This question came up on Meghan Leahy’s recent On Parenting online chat. Her answer? Look for the forest in the midst of all those trees.

Q: Sexual activity

My daughter recently had sex and then ended up with an STD. She told me she had used a condom but it broke. It just struck me today that she lied to me. I mean, what are the chances of getting an STD with a broken condom? I realize that it can happen but she was so panicky about getting checked. I am just furious! Should I confront her? The good thing about all of this is that [her STD] is treatable. And she will probably refrain from having sex for a while now. But I still want to confront her and determine if she did lie to me. Your thoughts, please. And yes, I am mad.
A: Meghan Leahy

Of course you are upset, I get it. I really get it.

And focusing on the lie (which we don’t know is actually a lie. I know lots of babies who came from broken condoms…it happens) is going to 100 percent blow up your relationship and you don’t want that.

She told you that she has an STD (and STI they are now called). Do you know the courage that took? How afraid she must have been? Of your judgment?

What do you think will happen if you confront her? At worst, you will shame her and she will stop talking to you. At best, she will dig in and stop talking to you. Either way, don’t confront her unless you want her to stop talking to you.

I don’t know how old she is, but make sure she has a good OB-GYN. She needs loving support, and you need to tell her how glad you are she told you. You need to stay close to her and go for her feelings. Say, “Oh my gosh, you must have been so scared.” “And, it so upsetting when something unexpected happens.”

Then wait and see if she opens up. See if you can get some insight into her heart, her thinking, her relationship. Does she need education? A pill? More condoms?

How can you be a person who is on her side? And if you cannot be, is there another trusted adult in her life she can call? I know this is going to be deeply uncomfortable, but the alternative is to be in the dark, and that is even scarier for her than it is for you.

Don’t focus on the lie, focus on your relationship.

Read Meghan Leahy’s columns here. Like On Parenting on Facebook for more parenting news and essays. 

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