Can my son see his girlfriend now?

Father: “We are a family with three boys, living in a small town. Our eldest, almost 18, has been dating for a year and a half, very seriously, they are very close. Our middle child has asthma, and has already been in the ICU because of a virus, so we said that the oldest couldn’t see his girlfriend now. She lives in two families so she has to deal with a lot of people.

“Our son was very weighed down by this measure, became depressed, stopped working at school, and he really has to finish this year. We have therefore now allowed the meetings once a week as long as no one catches a cold. When he gets home, he has to keep his distance, and eat at another table. We struggle with this. I’m pretty sure they don’t keep 1.5 meters away.”

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Make a risk assessment

Loes Keijsers: “In general, adolescents accept it when educators forbid something that is really dangerous. They understand that that is part of a good upbringing. Until parents enter the domain of social contacts. Teenagers regard this as something strictly personal, they do not accept the rules of adults.

“In such a risk assessment, two things must be taken into account: does someone in the family have a vulnerable health? Then it is legitimate to say ‘no’. But as parents you also have to look carefully at what you take away. An intimate partner is an important source of support for teens. That’s the person they can tell their stories to. So you could say to your nearly 18-year-old, “Your courtship is the only one you’re allowed to see now, provided there are no cold symptoms in her area.” In the research we are now doing into how corona affects the upbringing of teenagers, we see that most parents opt for this.”

Good consultation

Bass Delivery: „I remember from the fifties in the Utrecht working-class district where I lived that father Spiering shouted to father De Wit across the street: ‘If you keep your daughter inside, I’ll keep my son inside’. Then we had to deal with a completely different form of infection, which forced young people into abstinence. Now that there is successful contraception, the information we give young people should mainly focus on treating each other with care and respect. In this situation, that means not infecting each other.

“You have already allowed them to see each other once a week, and you assume that they do not respect the 1.5 meters. They should definitely do that with everyone else. This is also in accordance with the guidelines of the RIVM. You could discuss with your son and his girlfriend what is at stake here considering your middle child. Does the girlfriend have many other contacts? How are these safety regulations met in the two families in which she lives? And isn’t this an issue that should also be discussed with the girlfriend’s parents?

“The advantage of being closely involved with one other person may be that your eldest has fewer contacts with other friends as a result.”