Dear Your Teen:
My 16-year-old son has been invited to a coed sleepover. This variety of sleepover is new to me. And I’m very uncomfortable. Do I let him go?
EXPERT | Dr. Carol Langlois
I feel so much more information is needed for a parent of a teen to answer this question in a truly helpful manner. Is this a group event, like a coed slumber party? A one-on-one sleep over? Do you know if anyone in the group is dating? Are there other siblings around as well acting as a “buffer?” Are the families close? Do you even know the other family? What are the sleeping and bathroom arrangements? LOTS to think about for parents.
Bottom line, I feel this is really a question about sex.
Right? Essentially, teens will do what they want to do sexually. Whether it’s in your house, in a car, at a friend’s house, etc. As a parent, you can help guide them to make better decisions by sharing your values and beliefs. Parents who hope to deter their kids from having sex should really discuss this topic with them openly. Has sex been a healthy topic in your house since your son was young? Also, think back to when you were 16 years old. You won’t change any teen’s mind about sex by simply telling them not to have it, but you might by sharing your own views.
Whether or not a parent allows the sleepover is an individual choice based on the circumstances and your specific child.
I would honestly say that permitting coed sleepovers doesn’t make you an advocate for teenage sex, and not permitting coed sleepovers probably won’t keep your teen from having sex if he really wants to.
If you allow your son to attend the sleepover, talk through sleepover rules with him.
Help him plan ahead for what might occur. Lay out some sleepover rules. Be prepared. If you don’t allow him to attend, explain why. Maybe you feel he’s too young for an overnight coed event like this and identify other coed activities that you think are far more appropriate.
If you are unclear or uncomfortable with the concept of a coed sleepover, then the answer seems quite clear. In your case, it’s probably best to say no. Remember, you aren’t the only parent thinking through this topic. Trust me! Talk to the parents of your son’s friends and open up a dialogue. See what they think. You’ll certainly gain support for your decision (whatever it may be). And you’ll have an opportunity to network with like-minded parents with similar parenting styles. Good luck!