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Overnighters with the Girl/Boyfriend

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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Overnighters with the Girl/Boyfriend



17-year-old daughter's overnights with her boyfriends

April 2006

Our attractive, bright daughter has disappeared for a night (and sometimes 2) on 15 occasions over the last year. Lately she calls at midnight to say she won't be home, but for the first 8 or so AWOLs, we never knew how long she'd be away 'till she arrived home the next day. We've been worried sick and sleepless most of these nights. On the rare occasions she'd answer our cell calls and/or voicemail pleas to ''check in'' or return, her answers were evasive about the who, what, where, and why. We tell her we worry about her driving on freeways and hilly terrain in the rain at night in the old '93 car she's allowed to drive. She keeps us in the dark about much of her life. (She's always been private and ''quiet.'') And so, it took a ton of sleuthing to find out that she's been seeing a 21-yr.-old college guy ... at his college and at his Berkeley home on weekends.

Once she got over her break up with him 3 weeks ago, she started sleeping over with a new guy and with maybe another (with and without parents at home we gather.) On one occasion she slept over with a ''platonic'' guy 'cuz she was too tired/drunk/both to leave the guy's house and go home with her somewhat-troubled girlfriend.

Are overnights common for 17-18 yr.old females these days? Our daughter doesn't seem to care about her health and safety(we constantly tell her about DUIs, date rape, STDs, AIDS, and cervical cancer from multiple partners at a young age). After giving her a variety of consequences (including groundings), we took away her car privileges for 2 weeks (she then began to ride the train to see her boyfriend at college). This meant us driving her to and from high school since she refused to take a bus, call a taxi, ride with friends, etc. Through all this, her grades have slowly slipped as has her commitment to her high school sports team. Her fatigue causes her to miss classes and sports practices. What more can we do? We worry that she might fail high school and/or threaten her college acceptances. Though she says we're the problem, we do have a son who's doing extremely well at college and never was more than minimally defiant. She has refused every sort of therapy we have offered. Sad, frustrated parents in Lamorinda


I'm so sorry to hear about what you are going through with your daughter. It sounds to me like she has some serious issues. I hope you can get the whole family, or just you parents if she refuses, into good therapy asap. One thing that struck me was your (very justified) concern about her behavior threatening her HS graduation and/or college acceptance.

I wonder in cases like this if our (we parents') focus on keeping kids on track for college might sometimes get in the way of what we need to do for them. Frankly, your daughter in no way sounds ready for the freedom and responsibility of college life. She won't even get herself to school by herself! And risky behavior away at school could have worse consequences with no base to fall back on. I think you should consider a much more serious approach that aims to get her to wake up and take responsibility for her own life. another Lamorinda mom


I'm stunned that your question was whether your daughter's behavior is ''normal'' for a 17-18 year-old girl. Its not. Really. She's throwing her childhood away, and taking risks with her life -- as you pointed out.

You may get other opinions, but to me it is neither normal nor acceptable. Either she's so depressed she doesn't care, or she's making a statement you haven't figured out yet. She has no respect for you as parents, either way, and she still needs you to parent her.

Of course, she may also have ADHD, or another fairly minor disorder that allows her to be more impulsive -- and have significantly less self-esteem -- than other girls her age.

She needs both counseling AND continuous supervision right now. If she can't get both at home, I guess you need to send her somewhere else. If sending her off is not an option, I'd try a group like ToughLove, and I certainly wouldn't be planning to pay for college if her attitude remains disdainful, selfish and self- destructive.

Life is hard, but most kids get through this phase without self- destructing, even if they encounter challenges and get some scars. I think that is what I'd consider normal. Still My Daughter's Keeper


I would stongly recommmend a wilderness program for your daughter. Our daughter went to one in Arizona (from a BPN post on the website) that has done wonders for her and our family. It is expensive, but some insurance will cover at least part of the cost. Your daughter needs intervention. There are ways of having her go even if she does not agree to it (like using a transport service). Good luck. anon
Wow, I can see how this concerns you. I want to state that at 17 - 18 years of age, sexual relations are fairly common for teen girls. I believe it is about 70%? I have two or three concerns here. One, is she sexually active because she is in a relationship or other, bad self esteem reasons? Two, if you know she is drunk, why do you let her have a car at all? I would surprise her and do a drug test the morning she comes home. If she refuses to do one at home, perhaps you want to consider having a date set up with Thunder Road in Oakland, a drug rehab center, to take her to, without her knowledge of course. Third, why are you driving her to school? As a mother of a strong willed 16 year old, although never a private girl, when I give her a consquence, I must follow through 100% or lose the battle. She is still controling you by refusing to help herself, you are helping her in her destruction. If she wants to fail high school, let her. I doubt she will, however, she just wants to threaten you with this. If she misses a week, then she will have to make it up. If she has to go to community college, then so be it. She is old enough now to have to seriously consider the choices she is making. And I strongly suspect more than alcohol is going on, although, that is enough to completely cloud one's judgement. Sit her down and explain to her the choices she is making and the potentail consquences and that you will not be held hostage to her threats. Get a book on tough love, save her life.

Best of hope for you and her, and there is hope still, anon


Having read the responses to your post, and having been a girl who snuck out of the house to be with boys (younger than 17, too), I want to add a few things.

After years of reflection, I've realized that my ''sleeping around'' had a little to do with raging teen hormones, and sexual discovery and desire, and even more to do with the fact that I felt that my parents didn't really understand me. They sat down; we talked; they made a certain effort, but I was too busy figuring out who I was to get it. And talks about risky behaviour are virtually worthless -- this is a TEENAGER, the personification of invincibility. Most teenagers don't think ANYTHING bad is going to happen to them.

Your actions will mean more than words at this point -- do NOT let her use your car, for instance -- and, as another person suggested, you should have clear, unequivocal consequences for irresonsible behaviour. But understand that you cannot control her. I hope that clear consequences, with your statements about why you're choosing the consequences you choose, will help get the message through to her that you care deeply for HER; not only for her future, college, and so forth, but her happiness and well-being. Better still, ask her to come up with appropriate consequences. You may be surprised at what she comes up with. I'm sure that, deep inside, she is longing for your guidance and structure. Trust me, she is NOT happy now. She is floundering.

As for your son, they are two separate individuals; clearly, your daughter's needs are vastly different from your son's. So, there's no sense in comparing the two of them, and comparisons will only make your daughter feel worse. Your daughter is not doing what she's doing to hurt or punish you -- if you take her actions the least bit personally, you're in trouble. A final note -- read ''Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers'', by local author Michael Riera. There should be some helpful strategies in there for you, that will help you to reconnect with your daughter. very best of luck to you all! 47, but was once a troubled teen...


17-year-old son wants girlfriend to spend the night

May 2001

Our 17 year old son has requested our permission to have a sleepover with his 17 year old girlfriend. They have been together for 7 months. We are very uncomfortable with this notion and so far have not given the okay. According to our son, his girlfriend's parents think we are "irrational" for not allowing them to do this. We have not yet spoken directly to her parents about this.

We consider our son to be very responsible and in general give him lots of freedom and independence. We have talked with him repeatedly about sexual issues and have told him that smart people can do very stupid things when it comes to relationships. He has shown himself unable to set limits with his girlfriend in terms of getting home on time, limiting phone calls, and other such things. This suggests to us that he would have difficulty setting limits with sex too. We are worried, also, about his girlfriend and how much influence she has over him.

I don't think we are being overly conservative, but I wondered what other people thought.


I am going to be frank (and I also recognize that I am only seeing one side of the equation) but I see a lot more sexual precociousness and even agressiveness from the girls my 2 sons date than from them. My boys are more reluctant and slower to get involved sexually than their girlfriends. This is the reverse the stereotypes of norms for teenage boys but in this case it is true and I've heard from grown men that it is true more often than one would think. I therefore think you are quite right to be cautious and your son may actually be grateful for this. He needs to feel there is a way he can escape (save face) if he in fact is feeling "pushed." Have you checked out his own feelings carefully? Is he able to be honest with you about it? Is he saying he feels ready for full, out in the open, mature sexuality or that he feels he "ought" to feel ready?

This said, I know someone who has said that when he was a young teenager his parent allowed any sleeping arrangement he chose and thought it was cute that he brought home his 14 year old girlfriend when he was 15. He seems to express that this was fine, easy, no problem, no danger...etc. I was shocked. My own parents would have had my hide nailed to the wall for such. (and did once).


I have had three teenagers. My oldest put enormous pressure on me to allow her boyfriend to stay over (HIS mother allowed this or that). She also wanted to be able to go into her room with him and close the door. For better or worse, here is what I said, "no." I told her it was not a moral judgment on my part. It was simply that it was my house and it made ME feel uncomfortable and in my house that is what counted. I think it was my way of saying sex is not morally wrong but it is a BIG deal--contrary to the popular culture. And, the fact was, it DID make me uncomfortable.
This is a reply to the parent whose 17 year old son wants to have a sleepover with his girlfriend.

If your son and his girlfriend are determined to have sex, probably there is not much you can do to stop them. This does not mean that you have to condone their actions. If you are very uncomfortable with the idea of a sleepover, why consider giving an okay?

You say that your son is very responsible in other areas, but wonder about how responsible he will be in this area. As you told him, when it comes to sex smart people can do stupid things. He has accused you of being irrational through his comment about her parents. Here are some "rational" questions he might want to consider:

Is he responsible enough to handle the emotions that accompany an intimate sexual relationship?

Is he responsible enough to practice safe sex in the heat of passion?

If she gets pregnant, who will care for the child? Is he responsible enough to be a father?

If he gets a STD, who will care for him during his illness?

I think as parents we can be too concerned about what others will think of our parenting decisions. This makes it too easy to give up taking the hard line when that is what is called for. Teenagers are often trying to "sell" us a bill of goods. This does not mean that we have to "buy" it. I would talk with the girl's parents and not assume that they think you are "irrational." If they do, what does that says about them?

Clinical Psychologist and Mom of a teenager


To anonymous regarding teenage sex. Just say no. Your son needs to know that you have boundaries and while he still may have sex - he needs to know that you do not approve. Mike Riera's books on teenagers provide wonderful advice about setting boundaries and the need our teens have for adult advice.
Regarding the 17 year old who wants his girl to sleep over. The first thing I note is that you parents are being told that her folks consider you "irrational." That may be true - or not. You may be suprised if you are able to gracefully get in touch with them. They may even feel as you do! I assume the kids are sexually active - many healthy 17 year olds are. But seven months is not such a long relationship. And it certainly is not a marriage. Therefore, when it comes to them sleeping together on your turf, I think you have the perfect right to say NO if you are at all uncomfortable with it. Teens may be sexually active but that doesn't mean that parents have to honor or assist them in their love-making. Your son may not be happy about your choice, but that's okay. Setting a limit here sends the message that his sexual life is just what it is - a teenage romance - not the real deal yet. That's an important distinction in my book. Good luck!
This is in regards to the letter from "Anonymous" about the 17 year old that wants to have a "sleepover" with his 17 year old girlfriend. This has come up several times at our house with our two teenagers. We have discussed it with the parents of our sons' girlfriends and found that our own resolve became much stronger with the support of another set of parents. Of COURSE teenagers are going to try to push us into letting them have their way and it's our function to thwart those designs and help them stay safe and sane. We've said that at age 18, they'll be on their own recognizance, but until then - they must stay within the limits we establish. Of COURSE they argue that 18 is an arbitrary boundary, but be resolved and be loving, avoid damaging screaming matches (hard for me), and hopefully they won't sneak out of the house and do it anyway.
For a year-and-a-half before they went off to college, our son and his girlfriend of the same age regularly slept together in our home. Her family was rigidly "traditional." So our situation was almost the exact opposite of yours.

My wife and I felt that only the wrong messages and situations would be established in their lives, if we forced them to hide their love. Had we done that, there would have been a barrier with a son who was always open with us and still is.

They have now been together for years and their relationship has deepened and matured as they went from high school to college. We successfully coached them in birth control and supplied condoms. But far more importantly, our open interactions with them gave their relationship a context beyond furtive indulgence. Their joy added to all our lives and I believe has set a wonderful example of relationship and its development for our younger child. Both the girl and we felt terrible for what could not be shared with her parents. She felt cut-off in an important part of herself while her parents struggled to maintain their fictions.

In a far less open time, my mother told a friend that there was no reason to force her sons to pay for a motel or go to a dark park. I, as she, believe life is relationship and that it is dysfunctional to isolate teenagers and their relationships from their fullest expression.


I think you should say no. I wouldn't go for this myself, and I would be surprised if any of my friends who have teens at home who would go for this either. Maybe if the kids were in college or living together already I might consider it. But I couldn't deal with my high school student bringing his girlfriend over to spend the night.

I have noticed that my kids seem relieved when I draw the line somewhat conservatively, even while they put up an enormous fuss. It's funny - when I have been more lenient than their friends' parents about some issue, they seem to think there is something wrong with my parenting skills, as if they are getting shortchanged in the parent department. So it is good, I think, to hold your ground on issues you feel strongly about.

I think it would be worth it also to phone the girlfriend's parents and just say you wanted to let them know that it has come up, and this is where you stand on it. You don't need to have a discussion with them if you don't want to, just make a courtesy call. There is always the possibility that you are not getting the full story from your son about what their position is on the subject.


18-year-old son wants girlfriend to spend the night

March 2002

I am trying to get a handle on the "everyone else is allowed to" argument with respect to co-ed sleepovers for teenagers. I posted earlier about a situation with a 14 year old girl. I have a couple other scenarios I wanted to ask people about involving an 18 year old boy and his 18 year old girlfriend. I am interested in collecting information to use in discussion with him, so I am really interested in what people would do with their own children in these situations. I'll admit that I'm hoping to be able to say "no, actually most people aren't allowed to", but I would really like to hear both sides. First is that they wish to spend the night together either at her house or ours. He has told us that they are already sexually active. Second, they wish to attend sleepover parties at friends' houses together. One other question is, how much difference does being 18 make to you in your decision? Thanks for any input.


There are several issues at work here. First, the "child" in question, at 18, is no longer a child. So *legally speaking* they have a right to do whatever they want, as long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights. Which brings us to the second point, which is that you have a right to dictate terms of their being in your house, or about how they use *your* money/time/resources. You could choose not to fund him going to a co-ed sleepover party, for instance (though if it were my child, then whatever he did with money he earned himself would be up to him, assuming he didn't owe it to me for rent or food or something). If you don't want them sleeping together under your roof, you may make a rule about that. Of course, given that you already know that they are sexually active, if you tell them they can't do this in your home, then they will simply find somewhere else to do it (possibly much less savoury and much more dangerous). The important question is, "is this going to get you what you want?" The answer to that question will depend heavily on your own values and priorities. What do you value the most here? The safety of your child? Having them do what you want? Upholding your religious/moral convictions? For *us*, we value our open and honest communication with our teen very highly. If we "forbade" her to do something like this, it would damage that aspect of our relationship, and that's not something we're willing to do. But we *are* pretty unusual in this regard, and it takes a *lot* of ongoing discussion, boundary-setting, and negotiation. (BTW: At 17, she's a virgin (has never had intercourse), and has recently decided to try a 30-day complete abstinence period, modeled after the 40days&40Nights movie.) If she were about to do something we *really* thought was a bad idea, we'd sit down and have a coaching session/family meeting, and discuss it. And maybe we could come up with some compromise that would leave us all feeling like our needs were getting met (hers for personal expression and control over her own body, for instance, and ours for safety of ourselves and her, without sacrificing our communication).

Good luck navigating this sticky wicket!

Anonymous, since I can't ask my teen right now if it's OK to talk about it with attribution.


Thank you for raising this issue in regard to older teens since this has been a topic of numerous heated discussions in my house just this past week (17 year old daughter, to be 18 in July). My opinion about this doesn't change given my daughter's age. As long as she is living in my house, I expect her to refrain from overnights with members of the opposite sex. To condone such overnights would essentially be conveying the message that I condone sex for her at this age, which I *do not*. The most recent plea for an overnight was supposedly settled and the plan was I would pick her up (she doesn't drive) at the boy's house where his family was hosting a party. Shortly before pick-up time, she came up with another pressing reason for needing to stay all night. I nearly gave in, being exhausted, etc. However, I persevered. When I got there the boy was waiting for us by the curb. His eyes looked *very questionable*. (hazy, unfocused, vague). I told him I was there to pick up my daughter was and he went off to get her. My companion and I simultaneously said to each other: "I wonder what he's on?" When the boy returned I engaged him in conversation about directions to the freeway. He stood back about 4 feet from the car and from that distance I could smell alcohol on his breath. I was so thankful that I did not allow her to stay. I have never met the family and have only met the boy one time before for a 2 minute introduction (hi and bye type). Nevertheless, my daughter argued vehemently for the overnight. I see no reason for overnights for teens with the opposite sex. --- A single mom.

College Freshman wants to bring girlfriend home

Feb 2002

What should I do about this? My 19-year-old son is a freshman at a school in another state (I miss him terribly but that's another story). He has recently begun seeing someone seriously - this is his first girlfriend. I haven't met her - her home is near the college they both attend. He wants to bring her to Berkeley in April for a few days. I am comfortable with the fact that they can spend overnight together anytime they want. My son is sensible and mature. For Spring Break they are going in on a beach house with a group of kids for a week, and I'm OK with that too. But I don't know how I should feel about the girlfriend staying here in his room with him. Isn't it awkward? I consider myself fairly liberal in these things. When I was 19, I was already living with my son's father but back then it was pretty scandalous, and we expected to, and did, sleep in separate bedrooms when we visited his folks. But now I'm the mom, and it's 30 years later. How does this work in 2002? And how do I bring this up with my son? He hasn't brought up sleeping arrangements, just said he'd like to bring her. All I've said so far is I would really like to meet her. Does anyone else have experience with this?


Works any way you want it to work. Your house. Your rules. If you feel uncomfortable with your son's friend sleeping in his room, tell his so. Ask him if she doesn't mind sleeping on the couch or if he will sleep on the couch? Or if they are staying at a hotel nearby. I lived with a guy as well for years, but we always slept in separate rooms when visiting relatives. It's not a question of what year it is. It's just plain respectful. Children, no matter how old they are, do not tell their parents/relatives how they are going to run their house. Bottom line is what do you feel comfortable with.
I would recommend letting them share a bed in your house if that's what they want to do. You don't seem to have a problem with the fact that they're sleeping together in other settings. And he is an adult now (tho' a young one). We have allowed our teenage son to have his girlfriend stay over in his room for awhile now and we're all comfortable with it. Of course it was important at the outset that it was a caring, committed relationship, but because it is that, she has become an valued friend and visitor to the household. If you're just worried that it will be awkward, perhaps it would help to have a conversation with him about it.
You can always try my father's tactic which was providing two rooms but not noticing whether they were both used. That of course assumes tacit complicity, which may not be comfortable.
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