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Should adult daughter be given 'sleepover benefits' with boyfriend?

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My daughter is home from college and wants her boyfriend from another state to visit ... including sleepover benefits. I have younger kids at home. What do you suggest?

-- Sleepless

Figure out now what you believe, top to bottom, including what rules you'll have for the younger kids when they get older.

Too often we act reflexively, declaring that kids shouldn't see X or be permitted Y because that's what everyone says and it seems right so yeah, OK. But situations like yours are good at forcing us to prioritize our values, beliefs and enforcement thereof.

What message do you want to send your younger kids -- that no unmarried adults can ever share a room? Or is it just adults who are your children? Or just adults still under your household umbrella (e.g., under age XX and/or accepting tuition money) -- and you wouldn't presume to tell their unmarried 45-year-old Aunt Susie she can't share a room with her partner?

Will whatever rules you make now hold up later for your youngest, with no younger sibs around?

Or do you want your message to be that adults have agency to make these decisions, and your younger kids will too when they're old enough to handle the consequences of these decisions themselves?

If it's the latter, are they old enough to have a nuanced conversation about this? Or, alternately, are you ready to choose not to explain, except to say that the rules evolve as people get older, and you'll talk about it when they're older, too?

...continued

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