Friday, June 05, 2009

Grown up sleepovers. Yum.

I'm not sure that this is entirely kosher. I'd intended to post today about gift giving. (Doesn't that sound riveting?) But I ended up spending most of my writing budget on a reply to this post about grown up sleepovers. So this is the second Martini Mom post in a row that's been inspired by And this one can't even qualify as "being inspired by" because I'm simply copying and pasting what I wrote there, instead of rewriting something more fabulous here. I feel like I'm cheating, hence the "is this kosher?" question.

Regardless (or irregardless if you're a fan of redundancy), it was a good question that those singlemommyhood folks asked, and so I'm going to reanswer it here. You can check out other people's answers using the link above.

Actually, a number of questions were raised in the original post, but this is the one I responded to: "Some of you have talked about having a man (or woman) spend the night when the kids are home. Others have said, “No way!” Where do you stand?"

And here is where I stand:

In my opinion, sex is a natural (and good!) part of relationships. Sexuality is not a dirty or forbidden topic in my home. And it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I have no intention of being celibate, so my choices are to either keep my sexuality hidden from my son, or to be open and honest about it. Open and honest is the best approach for me and my family.

Yes, sex is a tricky and often confusing subject for children and teens (and, let's be honest, adults too), so of course I'm concerned about setting a good example. But again, I believe that sex is a natural part of a relationship and so providing my son with a realistic version of how to handle the physical aspects of a relationship is important to me. I'd be afraid that keeping it hidden - sneaking my sleepovers - would give entirely the wrong impression: that sex is a shameful act; something to be buried amongst the other skeletons in our closets. Instead, I want to teach my son that it's a good thing, but something that carries risks - emotionally and physically - and should be treated with the utmost respect and responsibility.

And, of course, in order for me to exemplify respect and responsibility, I have to act that way. This certainly wouldn't work if I were bringing home a different guy every week. But I'm not, so we don't have to worry about that.

It does mean that I must be prepared to endorse the same behavior in my son. (Eventually, of course. Not when he's 8.) "Do as I say, not as I do" has never been a comfortable concept for me. If I am going to provide an example, I need to be ready for him to follow it.

My single (dating with sleepovers) mother ran into this issue when I was 18? 19? I was in college, but still living at home to save cash. I got up one morning to find her date eating breakfast in the kitchen. They'd been dating for only a couple of weeks. This was hardly the first sleepover I'd been witness to, but it was the most frustrating. My boyfriend at the time, whom I'd been dating for roughly a year, was always sent home at night because sleepovers - for me - were not allowed. It felt like a huge double standard, and I called my mom on it that afternoon after her date left. She wasn't entirely happy about it, but she confessed to feeling the hypocracy of the situation even before I brought it up. Especially since - with the fact that I was having sex with my boyfriend being no secret - she knew that the only thing she was preventing was our actual sleeping together after our "sleeping" together.

We were both allowed to have sleepovers after that. I dated the same guy for the remainder of the time I lived with my mom. The rules might've been different if I'd been in a less committed relationship. I don't know. I also don't know how I'll react if a similar situation arises with my son. But my plan is to treat it with as much objective mutual respect as my mother did. Wish me luck.

4 comments: said...

You inspired quite a conversation@singlemommyhood. You're a valued and trusted member of our singlemommyhood community. .

We all want (and deserve!)a "grown-up" life. After all, we're single not dead. How to manage this life while parenting our kids responsibly is a challenge. Only through helping each other will we find the path that's right for each of us. Thanks, Martini Mom, for helping to guide us all.

MindyMom said...

I posted a comment over there as well but want to let you know I agree with you. We may be single and parents but that doesn't mean we need to deny ourselves what is a natural part of a healthy relationship - sleeping together. I'm not promoting sleeping with many random men and having a revolving door but I think if we are in a relationship having sleepovers is fine and not at all harmful to our kids. I've been a single aprent for 7 years and in that time have had two relationships where the man would sleep over. My kids were happy for me that I had someone to share my life with even if it didn't last.

Single Mom Seeking said...

Kosher for sure! Thanks so much for the link love.

I appreciate how you add this angle, which we all think about: you're dating, and someday your kid will be dating, too... Are the rules the same?

The story about you and your mom fascinates me -- you had the confidence to talk to your mom about a very touchy subject. Bravo.

Medela backpack said...

This is a great post for the discussion on this subject, I am sure you will see different responses here.

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