We made a difficult parenting decision recently. We bought condoms for our teenaged son.
The purchase was preceded by a somewhat uncomfortable conversation with our 15 year-old. We explained we were neither condoning nor encouraging him to have sex, but we were being realistic about the possibility. We want him to understand the risks (disease, parenthood) and know how to make smart choices to protect himself and his partner(s). We didn’t ask him whether or not he was sexually active already, or wanted to be, but let him know he should feel free to discuss with us if he chose. We will purchase condoms for him and replace them as necessary, no questions asked. Do you remember how embarrassing it was to buy birth control when you were young? We don’t want embarrassment to stand in the way of safety. It was uncomfortable for all of us. But not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Until I actually went to buy them – that was the hard part.
“Super-sensitive” “For Her Pleasure” “Ultimate Sensation” “Vibrating Touch” Coloured, flavoured, tickly, lubricated with warming gel. How am I supposed to buy any of these for my son? My little boy? Wasn’t it just last month he was crawling into my lap during movie night?? No? In any case, making sex more pleasurable for him than it might otherwise be is not part of our agenda here. We are focussed on educating him and keeping him safe if he does decide to experiment in this area. I am looking for big, thick, vaguely uncomfortable condoms, with no added benefits.
They were way easier to find back in my day.
I can’t really describe how it felt to stare at this wall of condoms and think that my not-so-little-anymore boy might be using them soon. It was a visceral reaction. I honestly didn’t realize it would hit me so hard. But, suddenly it was so real – he’s growing up and becoming a young man. We won’t be able to protect him forever.
But we’ll keep trying as long as we can. We have provided an open line of communication and hope he will feel comfortable enough to use it. We’ve provided some protection against STDs and pregnancy and hope he will be smart enough to use that if the circumstances present. I’ll do periodic checks on the box of supplies (the most basic, no frills supplies I could find) in his sock drawer to ensure they are available and not expired. I will try not to worry that they might at some point need to be stocked up.
So far? It’s been months since I bought that first box and only one condom has been taken. His dad suspects he’s carrying it around for show and to get that tell-tale circle imprint in his wallet. And that’s just fine by me.