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Ask a Professional: Contraception and teenagers

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Ask a Professional: Contraception and teenagers

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Ask a Professional: Contraception and teenagers

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My 15 year old daughter has had sex for the first time with her long term boyfriend. She is 16 in 4 weeks. She is refusing to take the pill or have the implant. I’ve taken her to the drs. And family planning. All who cannot convince her to take it. She is afraid of the side effects of the contraception. I’m at my wits end. The dr agreed it’s a ticking time bomb as although they have used a condom. Kids and condoms are notoriously not sufficient to keep her safe. What do I do. I can’t ban her from seeing him. I also can’t force her to take the pill. I’m trying to remain calm to keep communication lines open. But I’m really worried


Dear @beach47 ,

I want to start by saying you sound like a really engaged and caring parent.

Not all teens let their parents know when they start having sex, and it is a sign of trust and that communication is good between your and your daughter that you know.

I can understand how it would be scary that your daughter is not willing to take another form of contraception alongside using condoms. It sounds like you have tried a number of things already - taking her to health professionals, discussing your concerns, finding out her reasons, but this has not been successful.

I am wondering if you have taken a moment to acknowledge that your daughter’s decision to use condoms (as opposed to not using any protection) as a really positive step, and something important that she is doing to look after herself. By providing her with positive feedback about this, it can help her feel that the things she is doing to stay safe are being acknowledged, and may encourage her to continue to consistently use them. It’s also providing an opportunity for a positive moment between you and your daughter, which is particularly important when there is something you’re not seeing eye-to-eye on.

Sometimes, the harder we try to convince someone, the more they will take the opposing view, and become even less likely to change. This isn’t unique to teens and parents, but it can be particularly noticeable during the teen years. It may be helpful, next time this topic is discussed, to take some time to just listen to your daughter’s concerns about contraception - not with the view to develop counter-arguments, or convince her otherwise, but just to understand.

I know that is easier said than done! The reason that I suggest it is that if she feels understood, she will be more open to understanding your perspective, and in some cases when people are really given the chance to explain their perspective on something they feel ambivalent about (which may be the case here), it actually helps shift their thinking - so listening to and seeking to understand why she is reluctant may make your daughter more open to considering contraception.

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the issue of age. Beach47, I am not sure about the laws where you are, but in Australia the age of sexual consent is 16 or 17 depending on the state, with exceptions when two people are close in age.

Based on you not raising age or consent as a concern in your post, it seems likely your daughter’s boyfriend is a similar age, and you don’t have any concerns about her being consenting. I wanted to comment on this because I know sometimes other parents dealing with similar issues may read these posts. In instances where there are concerns about consent, then my response would be different, and may include taking steps to ensure the teen isn’t having contact with the person, and even involving police if appropriate.

It’s understandable that this situation would be creating some anxiety for you, and it can get very tiring to be worrying about something like this. You’ve clearly put a lot of thought and effort into caring for your daughter. I encourage you to also take time to look after yourself (there are some tips on self care here that are relevant for teens and for parents:, and if you’re finding it is impacting your wellbeing, consider speaking to a counsellor or psychologist to get some support with this.

Best wishes,



Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.