Dear Annie,

I am behind the times, I guess, but can you tell me if there is anything wrong with teens wearing a thong and at what age it would be appropriate? I know nothing about these things!

I guess the question is, if they aren’t comfortable, why wear one? I can imagine reasons including: being cool and accepted by other girls, expressing sexuality and/or interest in being with boys, acting a little risqué. Maybe others. All of these possible reasons make me concerned for my 13-year-old daughter. Also, she has one without telling me — I found it in the laundry (though it could also belong to a friend who was visiting).

What do you think? Thanks!
Clueless Mom

Dear Clueless Mom,

As mature adults, you and I would probably not choose a fashion that wasn’t comfortable, right? But maybe you can recall, as a teen, that comfort wasn’t something you factored in when choosing to wear things like 3-inch platform shoes (or whatever). I agree with all of your possible “reasons” for your daughter wanting to wear a thong, but it sounds like you are concerned that her thinking about her sexuality is somewhat “dangerous.” She’s 13. It’s totally NORMAL for her to be “expressing sexuality and/or interest in being with boys, acting a little risqué (in her choice of underwear)…” All of those things are very different from actually having sex.

If that’s what you’re concerned about, then you might want to take a few slow deep breaths and ask yourself: “Have I taught my daughter good judgment? If so, do I really believe that wearing a certain type of underwear is going to throw that judgment out the window?”

And another thing, you need to TALK with your daughter and keep on having these kinds of discussions. She ought to know, directly from you, what your expectations are for her behavior (vis–à–vis boys and sex). Tell her what you consider appropriate social behavior for your daughter. (Include your rules for texting and sending photos to boys.) Part of this conversation includes LISTENING to what she has to say.

Here are a couple of my articles about talking to teens about sex:

Annie’s 10 Tips for Teaching Your Daughter Relationship Smarts
She’s Your Daughter and She Needs You
For Parents: A Relationship Bill of Rights

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

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