Parenting Sexuality

Are You Cool With Coed Sleepovers


photo by Adri S. @ flickr. com

I have been hearing more and more about kids getting together en masse for coed sleepovers. Some parents have been very positive about these group adventures in nocturnal cohabitation and insist there is little to worry about — the kids are all just friends, no one is drinking or doing drugs or hooking up, that the kids just like to “hang out together” in their jammies; sometimes they even text while sitting next to each other on the couch!

Think I’m making this up? Amy Dickinson from wrote an article back in 2001 about a 17-year old boy who was able to persuade his parents to hold his first coed sleepover. The family eventually hosted three coed parties with 20 to 30 guests–one on New Year’s Eve! Dickinson contends that the boy and his father “established very sound party-giving techniques that [she] believes would benefit any parents who are thinking of having or letting their teen attend such an event.” And then she lists the guidelines.

More recently (in April 2010), journalist Amanda Morin wrote an article called “Losing Sleep Over Coed Sleepovers” in which she cites Dr. Linda Sonna, a psychologist and author of 10 parenting books, including The Everything Parenting a Teenager Book. Sonna says increasing numbers of parents say their teens want to attend coed teen slumber parties. For many parents, there’s no discussion about it – coed sleepovers are out of the question. For other parents whose teens who are hosting and attending these boy-girl events, it’s merely a sign of the times, a natural extension of the ever-expanding platonic relationships between the sexes. Some parents are clueless; their child simply tells them he/she is going to sleep at a friend’s house, but the parents never call to check in with the host parents, so they have no idea the event is coed.


How do you feel about group, coed sleepovers; they seem to be the new “cool” thing? Yay or nay? When would you allow your child to have someone of the opposite sex sleep at your house? Could they share a room? A bed? What about same-sex sleepovers? Do you let kids sleep in the same bed?

27 thoughts on “Are You Cool With Coed Sleepovers

  1. I remember what I was trying to get away with in middle and high school! I’m not comfortable with the thought of making it easier.

  2. This may be a cop-out answer, but it depends. Is the home where the sleepover is held a poorly-supervised, dimly lighted scene full of red cups and loud music? Or is it a normal home where the parents are usually around, lights are on, and everyone’s just having a good time before they all go to sleep in the same place?

    I had many male friends when I was a teenager, and I could have easily had coed sleepovers where nothing untoward happened. But I could also see coed sleepovers being an excuse for scary iniquity. It just depends. I went to a coed sleepover after prom during my junior year, and it was all above the board, except when Jeff got thrown into the pool.

  3. When I was about 9 or 10, I was reading a book – wish I could remember the title. It was one of those boy & girl meet creepy scary mystery and solve it, despite clueless adults around them. In the story, the boy, living with his dad, has the neighbor girl sleep over so they can sneak out at night and trap the scary mystery whatever. I remember reading it at that age and thinking, “WHAT? a BOY and a GIRL having a SLEEPOVER?” And I was really stymied, thinking how could this BE?

    Well, I thought it was a little strange “then” and as a parent “now,” I’m thinking there’s no way I’d allow this in my own home. Yes, chances are it *could* all be perfectly innocent – but I think if the party is co-ed, at some point in the evening the opposite sex needs to go home and let the party continue without them!

      1. I think it is one more thing that parents are trying to be “open-minded” about. LIke, “OH it’s PERFECTLY INNOCENT, they’re JUST FRIENDS.” And that could be perfectly true, or not. Either way – it’s not something I plan to allow in my own house, and if I find out my child has stayed over at someone else’s home and had a co-ed sleepover, there will be some conversations happening. Someone, please, convince me that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this? That if you participate/plan these with your child, that you never had any slightest niggling feeling of doubt?

        It’s ok to be open-minded, just don’t be so open-minded that everything falls out!

        1. You see, THIS is why I knew I loved you from your blog. Sharp shooting, straight-talking. Just so we’re clear, your daughters cannot sleep over at my house with 30 of their closest friends. And I don’t even know where you live. 🙂

  4. Co-ed events are heavily chaperoned at public venues (School, Church, Libraries etc) if the event is just as heavily chaperoned at a private venue I’d be OK. Keep in mind though that holding such an event is A LOT of responsibility. I personally haven’t been willing to do it. However, there have been parents that have been willing to do so some of them I trusted some of them I didn’t.

    The kids are going to find a way to do what they want to do. The most important thing a parent needs to do at underage events is make ABSOLUTELY certain no alcohol or drugs being brought in and used by anyone. That is a perfect path to getting arrested and then who is going to supervise your kids?

    Seriously its a case by case basis. Or it was, my children somehow survived when I said no. The lost sleep when they did get to go will never be recovered.

  5. Simple answer for me: NO! I used to speak on rape and date rape to teens, and have heard too many horror stories. I’ve had 3 young women tell me tales of having been date raped in large auditorium, heavily supervised, religious youth group events–all by someone they considered a friend (and surrounded by other people!!!!)! If it can happen there, it can happen anythwere! Why take chances? NO!

    1. How would you SEE the aforementioned “shenanigans”? Would you set up shop and just hang out with the kids? In my experience, kids can be very creative and enjoy closets under stairs and extremely tight spots, like the places you would keep tools. They are lithe and two can easily slip under one laundry basket . . .

  6. I think I might have had 1 coed sleepover in 1st grade or so at a neighbor’s house before she moved away, but I think that was more me being over there for babysitting while my parents were off doing something, not a party. I think when I have kids, and this might sound weird, coed sleepovers would be OK until about 4th grade or so and then not OK until they’re off at college.

  7. Having teens together is like trying to herd cats. Inevitably kids will pair up and find a corner to hook up and have sex. I say no. You can’t keep them from having sex but you don’t need to make it easier for them.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

  8. It isn’t just boy/girl mixes you have to think about. Experimentation is huge and more often than I think people want to admit. There is a false safety in fooling around with your friends, whether boy or girl.

    This a tough question with no straight answer. I went to many chaperoned co-ed events as a girl and I found out they are great places to meet people and possibly hook up, if that’s what you are looking for and most of the boys I knew were looking for just that, even my guy friends and some of my girlfriends. That being said, I have good memories of these events but I know others who have regrets born out of them. Even with the most watchful eyes it’s not always plausible to keep that close an eye on everyone all the time.

    But do you rob your child from mingling with friends and having innocent fun? There is the chance that he or she could end up doing some things they will later regret, like sex. On the other hand we have to allow our children to make mistakes so they turn into solid adults. There is no easy answer here. My inclination would be that if I personally knew the person hosting this event and I knew they were dependable attentive parents than perhaps. But it scares me shitless to think about that.

    1. As far as I’m concerned my child can have those experiences when he heads off to college and has more life experience under his belt. It is not in anyone’s best interest to assume that even the most dependable hosts can watch dozens of kids every minute.

      I know the kind of girl I was. I liked boys. I was fearless. Parents like to think they have control over situations but truth be told, they don’t always have that control.

  9. My kids are at college now, but I think that, by the age of 16 or 17, there is little you can do to completely control their behavior. What you can do is be very clear about your expectations, impose the consequences you can when they fail to meet those expectations, and check in with other parents to the extent you can. I agree with previous commenters that same-sex experimentation could happen as well. I also happen to think sexual experimentation is very normal and appropriate by the mid-late teenage years. What is important is letting your kids know about safer and not-so-safe sexual behaviors, and also about the circumstances which can lead to unwanted sexual attention and/or assault (especially alcohol and other drugs).

  10. I may be a bit prudish here but I am going to say no. I’ve heard enough stories about summer camp and it sounds like teens can be pretty ruthless at being teenagers, lol! Trying that experiment in a home setting without all of the social structure and fear might not be as cool as it is cracked up to be by the authors you mention.

    I have chaperoned a lot of homecoming dances and proms. We are actively trying to keep it clean. I think that there is a 50% chance that it would all be awesome (In the perfect setting) but a 50% chance that it is a lot of pressure on the parents and teenagers. Let them wait till college for co-ed situations.

  11. I had one co ed sleepover in high school and it was strictly platonic. Looking back, I have no idea how my parents ever agreed to it being they were so strict about such things otherwise. Now as the parent of two young children, I can say that I would have to say no to that situation.

  12. I am not for this. I have seen too many movies and remember what I tried to get away with as a child. Kids today are having sex and using drugs around age 13 or 14. By 15 or 16, the ones who are not kept an eye on by parents are taking advantage of that freedom because they simple are not mature enough to make sound choices. My 9-year old went to a friend’s house and came home bragging he had played “Call of Duty” (the M version which is designed for ages 17 and over). When this child came to my house and I asked him if this was true he stated, “My parents let me do whatever I want.” I had no doubt. I did not call these parents, but you can bet if my child goes back, I will have a talk with them.

    So maybe your child is more mature than the others, more means more than average but it does not mean they are ready to be confronted with too many freedoms. Think of what goes on when kids are in college. Most 18-year olds are not mature and in my line of work, I see kids trying to figure out what is normal well into their 20’s. I feel kids will have more than enough freedom when they are 18. In the meantime, they can have just as much fun at your own house if you do not feel there is adequate supervision at someone else’s house.

  13. It appears to be the behavior you are concerned with, rather than the party itself.
    If you wait until college, and prevent the behavior from happening at all, where do children learn strategies on how to avoid uncomfortable situations? What are you currently speaking about with your child, sleepovers or not?

    I wouldn’t host unless I felt my child was mature enough to understand consequences of her actions. The piece that is holding me back is the stress level and work involved in hosting an event like this. I would feel accountable to all children and all of the parents- responsible if something did happen. I would be very clear with my daughter why I wouldn’t want it. If someone else was hosting, I would consider it, assuming they would be able to handle the worst responsibly. It depends on who is going and who is hosting. If my daughter will have sleepovers in college it is good practice now to have a supervised one. I am terrified for the un-supervised prom nights, camping trips, etc.

  14. Im a 13 yr old male and last night i slept at my male friends house and our mutual female friend stayed there too. No one did anything sexual. We just watched movies and went swimming. And yes we all shared a bed.

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