DEAR HARRIETTE: I was doing the laundry and found a condom in my 16-year-old son’s jeans pocket. I was in shock. My husband and I have talked to him about sex, and they have discussed it at school too, but I never expected he would be sexually active this young. I know I can’t control his behavior, but he is not a mature kid. I can’t imagine this is going to turn out well. I suppose I should be happy he has a condom, but I’m worried. How can I talk to him about this without alienating him? I need to know what’s going on. -- In My Face, Boston
DEAR IN MY FACE: Without judgment, sit down and tell your son you need to talk. Let him know you found the condom in his pocket. Ask him if he is sexually active now. This is important, as having a condom doesn’t mean he’s using it. Ask him who his partner is if he says yes. Then tell him you know this is an uncomfortable conversation, but you need to have it.
Encourage him to tell you what he’s doing. Acknowledge the value of using a condom. At the same time, discourage him from being that intimate with another at this age. Point out that taking relationships slowly and getting to know a person well is most important. Have your husband talk to him too. If he is sexually active, you probably can’t stop it, so have a more in-depth conversation about STD prevention and pregnancy prevention.