Are slumber parties the new excuse for hooking up?
Sleepovers have always been a fun way for teens to spend time with their friends. But the trend these days is towards sleepovers with both boys and girls. Should you allow your teens to attend co-ed sleepovers? Keep reading for things to consider when making your decision.
During the teen years your child’s friends and peer relationships take center stage. Spending time with friends — whether same-sex or a mixed group — becomes the major focus of their free time. By the time they have reached their teens, most teenagers have either spent the night at a friend’s house or hosted a sleepover party of their own. Teens love spending extended hours with friends, staying up all night (or almost) and the freedom that comes with being away from home.
Many sleepovers have limited parental supervision, which can lead to poor choices and potentially risky behavior. Even same-sex sleepover parties can sometimes create uncomfortable situations — peer pressure, lack of sleep, possibility of drugs or alcohol being available. Is it wise to add teens of the opposite sex to this potentially volatile scene?
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"Increasing numbers of parents say their teens want to attend co-ed teen slumber parties," says Dr. Linda Sonna, psychologist and author. Teens will argue that they just want to spend time with their friends “hanging out” at someone’s house. Parents who may feel uncomfortable about the situation are often pressured into believing they are the only parents who won’t allow their teen to attend.
Are you considering allowing your teen to attend a co-ed sleepover?
- Speak to the parents who are hosting about their rules for the party. Will they be present and checking on the teens regularly, or in a different part of the house escaping the noise? Will they be serving alcohol?
- Give your teen an escape clause so she knows you will pick her up at any time — no questions asked. Teens need to know that there is a way out of any sticky situation that may arise.
- Find out who is attending and speak to a few of the other parents. The situation is safer for all involved when parents are talking to each other ahead of time.
- Have a heart-to-heart with your teen about potentially risky behaviors or situations she may encounter. Help her strategize about how she would handle such situations — let her know that you trust her to make competent decisions.
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Feeling uncomfortable about the situation?
- Your teen may not really want to attend. “It's common for teens to be anxious about a party like this precisely for the same reasons you are. If she doesn't want to go but is too embarrassed to tell her friends why, suggest that she blame you,” says Rosalind Wiseman, teen parenting expert.
- No matter how hard your teen lobbies to change your mind, don’t budge. He needs to see that you are standing your ground on your principles as a model for his own behavior.
- Consider letting your teen attend the party, but not spend the night.
Co-ed sleepovers are not for everyone. Consider the whole situation before making a decision, then stick to your guns.