Dear Dr. Bill,
My 12-year-old wants to participate in a coed sleepover. All of the kids who will be involved attend the same Christian school and I know them pretty well. However, puberty is right around the corner for this age group and I wonder if my daughter will be exposed to inappropriate behavior or conversation. I don’t want to be overprotective, but I’m wondering what you would advise?
I think your instincts are right on target. Frankly I can’t see any benefit to hosting a co-ed sleepover—but I do see some significant risks.
In a culture that bombards our kids with sexual images and forces them to grow up way too fast, why would we deliberately place them in a situation where they could be tempted to compromise?
I asked Bob Waliszewski, the youth culture expert at Focus on the Family, what he thinks about co-ed sleepovers, and here’s what he said:
“If the purpose was spiritual growth, and IF the event was heavily chaperoned and held in a large home, I could see an event where the hosts stated up front: ‘the guys will be sleeping in the basement with the 10 adult male leaders and the girls will be upstairs with the 10 female leaders.”
“What I have a major objection to would be the guys and the girls sacked out in sleeping bags in the same room. Too many opportunities for missteps.”
So there you have it, Christine. I suggest you discuss the event with the parents hosting it. If they’re planning a highly supervised, separated arrangement such as Bob describes, you may want to consider allowing your daughter to attend.
If it’s the “all the kids in the same room” arrangement, I’d tell the parents hosting the event that your daughter won’t be attending.
Thanks for writing Christine. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.