• Fri, Feb 7 - 4:00 pm ET

Are You There, Moms? It’s Me, Idiot.

mom adviceNothing delights the Mommyish writers more than explaining the more horrifying aspects of parenting to me, the wide-eyed idiot who’s never pushed a baby out of an orifice. Every time I think I’ve learned the most disgusting aspect of pregnancy, birth, or parenting, they throw a word like “prolapse” at me and I have to excuse myself to get a breath of fresh air.

As you all know, I’m a dumb shit 20-something trying to decide if and when kids are for me. I’m hoping you all can help me by answering some questions I have–I don’t trust the Internet, but I trust all of you. I’ve heard people say there are no stupid questions, but to that I say “challenge accepted.”

If I ever have kids, communication about sex stuff would be very important to me, since I learned how to intercourse from Internet forums, and as such I am definitely really good at it. I would want my kids to know literally everything about their bodies, safe sex practices, consent, and so forth. Eventually, I’m going to ask you to explain how you all did “the talk,” but this week, I want to know how you handle your teens hooking up in the house. For instance, my parents had a pretty laissez-faire approach to letting guys come over, but also kept “forgetting” to schedule my orthodontist appointments, thereby keeping me in braces until I was 17 years old. This pretty much ensured that sex wasn’t happening for most of my high school career, but I know that all parents can’t just trap their kids in unattractive orthodontia.

So what are we working with, here? No closed door policy? Let it happen but convince yourself they’re studying? Slip a condom under the door? Walk me through this.

You can reach this post's author, Julia Sonenshein, on twitter.
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  • Allyson_et_al

    My daughter is 13, so most of my current attitude about sex can be summed up as, “Not yet! For the love of God, not yet!!” When she gets older, though, I think it will be a doors-open, one-foot-on-the-floor type of policy. Same for my currently 11-year-old-son when the time comes. Once they’re in college, I’ll face reality, but until then, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they not have sex in my house while I’m home.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I think the no sex in your house while you’re home is completely reasonable.

    • MERKIN

      I completely agree. I won’t ever be OK with my kids having sex/hooking up/feeling each other in my house. It’s just not acceptable. I know they’ll find a way no matter what…just like they will find a way to drink if they really want to do that, too. But in both of those instances, I’m not going to OK it in my house just because they’ll do it anyway.

  • Momofthree

    Funny you ask…I have a 16 yr old and he JUST asked if he can go over his gf house

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I LOVE this 2 year old enforcer of the no touching rule. Also, seems totally reasonable that you’d want to talk to the other mom!

    • Rachel Sea

      He’s probably just as interested as before, only now he doesn’t want you to know.

  • Tinyfaeri

    My kid’s not quite 2 yet, so NOT IT! *runs away*

    Seriously, though, we have a split level house (very open floor plan, sound travels like crazy, no door and easy view to the rest of the house for any room with a couch in it) and her room is in direct line with our bedroom, both our offices and the living room. There will likely be no teen sexy time at my house.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      For some reason I’m picturing those laser motion sensors going from every hallway leading to your daughter’s room (which is an octagon with eight doors) and I love it.

    • Tinyfaeri

      How did you know??

  • G.E. Phillips

    When I was 14, my mother sat me down and told me to wait until I was 18 or married, whichever came first. Then she gave me a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and announced that we were now “friends.”

    …aaaaand, when I was 16, my boyfriend and I would go visit her, and she would let us sleep together in her bedroom, with the door closed. So…yeah.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      WOW. Putting that in my arsenal.

    • G.E. Phillips

      Yeah, this might partially explain why she was my non-custodial parent.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I didn’t see the second part to that original comment–that was either some crazy trust or super lax rules.

    • G.E. Phillips

      Both

    • Tinyfaeri

      My mind has now been slightly boggled.

  • Alexandra

    Most of my friends and I (all girls) weren’t allowed to have boys “upstairs” (in bedroom areas). Of course this flew right out the window since all BOYS parents let them have girls wherever the hell they wanted and as a result we had plenty of alone time at our boyfriends houses – but this would have been 16 y o and up….it was an imperfect system.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      Yeah, when I was over 16 but still at home, there were rules in place about where we were allowed to be, but I think the takeaway is that teenagers are going to find a way to have sex regardless.

  • Megs

    While I’m a fan of the open door policy (definitely NOT a rule in my high-school bf’s home, lol), if teens, hell, if people want to get it on, they. Will. Find. A. Place. Whether its a car, outside, or a retail changeroom (yep). I think what it comes down to is teaching your kids about respecting their families and their family’s home (and their bf/gf’s home and family). It’s freaking disrespectful to get your freak on with Mr. Smith or Junior on the next floor. So with my kids, respect your body, respect your own mind, make sure you make decisions based on what YOU really want. Exercise control over your own body and protect yourself. And respect my goddamn house, because if your father and I hear you bangin’, we will never want to have sex in our own home again.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      This is great. I said downthread somewhere that kids are going to find a way, so resistance is futile. To me, the best bet seems like a lot of sex ed and the request that nobody does it when people are home.

  • Sadie R.

    Speaking also as a twenty-something, childfree idiot, I don’t quite understand how big of a deal it is when it comes to parents view on the concept of their teenagers having sex (especially when they are on the older end of teenagedom), past the worrying that they might get pregnant/get somebody pregnant or get diseased. But all that can be prevented and discussed from an early-yet-appropriate age. And still even with the smart, good kids and readily available protection being given out in schools (some anyways), some parents are still freaking out the second they find out their teenager is in a couple and canoodling, somehow (delusionally) believing they can actually prevent them from going further.

    So moms, putting aside worries of the obvious possible physical consequences (Pregnancy and STI’s), please enlighten me. What’s the deal with the feeling that you need to prevent your teen from having any sex at all? Is it that the idea of your once-baby having that sort of relationship sends you into hardcore denial about the stage of development they have reached? Or do you feel as if you must attempt to prevent regret and any emotional toll it might take on them to protect them?

    P.s. I realize this might not apply to every parent. My apologies if it sounds like I’m generalizing, I know not everyone is like that. It’s just that I experienced this attitude growing up and I’m hearing a lot about it now that my younger brother is 16 so it had me curious.

    • AP

      Another big reason to keep kids from having sex is the way a lot of laws are written. If the kids’ partner’s parents get pissed off that their baby is having sex/pregnant/had an STD/is gay, its scary easy to press charges against the other kid.

      For example, in California, all oral or homosexual activity between minors is classified as child sex abuse, even if both parties are consenting minors. It’s CPS reportable by mandatory reporters, should a teacher hear about it, and a parent can press charges on part of their child as a “victim”, even if they were consensual peers. If you permit your kid to have sex, you’re not only having to trust your child and his/her partner to be responsible, you’re placing their future in the hands of other adults not to narc or tattle to the police and cause a gigantic legal inquiry and possibly charges. The consequences of legal action are far worse than pregnancy or an STD.

    • Sadie R.

      Oh that makes sense. I live in Canada and here although the age of consent is 16, there are no laws making it illegal for minors close in age to participate in consensual sexual activity with each other so I didn’t even consider that. Thanks for the perspective!

    • Tinyfaeri

      The specific question was how to handle teens hooking up in your house – sex in general is a different topic. Personally, I don’t want anyone but my husband and I to have sex in my house, and that includes any children I have or may have, their friends, my parents, his parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. Basically, if you don’t pay rent or mortgage, you don’t get lucky. That’s up to each home owner, and to each his or her own.

      As far as preventing teens from having sex, I think the main concern for me would be maturity level, why they’re doing it (because they’re comfortable and it’s something they really want to do and are ready for, to keep a significant other, peer pressure, etc), and that they use protection if and when they decide they’re ready to become sexually active. I’m a firm believer that you should be able to procure condoms, be able to have a frank discussion about it at least with your significant other, and make sure that it’s with someone you genuinely care about and who genuinely cares about you. And see a gynecologist first if you’re a young lady.

    • Sadie R.

      I know it was about teens having sex in the parents home, I was just curious about it as a closely related subject. Especially since some previously posted comments implied that sort of attitude. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint anyways though!

    • meteor_echo

      What if they do pay rent/bills?

    • Tinyfaeri

      “Use a condom every time until you’re confirmed monogamous for 6 months, and then we can take you to your doctor to discuss birth control options, but please don’t tell me details and keep it down or wait til I go to the grocery store.”

      Then again, I have some issues with parents who make high school kids pay rent unless it’s absolutely necessary, and I hope we’re never in a position where she needs to help pay bills.

    • Psych Student

      Thank you for bringing this up. I’m a 20-something with no kids as well and I dream about being super open and positive about my kids engaging in sexual activity, but it’s easy to think that when I’m childless (or so I hear).

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    I think reading these comments I am understanding why my mom made my older sister always take me (a toddler/preschooler) along on all her dates. My sister still to this day bitches about how she always had to babysit and what the hell was mom so busy doing anyway….but….I think I was made to function as the most effective form of birth control ever. And she should probably thank Mom….

  • pineapplegrasss

    I talked to my teen daughter about sex all the time, but teen sex is another topic. Which I can already see this is going to morph into from me… She had the same BF for 3 years and even though I knew she had sex… we made them keep the bedroom door open all the time if they were in there. My husband would freak out about even couch cuddling while watching a movie. It was really tough bc at 15-16 she spent all her time with him and would profess that he was her BESTfriend. And, they spent a lot of time at his house too. And, he had a car. And, he drove her home from school. We came home once and found the door to the garage locked. Some dumb excuse was given.. yeah right. I think that’s a hard thing to prevent, unless you have a no bf in the house rule, which I didn’t, but I could have. But we sure tried. I do think he was her best friend at the time, and I thought she was deserving of love. Whew, those were some tough teenage things to deal with. So much more than just worrying about teens getting frisky.

  • Abbe

    My parents were super strict so naturally that backfired. I don’t want to make that mistake with my kids, but I also don’t want them to confuse safe sex info with me giving them a green light. People talk about teens like they’re little adults, and if we just give them information they will make intelligent decisions. The hallmark of being a teenager is reckless, stupid behavior. I’m not looking forward to it at all.

    • Maddi Holmes

      That reckless stupid behaviour usually comes from wanting to do what your parents tell you not to do. Always let safe sex and general sex ed be an open discussion so that they’re comfortable asking you questions about sex stuff. My mother was always open with sex ed with me, and as a result I didn’t feel like having sex was cool or something I should do as revenge on my parents. Mum raised me to think of sex as something to do when I feel ready and always reminded me not to let anyone pressure me into doing anything with my body that I didn’t want. Her openness didn’t so much feel like a green light as it did a safety net. I knew that if I ever ended up doing something stupid or getting pregnant that I would be able to go to my mum and she would be there to support me.

      Honestly I think “here’s how to have safe sex but make sure you’re comfortable before you do anything” will be just fine. Ps I’m 18 and speaking from the point of view of a teenager who was given information and made somewhat intelligent decisions.

  • meteor_echo

    So, I was the teen who had sex in the house she lived in. I was quiet, I paid for my part of the rent and bills anyway, the dude was my long-term boyfriend. Ain’t my problem if someone was uncomfortable about it, especially seeing as how my parents always screamed at each other and made ME uncomfortable (and never gave a fuck about that).

    • Kat

      This is basically me, only (regrettably?) it wasn’t always a long-term boyfriend, and my dad didn’t live with us. My mom was just a crazy drunk.

  • Kat

    My kids aren’t old enough yet, but when they get there, it’ll definitely be all-doors-remain-open. If a serious, healthy, long-term relationship is involved, it’ll be “the talk,” which will involve love and condoms and all that, and still, don’t do it in my house because ewww.

  • Muggle

    The way I see it, it’s better for teens to hook up in their parents’ houses than it is for them to sneak around and hook up… elsewhere. Because if they drive off to the middle of nowhere, they can be caught and arrested. Like it’s been said before, age of consent laws in the US are really fucked up and if you unintentionally (or semi-intentionally) create an environment where teens feel like they have to sneak around, you’re relying on other adults not to narc, or worse– try to harm the teens in some way.

    I say this as someone who was 18 when I first became sexually active, but had to sneak around anyway until I went to college.

    But I don’t have kids, let alone teenagers. But the “not in my house” mindset stops making sense to me when I realize, I already do it in my house, and we’ve all had that experience overhearing our parents… yeah. Maybe “not while I’m home”, but not “not in my house.”

    • Psych Student

      I’m not sure where you’re from, but the “not in my house” attitude is *very* America. There’s a book by Amy Schalet (http://www.amazon.com/Not-Under-My-Roof-Parents/dp/0226736199) (whom I do not know and am not trying to help sell books for) that looks at the difference in the cultures of the US and the Netherlands, where some parents encourage their kids to have sex in their house. I hope to side with the Dutch ideas myself, but I’m tempted to run off to the Netherlands anyway, so I may be biased.

    • Muggle

      I am from the US myself… the South, actually. Yeah, I’m now striving to be the exact opposite of what would be acceptable there…

      I’d rather deal with the awkwardness of the teens being too noisy than have them brought home by the police, or have to report them missing and worry about them being in danger because they felt like they had to sneak off somewhere.

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  • gothicgaelicgirl

    My mom was so open about it.
    She presented me with a pack of condoms when I was 15 and said keep two in your purse/wallet. I’d rather you had them and didn’t need them, than need them and not have them.
    She also regularly let boyfriends sleep in my room from when I was 15 because she reckoned- If I didn’t trust you at home to be safe, how can I trust you somewhere else?
    Plus, it gave her a chance to know my boyfriend and it certainly took a lot of pressure off us, no need to sneak around, no need to lie or fabricate things to tell my mam.

    I do love how open she always was, because there was definitely no need for me to bullshit and creep out of the house, I simply asked could X stay over and she if she was cool with it and she knew him well, she said yes.

    She only ever let me do that with two guys, who I had been with for two years each so it’s not like the house was a brothel!

    • Psych Student

      I like that! Sounds super awesome.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      yeah my mom was pretty open with raising us, as a result, we were never in any trouble lol.
      she used to get a lot of criticism from other moms when she spoke to them about her free-range parenting. then again, of those parents, two daughters got pregnant at 14, so y’know, there’s something to be said for actually trusting your teen.

  • val97

    My oldest son is 14. At this point, I can’t see this ever being an issue. I know it’s bound to happen during the next 3.5 years of high school, but he is embarrassed to talk to girls and never invites friends over. All of his friends play video games online together from the comfort of their own homes. Nobody just hangs out in rec rooms getting up to no good anymore.

    • Maddi Holmes

      Keep in mind most boys seek out porn by the age of 10 :)

    • val97

      Oh, I’m not being naive. I know he’s interested. We’ve had the sex talk and the porn talk. I just can’t see him having a real live girl over to our house or even going on a date. I know that will change at some point, but I don’t know when.

    • Maddi Holmes

      Oh good haha, that’s different then.

  • Maddi Holmes

    My mum is incredibly open with it. When I started being sexually active (I was about 16, I’d say) she simply told me not to be stupid and to be quiet. Once when I was having sex at home with my then boyfriend she actually yelled through the door “SHUT UP” because we were keeping her up. Embarrassing for my boyfriend, but didn’t bother me in the slightest because mum never made sex stuff awkward.

    I think that’s the best thing to do, never ever make sex stuff awkward. Stay open with your kids from day 1 about sex things, if they’re 6 and ask you what a penis is answer them with 100% honesty (obviously using less sophisticated terms), none of this wishy-washy PG13 bullshit. Humans are mammals and mammals have genetalia that they use to make the sex. If you let sexuality be an open discussion in your family, when the time rolls around that your son/daughter is starting to be sexually active you can straight up let them know your expectations (whatever your comfortable with when it happens, my mum says only at night or when she’s out. Once she said if I ever keep her up with sex sounds she will have loud disgusting sex with my father and keep me up as revenge, so that basically destroyed any chance I ever had of sex while my mum is home).

    I know you didn’t ask about “the talk” but I want to briefly address how there should never be “a talk.” Sex and sexuality should be an open, on the table discussion and educating session always, not something you get over and done with in 1 hour when they’re 15 and already know more than you realise. Your children need to feel comfortable asking you about anything otherwise they’ll go to porn for the answers and we all know how accurate and correct porn is!

    • Psych Student

      *applause* I LIKE you and your mom’s way of handling this stuff. I am particularly thrilled with the tit-for-tat sex noises! I think the situation you described is what my wife and I would like to do and it’s so reassuring to know that it’s possible. You just made my day. :)

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