a troll. Ha!

      9. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:


  27. I don’t think many/any of us are saying having sex at 13 is good. I definitely hope that my kids don’t have sex that young. But when she’s been given so much freedom, and has had sex, how can a parent stop that behavior without losing the trust and relationship that they have with their child? I was a rebellious asshole of a kid, and my parents were insanely controlling/abusive. They were controlling all of my time/friends I could have before I started rebelling. That strain on our relationship, that’s continued now that I’m thirty, even though I moved out as soon as I could. We are not close. My siblings were not as rebellious as me, but my parents were still insanely controlling, and have similar distant relationships with them. I did all the bad things at a young age. To think about it frankly scares me, and I can’t believe I even was around that at a young age. But I still was a good student, and involved with all the things. My point is, if a teen wants to do said behavior, it’s going to happen. You can structure their time all you want, and forbid them from doing all the things, but they will find a way. I’d rather have a relationship where my child feels safe talking to me, rather then push them away with boarding school, military school, or not letting them have ANY freedom. I probably wouldn’t have searched out so much “mature” behavior if I’d had any sort of respectful relationship with my parents. My parents only wanted what was best for us, and I’ve seen how the “best intentions,” worked out for them.
    Do I want my kids having sex that young? No. I hope I can guide them into better uses of their time until they are older. But if they do have sex very young, I hope we have and can continue to have an open and honest relationship where at least I know what they are up to and can prepare them the best way I know to make informed and respectful decisions.

    I personally don’t think many of the commenters were being helpful. Telling him his daughters behavior is wrong and bad and disgusting isn’t helping him in anyway. There is so much judging here, and so little actual usable advice. Having sex young won’t ruin your life.

    1. snoopy128 says:

      To second booknerd, my point has never been to say that sex at 13 is the best choice or should be considered a “good” thing.
      It has been to say that I don’t agree with categorizing sex as a “bad” behaviour or people who have sex at a young age as “bad” kids. Nor does kids having sex = bad parenting. Therefore, a kid having sex isn’t a bad kid, nor are they doing a bad behaviour. (Not being a “bad” behaviour doesn’t make something inherently a good behaviour or a good choice). And a parent who’s kid is having sex is not inherently a bad parents just based on the fact that their kid is having sex before other people think they should.

      To echo the end of booknerd’s statement: “I personally don’t think many of the commenters were being helpful. Telling him his daughters behavior is wrong and bad and disgusting isn’t helping him in anyway. There is so much judging here, and so little actual usable advice. Having sex young won’t ruin your life.”

      1. Thank you, Snoopy. I wish I could buy you a drink!

  28. “Having sex young won’t ruin your life.” That’s very dangerous “advice” to give, to a child no less. That’s not a guarantee you can make. There are no benefits to having sex so young, but a ton of cons, especially concerning health. The only guarantee you can offer them is that they won’t regret waiting til they’re atleast a little older.
    Perhaps people with “insanely controlling/abusive” parents tend to swing too far the other direction when they have their own kids. I don’t know. But I do know when it comes to parenting styles it’s not either or. There is some middle ground between “insanely controlling” & “let the child decide”, parenting types. It IS possible to be strict with your kids, set up rules, boundaries, expectations, AND still have an open & honest relationship with good communication. The kid expects you to look out for them, tell them what not to do, & to be disappointed in them when they don’t listen & the consequences that follow. They’re always testing to see what your boundaries are, even from the time they’re 2. They NEED boundaries.
    They’ve never been an adult before, but you’ve been a kid before, so they need your instruction. People need to stop being so afraid of becoming their parents, or a bad parent, that they don’t parent at all. My best friend growing up, even my own parents when they were young, all made pretty bad decisions. My parents got together & were on their own at 16. One thing I’ve heard all 3 of these people scream at their parents over the years is, “why didn’t you stop me!? I was a kid, how was I supposed to know?!” & other variations.
    Adult responsibilities should never be placed on kids, it’s not fair & you’re setting them up to fail.

    1. Where did I give advice to a child? I’m not sure any children are reading deep into the comments on Dear Wendy’s site. When did I say let the child decide? When did I say I would raise my kids with no boundaries or rules? Maybe you need to spend some time away from your keyboard, or actually read a comment before you attack it.

      1. Lol! Some time away from my keyboard? I haven’t been here in nearly 2 days, nor do I usually post at all, you’re here all the time it seems, yet it’s *I* who needs to step away from my keyboard…ok then. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. This has spiraled into childish antics.
        Also not sure where I attacked anything. I did disagree with your one particular statement. My entire post was not directed at you, or anyone in particular. Your stance, & whoever shared that same stance, advice, opinion, whatever you want to call it, of “having sex young won’t ruin your life” is a dangerous view point to have when it’s concerning kids. *In my opinion* (Since apparently these sort of obvious things have to be made more obvious here, for some reason.) Period. (Unless you share a different view point with your kids, rather than the one you actually believe?)
        Also how in the world can you be sure teens are not reading Dear Wendy & the comments? That’s such a weird thing to say. & completely irrelevant here.

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Ladies, ladies, please.

      3. Anonymous says:

        You said I was giving advice to a child. You are obviously on here as much as me, except I’m not attacking your comments without reading them. You did respond to me, that’s why you’ve quoted what I said in your first sentence. Most people would consider that a response.
        Tell me how having sex while young ruins your life? There’s plenty of us who’ve managed to have sex while young and somehow survived. I would say your thinking, and your POV is more dangerous. Telling a kid sex will ruin their life isn’t very realistic or honest. But, you know you could always just stop arguing with me and everyone else on here. Obviously you have a different world view and opinion. So stop replying to my reasonable comments.

      4. Lol, oh for Pete’s sake.
        I guess I will be the one to stop arguing (obviously you won’t stop arguing with everyone on here either), since I don’t even know who I’m speaking to anymore….who are you again?

      5. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        I’m pretty sure anyone is entitled to comment here, regardless of whether or not they agree with you. Just saying.

      6. Of course anyone can reply to your comments – both your reasonable and unreasonable comments. Geez…

  29. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:


    1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

      Well, I think that’s reasonable. 😉

    2. Sue Jones says:

      Addy Pray, glad to see I am not on your”no sex” list. I think I will go grab my husband and get started!

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        But you’re SJo – I say you get a pass!

    3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      You know, some men fetishize pregnant women and would be happy to have a roll in the sack with you. Have you encountered the catcalls yet from guys like that? I got them a few times toward the end of my pregnancy with jackson and I’ve started getting a few with this one. It’s always so jarring and gross. I feel like pregnancy should make you exempt from catcalls/ street harassment. Like, it should be a built-in perk like always getting a seat on the subway (oh wait, that doesn’t happen either…).

      1. I gladly give my seat up for pregnant ladies (as long as I can tell they’re pregnant)! And children! And old and or disables people! I was so mad yesterday, there was a guy carrying a sleeping, IDK, 2 year old onto the El after work. I was already standing so I didn’t have a seat to give up. But nobody else paid any attention. I wanted to say something, but I just don’t have that kind of personality.

      2. My favourite was when the people (99% of the time young, able bodied males) sitting in the seats that are supposed to be given up for the elderly, pregnant etc, would magically fall asleep when I, with my hugely pregnant tummy, would get on the bus.

      3. Sue Jones says:

        When I was pregnant everyone pampered me and held doors and carried things for me…. then once I had my baby and was carrying the baby, the stroller, the diaper bag, the carseat, NOBODY, I mean NOBODY offered to help me at all! What is THAT about, huh??? And at the farmers market this one woman who sold dumplings kept giving me an extra dumpling and always said “Eating for 2!”. Once I had the baby I was breastfeeding like crazy but I was no longer “Eating for 2” and no longer got the free extra dumpling at the farmers market. Oh well…

      4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Man, now I want a catcall!

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