I was a pregnant teen...

You may wonder who would take advice on sex from a teenage mother – the proverbial ‘Girl Who Couldn’t Say No’. Well, for the next 15 minutes, the answer would be… You.

Right, comfy? Got your tea, your notebook and a piece of ceiling to stare at when it gets too squeamy? Excellent.

I’m always asked how I can justify giving advice when I so clearly stuffed up when I was your age. It’s a conundrum that many wouldn’t understand. To call it a mistake would be to wish you - my child - away, and you know what a ridiculous thought that is.

This doesn’t mean that I’m condoning teenage sex, and you are clearly smart enough to know this. Pregnancy is by far not the worst that can happen. I was lucky. I made a judgement call which in the moment was the wrong one, even though I indeed knew better.

I didn’t get an STD or HIV. I got you. I took responsibility for my actions, made my decisions and here we are. I’ll never say ‘Don’t end up like me’, because I’m damn proud of how I’ve ended up, and of you. You’ve had a good life, right? Because I made sure you would. 

Would you be willing to live my life, make the same choices I have as a very young parent? If not, then the only 100% foolproof way to ensure you’re not faced with those choices is abstinence. No way around it.

Sex is not a moral issue

I don’t believe that sex is a moral issue. (Respectful interval here while the Mother Grundies untwist their knickers.) Rather, I believe that sex is an urgent, life-or-death physical, mental and emotional HEALTH issue. Morality is about heart, mind and treatment of others, and those are what determines your worth as a person.

Our beliefs about sex, morality and love are nobody’s business but our own and I cannot tell you what to think. The only thing I can do is give you information. The word I keep thinking of is responsibility. Take charge of your life, your body and your heart. When somebody chooses to share their life, body and heart with you, make sure you treat them with respect and care.

Hearts and flowers aside, teenage sex is a stark numbers game. The younger you start, the more partners you’ll have in the long run, the greater the risk you run. We can debate subjective values until you find the loophole that will give you permission to shag, but you can’t get much clearer than this: each day you put it off is a day that you’re safe. 

Cold and unromantic as it is, that’s the bottom line.

What have you told your teen about sex?

Read more about why teens have sex, and a list of questions for your teen to ask before having sex.

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