I just found out that my fifteen-year-old daughter had sexual relations with a twenty-year-old guy. I feel guilty. When it happened, I was having a lot of problems with my husband… and the two of us neglected our daughter. She felt very badly about everything that was going on in our home, and she went out and did the worst possible thing.

I don’t know whether to tell her father, or just speak privately to her, nor what measures I should take regarding the guy. I feel that he took advantage of her because she is still a child. I believe that when this happened, she was still fourteen. It’s just that she printed out the conversation she had with him, in which he chats with her and asks her if she wants to have sex with him…. I don’t know if the right thing is for me to go find the guy and talk to him. It scares me that this could go on happening and that something even worse, like a pregnancy, could occur.

Dear Friend,

It is good that you recognize that you and your husband may have played a part in your daughter’s decision to have sex at fifteen. However, more importantly, you must ask yourselves the following questions: Did we teach our daughter that sex outside of marriage is wrong? Did we tell her to wait until she is married to have a physical relationship with any man? Did we make sure that she understood the possible consequences of engaging in sexual behavior, such as dangerous diseases and unwanted pregnancies? If you taught your daughter well and brought her up in a stable home where she felt loved, then the recent problems between you and your husband would not have been enough to cause her to engage in such risky behavior. Parents certainly have to do their part to teach, protect, and love their children, but when teenagers make bad choices and engage in dangerous activities, the parents do not necessarily deserve the blame.

A girl should be taught at a young age that, if she chooses to marry, her purity will be a special gift to her future husband. One of her most valuable assets is her ability to be a virgin at her wedding. And yet many mothers neglect to teach their daughters the value of saving themselves. Sometimes it is because the mother herself was not a virgin when she married, and she wrongly believes that she doesn’t have the moral authority to expect her daughter to do differently than she did.

The laws of most countries consider it a crime for a twenty-year-old to engage in sexual activity with an underage partner. Any adult who takes advantage of a child deserves to be punished.

Unfortunately, girls who begin having sex at such a young age are very vulnerable to falling into the same trap again and again. They are influenced greatly by television, movies and their friends, all telling them that everybody’s doing it. Many times they give their bodies in an endless search for the love that has been lacking in their families.

It is critical that you begin a continuing conversation with your daughter about the negative consequences of sexual immorality. Read all of our “Cases of the Week” at message2conscience.com together with her, and discuss the principles and values found in each of them. Make sure that there is structure in your lifestyle so that she doesn’t have any opportunity to meet up with adult men. Monitor her computer use and make sure she isn’t chatting with strangers. And constantly remind your daughter that you love her and that you will do whatever it takes to protect her.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles