Terminally Ill Teens and Sex

Slight Spoiler Ahead

I recently finished reading “The Fault in Our Stars” for a class and the narrator is a 17 year-old girl with (apparently) terminal cancer who befriends a young man of similar age. Romance ensues and they have sex, though that’s not the point or even a major part of the book.

As a father myself, I wondered about such a situation: If your teenaged kid had a cancer that would almost certainly kill them before they reached adulthood, would it be okay with you if they had sex with someone of like age? Does the gender of the kid make a difference to you?

I’m torn and fully admit my own double standard; if I had a 16 or 17 year-old son, I’d be okay with it and probably would be encouraging, frankly. But, I have a daughter and the thought kind of squeams me out. I guess I wouldn’t be encouraging, I’d just want to not think or know about it.

I was seventeen when I first had sex. My sister was sixteen. Other (female) friends were getting it on at about the same age, as far as I remember. My only worry would be that a terminally ill teen would have less opportunity to date/fall for someone, and might feel undue pressure because of his/her illness.

But as far as teens having sex, why is this a problem again?


Well safe sex anyways, and yeah I don’t see an issue.

The double standard thing is just silly. Your daughter will have sex. In her teens. Get over it.

Tennessean or Kentuckian?

After thinking about it, it certainly wouldn’t bother me under those conditions, not for 17 year olds of either gender, though with all due birth control, education, respect and kindness for each other, and condoms of course. A pregnant terminally ill teenager is pretty horrible to contemplate.

I think 17 is a pretty good age to have sex for the first time anyway. With all due birth control, education, respect and kindness for each other, and condoms of course. I’ll think I’ll be pretty fine with my sons (now 13, 10, 6) having sex at that age. I don’t have any daughters, but using my imagination, I don’t feel a difference regarding daughters.

For terminally ill kids I’d probably be willing to lower my age of tolerance to 15 for either gender.

I wouldn’t care if my perfectly healthy 17 year old was having sex, so long as they were being smart about it (using protection, contraception, getting tested, blah blah blah all that boring adult crap).

Oh, c’mon. My meaning was perfectly clear. (My sister was born in Arkansas, though, if that gives you a tingle.)

Forgive us for our deliberately juvenile misreading of your post :slight_smile:

All is forgiven. But if we’re going to be juvenile, let me just say EWWW. [/hijack]

I think it is beautiful - so no issue

As long as they take the proper precautions I wouldn’t mind even they were perfectly healthy. But it’s easy for me to say that because I don’t have a daughter. If I did, she wouldn’t ever get close to a guy while I was alive. Also easy to say, because I don’t have a daughter.

I think it would be creepy and unnecessary to encourage it. A terminally ill 17-year-old knows there’s such a thing as sex and knows their time is limited to try it, so they can do it if they want or not if they don’t.

Wouldn’t care? Shit, I’d be proud of my 17 year old did this. Most grown ups I know get pretty lax about all of this.

I’m with Diosa and kmshrader. I have two daughters, and if they want to have (safe) sex when they’re 17 it’s fine with me. Also 16. 15 I’d probably get a little squicked out, but I couldn’t stop 'em if I wanted to. Their health is of no relevance.


Considering that around 50% of pregnancies are unplanned (not just among teens but among all women), it seems like wishful thinking to expect or assume that a teen would take safety precautions. Especially a teen who might think that getting to experience what sex without a condom is like before they die is a more pressing concern than the possibility of disease/pregnancy (things that are often, in a teen’s mind, put in the “It can’t happen to me” category)
For that reason, I think all the “sure as long as they’re safe about it” answers are kind of unrealistic.
It’s not like you’re going to be supervising the big event to be sure they’re responsible.

That being said, I think I’d understand why they would want to experience such a thing before they die and it’s not like I’d be angry at them for doing it. I just wouldn’t go out of my way to encourage it. In fact, one reason not to outright encourage it is because I think a lot of teens would probably find it very embarrassing to have their own parent act like it was a problem that the teen was a virgin. Someone who is old enough to have sex is old enough to figure out how to have sex without their parents’ help honestly.

I kind of took ‘encourage’ to mean providing them the information and actual products needed to make it safe, and not creating a situation where they’ll end up unprepared.

If the cancer is terminal, why bother with safe sex?

Just kidding! Well, not really.

I sure as hell would have. And they might not really have the opportunity to have sex anyway. Terminally ill people are not always that hot or energetic. And girls especially are likely not to be having good sex at first anyway. She could easily be in her death bed feeling all bad about the fact that she had lackluster sex with some boy who didn’t stick around once she got a little sicker. That would suck.

I wouldn’t discourage it either though. I could see where she’d want to experience it. But I wouldn’t want her to just because she feels outside pressure.

I didn’t, because that’s not what “encourage your kid to have sex” means.

I’ve heard that’s what it did mean from everyone who opposes birth control, sex education, and STD vaccination.