teenage sexDear Sex Expert,

I need advice on whether to let my son bring someone home to spend the night. Do I let them have sex in my house? Is there an age when it seems appropriate?

Squeamish in NYC

Dear Squeamish in NYC,

You want to know if you should let your children have sex in your house? Only you can answer that question. Though I can offer you a few thoughts. How do you feel about sex outside of marriage? Is your child having safe and responsible sex? Is this a long-term relationship or one in a string of people your teen/adult child is having sex with? Do you have younger children at home, and if so, do you worry about setting a precedent?

I feel compelled to point out that there are laws dictating the age of consent. If your child or his girlfriend is under age 18, I suggest talking to the other parent to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on. Once a child becomes 18, he or she is an adult and there is a different level of responsibility. There are state laws that govern sex between minors, and adults with minors. And whether you agree or not, they exist and could lead to trouble if one teen or that teen’s parents feel something inappropriate occurred.

The question of whether to allow our children to have sex under our roof acknowledges that our teens or young adults are sexually active. Most teens become sexually active without our knowledge or our permission.  We can only hope and pray that they act responsibly, use protection, and are in a respectful relationship. And while we don’t have any control over the sex lives of our children we can teach them about sexuality and their responsibility just as we instruct them on the responsibilities of driving a car.

If you and your children have talked about sex in the past then it becomes an easier conversation if the topic of sleeping together at home arises. You need to address your own thoughts about sexuality in order to figure out what rules to set for and with your children. If you’re just now thinking about sex and your teens in the same breath this is going to be tough. Do you feel comfortable with sexuality as a natural expression between two young adults?  Is it wrong for young people to want to have sex? It shouldn’t make any difference if your child is a girl or boy but I’m guessing parents have an easier time with a son’s sexuality than with a daughter’s. Presumably your son has indicated he is coming to visit and bringing a friend. Ask him about the relationship. Are they already having sex? How does he feel about her? Are they comfortable sleeping together in your house?

Then share your feelings—be honest. Think about how you feel and why. If you can’t handle the idea of your child having sex in the next room, tell him or her.  Talk to your child about alternative solutions and if necessary, suggest a hotel. Remember it’s your house; you make the rules.

Some parents seem to feel that they have to let their kids do anything they want. You don’t.

I think a parent’s role is to help their children grow up to be healthy and well informed. We tend to avoid the sex topic but it’s one of the most important conversations we can have with our children…particularly if we want and expect them to make wise choices. You can communicate your own personal beliefs as long as you’re open about how you feel—as opposed to being preachy. We do our children a disservice by sticking our heads in the sand or failing to give them the tools they need…which includes support. And, it may be that giving your child permission to bring a partner home for the night is the kind of acceptance he/she needs.

Bringing sexuality out into the open and normalizing it could help your child develop a more trusting relationship when it comes to sex. You lead the way when you set boundaries and engage in conversation about sex. There are no absolutes when it comes to sex; as parents we have to feel our way through this. I could tell you what I think you ought to do but the burden and the right of setting rules for your children is on you.  Follow your instincts on this one.

What do you think about your teens or adult children having sex in your home? Has it happened to you?

Next week: OMG, Mom’s Having Sex! Let’s talk about bringing your boyfriend home when the kids are still living at home.

Interesting articles on teens and sex:

Where and When Teens First have Sex

The Conflict Over Sleeping Arrangements

The Sleep Over Question

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