Reader Question: "I overheard my 14-year-old granddaughter talking about having sex with her boyfriend. Should I confront her? Tell my daughter-in-law? Do nothing? I think it might already have happened."
Gail says: Your granddaughter is having sex, yikes! Fourteen is quite young for having sex, in my opinion too young, which means that she is both emotionally and physically vulnerable to getting hurt.
This is your opportunity to connect with her and protect as her grandmother. Take her aside and tell her you think she may be sexually active and that you would like to be able to talk to her in the way you wish your mother or grandmother had talked to you (which they probably did not given how uncomfortable previous generations have been about sexual education).
Tell her about STDs and condom use and about preventing pregnancy, because she has the potential for a wonderfully successful life that could be undone by a pregnancy as a teen. Also tell her that women often feel much more emotionally vulnerable once they get sexually involved than their male counterparts do.
Do all this as the wise, experienced, and loving grandma you are, while avoiding judgments. Your openness will allow her to come back to you, if she has questions or concerns. You have a chance to make a real and vital difference in her life here.
If you believe, as I do, that she is really still a child and that she should not be in a sexual relationship yet, you can tell her that, too, but remind her that you love her and will be there for her either way. Because you are not her parent, you may be able to get through to her in a way her mother might not. It is most certainly worth a try.
Have a question for Gail? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, columnist, bestselling author, and television commentator Gail Saltz, M.D., has been called "a voice of wisdom and insight in a world of confusion and contradictions" by Tom Brokaw. Dr. Saltz is a regular health, sex, and relationship contributor to the Today show.
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