What would you do if your child asks if he/she could spend a few hours at a friend's house without any adult supervision? Would it matter if the child he/she was hanging out with was of the opposite sex?
As a mom of a 15-year-old daughter, I have had no problems over the years of letting my child spend time with her friends, boys and girls, so long as I knew the parents and if a parent was present while my daughter was with their child.
But as my daughter has grown, so have her boundaries. Recently, my daughter asked if she could hang with a friend of hers who happened to be a boy. I asked her if a parent would be at the house while she was spending time with him, and found out that no parent would be present.
When I informed her that she couldn't go unless there was a parent there, she couldn't understand why. She repeatedly said that nothing would happen and that she could take care of herself. I responded that I trusted that she could handle herself, but since I didn't know the boy, nor the parents, I didn't think it was a good idea to spend time with him by herself.
While I expected my daughter to be annoyed and upset about my response, I was unprepared for her next question. "If he was gay, would that make a difference?"
My brain stopped for a minute while I digested her question. Should it make a difference whether the teen is gay or not? It shouldn't, but in reality, it does. I would be lying if I didn't think that she would be safer spending time with a (boy)friend who is gay, but that's not the only reason. Another big factor is the relationship I have developed with parents of my daughter's friends. Maybe I'm naive for thinking that it would be less likely for my daughter to be in danger with a boy whose family I know, but for me, that works.
In the end, my daughter explained to her (boy)friend that I was not comfortable having her spend time with him by themselves. I didn't mind that she used me as her excuse; I was actually glad that she respected my decision even if she wasn't on board initially. This scenario may just be the beginning of more issues regarding boundaries, but I'm glad that I can have a discussion about it with my daughter, even if it means that she may not like the end result.
So, would you let your teen daughter/son spend time alone with the opposite sex? Would you feel differently if the boy/girl was gay? Should gender matter? It may not matter, but it sure does present an opportunity for discussion. That's my view on this, what's yours?
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