Teens And Sex: Should You Let Your Kid's Boyfriend Or Girlfriend Sleep Over? Experts Weigh In
There was quite the kerfuffle in the gossip blogs when Angelina Jolie revealed to Garth Pierce at The Sun that her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, let Angelina's boyfriend live at their home when she was just 14, and that they were "like a married couple." Jolie praised her mother's decision, saying that "..by the time I was 16, I wanted my freedom and wanted to focus on work."
But is it a good idea to allow your teenaged child to have sex with his or her significant other under your roof? On the one hand, you could argue that kids are going to do it anyway, so at least you'll know where they are (As Angelina put it, at least she "wasn't in a park somewhere"). Or is this kind of permissiveness just an insane concept, as many in the blogosphere seemed to think? Huffington Post Canada Living asked some prominent Canadian parenting experts to weigh in.
Should you let your teen's boyfriend or girlfriend sleep over? Tell us what you think -- then read what the experts have to say:
Beverley Cathcart-Ross, parent educator, private counselor and founder of The Parenting Network
"There is no right or wrong, it's, 'What do I believe will work for our family?' And I'm going to explore it with my teen. Why is this so important to them?
"But parents need to understand that most sex happens between 3:30 and 6:00 at night when they're at work anyway. Statistically that's when most pregnancies happen. So when we're around, we have influence, but if we're not willing to listen and work with them, we're likely to lose that influence and they'll go underground with that behaviour.
"To me it's a collaborative thing, because teenagers are not little children any more and we want them to know we have confidence in their judgment. But at the same time, this is a family issue. You might have younger siblings in the house that you don't want to send the wrong message to. So you might say, staying over's okay but in separate bedrooms, or we're not ready for this and come 1:00 AM, everybody's got to go home. But that takes a lot of courage for a parent to say that because they know they are disappointing their child and that's hard for some parents."
Judy Arnall, parenting expert and author of 'Discipline Without Distress'
"This is very cultural. Some European countries encourage it and their teen pregnancy rate is no higher than North America. However, each family will make those decisions based on their values. Each parenting couple should have a talk behind closed doors about what age they will allow that choice on their premises.
"Being open to discussion and talking about it and conversing about the family values is what keeps kids out of trouble. Setting down rules and then not discussing issues is what gets teens in trouble, because they hide their desires and don't make decisions that involve a little planning, like birth control. Equip kids with knowledge, ensure they know your rules and trust that they will make their own good choices. Offer problem-solving help if they need it."
Rebecca Brown, founder of hip destination for modern urban families, Bunchfamily.ca
"What we're hearing from the parents in our community is different than what I heard from my own parents. It's a general acceptance that your children are going to be sexually active in their teen years and a concern about the quality of that experience, and wanting their kids to have positive first sexual experiences, and I think that that's a real shift.
"If you're saying to your child, this is a big decision, I want you to feel like you can talk to me and this can be a really wonderful thing and I want you to have a good experience, then what are your expectations as to where those kids are going to have that sexual experience? It gets very tricky. Introducing a logistical challenge does maybe encourage them to think it through a little more, but having said that, I have no idea what I would do. I can't imagine wanting my teenager to have sex in my house, but there are some 17-year-olds who can have really successful, loving relationships, and maybe then to some parents, it starts to make sense."