So my son is about to graduate high school. He is 18, a very good kid, and so far, has given me very little reason to worry.
He wants to go to the beach with a few friends this summer. Basically, the friends are a boy and two girls who have been his best friends all through high school. The boy and one of the girls have recently paired up as girlfriend and boyfriend. My son and the other girl are just friends, but I think that they might be tempted into a relationship as well, given hormones and opportunity.
I like all the kids, but I am really afraid this trip will involve sex, and that freaks me out. But I also know it will happen eventually regardless, and I don’t want to be the mean parent who denies these really good kids, whom I have known for years, some well-deserved fun. They are all adults, but just barely. Any advice or insights?
“Eventually” meaning, if he’s so inclined: already, or next month, or Freshman Week if he’s college-bound. Sex does not wait for beach trips.
It also wouldn’t hurt for you to consider how old you and his other parent were when you first had sex.
And it wouldn’t hurt to reflect on your experiences at 18 and do a retroactive risk assessment: Was sex the biggest danger you flirted with? Or was it substance abuse, inexpert driving, mindless acquiescence to group stupidity, illusions of immortality, naivete about peers … I don’t know. Seems to me that biological urges have the lowest actual-risk-to-parental-dread ration. But YMMV.
Full disclosure: I’ve regarded the high-school-graduation beach-week tradition with existential dread since before I had kids of my own, mostly because of the risk in aggregate of high concentrations of not-fully-ripened impulse controls. But if that’s not what this is, if it’s just four friends at the beach — even two young couples at the beach — then try deep breathing and honest fear-reckoning as you come to your answer.
Re: Beach Weekend:
Another decision point to consider: Who’s paying? This son is technically an adult. Presumably the others are as well. If the parent is not being asked to sign a lease or pay for any part of the vacation, then maybe it’s time to come to terms with newly adult children learning to make adult-style decisions.
Yes, exactly this, thanks. I assumed it meant a parental signature somewhere, but that wasn’t a fair assumption, and in fact giving them your blessing to arrange the trip they can legally arrange and pay for on their own is a great way to let nature decide.
Re: Beach week anxiety:
My firstborn isn’t a hugely social creature, so beach trips didn’t come up during high school. He is now a college sophomore and is away at the beach for the very first time with a group of friends. Even though he is 20, I’m still anxious about it. Even though he’s been to Europe multiple times, traveled solo in the United States, etc. Perhaps you never stop worrying?
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