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Thinking About Prom Night: Teens and Parents Weigh In on Co-Ed Sleepovers

Prom is in the air and questions are abundant: Who is going with who (or is it whom?)? Who is wearing what? Where will pictures be taken? What are the plans for after After Prom?

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While I am interested in those questions, there are two that interest me more – Will there be alcohol and will there be co-ed sleepovers?

We asked a panel of teens and parents about their responses, and here’s what they said:

Teens:

Amnon

I usually don’t give much thought to the concept of co-ed sleepovers, especially as a point of peer-pressure. However, I do see how it can be a bad influence and can end in disaster, specifically in situations where heavy drinking is combined with co-ed sleeping conditions. (I think the possible result is pretty obvious.)

Considering the fact that co-ed sleepovers are legal, it’s hard to forbid it when prom kids will soon be legal adults entitled to their own responsibilities. If a parent can’t be satisfied with giving fair warning and trusting their child, or if a child can’t accept the risks and not go, then I’m afraid it will simply have to be a point of disagreement.

A parent can definitely put their foot down and say, “You still live under our roof; therefore you will abide by our rules.” There will be discontent, but if they believe that their kid will be too tempted to abuse their responsibilities, then it’s probably the right thing to do.

A point to keep in mind, though, is that in a few months, that same kid is going to be in a college setting where drinking and sex will be a major theme – without parental guidance. The temptation might be even greater after being prevented at Prom, especially with rebellious sentiment. So despite strong beliefs against co-ed sleepovers, parents could simply encourage separate rooms for boys and girls, and no drugs. It’s a risk either way, and parents should make choices based on the way they believe their kid will behave.


Devan

I think there is nothing wrong with co-ed sleepovers. Like Amnon said, these kids are going to be thrown into the world of college dorms pretty soon. Though rooms are same-sex, many dorm halls are co-ed. My first semester at Denison, I was in a hall with half boys and half girls. But my room was on the very end of the girl half. I was surrounded by guy rooms on every side except for one. And not only that, but the rules against having guests stay over in dorm rooms are really lax in college.

Really, it depends on you and your roommate’s preferences and whether having a boy stay the night is okay. I know lots of people who have had the experience of getting “sexiled” out of their room for the night. They’d agreed that if either one wanted the room for a sleepover, he or she just had to ask the roommate and the “roomless” would find a place to crash.

But back to high school co-ed sleepovers. I went to several during my years in high school, mostly during my junior and senior years. There was no alcohol and no sex. If there is a responsible adult present that knows the kids, then I think co-ed slumber parties can be as harmless as same sex ones. I remember my senior year after prom we all stayed at my friend’s house outside in a tent. Her parents were very clear that we were not to leave or run off to the cars or in the woods and that they would be checking to make sure.

When it comes down to it, if your kid is into drinking or having sex, then they are going to find a way to do it. So if you trust your kid and you like their friends and you know the parent who is hosting the party, I think that co-ed sleepovers are a perfectly fun and safe way to celebrate the Prom weekend.


Ryan

I think co-ed sleepovers are things that many parents over-think or over-dramatize. Yes, parents are going to worry about sex and worry about alcohol. But I don’t think that’s why kids have co-ed slumber parties. I don’t think the main purpose of teen sleepovers is sex or drinking. I mean, think about it. With twenty high school students in a basement all night right after prom, do you think there will really be that much sleeping at all? Most likely, all the kids will be up the entire night just having a good time, not in each other’s sleeping bags or off in a back room having sex.

Also, like Amnon and Devan said, what happens when your kid goes off to college? There is more sex and more drinking in college then you’re going to find at a teen sleepover. So, if you want to protect your child by not allowing a co-ed sleepover, by all means do exactly that; however, you won’t be able to protect them in college. Chances are, sooner or later, your kid will take part in one in college.


Parents:

Mindy

You already know how dad and I feel about alcohol. We are vehemently opposed to drinking or using any chemicals to “enhance” your experience.

But what about co-ed sleepovers? I know many parents who feel co-ed sleepovers are okay. I hear parents say, “It’s no big deal. Everybody does it.” We don’t accept the “everybody is doing it” excuse from any of you, so we certainly don’t pay attention to that opinion from other parents. Simply put, Dad and I do not approve of co-ed sleepovers.

First, you know we believe you should wait until you are older and ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood before you have sex. Second, when you do have sex it should not be in a group setting. I feel any type of sexual intimacy should be done in private.

I know that everyone at a co-ed sleepover is not having sex, but I also know it’s hard to resist temptation and it’s hard to stand up to peer pressure. So why put yourself in a difficult situation?


Dan

This is a tough one. I trust you guys, and I agree with you. At this point, we’ve either helped you learn the proper values in life, or it’s simply too late. On the other hand, even when you know something is wrong, it’s hard to resist peer pressure.

The bottom line is that in a couple of months you’ll be in college, and we’ll have no control. If you were a junior the answer would be no. But for prom, as long as I know where you’ll be, and you’ll be with kids I know and trust with parents around who I know and trust, I’ll say ok.

Mindy Gallagher

Mindy Gallagher is Your Teen Magazine’s social media editor and a mom to three boys.