Soon to be Sexually Active Younger Sister, WWYD? UPDATE #22 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Standard disclaimer: I am not a parent but would really appreciate the advice of some of the wonderful moms and dads on these boards.

My younger sister is 17, I am 22, yesterday she sent me a message asking to talk to me about sex. She has an open invitation to talk to me about anything relating to sex/sexuality as this is my area of study and I am totally comfortable talking to her about it. So she told me about nearly having sex with her current boyfriend and mostly just wanted reassurance that the things she was doing were OK and she didn't need to feel guilty about enjoying it. After talking for a bit and giving her some information about safer sex (physically and emotionally) she decided that she was going to slow down and wait for awhile. So I think I handled the actual conversation with her pretty well (of course you are all welcome to give your opinion on that too).

My real question is what is my obligation to pass this information onto my mom and/or try to convince my sister that her best option is to wait?

Under normal circumstances I would say little to no obligation to tell anyone, and all i should do is support her in making her own decisions in a healthy way, but there are a couple of other factors that make me question how I would normally do things.

First, the boy my sister is dating has some ongoing drug use issues, now of course this doesn't make him a bad person but it is something that my parents have a problem with and something that my sister has told me makes her uncomfortable.

Second, my sister had a brief period of time where she showed pretty poor judgment with alcohol and drug use, this has stopped and I think she is doing great now but still the poor judgment did happen in the not so distant past. Also at this point when she was doing these things that were really damaging her health I did tell my parents what she told me because she was truly putting her health/life at risk (now I think they expect me to tell them when she is doing something they don't want her to, which of course I would rather not do in this situation).

Third, my sister has some health issues that would make it very difficult and stressful for her to keep her sexual activity a secret from our parents (which is what she wants) and because I know it would be very difficult for her I almost want to try to talk her out of being sexually active in the near future.

So what do I do? have I done enough by giving her the information she needs/wants and supporting her in her decisions? or do I need to do more?
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#2 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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I think you handled it really well. However, I don't think you have an obligation to tell your parents. I think that although she is a minor, she has a right to some privacy. If you felt she was in danger (like in the past with her drug use) then I think that would be a reason to let your parents know.

I think there are several issues...is she ready to be sexually active? Should she be sexually active with this particular person? However, I think those issues are hers to decide. It is great that she came to you and you were able to give her something to think about. I think that's the best thing you could have done for her.
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#3 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, I agree completely that it is her decision. Of course I want to say she isn't ready, and definitely not with this person but I can't make that call especially since I was younger than she is now and with a far worse person for the first time I had sexual intercourse. It's mostly a matter of if something happens to her that could have been prevented how will I feel for not letting someone (my mom more than likely) more immediately in her life know? It goes against what I believe in to break her trust by telling anyone but still I wonder if I am making the right decisions.
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#4 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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Make sure she is using VERY VERY reliable contraception, because having a baby with a man with drug issues is a ticket to trouble.
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#5 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 03:20 PM
 
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full disclosure-- I waited and I feel like it was the best thing ever!

OK, I'll say it. If it was my little sister.... I would talk to her about waiting. Not a lecture, but a why I think it's a good thing to do. I don't think at 17, that I would tell my parents, but I would be talking to her about bc, plan b ect.

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#6 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well birth control isn't really the issue, she has POF (autoimmune, her body attacked her ovaries, but getting into that would put this thread in all sorts of subforums here). The bigger issue is really safety from STIs, and protecting herself emotionally, for now she has said she plans to wait for a bit, so that's good, but somehow I don't think it will be that long.

So my only obligations are to make sure she has the information she wants and needs and support her in whatever happens?
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#7 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 03:59 PM
 
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It's not so much that your only obligation is the make sure she has the information she needs and has your support, though I do think that is your only obligation, it's also that, as you seem to understand, you can't change her mind even if you wanted too. Also remember that saying anything to your parents could really backfire. As in, she may stop seeing you as someone she can trust in these matters and start seeing you as someone who will listen and then turn around and blab about her private matters.

When you put it all together, the safest thing you can do right now is be a source or information and support.

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#8 of 45 Old 06-08-2010, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, thanks for confirming my thoughts everyone. I know what I should do, I know what I would have wanted someone to do for me, but still sometimes it helps to know that someone who is a parent doesn't think I am totally off base (especially when it comes to dealing with someone like a younger sister). I plan to keep her secrets and make sure she has the knowledge to protect herself no matter what she chooses to do now or in the future.
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#9 of 45 Old 06-09-2010, 01:31 AM
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I think you handled it really well. However, I don't think you have an obligation to tell your parents. I think that although she is a minor, she has a right to some privacy. If you felt she was in danger (like in the past with her drug use) then I think that would be a reason to let your parents know.

I think there are several issues...is she ready to be sexually active? Should she be sexually active with this particular person? However, I think those issues are hers to decide. It is great that she came to you and you were able to give her something to think about. I think that's the best thing you could have done for her.

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#10 of 45 Old 06-09-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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Yeah, if you were to say something your parents, I doubt she'd ever trust you enough to talk to you about anything personal again. Just be there to listen, and to bounce ideas off of.
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#11 of 45 Old 06-09-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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Just wanted to agree with pps here, I would not talk with your parents about your sister's sexual experiences.

I don't know what POF is, but I would explain to her (if she doesn't already know) that any sort of contact between male ejaculation and the female vagina can potentially result in conception, even if it's only nearly 'having sex'. To put it bluntly, you don't need penetration for conception. Unlikely, but just so she knows the whole biological story....

If she's serious about this lad, then nothing will stop them having a sexual relationship. As an older sister, you are in a good position to talk to her about STI's and give her information to protect herself.

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#12 of 45 Old 06-10-2010, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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POF= premature ovarian failure.

Thanks for reminding me of all the little things (but definitely important) I need to make sure she knows.
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#13 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 02:18 AM
 
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I am of two minds on this issue.

First, my own personal experience-I got pg at 17. At one point he and I were arguing on the phone, he was CONVINCED that I was pg, I knew I was not. We were on a cordless, my neighbor somehow heard the entire conversation on HER cordless phone, told my mom. It was a whole big to do scene and mostly I felt like my privacy had been completely violated. And a few months later, I actually was pg. And my sister (younger) is who told my mom I was pg. Again, I felt completely violated. And I felt like I was being treated like a child by everyone. As a person who experienced that, I don't know that telling your mom is a good idea.

However, I am now the mom of a 14 year old. And if she was wanting to have sex at 17, I would want to know. As a parent, I cannot best parent when I don't have all the information. And I would be very angry to find out that someone else had the information and kept it from me. It's my job, as a parent, to help my child learn the best route for her, but I cannot do my job best, when I don't know all the information. As a parent, I think the parent should be made aware that her child is considering something so life changing.

Also, while my teen was conceived while using bc, my toddler required in vitro fertilization. DH and I were told at that time that it was really our only option for biological children together. And yet, I am pg with my third, naturally, while NOT ttc. The term birth control is a misnomer, and control over getting pg is an illusion. I believe that the only way to be 100% certain that pg will not occur is if all the biological parts just aren't there. Being told they are there but not working is not a guarentee that pg will not occur. So I think it's important to be sure that she understands that biologically, even being told you are infertile is not a guarentee that you can't get pg.
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#14 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 03:01 AM
 
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However, I am now the mom of a 14 year old. And if she was wanting to have sex at 17, I would want to know. As a parent, I cannot best parent when I don't have all the information. And I would be very angry to find out that someone else had the information and kept it from me. It's my job, as a parent, to help my child learn the best route for her, but I cannot do my job best, when I don't know all the information. As a parent, I think the parent should be made aware that her child is considering something so life changing.
Sometimes, the best job you can do is not have all the information. Sounds odd I know, but getting your nose into everything because you feel you need the information can very easily drive a teen, particularly a 17 year old who has a right to privacy by that age, even further underground. To the point where they don't discuss things with anyone.

In the OP's case, her sister has someone to talk to that is 1) knowledgeable, 2) non-judgmental, even if she has her own opinion she keeps it to herself and 3) trustworthy enough that these things can be discussed with an understanding of confidentiality.

It is more important that a teen have someone knowledgeable they can talk to, than it is for the parents to have every ounce of information about their teen.

Besides, by 17 I would expect you'd be pretty much done with the child rearing.

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#15 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 03:18 AM
 
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As a mom, my only hope for my children when it comes to sex is that they know everything they need to know to make the best decision for themselves. Obviously, I hope that means waiting for a VERY long time but realistically, I just hope they take the time to really evaluate just how ready they are.

I hope my oldest child will do for her younger siblings what you are doing for your sister. I would hope my DD just gives them the best and most accurate information possible and knows when to maintain trust and handling it herself and when to come to me. Choosing to have sex alone, especially at 17 (rather than say, 13) isn't enough to break sibling trust. That is hard for me to say becaues I'd WANT to know when my children are planning to have sex and I'd WANT to be the one they come to... but I find it much more important that they just have someone who is adequately knowledgeable that they can trust and go to for information and support.

As a big sister, I want my brother to know he can come to me about anything without risk of me going to our mom. Like you, I would go when necessary (dangerous choices) but again, choosing to have sex alone, as long as safty is included, isn't enough of a reason for me to tell our mom.

I think you are doing the right thing by maintaining trust at this point. Just keep giving her the information she needs and letting her know that you support her and just want to be there for her.
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#16 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 03:31 AM
 
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Not a parent of a teen yet, but caught this on the recent threads list and had two thoughts to share:

1) The best gift I possibly ever received was a book by my pseudo-sister (12 years my senior) when I turned 13. I think it was called "Changing Bodies Changing Lives" but there might be a more updated and similar type book available now. That answered questions I wouldn't have even known to ask and was consulted by me and my friends all through my high-school years to the point where the binding fell apart.

2) Looking ahead (so not advice, just speculation on my part), I don't really have the expectation that I will be the one my children come to with questions or for support with sexual decision making. I hope that they feel they CAN come to me for those things, but even more than that, I hope that they have someone trustworthy and responsible (like the OP) who they can ask about subjects if they are uncomfortable discussing them with me.

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#17 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 03:41 AM
 
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[QUOTE=MusicianDad;15510856]Sometimes, the best job you can do is not have all the information. Sounds odd I know, but getting your nose into everything because you feel you need the information can very easily drive a teen, particularly a 17 year old who has a right to privacy by that age, even further underground. To the point where they don't discuss things with anyone.[quote] I think you forgot to read the part where I got pg at 17, after the big blow out when my parents found out I was not a virgin Yeah, I know that quite clearly, I have a daily 14 year old reminder of it

But, take for example, the fertility issue. While it's been discussed with my dd, just by virtue of my experiencing it, if don't KNOW that she, for example, thinks that POF means she can't get pg, then I also don't know that I need to reiterate to her and make sure she clearly understands fertility. Knowing that she's considering sex isn't as much about trying to prevent it, as it is know that I am approching her the right way. We have had a couple discussions already and I try hard to be as open as possible, but the tone of my conversation and my answers to her questions would be different if I knew she was not a virgin, vs if I knew she was a virgin but considering changing that, vs planning to wait until marriage (which to be honest is not something I consider the best route anyway.)

I do agree that a 17 year old has a right to a certain level of privacy. BUT, if I don't understand the questions being asked or the reasons behind them, it's too easy for me to give the wrong answers. It's not about my right to know as a parent, as much as it is about my ability to provide the best information and answers to my child.

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In the OP's case, her sister has someone to talk to that is 1) knowledgeable, 2) non-judgmental, even if she has her own opinion she keeps it to herself and 3) trustworthy enough that these things can be discussed with an understanding of confidentiality.

It is more important that a teen have someone knowledgeable they can talk to, than it is for the parents to have every ounce of information about their teen.

Besides, by 17 I would expect you'd be pretty much done with the child rearing.
No, at 17, you are pretty much NOT done with child rearing. Yes, you should be more in the background and more of a resource than an active, guiding, teacher. But, you are a long way from "pretty much done." Almost legal adult doesn't mean almost adult maturity. I agree that it's vital for teens to have somone to go to and it's awsome that the OP's sister has the OP to confide in. And I would absolutely be hesitant to completely advise the OP to run right to mom, because it would likely shatter that trust and drive the sister away.

But I do still believe that withholding information that important from mom makes it impossible for mom to be the best parent. It's like withholding medical information from a doc. If you tell a doc you are a virgin, it's pretty unlikely that s/he would consider an STD in diagnosing a medical problem. If you are in fact sexually active, a major problem could be missed and go untreated.
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#18 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 03:48 AM
 
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Legal adulthood happens far later then biological adulthood, and even emotional/mental adulthood.

We extend their dependence on us far longer then is natural and suffer the consequences of adults who can't act their age because mommy and daddy aren't there to tell them how to behave.

At 17, I was living with DH and raising DD. I am not the only one who was (or is) capable of being an adult at 17.

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#19 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 03:54 AM
 
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[QUOTE=happysmileylady;15510905][QUOTE=MusicianDad;15510856]Sometimes, the best job you can do is not have all the information. Sounds odd I know, but getting your nose into everything because you feel you need the information can very easily drive a teen, particularly a 17 year old who has a right to privacy by that age, even further underground. To the point where they don't discuss things with anyone.
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I think you forgot to read the part where I got pg at 17, after the big blow out when my parents found out I was not a virgin Yeah, I know that quite clearly, I have a daily 14 year old reminder of it

But, take for example, the fertility issue. While it's been discussed with my dd, just by virtue of my experiencing it, if don't KNOW that she, for example, thinks that POF means she can't get pg, then I also don't know that I need to reiterate to her and make sure she clearly understands fertility. Knowing that she's considering sex isn't as much about trying to prevent it, as it is know that I am approching her the right way. We have had a couple discussions already and I try hard to be as open as possible, but the tone of my conversation and my answers to her questions would be different if I knew she was not a virgin, vs if I knew she was a virgin but considering changing that, vs planning to wait until marriage (which to be honest is not something I consider the best route anyway.)

I do agree that a 17 year old has a right to a certain level of privacy. BUT, if I don't understand the questions being asked or the reasons behind them, it's too easy for me to give the wrong answers. It's not about my right to know as a parent, as much as it is about my ability to provide the best information and answers to my child.

No, at 17, you are pretty much NOT done with child rearing. Yes, you should be more in the background and more of a resource than an active, guiding, teacher. But, you are a long way from "pretty much done." Almost legal adult doesn't mean almost adult maturity. I agree that it's vital for teens to have somone to go to and it's awsome that the OP's sister has the OP to confide in. And I would absolutely be hesitant to completely advise the OP to run right to mom, because it would likely shatter that trust and drive the sister away.

But I do still believe that withholding information that important from mom makes it impossible for mom to be the best parent. It's like withholding medical information from a doc. If you tell a doc you are a virgin, it's pretty unlikely that s/he would consider an STD in diagnosing a medical problem. If you are in fact sexually active, a major problem could be missed and go untreated.
I would hope then that the OP makes it clear to her sister that she needs to be certain that she still protects against pregnancy as well as STDs because unless she literally doesn't have reproductive organs at all, there is still a risk.

I would also hope the OP makes sure her sister thinks about her parents finding out as well. Be it through having to go to the doctors for an STD (because it CAN still happen with condoms) or through an accidental slip from a friend around the parents or something otherwise similar. It is a good way to deter the sister by making her consider all the ways the parents she wants to hide this from could find out... and how they would react.

I personally don't think it is necessary for a parent to actually know their child is sexually active to be the best parent possible. I think being the best parent possible in terms of sex is just giving your child the tools and knowledge they need to make a good and informed decision about sex and knowing they could go to the parent if they wanted without risk for anger or judgment. I DO think it is best for anyone to talk to their parents assuming the parent is actually someone safe to go to (OP, this is something else you should discuss with your sister) but ultimately, the MOST important thing concerning sex is that the teen has gotten what they need from the parent and has someone knowledgeable and safe to go to.

You bring up valid points about how 'infertile' can often mean 'surprise baby!' and how parents can still find out about sex and it can range from awkward to extremely difficult... but these are all just good things for the OP to bring up with her sister I think... not proof that the OP needs to seriously consider going to the parents, especially if younger sister DOES have sex.

I don't see this on the same level as withholding information from a doctor. the parents won't be diagnosing STDs. younger sister needs to know that doctors should know about sex. My doctor knew about my sexual activity before my mom did. By that age, she wasn't going with me so it worked out. My mom gave me everything I needed to make the best sex decisions and she found about about my loss of virginity about a month after it had happened. It was awkward and mildly difficult but I did make a great choice for me because of how open and honest she had always been with sex.
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#20 of 45 Old 06-12-2010, 09:57 AM
 
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I really don't agree with the "needing all the information to be the best parent" line of thinking. Of course, I'd like all the information and sometimes it does make it easier. But children in general, and teens in particular, are their own separate individual beings with their own thoughts, desires and lives and a right to some privacy. Otherwise, where do we draw the line? Do we read their diaries? Their private emails? Teens in particular need to begin the difficult process of individuating from their parents - and by 17 are much farther along in that process.

I don't see how knowing your kids plans around sex would change the answers and information you give. I would give all the information as if your teen will have sex at some point - and encourage her to feel free to talk to you without judgment AND point her to other resources if she doesn't feel comfortable with that. I know some parents have very close and communicative relationships with their children and I hope to have that. But I also don't think that rules out my daughter preferring to talk to another trusted adult instead. I plan to tell her that she can talk to any of the women in her life (my bff who has known her all her life, her aunts) with a guarantee that the information would not be passed on to me.

I think this is also about recognizing that parents shouldn't be the only resource and aren't even always the best resource for the issues their kids will deal with. Of course, we provide the foundation of love, security, building up confidence and self-esteem and providing information. But once they get a little older they need to learn to rely on a whole network of people and seek out the people who can best help them. In the OP's case her sister has the OP, who seems like an excellent resource who is perhaps in an even better position to help than the parents: she's younger and closer to the teen years so can more easily identify; she studies issues of sexuality so is possibly more informed on recent research, etc; by virtue of not being mom she might feel safer. Of course, the OP can always say if she doesn't feel equipped but that doesn't seem to be the case. Also, OP you do have the option of encouraging your sister to tell your parents if you think there are good reasons for that (e.g., they will be able to provide non-judgmental and neutral support; they can help with bc and medical resources; it'd just be good for them to know for medical reasons). If you think they should know but your sister is just uncomfortable talking about it with her parents then you could offer to be the conduit if that's easier.

Also, OP, I just wanted to say that I think your parents' expectation that you will tell them whatever you know about your sister is unreasonable and intrusive. I think it'd be worth it to clarify to them that there were exceptional circumstances that led you to share the drug use issue with them but that does not mean that you will break her confidence over non-health threatening issue. And having sex, if prepared, is not a health-threatening issue.
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#21 of 45 Old 06-13-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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I don't think you are obligated to tell your mom. Some things are better kept between sisters. And if sexuality is your area of expertise, I would think you have given her great information. No need to freak your mom out. You've hopefully given her the tools, no let her use them.
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#22 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And now for an update..... So my sister decided to start having sex. She seems to have approached it as responsibly as possible for a 17 year old so in that regard things are good.

Now onto the real update and the thing I really need advice on dealing with. Our parents found a text on her phone that suggested something sexual and questioned her about it until she admitted to being sexually active. I thought they handled it well at first not a lot of yelling only minimal shaming but that changed very quickly. Within a couple of days she is no longer allowed to drive, her boyfriend is not allowed around, she has no cell phone, cannot use the house phone, no friends, no computer, lots of yelling, threats, telling her she is irresponsible, is screwing up her future, her boyfriend is a loser and so on and so forth. Whether I agree with my parents approach or not (and i definitely do NOT) there doesn't seem to be a lot I can do about it as far as I can see. So what would you do (or think I should do even if you wouldn't)? Help please.
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#23 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 06:41 PM
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Wow, don't your parents realize your sister will legally be an adult soon. They are poisoning their relationship with her by being so controlling and condemning. Are you close enough to your parents to talk to them about the possible repercussions of treating an almost adult daughter this way? The relationship is forever and your sister is only going to be subject to their control for a matter of months.
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#24 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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Wow, what a horrid place your parents have put her sister! Are you living away from your parents? If so, I"d consider letting your sister live with you for a little bit to let your parents cool down. Your parents are not doing any good being that restrictive. And those horrible words can not be taken back, ever. I spent most of my high school years grounded (and hearing those horrible words and worse, directed at me), for bad grades, so not as serious, but the same social effect. Is there a way you can talk to your parents? I know I couldn't do that, but some people have much better relationships with their parents.

Julie ~ homesteading, Traditional Catholic, wife to Chip, mom to Angelbaby(4-06), DS (3-07), and DD (11-09).
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#25 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 06:55 PM
 
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I agree with simple life, if you are living away from your parents than maybe your sister can come and stay with you for a little while.

And if you can talk to your parents, try to make them see reason.

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#26 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have talked to them, they really want me to stay out of it because they know how strongly I disagree about the way they are treating her and how strongly I feel about every person's right to own their sexuality. They listen to me but mostly disagree and still feel they have my sister's best interest at heart which although I'm sure they do they are going about it entirely the wrong way. I really feel for my sister because at that age I had such a terrible relationship with my parents but now just a few years later we really get along great.

I do live away from my parents but several hundred miles away which would severely interfere with my sister's schooling and health care which at the moment is really important. Aother complication with that is that my parents primarily support me by paying my living expenses while I go to school full time which I pay with scholarships. So moving her in with me would risk her health, her education, and my education. It would still be a pssibility and I would be willing to risk my part of that and do my best to find her doctors where I live but logistically it would be very complicated.
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#27 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh so I guess my question then is any ideas on what I can do to support her without moving her in with me and taking into consideration that it is unlikely I will be able to talk some sense into my parents (at least until things calm down significantly)? I've already put off heading back to my apartment 200 miles away so I can stay here for venting and hugs when she needs me, but I'm not sure how long I can delay that since I need to get back to classes and other school related necessities.
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#28 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 07:44 PM
 
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Would you be able to help her find somewhere else to live for a while, maybe close friends or extended family?

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#29 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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shes almost an adult, its really none of your parents business and if it were my little sister i would direct her to go to planned parenthood so she can get bc and condoms. thats what i did when i was 15
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Unassisted birthing, atheist, poly, bi WOHM to 4 wonderful, smart homeschooling kids Wes (14) Seth (7) Pandora Moonlilly (2) and Nevermore Stargazer (11/2012)  Married to awesome SAH DH.

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#30 of 45 Old 08-09-2010, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sharlla: She has plenty of condoms, probably about 500 from me, so she's set there. Hormonal birth control is not an option because of serious health issues, but I am taking her to planned parenthood within the week (made an appointment) to get STI testing just to be on the safe side and to talk to the people there about what's going on at home right now. I do agree it is none of their business and the only difference between her and I at the age she is now is that 1. she got caught and 2. she's probably better prepared because she did have someone to talk to.

MusicianDad: I'm looking into those options now but unfortunately we have absolutely no family living in the area. The closest person besides me is probably a 10 hour drive away. Our family doesn't have a lot of close friends and those that we do i doubt would be willing to take her against my parents wishes. I'm hesitant to put her in the hands of my close friends because she is under 18 and I have had friends of mine get in legal trouble for aiding minors in similar ways.

She has an appointment with a counselor set up in a couple of weeks which is great because she really wants someone with some sort of authority to talk to her and my parents right now but a couple of weeks seems like an eternity and is honestly longer than I can stay around to keep her safe until then.

Any other ideas for more immediate counseling resources for her to reach out to? I'm looking into that now too but any help would be appreciated.
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