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Can we have a fierce discussion of teens and privacy?


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My overall philosophy so far with my teens (and young adults) has been they get a fairly large amount of privacy until or unless I have reason to be concerned. Specifically things like this: I reserve the right to check their phones for inappropriate stuff, but I don’t typically look at their phones. In fact, I only recall one instance with one of my older children when I did this. Or, say, when my teen has a bf/gf over, I don’t allow them to hang out in bedrooms, but I also don’t feel they must be chaperoned every second, Duggar-style, So, if they were watching a movie in the family room, I may or may not watch the movie too, and I wouldn’t feel compelled to keep my eyes on them every moment. 

This is coming up, though, with a set of parents I’m interacting with. It’s kind of getting on my nerves. I understand in the sense that they don’t have older kids and so this is their first rodeo. But I think they are being hyper-vigilent. I’m concerned in one respect because I theorize that when control is excessive, that’s when teens get clever/sneaky. I don’t have a goal for my kids such as (think of the Duggars, for example) they must not kiss, or obviously, make further progress in that department. So, the vigilance these parents require seems excessive to me.

With that said, I am willing to cooperate with their standards when I am put in charge of their teen. I do know what it’s like to be the parent with the strictest standard, so, I give them credit; at least they don’t hide their beliefs. But still. It rankles sometimes. To me, one of the great perks to not having little kids anymore is that I don’t have to monitor them every moment. But to comply with these parents, I do. 

Obv. I’m being a little cagey with the specifics of this situation, but I’d like to discuss the larger point. How much privacy vs. how much freedom for teens? 

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Eh, I didn't date until college. My first kiss was when I was 22 and I've only kissed three guys total in my life. It isn't such a bad thing to approach dating and relationships with a more matur

Why are you in charge of this other teen? Is the kid dating your teen and the parents want you to supervise them constantly when they are at your house? If that’s what’s happening, I don’t think

I’m not sure about the “practice at 14” thing. I had no restrictions on dating when I was a teen, but now that I’m older than dirt, I’m not entirely sure that I wouldn’t have been better off wait

I had majorly rebellious teens and made lots of mistakes in this area. I think I agree with you that you need to reserve the right to see ANYthing. But parenting teens by control just doesn't work if they have any spunk at all, imo. You can have the most trusting relationship built over years of obedience and then WHAM it all goes to hell. 

I think all you can do is try to instill your values, set good boundaries (easier to go from strict to less strict than the other way around), and hope for the best. 

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Why are you in charge of this other teen? Is the kid dating your teen and the parents want you to supervise them constantly when they are at your house?

If that’s what’s happening, I don’t think the other parents have the right to dictate what you do in your own home. Your normal house rules sound perfectly reasonable, and I would think it was very nervy for another parents to tell you that you need to change them when their kid is at your house.

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If another family wants you to make sure a dating couple is never left alone, I'd just say no, I cannot guarantee that. Bc I'm my case, I couldn't. Stuff comes up, I have to leave the room, the house, the property...And it's be entirely *true* Sometimes, I have to leave suddenly with no advanced warning.

I'd make it a logistics discussion. Tell the other family I cannot guarantee your level of chaperoning. Avoid all the moral issues, trust issues, sexuality issues, etc.

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A teen who is inclined to do something is going to find a way to do it no matter how strict a parent is. I mean I guess the parent could give the child absolutely zero privacy 100% of the time amd then maybe they can control their actions. But really that is impossible. 

From my experience, the super strict parents thought they knew their kids well but they didn't. Or the compliant kids put up with it and then went crazy wild in college and they really went down bad paths real fast once given freedom.

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3 minutes ago, hjffkj said:

A teen who is inclined to do something is going to find a way to do it no matter how strict a parent is. I mean I guess the parent could give the child absolutely privacy 100% of the time amd then maybe they can control their actions. But really that is impossible. 

From my experience, the super strict parents thought they knew their kids well but they didn't. Or the compliant kids put up with it and then went crazy wild in college and they really went down bad paths real fast once given freedom.

This is pretty much exactly what I think. 

And your second paragraph jibes with my observations, too. 

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4 minutes ago, unsinkable said:

If another family wants you to make sure a dating couple is never left alone, I'd just say no, I cannot guarantee that. Bc I'm my case, I couldn't. Stuff comes up, I have to leave the room, the house, the property...And it's be entirely *true* Sometimes, I have to leave suddenly with no advanced warning.

I'd make it a logistics discussion. Tell the other family I cannot guarantee your level of chaperoning. Avoid all the moral issues, trust issues, sexuality issues, etc.

 

I think that’s an excellent idea! That way, Quill wouldn’t come across as judging the other parents for their personal beliefs. 

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6 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Why are you in charge of this other teen? Is the kid dating your teen and the parents want you to supervise them constantly when they are at your house?

If that’s what’s happening, I don’t think the other parents have the right to dictate what you do in your own home. Your normal house rules sound perfectly reasonable, and I would think it was very nervy for another parents to tell you that you need to change them when their kid is at your house.

While I agree that parents can't dictate what other parents do in their own home, if this is a situation where their child is dating/in a relationship with Quill's child the downside to not providing supervision that the other parents are comfortable with may be that their child doesn't get to spend time at Quill's house and the young couple are only permitted to hang out in the presence of the stricter parents. That seems to me to give the other parents undue control and influence, while preventing Quill and her dh from getting to know the kid well.

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One of my sons has had a girlfriend so far.  Our rules were, "Stay in open areas.  You are allowed in the movie room, but the door must remain open and I have the right to come in at any time."  (our TV/movie room is the only room they went into with a door that shut, they weren't allowed in bedrooms.)

But I don't police other people's kids with their rules.  My house, my rules.  

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As for my own views yeah I think it is unreasonable to require all interactions be supervised. Teens are moving towards adulthood, micromanagement of another adult is not appropriate and micromanagement now is liable to lead to resentment. There can be rules and expectations that allow reasonable freedom.

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1 minute ago, maize said:

While I agree that parents can't dictate what other parents do in their own home, if this is a situation where their child is dating/in a relationship with Quill's child the downside to not providing supervision that the other parents are comfortable with may be that their child doesn't get to spend time at Quill's house and the young couple are only permitted to hang out in the presence of the stricter parents. That seems to me to give the other parents undue control and influence, while preventing Quill and her dh from getting to know the kid well.

 

You are right — that could happen. 

But Quill shouldn’t have to restrict her own son in their own home just to please the other parents. And realistically, he might as well see exactly what the girl’s parents are like before he gets too involved with her. 

 

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1 minute ago, maize said:

As for my own views yeah I think it is unreasonable to require all interactions be supervised. Teens are moving towards adulthood, micromanagement of another adult is not appropriate and micromanagement now is liable to lead to resentment. There can be rules and expectations that allow reasonable freedom.

 

I agree. It sounds like the other parents want a constantly-present babysitter for their teen and that’s unreasonable. 

I mean, it’s not like Quill was bragging to them about how she keeps a big basket of condoms and porn DVDs in a basket in the front hallway for the kids! (Quill, you weren’t bragging about that, right? 😉 )

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I reserve the right to check anything at any time.  Bedrooms, phones, whatever.  I don't currently have a teen, but I did have one, she's in her 20s now.  I rarely had a reason to check but there were times that I would randomly check whatever I felt like checking, not often but occasionally.  I think that reserving the right to check isn't really effective if that's never actually used.  That doesn't mean needing to check often, just enough that the teen knows that mom really does mean that she will check.

Also, I think age makes a difference.  My level of monitoring is much higher with a 13 or 14 yr old than it is with a 17 or 18 yr old....presuming of course there's no reason to be monitoring the older teens.  

Having said all that....I was 17 when I got pregnant with my oldest, and the situation was semi monitored....we weren't even that sneaky.  

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I come down in the middle of BTDT and it depends on the age of teens ....and what the other parents are asking for.

My daughter had a serious boyfriend at 14yo. He lived with his grandfather in a ranch style home. They had two full livingrooms and it was just the two of them living there. They lived about 5 minutes from my house. I did ask the grandfather to not allow them to hang out in the bedroom (very small room with just a queen size bed and desk) and I asked if he was leaving the house to let me know so I could pick her up (or he could drop her off). The TVs and game consoles were in the livingrooms so there was no reason for them to hang out in the bedrooms. There were no other people that were there, no annoying little siblings or rooms with people telling them to be quiet while playing a game.  I know he didn't agree with me but the grandfather complied for the most part. That being said, I didn't care where on the property the grandfather was, but I wanted the kids to know he could walk in at anytime. I was a rowdy teen and while I know that teens can get very sneeky when they want to, I figured it would at least slow things down a little by not allowing them to hang out in a closed-door bedroom with just a bed. I remember hanging out in guys bedrooms when I was a teen. We did a lot of talking and laughing there....but we also did a lot of other stuff that we wouldn't have done in an open livingroom. My daughter didn't date on a regular basis again until she was an older teen (17+) and by then I obviously didn't have any expectations for what happened at other people's homes. 

If the parents are expecting you to constantly supervise, I think that is a bit excessive but I guess the alternative is that the parents expect them to only hang out in their own home. 

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I wouldn't expect other parents to be responsible for holding to my specific standards if my kids were over at their house.

For teens, I'm assuming I'd trust my teens enough for them to know that they're to generally stick with our standards even when they're not home, and not rely on friends' parents to hold them to it.  I'd know there's a good chance they won't be able to follow 100% of our rules when they're not home, but as long as they're generally trustworthy, I'd leave it at that.  So (let's say I'm your child's friend's parent), if that means my teen ends up in a room alone with other teens and no parents, fine.  But if they end up in a room with other teens and no parents and dumb stuff is going on that we don't support, then said child can always get up and go into another room, find something else to do, or come home.  

I wouldn't require a minute-by-minute rundown when they got home.

That said, if a friend were very important to my child and they were coming to our home from a home with stricter standards, I'm pretty sure I'd make an effort to at least meet them part-way, if not more.   If we're talking about a romantic relationship... That was never really a problem at our house.  Our main floor was mostly just one giant room.  The second floor was full of tiny bedrooms, but those were off-limits to romantic get-togethers.  So, there really weren't any private areas in our home!  😄 

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16 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I reserve the right to check anything at any time.  Bedrooms, phones, whatever.  I don't currently have a teen, but I did have one, she's in her 20s now.  I rarely had a reason to check but there were times that I would randomly check whatever I felt like checking, not often but occasionally.  I think that reserving the right to check isn't really effective if that's never actually used.  That doesn't mean needing to check often, just enough that the teen knows that mom really does mean that she will check.

Also, I think age makes a difference.  My level of monitoring is much higher with a 13 or 14 yr old than it is with a 17 or 18 yr old....presuming of course there's no reason to be monitoring the older teens.  

Having said all that....I was 17 when I got pregnant with my oldest, and the situation was semi monitored....we weren't even that sneaky.  

You make a good point. I think for me, it matters how you respond to whatever you find. Like - totally hypothetical and not something that happened - but, let’s say I checked my son’s phone and he had texted his guy friend and said, “This girl I’m seeing, she is totally fine. Baby got back, front, everything. 😍” I mean, I wouldn’t be super thrilled at that objectification, but I also wouldn’t think this surely means...you know what. Teen boys boast like that. It might make me more snoopy and supervisory, but it wouldn’t make me respond like, “they can NEVER be alone for one second!” 

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49 minutes ago, Quill said:

You make a good point. I think for me, it matters how you respond to whatever you find. Like - totally hypothetical and not something that happened - but, let’s say I checked my son’s phone and he had texted his guy friend and said, “This girl I’m seeing, she is totally fine. Baby got back, front, everything. 😍” I mean, I wouldn’t be super thrilled at that objectification, but I also wouldn’t think this surely means...you know what. Teen boys boast like that. It might make me more snoopy and supervisory, but it wouldn’t make me respond like, “they can NEVER be alone for one second!” 

In a situation like that, I don’t know that I would necessarily become more snoopy, though maybe, depending on what originally had me checking.  

I would however probably bring it to his attention that if the girl he is seeing actually saw that text, she might very well dump him lol.  

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I think it would be unreasonable to be asked to monitor the other teen’s cellphone use unless the teen were going to be with you for an extended stay.  

How much monitoring, oversight, otherwise of a visiting teen would depend on circumstances.  

I think saying you are able/willing to do _____ (whatever you feel to be right) is reasonable and if the other family doesn’t feel that’s okay, then the kids can go to other family house rather than yours — if you are comfortable with your kid being at their place.  

 

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5 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

In a situation like that, I don’t know that I would necessarily become more snoopy, though maybe, depending on what originally had me checking.  

I would however probably bring it to his attention that if the girl he is seeing actually saw that text, she might very well dump him lol.  

...and I wouldn’t blame her if she did for that! 😁

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4 minutes ago, Pen said:

I think it would be unreasonable to be asked to monitor the other teen’s cellphone use unless the teen were going to be with you for an extended stay.  

How much monitoring, oversight, otherwise of a visiting teen would depend on circumstances.  

I think saying you are able/willing to do _____ (whatever you feel to be right) is reasonable and if the other family doesn’t feel that’s okay, then the kids can go to other family house rather than yours — if you are comfortable with your kid being at their place.  

 

I wouldn’t prefer this outcome, though. 

When I was a teen, I spent 100% of my free time at my bf’s house. He didn’t spend time at my family’s house. (In our case, it was more for the opposite reason - his family had looser standards than mine.) I would be bothered by this outcome. I want friendships and relationships to be fairly equal on whose house and in which parents’ presence the kids spend their time. 

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3 minutes ago, Quill said:

I wouldn’t prefer this outcome, though. 

When I was a teen, I spent 100% of my free time at my bf’s house. He didn’t spend time at my family’s house. (In our case, it was more for the opposite reason - his family had looser standards than mine.) I would be bothered by this outcome. I want friendships and relationships to be fairly equal on whose house and in which parents’ presence the kids spend their time. 

 

Maybe the other kid’s parents are afraid all time together would be at your more fun / looser standards house like you with your BF 😉

Do the parents in other house spend the whole visit time in same room as the kids?

Or what do they actually do? 

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How you do it is basically how I do it, Quill. And that's my general take. If a kid is struggling with something or gives me a reason, I've made it clear that I'll interfere. Otherwise, be reasonably open with me and I'll stay out of it. The other day, kid was like, I'm meeting friends out in another neighborhood. I was like, okay, when, who. He's like, later, just people. I was like, dude, I'm chill, but I'm going to need a name. There are a lot of things I'm curious about with my teens, especially now that most of their friends aren't homeschooled so I don't know the parents. But they're here, they're healthy, they do their work, they don't worry me... I can live not knowing.

I don't know what I'd do in the case of another teen's parents making demands on me. I would respect their approach, absolutely. But I have trouble not being myself. I mean, I'm simply not going to sit in the room with my kid and another teen at all times, for example. Or check another teen's phone. Or turn our wifi off. Or change my own kid's curfew. I mean, doors open, that's fine and desirable. Check in on them, sure. I'm happy to help them enforce their curfew by reminding the other teen to get home. I'm happy to remind the other teen to follow their own rules, such as if I see they're out late or watching an R movie or something.

But if other parents were like, you need to have your eyes on them at all times, I'd be like, no. I cannot do that. Like, that's not desirable to me as a goal or something I feel I could practically promise anyway. Or if other parents were like, let's read and discuss all texts together no matter what, I'd be like, sorry, no. That's between you and your kid. 

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11 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

Maybe the other kid’s parents are afraid all time together would be at your more fun / looser standards house like you with your BF 😉

Do the parents in other house spend the whole visit time in same room as the kids?

Or what do they actually do? 

Well, this is still pretty new, so there’s only been one evening there, one evening here so far. But the parents are expecting no blankets, all body parts visible, parent in the room 100% of the time. Also, since we live on a secluded, substantial amount of acreage, the other parent requested no going outside together (because they would not be supervised). So, basically this is what is sanctioned: sitting together in the main area, watching a movie or playing a video game, no blankets or snuggling, no time unsupervised at all. 

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. Like there was a desire to know exactly what was happening the whole time, which I did know, because we ate homemade pizza, watched a Harry Potter movie, and then they played a game with me present in the room. I could account for 100% of their activities, but it sort of annoyed me how the parent seemed to be expecting some sort of bad behavior. 

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

Well, this is still pretty new, so there’s only been one evening there, one evening here so far. But the parents are expecting no blankets, all body parts visible, parent in the room 100% of the time. Also, since we live on a secluded, substantial amount of acreage, the other parent requested no going outside together (because they would not be supervised). So, basically this is what is sanctioned: sitting together in the main area, watching a movie or playing a video game, no blankets or snuggling, no time unsupervised at all. 

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. Like there was a desire to know exactly what was happening the whole time, which I did know, because we ate homemade pizza, watched a Harry Potter movie, and then they played a game with me present in the room. I could account for 100% of their activities, but it sort of annoyed me how the parent seemed to be expecting some sort of bad behavior. 

I may have missed it.....but how old are they?

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3 minutes ago, Tap said:

I may have missed it.....but how old are they?

It’s my 14yo. (Says 15 in my siggy, but he hasn’t turned 15 yet.) Both teens are 14. 

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My DD and her new boyfriend don't hang out at either parent's house because this is a new 'thing' and I don't think they really want (or need) 'eyes' on them yet. Walks to McDonalds and back are filling their little love buckets quite nicely. We're (YIKES!) two weeks from 15 'round here for DD and two months for the boyfriend. I can't imagine not letting them walk in our neighborhood. Geeze, my neighbors would happily alert me to any funny business. LOL. Following for tips.

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16 minutes ago, Quill said:

Well, this is still pretty new, so there’s only been one evening there, one evening here so far. But the parents are expecting no blankets, all body parts visible, parent in the room 100% of the time. Also, since we live on a secluded, substantial amount of acreage, the other parent requested no going outside together (because they would not be supervised). So, basically this is what is sanctioned: sitting together in the main area, watching a movie or playing a video game, no blankets or snuggling, no time unsupervised at all. 

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. Like there was a desire to know exactly what was happening the whole time, which I did know, because we ate homemade pizza, watched a Harry Potter movie, and then they played a game with me present in the room. I could account for 100% of their activities, but it sort of annoyed me how the parent seemed to be expecting some sort of bad behavior. 

The other parent's rules wouldn't be my rules at all, and the watch them at all times and never let them go outside thing would really chafe for me and I think I'd say I can't promise that, though I'd absolutely check in on them. But I'm not interrupting my life so they can have their date. But the other stuff - stay in a main area not hiding under blankets... wouldn't be my personal rules exactly, but seems par for the course for most teen parents. Not sure how I'd handle it, but also doesn't seem nuts, basically.

But the second part would drive me bonkers. Like, I get why they have the first set of rules. They have these specific things and they feel they want to keep things chaste. Okay. But the second part is that they feel it's their place to micromanage the whole affair. As if it's their relationship. That's very uncool. I wouldn't even know what to say to that. I think I'd be like, what to you mean how did it go? It wasn't MY date. Maybe ask your kid.

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23 minutes ago, Quill said:

Well, this is still pretty new, so there’s only been one evening there, one evening here so far. But the parents are expecting no blankets, all body parts visible, parent in the room 100% of the time. Also, since we live on a secluded, substantial amount of acreage, the other parent requested no going outside together (because they would not be supervised). So, basically this is what is sanctioned: sitting together in the main area, watching a movie or playing a video game, no blankets or snuggling, no time unsupervised at all. 

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. Like there was a desire to know exactly what was happening the whole time, which I did know, because we ate homemade pizza, watched a Harry Potter movie, and then they played a game with me present in the room. I could account for 100% of their activities, but it sort of annoyed me how the parent seemed to be expecting some sort of bad behavior. 

See I would be inclined to expect behavior (not "bad," because I won't characterize sexual behavior that way, but...more sexual than I think is cool). 

"No blankets" is good, imo.  Rant Warning follows...

And for everyone who says no bedrooms and thinks that will totally curtail sex and heavy petting, wake up. Woods/walks, cars, and yeah, livingrooms are all just as likely places. I'm being blunt here. Same thing with "group dates only." Movies are dark. Kids pair up, and other kids think it is romantic and don't want to rat out their friends. Not all the time, but the way parents think rules protect their kids 100% is just so naive. "Oh, but they are GOOD kids--straight A's! Youth Group! Christian! They wear a True Love Waits ring!" Honestly, it is all bull-oney and not the preventative prople think. And don't bring out the old tired misuse of the "train up a child" proverb...

Kids have hormones, have under-developed executive function/impulse control, and test boundaries. Even the most spiritual, compliant, loving son or daughter can get caught up in the throes of young love and sexual exploration. It is not all bad, either. But it is highly likely, and for some of us, makes us uncomfortable for a number of reasons. 

This topic is very close to home for me, sorry. I just wish kids would wait, weren't sexual beings yet and had more sense. Some do. Some wait for more advanced explorations, so to speak. But most don't. 

The parents who want to protect that much are often very disappointed to find it doesn't ALWAYS work and sometimes has the opposite effect. 

 

Edited by Chris in VA
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That would annoy me too.   I have one 25 year old, one 14 year old and a 12 year old.    I also have an extremely small house so "friends" were allowed in bedrooms but doors remain open (and I can literally see the entire room of what was my oldest's bedroom from where I'm sitting on the couch just by turning my head).  I did not/will not accompany them to movies, I allow walks on their own, and definitely won't have eyes on them 100%.   

I have similar policies for electronics - I can check anytime I want but usually don't.   

I'm torn on the blanket thing.  My house is COLD in the winter.  Like all of us are under blankets, wearing socks, sweats and hoodies.   I don't really have a problem with sitting under a blanket watching a movie or sitting in front of the fireplace.   It's pretty obvious if something more than just sitting/snuggling is going on.  

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This is tough. When my teens start dating, I like to be around so I can get to know the significiant other and the two of them as a couple. I want to help mold my kid as he/she enters new relationships. My two oldest started dating their freshman year and are still with those significant others. We are very blessed that both sets of significant other parents are fabulous and have similar parenting styles as we do. At first, we required a parent to be home when they "hung" out at either house. This was fairly easy to accomodate since my kids couldn't drive when they started dating. As we interact with them as couples, their range of freedom expands.  I don't see where overly restrictive rules truly help the kids. I want my kids to grow and learn how good relationships develop, and that means they need freedom to grow and make their own decisions.

Chaperoning my 15yo has been more difficult just because our schedules don't align as well with when the kids can hang out. Both sets of parents have determined we are OK with them hanging out while siblings are around rather than parents. It's not perfect, but it's either give a little flexibility, restrict their time together, or have my schedule significantly interrupted.

My 17yo has been driving for 1.5 years and dating her significant other for 2.5 years. My dd has spent the weekend with his family at their cabin and she's stayed overnight at his house. They are going on vacation together in May and staying with his grandma. I never imaginged we would have been OK with that a few years ago, but it has evolved naturally. Her boyfriend and his family are great. My dd's personal boundaries are excellet. I have no issues with her romantic decisions, and I have no issues with how their freedom has evolved. They have certainly earned our trust.

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29 minutes ago, Quill said:

Well, this is still pretty new, so there’s only been one evening there, one evening here so far. But the parents are expecting no blankets, all body parts visible, parent in the room 100% of the time. Also, since we live on a secluded, substantial amount of acreage, the other parent requested no going outside together (because they would not be supervised). So, basically this is what is sanctioned: sitting together in the main area, watching a movie or playing a video game, no blankets or snuggling, no time unsupervised at all. 

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. Like there was a desire to know exactly what was happening the whole time, which I did know, because we ate homemade pizza, watched a Harry Potter movie, and then they played a game with me present in the room. I could account for 100% of their activities, but it sort of annoyed me how the parent seemed to be expecting some sort of bad behavior. 

The part I find odd about this is that they are letting their 14 year old date.  

Obviously some people are ok with that .....but usually parents who hope their kids stay chaste don’t let them date at age 14. 

I would be the stricter parent in this situation.....and although I recognize my desired level of supervision could not be enforced I would still want to know I did what I could to raise my child with the values I have and that I feel obligated to attempt  to instill in said child.  

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12 minutes ago, 2squared said:

This is tough. When my teens start dating, I like to be around so I can get to know the significiant other and the two of them as a couple. I want to help mold my kid as he/she enters new relationships. My two oldest started dating their freshman year and are still with those significant others. We are very blessed that both sets of significant other parents are fabulous and have similar parenting styles as we do. At first, we required a parent to be home when they "hung" out at either house. This was fairly easy to accomodate since my kids couldn't drive when they started dating. As we interact with them as couples, their range of freedom expands.  I don't see where overly restrictive rules truly help the kids. I want my kids to grow and learn how good relationships develop, and that means they need freedom to grow and make their own decisions.

Chaperoning my 15yo has been more difficult just because our schedules don't align as well with when the kids can hang out. Both sets of parents have determined we are OK with them hanging out while siblings are around rather than parents. It's not perfect, but it's either give a little flexibility, restrict their time together, or have my schedule significantly interrupted.

My 17yo has been driving for 1.5 years and dating her significant other for 2.5 years. My dd has spent the weekend with his family at their cabin and she's stayed overnight at his house. They are going on vacation together in May and staying with his grandma. I never imaginged we would have been OK with that a few years ago, but it has evolved naturally. Her boyfriend and his family are great. My dd's personal boundaries are excellet. I have no issues with her romantic decisions, and I have no issues with how their freedom has evolved. They have certainly earned our trust.

 

These years are so fraught! My DD's new dude is the younger son in a family with a senior daughter. He seems like a great kid, and to DD's credit, everyone she's introduced us to us a wonderful human being. She said his older sister grilled her at HOCO and we witnessed dad (a Navy Captain) with the older child as she won HOCO queen last night. Part of me feels like, yep, mistakes can happen but at least I know both families are decent and our values are not so different that we can't find common ground. I am not sure what I would do in Quill's shoes. I cannot imagine supervising that closely even as I also do not allow closed family room doors or bedroom visits. DH and I married at 18 and 22 respectively after dating for almost three years. We don't have a lot of room to impose arbitrary vs. values-based restrictions on how they spend their time.

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55 minutes ago, Quill said:

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. 

 

That sounds more like something we would say to a new babysitter, tutor or first time my kids are left with a relative (grandparents, aunts, ...).

For BGR, that’s too much monitoring and rules to ask for. For a study group hosted at your home, I would be willing to accommodate some of the “rules” requested like no blankets and common areas

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23 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

The part I find odd about this is that they are letting their 14 year old date.  

Obviously some people are ok with that .....but usually parents who hope their kids stay chaste don’t let them date at age 14. 

I would be the stricter parent in this situation.....and although I recognize my desired level of supervision could not be enforced I would still want to know I did what I could to raise my child with the values I have and that I feel obligated to attempt  to instill in said child.  

See, and I always find this position a bit odd. I mean, “letting” them date. They will be going to Homecoming dance soon. Isn’t that a date? Or would you forbid going to hoco with someone until they are (whatever age - 16, say)? I also just don’t understand how “no dating until age X” really works. He goes to school. He goes to sports events. He goes places with friends. If I was, like, let’s pretend he’s “not allowed” to date, do I think that means he’s not going to spend any time with someone he likes in the romantic manner? 

In my experience, that seems to be when kids get sneakier. And some of the sneakiest kids end up with bad outcomes. 

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What Chris in VA said about how they will find a way and these rules often don't work is part of why I just can't be fussed to make these sorts of rules. If they're intent on something, they'll do it. End stop. I'd much rather focus on education and discussion. And, if it's not working and there are problems, on being intrusive in other ways at that point.

But I don't assume this all has to be bad. I don't have a moral objection to my teens having sex. I have an emotional one in that I doubt they're ready. And as far as I can tell, neither of them have done anything anyway. I mean, if I had to pick between all the "bad" things my teens could be doing at this age... assuming they use protection and understand consent, I'd take sex over drinking, drugs, lying, criminal activity... so many things. I know to a lot of parents, it's a tragedy when a teen has sex. I just don't feel that way, so then when that's how parents are approaching it... it's hard for me to relate to that. I can respect that it's their rules, but I can't feel the same, oh no! about it all.

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13 minutes ago, Quill said:

See, and I always find this position a bit odd. I mean, “letting” them date. They will be going to Homecoming dance soon. Isn’t that a date? Or would you forbid going to hoco with someone until they are (whatever age - 16, say)? I also just don’t understand how “no dating until age X” really works. He goes to school. He goes to sports events. He goes places with friends. If I was, like, let’s pretend he’s “not allowed” to date, do I think that means he’s not going to spend any time with someone he likes in the romantic manner? 

In my experience, that seems to be when kids get sneakier. And some of the sneakiest kids end up with bad outcomes. 

 

THIS. I think 'dating' is a pretty loosey-goosey term for what we see right now. This young man declared himself DD's HOCO 'date' but I dropped her off and picked her up. They only met up halfway through. My perspective has always been that the time to develop good judgment and establish relationship boundaries isn't high school. This is the time to practice/refine the judgment/boundaries they ALREADY have with reasonable supervision. By the end of high school, they either have it down or HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS!  I would prefer the former.

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

It’s my 14yo. (Says 15 in my siggy, but he hasn’t turned 15 yet.) Both teens are 14. 

TBH, I'd be nervous if it was my 14 yo dd, too. At 14, I would be alright with the boundaries those parents set, though it would be pretty annoying to follow through with them. They are "just babies," really. Why dating would be my question. What is the purpose? Snuggling under blankets? They'd really expect to do that? I'd suggest they snuggle with the dog and cat.

I am so thankful that I didn't have to deal with this as my dd didn't date at that age. She still isn't dating and she's 19. I must admit that I have different feelings with my sons. A couple of them had "girl friends" for a bit. It never reached the stage that they'd go over to each other's houses. 

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21 minutes ago, Quill said:

See, and I always find this position a bit odd. I mean, “letting” them date. They will be going to Homecoming dance soon. Isn’t that a date? Or would you forbid going to hoco with someone until they are (whatever age - 16, say)? I also just don’t understand how “no dating until age X” really works. He goes to school. He goes to sports events. He goes places with friends. If I was, like, let’s pretend he’s “not allowed” to date, do I think that means he’s not going to spend any time with someone he likes in the romantic manner? 

In my experience, that seems to be when kids get sneakier. And some of the sneakiest kids end up with bad outcomes. 

Yes, I can see where if these events are the norm and expected thing for everyone. Kids grow up with the expectation that they'll need to find a date to fit in, even if they wouldn't otherwise seek it out. 

In Canada these kinds of events just don't exist in our high schools. Perhaps in some areas, but not to the same extent. The first big event where a "date" may be expected is high school graduation, but even then it's often a group activity and no date is expected. 

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Mine is 16 and I’d love for him to start dating. I’m truly fearful he won’t in high school, and will have to figure out the rules in college. I really, really hope that won’t be the case. So my perspective is probably different than most folks here.

At 14 I can see having solid guidelines and to me Quills seem totally normal. I would resent being asked to babysit if the kids were at my house. I just wouldn’t be able to abide by such arbitrary strictness, and I think those parents are out of line making rules for another parent to follow. 

But again, to me, chasity isn’t an end goal, and I’d expect my kid to have a pretty decent head on his shoulders by that age. 

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12 minutes ago, wintermom said:

TBH, I'd be nervous if it was my 14 yo dd, too. At 14, I would be alright with the boundaries those parents set, though it would be pretty annoying to follow through with them. They are "just babies," really. Why dating would be my question. What is the purpose? Snuggling under blankets? They'd really expect to do that? I'd suggest they snuggle with the dog and cat.

I am so thankful that I didn't have to deal with this as my dd didn't date at that age. She still isn't dating and she's 19. I must admit that I have different feelings with my sons. A couple of them had "girl friends" for a bit. It never reached the stage that they'd go over to each other's houses. 

 

They are not 'just babies' and infantilizing them may prolong launch and successful partnering or encourage them to prove their "man/womanliness". They are practicing their adulting skills WRT relationships the same way they practice cooking skills, cleaning skills, time management skills, self-advocacy skills and all the rest (within reasonable limits). I don't want my kiddos to fear any part of relationships; I want them to know how to manage them within the framework they create for their lives.

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7 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

 

They are not 'just babies' and infantilizing them may prolong launch and successful partnering. They are practicing their adulting skills WRT relationships the same way they practice cooking skills, cleaning skills, time management skills, self-advocacy skills and all the rest (within reasonable limits). I don't want my kiddos to fear any part of relationships; I want them to know how to manage them within the framework they create for their lives.

Really? They aren't even fully grown physically or mentally. What is the purpose of "practicing" any of this at age 14? Their lives are learning to eat, clothe themselves, do some homework and get some physical activity. Maybe get a part-time job mowing lawns to buy candy or hockey cards, maybe scrape together enough money to upgrade computer parts. What earthly reason is there to put the pressure of learning to navigate a relationship other than parent-child at this age. That is way too much pressure.

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3 minutes ago, wintermom said:

Really? They aren't even fully grown physically or mentally. What is the purpose of "practicing" any of this at age 14? Their lives are learning to eat, clothe themselves, do some homework and get some physical activity. Maybe get a part-time job mowing lawns to buy candy or hockey cards, maybe scrape together enough money to upgrade computer parts. What earthly reason is there to put the pressure of learning to navigate a relationship other than parent-child at this age. That is way too much pressure.

 

I can assure you that my child is not learning to eat, clothe herself, or complete homework (let alone get regular physical activity) at 14. Seriously. By that point, both will have several years of laundry and clothing under their belt, I do not micromanage or check that homework is complete and they each have a sport (several years worth). There is no pressure involved in learning about relationships. It is a natural evolution of their growth toward adulthood. My oldest is taking the summer off from her sport so she can travel and earn money for a car. I ENCOURAGED them to take on things that they could as they grew. When they are ready, they push for more and we discuss our expectations and their goals.

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6 minutes ago, wintermom said:

 What earthly reason is there to put the pressure of learning to navigate a relationship other than parent-child at this age. That is way too much pressure.

 

1. Long before 14 they have lots of relationships that aren't parent-child: friend-friend, sibling-sibling, cousin-cousin, grandparent-grandchild, teacher-student....

2. It's not any less pressure if you wait until everybody else has been dating and hanging out for years, and you're the only one who doesn't know how to ask people out or what you're comfortable with.

 

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1 hour ago, Scarlett said:

The part I find odd about this is that they are letting their 14 year old date.  

Obviously some people are ok with that .....but usually parents who hope their kids stay chaste don’t let them date at age 14. 

I would be the stricter parent in this situation.....and although I recognize my desired level of supervision could not be enforced I would still want to know I did what I could to raise my child with the values I have and that I feel obligated to attempt  to instill in said child.  

 

I was wondering the same thing, because if they are very strict, it seems odd that they would allow their 14yo dd to date at all. 

I’m probably kind of old fashioned about this, but it makes complete sense to me that the girl’s parents don’t want their 14yo dd snuggling under blankets with her boyfriend, and they only want the kids in common areas of the house and not in a bedroom.

The part that seems over the top to me is that a parent needs to be in the room with them at all times (and not in a nearby room, able to pop in or walk past the family room at any time,) and that the kids aren’t even allowed to go for a little walk around the neighborhood. The idea of ZERO privacy seems a little extreme, especially since both kids are going to school, because there are a lot of opportunities to sneak around in school and after school, where the parents would have no clue as to where they were or what they were doing.

Edited by Catwoman
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I was just thinking that many of us (myself included!) are being quick to label the girl’s parents as being overly protective, but as I reflect on it a bit more, I do sympathize with them. On one hand, they may be seeing their dd still acting like a child in many ways, yet all of a sudden she has a boyfriend. Yikes!  If she is their only child or their oldest child, letting her go can be HARD. They want to protect her like they always have, and they’re worried that a boyfriend will try to pressure her into doing things she’s not ready for. They are worried that her heart will be broken when the relationship ends. They are scared of all of the changes.

Quill, maybe it would be worth following most of their rules for a little while, and maybe they will loosen up once they get to know you and your son better. This might just be uncharted waters for them and they may need some time to adjust.

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7 minutes ago, Danae said:

 

I interpreted Quill saying she lived in the boonies to mean that a walk outside would be more like a walk in the woods than a walk around a neighborhood.  And as someone who grew up near a large wooded park and more than once got an eyeful of teen activities in the woods I kind of see the point.

 

Oh, yes — thank you! I had forgotten about that.

Ok, forget what I said — the woods are out! 😁 

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My kids are 14 and almost 16, so I haven't exactly parented teens to adulthood.  So, I have no idea if what we're doing is right, but we're practicing what my husband calls "aikido parenting."  Definitely parenting more through relationship than through rules.  I don't check phones or engage in a whole lot of supervision, but we talk a lot.  I can't imagine trying to parent teens through rules and commands.  It just seems both inappropriate and completely ineffective.  So I'd probably not check phones unless there were major red flags, but as far as in person supervision, I'd defer to what the other parents wanted and tell my own kid that I thought it was dumb, but that's what other parents demand in order to spend time at our place.  

My oldest is dating, although someone of the same gender, so not the same pregnancy fears and such not.  And while she's been dating for six months, they haven't been on a whole lot of dates.  Mostly they just talk at school.  Most of my youngest's friends are older males from D&D, but they've grown up together and are all firmly friend zoned.  

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

Well, this is still pretty new, so there’s only been one evening there, one evening here so far. But the parents are expecting no blankets, all body parts visible, parent in the room 100% of the time. Also, since we live on a secluded, substantial amount of acreage, the other parent requested no going outside together (because they would not be supervised). So, basically this is what is sanctioned: sitting together in the main area, watching a movie or playing a video game, no blankets or snuggling, no time unsupervised at all. 

When the other parent picked kid up, they said, “well...how did it go?” Like, I don’t know...it bugged me. Like there was a desire to know exactly what was happening the whole time, which I did know, because we ate homemade pizza, watched a Harry Potter movie, and then they played a game with me present in the room. I could account for 100% of their activities, but it sort of annoyed me how the parent seemed to be expecting some sort of bad behavior. 

This would bother me too.  

2 hours ago, Farrar said:

The other parent's rules wouldn't be my rules at all, and the watch them at all times and never let them go outside thing would really chafe for me and I think I'd say I can't promise that, though I'd absolutely check in on them. But I'm not interrupting my life so they can have their date. But the other stuff - stay in a main area not hiding under blankets... wouldn't be my personal rules exactly, but seems par for the course for most teen parents. Not sure how I'd handle it, but also doesn't seem nuts, basically.

But the second part would drive me bonkers. Like, I get why they have the first set of rules. They have these specific things and they feel they want to keep things chaste. Okay. But the second part is that they feel it's their place to micromanage the whole affair. As if it's their relationship. That's very uncool. I wouldn't even know what to say to that. I think I'd be like, what to you mean how did it go? It wasn't MY date. Maybe ask your kid.

Exactly!

And as someone else said, it sounds like something you would ask a baby sitter or a dog sitter.  It seems boundary-crossing in a way.

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