Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should We Let Our Teen Daughter Sleep With Her Boyfriend in Our Home?”

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My live-in girlfriend’s 15-year old daughter, “Jill,” has recently become sexually active with her boyfriend of six months. Luckily, my girlfriend is a realistic parent, and her daughter is on birth control and my girlfriend didn’t overreact. She realizes that you can’t stop raging teenage hormones, and that it is better to be aware than live with your head in the sand. Besides, my girlfriend is actually my teenage sweetheart (reunited after 25 years apart), and she and I were having sex at the same age 29 years ago (man, I am old), so we are trying to fight any hypocrisy.

We did get worried about the frequency of the sex, and we implemented a doors-open policy when they are over at our house, as well as not letting him come over when we aren’t home. We are not stupid enough to think that this will stop them, but we hope we can at least reduce the frequency. But now we suspect that the behavior has moved to the backseat of cars.

So the question is, should we lighten up on the door policy and allow them privacy? Do we let Jill have him over when we aren’t home? We know that her boyfriend is pretty sex-crazy (what teenage boy isn’t?), and would probably be having sex four or five times in a few hours if we left them home alone. Also, their having sex while we are there is just awkward.

How do you know where to draw the line? Is there a balance? When we were teenagers, we had to sneak around, but is it right to make them?

Oh, and to make things worse, she has a 13-year-old sister who also has a boyfriend who comes over. So there is an example being made here. The 13-year old knows everything.

Even though you aren’t a parent, you do seem to have a pretty wise head on your shoulders, so we are interested in your input. Besides, your readers do seemed to be an experienced lot. — Parenting the Teens is Complicated

Well, I am a parent; I just happen to be a parent of a preschool-aged boy (and soon a newborn girl) and not of two teenage daughters, which I realize is a completely different ballgame (and one that kind of terrifies me). And now you’ve given me something to think about for the future. But since my future is your present, let’s try to hammer this out now.

First, what’s the reasoning behind reducing the frequency of Jill’s sex? If you and your girlfriend already know she’s having it and she’s on birth control, what is the motivation for reducing the frequency and making it more challenging for her and her boyfriend to find a place to do it? Are you trying to reduce the chances of pregnancy? Is it just a matter of the parental figures (and I realize you aren’t quite a step-parent, but for convenience let’s just call you a parental figure since you do all live together) feeling awkward about their teenage daughter having sex in their home? Do you want to limit what the younger sister sees and is exposed to? These are all valid concerns, and I think that, if you can choose and articulate your own personal reasons and then communicate those to Jill, it would go a long way in fostering and continuing an open, healthy dialogue between the teens and the adults in the home.

But if your motivation for the open-door policy and banning the boyfriend from your home when you aren’t there is simply to make it more challenging for them to find a place to have sex, what do you hope to accomplish by doing that? Surely, you don’t think the challenge will temper the excitement, do you? I’d think, if anything, having to “sneak around,” as you did as a teenager, would make the prospect of having sex even that much more seductive and alluring. I can see, especially for a “sex-crazy teenage boy (and I think teenage girls can get pretty “sex-crazy,” too), searching for opportunities to get it on can become a bit of a preoccupation, maybe even to the detriment of other important factors in their lives (school, family time, friendships, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities). And for what? It’s not as if you’re trying to preserve anyone’s virginity here.

I don’t know, if it were I, I think I’d underscore with my teenage daughter the importance of respect. I’d tell her to have respect for us, her parents, as well as any siblings in the house, and refrain from having sex under our roof when any of us is home, because: awkward. I’d tell her to have respect for herself and her body and to never ever do anything she isn’t ready or comfortable doing, even if she’s done it in the past. I’d tell her that that includes choosing places to be intimate and that there can be serious repercussions from having private, personal moments in public places or in homes where such activity has been discouraged or banned. I’d tell her that anyone who ever pressures her to do anything she didn’t want to do, anywhere she didn’t want to do it, is not someone worthy of her time and affection and that she should MOA immediately. And at home, I’d set a curfew for when romantic partners would need to be gone for the evening, and I’d reiterate that, while guests were allowed over when we were out, the curfew still applied.

Basically, instead of trying to reduce sex frequency or making it challenging to find places to have sex, I would try to make it as easy and empowering as possible to make smart decisions (within some boundaries) — decisions that may not protect anyone’s virginity necessarily, but would go a long way in protecting a teenager’s emotional and physical and social well-being, as well as fostering healthy, honest communication between me and my teenager so that she would feel comfortable coming to me, instead of hiding from me, if she ever needed advice or just needed to talk.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

101 comments… add one
  • avatar

    SasLinna May 18, 2015, 8:35 am

    You have an “open door policy” when you’re home and you also don’t allow for the boyfriend to come over when you’re not home, yet you’re surprised that they might then have sex in the car? I don’t get it. Also, I’m not sure whether you’re trying to prevent them from having sex (it’s not going to work) or you just don’t want to hear it. You sound vaguely grossed out with them having sex, and I’m not sure that’s justified.
    The thing is, you can’t really claim you’re OK with a teen having sex but then try to prevent them from doing it (or doing it “too often”, whatever that means) and give off a vibe that what they’re doing is shameful or gross. If I were you I’d allow visits by the boyfriend while you’re not home. They’ll probably have sex during those times because it’ll be what they prefer, too. Think about whether you really need the “open door policy” or if you could alternatively communicate to the teen that you just don’t want to hear them having sex. They could put on music or something. Presumably you and your girlfriend also sometimes have sex when the teens are home, right? So how is this really different? The curfew is a great idea as well because it guarantees you that your home is “boyfriend free” at least some of the time.
    As far as the 13-year-old goes – do you really think there’s a way to shelter her from knowing older teens are having sex? She knows. Will she just imitate her older sister’s behavior? I don’t think it’s necessarily the case. Your girlfriend should talk to her about these issues rather than just assuming the older sister will be a “bad influence”.
    Overall you sound a little sex negative, sorry. You had sex at the same age, as you say yourself. It’s not a problem as long as birth control is used, and teens having sex is not really any more gross than anyone else having sex. I get feeling uncomfortable with it, but there’s just no good reason to prevent them from having sex.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 May 18, 2015, 10:06 am

      I don’t know what you are getting at here, these all seem like perfectly justifiable questions/concerns a parent might have. A parent (I get it isn’t actually his kid) is allowed to preach safe sex, be ok with the child having sex, and still personally not be comfortable with the fact that is happening. They should be allowed to make rules where they don’t want it happening in their house if they choose too. They did that and they found out that it might be safer for the daughter to be having sex in the house rather in random places, so he is asking advice on how to do that. It’s also perfectly reasonable for them to have a no sex rule when the younger daughter is around too. You trying to making him sound like this crazy mean parent who is shaming sex when he is actually a lot more progressive than a lot of parents.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna May 18, 2015, 10:20 am

        I agree he (or she, for some reason I though this was a lesbian couple) is more progressive than a lot of parents. It’s the focus on “reducing the frequency” that still seemed kind of sex negative (though not at all crazy or mean) to me. I don’t get the point of that if the girl’s on birth control. As for having a rule that they don’t want sex to happen in their house, I think that’s unreasonable because a teen still living at home does not have any viable alternative to having sex at home, just like you said. I agree with imposing some limits on visits like a curfew, but I’ll be honest that the “open doors policy” sounds rather hilarious to me (cultural differences in play with regard to the latter).

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph May 18, 2015, 10:24 am

        A lesbian high school sweetheart couple 30 years ago? That would be amazing. But I think not very likely?

        Regardless, I think the LW is trying to be less sex negative but has an understandable cultural block in his (or her) mind. Giving credit where it’s due, they are trying!

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      • avatar

        SasLinna May 18, 2015, 10:25 am

        I don’t know why I thought that, it makes no sense at all.

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      • avatar

        Sue Jones May 18, 2015, 1:52 pm

        If you want to think of something awkward, think of your own parents having sex! Ewwwwwww! (Obviously they did, but we still just don’t want to know about it). I liked Wendy’s advice here. My son is only 11 but adolescence is approaching at warp speed (he has already outgrown the new larger shoes I bought him just 2- 3 months ago!). Gives me stuff to think about, but he has no interest in girls yet (or boys that way – hey I’m open). I can’t really offer any other advice yet. Ask me in a few years…

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic May 18, 2015, 8:38 am

    I think this is great advice. I have two teenage daughters. 15 & 19 (soon to be 20). Though the oldest is technically an adult she still lives at home. But I’ve lucked out in this arena because she hasn’t dated much so we didn’t have to deal with that. And the youngest isn’t dating yet either but I suspect she will date more than her older sister.
    .
    I have talked to both of my daughters about all of the above, respect, safe sex, possible scenarios, etc. I don’t recall my parents ever talking to me so I really wanted my girls to at least have knowledge. I wish my parents had been more open like the LW above…I think things would have been different for me if so.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy May 18, 2015, 8:44 am

      My parents lucked out, too — I never had boyfriends in high school and neither did my sister that I know of. And I was a virgin til my 20s. Here’s hoping my own children remain as late-blooming!

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      • avatar

        SasLinna May 18, 2015, 8:54 am

        It’s definitely easier for the parents to have late-blooming kids (although I have an aunt who actually got worried her early 20ies kids “never had boyfriends”). Mine lucked out as well – I moved out at age 20 and didn’t really have sex regularly before then.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover May 18, 2015, 2:12 pm

        One of my brothers is in his mid-30s and has never dated anyone. 🙁 I’d rather have an early bloomer than a son who can’t find anyone. I’ve wondered if he’s gay, but one of my other brothers is gay and out, so it seems that by this point he’d have come out if he was. I think he’s just really really shy, because he doesn’t have friends either. 🙁
        .
        Pretty sure all my brothers were virgins till they started post-secondary education. My sister too I think. I was the only early one. It’s funny because I was the “good kid”, yet I was the one dating a 20-year-old in highschool and going off on my lunch breaks to have sex. Lol.

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    • avatar

      ktfran May 18, 2015, 9:04 am

      Count me and the middle sis as late bloomers! I didn’t kiss til, IDK, 17 and sex was 21… and I 100% waited until I was absolutely ready for it with someone I thought was pretty awesome.
      .
      I hope my nieces are the same. Actually, what I wish for all children/people is that they wait to have sex on their own terms and not rush into anything because “everyone else is doing it” or you’re “supposed to” or your sig other is pressuring you.

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    • Cleopatra_30

      Cleopatra_30 May 19, 2015, 7:58 am

      I started dating when I was 20, summer of my first year of uni, and my one younger brother apparently had dated a little bit in high school when he was 15/16, and then dabbled since then, nothing serious. Both my bros have dated around, the youngest had a long term of 2 years in high school. Ended badly though, but now they are dating again. I dated a bit during a summer couple years ago, never had sex at my home since I was living in the basement that had no privacy. But would go to the guys place to have sex, and he lived at home, in a more private basement, or the car haha. My parents tried talking to me about sex and guys, but most of my learnings were between my friends and I. Not sure what they said to my bros, but probably the same thing.

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  • avatar

    Kate May 18, 2015, 8:51 am

    I like Wendy’s advice.
    .
    My parents actually did NOT date in HS or have pre-marital sex, so they took a way different stance than you and your girlfriend are taking, and I guess they were entitled to take that stance since they weren’t being hypocritical. Basically they never really talked to me about sex except for the “talk” when I was like 9 or 10, which was awkward. As a teenager, I don’t know that they ever really talked to me about it, but the clear message I got was “don’t.” I started dating a guy seriously when I was between junior and senior year in high school, and I was expected to be home at a certain time or I’d be grounded. There was no question of having my boyfriend in the room with the door shut. We were sneaking around like you did, LW, in the back of various vehicles, or at my house when my parents weren’t home (they had a beach house and were gone many weekends).
    .
    My point is, my mom and dad had no basis to have any kind of sex talk with me because they were so out of touch with reality and had no experience themselves. I miraculously never got pregnant, but I definitely had to figure stuff out on my own because my parents weren’t giving me any help or advice other than sending the tacit message that they expected me NOT to be having premarital sex. Without any support from them, I had no access to reliable birth control other than what you can buy at CVS.
    .
    If you and your gf can talk to her daughter the way Wendy suggested, I like that.

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  • avatar

    booknerd May 18, 2015, 9:03 am

    I agree that you are heading in the right direction, but you should let them close the door, or let her have him over when you are not home. It doesn’t make sense otherwise, amiright?
    I really applaud your maturity with this pretty tricky situation. My mom gave me birth control, but shamed me for years for having sex. Also, I was not allowed to have boys over unless the door was open, etc. Imagine my surprise when years later, my younger sister’s boyfriend basically lived in our house for years. The trick is consistency, respect and that includes respecting her/their boundaries. The younger may not mature as quickly, but you all need to be honest with her. Kids can smell lies and double standards. You are doing well. Keep it up.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray May 18, 2015, 9:29 am

    I think the important thing is to continue communicating with them about everything related to sex. You want there to be an open door for them to come to you. If they’re having to sneak around in cars, it’s less likely they’re using protection. Allowing them space to have sex in a safe area at home (with reasonable limits like a curfew) is healthy. Talking to her about STDs, healthy relationships, warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, safety with cell phones (sending naked pictures, snapchat) is also really important. It’s not just about making sure daughters don’t end up pregnant. I think parents fear that being open and aware that their kids are having sex means that it’s a free for all. But that’s not true. At that age, my parents let me do whatever I wanted. There were no rules, no curfews, absolutely no mention of anything sex related. And I certainly faced the harsh consequences of that and got pregnant. There is a huge middle ground and having open communication about sex, relationships, and respect will go a long way.

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  • avatar

    lonemirage14 May 18, 2015, 9:31 am

    My high school years were somewhat different – for 3 years I was in boarding school – and I didn’t date much, but I would’ve been – and still would be, in my late 20s – completely horrified to do anything with a boyfriend while at my parents house. They were fairly strict about dating when I was in high school, and never in a millions years would they allow me to be behind closed doors with a guy. Maybe that influences my opinion on it now, but I also had a younger sibling and I know that some of the rules that were in place when I was in high school were loosened up once my brother hit around 16-17.

    Ultimately, its your house, and there should be a measure of respect all around. If you feel that your daughter would react well to that type of conversation, I think that’s the route to take. If you feel that she is being potentially pressured by her boyfriend, then perhaps he shouldn’t be allowed over when you aren’t home. Its kind of a balancing act to make sure they are being safe, both protection and location wise, but also making sure that there is mutual respect from all involved.

    Looking back on my teenage years, so many of my friends were caught up in serious relationships and relationship drama that I’m glad I didn’t date seriously in high school. Its a time to be free and explore different paths in life, I think I would’ve felt really pinned down had I been in a serious relationship as a teenager.

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  • avatar

    HmC May 18, 2015, 9:38 am

    Wow this is a tough one! But I think how you handle a situation like this is so dependent on your own values and the personalities and values of your kids. Wendy did a great job of addressing this particular LW’s situation given his values, but I think there are several ways to go that would not necessarily be wrong. I know a lot of parents who had “no sex in our house” policies that they enforced well into adulthood and it worked for that family. And I’m not sure whether hypocrisy matters that much… I’m not a parent, but do you think it really matters if you made choices when you were younger that you wouldn’t want your kids to make?

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    • avatar

      Ale May 18, 2015, 9:50 am

      Yeah, 15 is way too young to be having sex already, even if the LW did it himself.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph May 18, 2015, 9:54 am

        Why?
        Why is 15 too young? I’m curious if there’s actually some developmental reason you think this, or if its a pearl clutching reaction. (Not necessarily your reaction… it’s a societal thing, but I don’t think founded in any actual fact)

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      • avatar

        SasLinna May 18, 2015, 10:04 am

        It’s fairly common to have sex at 15, though I believe the average age for first time sex is a bit higher than that (maybe 16-17?). I would have been too young at 15 but obviously teens differ in their development. What’s more important though is that parents can’t stop a teen from having sex. Especially once they’ve started already. The only thing that remains is how to make sure the teen is as safe as possible.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 10:04 am

        Maybe it is a personal thing. I think of myself as a 15 year old (I am 29 now) and I don’t see myself having sex at such a young age. I was way too inocent, also went to a catholic school, where nuns made us believe sex was evil (that has affected me even at this age). I’m glad I waited though.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna May 18, 2015, 9:54 am

      It’s not hypocrisy if the parents truly believe that the choices they made as teens were bad. But it is if they are applying a different standard to their kids than they apply to what they themselves did as teens. It’s fairly common to believe “well, it was fine when I did because I was responsible, but my kids probably are not” and it’s kind of distorted thinking (though understandable).
      I have to say I find the “no sex in our house” kind of funny. I know it’s common in the US and a cultural difference to Western Europe where I’m from, but it almost makes me laugh. Mainly because the parents are also having sex in that house and it’s not clear why the teens shouldn’t have the right to that. I believe teens should slowly get more rights and responsibilities rather than being treated as children till they’re eighteen and then suddenly having full rights and full responsibilities. For teens who do start having a sex life, why would they not have at least some right to explore that under safe circumstances (i.e. at home)? I agree with imposing limits like curfews, but to totally deny a teen a dignified way to have sex does not seem right to me.

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      • avatar

        HmC May 18, 2015, 1:53 pm

        “…the parents are also having sex in that house and it’s not clear why the teens shouldn’t have the right to that…”

        Well I do think it’s ok for parents to apply different rules to their teens than they have for themselves in their own home as adults. I also don’t think it’s hypocritical for parents to apply a different standard to their kids than they held for themselves when they were teens. If you learn from your life and decide you want to raise your kids a different way I feel like that’s your prerogative. But like I said I think there is no one-size-fits-all perfect way to parent- you must account for the values and personalities of the parents and teens involved.

        I do agree with your idea that teens should be given rights/responsibilities in phases. Adulthood at 18 is so arbitrary. I was definitely not a mature adult at 18, in fact I was incredibly naive. And I do think some people mature very young.

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      • Monkeysmommy

        monkeys mommy May 18, 2015, 9:30 pm

        “…the parents are also having sex in that house and it’s not clear why the teens shouldn’t have the right to that…”

        Maybe because I am a married 33-year-old woman who pays the mortgage on said house? I am in the camp of believing 15 is way too young- I WAS this young when I started, and I really wish I had waited. I went on to become a 19 year old mother well before I was ready, and I do think the decision to become active so early did directly contribute. Yes, the daughter is on birth control, but nothing is 100% effective; I do not believe 15 is old enough to handle the ramifications of a birth control fail. BC also does not protect against STDs, and 15 year old boys are not known for their good decision making skills when it comes to sex…
        I actually have two kids in the age range (12/14) and it is already becoming a challenge, so I feel your pain LW.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph May 18, 2015, 9:51 am

    Count me among the late bloomers (lost my virginity at 21). Among other things, though, that means I rarely had to sneak around since I was away at college and then away as an adult. A couple times when we visited parents from college or post-college, we did sneak around a little bit.
    And you know what? The sneaking DOES make it more exciting. And also less easy to use a condom. But also car sex is pretty terrible. So that’s the scenario you and your gf are setting up for this girl: less protected, less pleasant, more exiting sex. And based on the way your letter is written, I don’t think that’s what you want at all.
    What you need is not to specifically regulate her sex life but, as Wendy says, boundaries and respect. It doesn’t treat the daughter with respect that you are forcing her to sneak around (no boy over when we’re not home is obviously a rule that’s going to get broken– that’s just setting her up for failure). It doesn’t treat her with respect that you are placing arbitrary limits on frequency of sex. Set an example for her that sex is a normal, acceptable part of life and that its better with a respectful partner in a safe space (also… a clean space). Wouldn’t you rather her do it in your house then in a car parked behind the mall?

    And as for the 13 year old, I wouldn’t worry. After all, the 15 year old discovered sex (as have humans for thousands of years) without an older sister to demonstrate. Talk (or have her mother talk) with her about waiting until you’re ready, respecting yourself/your body, and let her know she can come to you (or her mother) about it.

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  • avatar

    Ale May 18, 2015, 10:00 am

    I don’t know if I’m old fashioned, but I think 15 years old is way too young to be having sex. If the LW did it himself with the 15 year-old’s mom, that doesn’t mean her kids should be doing it too. And 13 with a boyfriend?? Waaaaay too young to have that kind of responsibility. Having relationships and intercourse at that age is a huge responsibility. That being said, if you allowed them to have sex, they shouldn’t be sneaking around for it. It sounds to me like a double standard to give them the go to have sex, provide them with birth control but not give them a safe place to do it where a cop is not going to catch them, like in the back of a car.
    Also, the safety of a home gives them more chance to use birth control.
    Maybe you should both talk to both kids and establish some ground rules. Also, advise them to delay the intercourse as much as they can. They are on birth control, yes, but that is not the only issue here, birth control can easily fail. There are also emotional consequences of having sex so young. Like I said, I don’t know if I am old fashioned but parents allowing 15 year old kids to have sex and 13 year old to have boyfriends sounds really weird to me.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh May 18, 2015, 10:04 am

      I think by young you mean mature. It actually sounds like the kids in the above letter are being mature about it. It sounds like she went to her Mom when she was thinking of having sex? That’s a big step for a teenager to take! I understand where you’re coming from because it is a lot of responsibility. But, the reality is that teenagers will have sex. Whether we think they are able to handle the consequences or not.
      .
      I do think having a set of rules related to sex that apply to both teens is important. But, I’m just of the camp that telling teenagers not to have sex isn’t going to work. They might decide not to have sex because they’re not interested. But, if you have a teen who is interested and you tell them they are too young and don’t ‘allow’ them to have sex, they will still have it. Behind your back and with less protection.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph May 18, 2015, 10:12 am

      I don’t see what good the stance “15 is too young to have sex” will do for anyone in this situation. At 15, this girl has decided she’s ready to have sex. I don’t think she’s going about it in a terrible way, since its with a boyfriend that she seems to be dating monogamously, that she feels comfortable introducing to her parents, and she’s using BC.
      The parents have 2 options:
      1) Accept reality and make sure it’s safe (physically, mentally, and birth controlled) and that she feels comfortable talking to them about issues or
      2) Stick head in sand, do not emerge until 18.

      There is no option 3) Decide 15 is too young and put a stop to it. Life finds a way. So do horny teenagers.

      Obviously #1 above seems like a preferred response to the LW, and it does to me as well. Sex is a part of life that you should do with a partner you trust, in a situation you feel safe and comfortable, and with protection. They can teach the 13 year old that she should wait for those things and that it may come at 15 or 20 or 25 and that she shouldn’t rush… but they can’t say “this age is the age you are definitively ready.” It’s a feeling and a partner, not an age, that makes you ready.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 10:28 am

        It won’t do any good to say that 15 is too young, it is only my opinion. Yes, they can’t stop teenagers but they aren’t making it any safer by forcing them to sneak around.
        “Allowing” your kids to have sex is not only about giving them birth control and have “the talk” . If they are ok with her iniciating sexual relations, then they should provide her with anything she needs, like a safe place to be doing it. At the end, it does sound like they are not entirely ok with her decision to have sex, and they are allowing it only because they did the same thing.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 10:34 am

        Also, most 15 year olds “decide” to have sex because of peer pressure. Almost never is that decision being made by evaluating all the possible outcomes.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh May 18, 2015, 10:39 am

        That fact will never stop teenagers from having sex. I actually think the LW and mother are doing a pretty great job. It sounds like they’re testing boundaries and trying to see what the best way to help the teenager become an adult and learn about sex in a safe way is. I think that probably always involves some time where they aren’t entirely ok with their ‘babies’ having sex. Even if they want to be completely fine with it. It’s change, it’s never easy especially I’m sure when you’re trying to teach someone how to become an adult!

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      • mandalee

        mandalee May 18, 2015, 10:43 am

        I would disagree. I think peer pressure may play a role in everything a teenager decides to do because of the urge to “fit in”. But many people I knew that grew up in open and accepting households had sex when they felt they were ready. I was on birth control from a young age due to health problems and some of my friends started having sex years before me, but thankfully because my parents spoke to me as an adult about sex, I knew what a big deal it was. So, when I was ready, I was able to sit down with them and talk about things such as STDs and how sex can change relationships, especially when you are young and have all those hormones shooting off. If anything, their openness probably made me wait longer, because I had a mature adult’s perspective on sex from my parents, rather than getting my information purely from my friends, which made have had an entirely different outcome.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph May 18, 2015, 10:44 am

        This may be true. I am actually really glad now that I waited to have sex until I was ready and had a partner I loved and trusted… but there was a long time when I felt left out.
        Luckily I had parents to tell me what I should consider when I decided if I was ready, and also to tell me that not everyone was doing it (including some of the people who said there were).
        You don’t want teens to be shamed into having sex by peers, but you don’t seem as concerned about them being shamed out of it by their parents.

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 10:44 am

        How would you know this?

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 11:46 am

        I come from a different household. I decided to wait by my own terms; my parents, to this day, have never discussed anything sex related with me. That didn’t make me go and have sex, that made me wait longer. So, open household or not, things happen when one isn’t ready. I am not saying this is the case here, I’m just saying one’s readiness depends on a lot of things.
        I never said the kid should stop having sex or that her parents shouldn’t allow her. I expressed that 15 years old is too young in my own opinion. That is my opinion. When I look back at my 15 year old self, I don’t see a person ready to have sex. Again, my opinion.
        If the 15 year old in this letter is ready, that is really good for her. If she is ready for the right reasons, because she wants to, because she can handle all the possible scenarios from this, because she is mature enough. It is good that she has the confidence to come to her parents and discuss things, that way her parents can know if she is doing it for the right reasons or wrong ones (like peer pressure). But it is a double standard that the allow her to have sex and then force her to sneak around.

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        booknerd May 18, 2015, 12:11 pm

        You say most fifteen year olds have sex because of peer pressure. They don’t evaluate outcomes. That’s your opinion? Based on your experience? Or you are just making broad assumptions and judgements based on your own opinions and absolutely no facts?

        The guy sounds like a good parent. I think never talking to your kids about sex is probably not the way to teach healthy values and views on their body and sex and reality in general.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 12:35 pm

        No, not talking is not healthy. I wish my parents had told me something. They let all of that for the nuns at catholic school and you can imagine how that went.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki May 18, 2015, 11:13 am

      I don’t like when people assume that someone is “too young.” We have taught our kids that only THEY know if they’re ready. Not me, not their dad, not their mom, not their boyfriends/girlfriends. So even if I thought it was too young, its not my decision. And I had sex well before 15 (I guess I was the opposite of late bloomer… early bloomer?). I’m just happy this family seems to be fairly open about the issue of sex.

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 11:37 am

        Honeybee, I really always like hearing your stance. I hate all the hypocrisy. Only you will know when the right time is….just not now. Nope, it’s the wrong time!

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh May 18, 2015, 10:06 am

    I think Wendy’s advice is great and I hope you and the teen’s Mother are able to work out a plan that works out for everyone. Being a parent of a teenager seems terrifying 🙂

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster May 18, 2015, 10:16 am

    I really love this letter and I wish more parents would be as realistic and sex positive as you’re trying to be. I grew up with Catholic values towards sex (from my divorced, but having sex with their significant others outside of marriage, hypocrite parents!), but attended a public school with an excellent sex-ed curriculum. My friends and I were actually discussing this over brunch yesterday (we have great brunch chats haha). One of my friends described her high school sex ed thusly: “They just showed us a bunch of horrifying pictures of STDs to scare us into abstinence”
    .
    Anyway, I’m all about giving them the facts and leaving the judgment at the door. Wendy’s advice about boundaries and respect is excellent. Perhaps allowing her to have the door shut, and have him over when they’re alone is the best way to go, but I’d stop short of allowing him to spend the night. At the end of HS and into college, my ex boyfriend’s parents allowed this, and while I thought it was awesome at the time, as an adult, I now think they were way too concerned with being his friends than being his parents, and I think it led him to start being a bit disrespectful of their flexibility. After we broke up (and not bc of the breakup, just chronologically after haha) he went through a very irresponsible phase- a lot of pot and partying, and not doing well in school- though he eventually straightened out. I mean, that’s totally anecdotal, but just food for thought. Your step daughter might be a totally different kind of kid. So! Boundaries! And good luck. 🙂

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  • SixtyFour

    SixtyFour May 18, 2015, 10:21 am

    You are definitely on a good track and Wendy’s advice is really great.
    .
    I just have to add though, that I never understood the rule about not wanting your children to have sex in the house while you are home. My parents have this rule to this day. I am 27, and when I come home to visit with my boyfriend, he has to sleep in a separate bedroom. My mom is really open about sex though in general, knows that I have sex, and wants me to have a good, healthy, and active sex life. (We don’t talk about specifics because that would be squicky.) She just doesn’t want me to sleep in the same bed as my boyfriend in her house because then she’d have “to think about it.” But really, like, is that going to change when he and I are married? She’d still be confronted with “thinking about it.” It’s a hang-up of hers and in the end, not worth rocking the boat over, so I respect it. But I just don’t get it. I know my parents have sex when I am in the house, and did all the years I was growing up. They weren’t loud or obvious about it, but we knew not to go into their bedroom at night if the door was closed without knocking first. Didn’t understand the rule until we were older and knew what sex was, and then just pretended we didn’t know what it meant, because ewww parents having sex is yucky.
    .
    So the only thing I’d have to add, LW, is try to come up with an answer to this question should your step-daughter ask: Why is it okay for you and her mom to have sex while she is in the house, but not okay for her and her boyfriend to do the same when you two are there?

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph May 18, 2015, 10:31 am

      Heh my parents long had a similar rule. They finally gave it up when I got engaged (then they allowed us to share a bed) but then after that, they also let my siblings do it while not engaged. I grew up in a very sex-positive house, too. I think they just hadn’t considered it… or didn’t want to be THOSE parents.
      My husband’s parents are hardcore Catholic and didn’t let us share a bed until we were married. But then they also didn’t know that we routinely spent the night at each other’s houses long before we got married.
      I think the key is consistency, which the LW’s current position lacks. If sex is ok, why isn’t it ok in your house? If sex is ok for you in your house, why isn’t it ok for them?

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope May 18, 2015, 10:28 am

    I agree that 15 is too young to be having sex. Because sex is way more than just a physical act. It involves the whole self–physical, emotional and spiritual. A 15 year old doesn’t have the maturity to understand that.
    I know some of you have commented in the past that it’s all about getting off but I think you’re cheating yourself out of a much greater experience. (Of course if you’re an adult, that’s your call)

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    • avatar

      SasLinna May 18, 2015, 10:35 am

      Why would a 15-year-old not be able to have a meaningful sexual experience involving the whole self? Obviously sex at 15 will be different than sex at 30 or 60, but it’s not necessarily a lesser form of sex just because the participants are younger. If it happens under good circumstances I believe it can be a pleasant, emotional, empowering and (for those so inclined) even spiritual experience that helps a teen to develop in a healthy way. If it happens under bad circumstances, then not so much, but that doesn’t sound like it’s the case here.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki May 18, 2015, 11:15 am

      You assume that all 15 year olds carry the same maturity. Like I commented above, I teach my kids that NO ONE but them knows when they’re ready. Not any of us as their parents, not their friends, not their boyfriends/girlfriends. They will know when they’re ready and that decision is on them.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee May 18, 2015, 10:37 am

    I like Wendy’s advice and I think while it can be a uncomfortable adjustment for parents when/if their teenage child becomes sexually active, but open dialogue and trust goes a long way. I was really open about sex with my parents growing up and I think it definitely had a positive influence in my life. Instead of having sex in places I could get caught (like a parked car somewhere where my friends got caught by the cops a few times growing up) or feeling like I couldn’t approach my parents about difficult questions and getting the wrong answers from friends (what to do when a condom breaks, STDs, and all feelings/emotions that come with sex), I was actually able to talk to them and they respected my privacy. I had one serious boyfriend growing up and he was allowed to stay over (which I know was overly okay of them) and I was allowed to close my door and have privacy when he was over. I think having that kind of trust and respect from my parents made me approach sex responsibly since we were about it.
    .
    As far as the older daughter influencing the young, I don’t think her having a boyfriend over and having privacy is sending a negative message. If the 13 year old already has a boyfriend, then an open dialogue, even on a family level, is important as she navigates a relationship as sexual feelings may come up. If the older daughter is open with both of you and you are both willing and accepting of answering questions about sex and giving advice and educating them on safe sex, then I think that would be a very healthy example for the younger daughter when she decides she’s ready later on.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray May 18, 2015, 10:39 am

    I love Wendy’s advice about thinking about WHY you have the policy you have and going from there. Another reason that could be behind it – and a reason I’d be concerned about – is that I think it’s inappropriate for a 15 year old to be spending so much time with their girlfriend/boyfriend. At that age, relationships shouldn’t be so serious, in my opinion. If it were my daughter, I’d want her to have family dinners, spend time with her sister and friends, work on her homework every night, do sports and extra curricular activities. I would not want her hanging out with her boyfriend as soon as the school bell rings until bedtime. If it were me, part of the rules would be in place so she can focus on those other important parts of her life.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous May 18, 2015, 10:51 am

    Everyone is different but developmentally, 15 year olds are impressing their peers, trying to fit in socially, rebelling against their parents and discovering who they are. They’re a work in progress and have a lot of maturing to do.

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  • avatar

    booknerd May 18, 2015, 11:05 am

    I don’t know why, but all this age shaming is shocking me. She is obviously mature enough that her parents are in the know this deeply into her private life. This is one of the most sex positive letters from a parent I’ve ever seen. I hope my relationship with my kids is this close. Stop the age shaming. People mature at different rates.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark May 18, 2015, 11:45 am

      Age shaming? Really? Hah! Good one. PLEASE! DW demonstrates all too regularly that even most 25-year-olds are abject immature idiots… And yet now I’m supposed to suddenly believe that many 15-year-olds are wise beyond their years?!
      .
      Yeah right. 😉

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 12:19 pm

        I’m not saying she’s wise beyond her years. I’m saying, if you instill personal responsibility on a teenager and give them autonomy over their bodies, let them go. They will make mistakes. They’ll fuck up. They’ll learn. at least it’s not some bullshit hypocritical crap girls hear all the time. “It’s your body, only you can know when you are ready., but no , your father and I think it’s too soon.”

        This girl, most likely by age 25 will have much healthier relationships than someone who wasn’t taught about sex, birth control or personal responsibility. She has the capacity to talk to her parents about this, and her folks have the capacity to teach her about healthy relationships and BIRTH CONTROL. She will fare a lot better than her peers who are slut shamed, never given birth control and taught that their virginity is a precious gift to bestow on someone. She might not be wise or overly mature, but I bet she will be far more knowledgable and responsible than those who had to hide.

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    • avatar

      Ale May 18, 2015, 11:49 am

      How do you know she is so mature? The letter does not mention why she says she is ready, only that she started having sex.

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 11:53 am

        She’s mature enough to have open and honest communication with her parents about sex and her sex life. What makes you ready, Ale? I’m curious on why you have such staunch opinions on behavior you know nothing about.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 12:31 pm

        And why do you? How do you know her behaviour? Maybe they started to discuss sex because they found out she was having it, it doesn’t say in the letter that she came to them to discuss it or asking for advice. I’ve known families that have that discussion only because they find their child is doing it. Being a responsible parent and open about sex is not only about giving the kids condoms and pills. Too late for her to stop having sex now but how do we know that she was really ready for the right reasons? It doesn’t say so in the letter.

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 1:16 pm

        What are your “right” reasons? Is sex only for procreation?

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 1:21 pm

        When did I say giving your kids condoms and pills is responsible parenting? I say above, teaching her about healthy relationships, personal responsibility and autonomy. What are your right reasons? I think you are deluded in your opinions and that they have no facts behind them other than your judgemental thinking.
        Kids are going to have sex. No parent can stop it, and not teaching your kid about responsibility, autonomy, respect, healthy relationships is not preparing them for the real world. What age do you think is right? When it’s too late? Tell me those right reasons. I’m all ears. It doesn’t matter if she went to them, or they went to her. She’s mature enough to be honest about it, which is a whole lot more than I can say for a lot of people.

        The bottom line is, this parent is doing a good job, but all of you claiming she’s too young are so obviously shoving your personal judgements down his throat. His kids (and yours) are going to have sex. At least this is a open and honest household where she can feel safe talking about it and (Omg! Heaven forbid!) experimenting in a safe place. What is your point? She’s too young? What makes someone old enough? How would you plan to stop her? I love that you’ve tried to turn this sex positive caring parent into some sort of bad guy because he has an actual relationship with his kids.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 1:59 pm

        Right reasons, said above: because she wants to, because she can handle all the possible outcomes, because she is and feels mature enough.
        Wrong reasons: because her boyfriend wants to, because her boyfriend is forcing her or else they break up, because everybody else is doing it and she wants to fit in.
        You can’t tell me that some kids at 15 years old have sex for the wrong reasons….
        I never said this guy is the bad guy. I feel that if her parents are giving her the approval to go and have sex, they should allow her to do it at home. Sneaking around is no good for teens. It seems to me, and I said it in some other comment on this thread, that it is a double standard to go and support her having sex but not to allow her to do it at her own home. Yes, boundaries are to be set and respect must prevail, but the LW says it himself, they want to reduce the frequency. What better way than allowing her to do it at her place?
        The “too young” is entirely my opinion. This is a comment of mine that I put above:
        I never said the kid should stop having sex or that her parents shouldn’t allow her. I expressed that 15 years old is too young in my own opinion. That is my opinion. When I look back at my 15 year old self, I don’t see a person ready to have sex. Again, my opinion.
        If the 15 year old in this letter is ready, that is really good for her. If she is ready for the right reasons, because she wants to, because she can handle all the possible scenarios from this, because she is mature enough. It is good that she has the confidence to come to her parents and discuss things, that way her parents can know if she is doing it for the right reasons or wrong ones (like peer pressure). But it is a double standard that they allow her to have sex and then force her to sneak around.

        As you can see, I never said this guy was the bad guy or that sex is only for procreation. I myself lost my virginity at 21 and I am happy that I waited that long. If I was a parent with this kind of situation, I would definitely try to understand the reasons behind making a decision like this at 15. I wouldn’t feel happy knowing my 15 year old kid is having sex because of peer pressure.

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      • avatar

        booknerd May 18, 2015, 3:44 pm

        People of all ages have sex for the wrong reasons. You said above that most fifteen year olds only have sex because of peer pressure. Nowhere is this backed up by anything other than your opinions.
        I will agree to disagree with you on most of this, because it is your opinion and not factual in any way.
        I still don’t think saying multiple times that fifteen is too young (yes, I get that it’s your opinion,) is adding anything to this conversation. Here’s a sex positive parent not shaming his kids. Let’s celebrate that instead of tearing him down.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark May 18, 2015, 11:09 am

    Honestly? You can be TOO sex positive. It’s one thing (a WISE thing) to put your teenager on the pill at fifteen… Quite another to basically tell them to “Hey! Have at it! Go bang the hell out of each other 24/7!!” A little sneaking around never hurt any one. Hell, for me, it made things hot. And honestly? 15 seems a bit young to be fucking… say, 4 times a day.

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    • avatar

      Anna May 18, 2015, 11:30 am

      I honestly was NOT expecting that from you. IDK, I think it’s inherently uncomfortable knowing your kids are going at it while you’re watching television.

      Two different scenarios of when you’re 25 with a boyfriend visiting home with him and banging. It’s another story when your highschool sophomore daughter has her boyfriend over and are banging solely to bang.

      It’s great to be sex positive, but let’s not let that start becoming sheer stupidity. +1 for BGM, very good point.

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    • something random

      something random May 18, 2015, 12:24 pm

      I’m with you, Mark. I don’t know enough about this to have a super strong opinion. That said, it seems a lot of people here think treating teenagers respectfully means giving them all the household privileges of a full grown adult. But they aren’t adults, yet. Sure, they have autonomy over their sexuality by that age. But they are still kids. We’ve heard from pregnant 19 year old letter writers that were allowed to non-restricted access to teenage boyfriends early on. Being given adult privileges before having full adult responsibility seems to lead some kids into thinking they are more mature and equipped to handle life than they really are.

      I think part of teenage hood is about separating from your parents and forming your own identify. This requires a little distance. It seems a little helicoper-ish to think you have to provide bedding and opportunity for sexual relations. We have also heard from letter writers whose parents had no problem talking in detail about their own marital sex problems with their kids. Those kids grow up not to have any sense of boundaries and it hurts them in the long run.

      Bottom line, I like Wendy’s advice. There is nothing wrong with being a little uncomfortable getting into the explicit details of your kids sexuality and setting a boundary (so long as you are educating your child about the physical and emotional consequences and you are open and available to help them when they are in need of council). I don’t think finding explicit sexual canoodling in your in your face to be disrespectful is an invalid response. They are not fully autonomous adults. Treat them like they are and they might never want to grow up.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh May 18, 2015, 12:32 pm

        I agree with you. And I think the Mother (and LW if he is helping co-parent) need to work on boundaries and creating rules in their home (and enforcing them for both teens). But, you also can’t stop teens from having sex. So, how do you do that? How do you walk the line between providing a safe space to discuss sex and to feel safe asking for protection and also not letting them bang like rabbits? It seems from a non-parent of a teenager to be a hard thing to do. And that it requires an open dialogue with your teen and a lot of checking in. I guess I’ve come from the other side watching teens get pregnant because their parents didn’t allow them to have sex (or really much freedom at all) and even the kids who were busy with school and extra curricular activities and had very restrictive rules found ways to have sex. It just seems hard to be a parent of a teen. I think my Mom owes me a thank you for being such a boring teenager 😉

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      • something random

        something random May 18, 2015, 12:44 pm

        I’m scared of it, too. Hopefully, I have a several years before I have to deal with it. To answer your question, I don’t think parents have control over whether and how often their kids are banging. I do think parents have control over certain expectations. I expect my boys to be balanced. This may be naive but I absolutely think I get a say about how much time they are putting into school, chores, personal development, and their social life. I think I can expect them to be considerate towards me and their father and their other siblings. I think it is within healthy parental parameters to set some expectations and standards that I expect them to live up to. Aside from that I recognize that teenager hood is time that parents have to ease off of trying to control and know about every aspect of their kid’s lives. I hope they trust me. I hope I have earned that from them and they seek out my council. Lofty hopes. We’ll see.

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        jlyfsh May 18, 2015, 12:51 pm

        It’s so hard to deal with things beyond our control. Like people who seem to have done everything right and offer open communication and then end up with a rebellious teen. Or whose kid seems to be following all of the rules and yet still manages to break them. It’s so funny especially to have seen two children homes where both kids grew up the same way and one ended up so different than the other. All while living within the same expectations and rules. I find it all very interesting. (I’m sure the parents of these people don’t find that the word ‘interesting’ fits as well!) The growing up process and how parents have to figure out how and when to hold on and when and how to let go.

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      • avatar

        ktfran May 18, 2015, 4:26 pm

        So my parents were extremely restrictive. Basically, their line was “don’t have sex until you’re married”. But at the same time, I felt close enough to my mom to talk to her about things. So… I was the oldest. I had boyfriends starting when I was age 17 and didn’t have sex until I was 21. I told my mom because I was in school and on her insurance and wanted birth control. However, she told me take care of it myself and I did. Thank you planned parenthood.
        .
        The middle sis (2 yrs younger than me) waited til mid to late twenties. I’m pretty sure her now husband is the only person she has ever had sex with. She’s a “rule follower.” And always has been, whereas I pushed boundaries.
        .
        The little sis (six years younger than me) had sex at the first time at 19, but was lax about birth control methods. She got pregnant… she never felt comfortable talking to anyone about it…. birth control that is…. She’s now married and has two children.
        .
        But this just goes to show that with the same parents… restrictive parents… we all had very different first sexual experiences. I mean seriously, vastly different.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous May 18, 2015, 12:48 pm

        You put this very well, and I definitely agree with you — teenagers are not adults yet, they’re kids. Giving them all the freedom in the world at age 15 won’t do them any favors.

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      • avatar

        Ale May 18, 2015, 3:32 pm

        Yours is the best comment in this thread.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 18, 2015, 12:50 pm

      It seems young to me too. I have the sense that part of the concern is that they are having sex because of the boyfriend being sex crazy. Maybe the girl is too and they are equally wanting sex but that isn’t my impression. I hope that the birth control is good on it’s own, like an IUD because teens are often bad at using the pill rigorously if it has to be done by themselves in a timely manner. That can vary drastically teen to teen, some will take it precisely on time and some won’t manage to take it every day. I also hope that they are using condoms because pregnancy isn’t the only risk a teen can have from sex. There is no mention of protection from disease in this letter.
      .
      In general, if your parents have to provide the place to have sex maybe you aren’t ready for it yet. If your parents must provide the bed and the sheets and the birth control then the kids are just kids who aren’t mature enough to provide for their own wants and needs and yet sex can have life long, life altering consequences. The teens in my high school who were having sex at a young age also ended up married at a young age and then most of them ended up divorced. Some got married because they were pregnant and some got married because they were in love but the long term result wasn’t good for most of them. I think you are ready for sex when you are ready to handle the consequences of sex. That means using birth control reliably. It means using condoms to prevent disease and being able to walk into a store and buy those condoms. It means being able to handle the emotional and financial aspects of an accidental pregnancy whether it ends up in a baby or an abortion.
      .
      In this situation the girl has already decided to have sex and that decision will probably not change. Is her decision good for her, only time will tell. They are doing the right thing by providing birth control. Hopefully she feels empowered to say no any time she doesn’t feel like having sex. Teaching kids that they can say no is hugely empowering, not just about sex but about life in general.

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    • Monkeysmommy

      monkeys mommy May 18, 2015, 9:36 pm

      I agree 10000%. There IS a huge difference between prevention and permission! I am going to put my daughter on the shot soon (shoot me now) NOT because she has my consent, but to ensure as much as I can that she does not get knocked up if she goes behind my back. I sure as fuck am not giving them “privacy” and “space” to do it!!

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  • avatar

    booknerd May 18, 2015, 11:31 am

    It’s not like he or any other parent can stop them from banging however many times a day they want to. She’s going to have sex whether they know about it or not, at least this way they have open and honest communication and a safe place to fuck. I don’t think she should have carte Blanche to go at it, but if her parents shut down the conversation and won’t let her see her boyfriend….you actually think the outcome would be better?

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  • kare

    kare May 18, 2015, 12:13 pm

    I think Wendy’s discussion about respect is a good idea. Teenagers will find places to have sex, so I don’t know if your rules have much of a limit on that. I know when I was back from college with my strict parents, I still found a way to have sex with my boyfriend at least 5 times a week. Also, I think having a “door closed” policy to let them have privacy is a bit too lenient. The boyfriend’s parents might not be thrilled if they found out you are cool with their son having sex at your house while you’re home.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 18, 2015, 12:14 pm

    “We know that her boyfriend is pretty sex-crazy (what teenage boy isn’t?), and would probably be having sex four or five times in a few hours if we left them home alone. ”

    I think this statement gets to the heart of the matter. You feel that part of the reason she is having sex is because she is being pressured by her boyfriend. If she is having sex to keep her boyfriend then she shouldn’t be having sex because she doesn’t have the emotional maturity to stick up for herself. Part of the sex discussion that the two of you need to have with both girls is that they shouldn’t feel pressured to have sex and that a guy who would dump you for not having sex isn’t worth having as a boyfriend no matter how popular he might be. I know he hasn’t said that the boyfriend would dump the girl if she said no to sex but I do think he feels that there is pressure being applied. It isn’t sex positive if she is having sex not because she wants to but because she feels she can’t say no.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous May 18, 2015, 12:22 pm

    My take on this is teenagers need boundaries. It’s good to be positive about sex but at the same time you are in no way obligated to let them go at it. You’re not their friends; you are the parents, and you are free to establish whatever rules you are comfortable with.

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  • norabb

    norabb May 18, 2015, 12:31 pm

    I really wish someone had spoken to me about respect and boundaries, and had reasoned with me about this kind of stuff. I mostly got yelled at, and so sneaking around and lying were just easier than being emotionally abused for hours and days. But if someone had explained to me, kindly, without looking down on me, what is appropriate behavior, and what isn’t…I might have done less risky stuff in the first place.
    .
    You sound like you guys are on the right track with your perspective and handle on the situation, I’m sure she’ll grow up to be mature and responsible about these things if you talk to her about them now.

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    • avatar

      booknerd May 18, 2015, 1:30 pm

      Amen! Or rather, right on.

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  • avatar

    McLovin May 18, 2015, 12:57 pm

    First of all, very few relationships at such a young age will last very long. Letting them have sex in your house now probably means that future boyfriends will have the same privilege, or, the daughter will at least expect the same leniency. I think it’s a dangerous precedent.

    Second, kids need boundaries. A family home is where everyone lives, and the choices/urges of the young daughter don’t override the needs of everyone else feeling comfortable at home. Of course kids are going to fuck, drink, smoke, or whatever else they want to do when they aren’t under adult supervision. But not in my house, not when I’m there anyway. Kids don’t make the rules. And the argument that kids are going to do what they want to do is legitimate, they do and they will. But have respect for everyone else in the house.

    But, the real question is what should the LW and his GF do now? I’d do a 180 and say no more, not in our house. If the kids think it’s unfair, well……..tough shit. “We’ve given this a lot of thought, and don’t feel comfortable with the two of you having sex in our house.” If the kids want to have sex they will. But don’t let them guilt, or bully parents into letting them have their way.

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    • Monkeysmommy

      monkeys mommy May 18, 2015, 9:39 pm

      This is my favorite!! You hit every point dead on!

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  • Mr. Cellophane

    Mr. Cellophane May 18, 2015, 1:48 pm

    I’m going to throw a wrench into the works. This is partially for the lawyers out there. What about the Boy? What about his parents? Is there any liability/culpability to LW if something “bad” should happen?
    .
    I know if your teenager is at my house and is drinking, for example, that I am liable and contributing to the delinquency of a minor whether or not I know it is going on. It is even worse of I assist or provide them with alcohol.
    .
    What if I am supplying a place for my daughter and your son to have sex? Am I liable for “damages”? How does age of consent apply here? What if you are not as “sex positive” as me, and are not OK with your MINOR son having regular sexual intercourse with my MINOR daughter? Should his parents be notified? How does that conversation go? How do you even broach the subject?
    .
    Just some musings. For the record, I have two teenagers. Fortunately, both of them are socially awkward.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray May 18, 2015, 1:58 pm

      Haha, your last line made me laugh out loud. At first I thought your question was dumb (in full disclosure) but then I thought “wait a minute, he has a point.” Imagine if the boyfriend were old, so there was a statutory rape issue (but heck maybe there is now; neither can consent and both could be liable/). Could the parents, who knowingly allow the sex to happen in their house be criminally liable for letting this happen? At first you might think “duh, no way” – but imagine a worst case scenario – where the LW is letting men in to have sex with his underage daughter. If you imagine this with really bad facts (like pretend the daughter is just a kid, say, 10), you could see where there could be a criminal case. So what happens when the kid isn’t THAT young, but is still underage, just 15? What happens then? I wonder if there’s ever been a criminal case holding the parents liable … I have no clue. I wish a family or criminal lawyer would pipe in, because now i’m curious.

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      • Mr. Cellophane

        Mr. Cellophane May 18, 2015, 2:18 pm

        Also, back in the day, like just after the last dinosaurs went toes up, there was a girl in my school whose mother was very ummmmm…understanding. She was trapped in the whole “cool mom” thing, and she let her daughter have sex in her house. “Better safely under my roof and with my knowledge than somewhere else” Regularly. Revolving door. For both mother AND daughter if the rumors are to be believed.
        .
        ALL the guys wanted to date that girl. Many did. I don’t think her “reputation” or self esteem have ever recovered.

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        RedRoverRedRover May 18, 2015, 2:40 pm

        That was clearly not an issue caused by merely allowing the daughter to have sex though. Sounds like the mom was screwed up in terms of how her self-esteem was tied up with sex, and she passed that on to her daughter. It’s not the act itself, but your attitude about it that affects self-esteem.

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      • Mr. Cellophane

        Mr. Cellophane May 18, 2015, 3:48 pm

        Oh, I agree, but part of my point here is that this is setting a very slippery precedent. Unless “Jill” and her BF stay together forever, word will get out about the fact that “Jill’s mom is cool” and other boys or even grown ass young men will come sniffing around expecting the same arrangement. Then when the 13 year old becomes “of age”(ick) even more boys will develop expectations. There will even be assumptions made by the adults around about the moral fiber of LW and his GF.
        Allowing teenagers to fornicate and condoning wild sex orgies in their home…I even heard that the adults sometimes join the kids! Disgusting.
        Multiply by 2-3x if this is in a small town.

        It may not be right, but it is real!
        Nothing happens in a bubble

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      _s_ May 18, 2015, 2:18 pm

      I definitely remember reading or hearing a news story about a case just like this – a girl slept with her BF at the BF’s house and got pregnant, and the girl’s dad sued the BF’s parents or something.

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      • Mr. Cellophane

        Mr. Cellophane May 18, 2015, 2:20 pm

        Exactly my question.

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    snoopy128 May 18, 2015, 2:13 pm

    I don’t think that being sex positive and having boundaries are two mutually exclusive concepts. I think you can say “yes, I respect your right as a maturing person to choose to have sex. But as a minor in my care, there are certain boundaries and house rules that need to be followed”. And I think if you can explain those boundaries in a non-sex shaming way, and set consequences, then you are setting up a healthy and safe environment.

    I think it’s fear-mongering to say they are going to be doing it like rabbits and neglect all the other aspects of their lives if you let them do it in your house. But those fears are founded in rational issues- it IS possible for the sex to impact those things if you don’t have good boundaries.

    You don’t have the give them carte blanche, but you do need to be aware and try to make choices that work for all of you and that do not put your daughter in a risky situation. Saying you are ok with them having sex, but then putting down all these rules that make it impossible will confused your children more than help.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous May 18, 2015, 2:34 pm

    Thank you Mark! I was sexually active as a teenager and I’m sure my parents knew but if they had given me carte blanche to have sex in their house, it would have totally creeped me out. I would not have wanted them to know the when and where of my sex life any more than I would to know theirs.
    There’s a dance that takes place between a teen and the parents. Parents are supposed to make the rules and teens are supposed to break them. Would I give my kids permission to have wild parties when I’m out? No! Would I secretly hope they did? Yes. Would I punish them anyway? Yup. That’s the dance. (And yes, my parents spoke to me about safe sex…but in the abstract)

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  • avatar

    cyndi May 18, 2015, 6:03 pm

    Have you people lost your mind ? she”s fifteen!!! birth control or not- they are children. Jeez – be a parent. supervise your kids and no don’t let the kid- yes kid- get past the living room.
    no- i am not a prude and yes i have children. It’s doesn’t matter what you did – that is not justification for being an idiot. They are kids!!! step up and se† boundaries. They are not ready to deal with what could happen if the birth control fails. and god only knows what will happen when they break-up. H

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    • Stonegypsy

      Stonegypsy May 18, 2015, 6:50 pm

      Trying to stop teenagers from having sex doesn’t actually stop them from having sex. In fact, letting them make their own decisions regarding their sexuality, while preparing them with the resources they need to be safe about it as well as the honest communication of the possible consequences, is the best possible thing you can do for them.
      Just putting your foot down and saying “You’re too young!” or (the way my parents did) avoiding the subject entirely except for a throwaway “He knows you’re planning to wait until marriage, right?” doesn’t make those hormones go away. It just results in the kids sneaking around and doing it in cars instead.

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  • Lady_Red

    Red_Lady May 18, 2015, 7:06 pm

    Count me in with the people who think 15 is young for sex. Maybe it’s because I didn’t start until my 20s, but it just seems gross to me that kids have sex. I really like the idea of teaching respect for sex, though. I hope that I can teach my kids well enough that they are truly able to determine when they are ready for sex, whenever that is. And hopefully it’ll be after high school, but if not, at least they can be safe about it.

    This letting kids have sex in your house though sounds like those parents that let kids drink in their house. Just because you can’t stop teens from doing what they want to do doesn’t mean you have to condone it. Teach them to be smart and safe, but don’t make it easy for them.

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    • avatar

      Anonymous May 18, 2015, 8:28 pm

      Exactly. When I was a freshman in high school a math teacher got in HUGE trouble because she was supervising a party, with alcohol served, for her 16-year-old son and his friends. She claimed that they will drink no matter what so it was better that she was supervising them. Well, that didn’t make it ok. She faced so much legal trouble…I’m pretty sure she was sued by other parents because it happened on her property.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous May 18, 2015, 10:31 pm

    Very late to this but I had to come out of the shadows for this one…a teenager is not an adult. They may choose to have sex but that does not in and of itself make them an adult. Therefore said teenager does not get the same treatment as an adult. End of story. A parent’s job is to set boundaries for their child. The child does NOT get to set these rules! Regrettably MANY parents try to “cool” and the kids end up having all the control. Kids need parents. They already have enough friends. The letter writer is very obviously uncomfortable with the idea of his girlfriend’s daughter having sex in their house. Which is totally fine and I think many parents are the same way. In this case I definitely think the letter writer needs to take control back and be a parent. Which means not making this decision based on what the daughter wants but rather what the adults want and expect of her behavior under their roof. Again…teenagers need boundaries in their lives. Teenagers need parents. It’s one thing to be sex positive. It’s something completely different when a 15-year-old has all the control and the power as an adult.

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  • avatar

    d2 May 19, 2015, 2:26 am

    Although late to the discussion, I have a couple of points.
    .
    Below the Legal Age of Consent – – – – – – – – – – – –
    You are just asking for a heap of trouble if you are facilitating sex for your underage child or, worse yet, somebody else’s. Just yikes.
    .
    Above the Legal Age of Consent – – – – – – – – – – – –
    First off, I would make sure that the child knew the ground rules – if one is mature enough to have sex and get pregnant, then one is mature enough to bear the responsibility to deal with it.
    .
    As teens, both my sister and I got the speech:
    “We are done raising babies so, if you get pregnant, that will be your responsibility and we won’t be taking that on for you. However, we do look forward to doing the grandparent thing and occasionally babysitting. So let us know your new address and when we can help out.”
    Faced with that perspective, my maturity level about sex instantly went up a few notches.
    .
    Second, I don’t think that parents are obligated to allow overnight guests behind closed doors – that’s totally up to the parents.
    I am not the least bit bothered by the parent’s-house/parent’s rules thing. While in high school and living with my parents, it never would have occurred to me to ask to have a guest behind closed doors. After I was older, on my own and visiting parents with a SO, I would always suggest that the sleeping arrangements should be whatever they were comfortable with. My parents always allowed, but I would have had no problem deferring. I just never saw that as a big deal.

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    • something random

      something random May 19, 2015, 6:46 am

      I love the speech your parents gave you and your sister. They sound like they must have been comfortable setting and enforcing boundaries if you accepted what they told you. I think a lot of teen’s whose parents are super flexible and overly accommodating to all their teens wants and every uncomfortable emotion would internalize the message that they could tantrum, manipulate, stonewall, or play on their parent’s sympathy and compassion. Good for your parents for being strong and consistent.

      This is such a great comment.

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  • avatar

    Jane63 May 19, 2015, 6:43 am

    My daughter thought she was mature enough to have sex at 15. Hmmm pregnant at 16. Teen pregnancy is a tough road. 12 years later she is still struggling with being a parent. Oh, and look, her daughter is coming up on her teens…..Sorry, I don’t think 15 year olds are ready for sex and looking back, well, hell, not sure what I would have done different. Good luck, LW.

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    • something random

      something random May 19, 2015, 6:57 am

      That is really unfortunate. I’m sorry for you and your daughter. I know nothing of this yet, but I think teens have sexuality and all you can do is hammer home responsibility, consequence, and an openness to listen to them. You can be a safe and honest resource and make yourself available to them. You can’t predict nor can you control all aspects of your children’s choices. Kids make bad decisions (and good decisions) and learn from them. We all do. Procreation is a big deal. The choice means literally everything in life to a new and innocent baby.

      This is a gross thought (as a mother, calm down I’m not sex-shaming) but I hope my boys stick to masturbation until they’re grown. God I hope they don’t take on all the drama of a serious teen relationship.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 19, 2015, 7:28 am

      My step cousin became a parent at the age of 16. Sex at 15 meant he was a father at age 16. He has been an unusual teen father because he has raised his daughter and is still raising her 16 years later. He is her only parent at this time because the mother left. Early sex can have drastic consequences that last a life time and the life time of the child who is the consequence of that sex. It often limits the future severely and keeps the teen and their child in poverty. I doubt the average teen who is choosing to have sex is actually thinking of those consequences. They’re thinking that they want to have sex and they are sure they won’t get pregnant.

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      • something random

        something random May 19, 2015, 7:46 am

        True that.

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  • avatar

    BLicious May 21, 2015, 10:10 am

    Wendy, I’ve been reading and enjoying your column for several years now, but have never before posted a comment. I often agree with the advice that you give, or at the least find it to be quite sound and thought provoking. Your response to this question, however, is quite possibly the best you have ever given. Although I, too, am the mother of a preschooler and an infant daughter (that is to say, years away from navigating the territory of teenage sexuality myself), I do recall being a sexually active 15 year old, and I think your focus on “respect” is absolutely perfect. It sets clear, appropriate boundaries for the teenage girl, and gives her an excellent framework to use when making decisions about her sexual behaviour. Well, well done Wendy! You are really good at what you do, and on behalf of all the people who benefit from your advice, thank you!

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  • avatar

    LW May 21, 2015, 10:11 am

    Thanks for your advice and input everyone. I just sent Wendy quite a shocking update and responded to you some of your points.

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