On Your Mind: Should we let unmarried house guests share a room?

Question: We’re having some relatives visit us soon, and one of them is bringing a live-in boyfriend with her. They’re staying in our home and will probably assume that they’ll share a room, but I don’t think it would set a good example for our kids, who are nearing teen years. My husband doesn’t think we should make an issue of it and risk offending people before the holiday. Any advice for how to navigate this awkward situation without sacrificing the lessons we want to teach our kids?

Response written by Katie Neal, LCSW of Ozark Guidance

Dear reader,

First, kudos to you for thinking about all of the intricacies that can arise during this season. These times of holiday joy, when families may be doing things outside of the norm, can bring up all kinds of questions. This particular situation sounds like one that would require some communication.  Whether or not you and your family decide to allow these two guests to share a room in your home is completely up to you. Whatever you decide, I would just be sure to communicate the decision and reasons for it with your children to avoid any confusion about the expectation you have for them as the parents.

For example, you might explain to your children that your guests are sharing a room at your house over the holidays. However, your expectation for your children would be that they don’t live with a significant other until marriage; if those are your beliefs. You could also add that you are allowing this even though you disagree with it in order to respect the wishes of the two adults that are coming to your house for the holidays. 

On the flip side, should you determine that you would like for your guests to stay in separate rooms, I would encourage open communication with them. Maybe something like: We are so glad that you and your boyfriend are joining us for the holidays. We’ve really been trying to be clear with our children about our expectations of their behavior and I’m worried that if the two of you stayed in the same room, it might be confusing for them. Would it work for you to stay in these two rooms?

Either way, I think approaching this tough situation with open, kind and honest communication will yield the best result.

Good luck and happy holidays!

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