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Live In Teenage Girlfriend for My Son

Reader Question

My son has his girlfriend living with us and I'm going for custody of her because she is only 15. He is 14 so I don't know if it's a good idea to adopt her. I feel she is safer living here with us as a more stable place. But with her being here, is she just more accessible for my son? I did put a lock on her door and I do have the rule of no sex under my roof. I would appreciate your advice on this. Thanks.... Chuck

Expert Reply

Dear Chuck,

You sound like a very caring parent and advocate for teens. Wanting to provide a safe environment for you son's girlfriend is to be commended, as is your questioning of whether this is the best thing for you and your son. To help you decide, let me point out three things to consider.

What is wonderful about teen love is the passion. Teens tend to be fully present and in the moment when in love. The down side is their underdeveloped ability to think through their choices. They tend to act impulsively and because their hormones are in full bloom, they tend to act without thinking of the long term consequences. That being said, teens also choose their love interests by physical attraction, how fun it is to hang out, and how excited they feel being with the person they are attracted to. In other words while you may have put a lock on the girlfriend's door and have a rule of no sex under your roof, that will not stop two people who are physically attracted to each other, in love, and have raging hormones. Because of their age, they may not be engaging in intercourse, but that doesn't mean that they are not engaging in sexual activity. A talk with your son and this girl about how they will handle their feelings and avoid sexual activity would be wise, although this may only delay the inevitable.

This brings me to my first point. Teens tend to not have long (as in forever) term relationships. Meaning heartache over a break up is expected and natural. For most teens, when they break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend they can find ways to avoid seeing them, which lessons the emotional pain. In your situation, should your son and his girlfriend end their relationship, you will have two young people experiencing a breakup with all its intensity under the same roof. Your loyalty is to your son and helping him to deal with his hurt and pain. Yet, having this girl living with you, you are also obliged to help her deal with her strong emotional pain. I can tell you that males and females don't cope well with the loss of love and they tend to cope in very different ways. To add to their pain is the fact that they will not be able to avoid each other and as a result will not be able to grieve in the usual ways teens do over the end of a relationship.

A second consideration is what happens after the relationship ends and they each start dating new people? Or worse, one starts to date before the other? Have you thought about how this may impact your son and his new girlfriend, having his old girlfriend living under the same roof? And, vice versa for the girl who is living with you?

A final consideration has to do with the financial and emotional costs for you. Your interest in this girl is a result of getting to know her because she is your son's girlfriend. Through him, you have come to care about her well being. I don't know the current legal situation of this girl, but I do know that to get custody and adopt her, she has to be a ward of the state. This means parental rights have to be terminated. This is a long process both emotionally and financially and involves you, your son and his girlfriend. In addition, there are the emotional and psychological costs she will face living with the knowledge that her caregivers did not want her. Each time a relationship ends in her life, she will revisit that loss of love over and over again. This will impact your son and you.

While I think your motives for wanting to help this girl are admirable, I don't think going for custody is a good thing for you or your relationship with your son. I do think there are ways you can help this girl without becoming her surrogate parent. I would suggest contacting advocacy groups who work with homeless teens for information and what resources are there in the community. I would suggest you talk with faith-based organizations that assist homeless teens and those that are supportive of teens. Once you start networking, I think you will find that there are a lot of avenues available to assist both you and your son's girlfriend.

~~Lori

Live In Teenage Girlfriend