Straight Talk: Girl thinks post-high school dating rules too strict

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: I’m 17. I’ve graduated from high school and will attend community college this fall. I have a boyfriend, but I’m not allowed to hang out at his house because he lives with his dad. My parents say they need to meet his dad first, but they never do. Even then, they say there will be restrictions (even after I turn 18), and I’ll still have to be home by midnight. Are other daughters re-stricted from male-only homes? And are everyone’s post high school rules this strict? ~ Kathy, Santa Barbara

Elise, 20, Rexburg, Idaho: My parents were the same way. As long as you’re under their roof, you have to live by their rules.

Nicole, 20, Grass Valley: You’re under their roof, so it’s their rules. But spending time with your boyfriend is essential for the relationship. Let your parents know this, arrange for them to meet his father and work from there. 

Colin, 18, Sacramento: It’s admirable that your parents are trying to protect you from being raped. But at your age, it’s like those parents who won’t let their toddler play in the mud even though it’s normal and boosts the immune system. Having a significant other at age 17 and 18 is also normal. Preventing this may seem like a good idea, but it is stunting your emotional growth.

Katelyn, 17, Huntington Beach: Take action in getting the parents together – but don’t expect a change. They probably think a father will allow something that wouldn’t happen if a mother was around. You’re not the only one with rules hanging over your head! My parents consider my boyfriend a gentleman, but to go anywhere, we have to be with friends or parents, or be totally available by cellphone. Going out till midnight is absolutely not allowed. I, too, just graduated, and these rules will follow me to college.

Katie, 18, Auburn: It is ridiculous to discriminate against single dads. Would they behave this way for a friendship? My parents have pretty relaxed rules, but they are based on me always being honest. All parents are different though, and if you’re living there, you have to play by their rules.

Dear Kathy: Their house, their rules, age doesn’t matter. Glad it’s wasn’t me having to say that. However, it is unfair to automatically judge a single-father household as a “mischief manor.” You can’t tell a household by its cover. Parents need to get to know each other. 

At your age, not being able to go to your boyfriend’s house or stay out till midnight restricts your relationship only as much as your mutual attraction, drive and imagination let it. Some relationships don’t survive inconveniences. But if you are both in love and dedicated to the relationship, obstacles such as you describe are merely nuisances to be worked around. Couples have been doing so for centuries.

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More from Lauren Forcella

Parents today deal with their 17-, 18- and 19-year-old daughters extremely differently when it comes to boyfriends and coming of age. Some might be considered overly protective, like Kathy’s parents; others take a polar opposite route and provide the whole setting (bed, privacy and birth control) when they realize their daughter is in a relationship. I’ve seen girls successfully launched into adulthood both ways – and fail both ways. In my opinion, neither of these paths respects sex enough. Sex deserves both high and serious regard. I advocate a middle path where sex isn’t made easy or convenient, but is also not treated like a shameful disease.

Each girl is different, each love relationship is different and each parent or set of parents are different. The main thing you want is for your daughter to respect you and talk to you. Then you have a chance to impart your wisdom regarding the seriousness and sacredness of sex, how it’s not for the immature or faint of heart, how you won’t be there when her decision to have sex is made, how protection isn’t an exact science and how you would rather she wait until she’s older and is sure she is making the choice based on love and commitment rather than peer pressure, image, fear of losing a boy, simply succumbing to “urges” or because she was high – and how, at the end of the day, yes, (sigh), you’ll love her no matter what. These kinds of real conversations are what young women crave from their mothers and fathers. Boys need them, too. With such conversations, young people almost always make wiser decisions.