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sex in a teenagers room

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One of the lovely things about not having children (besides never having to counteract a toddler’s propensity for covering all surfaces with what experts call “sticky”) is that I will probably never need to stare down the barrel of teenage sexuality.

Perhaps there is an arrangement whose mandate incorporates a few more light bulbs? Susan Merrill, a painter in Stockbridge, Mass., who has three children now 18 or older, said of herself and her husband: “We want to meet the boy or girlfriend. We would love to take them out to dinner with our child. We tell our child: ‘Here are the rules. This is our house, and while you are welcome to have a friend stay the night, we expect you to consider sex to be a private, two-person activity. That means you go to bed when we do, you get up when we do, and if you are really well behaved, we’ll make you pancakes for breakfast. We do not want to be involved in any way in your sex life. We don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to see it. We expect you to wash your sheets and towels. In other words, we expect you to behave like good guests.’ ”

This setup strikes me as fairly ideal: a well-mixed cocktail of caution and tolerance with a possible pancake chaser. As the benevolent manager of your family campgrounds, though, you would have to be prepared for the occasional camper who takes an especial liking for the site.

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