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Should Teen Be Alone with Boyfriend?

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Is it okay for my 15-year-old daughter to be in her room with her boyfriend if the door is left open? Should I let them have the living room and go into my room to watch television? I would never leave them alone in the house. She is my only child, so this is the first time I've gone through this as a parent. I want to give her space, but also let her know that there are boundaries.

A: Your question is informed by a sensitivity to your daughter's feelings and the knowledge that adolescents need limits and boundaries. Allow them to socialize with each other in any room of your house, with the exception of her bedroom. You don't have to "get lost" in your own home so your daughter can be alone with her boyfriend. Unless there is a particular reason why they would need to be in her bedroom together(e.g. working on schoolwork that involved them using the only computer in your home, which was in her room), I'd make it clear that she and her boyfriend are welcome to share each other's company anywhere else in the house but her room.

If they are in her room together, it should be understood that the door would remain fully open. This rule is not based on your mistrust of her moral character, or a denial of her sexuality or need for privacy with her boyfriend. It's based upon the understanding that when she is in her room with her door closed, that's her way of telling you that she needs privacy for certain reasons. Under those circumstances, you will agree to knock on her door and ask if you may come in. Be considerate of her need for privacy when she is alone, but not when she's with her boyfriend.

Discuss your thoughts about this with her. Ask her what her feelings are and listen respectfully to her opinions. Don't condemn her if she disagrees with you. You may respectfully disagree about many issues and she must always hear the reasons behind your limits and boundaries, not just that she is forbidden to do something because you "said so." Thanks for writing.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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