My 20 year old daughter is away at university and is coming home for a long weekend with her boyfriend. They’ve been going out together for six months and this is her first serious relationship although she’s had more casual boyfriends in the past.
We’ve met him twice and now and while discussing her visit she’s asked if they can share her bedroom whenever they come here and although I didn’t give her a definite answer I’m very uncomfortable about it, as is her dad.
I want her to come home to see us and really don’t want her visits to be reduced over this issue, but I don’t think I’m ready for this.
We discussed sex and contraception when she was much younger and when I tried to mention this a couple of months after she met this boy she simply said she didn’t want to talk about it and found me speaking to her embarrassing.
We also have a boy of 17 and a much younger daughter of 12 and I’m not sure what precedent we would be setting by agreeing to this, especially since our son has a girlfriend who sometimes stays over but always sleeps in the spare room.
How can I sort this out without a fight or alienating my daughter?
Any decision you make has to be a long term one, as your younger children will be watching you like hawks to make sure they all get treated the same way.
That can be difficult in this situation because you either have to agree that any sexual relationship, providing that it’s happening over the age of consent, can be carried on in your home or you say that only long term relationships can have that privilege, or you maintain that can only happen if a couple are engaged or married.
If you go for the first option you then have to consider how you will feel if one of your children goes in for a series of one night stands at any point because you could be meeting a series of strangers in the kitchen every morning and with the last option you are setting a fairly high bar – what happens if none of your children marry but settle happily into long term relationships?
This would probably be an easier decision to make if you weren’t worrying about the younger siblings, but if you make it clear that you value long-term and loving relationships you are encouraging all of them to be open about their own relationships and also saying that you respect their judgement when it comes to choosing long-term partners.
However, there are a couple of useful strategies if you want a little more time before taking this big step, bearing in mind that her boyfriend might actually be quite embarrassed at the thought of sharing a bedroom in your home, having only met you twice.
Explain your concerns about her siblings to your daughter, especially concerning her brother who might feel he should also have his girlfriend staying in his room and ask her if you can compromise for the next six months, at which point you can rightly say you know him much better and this is definitely a long term relationship and needs no excusing or explaining.
There is a big difference in maturity between 20 and 17, which she will undoubtedly agree with and tell her you would appreciate her help in setting a bench mark for the family. That means that for the next few visits they have separate rooms though you might have to turn a blind eye to any night time wanderings but that some time in the foreseeable future that situation will change and they can share a room.
As your children get older this is a decision which will come up again, so you need to do some careful thinking about the long term implications of what you agree as well as the short term to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
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