Dear Abby: My son, “Joe,” is 19, a high school graduate living at home with his dad and me until he leaves for college next year. He will be paying his tuition, and we are charging him a token rent ($100/month) while he’s not in school. He eats dinner with us most nights, and I usually do his laundry. He has a part-time job.
This has been working out fine except for one thing. Joe has a longtime girlfriend, and he has been spending some nights at her house. (She lives alone.) We haven’t forbidden this because he’s an adult, and I worry that if we say no, he will move in with her. However, we are not comfortable with his spending nights there.
Part of our objection is we don’t like the example it sets for his 13-year-old sister, but aside from that, we don’t think it’s a good idea, although we can’t say why. We know they’re sexually active regardless of who sleeps where. Are we old-fashioned, or is it reasonable to ask him not to spend the whole night with his girlfriend?
:Dear Old School: Because you have misgivings about your son spending the night at his girlfriend’s, you and your husband should talk to him about it together. Although he is an adult, I agree that what’s going on sends a wrong message to his younger sister who, unless you talk to her about your family values, will think this is acceptable.
You should also take time to think through why you are uneasy about what your son is doing. If it has anything to do with worry about an unplanned pregnancy, your husband might be able to get through to him better than you can. If he intends to complete his college education, becoming a father could slow him down, if not end it.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.