Would you let your teenager share a bed?

February 27, 2012 in Latest, Mums tips

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Young Love - creative commons - Typicarlo

Not under my roof? Nikki weighs up the pros and cons of letting a teenager share a bed with their partner.

There was an interesting article in the Daily Mail recently about parent’s who allow their teenage daughter’s boyfriends sleep over. It caught my eye as I had a similar situation to deal with a few weeks ago.

My eldest son is now sixteen and he is a very mature and independent young man. He has always been sensible and I am really proud of him. I’m not exactly sure where the last fifteen years have gone. It only seems like yesterday when I was sat in a hospital bed, bewildered, with a little bundle with masses of black fuzzy hair in my arms wrapped in the regulation orange hospital blanket.

Now he is in a serious steady relationship and I am having to consider the fact that he may well be sexually active and I’m wondering what I should be thinking and doing. I don’t feel ready for this really, it has crept up on me. The thing is that as a secondary teacher several years ago, I saw quite a few girls who were sexually active at the age of twelve or thirteen. Some of them had a few pregnancy scare and came to me for advice. As a teacher, I was able to give objective advice and although I was shocked at how early they were starting, I could deal with the situation.

As a parent it is completely different. Parenting a teenager is really tricky. Teenagers go through such a dramatic development during those teen years that sometimes it can be like a rollercoaster ride, dealing with moods, tantrums, hormones and then their relationships. It is a steep learning curve and as some teens become very uncommunicative, it can also be difficult to discuss ‘serious’ issues with them.

My son is not terribly communicative and when I begin to broach a subject he is not happy with, he gets cross or walks away, so talking to him about sex is tricky. It shouldn’t be so hard should it, to ask your own child if they are having sex? He has been with his girlfriend now for a year and a half and they seem very serious and in love. Because he lives with his dad most of the time, I was quite surprised when he told me that his girlfriend had stopped over with him at his dad’s and in the same bed. I had said that she could stop over on New Year’s Eve, but was thinking she could sleep in his bed, with him elsewhere. He said that she could sleep in his bed, that would be ok. Ok for him, maybe!

I agonised over it. Different people gave me different advice; some said no way and others were more live and let live. It was a tough decision but in the end, I decided to let her stay with him, but I warned him that it was my house and that I preferred it if they were just sleeping. He rolled his eyes dramatically and gave me a contemptuous look.

It was interesting reading the comments to the Daily Mail article. It certainly provoked some debate. The parents in the article firmly believed that by not allowing partners to stay over, caused sex to be a tabooed subject and forced teens to go out and take risks elsewhere, whereas adopting a more sensible, open approach to the topic, will make your children feel as though they can talk to you and they might take a more sensible and less risk-taking approach to sex.

As always, there are two sides to the argument and some of the more vocal opponents to this idea claimed that by encouraging this sort of behaviour is encouraging our teens to be morally lacking and promiscuous. I’m not sure if I made the right decision and I hope that the situation doesn’t arise again too soon.

There was a ‘heart in my mouth’ moment when in the morning, he told me he hadn’t slept all night. I was quite relieved when he explained that she had been poorly and he’d had to keep getting up and making drinks! It has also made me realise that we often discuss the challenges of babies, toddlers and young children, however parenting a teenager is also incredibly challenging and there often isn’t the wealth of information and support that you get with younger children. There really should be as this is such a crucial stage of development and a time when parents really do need advice and support in how best to help their children mature into young adults and go off into the world.