When the questions get hot, stay cool
Fifteen-year-old Alexis and her mother are in the car.
"Mom, do condoms work?"
"Do condoms work?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Mom, I'm just asking a question. Do condoms work?"
"Well, yes. No. I guess so. Sort of. I don't know. Usually. Work against what? Why are you asking?"
Meanwhile, this is what's going through her mom's mind: "Is she having sex? Is she planning to have sex? Omigod, did she have sex and use a condom, but now she thinks she might be pregnant? Is she playing games with me to see how I'll answer? Trying to shock me? If I give her a simple answer will she think I'm being casual and giving her permission to have sex?"
Sometimes, out of nowhere, seemingly innocently, your teen will ask a question that is so loaded and so fraught with implications that it feels impossible to answer. It's an instant dilemma. The question demands an answer, yet you feel any response you offer will either be insufficient or send the wrong message.