DEAR ABBY: I am writing this as a follow-up to the letter I wrote you in June about my 13-year-old daughter. (I told you she was getting dangerously close to the boyfriend she had been seeing morning, noon and night.)
I took your advice and spoke to her about sex. I purchased at the local drugstore several forms of birth control (condoms, contraceptive sponge and vaginal suppositories). I also bought something called a "teen pack," which contained several trial-size items introducing young females to such things as tampons, mini-pads, maxi-pads, shaving lotion and razors for shaving legs. When I got home, I invited my daughter to join me at the kitchen table. My husband was working late that night, so it was a perfect opportunity for girl talk.
I lined up the contraceptive devices on the table. My daughter was a bit curious. I gave her the teen pack, telling her that all the items in that package were things that we had discussed. Then I pointed to the other items on the table and said they were items that we needed to talk about.
I carefully explained to her that now that she had become a young woman having a monthly period, she could become pregnant if she had sex. I then told her that I was in no way condoning sex in someone as young as she, but that I wanted her to be informed. I then took each product and explained how it was used, and showed her the directions and how to check the expiration date on the product. After that, I opened each package and let her touch the device, examine it and ask questions.
I made sure she was aware that even if you are on the birth control pill, that still did not stop sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. I told her that safe sex with condoms could not completely guarantee the prevention of pregnancy or disease, but that the only way to ensure not getting pregnant or a sexually transmitted disease was not to have sex.
I then took the remaining products and placed them in a box in her bathroom closet. I told her I would not check the box, but if she ever felt a need to experiment, that they would be there. I stressed to her to always feel that she could come to me before making any decisions that could change her life forever.
And, I made some important points to her that truly hit home: I pointed out that she was too young to obtain a driver's license, too young to drink, too young to get a job, and too young to be responsible for the life of another human being. I reminded her that if she were to have a child, her education and social life would cease until such time that she could afford a baby sitter to resume her studies and social activities.
I realize this letter is lengthy, but I wanted you to know how I dealt with this issue. My daughter, after our talk, has been a different person!
I trust my daughter, and your advice was a big help in dealing with a very difficult situation. I realize that I have a long way to go in completing the journey through her teen years, but I feel that we, as a family, will survive.
I am truly grateful, Abby. Thank you. -- NORTH DAKOTA MOM
DEAR MOM: Every daughter should have a mother like you.