The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

Should I Let My 17 Year Old Go to Coed Sleepovers?

My daughter says all of her friends are doing it

Dear Dr. G.,

I'm confused. My 17 year old daughter insists that all of her friends are allowed to go to coed sleepovers and frankly some parents do allow such sleepovers. I don't know if I'm being an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy by my position on this issue. I feel that nothing good can happen when you mix a group of teens who are probably up all night and have access to each other both emotionally and physically while the parents are probably asleep. And things probably don't get any better when you add alcohol to this mix. I'm not saying that my daughter and her friends are all a group of drunk and sex-crazed lunatics but why create opportunities that might encourage sex, drugs, and who knows what else? Please advise as I don't want my daughter to be mad at me but I also don't want to approve of something that feels very wrong to me.

A Mama Bear Trying to Protect her Cub

Dear Mother,

You ask a lot of good questions and make a number of good points. Yes, some parents will do just about anything to ensure that their teens don't get mad at them. Also, a good number of parents think that being their teens' friends is the way to go so they agree to coed sleepovers in an attempt to preserve the "friendship." Your daughter is probably right when she says that her friends are allowed to go to coed sleepovers but she is wrong when she says that all of her friends are allowed. My guess is that many of the parents do not know that the sleepovers that their teens are going to are of the mixed sex variety.

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I share your concerns. First, I am not a big fan of teen sleepovers even if they are same-sex. I believe that they are simply too frequent. They are set-ups for sleep deprivation and for excuses to get drunk and not have to come home in the evening and face their parents with the smell of alcohol on their breath. Of course, not every sleepover is like this but I can assure you that many are. I hear this from the teens themselves.

Second, when the sleepovers become coed you are introducing a whole new set of potential concerns. These curious teens are presented with opportunities and possibly pressure to experiment in any number of ways with one another while both sleep deprived and POSSIBLY but not definitely under the influence of substances that lead to disinhibited behavior.

I am with you on this one. I am not a fan of frquent same sex teen sleepovers and certainly not a fan of mixed sex teen sleepovers. And, I wish that so many parents weren't afraid of their teens' anger. After all, it is a parents job to be a parent and not a friend. And, as a parent it is necessary to be able to tolerate your teens' anger. The goal is to keep your teens safe not to be their buddies.

So, I'm with you on this one and from what you are telling me you are not a fuddy-duddy but instead a cautious and concerned. mom.

Good luck.

Dr. G.

For more articles like this and similar ones take a look at my website:
http://www.talkingteenage.com/

 

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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