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July 01, 2009

Significant Other Sleepover, or Not Under My Roof

Bedroom doors "We will not be like our parents when we have our own kids." 

How many of you have made that proclamation? Not that we had bad parents, I surely did not. I was raised by a loving, relatively liberal couple who supported most of my hair-brained schemes whole-heartedly – within reason. But there was a level of conservatism in their generation that did not allow for the more open way in which we chose to raise our kids. 

Having spent my formative years in the 60s and 70s, there were lines we did not cross. The words, 'not under my roof' were commonplace and we respected them because they were a given. 

And then we switched rooms at 3:00 in the morning.
Before we were married, if we spent the night at either of our parents' homes we would never have asked to sleep in the same room. We pretended to retire to our separate quarters, waited for everyone to close their doors, and then snuck in and out of a room together in the wee hours because, frankly, that was how it was done. 

I always found this dance to be a ridiculous one. Even after my husband and I were living together in our 20s we were expected to sleep in separate rooms. I remember the last time we had to do this, I actually took a stance and told my parents that we would no longer sleep over because I felt this was a farce. We went home that night and my husband promptly produced a ring and proposed. After I said yes my first question was, "what? you couldn't have done this before I had a fight with my parents about sleeping arrangements?"

Fast forward 30 years and now we have a 20-year-old daughter who is in a happy, committed relationship with a young man we are very fond of. Have the tides turned now that I am the mom? Nope. But they have for my husband, which shocked me as he has always been the more liberal parent. I suppose everyone has their tolerance point, a father and daughter is an understandable one.

The first time the boyfriend slept over he 'stayed' in the basement. She understood – sort of – but was a bit put off. His parents allowed them to sleep in the same room and she expected the same of us. Months later when they came home from school again and I told her to make sure everyone was in the right beds by morning she rolled her eyes and asked, "Haven't you handled this yet?" I know how she felt but my hands were tied. My husband has asked to set not a single unreasonable rule in this house in 20 years. I am always the stricter parent. How could I possibly defy his wishes? Not happening.

We talked about it a lot. I found this to be unreasonable and smelling of a double standard as I am pretty sure this would not be a rule he would set for my son. For me, double standard is a parenting fate worse than all offenses. My daughter knows the only thing she cannot do that a boy can is pee standing up, and with a little help and strong thighs she can probably do that too.

So, we decided to put the question out there. This is something we rarely do as we are usually on the same page. We started to ask our friends how they handle it. And we have some pretty damn liberal friends. 

I was shocked with the answers. He is surely in the majority on this one. And there is no way of predicting how people will answer. One couple we were sure would be a yes from her and a no from him, answered the opposite. So it is not just a dad and daughter thing. Or a son or daughter thing. And oddly many of those who were opposed were way more tolerant about teenage experimental drinking, which really did not make sense to me. I would surely rather my 20-year-old daughter feel comfortable with her boyfriend in my home than have had her drinking on the beach at 16 in the name of allowing experimentation.

If this were a philosophical or religious decision I could understand it. But, what does not gel for me is that these are not people who are opposed to pre-marital sex in any way. Exactly the opposite. They believe whole-heartedly in a healthy committed sexual relationship between two young adults. 

Just not under their roof!

Hmm, not so different from our parents? Weren't we going to be the generation that was going to be different? Not uptight? Realistic? Guess not.

So, I am bringing this out to the blogosphere. If ever there was a post that begged for commentary it would be this one. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Original 50-something Mom Blog Post. Amy also blogs at i could cry but i don't have time and leaving the zip code.