Straight Talk Advice

Aug 05, 2009

Boyfriend the biggest loser if girl gets caught

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: My 17-year-old daughter has approached me to start birth control. Her boyfriend is 19. I told her that using a condom in addition to the pill is best, and that because of her boyfriend’s age, she needs to wait until she turns 18. The problem is that my husband believes in abstinence until marriage. I don’t want my daughter going to a clinic behind my back, but if my husband discovers my awareness, I’m worried for her and my own marriage. — Caught between two hearts, Redding, CA

Julian 17, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

I have three separate friends in situations where the mother is more understanding and the father more intense. Because of it, each was afraid to approach either parent, and all obtained free, informed birth control at Planned Parenthood. Everything has worked out well. One has now told both parents, one has told her mother, and the other still flies below the radar.

Hannah 18, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

To not compromise your relationship with your husband, let your daughter take care of things on her own through Planned Parenthood. If she can’t handle it alone, she’s probably not responsible enough for sex.

Kyle 17, Colfax, CA Ask me a question

The secrecy and guilt of going behind your husband’s back will hurt your marriage. As for your daughter, she will do what she wants to do (like most teens). If you raised her well she will make smart decisions.

Nicole 19, Arcata, CA Ask me a question

I wouldn’t be surprised if your daughter is having sex already and wants birth control so they can quit using condoms.

Ashley 21, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

My mom believed in waiting until marriage, too, but when I asked for birth control she figured better safe than sorry and took me to the doctor without asking too many questions.

Brie 18, Ashland, OR Ask me a question

In Oregon, an age-gap provision in the age-of-consent law allows a 17-year-old to have sex with a 19-year-old because there is less than three years age difference.

Liz 17, Sacramento, CA Ask me a question

It’s great that your daughter trusts you enough to come to you. But it doesn’t mean she isn’t already having sex. When I first started the pill I’d already had sex using a condom. The age thing might not stop her either as my boyfriend and I continued secretly after he turned 18. I guarantee if you don’t help her she will go to a clinic. I did and I was only 15. Six months later, I told my mom. After that we communicated openly but I wish I had come to her first because I feel I betrayed her and I could’ve used her support. I don’t think my dad ever knew. Most parents want kids to wait until marriage, but that reality is so improbable that it’s best to be involved. In your case, whether you are involved or not, your husband will be unhappy — and considering that you already ARE involved, and that your marriage must be shaky for this to cause divorce, I would support your daughter. If he found the pills, she could always claim they are to regulate her menstrual cycles.

DEAR CAUGHT: Good God, I’m most worried for the boyfriend. Considering your daughter’s age (almost 18) and that she acted responsibly in approaching you, the only unsafe thing about this sex is your husband. If he is so morally insane that you’re “worried for [your daughter] and [your] own marriage”, he sounds like the type to report the boyfriend for unlawful sexual conduct. California’s age-of-consent is 18, but there is no close-in-age provision like many other states have. Show your daughter this column and beg her, for her boyfriend’s sake, to back off until she turns 18. Tell your husband NOTHING.

Editor’s Web Note: Talk about “unsafe” sex. For those who think nobody actually sues in cases of consensual sex, I recently met a father leading the charge against his step-daughter’s boyfriend (daughter was 17, boyfriend was 20). Whether the lawsuit wins or not, every step of the process is traumatic for all involved — not to mention morally outrageous when the age gap is small. Readers: please see the comment section below this column, where reader, Michael, has made an important legal correction to my answer. — Lauren

  1. By Katelyn, age , from Huntington Beach on 08/08/2009

    I swear, the world is coming to an end. NOT! It’s OK if you don’t have sex until marriage. In fact, it has been proven that there IS NO THING as safe sex. Even with condoms and birth control! (It’s true; I’ve heard stories of people using those two things and still getting STDs or pregnancy.) Even oral sex can be dangerous. STDs and pregnancy aside, you can get attached, addicted, or whatever, and if that boy leaves you? Hoo boy. You’re in deep, deep water, because you’re probably going to be depressed for a VERY long time. Maybe even get addicted to something else to satisfy you, like porn or drugs! Studies show that those who wait until marriage to have sex are actually better off and have a stronger relationship with their spouse. So I would say to the mother in distress: DO NOT encourage her to have sex with her boyfriend (even if she turns 18). We’ll all be happier that way!

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  2. By Michael, age , from Pacific Grove, CA on 08/12/2009

    LAUREN: Please run a clarification concerning your statement (Aug. 5) “I’m most worried for the boyfriend. . . .the only unsafe thing about this sex is your husband. . . .he sounds like the type to also sue the boyfriend for statutory rape.”

      Statutory rape is a criminal offense, not a civil action. The father cannot sue the boyfriend for statutory rape. Only the District Attorney (or other government prosecutor, e.g., Attorney General) can initiate a criminal complaint.
      Your column is normally quite good, but you stepped outside your area of expertise and should have checked with a lawyer.
    The problem is that a lot of readers will now think that a parent can sue a daughter’s boyfriend for statutory rape. After all, “it was in the paper.”

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  3. By Robert Foutz, Jr., age , from Huntington Beach, California on 08/14/2009

    If the father is “morally insane,” then you are morally bankrupt.  It is because morally bankrupt people like you tell girls to get birth control pills and fool around that the welfare in this country is called WIC: Women, Infants, and Children.  The girls get pregnant and the guys are never seen again.  Can you say Bristol Palin?  The surest way to get a girl into poverty, keep her in poverty, and perpetuate the cycle is to do what you are telling her to do.  Tell her to keep her pants on and go to college, or at least develop a skill set that she could get a good job with.  In my opinion, this is the moral thing to do.

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  4. By Lauren Forcella, age , from Fair Oaks, CA on 11/15/2009

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for writing. You don’t say whether you are an attorney or not, but I did check with one who works with juvenile cases and you are correct that “statutory rape” can only be initiated by a DA or other government prosecutor.

    Furthermore, according to my source, it is unlikely that a California DA would prosecute this even if dad tries to make an issue of it (assuming that the relationship is consensual). And if the DA did decide to prosecute, because the law does allow the DA to do so, the charge would be a misdemeanor due to there being an age difference of less than three years. If the age difference is more than three years it could be charged as a felony.

    For a misdemeanor conviction, where the age difference is less than three years, there is, (thankfully), NOT a sex offender registration requirement.

    As far as civil actions go, anyone can sue anyone for just about anything. However, it is unlikely that the father could prove “negligence” against the 19-year-old. He would also have to prove that “damages” were incurred by his daughter. According to my source, it is not impossible, but very unlikely that a jury would find negligence and damages for a consensual relationship between these two.

    Nonetheless (and this is just me speaking), a civil suit by the father, even one that lost, would cause enormous emotional stress to both his daughter and her boyfriend, and would best be avoided for the mental health of all involved.

    I hope this clears up my error and I apologize to you and all my readers. I appreciate you taking the time to point it out so that it is set straight, at least here on the archives. And readers, the specifics noted here only apply to California, the laws may be different in different states.

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  5. By Michael, age , from Pacific Grove, CA on 11/15/2009

    First, yes, I am an attorney, although I no longer practice. I am a “voluntarily inactive” member of the California State Bar.

    Next, there is another issue, which I may have neglected to mention: child support. If a male fathers a child, he is on the hook for child support from pre-natal care to age eighteen; the relative ages of the parents are irrelevant. That can be a heck of a lot of money; support is generally based on the father’s ability to pay (as well as the mother’s income), so the greater the father’s income, the more money he pays in child support. And this is an area where the D. A. will get involved—the Family Support Division. If mom goes on public assistance, she will be required to disclose the identity of the father, and the alleged father can be required to undergo a blood test to establish paternity; these tests are quite accurate nowadays.

    Keep up the good work.

    —Michael Manlin (California State Bar No. 66701 [inactive])

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