Who am I to stop my daughters having sex?

“Do parents have a say in when their teens start having sex?” asked a recent headline in the Lifestyle section of the Sydney Morning Herald.

No, answered Kasey Edwards, mother of two daughters aged 8 and 3: As anyone who has ever been a teenager could attest, if a teenager really wants to have sex then they will, regardless of their parents’ policy.

After my blood pressure had come down I penned her this open letter:

Dear Ms Edwards,

Reading your piece on the question of when you’ll let your daughters have sex left me feeling, as a mother of a daughter, well… blah.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but your approach to your daughters and sex can only be described as defeatist. Here’s why.

1. You suggest that removing any parental policy around sex is the solution. If your daughters have no way to defy you, then technically, they cannot undermine you. I admit, that is logical.

With a disobedience rate of 0.00%, you could argue you have proof of a happy family home and a healthy mother-daughter relationship. I think a few parents would find your philosophy a little obtuse though.

2. ‘Who am I to stop them?’

If my daughters are making an authentic and informed decision, if they are having sex because they genuinely want to and feel ready, then who am I to stop them?

You are their mother. I think that does set you apart from everyone else in this world.

Which means when they need guidance about sex (and they do), the responsibility to provide it falls primarily on their father and you. Instead, you forfeit this task, and consider that a virtue.

3. When did advising your children to delay sex become synonymous with being judgmental?

If my daughters know that their father and I will be non-judgmental and supportive of their decisions about sex, then I expect this will lead to more open conversations about contraception, STDs and consent.

They will never have to sneak around, keep secrets, or use their sexuality as a source of rebellion.

If you can have open conversations about contraception and consent, you can also have open conversations about the safest path of all through adolescence: no sex, just good friendships, with love and marriage something to look forward to. Continue reading

  • Veronika Winkels is a freelance writer who lives in Melbourne and is married with two young children.
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