EIGHT. BIRTH CONTROL
When a mother starts thinking about having a conversation with her daughter about sex and birth control, she often worries about how best to handle it. After all, before the mom can even focus on the substance of the discussion, she has to focus on the timing. Some moms fear that if they have "the talk" too soon, their daughters will view it as a green light to begin experimenting with sex at an early age. (This is the "It will put ideas in her head!" argument.) Other moms fear that if they have "the talk" too late, their daughters will end up having unprotected sex because they didn't know any better. (This is the "You're WHAT!?!?! Just wait until your father gets home!" argument.)
The truth of the matter is that kids typically know the basics of sex at a pretty young age. Most public schools do a good job of teaching sex education classes, often when the kids are in fifth grade. When you learn that this block of instruction is being covered in school, you should go out of your way to ensure that you can spend some private, quiet time with your daughter so that she can spontaneously raise with you any questions she might have about the topic. If she doesn't initiate the conversation, you should.
Needless to say, you should answer your daughter's questions fully, openly, and honestly. And remember— you can make your daughter feel comfortable talking with you about sex if you consistently demonstrate that you feel comfortable talking with her about sex. Keep in mind, also, that when it comes to sex, the phrase "the talk" is very misleading. In actuality, starting when she's young, you will need to engage in a series of mini-talks with your daughter about this crucial subject.
During these conversations, it's very important for you to share with your daughter your views and your values regarding sexual activity. Some moms steer clear of this part of the conversation because they don't want to be seen as being uncool or judgmental. But taking such a position is, in reality, an abdication of a mother's parental responsibility. Talking to your daughter about being safe, about being responsible, about making choices that are right for her, about maintaining her self-respect, and about being true to her beliefs is far from being old-fashioned.
Is my daughter too young for birth control?
So, when do you have to start worrying about birth control for your daughter? Well, every girl is different, and it's critical to remember that point. Nevertheless, it's oftentimes helpful to look at broad-based scientific studies to get a sense of what's happening in this modern age of adolescent sex.
One such study is the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that has been conducted bi-annually since 1990 by the CDC. This study consists of school-based surveys of students in grades 9 through 12. In 2007, the YRBS showed that 47.8% of all high school students nationwide reported that they had engaged in sexual intercourse. Specifically, approximately 27% of 9th grade females, 42% of 10th grade females, 54% of 11th grade females, and 66% of 12th grade females said they had had sexual intercourse.
The YRBS also reveals other interesting statistics. For instance, 20% of 12th grade females reported having four or more sexual partners. Additionally, only 62% of the students who reported being sexually active said that during their last incident of sexual intercourse, either they or their partner had used a condom. Only an additional 16% of all currently sexually active students said that either they or their partner had used birth control pills during their last sexual encounter. (Now you know why it's called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.)
These statistics show why it's so important for us to stress to our daughters the need for birth control if they become sexually active, and for us to begin doing so while our daughters are still young. Therefore, let's turn our attention to the various types of birth control, their proper use, and their rate of effectiveness.
Studies have shown that human contact is a basic human need. Yet many parents are so overwhelmed with lives that are jammed packed from sun-up until bedtime, that sadly, many children are deprived of this. A hug, a kiss, a pat on the back reinforces a child's sense of security and feelings of self-worth. Simply put, if children are deprived of nurturing physical contact, they may be more apt to seek an inappropriate avenue to fill that need.