Dept. of Eye-catching Headlines

Perusing the Times homepage just now, I came across the following headline:
Motherlode: Condoms for a 14-Year-Old?
The article in question is a response to this post by Ayelet Waldman, in which she ponders the implications of her daughter's nascent sexuality.
I remember standing years ago in the schoolyard, watching the Halloween parade.


As I watched the column of middle school sexy witches and cereal boxes troop by, I turned to the woman standing next to me and asked, "Which is yours?"

With a sigh she pointed to the sexy flight attendant. "At least she's not dressed like her older sister," she said, nodding in the direction of an eighth-grader wearing hot pants, fishnet stockings and Vegas showgirl makeup and tottering along in 5-inch heels.

Uh... huh. I simply do not understand this. The woman in question appears to be bemused by her daughter's costume. So why did she let her wear it?!??!?!? I am not, as of yet, a parent, so perhaps there are nuances and exigencies unknown to me. (Scratch that. Of course there are nuances and exigencies unknown to me.) But am I crazy in thinking that a mother has a responsibility to keep her daughter from dressing like a two-bit hussy, even for Halloween? Did she forget that there would be eighth-grade boys at her school? Am I some kind of reactionary lunatic to think that a mother still has the power to prevent this, even if this means her daughter will, like, totally hate her for a night or two?

This all leads to Waldman making condoms available for her 14-year old, prompting this question from the Times:
What is the best way to reverse the teenage pregnancy trend? Does it include giving condoms to a 14-year-old? Would you give them to your young teenager?
I won't be giving them to my teenager, because I plan to have her take the veil at 12.

However, in the off chance that she escapes the convent and actually associates with members of the opposite sex, I hope to be as pragmatic as possible. With no effort, I can remember three kids in my fundamentalist Christian youth group that got pregnant/fathered a child out of wedlock, so I don't put much stock in the "keep your knees tightly locked together" form of contraceptive counseling. Obviously, I hope any child of mine would kick any prospective swains in the yarbles if they tried to besmirch her virture, at least until she's old enough to vote. But, more than that, I hope to have the kind of relationship with any daughter that would allow us to talk about the uncomfortable facts of adolescence without my sticking my fingers in my ears and humming. I advise my patients and their parents to do the same.

For Halloween, however, she will dress either as St. Teresa of Avila, or the Berlin Wall.


  1. Oh how I enjoy the naive ramblings of one who has not yet experienced the joys, trials and tribulations of fatherhood. Your time is coming!!

  2. You should, if you don't, watch Friday Night Lights. Last week's episode was about the coach finding his 17 year old daughter in bed with the quarterback and the way everyone dealt with things.
    Also, if you look at Bernini's sculpture of The Ecstasy of St Teresa you might reconsider that as a Halloween choice for a daughter.

  3. I would go with a non-ecstatic version of St. Teresa, but you do make a good point. Perhaps Julian of Norwich, complete with cell?