Dear Care and Feeding,
I’m looking for a quick reality check in case I am off-base with my instinctual parenting rules regarding teen dating. My son (15) has had a girlfriend (also 15) for about six months. They had been best friends, and she had thought she was gay until romantic feelings developed last winter. A couple of weeks ago, my son shared with me that his girlfriend’s mother had insisted she get an IUD “just in case,” as there had been a history of teen pregnancy in the family. This prompted what I think was a good talk about not rushing things, IUDs not protecting against STDs, being considerate of his girlfriend’s timeline, etc. My husband and I are sex-positive folks.
All that said, 15 is still young, and I told him that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with them being sexually active at this point (he said they weren’t yet, but who knows?). So when he is in the house with his girlfriend, and they go into the finished basement alone to talk and watch a movie, I have asked that he keep the stair door open. When he closes it, I open it. He confronted me, and I told him that having the door open was a house rule. He is now crazy angry with me and appalled that I don’t trust him and that having the door open invades their privacy. Am I being outrageous? Or is keeping the door open a reasonable ask?
—Sex Positive With Reservations
Dear Sex Positive,
No, you aren’t being remotely outrageous for that request—if so, millions of parents across America, including mine when I was 15, were/are out of line. You can betv that I will follow the same rules you are when my kids start dating. Heck, I went to one of those fancy boarding schools, and not only did they have an open-door rule, but they had a “three feet on the floor” rule as well. Maybe I’m old school, but you are his parent, not his friend—and that means you set the rules in your home. I wouldn’t negotiate on this—it’s entirely appropriate and smart, even if your son doesn’t see that yet.
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