My teen is dating an older woman and my husband likes it.

“Dear Ignacio, My husband gleefully confided in me that he overheard our son having video sex with his older girlfriend. I didn’t know the two of them were sexual yet, and I really disliked the way my husband was excited about our son being sexual at 16, with an older woman. I wonder how he would have reacted if we had a 16-year-old daughter. Am I overreacting?” 

First of all, thank you for reaching out even though you’re teetering on the idea that you are “overreacting.” Any alarms, or flags that go up for caregivers, pertaining to our kids, warrant a conversation. How would your husband react if it were your daughter with a much older man? I suspect, not as thrilled. In this regard, I suggest you speak with your husband about his comment and behavior. 

Before addressing the #patriarchy and #sexism embedded in celebration of your son's sexual ‘conquests,’ we must address how you all got there. Have you had conversations with your son about sex, #sexuality, and #relationships? Do you all have #boundaries around dating? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to regroup with your husband, get on the same page and then extend a conversation with your son. If the answer is no, this is a great time to begin. I would also ask, how did your 16-year-old son come to date this older woman? If you have given him permission to date this woman, then why is it surprising that he is expressing sexual feelings? There seems to be some #communication that has to happen for you as parents, and then as a family. 

I’d encourage you to dig deeper into why you dislike your husband's reaction. This can be a learning moment about gender roles, sexism, power dynamics, and child sexual abuse. As with any relationship, there are some possibilities here: older woman who wants to control and harm a younger lover; older woman who is looking for a boy to act like a man; older woman with no bad intentions towards a younger lover. Even in the best case scenario, an older woman/person holds an inherent power that magnifies based on the age difference. Power differences aren’t unique to relationships with age differences, but bringing attention to how they play out is needed. Your son is young with many feelings and hormones and needs. He needs to be heard with #patience and spoken to with loving communication. As parents, you implement what you consider is best for your child, but remember to prioritize your relationship with your son and proceed with ease. Emotions are intense right now. Be good to each other.

Resources: scarleteen.com sexpositivefamilies.com

 

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