age difference - 16 f and 20m

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2003
age difference - 16 f and 20m
Mon, 10-20-2003 - 1:09pm
My son-in-law, daughter and grandson have been living with us a couple of months because my SIL has joined the army and is on extended leave for basic training and my DD and my DGS will be living with us through his basic training. My SIL has had a couple of friends over watching movies and our entire family has enjoyed their company. My SIL has on occasion taken some of my kids and his friends on outings, like halloween haunted house, etc.

Now comes my concern. My 16 year DD has grown fondly of my SIL's 20 year old friend and he likes her as well. My DD is a Junior in HS. He has been out of school a couple years, is in the army reserves, went to college for a semester and works at a golf course to save up for college. From what I know about him, he's a pretty clean kid - not into drugs and the like. He has his own apartment which concerns me GREATLY. If I hadn't got to know him first, I would have absolutely refused the idea. However, he's very respectful, fun to be around and can understand her liking him. I don't want to see my DD hurt. I don't want to refuse her to see him - however, I don't want her to get too serious, too quickly with him either.

My DH is against this. He thinks there is something wrong with a 20 year old that wants to be with a 16 year old (I don't necessarily agree with). He feels age difference when your 16 and 20 is different than 26 & 30 or 30 & 34. Which I do agree with, however, I am really struggling with this.

As far as the relationship with my DD - we've always been able to talk about things. She feels that she could be open and honest with me about this relationship. And, of course, that she could handle this relationship without getting intimate. (hasn't this been said umpteen million times???). I have always let my kids know that they need to stay with groups of friends and not subject themselves to being alone at ANY TIME!

Also, I will note, that she has had some problems recently with her girlfriends. She hasn't been able to talk to them much lately. Also, she has not had many boyfriends (and those she has had were not long term). And I know that she has enjoyed having someone new to talk to. She will be crushed if we, as parents, were to end this new relationship.

Has anyone had a similar experience with their daughter???

Do I trust my DD and build our mother/daugher relationship - or am I crazy to even think of letting her getting involved with someone older???

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-14-2003
Mon, 10-20-2003 - 1:44pm

I have to agree with your husband too. . .four years are a lot of years between a teenager and a young man.

Avatar for luanne115481
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 10-20-2003 - 2:27pm
Normally I wouldn't comment as I haven't gone through this myself. But, as I was reminded recently (during my uncle's memorial service), my oldest cousin was 16 when she started dating "Tony", who was almost 21. Tony spoke at the service and said that was a problem when they started dating because of the age difference, and I remember my aunt wasn't pleased as she felt he had no ambition and was going nowhere. Of course I don't know the whole story.

Now my cousin and Tony have been married I don't know how many years, have 4 gorgeous sons, 3 daughters in law and one grandchild.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-20-2003
Mon, 10-20-2003 - 4:12pm
I know that I'll probably be in the minority on this but if you know the boy and you like and trust him and you trust your daughter and have an open relationship with her I'd let them be friends. Are they asking to go on dates? I'd discourage going to his apartment and I'd also suggest if they *do date they date in groups but I'd suggest both of these things no matter how old the boy was! My daughter is 13, her best friend just turned 17 and her BF's boyfriend is 20. The 3 of them go to bookstores, out to dinner together etc., I can't get stuck on the age thing since I can see in my daughter how much more mature she is than most kids her age.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 10-20-2003 - 5:43pm
I have to agree with your dh on this one.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Mon, 10-20-2003 - 9:40pm
Right off the bat a 16/20 relationship scares me, mostly because DD is a minor, AND there is a big difference in maturity and experience between a HS junior and a college sophomore - which he would be if he were still in school. That being said, I suppose it does depend somewhat on the kids involved. Right now my just 19 y/o college freshman DS started a relationship with a 16+ y/o HS junior...and even that makes me a little nervous, mainly because he's an adult in the eyes of the law and she's a minor. I have yet to meet her, and don't even know how close to 17 she is, but I've told him to be careful, he doesn't want to find himself with a "contributing to the delinquency" or statuatory rape charge if things go bad. Honestly, I think in our situation, he will quickly loose interest when he finds out how tied into high school she is (went to homecoming with her a week ago and thought it was "pretty lame")...and that may be the same that happens with DD. I'd proceed with caution, especially since you already like the young man.
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 10-21-2003 - 3:27am
That age difference would make me pretty nervous. But a lot of it depends on the two people involved--if the 16yo is mature for her age and if the 20yo is immature for his age or inexperienced it could work.

I would probably start by having SIL talk to the 20yo to find out his intentions and make clear what the limits are with his "little sis"(in-law). If he really is a nice guy and he feels some accountability to your family then he may be less likely to let things go too far or to take advantage of your dd's inexperience.

If you decide to let the friendship develop into more, you can and should put a lot of controls on it. Lots of time spent at your house, none at his apt, HS-appropriate curfews etc. Your dh can have a talk with him too about minor girls.

If you don't want to let it develop then you will probably have to tell you SIL not to invite the guy over anymore and hope that your dd doesn't want to sneak around.

I have mixed experience in this area. My mom was 15 and my dad 20 when they met, they married just before she turned 18 (wartime) and were married for 48 yrs when dad died. But that was a different era.

My first bf was 19 but I was only 16. He was way too fast for me, my first bf should have been my own age and speed.

My dd17.5 is currently dating a 22yo. He was 21 when they met, but she lied and said he was 19 because we wouldn't have approved of 21! She has had a few bf's before but this is her first serious relationship. He is a nice guy, we do like him, and he is immmature in some ways for his age (dh jokes that he has arrested development!). We made sure that he realized that she is under 18/living at home by requiring them to hang out here a lot at first and by her curfews and needing to check-in with us. The difference in their ages definitely shows up. The bf seems to be a fairly clean-living guy but most of his friends are of legal drinking age and sometimes they go to bars, so he has some activities that dd is automatically excluded from. I think that some of his friends give him a hard time about robbing the cradle. She attends community college, if she was in HS I think the gap would be too great. I can understand why he likes her, she is cute and interesting, but it does beg the question of can't he find a gf his own age? My 20yo ds says bf is a nice guy but a loser to be dating a 17yo!

I think that the biggest worry is that the older guy will take advantage of the younger girl's inexperience and naivete. If you think that he is a nice guy that won't take advantage then it might be okay. The worry about her getting her heart broken can happen with a bf of any age and unfortuntely we parents can't do anythng to prevent that!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2003
Tue, 10-21-2003 - 4:09pm
I am not a parent, however when I was 16 I dated a 20 year old guy. My parents were very concerned about this at first but they trusted me and allowed me to see him. After they got to know him they really liked him and he became almost part of our family. We were together for a little over 2 yrs. Even though things did not work out in the end for us I am very greatful to my parents for letting me date him. He was a great person and alot of fun to be around. He was also much more mature than the guys at my school. The fact is that the guys from school (my own age) that I dated pressured me for sex and were much more wild than the 20 year old. Even though I am now married to someone else, I still look back on our time together and have very fond memories of that point in my life. He was my first love and if I could go back I would not change anything. I think that if your daughter is mature and responsible you should let her have this opportunity to get to know this boy better.