Monday, June 8, 2015

A Teenager, A Sex Tape, A Conversation

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Last week, my fifteen-year-old son was invited to make a sex tape. He was really excited about it, so I signed the release form. But before you get CPS on the phone, let me explain.

In May, Jacob won an essay contest for the Best Teen Date in our county for 2015. The contest was sponsored by a teen outreach program aimed at enriching the lives of teenagers, educating them and helping them to make healthy choices. As a result of the contest, Jacob met the heads of the program to receive the award.

May was also Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. The organization that had sponsored the contest was making a short film talking with teens about their views on teen pregnancy. Since we live near the filming location, they contacted Jacob and asked if he'd be interested in being in the film. I figured he'd won Best Date contest, so surely he must have thoughts about this topic, right?

After I gave him the OK to make the tape (the head of the program's last name is Coppola--what could possibly go wrong?), it occurred to me that my son and I had never actually discussed his views about teen pregnancy. Oh sure, we'd had talks about relationships, respect, protection, maturity, communication and all the other important aspects of teen dating. Maybe I thought that, because of those conversations, teen pregnancy wouldn't become an issue. Or maybe I just didn't want to go there.

It was way too much to discuss via text, so I waited until he got home and brought it up in the car on the way to the movie shoot, doing my best to be casual about it.

Me: "So, for this movie, it sounds like they're going to ask you about your thoughts on teen pregnancy. What exactly are your thoughts on the topic?"

Jacob: "Well, I think if the couple has done their research and discussed all the aspects of what's involved and want to do it, I support it."


I don't know if my tongue actually bled while I bit down on it, but I wouldn't have been surprised because it took all my strength not to scream out, "ARE YOU INSANE?!"

Now don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that he understands the importance of research, communication and weighing all the risks before making any big decision. And I told him that. But this is not about picking a college or buying a car. It was clear to me that he was neglecting to consider a few majorly important factors in this situation, such as the fact that a baby, unlike a car or a college, is a lifelong commitment. And teens are minors. And still in school. And unemployable. And... well, you get my point.

Before I opened my mouth, I took a deep breath, because I also understood what a big deal it was that he was even willing to have this conversation with me. I knew I had to think fast about how to get my points/fears across without lecturing like a health teacher. I decided the best way was to ask questions. What other options would you have? What if the girl was afraid to tell her parents? Who else could you talk to? How would you support the baby? How would you stay in school? What about college? If you didn't stay in school, what kind of jobs could you expect to get? What about health insurance? And on and on.

We got to the filming location before long and there were two lovely teenage girls there. Once we were introduced and Dr. Coppola arrived, I got the signal from Jacob that I was dismissed. I was disappointed that I didn't get to watch the filming and hear the discussion (admittedly, I'm probably the only mother on earth who wants to see the sex tape her son made). But at least I knew I'd given Jacob a lot to think about.

He did say that if he ever found himself in a such a situation, he knew he could come talk to me. I just hope, now that we've had this little chat, he'll never need to.