12-06-2019 12:52 PM - last edited on 12-06-2019 01:57 PM by Claire-RO
I have 2 young adult sons aged 18 and 20 (soon to be 19 and 21). I consider myself to have a good, open relationship with them. Their dad and I are divorced and I have a partner of almost 10 years.
We have always set strong ground rules for them and they have mostly accepted our boundaries (though with some conflict at times, but it usually works out).
They have both been in long term relationships (12-24 months +) and once they finished high school we allowed their girlfriends to stay over (after discussion with the girl’s parents). We have always kept an open mind when it came to them being sexually active and had many discussions relating to respect for both themselves and the girls they were involved with.
My younger son has broken up with his girlfriend a couple of months ago and has asked me today if he can have girls back here to stay after a night out. Our rule is NO WAY - only when they have been dating someone exclusively for at least a few months. He claims that other friends are allowed to have random girls over to stay the night. I find that hard to believe and wanted to check the opinions of other parents (though I’m 99.9% sure I won’t be changing my stance).
I appreciate any input from other forum members.
12-06-2019 01:54 PM - edited 12-06-2019 01:56 PM
Thanks for sharing what has been happening for you and your concerns about your sons and their sexual activity. It is great to hear that you have an open dialogue with them and want to be open to how you can best support them. In terms of having different girls come by, what are you concerned about?
It sounds like you have discussed with your sons the importance of consent and respect. I am sure there are other parents that have come across this situation before.
12-06-2019 06:04 PM
Thanks for replying Claire.
since my original post I’ve done a lot of thinking and I’m feeling very overwhelmed.
My concerns in regards to having different girls come by relates more to the casual sex side of things. They can have as many people visit as they want. I am far from naive and my boys are fairly open with us in terms of girls, sex and relationships (and many other issues faces by young people their age). We tried to bring them up with a certain level of respect and I guess casual sex with someone they have just met on a night out somewhat conflicts with that.
My son’s argument is that wouldn’t I rather know he was here safe at home (true) but I feel like if we allow this, it opens the door to him bringing strangers into our home on a regular basis - something we are not comfortable with.
I’m really struggling with parenting at the moment as my 18 year old is my youngest and I still feel he is too young to be experiencing everything he is right now - I feel like his peer group wants everything NOW and I wonder what happens when they get bored because they’ve experienced all the usual stuff. Again, I’m not naive - my original topic broadens dramatically when I add that we talk openly about drug and alcohol use.
They are both sensible drinkers, both occasionally smoke marijuana and have experimented with MDMA and LSD. I am glad they tell me, but it’s conflicting as a parent when you don’t always agree with the choices they make. We have talked a lot about the dangers of using ecstasy at music festivals and they insist that they buy from “safe” dealers and have friends with test kits.
LSD has been used within a group of friends with at least one or two people who don't take it and keep an eye on everyone else.
I’m sitting here writing this and not sure if I should laugh or cry that I listen to my kids justify why they think it’s “safe”.
I definitely feel like that swan gliding elegantly along the river looking like I have it all together but underneath the water I’m paddling like mad trying to stay afloat. I feel so alone in all of this. My parents are both deceased, my sister doesn’t have children and I don’t feel close enough or comfortable enough with any of my friends to discuss such personal aspects of my boy’s lives.
I have no idea what is “normal” or ”acceptable” these days. I was not a perfect teenager myself, but my mum died when I was 17, I had parented my younger siblings for over a year before I left home at 18 and was living as an adult, studying, working and totally responsible for myself (that didn’t work out well). Fortunately I got back on track but I was married at 23 and worked my whole life to pay rent, mortgage, bills, raise kids etc.
I want my boys to stay at home as long as possible to save money, travel, hopefully buy their own homes - but for now enjoy being young without the responsibilities I had at their ages.
How do I manage our family boundaries without pushing my sons away, am I asking to much to have what I feel are age relevant expectations of acceptable behaviour as we did when they were younger?
Sorry if my reply covers too many topics. Today is my first post and I guess all of my worries have come pouring out.
12-06-2019 10:03 PM
This is a very courageous and insightful post . It is understandable that you are not comfortable with your adult son bringing random girls home as it conflicts with your values. It can be difficult to know what 'normal' is these days and it moves so quickly.
Being 18 yo is certainly a time of self-discovery. Your son is becoming increasingly exposed to casual relationships, alcohol, and drugs. He is also gradually transitioning into adulthood so it can be a challenging time for him. It doesn't make it any easier as a parent. If you would like to talk to someone, please try Parentline on 1300 365 859. They are open 7 days per week from 8am-10pm (QLD time). They have trained counsellors ready to listen to you.
I will say that it sounds like you have a great relationship with your boys given they are so open with you. I think that is a testament to your parenting
Please continue to reach out, we are here to support you
12-08-2019 08:17 AM
Hi - thanks for you very open post! I agree that this is the hardest age to navigate as a parent - I feel I can't do right for doing wrong. And the range of young adults and theiracceptable activities varies widely. I have two boys (19 and 17) who have never had girlfriends (or boyfriends, I don't care which way they go), show very little signs of being interested in romance or sex, don't seem to like going out in the evening, and I question sometimes if they even like their friends. Mine drive me to distraction by being the complete opposite of me at that age, and I fear they are missing out on life, by being an observer on You Tube, etc.
It is easy to feel alone in this, but there is support out there. Maybe if you could think about what your (very real) concerns are, and put the questions to your son "Why do you think I might be concerned about you bringing unknown females back to the house? What could happen?" It gets him to think about the situation from another viewpoint, and may help with his reasoning.
Or maybe we could just merge our boys, to meet somewhere in the middle
02-03-2020 09:53 PM - edited 02-03-2020 09:58 PM
02-13-2020 10:22 AM
your post shows that you are doing a great job because of all the things you are able to discuss with your 2 boys . If your son says all his friends can bring home random girls it is probably best not to argue that point. Because its actually not relevant to your discussion about your rules.Perhaps if you tell him for 18 years you have made it all about him, his well being and his safety and his happiness. Now that he is an adult he needs to see that sometimes it is allowed to be about you. Even if he doesnt agree or like it.
It is your house and your safety and your peace of mind here.
I think he has been very fortunate to have such an open minded parent , all you are asking for is a little respect in regards to an issue that you feel is important to you regardless of what other parents may or may not be doing. In my day a lot of issues were hidden or swept under the carpet as in, cant see it it's not happening .Well done you for being so open with your boys. I hope he can give you the respect you deserve for that openess by agreeing to your rules .
12-18-2020 09:04 PM
12-18-2020 10:39 PM
Hello @Mumsy2 , sounds like you have been through some different experiences and I am sorry to hear that you have felt uncomfortable. I can understand the reasons why you are wanting your children to follow certain rules when they grow up. It might also be useful for you to have a discussion with your children around these rules (when they are older) so that they can understand your reasons and discussions on these topics can be opened up comfortably. Does that sound like something that would be helpful?
12-19-2020 04:00 AM
Mumsy2 it’s been a while since my original post and things have been pretty good for us here at home. Both of my boys are still single but have dated casually - we have all enjoyed not having the pressure of them managing relationships for a while after previously having long term girlfriends under our roof a lot of the time.
I stood my ground with my house rules and they have both have accepted and respected them. I think Covid has played a part in limiting casual encounters, though we live in a state that has been fairly unrestricted, but still definitely more conscious of social contacts and gatherings.
The best thing you can do for your kids is start discussing these things with them as soon as it is age appropriate. Build a relationship with them so you can talk openly about sex and other subjects relevant to teenagers. Every family dynamic is different and has their own set of values, rules and expectations, so there is definitely no one size fits all guideline. I will gladly admit that I have at times wished that teens came with an instruction manual where I could just look up the index and find a solution to every situation I didn’t automatically have an answer for 😂.
For us, setting our ground rules and boundaries, continuing to discuss things with our young men, staying consistent and being willing to listen to them has really helped. They mostly accept our family/household rules and boundaries, even as young adults, and although we still have the occasional heated discussion, for the most part, things are working out for us.
It’s definitely a learning curve that is constantly changing and moving. I think you have done well to manage being thrown in at the deep end with an instant teenager who is not just under your roof, but an employee and helping with your children. You’ve had multiple considerations to take into account and I think you’re doing great. It will also give you valuable experience and insight for when it comes to discussions with your own kids when the time is right.
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