Parents, daughter deserve mutual respect - The Buffalo News

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Parents, daughter deserve mutual respect

Parents wonder: Should they let their daughter and her boyfriend share a room when they visit from college?

Parent advice:

“Such an arrangement makes us uneasy, so your father and I would prefer you stay in separate bedrooms.” Or, “Did Dad ever show you his shotgun?”

– William Hageman

“No chance.” They can (and will) do what they want when they are in school, but there’s no harm in reinforcing some good, old-fashioned values when they are at home. I sound just like my father, but now I think maybe he was right.

– Amy Carr

This calls for a variation on the answer to whether you bring the boyfriend on the family vacation: “No ring, no bring.” In this case, if they already live together, they can share. Otherwise, they’ll just have to tiptoe between their separate bedrooms while parents pretend they don’t know what’s going on.

– Ellen Warren

Expert advice:

“The parents need a mutual respect contract with their daughter,” said psychologist Carl Pickhardt, author of “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence: How to Understand, and Even Enjoy, the Rocky Road to Independence” (Jossey-Bass).

“From the parents’ point of view, it says, ‘We respect your right and responsibility to decide when and with whom to become sexually intimate,’ ” he said. “From the adolescent’s point of view, it says, ‘I respect your right and responsibility to only allow behavior in your home that you can feel comfortable with.’ ”

What the parents feel comfortable with is going to vary from family to family.

“There are lots of variables here,” said Pickhardt. “One is whether you have younger kids at home who are looking at what the older ones are allowed to do. Another is whether the boyfriend is a significant love interest and whether the parents have met him before.”

It’s important to keep your daughter’s request in context. She likely considers herself an adult and, if she’s sexually active, is hardly behaving outside of the norm. Ninety-five percent of Americans engage in premarital sex, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that studies reproductive and sexual health.

But your individual value system should ultimately rule the day – and guide your conversation with your daughter around the topic.

“It’s always reasonable, when a kid announces, ‘I’m now sexually active,’ to ask two questions,” Pickhardt said. “ ‘Does the treatment you are receiving in this relationship and giving in this relationship feel good to you?’ And, ‘Are you taking protective measures so you don’t get in some kind of medical trouble?’ ”

Even if your kids don’t always make the decisions you’d like them to make, it’s important that they know where you stand, Pickhardt said. And they won’t know that unless you tell them.

“Parents cannot communicate too much,” said Pickhardt. “The best parents are the parents who just will not shut up, as opposed to the parents who will not speak up.”

Have a solution? Your daughter is enrolled in five activities. Your son’s in zero. Do you owe him some money? Find “The Parent ’Hood” page on Facebook, to post your parenting questions and solutions.

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