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Co-Ed Sleepovers Are the Ultimate Playdate

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Parents need to remember that kids have their own version of a timetable, too.

Sarah Bowman: Teens take a long time getting to the girlfriend and boyfriend stage -- there is a long run up of IMing, texting, Facebooking, and (eventually) hanging at the movies in groups, which seems to occupy most of 7th and 8th grade. Even then, the negotiation for a couple to go on a first date can take weeks, involving dozens of mini-conferences between the couple and various third-party agents who arrange the setup. If two teens actually start dating, everyone is thrilled -- the kids have achieved a new public status, and parents are generally happy that their kids are developing "real" relationships and not engaging in the dreaded "hooking-up" that the media keeps warning us is rampant.

teenagers watching tv

And even so, sleepovers rule as the social activity of choice in high school. My experience is that both girls and boys leapfrog from one home to another between their weekend activities. No matter how much the girls are thinking and talking about the boys (and vice versa), they love the comfort of lounging in their PJs and staying up until ungodly hours watching "One Tree Hill" for the 90th time. As for boys, it's all about gaming, poker, and reruns of "The Office."

Which is why I was so shocked to hear that my friend's 16-year-old son had been invited to a co-ed sleepover at his girlfriend's house. The girl's mother thought it would be a really cool Sweet Sixteen party concept, and this blithe promotion of a fragile, new relationship jangled my friend's nerves. After several frantic conferences, she and her husband told their son that he would have his normal 11:00 PM curfew. Turns out, their son was relieved to be told he had to sleep in his own bed.

Parenting is still, and always will be, about setting limits. Yes, you can see him tonight; no, you can't go to that party if the parents aren't home. Yes, she can come for dinner; no, you can't spend the night at her Sweet Sixteenth! With each year that my kids grow older, my anxiety about their sexuality decreases (probably in direct relation to their right to privacy)! But maybe that's because the kids have their own version of a timetable, too.

Sometimes, their notion of what's cool and our idea about what's right dovetail nicely because we all need boundaries that make us comfortable.

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30 comments so far | Post a comment now
littlepeapie June 15, 2009, 9:04 AM

I think if there is supervision, then this is acceptable. My parents allowed it for special occasions like prom and if we had a big trip coming the next morning. 99% of the time, we all stayed awake until 4am anyway…and we all slept in sleeping bags in the den floor…but again I say the key is SUPERVISION.

Melodie June 15, 2009, 12:42 PM

My parents would never allow this in our house but I went to one that she didn’t know boys would be at. I was pretty uncomfortable because I was 14 (too young) and was scared one of them might hit on me while I slept. But when I got older and my parents were away I used to have my best girl friend and best guy friend over and we’d have a sleep pver in my bed. Nothing ever happened sexually speaking but I remember it was so nice to be close like that and feel SAFE with a guy. 20 years later he’s still one of my best friends.

IMVenice June 15, 2009, 12:46 PM

I think the key part of this is that the teen boy was relieved to be told he could not attend. Sometimes parents think they’re giving kids what they want but they’re actually ignoring a request for there to be boundaries that let teens know what is acceptable and what isn’t. This story reminds me of a time my friends and I asked our parents if we could go to a concert. All the parents said, well, if everyone is going, that’s fine. My parents were the only ones to say no, much to the relief of all my friends. Really, we’d wanted our parents to set a boundary more than we wanted to go to the concert.

birdsfly June 15, 2009, 1:09 PM

I have thought about this and I think I would allow a coed if it was at my house under surveilance (and my husband is a tech guy so I mean that literally) and when it was time for lights out boys and girls would be split to different rooms.

nipsy June 15, 2009, 1:31 PM

Right, because our children aren’t put in enough horribly embarrassing moments on their own, lets toss them in yet another.

As someone said, sleepovers mean two different things to each sex..until you toss the two together at which time it turns into a whole nother ballgame.

Keep it at maybe a co-ed party, but not a sleep over. Of course don’t leave the house either..supervision is KEY.

crabbygabby June 15, 2009, 1:43 PM

Is the whole world going crazy? Why would a parent facilitate something that comes along too soon as it is? Let them be the awkward kids that they are and let them get comfortable with each other at overnights when they are in college! Stupid, stupid stupid!

kinaa June 15, 2009, 4:18 PM

I’m 18yrs old and my parents did allow me to have co-ed sleepovers since i was about 14. It was usually a group of about 8 of us. We are all still close friends but the co-ed sleepovers now vaguely happen. The sleepovers were usually at my house in my room. Girls on my bed, and guys on the ground on an extra matress. At about 15-16 yrs we did ocassionaly have dare games..etc. but nothing out of hand. My parents trusted us to know what was wrong and right. We never gave them a reason not to trust us. But yes Supervision was always present. Door was always open. The other key is to TALK to the teenagers.

merry June 16, 2009, 12:03 AM

I would not allow my kids to do a co-ed sleepover at my house, nor would I allow them to do one at someone else’s house. Everyone keeps saying the key is supervision, and yet, unless the adult plans to stay awake in the room, there is no way to ‘supervise’ what is going on.

I remember being in college and hanging out with friends, and some newly met guy friends, in the dark, on the floor… it didn’t take long for the hand holding to move into something a little bit more. My point being, if you put teens in that close of proximity to each other, then unless someone is awake and right there, you won’t know what is going on in the other room while you are asleep in your own bed.

I think the whole thing about same gender sleepovers is out of hand, too… thank goodness my kids have allergies so that I can eliminate most sleepovers for them for that reason.

Hannah June 16, 2009, 1:54 AM

as a 17 year old girl, i’ve been to a few recent co-ed sleepovers, and nothing bad has ever happened. it could be because we are the “good” kids (no drinking, were all fairly modest), but its not like a co-ed sleepover is going to be one giant orgy! the worst we ever did was a little truth or dare in the hot tub, which lasted 20 minutes. as someone stated earlier, we really do stay away till 4 am, or later, most of mine have been complete all nighters.
but i do agree with most everyone, supervision is key. at our ‘designated’ co-ed house, we always had at least one parent awake some where in the house.

but then again, we are good kids. so maybe the ‘bad’ kids (we all know what i mean!) do do bad stuff.

just fine June 17, 2009, 8:43 AM

This is nothing new. I’m in my mid-30s and we always had SUPERVISED co-ed sleepovers. As long as they are separated when it comes time for bed and supervised it’s no big thing.

Suzi Schmidt June 26, 2009, 2:26 PM

What is your opinion of two 12 year old cousins of the opposite sex having sleepovers at each other’s house?

John Drake June 27, 2009, 8:20 AM

My two best friends in high school were girls, two of us transferred in the same day so we kind of stuck together, then a another girl befriended us. We did have a few coed sleepovers and to be honest, things did happen between the 3 of us after the parents went to sleep. It wasn’t a bad thing though.

macy December 6, 2009, 4:58 PM

I really don’t believe that there is anything wrong with a coed sleepover, as long as the kids are of a decent age. I agree, 14 is too young. But as 16, guys and girls want to hang out together, and as long as there’s SUPERVISION, there’s nothing wrong with that. Make sure the room is in an open place and trust me, most people find it embarrassing enough to kiss in front of each other, let alone have sex if that’s what everybody’s so terrified of.

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