Imagine you are a teenager whose best friend has recently begun having sex. Her mom, also someone you would consider a friend, doesn’t know her daughter is having sex, but keeps pressing you for information with seemingly innocent comments such as, “I’m so glad my daughter hasn’t had sex.” You’re worried about your friend having unsafe sex, but do you tell her mom?
Amy Dickinson from the column “Ask Amy” would answer the question with a resounding yes. From the advice provided in this column, it seems as though she is giving advice in order to help the mom, not the writer. Rather than giving advice that would likely end in the loss of a friendship, we would like to respond to “conflicted friend” with an answer of our own.
As first time readers of the “Ask Amy” column, we suppose our first piece of advice would be to never write to “Ask Amy” again. It’s crystal clear that for she’s not able to give objective advice to a sexually active teen. Unlike Amy, we support the friend politely side stepping the mom’s probing questions.
From our perspective, the “conflicted friend’s” primary concern should be her friend, not the mom. We suggest that she speak directly with the friend. She should find out if her friend is practicing safe sex friend or has multiple partners, instead of immediately snitching. If the friend seems to have unsafe sexual habits, as a friend, it’s important that you voice your concern without judgment and encourage her to talk to her mom or a professional about the proper ways to safely enjoy sex without coming home pregnant or itching. According to the Guttmacher Institute, if your friend is not using birth control, she has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
Who knows, if the mom is “cool” enough to be friends with her kid’s friends, maybe she’s cool enough to have a conversation with her daughter about sex. But coming from two people who were teenagers this millennium, you don’t want to be known as the friend who can’t keep her mouth shut.
The bottom line is this friend is already having sex and is likely to continue. The most important thing is that she do so safely. Alienating her will damage the relationship and remove the one person that knows about her sex life and cares enough to try to make sure she makes smart decisions.
Remember, peer pressure doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
–Jenny Vanyur & Lauren Woodford
Jenny and Lauren are graduate students in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. They began their year-long internship at the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project on Monday. You’ll be hearing their perspectives about all things related to sex and sexual health policies as young women whose teen years were spent in this millennium.