It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Parenting the Teens is Complicated” who was wondering how much to restrict and limit his 15-year-old stepdaughter’s interaction with her boyfriend in their home after she became sexually active. Well, now there’s a new twist in the story:
We actually aren’t as shocked as we were when we found out about the 15-year-old because the 13-year-old has been going on 20 for a couple of years now. She is actually a bit more assertive than the 15-year-old and told her mom point blank, “We only have sex when I want to.”
My girlfriend has settled on a doors-open policy when we are home. When we aren’t home, it’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. We also limit the boyfriend to being over on the weekends, but we will have to see what to do during summer vacation.
I should probably mention that I also have a 15-year-old daughter who is coming over to stay with us during the summer. She is definitely a bit more socially awkward, so we will have to manage that situation.
All this parenting stuff is challenging, but it’s amazing how quickly you can get used to a new paradigm. It’s an adjustment period.
Just to clarify: I am not the one having these conversations with the kids. I’m just the soundboard for my girlfriend. Though sometimes it makes me a bit more uncomfortable than it does her.
To respond to a few of the commenters:
1. Yes, either 13 or 15 is too young to have sex, I lost my virginity at 15, and my girlfriend was 13 when she lost hers. Both of the teenagers are at least in long-term relationships (durations of a few months) unlike we were at that time. To clarify, my girlfriend and I met when I was 16 and she was 15. We are doing our best not to be hypocrites.
2. Yes, the kids having sex in our house while we are home makes us uncomfortable, and yep… grosses me out. Doors will remain open when we are home.
3. Yes, part of the limits we put on were because the 15-year-old’s boyfriend is a little sex-crazy, and we wanted to cut down frequency. Apparently it worked though. During the same conversation with the 13-year-old, the 15-year-old mentioned that they hadn’t had sex in two weeks and she was quite content with that. (We assume blow jobs are still happening).
Consider this the last update unless one ends up pregnant (please no).
Um, wow. This kind of terrifies me as the thought of my own 13-year-old child one day having sex is one I can’t — and don’t want to — wrap my head around. It’s interesting that both you and your girlfriend started having sex at young ages, too, and seem intent on “not being hypocrites,” and I wonder how much these things relate to each other, if at all (it seems they must). For the record, I don’t think it’s hypocritical to look back at your behavior as a teenager from the vantage point of a 40-something-year-old parent and decide you’d prefer your own child avoid certain behavior and patterns and then actively set boundaries to try to make that happen. I’m also not so naive as to believe that setting boundaries and expressing particular attitudes guarantee certain teenage behaviors. But I do think doing so can help.
You say that you think that both 13 and 15 are ages too young to be having sex (I agree). Have you and/or your girlfriend expressed this to the girls? Do they understand the risks — physical and emotional and social — involved in having sex at such young ages? I hope that, in addition to providing birth control, you and your girlfriend are providing as wide a view as you can on the effects of early sexual activity. And I hope, as do you, that these young girls avoid pregnancy (and other potentially long-lasting negative effects).
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.