Ask the Experts! My 14 yr old daughter is having sex with her 15 yr old boyfriend

Audience Question:

My 14 year old daughter is having sex with her 15 year old boyfriend of 6 months. We have told her she can’t have sex at either homes and that they are too young but it’s too late. They are taking precautions for birth control and are both consensual but as parents it’s so concerning considering their age. Any advice would be welcome.

 

 

Experts response:

Dear Parent,

How lucky you are to know that this is happening – although I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it - and to have the opportunity to discuss your values, thoughts and feelings with the young couple at this early stage of their relationship – rather than discover that they are sexually active through an unplanned pregnancy or an STI or snapchat post.

 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

 

I can fully understand your concerns about the age of these two teens, but I’m impressed that they have told you it is both consensual, and that they are taking precautions. Just a heads up – if they are relying solely on condoms for protection, I urge you to take your daughter to your family GP for a frank discussion about starting her on a LARC (long acting reversible contraceptive). Many young people either don’t use condoms every time, or don’t use them correctly, and the pill relies on remembering to take it daily at the same time. An implant or hormone releasing IUD are the best options, followed closely by the choice of a 3-monthly injection such as Depo-Provera. Whichever option she chooses should be used in conjunction with a condom for disease protection.

 

If your daughter is feeling uncomfortable or awkward about an internal exam, smear test and very frank discussion with a doctor about her sexual health needs, perhaps it’s an indication that she’s maybe not ready for a sexually intimate relationship.

 

Now for some advice you won’t want to hear. I work with teens in the field of sexual health nearly every day. I KNOW that teens who are having sex are going to have it wherever they can – a friend’s house, outdoors, public toilet stalls, shopping centre fitting rooms, back seats of cars (often with another, older couple in the front), school! In my opinion, and I’m sure you will have concerns about this, knowing they are having sex anyway and that banning them from doing so is beyond useless, I would like to recommend that rather than not allowing them to have sex at either home – turn it around; make it a rule you would prefer they only have sex at your house.

 

OK, wait a minute…….. breathe………….

 

This means they are safe from weirdos, the cold, an arrest for public indecency, gossip and more. It shows you trust them – BUT, how awkward for them. How do they negotiate this? What are the rules (no disruption to family life and activities, not on school nights, no public nudity or displays of inappropriate affection?) – You decide together – boyfriend included! – where does his family stand on this issue?  Again, drawing on my discussions with teens, having this freedom takes away the ‘thrill’ and allows them to spend intimate time together (two nights a week at most) without the actual necessity of “having sex”. Sometimes they might, sometimes maybe not. The boyfriend will need to interact with your family, sit and have a meal with you, watch tv with you and so on. At the very least you’ll get to know him well, and vice versa. I also suspect it will make their evening rendezvous even more awkward.

 

I know it seems counterintuitive – but believe me, it’s safer for everyone concerned. This may be a lifetime relationship (my husband and I met at 18 and have been together for over 40 years) or it may be the first of many. How you respond now, by encouraging open conversations, showing trust and support will set the scene for future relationships and all those other teen dramas over the next 5 or 6 years.

 

I wish you luck. I’m sure every parent out there will have their own opinion – and I’m pretty sure they’re glad they’re not in your shoes right now.

 

Legal considerations:

Although the legal age of consent throughout Australia is either 16 or 17 years of age, legislation in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, (refer to Youth Law Australia and change the state as needed) allows young people aged 12-15 years old to legally have sex with another person who is less than 2 years older than them (as long as they both actively agree to it). Once a young person turns 16, they can legally have sex with another person who is also aged 16 years or older (as long as they both actively agree to it).

 


Margie Buttriss is the managing director of HUSHeducation in Melbourne. She has four adult children including a daughter who identifies as lesbian, and another who is bi-sexual. Every day Margie speaks with young people in school and community settings about topics such as healthy decision making, sexuality, puberty, respectful relationships and much, much more. Margie can be found at HUSHeducation and in the Exploring Teens Directory

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