I knew eventually I was going to have to write a post like this, yet my heart sank when I realized last night that it had to be done now.
Riley, our 16 year old son, told me on Monday night that he had a girlfriend and that he wanted to go to church with her in a neighboring town on Wednesday night. My kids have the lovely ability to either tell me bad news or drop bombshells of information on me while Derek is at work. This was the first that we had even heard of this girl and now he wanted to go someplace with her. I was in a terrible mood on Monday (see Tuesday’s post about chores) and I told him that we would talk about it when his dad was home.
Last night, Bryce and the girls were gone to the park, so it became the perfect opportunity to discuss the new girlfriend situation. We asked him where she was from (a neighboring town). We asked him how long he had known her (never got a solid answer on this one). We asked him how long they had been “going out” (since the ballgame last Friday night). Everything was going fine. We had decided that they needed to talk to each other a few more weeks before they actually went anywhere together, including church. We also told him because of my situation, we had to talk to the girls parents if she was ever going to be coming over to our house to see him. The conversation was wrapping up, when I asked how old she was. The answer literally made my heart fall into my stomach. She’s 14.
Most parents don’t know what I know about laws and the way things really work in certain situations. However, as part of my lobbying efforts, I am either blessed or very cursed to know that in Oklahoma the age of consent is 16 and anybody dating somebody under the age of 16 can be charged with crimes ranging from molestation of a child to felony sexual assault for having any sort of sexual contact (including kissing and hand holding) with somebody under the age of 16. It’s not right. It’s not fair. It’s ruining lives all over this country, but it’s the way it is right now and the worst thing that I can ever imagine is for my son to have to endure a lifetime label for a teenage relationship.
Some states have adopted “Romeo and Juliet Laws”, but even under these laws, a teenager can still be prosecuted, they just don’t have to be on the Sex Offender Registry.
A story in Marie Claire magazine this past July brought attention to this very important subject.
Derek and I don’t know what to do. Based on our past experiences with Rachel, we know that forbidding him from seeing this girl will only cause him to want to see her more and probably sneak around to do it. Luckily, she lives about 25 minutes away and they don’t go to the same school. He is so mad that we are even considering not letting him “date” her, that he won’t even talk to us today. I really don’t know what to do. I know how serious these laws are and I know how damaging they can be to a young life. Watching one of my sons endure the hell that I have endured would be my worst nightmare.
We obviously need more information and we probably need to talk to this girl’s parents, so we are taking a few days to think about it before we make any decisions.
What do you think we should do?