When should you let your teenager have a sleepover with their partner? This is a great question that every parent of a teenager asks themselves. Read on to learn how this mom handles it.
by Lori Gurtman | Lori Gurtman lives in Aspen, Colorado with her husband, two teenage children, and Old English Sheepdog. Reading and writing are her favorite escape. When she isn’t doing that, she can be found on the mountain: hiking, biking, or skiing. Lori is also a published author, freelance writer, certified proofreader, and college essay tutor—who is passionate about empowering her students to write from their hearts. Follow her on Twitter @lorigurtman.
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My seventeen-year-old son has been in a committed, healthy relationship with his first-ever girlfriend for the past few months. They both appear happy and get along well.
My son and I are close, and throughout his childhood, I’ve lectured him on the importance of treating women with respect and practicing safe sex. I’ve also told him ad nauseam never to hook up with a drunk girl, and most importantly, if a girl says no—she means it.
I haven’t asked my son outright if he’s having sex with his girlfriend, but I assume he is because I’ve found condoms in his pants pocket and nightstand drawer.
I, too, was in a serious relationship with a boy when I was in high school. He was my first love. I lost my virginity to him, and we had plenty of sleepovers together at each other’s houses. We were supposed to sleep in different bedrooms, but unbeknownst to my mom, that never happened. He would sneak out of the house in the morning and never had any awkward run-ins with my mother or stepfather.
Not long ago, I was telling my mom that my son’s girlfriend spends the night on occasion. She responded that the girl’s mother must be liberal. Laughing, I told her she was the same liberal mom who let my boyfriend sleep over. For some reason, she blocked it out.
Many parents would probably judge me for allowing boyfriend/girlfriend sleepovers at such a young age—but I don’t care what others think, mainly because I have legitimate reasons why I’m permissive about this.
In less than six months, my son will be turning eighteen—and we all know what that means. He can get drafted into the military, vote, get married without my consent, seek medical treatment on his own, and get arrested and charged as an adult. Of course, he still can’t purchase alcohol, which makes no sense, but it’s the law, and we need to abide by it. So, considering his age, allowing his girlfriend to spend the night seems reasonable to me.
Another reason why I’m okay with their sleepovers is that I think it’s safer than letting him drive her home late at night or vice versa. She lives across town, and the roads are dark, windy, and icy during the winter months, so I’d much prefer if they drive in the daylight when they’re awake and alert.
Also, let’s face it: sexually active teenagers will find a place to have sex, so doesn’t it make sense to let them do it in the comforts of their bedroom? Otherwise, it will happen in a car, or at a party, or anywhere for that matter––and this might lead to them sneaking around.
Having an honest, open relationship with my son is critical, which is why I much prefer that his girlfriend stays at our house overnight, where I know there’s no danger. Otherwise, who knows where they might end up. I also think over-the-top strict parents have children who either get in trouble more often or frequently lie about what they’re doing.
My daughter, two and a half years older than my son, gave her brother great advice when he started high school. She said to him, “If you’re honest with mom, you’ll be less likely to get in trouble.” She was right. It’s the lying that I won’t tolerate, so for the most part, my children have learned to tell me the truth about what they’re doing.
Another reason why I support sleepovers is that I like that my son has a girlfriend whom he cares about. I’m not sure how long their relationship will last, but for now, he has someone special in his life to connect and be intimate.
When my son was younger, he yearned for cuddles, hugs, kisses, and hand-holding from his momma, but by middle school, naturally, that all became nonexistent. Humans need touch. It’s an integral part of our well-being. The most I get from my son nowadays is a hug when I ask for one. So, having a girlfriend to bond with on a physical and emotional level is beneficial to his health.
Worrying is a byproduct of having a teenager, especially one who likes to hang with friends and go to parties. I have difficulty sleeping until my son is home by his curfew on weekend nights. The evenings when he hangs with his girlfriend at our house gives me peace of mind. If a sleepover occurs on those nights, then so be it—I sleep well knowing they’re safe at home.
If my daughter had a serious boyfriend while in high school, I wonder if I would’ve been as permissive with sleepovers, but I think I would’ve been okay with it. My advice to any parents dealing with this issue is to listen to their gut. If you’re not comfortable letting your teens sleep with each other at your house—don’t do it. If my son weren’t in a healthy relationship and hooked up with many different girls, I wouldn’t approve, nor would I consent to such behavior under my roof.
Although I’m not quite ready to feed my son’s girlfriend breakfast in the morning, the same way I would if one of his buddies slept over, for now, I’ll continue to let her spend the night on occasion. Becoming an empty nester is right around the corner, and when that happens, my son will be on his own. Hopefully, I did my job well, guided him in the right direction, and instilled proper values and morals so that he’ll make good decisions for himself and his significant other.