My 14 year old son and his 15 year old girlfriend are allowed to go the movies together, with at least one parent in the same theater. (We do not sit together, however.) They are also allowed to spend time together alone at the mall. At least one parent takes them to the mall and lets them go shopping, then we meet after an hour or two.
Does this seem age appropriate? After all, they could very well do whatever in the dark at the theater without the parent knowing, since we don't sit together, as they could if we dropped them off at the theater by themselves. (Of course they like to sit on the back row.) And they could leave the mall, of course, and be back by the agreed time.
They like to sit in the back of the van when I drive them places. One time I left them alone while I ran into the grocery store to pick up a cake. When I got back, the girl was hastily zipping the top of her shirt. I hate to be a fuddy duddy and say they can't sit in the back of the van together or even be alone in a car for ten minutes, but....
What is your advice, please?
First, have you tried selling your son on the wonderful advantages of monastery life?? He doesn't have to stay forever, you understand---just until he's perhaps 25 or 26?
Assuming that works about as well for you as it did for me with my son, then we must consider the fall-back position, which is "The TALK." Since you caught them zipping up, he has now earned a trip to the coffee shop with mom. Yes, I know he knows all about the function of sex, but now it's time to hear mom talk about how sex is different for boys and girls. Our research tells us that girls are now becoming the sexual predators, and that they are hurting themselves psychologically when they attempt to have casual sex like boys. Let him know that even if girls say that they are "cool with it," they still (often secretly) hold deep emotional attachments to males they have sex with. When he argues that he and she are in love, so it's OK, ask if he intends to spend the rest of his life with her, or is this likely a temporary fling. Then ask if he's willing to possibly damage this girl he claims to care about just to have some sex. Stay on this point versus the pregnancy and STD risks. He's likely prepared to say that he's got all of that covered.
The idea here is not to try and police him first, but to teach him and get him to think. If he insists that he will still have sex, then you have to let him know that this shows that he is not mature enough for unsupervised dating yet, and that you'll have to do those crazy,embarrassing things like never leaving them alone.
The bottom line is this: Yes, you can't really stop them from having sex. But you have to "mess with his mind" by trying to get him to think about this issue, and then you must make your own value clear by saying 14-year-old sex is not OK. Remember, the game here is not stopping sex for a year, but shaping good sexual values for a lifetime.
Good luck---to all of us!
Dr. Mike Bradley