|The Brothel by Van Gogh (Wiki Commons)|
(I speak only about heterosexual intercourse in this column, as I know very little about homosexual teen relationships; however, I would assume many of the same things apply. Childhood is childhood, regardless of the sexual orientation of those in question.)
When I moved in with my current husband, his eldest daughter lived at home. She was 26. The youngest did, also. She was 18.
The 26-year-old was used to having her boyfriend stay the night; fortunately, she didn't have a boyfriend just then.
The 18-year-old (almost) never had her boyfriend stay the night. It was uncomfortable for her, I think, as she is a sensitive soul and considers the comfort of others as much as her own.
I was adamantly opposed to boyfriends sleeping over for either of them. Why? Simple. If one wishes to act like an adult, then one had better accept the rest of the adult world first, including working and paying for one's own house. Until then, the following statement applies:
My house, my rules.
The problem there was that the habit had been sanctioned by my husband's first wife, who had died a few years earlier. The fact that she had herself been pregnant once before wedlock (don't ask; I don't know any more about it) didn't seem to convince her that sanctioning adult relations between non-adult persons in her own home was a bad idea. So, despite the fact that my husband also objected, he didn't rock that boat during his first wife's final illness, all of which meant I was stuck with it. To a point.
Endless childhoodThe eldest daughter was not a minor, obviously. But she had never so much as paid a dime toward her food and lodging. Rather, she spent all her money and then some on clothing, and, as it turned out, various forms of "don't ask." I was mistakenly trying not to upset things more than I already had simply by becoming their widowed father's wife, so I didn't make an issue of it. (The two eldest, who shouldn't have given a damn by then, were livid that my husband had fallen in love; the youngest, who had a right to be a bit upset, nonetheless accepted it.)
And then the eldest acquired a boyfriend. It was disastrous in so many ways. He tended to spend all of every weekend laying around our house, getting up at 4 in the afternoon after they had done drugs (I assume) all night in her room. He was a lout. In every possible way. And a drug addict, of course.
Sex, drugs and videotape was NOT going to be the way we lived our lives. So, before too awfully long, we required that the eldest move out. We helped her financially, and encouraged her to get a place by herself, without the lout on the lease, so she could cast the lout aside at will. She didn't, of course. She moved into a place with the lout, who became more and more loutish and more and more drugged out. She was arrested once, with him. That night when she called to ask for bail money, my favorite balloon glass for red wine ended up in shards on the kitchen floor. I had to throw something, such was my frustration at seeing a person who could have been awesome--she is beautiful and intellectually smart--ruin herself over sex with a lout. But children allowed to remain children as long as she would have little to base a common sense lifestyle upon.
Parents are supposed to parent, or else we'd call them fire plugsWhich brings me to my point: What in the name of all that's holy are parents thinking by letting minor children fornicate in the family home? I don't care if family is just a single parent and a single child; the family home is just that, a place where children are taught not only which fork to use, but what makes sense for a good life well lived.
Fornication between minors in the family home does not meet the specs.
Here, simplified, are the arguments:
- Keeping the kids "safe"
- Ensuring that there is no abuse
- Ensuring that birth control is used (are parents going to enter the room when Little Petey is at full salute and check for a helmet?)
- It constitutes giving children adult privileges BEFORE they have adult wisdom
- Although kids become physical adults as early as ten, that's food additives speaking, not maturity
- It is not a family activity
- It is abusive, a priori, to girls
- It weakens the leadership of the parents (I was going to say authority, and that's what I meant, but I decided to take the "modern" route)
- It suggests the promiscuity is not a bad thing (AIDs, STDs, pregnancy, low self-esteem)
The feminist viewpointYou may do as you will with every one of my points except one: Allowing this to happen in your home is abusive to any daughter involved.
First, it makes it clear to her (regardless of what you say) that her prime function in life is to be a vessel for sperm-catching.
Second, it makes it clear that you regard the purely physical act that can be successfully performed by any competent primate to be more important than spirituality, education, etc.
Third, it is simply physically harmful. Think about it: There is almost no incidence of vaginal cancer among nuns. Heterosexual intercourse takes a lot more out of the female anatomy--and leaves a lot more behind in it--than it does to male anatomy. "Slam, bam, thank you, ma'am" is the catchphrase for a reason; Men can spread their little swimmers around with relative physical impunity. Every time a woman receives them, she is taking on the task of dealing with them (whether killing them or helping one to its inherent goal), none of which is without physical consequences to the woman. And that's before we discuss abrasive activity, introduction of bacteria, and the soul-deadening effect of having to effect or fake orgasm beginning before one truly understands either human anatomy or human spirituality.
Fourth, you will probably obtain birth control pills for her. I'm not going to post the research here, but young women often have strokes after long years on birth control, and if they also smoke, the stats are even worse. In addition, it is a body-altering chemical; that having been said, it would only be prudent to limit the number of years a woman is obliged, in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy, to take them. Sometimes, it is difficult to conceive after long years on birth control, giving the whole deal a significant double whammy.
There is no upside for a girl/young woman. None. For a boy, yes, probably. Unless, of course, he experiences failure to launch, a situation even further fraught with lurking disasters for both parties.
In the case of my eldest step-daughter, I'm pretty sure that last one wasn't a problem. But all the others were. Literally were. She may have been 26, but she had not yet become an adult. And she had not yet become an adult because she hadn't been raised to become an adult; if a child is allowed to do adult things in the family home, what reason do they have to become an actual adult? What leadership do they have in how to become an adult? How to take responsibility on all fronts?
One out of three makes poor oddsAnd, when they finally are pushed out of the family home, and possibly begin their own family, what example do they have in guiding their own children to adulthood? None. And that was clearly the case in the eldest daughter's situation. She isn't an adult even now, at well over 30, having had two children out of wedlock with two different, and both execrable, men. One she has kept; the other has been adopted by an intact family that appears to be at least OK. I guess you can tell which one I think is the luckier child.
The youngest daughter? Well, as noted, she almost never had a boyfriend stay the night, and the one time I know of, they were discreet. And she was in a committed relationship with an excellent young man at the time. It was not an ideal situation, but as noted, I came into it late in the game. She didn't marry him; she married another man, even nicer and more industrious and polite than the first. They have two children who are well cared for, nurtured and will have role models as they grow up. And by the way, they never had a sleepover in our house, nor, I think, in his parents' house. They had their sleepovers in his apartment or hers...because they were adults, paying their own way, starting their own careers and lives. And that was reasonable. And none of our business.
I haven't mentioned the middle daughter yet, but it's also a sad and cautionary tale. She left home as a teenager, long before I arrived, because even the permissive nature of the household was too constraining for her. Or, more likely, she wanted to move to Florida--where the drugs flow more easily--with her boyfriend It is likely she has been a drug addict since she was about 15, having appropriated her dying mother's pain medication, I'm told; she has had a child out of wedlock with a drug addict who has since left her. She is in rehab. She is still a child, waiting for something to save her. It will not be me nor my husband.
My stringent advice is not to let this happen to you. When your children are children, treat them as such, so they can grow into adulthood in the fullness of time, not when some dingbat promoting teen sex in the family home convinces herself and a few naifs in the news media--and you--that anatomy is destiny. We moved to England to ensure the eldest two could not continue to drain our retirement accounts and our spirits as we grow older and less able to recoup.
It's a shame, really, as we would happily live next door to the youngest and her family. Maybe they'll move to England.