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Your son is 27 and due to financial problems, you've invited him to move home. His 30 year old girlfriend is coming to stay. Should you oppose them sharing his double bed during her visit?

This question involves much older people than most others, but, I feel it is very much related to parenting, since, this behaviour isn't shared by wider society/friends/relatives.

I ask because my parents are asking (if not telling) me to sleep on the floor downstairs. Am I unreasonable to expect both us and my folks to respect personal space?

None of us are religious and I'm unsure of the origin of their concerns.

How would you handle this discussion? My parents and I have an otherwise happy relationship.

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Unless there is also a religious component to their concerns, I'd have to agree with Torben. If their reasons for the rule have religious routes - whether you agree with their beliefs or not, it is a slightly more complex issue in regards to how to address things with your parents. Can you add this detail to your question? –  balanced mama Jan 20 '13 at 0:49
    
Are they REALLY asking you to sleep on the floor? I mean, no air mattress? No couch? I mean, I get that not everyone has a guest bed, but your mom is also opposed to you sleeping on the couch. I'm just wondering if you're not being a tad melodramatic in your assertion that they want you to sleep on the floor. Cause, personally, I find it more offensive that they expect you to sleep on the floor than that they've asked you to not sleep with your girlfriend. –  Meg Coates Jan 20 '13 at 3:45
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Then I agree with Torben. I'd find a hotel for the night--especially if they don't really seem to have a reason behind it. Are they maybe just uncomfortable with the idea? It's sometimes hard for parents to see their kids as adults with adult relationships and opinions--we call it "powdered butt syndrome" in our house :-D –  Meg Coates Jan 20 '13 at 19:56
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"I'm unsure of the origin of their concerns." Why? The fact that you're coming here and asking us instead of asking them seems a bit weird to me, especially in the context of an "otherwise happy relationship." To be honest, without knowing what is motivating them, I don't feel there's much that we can do here except speculate. –  Benjol Jan 21 '13 at 14:28
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Thanks everyone for a lively discussion and for a wealth of ideas. The reason I was unsure of the origin of their concerns was it was initially near impossible to engage in a dialogue without them shutting down, avoiding the subject altogether or beginning to argue. Torben's answer involving addressing control issues was the primary source for a resolution. Ultimately, we were indeed allowed to share a bed and all parties were happy with the arrangement :) –  Nick Feb 5 '13 at 3:06

8 Answers 8

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I see two aspects in this, summed up in these words:

  • one one side, the son is a guest and should respect the house rules and/or the wishes of the hosts,
  • on the other side, the parents are making a rather silly demand on their son because he is no longer legally underage and doesn't need to be supervised.

In the end, the parents are the hosts, and therefore their rules are final. But it's worth a try to discuss these rules before accepting them!


This son and his girlfriend are adults. They'll be expected to know how to behave themselves (or be quiet about it). For this to be a problem in the first place, it seems to me that the parents have some issues that need to be either addressed, accepted (sleep on the floor), or knowingly ignored (hotel, or sneak upstairs after lights-out).

If I were that son, I'd present my arguments to my parents in the hope to convince them to let me share a room (and bed) with my girlfriend. Frankly, if the parents can't handle two grown-up guests sharing a bed in their house, then the son should take his girlfriend to a nearby hotel for the night. This would likely not be popular with the parents, but that's their problem.

If I were those parents, I'd have to realize that we have control issues. Our son is a grown man, and we need to accept that. We could discreetly request him to keep his hands above the covers while he's a guest in this house. But come on -- demanding him to sleep on the floor is nothing short of silly.

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I'm guessing 'financial problems' might preclude the hotel option. –  Benjol Jan 21 '13 at 14:25
    
@Benjol: You may have a point! After all, the young man appears unable to support a home of his own -- but if the girlfriend is visiting for a short while, maybe he can afford to share the hotel bill with the girlfriend. The "hotel" doesn't have to be expensive; it could also be a bed&breakfast, or a youth hostel, or similar less expensive alternatives. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 21 '13 at 16:38
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Thanks for an excellent response - I have accepted this answer as control issues were indeed the root cause. These have no been overcome (at least in part) and we were able to share a bed. I believe their objections were related to previous experiences where they hated my ex and couldn't stand us being together. Introducing them to my current partner gradually has worked well and slowly bringing up the idea of modern sleeping arrangements when shown in TV and film, non-directly led them to volunteer a positive solution themselves. –  Nick Feb 5 '13 at 3:11
    
@Nick: excellent -- congratulations! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 5 '13 at 7:22

There are also valid secular reasons for a lot of "religious" rules. Sex has very real financial consequences. It also happens to be highly motivational, and perhaps your parents don't want you to get too comfortable in a temporary situation.

I happen to personally have religious objections, but I think I would try very hard to put those aside in order for my son to feel welcome visiting. However, a visit from a self-sufficient child is very different from one asking you to support them financially. If you want personal space, then buy it. If you want the privileges of an adult, then assume the responsibilities of one. If you want someone else to support you financially, then accept their conditions.

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None of us are religious and I'm unsure of the origin of their concerns.

Well, then go an ask them. There are a few completely different things that may be going on here:

  1. They feel that it's really not a good thing that you are 27 and living at home. They try encourage you to get a decent job and a place of your own by making your stay awkward.
  2. They may have a rather irrational conception that "one does not do this". I have no idea where it comes from but I have seen it frequently in US parents (much less in Europe). Pretty much all our kid's girl/boyfriend's parents display this. Although the kids are of age, in long term stable relationships and have places on their own where they often stay together, it's a no-no in the parent's house. It's quite baffling but very real.
  3. There are social ("what will the neighbors say") or religious concerns that you are not aware of.

Halving an open conversation should clarify that. As it stands, it's their house so their rules apply and your best shot is to get your financials in order and find a place on your own.

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Are you paying a reasonable rent to your parents or are you staying for free? In my mind this makes a big difference!

If you are a guest (i.e. staying for free) then although you may not agree with your parents you owe it to them to follow the rules that they've established. They have after all allowed you to return home and to put a roof over your head.

On the other hand if you're paying a reasonable rent (market value for example) then ultimately you are in control of what you do in the privacy of your bedroom. Obviously that doesn't mean you're free to throw wild parties or set up a meth lab, but your personal and private behavior in your space is your own business.

Rent aside pushing the issue is more than likely going to cause problems and strain the relationship with your parents. Only you can determine if you're willing to push those boundaries and are willing to accept the risks of damaging the good relationship.

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May be parents don't like his girlfriend, so they try to make her stay uncomfortable.
Or they are afraid if they let son share the bed with her, she will move in too.
Or may be it's a hint for a son, that it is time for him to get his own place.
Anyway that's parent's house, so they make the rules.

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+1 since the issue seems to have stemmed from a prior girlfriend whom they [unfortunately] despised. –  Nick Feb 5 '13 at 3:12

Your son is 27 and due to financial problems, you've invited him to move home. His 30 year old girlfriend is coming to stay. Should you oppose them sharing his double bed during her visit?

No.

Is it reasonable?

No.

Something is up... ask them why. Maybe it's as simple as "we'll be grossed out hearing 'it'" to which there's a simple solution: promising that you won't do 'it' when they can hear 'it'.

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I wanted to explain a bit, but didn't want to clutter up the original thought. at 27, you've been out in the world and on your own for at least a while. In a lot of famblies, 27/30 have a kid or 2 already. Would they expect you to sleep separate then? –  monsto Jan 23 '13 at 12:45

It's the parents' house and they would be the ones to decide.

How much leeway do you have to negotiate? It depends on

  • the kind of relationship you have with your parents. Are they autocratic, or do you get to have your say?

  • the wider impact of either decision on the other people involved and the overall cultural acceptance of such behavior. In some cultures even having an unmarried partner in the house would be taboo. In others, people would wonder why you don't share the bedroom at all.

You should definitely get into a negotiation if this is a long term arrangement - for the sake of your own sanity. At the same time, you are in no position to dictate terms to them.

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I think it is about time we all understand that human beings have a strong "chemical machines" component. Imposing abstinence to youngsters is just cruel and it disregards this very common fact mentioned above.

Thus, once you accepted your son back home at his age, means also accepting his girlfriend and their relationship, especially if it is a long lasting one.

Maybe you should consider how they will contribute to your common life and this includes the girlfriend.

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