Dear Amy: Recently my oldest daughter had a 15th birthday party sleepover weekend.
Her best friend, as well as my nieces and nephews, spent the weekend celebrating with her at our home.
Sunday morning at around 2AM, my husband woke me up to tell me that he caught my 15-year-old nephew having sex with my daughter’s best friend on my living room couch! (Sadly, unprotected.)
I immediately called the girl’s mother and alerted her and brought the girl home. Same with my nephew.
Now my daughter is worried that her friend’s mom won’t let them stay friends because this happened in my house.
I’m sick with guilt. I feel responsible as the adult and I feel terrible because my daughter has a hard time connecting with new people and this will most likely set her back. Understandably, the girl’s mother was furious and hasn’t responded to my calls and text messages to touch base and make sure everyone is OK.
I’m not sure what my next step is in all this.
– Buying a New Couch
Dear Buying: Let’s stipulate that – if they are motivated – some teenagers can and will have sex. There can also be sexual activity at same-sex sleepovers, but the stakes for those encounters are much different, because there is no chance of a resulting pregnancy.
Strictly speaking, sex between two 15-year-olds is illegal (since neither are old enough to consent), although many states have passed so-called “Romeo and Juliet Laws” providing exemptions for close-in-age teens.
It is surprising, to say the least, that you and your husband would actually provide not only the location, but the opportunity for risky sexual activity, by hosting a co-ed sleepover.
I do know of parents (and organizations) that successfully host co-ed teen sleepovers, but they do so with very specific guidelines, chaperones, and – of course – with the knowledge and consent of all of the parents involved.
As the adults who made this choice, you shouldn’t just “feel” responsible. You (and your husband) are responsible.
You cannot control how these other parents handle their children or how they react to you. If you didn’t inform the girl’s parents in advance that boys would be spending the night at your house, I believe it would be a rational consequence for them to refuse to let their daughter spend time at your home again.
Do not interfere or intervene regarding the friendship between the two girls, unless your daughter expressly asks you for help. And even then, you may have to explain to her that even though this was not her doing, one additional consequence of teens having sex is that it can unfortunately interfere with their friendships.
Dear Amy: I volunteer weekly with a non-profit group. “Barbara” is in charge of organizing our work.
Barbara has a tendency to complain all the time about things that are not relevant to what we do.
This brings a lot of negativity into the space we work in and stresses us out!
I understand that people are anxious and need to vent, but it feels like we are captive to her negative energy.
If we complain, she threatens to quit. This would be a shame, but in fact, we could likely go ahead without her.
What to do?
– Weary of Bad Vibes
Dear Weary: You don’t say what important work your non-profit performs, but part of that service might be in providing the social and emotional benefits related to the act of volunteering, itself.
I am trying to urge you fellow volunteers to keep this in mind as you attempt to offer a course correction to your own negative “Barbara.”
I suggest that you individually offer her feedback: “We’re all volunteers her, trying to help the organization, I’m concerned that sometimes your own negativity takes center stage. We care about you, so this affects the rest of us, and can get in the way of the good work we’re trying to do.”
Dear Amy: No, no, no! Your reply to “Miffed Manager” was terrible!
No employee should have to “respectfully ask permission” of a manager to take paid time off.
This manager, and you, need to check your own privilege and understand that workers have rights, too.
Dear Upset: “Miffed Manager” complained about one worker who had the habit of announcing that she was leaving the office, with extremely short notice. In my response, I focused on the need of the employee to give proper notice, instead of the “permission” issue, and in that regard, I agree with you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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