Are Co-Ed Sleepovers Good Clean
Fun or Trouble Waiting To Happen?
But over the past several years, a new form of sleepover has begun to emerge, that which includes both guys and girls and, depending upon who you ask are either booze-fueled, sexually charged, hard-to-supervise nights of teen misbehavior or innocent gatherings of teenagers who just like hanging out with their friends of both genders.
For some teens, there’s just no way it’s going to happen — at least not with Mom and Dad’s blessing.
“I’ve never actually had one, but I know a lot of people who have,” says Saguaro student Jessica Ludwick. “My parents would freak out.”
Theresa Fitsimmons, who is the mother of a 16-year-old, is one of those parents who is definitely not okay with the idea.
“I believe co-ed sleepovers are very inappropriate, even if the parents are home, because teenagers can be very sneaky these days,” she says. “It would be very risky.”
But many teenagers disagree. These days, they say, it is common for teens to have an equal number of friends of each gender. They say that kids who want to find trouble can do so whether it is three in the afternoon or three in the morning, and those who just want to hang out and have fun aren’t likely to exploit their parents’ trust.
“I’ve slept over at my guy friends’ houses all the time,” says Megan, a Horizon student who like some other students interviewed asked that her last name not be used. “It’s really fun and harmless. My parents have no idea, though.”
Even teens themselves are divided on the issue of whether sexual and other temptations make the idea of a completely innocent co-ed sleepover hard to believe.
“I think they can be bad, even though most everyone does it anyway by the end of high school,” says Desert Vista senior Lauren Enoch. “My parents would kill me if they knew, but I do it sometimes when I have stayed out too late and can’t go home at like four in the morning. I think (boy/girl sleepovers) could be innocent, but that is really rare.”
But Carson has had a different experience. She goes to a high school in Gilbert and has groups of guys and girls spend the night at her house all the time. Unlike Megan and Lauren, Carson does so with her parents’ blessing.
“My mom knows all my friends and she and I have a great relationship,” Carson says. “She trusts me because I’ve never given her a reason not to. She can come downstairs at any time and see that we aren’t doing anything wrong. We jump on the trampoline, we swim in the summer, we eat a lot of junk, play Rock Band and watch movies. We don’t do anything different when guys are here than when it is just a group of girls.”
Carson says her mom would rather know what is going on than risk her daughter sneaking around behind her back, and she adds that she works hard “to make sure that neither me or anyone who spends the night does anything to hurt my relationship with my mom or make her regret giving me this freedom.”
Sam Lowy is a freshman at ASU who attended a lot of co-ed sleepovers when he was a student at Chaparral. He says that while there was definitely some hooking up that went on, there were some unforeseen positives about these get-togethers as well.
“Yes, there’s an underlying sexual vibe when you have a bunch of guys and a bunch of girls staying all night together,” he says. “But now that I’m in college, I can see that being in those situations also helps make you more mature and more able to handle relationships with the opposite sex.”
But Sam acknowledges that helping their teens learn to handle relationships might not be enough of an incentive for many parents to allow their kids to be in this type of situation. Even though he was open with his parents on most subjects and close to both of them, they would never have allowed him to host a co-ed sleepover in their homes. When he went to a guy/girl sleepover, he always told his parents he was spending the night with male friends only.
Even parents who don’t issue a blanket “no” on the subject are often very specific about what they will and will not allow. Some parents take “baby steps” or have different levels of comfort depending on the situation.
“For my friend’s birthday one year she had boys and girls sleep at her house, and my parents were fine with that,” says Chaparral student Arielle Nagle. “But if I wanted a guy to sleep over he would definitely have to sleep in a different room, and my parents would have to know him pretty well, like he’d probably have to be a guy I’ve been dating for awhile.”
Similar to Arielle’s parents, Melinda Van Gasse trusts her daughters’ judgment, “I have certain restrictions, but I won’t rule out the concept altogether.”
Many parents are okay with large groups, especially on special nights like after school dances. Still others allow everyone to hang out together until two or three, then send boys to one end of the house and girls to another when it’s time to go to sleep. And others are particularly careful about the makeup of the group — no couples who are dating can sleep over, for example.
“My parents are okay with it as long as the boys sleep across the house from the girls,” says Dara, a Horizon sophomore. She adds that “if there is drinking at a party, like for maybe New Year’s, I think it’s better to have people sleep over so they won’t drive drunk or be in danger of other drunk drivers.”
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