Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival. Our topic this spring is Change! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on change in all of its many forms. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Back when I was a pre-teen and teenager there would have been no way on God's green earth that my parents would have allowed me to either have a co-ed sleepover or attend a co-ed sleepover. No way. It wasn't even open for discussion.
I should probably ask my parents (mom – feel free to comment here) but my guess is that their decision had very little to do with the possibility that “sex” might happen and more with the fact that they were Catholic and you just didn't do things like this. It was inappropriate and immoral.
Other parents probably put the kibosh on the idea because of the sex factor. Putting a bunch of hormone riddled teens together, overnight, would only lead to sex or sex acts. Right? Boys and girls just couldn't be trusted to keep their horny paws off of each other.
I find it interesting that this discussion is beginning to make its way across the blogsphere. I first came across the discussion in a post at a UK site, Daily Mail Online, which highlighted several mothers who (gasp) were allowing their daughters to have overnight stays with their boyfriends. There was a then wonderful post inspired by this same article over at PhD In Parenting which furthers the conversation about co-ed sleepovers. Annie, the author, provides a realistic perspective on the subject. And then, if you really want some honest insight, straight from a teen, grab a beverage of your choice, sit back, and settle in for what I found to be a really good read.
So all of these posts got the little hamster in my brain running at top speed. While I have quite a few years before Tiny starts asking to have and attend sleepovers, what will my stance be about co-ed sleepovers?
I have been chewing on this quite a bit. My closed-minded default response based on my own upbringing would be “no way.” But times have changed. Teens today are very different from my generation. Tiny's teenage years will be very different from today's generation of teens. With the evolution of humankind comes the necessity to change our default line of thinking.
When I was a teen, co-ed sleepovers could have fostered an atmosphere conducive to boy on girl hanky panky. But honestly, if any of us wanted to get it on, we would have found a way to do so anyway. Chances are it would not be at a co-ed sleepover in front of all of our friends. At least not the intercourse part. Maybe the making out, feeling up part…if everyone else was doing it and there were no parents around to keep a watchful eye.
Having a co-ed sleepover today (and probably 13 years from now) is, in my humble opinion, not really that big of a deal. I think that there is an equal chance of sexual activity taking place at a co-ed sleepover as there is at a same-sex sleepover. Being biased against a co-ed sleepover simply means that I, as a parent, am assuming that my child is heterosexual and will choose to engage in sexual activities with someone of the opposite sex. There is a 50/50 chance that my child will decide to explore her sexuality with another female. This is her choice and her journey. So should I be concerned about her having a sleep over with her “best friend” if her BFF is a female?
My parents did not give a second thought to having my girlfriends over to spend the night. I doubt it crossed their mind that we could just as easily have been “fooling around” with each other. We didn't but I know several of my high school classmates did. And yet, having a co-ed sleepover was taboo.
Again, I have several more years to really ponder this but ultimately any sleepover with anyone while Tiny is still young will require an adult presence and a trust that I have been as open and honest with Tiny about sex and sexuality so that she can make an informed decision. When it boils down to it, teens who want to explore their sexuality will find a way to do so whether or not they are at a same-sex or a co-ed sleepover. Period.
A really great discussion was brewing in a Facebook group I am in over this very topic. I thought I would provide you with a few “sound bites” that I think sum up my current position on co-ed sleepovers while also offering a slightly different point of view. Enjoy!
I was just introduced to the concept of co-ed sleepovers by several mama friends who have kids a couple of years older than my son. Their families are close, and their daughters – and sons – are all close friends. When a few of the same sex kids wanted to have sleepovers and asked if their opposite sex friend – who they play with all the time in other situations – could stay too, the parents did a lot of soul searching and decided that they were comfortable with co-ed sleepovers. At least one mother said that she would not stop when kids got to an age where sexual experimentation was a factor. (As we all know, sexual experimentation could start at any age. Plus, sexual experimentation does not necessarily mean boy-girl, it can be girl-girl or boy-boy.) I do believe that there would need to be a level of trust between kids and parents, and between the kids themselves – that kids should be confident enough to say no to something they are not comfortable with, that parents need to be accessible, etc.
I am not closed to the idea, as much as culturally it's a hard one to wrap my mind around. It depends so much on the individual family and the kids/teens involved. Underage/teen sex is a reality, whether we as parents choose to admit it or not, and if my teen wants to engage in it, I'd much rather she (or he if we have a boy one day) and I be in a place of trust where she can talk openly with me and I can support her through a really big phase in her life – offering guidance of course, to make sure she's as safe and comfortable as possible. I'd love it if I had children who felt they wanted to wait until adulthood, but I have a feeling that won't be my decision to make, and I'd rather be supportive than make them feel they need to hide it.
My hardest time with co-ed sleepovers is: what is the fear? Is it sex? Because who says that is limited to opposite sex? Gay, Bi, or straight, how can I be fair to all my children without assuming their orientation, or even just their drive for exploration? And is it fair to expect teens to fight their biological drive to attempt procreation to align with ideas of premarital sex and the cultural expectation to be “ready” for marriage (not all communities, but quite a few) by finishing school and procure a steady income.
I'm a big believer in the Dutch approach to teens and sex. It's expected that if you are in a long term relationship (you know, in teen terms, so a couple of months) that you are probably going to want to have sex. Kids stay over at their b/gf's houses, birth control is discussed and provided, the relationship is integrated into the family. I actually think the hook up culture has been caused by our society's drive to push teen sex under ground. I would much rather my kids had a loving, healthy, mutual respectful sexual relationship then that we pretend they don't want to.
I guess part of it is that I expect my teens to know what they are ready for better then I do, just like I expect my kids to know how hungry or cold they are better then I do. And they can't develop that kind of self knowledge if I'm imposing arbitrary outside guidelines.
We had co-ed sleepovers when I was in junior high/high school… When it was warm, we'd do backyard campouts. When it was cold, we all slept over my friend's house, in his basement. Our parents all knew and were ok with it, even my conservative grandparents were ok with it, which seems so weird to me now. None of us were dating each other, so it was just a large group of friends- about five girls and eight boys. I did, however, end up a teen mom, but not because of the co-ed sleepovers, which consisted of “manhunt” (like hide and seek, with teams, in the dark) and occasionally truth or dare- the worst dares were having to smooch someone in the circle which was SO GROSS to us. The worst thing that ever happened was the time we were feeding twigs to a citronella candle and nearly set fire to the picnic table.
So what are your thoughts on co-ed sleepovers? Are you prepared for your child to ask permission to attend one or to have one? What will your response be and why? Do you need to CHANGE your mindset?
- Unschooling My Heart – Patti at Canadian Unschooler discovered that Unschooling her kids was EASY compared to the bigger change required to Unschool her heart.
- Change (Variety) – Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet writes about how variety is the spice of life.
- No More Threats – Amy at Presence Parenting flips the idea of parental control through threats on its head, for good.
- Why Are You Mad??? Turn Off the T.V and Meditate – Destany of They Are All of Me discusses limiting stress by focusing more on your Inside self.
- Co-ed Sleepovers? Changing My Mindset – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes a hard look at her previous beliefs about sleepovers.
- Change Can Mean Puddles – Jorje of Momma Jorje has had to clean up some puddles after major changes.
- On Acceptance – Laura at Authentic Parenting writes about how she ditched the constant longing for change and came to accept herself as she is.
- Blissed Out on Birth, Drunk on Baby Skin – Melissa from Mothers of Change passionately explores the changes she would like to see come to the maternity care system, and our universal love of the smell of a newborn baby.
- Changing My Mindset, One Challenge at a Time – Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles speaks candidly about her challenges in changing how she parents.
- Because Mommy Said No – Dawn of Raising Natural Kids discusses the use of a common phrase that makes Mommy out to be the bad guy when, in reality, she is making decisions out of love.
- Through Adversity We Grow – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children chooses to take a positive view on change and growth.
- Life is Change – Rae of Ital Livin' writes about the large changes her family has made within the last year.constant in life.
- A Changing Voice – Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots discusses how in order to grow change is unavoidable. That does not mean the process is easy though.
- Being. Changing. Believing. – Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making It All Work reminisces on the changes that have shaped her adult life thus far, and molded her into an adaptable, but still type-A, believer in change.
- Motivating Change In The Face Of Apathy – Brenna at Almost All The Truth is asking the question many of us who actively work to change the world ask ourselves: how do we get people to care?
- She Changes Everything She Touches – Change is the only thing we can count on in life, and Jen in Canada examines some of the biggest things she'd like to tackle before the birth of her second child.
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