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"I Found Condoms in my Teen's Room!"

QUESTION: I recently found condoms in my 15-year-old son's room! His aunt thinks that I should confront him, tell him that I do not approve of him having sex, and throw the condoms away. I think that he will continue to have sex, and if that's the case, I would rather that he be protected from becoming a teenage father or getting a sexually transmitted disease. What do you think?

ANSWER: Your appreciation of the responsibility that your son is taking in protecting his health and avoiding the life-changing effects of unwanted fatherhood is not only a more realistic approach, but a life preserving one. While it is true that your son may interpret your silence as tacit approval, his aunt's suggestion could be potentially harmful.

Perhaps he has acquired your own good "common sense" in his approach to sexuality. Still, it might be beneficial to discuss sex openly, rather than avoiding the topic altogether.

Discussing the nature of sexual involvement is is just as important as the initial decision whether or not to have sex. Commitment, as well as loving and caring for another person, may also be a part of your talk about sexuality. Keep in mind that your son might have questions which could be best be addressed in the father-son relationship.

Minimally, it is advisable to open a discussion about the fact that you have seen that he has condoms and would like to discuss this with him. Let him know that he can come to you or his father with questions about sex and relationships. If you disagree with sexuality at this age, let him know your reasons, but stop short of trying to control his behavior.

Your job as a parent is to discuss your views with your adolescent and make yourself available for guidance as needed. But, at some point, you must also recognize that he is a "beginning adult" and will make his own decisions.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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