Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Last week I was part of a message board discussion about teenagers having sex. One of the hot issues became how a 17 year old boy should take responsiblity for having unprotected sex or sex in which the birth control was obviously faulty (ie the condom broke). This was a pretty controversial issue and garnered a lot of discussion.

I was thinking about how we will prepare Doodlebug to take on these decisions at the age of 17. After all, the decisions involve more than just the morality of pre-marital sex. If our son chooses to have sex and that age and accidentally fathers a child he could be raising a child when he is 17. And then the thought hit me, most boys are already dealing with issues of sex by 14. I remember standing in front of our refrigerator and realizing that some kids are having sex at the age of 12. Not only do we have to share our values with him before then, we have to make sure he knows his own. What does he think of pre-marital sex? If he chooses abstinance how will he make sure he can follow through on that decision? What will he do when he's tempted? Where does he draw the line? And if he chooses to have sex, what will he do about birth control? Where will he get it? What will he do if he accidentally fathers a child? How will he support this child?

Typing all of this out, makes me queasy. How in the world can a hormonal teenager be expected to be able to do all of this? How are we going to teach him how to do all of this in the next 11 years? It takes a lot of strength to abstain from sex until after marriage, where will he get that strength from?

The reality of life today is that we are still working on the word "no". Mostly, I say it and Doodlebug laughs. It's not working so well yet.

But I am also a very practical mom. When Doodlebug decides to climb the stairs (which occurs roughly every 2 1/2 minutes) I let him. I stand behind him and let him fall down the stairs. My job is to let him go while protecting him from serious injury. Bumps and bruises are okay, but a concussion is not. Seriously, I am working with someone who has almost no life experience. He does not know falling down the stairs hurts. If I catch him every time, he never will. And if I wait he will be better at climbing the stairs and fall from a higher height.

Wait, what does falling down the stairs have to do with having sex as a teenager?

It's about learning your actions have consequences. If you aren't careful on the stairs you will get hurt. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should. Mommy won't always be there to catch you.

It hate watching him fall, but I am determined to teach him these life lessons. It will hurt less to learn them now. The stakes are only going to go up as he gets older.

So Doodlebug's dad and I are trying to figure out how we want to parent our child. How do you consequence a one-year-old who is deliberately throwing food on the floor (and the walls, and the table, and the cat...)? How do we help him to understand that when we say no, the appropriate response is not hysterical giggling? How far do we let him fall before we step in to soften the blow for him? I honestly don't know.

This is what we know in our parenting strategies.

1. We set him up for success. That means we don't take a hungry, exhausted child to the grocery store and expect perfect behavior. We work within his limits and keep our expectations of him achievable. Well, that's the goal anyways.

2. We believe in having him deal with the consequences of his actions. Throwing your paci means you don't get it back. Well, not for all of eternity. After all, he is only a year old. We are still working it out.

3. This parenting stuff is much, much harder than it looks.


  1. If you figure it out let me know!!! I have a 19-17-14-5-5-2 year old and one on the way. Although I have no teenage pregnancies, It would still be great to have some answers. My oldest is not my worry, She tells me everything. Either is my second oldest son. My 14 year old is the wild child and I cannot get it right with her, I fear her not making good decisions. I often wonder what did I do differently with her that I did not do or did do with the other 2. I still have not figured it out. They all just have such different personalities and learn so differently. Also if you could tell me how to get the baby to stop throwing the food on the floor, walls etc my life might be complete hahahaha. I never had a food thrower before. That is the crazy thing about kids not one of em is the same, Darn it!!!! Great post, Michelle

  2. Much easier to learn about consequences as a toddler than to have to first learn that lesson as a teenager, for sure. You are right girl. Great job, mom! :)


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