By: An anonymous teen
This past year, I was prescribed a medication called Accutane for my acne. Because the medicine can cause babies to be born with problems if their moms were using it when they got pregnant, doctors are required to put you on birth control. When my dermatologist brought this up, my mom immediately said, “She’ll be abstinent” and that was the end of it. The doctor looked at me, I nodded my head in defeat and the conversation was over.
Later that day my mom and I talked about the appointment. She said, “We can talk about it when you get a boyfriend.” I knew by “it” she meant birth control. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to be sexually active in the near future, I would have liked to have been able to make a decision for myself. Or, to at least be able to have a conversation about birth control with my doctor, instead of my mom just dismissing it.
I know having a conversation about birth control with my mom would have been awkward. But, I also know there are other ways parents can handle a situation like this other than to just avoid it.
Honestly, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. The closest thing I got to a talk about reproductive health was when I started my period. My mom told me how to deal with having a period and how to take care of the pain, but she said nothing about what having a period meant. She didn’t tell me why girls get them, or what is happening in your body to make them start. She didn’t tell me why I got mine but my some of my friends did not. And, she never told me if boys go through something similar.
I always thought and hoped that my mom would start a conversation with me about these things, but I now see that if I want to have one, I will have to be the one to start it. I know that most kids my age would never start a conversation like that with their parents, even if they really need it. Fear that it would be embarrassing or awkward, or create tension will stop a kid from talking. I want other parents to know that their teen may be waiting for them to start this conversation – just like I’m still waiting for my mom to start ours!
Telling me how to deal with my period is not the same as talking with me. It’s talking at me.
Over time, I have learned that I might get some information from my mom in bits and pieces, but we’ll never have a sit down talk. Honestly, I don’t feel like I missed out because I didn’t have “the talk” with my parents because I have had other resources to learn. Not all kids are so lucky! Having some sort of talk, even if it is a quick one, is extremely important. I know my mom could teach me a lot more if she felt more comfortable talking openly and hearing what I have to say.
I really wish my mom was comfortable hearing what I have to say about stuff like this. Like in the doctor’s office – I should have had a chance to decide what I wanted on my own. I should be able to hear what the doctor has to say. I should be able to ask questions and learn about things. If I can’t ask questions, how will I learn what I need to so I can make my own decisions? I might come to the same decision as my mom, but I just want to be able to get there on my own.
I want my mom to respect my choice and not be judgmental, no matter what I choose. I know my mom has an opinion. I’ve heard her opinion all my life. I can probably guess what she is thinking before she even says it. This is the time I should be learning how to make good decisions on my own. My mom will certainly be expecting me to make good decisions pretty soon.
For me, my parents not being judgmental is a huge thing. I know that once I feel like I am being judged by my parents about something, I don’t want to talk with them about it again. Why? Because I don’t want to hear them criticizing me. It makes me feel like they think I’m stupid. When my mom made the decision that I couldn’t talk to the doctor about my Accutane and birth control without even talking about it with me, it made me feel like I had no say in my reproductive health. At that moment, I knew that if I actually did need the birth control, I wouldn’t be able to get it.
For teenagers it is important to feel like we have control of our own lives, even if we don’t. We are growing up, and going through a sensitive time. Being heard, especially by our parents, is so important. Pretending like sex isn’t in our lives isn’t the way to go about it. It’s all around us in TV, movies, songs. The best thing to do is to just go ahead and talk about it.
- Understand that tweens and teen want to talk about sexual health
- Know that tweens/teens will find someone to talk to about sexual health – why not let that person be you!
- Talk with your tween/teen, not at them
- Know that parents play a very important role in their teen’s having access to the health care they need
- Understand that teens should have the opportunity to talk to their doctor privately; it builds skills for asking questions, helps them to learn and make good decisions and advocate for themselves
- Allowing your tween/teen to speak to their doctor helps them to say what they think is best for their bodies