What do you do when your child brings home their boyfriend or girlfriend?
Watching your child grow up, change and become more independent is weird. It is wonderful too, but it is weird. You have complete control over them for years and they love it. Then that all changes and you have to take a back seat and parent them from a distance.
Teenage sexual relationships
One of the weirdest parts for me was how to deal with the boyfriend/girlfriend situation and the subject of teenage sexual relationships. We didn’t give it much thought before it happened and although I love the idea of someone loving my child, I hadn’t decided how to manage the practicalities.
My husband believes in the ‘keep the bedroom door open’ technique
When my children first came home with partners and disappeared up to their rooms it was a whole new issue I had to consider. My husband and I had differing views which was good because it made us discuss the subject. He believed in the ‘keep the bedroom door open’ technique and I thought that if they want to have sex then they will find a way to do it, in the bedroom, the car, a friends house, a bush?
One particularly bizarre experience was a girlfriend whose father actually called us and arranged a meeting. He came to make us aware of the rules for his daughter when she was in OUR house. One of which was that they were not allowed in my son’s bedroom. I remember being confused about how this would stop them having sex somewhere else? (Incidentally, but not surprisingly, that particular girlfriend turned out to be quite the party animal. She knew all the tricks to fool her parents about her whereabouts). I know many parents (us included) who make partners sleep on the sofa if they stay over, but leave the couple alone during the day? Can they not have sex during daylight hours?
One thing I can guarantee is that the answer is yes and while the ‘keeping the door open’ option might stop them doing it there and then, it simply builds resentment, highlights the fact that you think they are ALWAYS having sex and removes the fact that their bedroom is the only private place they have in the house.
We need to talk to our kids early on
So as parents, we need to talk to our kids early on and be open about teenage sexual relationships throughout. We need to make sure they have all the facts and grow up respecting themselves and others. They need to know that sex is not dirty or bad. That sleeping together also means being close, cuddling and just being together. After that, it is our job to simply be available and ensure that if they do open up to us we do not judge them. We just need to be glad they came to us.
Once I had built up that trust I made it very clear that whilst we loved the fact they were in a happy relationship and admired their honesty about contraception and safe sex, they needed to be respectful. For the sake of us parents (especially Dad), they should recognise that we (he) didn’t need to be made aware of (hear) any ‘activity’ in the bedroom!
In the words of Phil Dumphy (Modern Family):
‘show me some respect and do it behind my back’.
It is a difficult subject for any parent. Our cute little babies have changed so much, but it needn’t be a nightmare. If they are in a good relationship and are safe then just be supportive and above all don’t give it too much thought!