When we sent our son off to college, I researched what to put into a first aid kit knowing that he was bound to get a cold, suffer from allergies, or need a band aid on occasion. And, while he joked that I packed enough supplies into it to take care of a small African nation, on day two at school he went head first over his bike handlebars and was very thankful for those very same supplies!
We discussed his new found freedom and adulthood and what that meant as far as privacy acts, medical care, and insurance. Then, I raised the dreaded topic of how more than likely, as a college student, he would have sex, and what he should do to not only protect himself from unwanted pregnancy and disease, but the girl too. While it was an uncomfortable conversation, it was important.
When it came time to do the same first aid kit packing for our daughter, I felt better prepared. Or so I thought. I went to our local pharmacy and grabbed things confidently from the shelves. Ice pack, check. Ibuprofen, check. Antibiotic cream, again, check. Then, I passed the condoms. I stopped and stared. Then I walked on, only to turn around and go back. I stood there thinking, “I didn’t add these to our son’s kit….” Ultimately, what I decided was that it was critical that I put a stash of condoms in her kit.
Here are my reasons why:
- She should be mature enough to buy condoms if she is sexually active, but chances are she isn’t and will be too embarrassed to buy them.
- Also, she should be mature enough to ask her partner if he has protection, but chances are she isn’t and won’t ask.
- And although she knows the consequences of unprotected sex, that logic and reasoning will escape her in the heat of the moment.
Maybe her roommate will need them and her parents were too embarrassed to provide them.
Research backs me.
The US teen birth rate is actually declining. But, it is still substantially higher than in other western industrialized nations. And, it isn’t just about unwanted pregnancy, which can stop a college career in its tracks. It’s about lifelong illness or worse. According to the CDC, “incidence and prevalence estimates suggest that young people aged 15–24 years acquire half of all new STDs1 and that 1 in 4 sexually active adolescent females has an STD, such as chlamydia or human papillomavirus (HPV).”
I didn’t want her to be a statistic. I bought them and told her why, and I added that if she was too embarrassed to restock them, should the need arise, to ask and I’d send a care package ASAP. She casually accepted this information and we moved on to other topics of discussion.
Now, not all sex involves penises. If your child is a lesbian, condoms send the wrong message. If your child was born a boy and has transitioned to being a woman, that box of condoms will feel like hate mail, or at least awkward. In the end, if my suggestion is wrong for your family, then ignore it. Each of us is the expert on our own kids. But, if anything I’ve said strikes a cord … the pharmacy and post office are right down the street.