My 16 Year Old Daughter Is Sexually Active, What Should I Do?

Updated on July 16, 2019
C.N. asks from Rolesville, NC
20 answers

I just found out recently that my 16 yr old daughter is sexually active. I’m thankful that she came to me first to tell me about it, however, I think it was because she thought she may be pregnant or have an STD. As soon as she told me, I took her too the doctor, and they ran lots of tests. Luckily all of the tests came back negative. The doctor asked my daughter and I if she would be interested in birth control. I spoke up quickly and said “no”, as I didn’t want my daughter to feel like she would have a “free ticket” to have sex when she wanted too. Plus, she also told me that she didn’t want birth control now, but, will want it later. Now that the tests have come back, and again, all negative and we can breathe a bit easier, my daughter seems to think about what happened as just a “mistake” and told me that my husband and I need to just chill out. Yes, my husband was involved when talking to her about this. I have seen a lot of people talk about getting “church” involved. Well, this was part of the problem so to speak. My daughter was on a church mission trip for a week, met a boy and well...that’s when it happened. And it was her first time. We were so happy that my daughter volunteered to go on the mission trip as it was something totally out of her element and she really wanted to help. There were lots of adults and lots of rules on this trip. My daughter talked to us every day and told us how hard the work was, but, felt good about helping people and she was making new friends too. She also said that they had little time to themselves as once they were finished with work, they ate, had worship services and lights out by 10:00. She said they had very little time for themselves. Apparently, though, there was enough time for her to have sex... and again, it was her first time. I just don’t know what to do now. We have talked, I have taken her to the doctor, and we have talked some more. We have told her how much we love her, but, we are disappointed. She doesn’t have a reason why, just that it was a mistake. She has a car, and we told her that she can only use it to go to work and school... no time limit... just until we feel that we can trust her again. What else can I do? What else should I do? Help Please!!

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So What Happened?

I have read all of the comments, and I should have mentioned that I DID tell my daughter how proud I was and AM that she came to me and told me what happened. Maybe I answered too quickly about saying “no” to birth control. I have talked with my daughter again and there is NO punishment. AND she has the option to get birth control if she wants it. She knows that we don’t want her to have sex now. She knows that we love her and will be here for her. She will be an adult soon enough and we just want to help her make decisions that will be positive. We want to help her have the future that she wants, deserves, and chooses to have, and NOT the future that chooses her. She is a bright, funny, loving, beautiful girl and we love her very much and only want the best for her.

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answers from Appleton on

Do not get the depo shot..!!!!!!!!!!!! To many women who get the shot put on 100 or more pounds and fight the rest of their lives to get the weight off. Do not do the implant in the arm I know too many women who had this and had constant periods for months.
Take her to Planned Parenthood for birth control counseling. Planned Parenthood offers excellent advice in a non judgmental way. She will get an understanding person to talk to and I would advise you to let her talk to this person alone. Let the idea of birth control be her decision and her decision alone.

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answers from Norfolk on

Well, with your attitude about birth control - you prepare to be a grandma.
Just because she didn't get pregnant this time doesn't mean she won't get pregnant next time.
And there will be a next time.
What she learned this time was to not tell you next time.
What ever her goals are for education and career - try to keep her focused on that and how difficult her goals would be if she were raising a child.

Not having birth control didn't stop her from having sex - it's not permission.
Think of it more like a safety net.
Would you want her flying on a trapeze without a safety net?

Besides focusing on her future goals, try to find a mom with a colicky infant that needs a break.
Your daughter can babysit so the mom can catch some sleep and so daughter can have a better idea what having a baby is like.

Sex is going to happen - that genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back in again.
I've told my son that sex is for people who can afford the consequences of their decisions.
Until he can afford to support a child - he'd better not be making any.

You keep her thinking about her future so she can get a great job, become self supporting and then she can afford to support her own family.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree with Suz that there is a lot to celebrate here. She came to you when she had a problem - and you should support that. You took her to the doctor, and everything worked out well. You included her father. All good things.

Coming down on her and emphasizing the "mistake" isn't going to strengthen her the way you think it is. It's still shaming her instead of acknowledging that she was tempted, gave in (or initiated it - who knows?) and will likely do so again.

The idea of birth control as a "license to have sex" is unrealistic - some might even say it's antiquated. That's like parents opting out of the school reproductive health class, as if their kids won't have sexual feelings or pressures if adults don't talk to them about it. But the reverse is true. She's already done this. She says now that she won't again, but that could be something she is saying for your benefit and not her own. Or, she might mean it at this moment, but the minute the same feelings take over her again, what are her choices? She might just as easily say yes again. And she's even less likely to come to you the next time, because you've made your position clear.

I have no idea where people get the idea that "church = virginity." We have a whole lot of preaching going on, and a whole lot of kids still being kids. You can watch the old "Footloose" movie (with Kevin Bacon) for a pretty realistic fictional story about excessive preaching. You've already seen that the mission trip, structured and chaperoned, wasn't enough to override kids' sexual awakenings. And they managed to find a few quick minutes to have sex. There's no reason to think that they won't find a few minutes at someone's house, in a car, or at a motel now that they are home. Pushing the "holiness" or "purity" thing is just as likely to drive them away from the church and toward more sex as it is to prevent things. And that's passing the responsibility on to the church instead of in your daughter's hands. And I'm not even going to go into detail about the many youth pastors, priests, coaches and Scout leaders who have sexually assaulted kids who are not old enough to consent. The willingness of parents to assume it's all innocent is what makes it a perfect attraction for pedophiles. Don't be misled into thinking that there's magical safety in church programs. I don't care what the leaders say. They could be just as delusional, or they could be recruiting kids to groom and take advantage of.

Your daughter needs to have a relationship with her physician and start making decisions. For you to jump in and turn down birth control without giving it any thought and without giving her a chance is short-sighted. Her doctor or nurse should teach her about various methods and how to use condoms - without you in the room. (Yes, there's a right way and a wrong way, and relying on a young teen boy to know or care is just foolhardy). And they aren't as effective at preventing pregnancy as some people think. From my years in reproductive health counseling for young people (and even plenty of adults), I can tell you that ignorance is the worst protection ever. Thousands of urine samples and many a tearful or fearful teen have convinced me - like all health experts - that knowledge is power.

I think you also have to work on body image with her - what she's worth, what it means to achieve intimacy with someone you care deeply about (not necessarily marry), what it means to know what feels good and provides pleasure for the woman (rather than her just "servicing" the guy). And you may need some professional help to do this if you aren't totally comfortable with it. There's no shame in that - you took her to the doctor because you didn't know everything, right? Getting some parenting support and some clarification of our own values and wishes, and finding a good way to communicate with (which means talk to AND listen to!) our teens is really important.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

the first thing i'd have said would be to pick a birth control method. i'm fairly breathless that it's the first thing you ruled out.

beyond that- well, you're working awfully hard to close the barn door now that the filly is loose.

there's a lot of positive here. she did come to you, she did agree to go get checked out thoroughly by a doctor, she's not pregnant or infected.

i'd dial back on burying her in disappointment. all it can do at this point is weigh her down and make her feel guilty. instead of looking for ways to punish her and put the burden on her to make you trust her again (unless you have actual concrete steps she can take to do it, in which case you need to tell her), i'd look more toward empowering and supporting her.

if she wants to have sex again, she will. so don't kid yourself that you can guilt or threaten or babysit her into abstinence.

but what you can do is discuss with her, as much as she's willing anyway, how sex has historically been used to control women and how as a young woman today she can take that power back. your family values will certainly come into play, but even more important, help her develop and define her own sexual code of conduct, and the boundaries she will use to hold to it. that might require some difficult readjustment on your part.

maybe she needs to try out some role-playing in resisting and pushing back against sexual wheedling and pressure. maybe she needs to come to terms with her own libido and how to take care of it herself. she needs to decide on under what circumstances she will engage in sexual activity, and how far she'll allow it go, moving forward. and if these guidelines are imposed by you, not created by her, they won't mean squat.

she's taken a step into young adulthood a bit early. while not ideal, it's not the end of the world, so don't treat it as such. don't turn this into a mistake or a misstep or failure. make it a powerful learning experience.


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answers from Washington DC on

welcome to mamapedia, C..

She came to you - why can't you trust her? She made a decision to have sex. She told you about it. Breathe here mama. Breathe.

What do you need help with? I'm confused. Your daughter had sex. She told you about it. Now she is "clean" and not pregnant. Okay. Now the next steps. Is she going to have sex again soon? If so - she needs to have birth control - whether it be condoms or whatever else is out there for her so she doesn't get pregnant. Giving her birth control isn't giving her a "free pass" to have sex. It's protecting her from getting pregnant. Get her condoms and tell her to be smart the next time she has sex. You can tell her you'd hope she'd wait until she's in a relationship to have sex again but either way? She NEEDS to have protection available to her.

Keep the lines of communication open. Don't hold this against her. She came to you. She told you what happened. Instead of ostracizing her? Talk with her about protection and that you hope she waits until she has sex again with someone she loves and is in a relationship with.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Ah, Christian youth group, camp, mission, etc. the place where American teenagers go to lose their virginity!
At least that's how it was back in the 80's. I doubt much has changed,
Seriously though, do you actually WANT her to get pregnant? A little baby in the house for you to love?
She came clean. She was honest with you. Why on earth would you punish her for that?
Being on the pill is not a "free pass" it's a way to prevent forever altering your daughter's life in case she makes another "mistake."
Please get over yourself and PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTER.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Oh, my, I'm afraid you are going to make sex weird for her if you connect it with punishment and shame. You do not want that! She needs a healthy self-esteem and guidance from you. The church getting involved? That sounds archaic and likely to be a negative experience as well. Birth control is necessary as is education on avoiding diseases. She needs to know healthy boundaries and how to use her voice. She will have sex again. She needs to be prepared for when it does. Instead of showing and expressing your disappointment, turn it around and tell her how proud you are of her and how strong she is for coming to you. Tell her you had a knee-jerk reaction and now you are ready to handle this in a way that is going to be beneficial to her rather than shaming.If you don't wake up and be realistic in this situation, you may be causing problems down the road that you don't want and are going to harm your daughter more than your pride.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

So you spoke up quickly and answered no birth control for your daughter. She did not get a chance to even answer it sounds like. I’m stunned that you would not want her protected. Yes, there will be sex again at some point and you are leaving her unprotected. Practice calling yourself Grandma.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Please don't treat this as something to punish, or she'll never tell you anything again. This has nothing to do with your trust. It's not a betrayal for her to engage in totally developmentally normal sexual activity. It's important that she keeps talking to you. You can certainly emphasize that while maybe your values are (whatever they sex before marriage or whatever), you recognize that this is totally normal and want to make sure that when she does decide to be intimate, that it's in a relationship with a trusted partner who respects her, and that she feels safe and that she has agency over her body and her decision-making, that she's not being coerced or pressured, that she and her partner are being private, that no one is taking photos or videos (including herself), and that she's being safe in terms of preventing pregnancy and STIs. I think that hormonal birth control is a good choice for teens, an additional layer of protection beyond condoms, which should still be used to prevent STIs. It's not a "free ticket," it's a smart way to prevent pregnancy. It was an option that I had my daughter's pediatrician bring up at her annual physicals once she was in high school and in a relationship. My daughter said she wasn't interested it in the the first few years, but by the time she was 17, she opted to go on the pill. It made it not a big huge deal or a secret or anything to be ashamed of.

She came to you, which is great, and everything checked out at the doctor's office, which is also great. It's weird as parents to have sexually active children. It's something that may offend our moral values, or just feel creepy, or be yet another thing to worry about. We'd like to think it's something we can prevent or control. We can't - so continue to keep the lines of communication open so that she has someone trusted to talk to. If you punish this, she'll just do what she wants anyway and get her info from friends, guys, the internet, etc.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would try to be glad that she came to you, and recognize that your disappointment is getting in your way of helping her make good choices moving forward. Grounding her, refusing birth control on her behalf (I’m surprised the doctor didn’t meet with her alone to discuss birth control-this should be her choice, not yours), expressing how disappointed you are, none of this will help her. She is young, in my opinion, to be sexually active, but I recognize that not everyone feels that way and certainly teenagers have plenty of sexual feelings by the age of 16, so I'm not sure. Maybe the important thing is that she be happy and safe. It’s certainly not unusual for teens to be sexually active.

The “why” is important, but not because it was such a “mistake”. Did she really like this boy and see herself in a relationship with him? Was she curious about sex? Are all her friends having sex and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about? Did she enjoy the sex? Did he pressure her and she really regrets it? What are her beliefs about being sexually active? Had she intended to wait until marriage or a long term relationship, or does she think sex for fun is fine as long as she’s safe? It would be good if she could discuss all of these issues with you, but she can’t. Personally, I’d be interested in empowering her to know her beliefs and try to live by them, but understand that she is young and will be learning as she goes. Shame will not help her.

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answers from Atlanta on


STOP punishing her!! She came to you and told you and you are treating her like a pariah. STOP!! Stop punishing her. She did NOTHING wrong. Really. She had sex. There is NOTHING wrong with people having sex. Yes, many people would LOVE to wait for marriage and such, but it didn't happen. Your little filly left the barn and you are trying to keep her as a foal. She's not. She is a mare. Now you keep to keep her from becoming a MAMA MARE..

You GIVE HER BIRTH CONTROL. You tell her : I don't approve of you having sex outside of marriage. I realize I can't stop you. I need you to be protected so you don't get any diseases or pregnant until you are ready. You get her on birth control and you give her condoms. You get down and dirty with her and tell her that the birth control will work in tandem to keep her from getting pregnant and the condoms will ensure no STDs if used properly. You get a banana and you SHOW her how to use the condom. YOU WANT HER PREPARED!! YOU DO NOT WANT HER TO BE A MAMA MARE AT 16.

Stop punishing her. She will NEVER want to come to you again for help nor will she want to confide in you after you have punished her for doing so.

APOLOGIZE to her for punishing her. THANK HER for coming to you.

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answers from Miami on

ETA after you SWH: I am wondering what no time limit on not allowing her to use her car to go anywhere but work and school until you can “trust her” again means to you if you don’t consider this punishment.

You know, you’re just parroting what a group of strangers said to you...

Oh my gosh, involve the church? Are you saying that you are considering telling church members so that they can bash your daughter and this young man? If you are alluding to this, you are just asking her to never darken the door of a church again for the rest of her days after she gets out of underneath your roof. That would be an idiotic thing for you to do.

You really expected her to have an answer for you as to why she had sex? Why would she talk to you about it after you acted like she had committed a felony? Yes, it’s something that she shouldn’t be doing. But no, she’s not going to be honest with you ever again because you act like she’s bad because of it.

What you should be doing instead of what you are doing is giving her information on the responsibility of sexual conduct. Lots of info. The fact that she will never be able to trust that the guy she is with will have always have used a condom: That the boy may lie about his experience: That whoever she has sex with will be potentially giving her whatever some other girl gave him, and he may never even know it. HPV shows up years later and can give a woman cervical cancer. She may have never had sex with anyone but her husband, and she ends up with HPV anyway because he slept with someone who gave it to him long before they married. She needs info about how birth control fails. She needs to understand exactly how she can get pregnant, including pulling out, and WHY.

You cannot stop her hormones from racing. That’s what happens to teens. If you try to ground her into never being around boys, she won’t learn how to discern good from bad men. How will she learn not to fall in love with a smooth talking abuser? You want her to wait til she’s married to have sex? It’s not your call! Once she is 18, she is legally an adult. Is your love for her based on her being obedient? You won’t love or support her if she has sex? She can’t date anyone because she might have sex?

You had better think hard about what kind of life you are actually going to be setting your daughter up for. The dream of the perfect husband, 2.5 kids and a house with a picket fence doesn’t just happen. Girls need to be able to have parents who love and honor them all across the board. Girls need to be taught critical thinking skills so they can think through their hormones. Making her afraid to talk to you, possibly pushing her into the arms of a boy who will get her away from controlling parents, and ending up with her pregnant anyway is what you may just have.

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answers from San Antonio on

Uh...I was kinda stunned when you said no to birth control. Then I continued on into the whole "church" thing...I get it I was raised in a similar environment. I hate to break it to you the church kids were having sex...just very very discreetly and getting pregnant and getting STDs and getting married way too young and getting divorced when they realized they never should have gotten married in the first place but after they already had one to three kids in the mix.

Sex at church camp and on mission trips...etc.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to tell you but don't punish her, be proud she told you what happened, if you need to limit some of her activities a bit if it makes you feel better you can...but just move on from this leaving her a safe place to come back to you for advice.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

All of the responses you have gotten on here have been great! Hope you read all of them. One thing about teenagers though is that if you tell them not to do something - now you have made it a challenge for them to do it. You can’t and won’t stop her from having sex - so protect her by doing birth control. It amazes me how much parents want to control every aspect of their children’s lives. She will never grow, mature, flourish, or anything if you continue to be a helicopter mom. She has to experience the world on her own, make her own decisions and be prepared for the consequences of those actions. I remember when my daughter started having sex, man it hurt..... but I took her, got her birth control, and something ironic happened: she stopped having sex because now it wasn’t the forbidden fruit that adults make it out to be. If you make sex a forbidden thing, she is naturally as a human - want to explore it. Can’t stop human nature. Be honored that she came to you, make things right with her and say hey if you have sex, these bad things can happen. So if you must have sex, lets at least take precautions so that you are having safe sex.

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answers from Anchorage on

All you are doing is making sure she will never again come to you when she needs help because you are punishing her for it. Leave her alone, her sex life is her business. Make sure she knows where to access birth control when she decides she needs it, and let her alone. She understands you are disappointed but at this point what does continuing to shame her do or prove?

In your follow up you say there is no punishment, but if her car use is being restricted because you no longer trust her that is a punishment.

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answers from Wichita Falls on

I was 16 when I had, consensual sex, for the first time. And I ended up getting pregnant with a little girl. My mother was so angry with me, even though she went through the same thing. She wouldn't allow me to use my phone or my car. Limited my time on internet and with my friends....and I ran away. I lost my child due to high levels of stress during my pregnancy.

And please do NOT get church involved. That is embarrassing and the worst thing my mother did and made me hate her, I'm not saying your daughter will hate you but please keep this within your immediate family only.

I would sit down with her and talk about safe ways to explore sex. Obviously talk about the "fun" part of it, but make sure she understands the risk she's taking if she isn't safe. Make sure to talk about consenting, condoms, birth control, abstinence, pregnancy, oral sex as well as she is in control of her body. Answer any questions or concerns she has and then leave her to decide what she wants to do.

I hope I could help. Good Luck Momma!


I was 16 when I had, consensual sex, for the first time. And I ended up getting pregnant with a little girl. My mother was so angry with me, even though she went through the same thing. She wouldn't allow me to use my phone or my car. Limited my time on internet and with my friends....and I ran away. I lost my child due to high levels of stress during my pregnancy.

And please do NOT get church involved. That is embarrassing and the worst thing my mother did and made me hate her, I'm not saying your daughter will hate you but please keep this within your immediate family only.

I would sit down with her and talk about safe ways to explore sex. Obviously talk about the "fun" part of it, but make sure she understands the risk she's taking if she isn't safe. Make sure to talk about consenting, condoms, birth control, abstinence, pregnancy, oral sex as well as she is in control of her body. Answer any questions or concerns she has and then leave her to decide what she wants to do.

I hope I could help. Good Luck Momma!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Well, this is the age when a lot of people start having sex. It's great she's talking to you about it...I would keep up the conversation. I would definitely get her on birth control though. Even people who know better can get caught up in the moment and do not use a condom. Your daughter can easily make a "mistake" again when she next meets a boy she likes.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

If she is sexually active, she needs to be on some sort of reliable birth control.

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answers from New York on

Two words. Depo Shot.


answers from Tampa on

Well if she thinks of that 1st experience as a mistake-she learned a lesson. Just like the poster, I too learned that never send my child anywhere without myself or my husband. ( especially a young girl!)
Personally I would try to get to the bottom of who it was. And see if there was an adult that took advantage. I would double check “ a boy” comment.

I say maybe she needs to read up a book on STDs ( I will guess she or “ the boy” used no protection) or book on teenage moms and their struggles to discourage her from no protection or further interaction. But birth control or the pill should be close by and her OBGYN should have discussed importance of protection and stds ( maybe even behind closed doors with mom in the waiting room)
Otherwise not much you can do if she decides to be active besides your back.

And I think “ punishment “ that you limited her car use is the least. She is 16 and needs to know she did wrong.

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