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Birth Control and Teenage Girls
Raising girls is hard. Beyond hard. One day they are learning how to walk and the next they are getting their period, dating boys, and taking their SAT. They ask for bras, tampons, makeup, etc., and have hormonal fueled fits that remind you that maybe you should apologize to your parents for how you treated them when you were a teenager. Maybe I’m projecting.
My oldest daughter is now 17, my youngest is 10 months, and there is a 5 year old in between. I am reminded of my eldest daughter’s youth every time I see one of her sisters do something that reminds me of her. So, when one day she embarrassingly asked if she could go to the doctor to get birth control, I thought I’d be more surprised. Instead, I was relieved. She assured me that she wasn’t sexually active yet, but she wanted to be prepared. That made me proud.
I did not have the foresight she does when I was at her age. I was wild and didn’t think much about the “what ifs.” She typically tells me everything. We have a great relationship at times. Sometimes we are at each other’s throats. Raising a girl is hard. Did I mention that?
So I took her to her pediatrician, and of course he embarrassed her with an abstinence speech. I felt bad for her. She said, “I can’t believe Dr. (blank) slut shamed me, mom. I have never even had sex.” I told her that she didn’t have anything to be ashamed of. He gave her a referral to a local gynecologist despite his personal beliefs. I called them and they told me to call back on the first day of her period. I thought that was strange, but I realized they probably wouldn’t be doing a vaginal exam. Lucky girl.
We went and she said they asked her a few questions and gave her the prescription. I hate that we live in a world where she is judged for being careful. She knows not to use birth control as her only line of defense against pregnancy and STDs. She has a steady boyfriend and big dreams of Ivy League schools. She has a 4.6 GPA, just scored a 5 on one of her AP exams (counts as college credit even in an Ivy League school), and her SAT and ACT scores were in the top 1% nationally. I know she’s a smart girl. I trust her, and I’m glad she trusts me. I’m glad she wasn’t like me and way too embarrassed to ask my parents for birth control. They would have lost their minds.I kept a lot of things from my parents out of embarrassment.
I have one year with her. That’s it. Then she is an adult, and off to make her own decisions, alone. I don’t want to hold her back or make her feel anymore “slut shamed” than society already does. It is not just hard raising girls, it is hard to be one. I wish I could shield my daughter from the ignorance that society feeds her. She’s amazing, and she’s going to be fine. Her little sisters have a great role model to look up to.
So why did I let her get on birth control? Because I respect her judgment and her choices. This is her life, not mine. I don’t want to be a dictator. I am here to love, support, and guide her, which I try my best to do. I think I’ve done ok so far.