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I received the following letter recently:”I am a single parent of a 16 year old son. While going through his belongings the other day I found an unused yet opened condom in one of his “safe” boxes where he has always kept things of value and importance. I have not confronted nor have I spoken to him of my find, yet I am at a loss as to how I should approach this subject.

For the last month or so he has had one exclusive, and first, girlfriend. Of course my curiosity is rising due to the fact that this is the first time that I have found him having an interest in sex. Please let me know the best way to approach this subject. His father has not responded to my urgent request to speak to his son and I have no other resource to help me with this.”

I told this mother that the good news is her son is thinking about contraception as he begins to think about sex. The bad news is there is no fail-safe contraception and he is way to young to cause a pregnancy or become a father. (Note: Some boys keep condoms around to feel grown-up or show off to their peers even before they decide to have sex.)

I gave her a pep talk: Yes it would be great if his father talked to him. But YOU CAN DO IT! You can do it by yourself.

You don’t have to talk about the birds and the bees, he already knows basic sex 101 and is probably on his way to the advanced practical course. What you need to talk about is FEELINGS, especially the feelings girls have. Tell him you know he and his girlfriend have sexual feelings and you’re glad because it means he is on his way to becoming a man. Tell him your goal in life is for him to become a responsible man. Ask him if he is ready to be a father or cause his first love the anguish of an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.

Remind him that he can CHOOSE to be responsible even when he has strong urges, that masturbation is better than a baby he cannot take care of, that the wrong decision at 16 can take him down a path he does not really want to be on which he may never get off of, that the next 5 years of his life are when he must get the education he needs to be competitive in a fierce world.

Then confess that this talk is the hardest thing you have ever done and if you can do it to be a responsible mom he can be a responsible son.

PS What teens value the most is their privacy. Lose the tendency to go through his room no matter how curious you are. This is a Golden Rule thing: you wouldn’t want him to snoop in your stuff..