Dear Diamond to New-to-this
We sent our 16-year-old son to an educational program this summer where he met a girl. They seemed to hit it off and have visited each other since leaving the program. She came to our house first. She arrived before I got home and I saw that she brought her suitcase into my son’s bedroom and they were both in his bed. I told her that she would be sleeping in another bedroom and to please move her things in there. She did, but an hour later she was again in my son’s bed with him. I was shocked at the brazenness of this girl. I had to watch her like a hawk the entire weekend. We told our son that our rule was firm that they were too young to be sleeping together, especially right in our house. He says he understands and is usually respectful of our policies, but I think this girl is making it hard. This is the first time we have met this girl, who is from a well-to-do family.
Next my son was invited to visit her at her house. We found out after the visit that the parents were not home the entire weekend my son was visiting her and were well aware that the two of them would be alone in their home for the whole weekend. I am furious that these parents would allow this. These kids are both 16 and are juniors in high school. I always thought it was the other way around, that the boys were the ones to do this sort of thing, but it’s the girl in this case.
I don’t want to give these kids a pass to be having sex, but I’m pretty sure the they are. I don’t know how to handle this.
- New to this
Are you putting this all on the girl? Doesn’t your son hold some responsibility here?
Don’t lose this teaching moment between you and your son. This needs to be an ongoing discussion starting yesterday. Unfortunately her parents have given the OK for them to go ahead, which makes this harder for both your son and you. He’s probably embarrassed to put a halt on things now with his girlfriend. In Diamond’s parenting experience, I’ve seen relief when a line is drawn even when a huge fuss is being made.
If they are having sex, and if you just set down your rules without talking about it, he will hide what he is doing and forget about the decisions that call for planning, like birth control. You can offer help with problem-solving, if he needs it.
Please don’t put your foot down, close the door, and hang onto the fiction that they are listening; they will find other places.
Having sex is not an easy small deal, as so much of our culture suggests. Talk with your son about this. There are RESPONSIBILITIES that accompany an intimate relationship besides sex:
- The possibility is ALWAYS there of your son becoming a father. Is he RESPONSIBLE enough for that? If his girlfriend gets pregnant, who will care for and pay for the baby?
- In the heat of the moment, is he RESPONSIBLE enough to practice safe sex?
- Emotions are really intense in teen sexual relationships. Is he RESPONSIBLE enough to handle that?
- And what about the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease? Who will pay for that and take care of him if that happens? Does he realize some sexual diseases are FOREVER?
These are things to talk about now.
It’s your house and you have the right to say what happens in your house, but understand that if they want to have sex, they will — whether or not it’s at your house.
Stick with what you feel are acceptable behaviors for your home. You have the right to that. You can tell your son that you think that he’s too young for an intimate relationship at age 16. You can tell him that it doesn’t sit well with your values and that you are not OK with it happening in your house. You can tell him that you hope that he will respect your feelings about it. BUT just because you say so, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Give him the information, trust that he will think it through and make good decisions.
My friend's father used to say to him,
“Live and Learn; but for God’s sake - LEARN.”
With grace and peace,
Advice appearing in Dear Diamond is for entertainment only and does not reflect the views of Courier Publications or its editorial boards. This column is not intended to replace the services of medical, financial or legal professionals.
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