Dear Grandparenting: I got my heart check-up yesterday. I didn’t even have to go the doctor’s office. I walked in on my granddaughter and her boyfriend doing what looked like having sex. They had a blanket over them and the lights were turned off. My heart rate went through the roof and then returned back to normal.
It took me a little while to regain my composure. I returned to the room with a little speech all prepared. My granddaughter and her boyfriend were long gone. She phoned me later that same day to apologize for embarrassing me like that. She begged me not to tell her parents. She said they hate Tom, the boyfriend. My son has had words with him. I am not a real big fan either. He hardly ever bothers to say anything and leaves his dirty glasses and dishes around the house.
My granddaughter is 17. I gave her a house key because her parents don’t always get along. She says she feels “safe” in my place.
What do I do now? Do I tell her parents their daughter is sexually active? I really do think they were caught in the act. Do I give her the birds and bees speech? Or do I keep quiet and let it roll? My granddaughter promised I would not be seeing Tom anymore. What Now?, Kingsport, Tennessee
Dear What: How many parents still sit their children down for “the birds and the bees” speech? It’s the right thing to do, but in today’s hyper sexualized youth culture, we suspect most grandchildren learn about the mechanics of making babies early on. Sex is on the tip of teen tongues, or just a click away on the Internet.
Like it or not, the majority isn’t saving themselves for marriage. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading global think tank on sexual and reproductive health, 71 percent of America’s grandchildren have experienced their sexual initiation by age 19. There is little difference of the timing between the genders. Only 16 percent have had sex by age 15, but the teenage years are a time of change and experimentation. At 16, it’s 33 percent. By 17, it’s nearly 50 percent. While we certainly don’t endorse such romps, we know plenty of parents who regard them with a certain air of inevitability.
What’s a grandparent to do? It may too late for the birds and bees, but it’s never too late to talk about the risks and consequences of loose behavior. At that age, grandchildren think they know it all. Bad things only happen to other people, right? Wrong!
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
W.C. of Sidney, Ohio, was a lot more excited about the impending arrival of another grandchild than grandson Robert, 7.
“You’ll either have two brothers and one sister or two sisters and one brother,” said W.C. “Isn’t that great?”
Robert wasn’t buying any of that. “I want a dog instead. I would name it Pal.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.