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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Overnighters with the Girl/Boyfriend
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 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
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
Best of hope for you and her, and there is hope still, anon
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...
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.
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).
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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