Dear Mistress Maeve,
Our son is an intelligent, mature 15-year-old who gets good grades and plenty of accolades. He is also completely gaga over his new girlfriend - actually, he's been gaga over several girlfriends over the course of the last year. But things are different with this girl, and I suspect she's more "experienced" than our son.
His dad and I are not stupid; we know that kids are having sex younger and younger these days (even we were 16 when we lost our virginity). Recently we've discussed whether or not to buy him condoms. We don't want to encourage him to have sex, but we fear that he might be too shy to buy them himself. What are your thoughts on all this?
You know your kid better than anyone else. If you suspect he's on the verge of losing his virginity, he probably is (or already has).
We live in an over-sexed culture, and kids want to partake of the latest trends. Tune in to MTV's "The Real World," and you'll see barely legal girls getting totally trashed and seducing their male roommates - and this is on during daytime hours.
But that's the world we live in. Buy him some condoms and tell him they're for him to try out when he's alone. If he's more comfortable with one parent than the other, let that parent take the lead. Tell him to pay attention to how long it takes his penis to shrink after ejaculating, because he doesn't want the condom slipping off inside his future partner. If he doesn't completely freak out when he hears you say "ejaculating," consider going further by reading the directions together.
Tell him you're giving him condoms because you want him to be responsible, not because you want him to run out and have sex. Give him some reasons why you wish you had waited, and encourage him to really think about this big decision. Most importantly, listen to him. Let him know you will always be there to support him and help keep him safe.
Best of luck,