Sex in a Teenager's Room?
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Default Sex in a Teenager's Room?

    Sex in a teenager

    Is it an absolute given that parents of teenagers should object to their children's sex lives? In American culture, the answer is largely assumed to be that it is. The range of acceptable responses from parents to the news that their high-school-age children are sexually active is to rage angrily and forbid it or, at best, reluctantly provide contraception while emphasizing that you wish they wouldn't have sex. But what would happen if parents embraced another possibility and actually accepted their teenagers' sex lives, even going so far as to allow teenagers to have their boyfriend or girlfriend sleep over? After all, sleepovers will begin pretty much the second they walk out your door, so what's the harm in letting it start a little earlier?

    These are the questions that Henry Alford addressed in the New York Times late last week, in a piece about how a handful of American parents are experimenting with giving respect to teenage relationships. He interviewed a couple of parents who allow sleepovers - and in one case, cohabitation - and found that they felt quite positive about the results. Parents reported that the experience taught their children values like responsibility and even that it subtly encouraged monogamy. Writing of one mother who allowed her high school senior's boyfriend to move in for a year, Alford notes:
    But the greater dividend of his stay was that it gave Ms. Collins's three younger adolescent children a view of committed love that far surpassed most of what they had seen from adults. Ms. Collins said, "I hope they won?t settle for less."
    Of course, there's no reason to stab around in the dark, just guessing at whether allowing teenage sleepovers is some kind of sign of the apocalypse or just a way for families to handle teenage sexuality in a responsible, realistic fashion. Sleepovers have been normalized in the Netherlands for decades now, and as social scientist Amy Schalet's research suggests, the results have been generally positive. By demonstrating acceptance and respect for their kids' relationships, Dutch parents, on average, enjoy more communication with their kids about sex and relationships than American parents do, which in turn means the kids are more likely to get the health care and education they need to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Oh, and the teenage pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is nearly four times lower than ours.

    Schalet also discovered that the Dutch way helped minimize negative stereotyping about gender, love, and sexuality. In the U.S., there's a tendency to see sex as a battle between boys and girls, with parents falling for "the stereotype that all boys want the same thing, and all girls want love and cuddling." But because Dutch parents respect teenage relationships, they have a more holistic view, understanding that most young people of any gender want a combination of both.

    Allowing sleepovers in not a license for licentiousness. If anything, the practice even tends to reinforce the idea that sex is about relationships, whereas sneaking around lays the groundwork for the hookup culture that has caused so much hand-wringing of late. Parents actually have the power to lay the groundwork for more responsible behavior about sexual health and relationship management while making sex a little less illicit. Might not be such a terrible idea.
    Would you consider allowing your teenager to have their boyfriend or girlfriend sleepover? Other thoughts?
    Last edited by Alissa_Sal; 08-12-2013 at 01:24 PM.
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post


    Would you consider allowing your teenager to have their boyfriend or girlfriend sleepover? Other thoughts?
    DH and I dated as teenagers. While we did not have sex while dating, I did occasionally spend the night at his house if for some reason his parents could not take me home such as bad weather or car problems. (Bad weather in WNY is common) We did sleep in separate rooms while there, but no one checked if we stayed that way. While I know this is not the same as the article, I would not have a blanket rule that a boyfriend could not stay here if they needed to. They would not be in the same bedroom however.

    ~Bonita~

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    Easy for me to speculate when my oldest is 9 and has no interest. That said. . .if he or Juliet were in high school and in a healthy, committed relationship, and I felt that they were comfortable and ready for a sexual relationship with that person, I'd actually rather they were home than elsewhere. (Can't say I know my husband would agree!)

    But that doesn't mean it's an open house or I'd be encouraging them to do so. . .but I knew some kids in high school who were at a different place in their relationships, they were truly together, and sleeping together, and in love. Some stayed together, some didn't, but it's certainly POSSIBLE.

    But it's so hypothetical at this point.
    Laurie, mom to:
    Nathaniel ( 10 ) and Juliet ( 6 )




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    My DH & I were actually talking about this a few weeks ago. The conversation started when we were reminiscing about a particular Christmas visit to his mom's house. We'd been living together for a couple of years, but she still insisted on us sleeping in separate rooms because she didn't want to expose his little sisters to our sinfulness. (We need a better eye-rolling icon!) I'm not sure they even knew if we were married or not or what sleeping in the same room together might mean, but it meant something to his mom to make a big deal out of making a bed on the sofa for him every night. And every night after they went to bed, I snuggled up with him on the sofa, we didn't ever touch the bed just to drive her batty, LOL! And just because parents are there doesn't mean they're watching or caring. My DH remarked that he would often spend the night at Rob's house and he had a crush on Rob's sister and their parents never came downstairs so anything could have happened if Rob's sister had been interested in him.

    We both feel strongly that we want to know what our kids are doing, and with whom, and we will have a "no opposite sex friends in the house alone" rule. We will make a big deal out of the important things -- emotional maturity, birth control, health care, and it being a healthy relationship. But if they have all those things, and are brazen enough to have sex in their bedroom when we are there, then we aren't going to make a big deal out of the sex part. We both think we benefited from me sleeping over at his dad's place when we first got together; it allowed us to grow together, to grow into a more mature loving relationship, without the pressure of living together before we could afford our own place or trying to find places to have sex.
    David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!

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    First off:

    But the greater dividend of his stay was that it gave Ms. Collins's three younger adolescent children a view of committed love that far surpassed most of what they had seen from adults. Ms. Collins said, "I hope they won?t settle for less."
    Made my eyes roll so far back in my head they almost got stuck. Either Ms. Collins knows adults in totally craptastic relationships or these two teenagers were truly living a romance for the ages. I mean, GAG that we are describing 17 year old love relationships like that. I mean, I had a very serious boyfriend when I was 17, but to compare that to the love that comes from having children with someone, marrying someone, managing real life heartache like parental illness or the near death of a child with someone.....and saying that my kids could LEARN SOMETHING from that 17 year old sweaty palm heartracing OMG does my *** look good in these jeans *love* (which, yes, was love, but certainly not on par with the love that comes of years of maturity and actually forging a real life with someone without mommy and daddy footing all the bills!!!LOL), well, Ms. Collins and her opinions lost my respect then and there.

    I grew up in a traditional home. Yes, perhaps that HS boyfriend spend the night once or twice (in the living room) due to bad weather or whatnot but obviously that isn't what the article is about. I never spent the night in the same room with a partner, including my husband when we were engaged, under my parents roof.

    On some level I had always expected that that is how it will be with my kids as well, simply out of respect. That said, its a looooong way off, and I really don't know how we will feel about this, then. I do NOT expect my children to be virgins on their wedding night, in fact I would steer them away from that if I have input into that decision.......and if my children exhibit maturity and good decision making and openness and whatnot who knows what rules we may find acceptable. I can say with certainty that my husband and I will not, however, be holding up their teenaged relationships as examples of adult love! Thats just silly.
    bunnyfufu likes this.

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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    I have to say that I also rolled my eyes at that comment at first, Melissa, but then I thought about it again. The love relationships that kids tend to see *are* the older, mature, years-together-raising-kids kind. They also see infatuation, and they see lust, and they see perfect-on-TV, and they see things that end badly. Unless they're growing up with a large extended family with multiple generations, most kids don't ever see what new, fresh healthy love really looks like. I wouldn't go out and look for an opportunity to bring my daughter's boyfriend into our home on a permanent basis, but given the options of him ending up on the street versus exposing our younger child to their relationship, I'd choose the latter. Not because I think he needs to witness it to know what real love is, but because it's not going to hurt him in the way that the prudes think it will, kwim?
    David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!

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    Yes but she didn't call it infatuation or lust ~ she called it Committed love. I personally would be lolzing all day long if anyone tried to compare my relationship with my husband to that of any 17 year old kid in terms of commitment. Lust? Infatuation? Sure. But commitment? No way. At that time my boyfriend was over our house frequently because my family was welcoming and friendly and he was a great guy. My siblings were 4 and 8 years younger so they got to see plenty of that, that puppy dog playful happy and infatuated love. It didn't hold a candle to the sort of committed love that my parents shared, and to call it by the same moniker would have been silly. Its just a weird comparison to me.

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    My thought on that quote is that we are talking about a single mother, and if the father is also single, or out of the picture, then those kids maybe havent been exposed to a long term healthy relationship before.

    My knee jerk is that I would not allow sleep overs, but I am willing to revisit in a few years (At least 11-12) and base my decision on my child and the partner. DH's parents allowed sleepovers with no discussion, while I never would have even asked my parents and always snuck back in before they got up. I hope that between the two of us we can come up with something in between the two extremes.
    Kyla
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    Being with the same person for a year when you're only 17 is pretty committed IMO. If we were talking about a 40-year-old, then yes, I'd LOL all day, too.
    David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!

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    I disagree that two 17 year old's are not capable of a deeply committed relationship. Romeo and Juliet comes to mind. DH first asked me about marrying him when we were 17. Many of my parents generation was either married or engaged at 17 or 18. I was just as committed to DH when I was 17 as when I was 20. (We dated from 15/16 until when we got married at 20/21)

    There also I am sure are older teenagers in much more of a committed relationship the some 30 year olds.

    ~Bonita~

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