My 14yo daughter has chlamydia and I am furious.

“Dear Ignacio, I recently found out that my 14 year old daughter has chlamydia. She told us last week that she needed a doctor’s visit and after the test was positive, she confessed that she had been fooling around with a boy from school. I am so furious at her for so many reasons. She was not allowed to be mingling with other kids, let alone have sex with them. She not only risked her own health and pregnancy, but also exposed the whole family to coronavirus by disobeying social distancing rules. Her mother and I are extremely disappointed in her and feel like failures as parents. We think she needs an appropriate punishment, but we don’t want to further distance her. What do you suggest?” 

Thank you for expressing your concerns and seeking advice about your daughter. Unfortunately, harm-doing behavior does not stop even in times of disaster, like this #pandemic. Considering your daughter's age, and the context you described, I am wondering if you have been able to determine that your daughter is safe and has not fallen victim of sexual abuse. 

With everything going on in the world, I understand that emotions are high and your concerns for your family as a whole are valid. As hard as it may be to stay calm, your daughter will only #communicate with you if she feels that she is being heard, held, and supported. If your daughter finds herself preoccupied with how you feel, she will likely bend the truth to avoid bothering, hurting, or disappointing you. 

As parents, it is crucial to learn to manage our strong feelings of anger and disappointment in order to allow for open communication with our children. Your daughter is only 14 and she will be going through many hurdles as a young person. This event is a chance for your family to establish that your relationships are strong and full of love and trust, and that your children do not need to fear you as parents. 

This is also a chance for you to reflect how you got here and what needs to change. Once you’ve processed your anger and disappointment with someone other than your daughter, take a moment to assess your relationship with her. 

Assuming this was a #consensual encounter, why would she act in this neglectful way to put herself and her family at risk? How was she empowered to protect herself emotionally, physically, and sexually? What kind of #communication tools did she have to better inform you of what she needed? And most importantly, what kind of responsibility are you taking as her parent to have avoided this situation? 

Your daughter sought your help and disclosed to you some very private and intimate information. Think about how terrified and uncomfortable she must have been to say something. Going through puberty is hard enough, without a pandemic and being treated for chlamydia. 

Many teenagers put themselves through hell before seeking help from their parents or talking to them in similar situations. 

I hear that you are frustrated over two issues here: one is your daughter’s non-compliance with your family’s social distancing rules, and the other is her having sex and contracting chlamydia. 

My advice is to clearly separate these conversations and address them at different times, with as much #honesty, #transparency, and #trust that you can afford. 

Parenting is hard and there is no need to punish your daughter or yourself for what is happening. Your daughter’s well-being is in your hands and she needs to feel safe in her home. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to help your daughter learn more about her body, both the physical and emotional changes. I recommend scarleteen.com and Sex Positive Families as two excellent resources. 

#heal2end #communication #sexualabuse #parentingtips #teenagers #puberty #sexualhealth #chlamydia #trust 

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