April 11, 2010,
K.O. asks from Wake Forest, NC on April 10, 2010
15 Year Old Daughter and Boyfriend
I have a teenage daughter who has a boyfriend. I am uncomfortable with the dating thing and and she knows, but I don't want her to go behind my back so we agreed. We have come to the understanding that if she does well in a year and doesn't try and sneak off or hide anything from me, she will be allowed to car date. We also had the talk and if she feel that she wants to be sexual active with him - than we will go to the Dr.
As of right now he comes to the house on the weekends and spends around 8 hours with her. She is not allowed to his house yet but I have met the parents and if they were to invite her over for dinner - I would allow that. When he comes over they would watch TV in the living room and go on the computer in the living room. I allow them to hangout in her room with the door open. They are not to be on the bed laying down but they are allowed to sit on it. My bedroom/office is across from her bedroom.
I know they "make out" and stuff but I feel uneasy. Is this normal? He is a good boy, polite and comes from a good family. He is 16 going to be 17 in a month and my daughter is going to be 16 in two months. I know what teens do when they are alone and that they can get away with a lot of things if you let them. I don't want to be so strict that she rebels but I don't want to be taken advantage of either. Any advice on teens and what to do when the boyfriend comes over? Is it ok that I let them in her room? What other thing do I do? We don't have a lot of money so we usually spend our weekends at home either doing yard work or working on the computer. (I am a freelancer)
So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone for all you responses! They have all helped a lot. After thinking about this - I talked to her and told her that there will be no more bedroom time. I told them I was comfortable with the hold hands and hugging on the couch - but into the bedroom will lead to more. I told her that I liked the boy and that it is fine that he comes over but - an eight hour day is way to much. He will be allowed over the weekends from 2-6pm. If we have yard work that needs to be completed he is more then welcome to come by earlier and help out. She started to cry because she didn't think I trusted her. Its not that I don't trust you - I told her - I don't trust boys period. I know how they are and what they will say, my husband agreed - he gave examples pf what he used to say to "get in the panties". So he is allowed to come by from 2-6 on the weekends and during summer times when there is an adult here. I also told her I wasn't comfortable with her and him in the bedroom and her 10 year old sister walking around seeing that. She may grow up to think that its ok and she needed to set an example for her younger sister. She and I agreed and she is not upset or hurt, she said that she understood where I was coming from. She knows that I got pregnant at an early age and I am trying all that I can to keep that from happening to her also. She sees the struggling I go through with a low paying job because I didn't finish college. I am in college now trying to get a certificate for web design and she sees what I go through! She wants to go to college to be a chef and she loves to draw. I hope that she pursues the dream she has - I told her that boys come and go. If you end of marrying him - then all of this will be worth it. But he has no job, no car, no idea what he wants to be for college and she deserves better. Who knows - maybe she will get the fire under his butt to do something with his life!
Once again thank you everyone! Your opinions and suggestions have helped make this situation much less stressful!
M.S. answers from Nashville on April 11, 2010
I'm thinking back to my first real boyfriend and I was about 15. I remember spending time at his house "watching TV" in the basement, which meant making out, but we were both from proper families and it never went beyond that. Neither of us wanted it to.
K.C. answers from Philadelphia on April 10, 2010
Gotta say, it sounds like you've got everything under control. I hope when my daughters are 15, I am able to parent them with the same skills you show. You seem to have a very open relationship with your daughter, have made the effort to get to know the boyfriend and his family, have set guidelines for appropriate behavior in your own house and at the same time are trusting your daughter and giving her opportunities to have her earn your trust. Perfect, in my opinion. Just to let you know, when I was 15, my boyfriend was 22 (I was VERY mature for my age, very responsible, conscientious, etc). Instead of throwing a fit, my parents treated me like you treat your daughter (with love and trust), so I never, ever gave them a reason not to trust me. That boy (man!) and I never went farther than kissing (he was a gentleman and never pushed me for anything) and he treated me like a princess. I'm sure my parents felt super uneasy like you feel now. Had they put their foot down and forbidden me from seeing him, things would probably have turned out quite differently.
Keep doing what you're doing. And there's no rule saying you can't have your daughter AND her boyfriend help you with yardwork on the weekends...
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J.L. answers from Minneapolis on April 10, 2010
Don't be afraid to set boundaries. As long as she's under your roof, you are responsible for her, and she needs to respect your decisions. If you are exercising good parenting, you are not making decisions to make her "miserable" but rather to ensure her safety and well-being. Remember that everytime you imagine she will sneak behind your back or be disobedient.
Enabling bad behavior in the long run is worse, and she will come back to you one day with a blaming finger when she gets an unspoken okay from you to do things that she may not be ready for, because you wanted to avoid confrontation, or feared she'd keep things from you.
Please do not take offense, but I think you are allowing too much with these two. Even though everything seems to be happening on your turf, it seems the boy has the upper-hand the way I see it.
So far, you allow him to monopolize your daughter's prime free time on weekends (8 hours is an awful lot for someone who isn't anywhere near finished with school, nor has a career plan, and probably isn't making plans to marry her, buy her a house, and raise her kids), you've allowed him to go into your daughter's bedroom, you've told her that if they want to have sex to come to you, and you'll get the "supplies", by bringing everything to your house, you've told the boy, his parents, and your daughter that not only do you condone anything (good or bad) that comes from this relationship, you are also going to take full responsibility for it. Afterall, where are this kids' parents in all of this? Have you talked to them about how "they" feel about sex, and if these two wind up with kids or derailing their education because this relationship has gotten too serious, too soon?
Offering to take her to the doctor is often a "green-light" to many teens, and to the surprise and dismay of many parents, the very thing they're hoping to avoid happens shortly there-after. I wouldn't be surprised if they've already beat you to the punch. When I was a kid, my friends whose parents took them to the doctor at age 12 (as soon as they started menses) started having sex shortly thereafter...and one friend was so irresponsible about using the supplies she wound up missing graduation because she was going to deliver at any moment. The boy didn't marry her, though they were "sweet-hearts" through high school. She gave the child up for adoption and he wound up marrying some debutaunte and pageant princess from Alaska.
This friend's father was shamed (they came from a family where many of the buildings of a particular University and another local college bore their name.) and she was disowned and went through a lot mentally behind the whole thing. She never went to college as she spent her entire high school years investing energy into this puppy crush that went no where.
I say you feel uncomfortable because deep down inside you know allow these two this much freedom is a mistake. They are not emotionally ready for this. If I were you, I'd be encouraging my daughter to make the most of herself during these years by excelling in school, finding who she is and what her strengths are through worthwhile hobbies and activities, and by spending more time you with and your family bonding. She'll have her whole life to find her special someone when the time is right and she's accomplished.
I think serious dating during the teen years is over-rated. I know money is tight, but there is so much out there for young women today that is so worthwhile for character building. Allowing her to put so much focus on romance, and hormone related endeavors will do nothing for her self-esteem let alone teach her how to make worthwhile decisions in the future. The only life-skill she may get out of this is heart-break, pregnancy, mental health issues, and even a disease....and all before she graduates from high school. Not only will you have to suffer along with your daughter whatever the outcome may be, you will also have to live with knowing you had a hand in allowing her to make these bad mistakes. Get a spine and get tough. Set this girl on the right path for own good and yours. Tell her and this boy to get a life.
Don't serve her up on a platter to a kid who may be nice, but probably isn't worth the trouble. Gently guide her to invest in herself and maintain a friendship with this guy. If he's the one, he'll wait or be back. That is my opinion.
As for rebellion. If she fights back let her. Then her own hard-headedness will be to blame and she'll know she only will have herself to blame. YOu will know you're doing the right thing setting real boundaries and give her clear concise reasons why. In the end she WILL respect you for holding your ground and setting a good example.
My parents did this with me and while I didn't like it then, and fought them a lot of the way. I am so happy they did. And I respect them.
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J.M. answers from Boston on April 10, 2010
It's going to be a year before you allow them to go to the movies together or out to dinner? That seems a little unreasonable to me. If you trust your daughter to make good choices, try letting them go out together. What's the worst thing that is going to happen in a restaurant or a movie theater? I think that there are groundrules that are fair - no being home alone together, no being in the room with the door closed, no going to friends houses together when there are no parents there. However, at 15 and 16, I think they can be together out in public at a reasonable hour in the evening. Good luck.
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M.M. answers from Dallas on April 10, 2010
I think you are already on the right track. You have set the ground rules and expectations. As long as she and he follows them, then continue with the way things are going. Since you have to access to seeing them in her room b/c your office is across from it, I see no problem with them visiting in her room. You're doing good Mom!
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K.C. answers from Wichita on April 10, 2010
I think you are letting too much happen already (expecially the 'you can have sex if you want' - birth control is not 100% & she will likely end up pregnant or sick). From personal experience 'making out' leads straight to sex (guaranteed).
I don't think they should be in any bedroom alone together ever. I also would not allow any car dates until she is 18. Again 'making out' & being alone in the car are not a good combination.
It's your house & your daughter & you need to take control of the situation.
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C.P. answers from Provo on April 10, 2010
I am a pretty laid back parent and I try to raise my kids to be independant. My daughter started dating in jr. high. We have always had a really open relationship. My daughter always had a 110% of my trust. I would suggest having an open line of communication with your daughter and teaching her lots of self-esteem. I was raised in a family that had no communication amongst each other. As I look back I can see how much better my youth could have been and I learned from the mistakes of the past. I feel that forbidding dating would be a big mistake and you are right about that!! Just off hand, I would say that if he feels comfortable enough to come over to your house and spend several hours then you are doing things very well. My daughter is now 19 years old and at the university. I know she is a smart girl and I tell her that if she feels comfortable with it then it is right with me. She had her boyfriends upstairs in her room. I was OK with that. The only time that I ever got upset with her is when the two of them fell asleep on the bed. Even then I knew nothing happened and I told her that I was upset with her. Talk to your daughter and get her thought and feeling on the subject.
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V.G. answers from Little Rock on April 10, 2010
I know exactly what you are going thru. My daughter ( now 19) had a boyfriend that hung out at our house. Teens get away with a lot , and it doesn't matter if we let them or not. I got pregnant at an early age, 15, first time I had sex, and in my parents house, and they had the same rules that you described. So with my daughter, when she turned 15 and got interested in boys, we went and got the shot. No if and or buts about it. Alot of people said I was giving her permission to have sex, but I wasn't, nobody gave me permission either. She got married this past weekend and was a virgin when she married. Teenagers are gonna do what they will. I feel like , if you teach them and guide them, they will make the right decisions. But as far as my daughter, I didn't want her to be raising a child, while she was one. My mom also told me to let her know when I was thinking about having sex, and she would take me to the doctor. She would have knocked me out. Anyway, I wish you the best, and remember they are gonna do what they are gonna do, with or without , us letting them. All we can do is guide them and protect them. Also, if you are willing to help her get on bc when she asks, then why not now, just in case? Hormones don't give you time to ask.
If you forbid her to date or have contact with this guy, she will just sneak around and do alot worse, than she would if you treat her with the respect she deserves. Yes she deserves it, she hasn't done anything yet to be punished for.
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P.M. answers from Portland on April 10, 2010
Your anxiety is completely understandable, and I think the limits you are setting hit a pretty good balance. In truth, most adolescents already "know" whether they will restrain their natural, growing interest in and curiosity about sex. I've known lots of teens (and I was one of them) who comprehend that its more physically and emotionally wise to wait until you meet the person you want to spend your life with.
If your daughter has come to that understanding (presumably with your consistent counsel and example as she's matured), she'll probably hold to her internalized boundaries with or without your rules about how much privacy is allowed. If she hasn't learned that deep respect for herself by now, it's not too likely that any intervention by you will ultimately stop sexual activity, in which case making sure she has access to birth control is a good Plan B.
It's hard to get this about our precious children, but truthfully, if they have sex, they are not ruined, or even that drastically changed. If they get an STD, that's harder, but they are still not ruined, they need additional medical care. If they get pregnant, they are STILL not ruined. Their lives change dramatically, yes. But it's really only our perfect parental pictures about who and what they are, and what their lives "should" or should not include, that get ruined. And, of course, we worry about our reputations as parents getting ruined.
But our children, by the time they are 15 or so, have a tendency to head off in their own unique directions, with their internal compasses shaped not only by us, but by a million other influences, many invisible to us.
That's the shakeup parents really fear. It can be helpful to realize that your worries, valid as they are, are at least as much about you as about your daughter. If you love her (and I have no doubt about that – no implication otherwise), then your best course forward will be to keep communication honest, open, and understanding.
There are lots of good books out there to help guide parents through these years. I personally never stop reading and harvesting the wisdom of others. My best to you. You sound like a terrific mom.
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