Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My good friends and even some family members have deemed us downright pagans because we allow our 16-year-old daughter’s boyfriend to spend the night in our home. Actually, I didn’t tell anyone because I felt it was none of their business, but my daughter has told her friends about her boyfriend spending the night and how they stayed up all night watching television and rented movies.

What in the world is wrong with this? I say nothing is wrong with this.

We know her boyfriend and his family. We think whatever she wants to do, she is going to do it anyway, only she won’t have to be sneaking in the back of cars, having sex at school (like a lot of kids do), or trying to have sex in other places. I’m not saying my daughter is having sex. My husband and I just don’t want her lying to us about her actions.

I can’t believe that our good friends have stopped speaking to us and people in our church have shunned us, too. Ms. Vicki, do you have children? Would you stop speaking to your friends or family just because they make their own decisions as parents about their teenagers? — I have Phony Friends

Dear Phony,

Yes, I have children (three sons), and, no, I’ve never stopped speaking to relatives or friends because of decisions they made regarding their teenagers.

It appears you are setting the scene for your daughter to do what you think she is going to do anyway, i.e., have sex. Therefore her boyfriend can spend the night in your home because you don’t want her sneaking around to have sex.

Have you ever had conversations with your daughter about her body and about sex? From the tone of your letter, you are not giving her much education; you are only giving her what you deem to be a safe location.

I remember vividly how when my sons were in elementary school they would dream of the day they could drive and own their own cars. My husband and I knew this would happen, but only when they were old enough to handle the responsibility of driving and owning a car. We did not buy them a car when they were 8 years old or think that because we knew they would eventually drive, they may as well start now.

Each week, I receive letters and comments from people saying, “Ms. Vicki you need to get with the times — teenagers are going to have sex.” I know many teenagers are having sex. I try to help them make different choices that won’t have such a negative impact on their lives and their future.

Right now, you should be telling your daughter how special she is, and how there is a bright future ahead of her. Her life should be running over with activities that build her self-esteem and self-worth. Instead, I think you are starting a cycle in which men will be running in and out of your daughter’s life. Believe me, there is nothing so special about this boy that you should allow this in your home.

Listen, many adults confess to me that they would have made better decisions if they had someone giving them guidance and discipline. I remember being 16 and my mother letting me go on my first date to the movies. I was raised in the inner city of Dallas by a single mother. (My father died when my siblings and I were very young).

My mother put the fear of God in me to keep me on the right track. She said, “Vicki, I’m going to let you go to the movies, but it’s nothing special about this boy.” She even told him the same thing to his face. Looking back, I really appreciate her letting this boy know that she thought I was special and he wasn’t. And, my mom was right, he wasn’t special.

I’m not standing in judgment of you for your choices; you did not ask me for all of this. However, I think you and your husband should review this policy and start having heart-to-heart conversations with your daughter.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at

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