Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love In The Afternoon

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The warm spring breeze flowing through the open windows, and the sunlight filtering through the blinds.  The family is buzzing around doing their Sunday rituals, cleaning, organizing for the week and homework. Dad walks upstairs to ask his 15 year old daughter and her 17 year old boyfriend, who have been "working on homework together" if they would like anything from Starbucks, as he is going on a coffee run. As he walks into her room, expecting to see a bed piled high with books and notes, he is shocked to see this couple undressed and having an afternoon quickie!

Beautiful afternoon shattered. Apparently this had not been a spontaneous event. When this teen's parents checked her text messages post-coital, they saw a carefully laid (excuse the pun) out plan. They had hoped to have time earlier in the day when the rest of the family was gone, but the family never left, and apparently the couple, intent on commingling, were not deterred.

Previous to this incident, parents had been extremely respectful of their daughter and this relationship. Having no basement family room or semi-private space in their home, they had given permission to their daughter and her boyfriend to hang out in her room with the door open so they might have some privacy. They had only recently given her text messaging, but had chosen not to check her texts. Clearly these are not parents who are control freaks, and "this is how she repays them???" Additionally they gleaned from the texts that the boy's parents often left them unsupervised and they were enjoying their sexual freedom in that house as well.

Questions that might be swarming around your head: How could she do this with her parents home? How could she do this with her 10 year old brother home, who lacking good boundaries often barged in on the couple asking for or to do something with them? Why would she be so brazenly disrespectful to her family? And why at 15 years old is she having SEXXXXX????

Teens have sex because they want to, because they are driven to, and unless there are very honest discussions with parents or other compassionate adults who might potentially offer another perspective, don't really see any down side to it.  When you see your teen in a relationship that has lasted longer than a few weeks, it is important to have a conversation with him/her. Remember that teens are impulsive, determined and are driven by their feelings not their brains. And with the powerful pheromones released during adolescence they need all the help they can get. Remember though it is not what you say, but how you say it, that is particularly important here. If you have a discussion that comes off as a lecture or a laying down of the law: "You are not allowed to have sex", they will run for the bed. If you use an I Get It moment, and provide some rules you can control you might have a better outcome.

Here goes: "I get that you are in a relationship with X. I am excited for you. Having someone in your life who really cares for you is amazing. I also get that you guys are probably really attracted to each other and may be thinking about having sex. Once you get on that train, its really hard to put the brakes on, so I want to make sure you take the time to really think about it. You are only 15 and have many boyfriends/girlfriends ahead of you. You have the potential then of having many sexual partners when you start this young. That means more potential for hurt when relationships don't work out having been so intimate with each other, and potential for STD's or pregnancy when you get too comfortable to use a condom, and have too many partners. You need to consider things like that. Also we are not comfortable with you having sex at such a young age. We can't stop you, but you need to know we don't think it is healthy at this point in your life. So a few rules now that you have a boyfriend. You man not have him/her in your bedroom, you may not have him/her here when we are not home, and I will speak to X's parents to let them know that we expect them to provide supervision when you are at their house. We are happy to have him/her over whenever you want, and know that you guys will be "fooling around", but hope that you can keep intercourse off the table. I know that you will be respectful of us and your younger sibs, trying not to put us in awkward situations. We love you and just want you to be safe."

Honestly, there isn't much more you can do. But at least you are acknowledging and respecting this relationship, and are offering your perspective in a way they might be open to hearing it. You are setting limits in your home, anticipating situations they might find themselves in, and hope they will respect them. Keep the communication open, and keep the doors open!

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