DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I have two teenage children. My son is 19 and my daughter is 15. I grew up in a home with very strict parents who set a lot of rules and wanted to know where my sisters and I were every hour of the day. At the time I hated it, but now I understand their rules from a parent’s perspective.
Shortly before my son went back to college, when I took some unclaimed laundry out of the dryer, I found an empty condom wrapper. My kids often buddy up on their laundry and there was clothing from both kids in the batch. Since he’s already been away at college I am not naive enough to think my son isn’t sexually active. But I have to admit I’m a little freaked-out to think my daughter is having sex already.
I don’t want to be as controlling as my parents, and I certainly don’t want to alienate my kids, but how do I approach them to find out what I may not want to know? --- SCARED TO ASK
DEAR SCARED TO ASK: You could try asking your kids separately about your find, but don’t count on a straight answer, especially if they’re inclined to cover for each other.
Being realistic about your son’s probable sex life is a sign you’re not looking to be as strict or controlling as you felt your parents were. He’s 19 and on his own most of the time, but a high school underclassman is a different story.
While some of my readers will say at least safe sex is being practiced, I’m not of the opinion most 15-year-olds are ready for the emotional aspects and potential risks of being sexually active. Because of that, you’re fully within your rights and acting as a loving, responsible parent to speak with your daughter about your concerns.
Whether the wrapper was hers or not, after she explodes ─ and I’d count on an explosion ─ at least she’ll know you care, although that might not be what she calls it or how she sees it right now.