As your children grow, your parenting challenges change in ways you could never have imagined. Back when she was dealing with potty training and tying shoes, this mom never guessed she’d need advice on her grown daughter’s predilection for loud sex.Alexander Dummer/Pexels
User smarmydrippings posted to Mumsnet, seeking advice on what to do when the combination of her apartment’s (presumably) thin walls and her daughter’s clearly audible sex life collided. As with so many things when you’re a parent, the problem gave rise to a confusing mix of pride and embarrassment:
I don’t know how to cope with this. She is 27. On the one hand I’m so happy she feels so comfortable in her [sexuality]. Like go on lovey. On the other I really don’t want to actually hear it. How would you deal with this?
In response to the many people who suggested the daughter needs to move out, the mom went on to explain that they live in London, where housing is expensive, but her daughter is saving up for her own place.
In the meantime, the mom’s reluctance to make an issue of the noise — and her daughter’s lack of embarrassment about it — has her thinking the only answer is headphones and loud music:
I’m sort of happy that I’ve raised her to be comfortable with her sexuality. And that she feels she can be herself in her home. It’s something that makes me feel I’m a good enough mum.
She is fully aware I can hear her. She mentioned it casually over morning coffee and laughed that her BF felt a bit uncomfortable at the fact I must hear them.
Oh, mom. Let me level with you…
I can’t decide if you’re really, really nice (like the mom of my college friend who always let her bring anyone to stay) or just afraid of confrontation (like that same mom when she discovered we drank all the wine in the house).
But I do think that, whatever your motivation, you’ve confused discourtesy with confidence.
You’re right that she’s an adult, which limits your authority over her in your role as a parent. But this isn’t really about a parent/child relationship.
Let me put it this way: if your roommate or next door neighbor was having ear-splitting sex, you wouldn’t be saying, “Oh, I’m so proud of Bob. It’s great that he’s so comfortable with his sexuality that he feels free to share it with everyone in a three-block radius. I don’t even mind that I have to watch ‘This Is Us’ through headphones, even though I accidentally unplug them whenever I reach for a tissue.”
No, you’d be cursing and banging on the walls while yelling, “We can hear you! The International Space Station called and asked if you’d be finished by their next orbit. You’re interfering with their transmissions to NASA.”
You’ve been wrapped up in the fact that this is your daughter, and you don’t want to hinder her good time. But what you actually have is a roommate problem. The good news is that it’s a common one, and very solvable.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea for adult roommates to sort out the “house rules” when it comes to noise, overnight visitors, washing the dishes, and whether the mayonnaise in the fridge is communal or the potential cause of World War Three if used without asking.
This is the conversation you need to have with your daughter — not to embarrass her, but to sort out an issue with communal living. Whether she’s confident in her sexuality is irrelevant. (And, incidentally, completely unrelated to volume. It is certainly possible to be confident without getting so loud that it scares the cat.) The problem would be the same if she was practicing drums at midnight or working on her scrap metal sculpture.
It’s too loud, it’s discourteous, and it’s bothering the other people in the house.
So let her know that her boisterous bedroom activities are just too dang noisy. And set up some reasonable ground rules — times when it won’t bother you because you won’t be around. Ways to dampen the sound. If she isn’t willing to be quieter, then she needs to look into sound-absorbing materials and ways to create white noise.
Set out some mutually agreed-on quiet hours, when both of you can be assured that you won’t be disturbed by disruptive noises. This isn’t a ban on sex, just an agreement that you’ll avoid loud moans, banging noises, and Jazzercise after 11 p.m. or so.
And point out that these rules go both ways. You might be single at the moment, but it’s a good way to make it clear that this is about mutual respect and courtesy, not “my house, my rules.”
Yes, it’s going to be a bit awkward. But do it for your daughter’s comfort, not just yours. Because, in addition to learning to be confident in her sexuality, she also needs to learn to be courteous to others. One day, the person she’s disturbing won’t be her mom. And they won’t think the noise is a reflection of good parenting. On the contrary.