Don’t Lose Sleep Over Sleepovers

Henry Alford recently pondered (NYT) whether parents should allow their teenagers to have sleepovers with significant others:

Susan Merrill, a painter in Stockbridge, Mass., who has three children now 18 or older, said of herself and her husband: “We want to meet the boy or girlfriend. We would love to take them out to dinner with our child. We tell our child: ‘Here are the rules. This is our house, and while you are welcome to have a friend stay the night, we expect you to consider sex to be a private, two-person activity. That means you go to bed when we do, you get up when we do, and if you are really well behaved, we’ll make you pancakes for breakfast. We do not want to be involved in any way in your sex life. We don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to see it. We expect you to wash your sheets and towels. In other words, we expect you to behave like good guests.’ ”

This setup strikes me as fairly ideal: a well-mixed cocktail of caution and tolerance with a possible pancake chaser.

Amanda Marcotte advises we look to the Dutch:

Sleepovers have been normalized in the Netherlands for decades now, and as social scientist Amy Schalet’s research suggests, the results have been generally positive. By demonstrating acceptance and respect for their kids’ relationships, Dutch parents, on average, enjoy more communication with their kids about sex and relationships than American parents do, which in turn means the kids are more likely to get the health care and education they need to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Oh, and the teenage pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is nearly four times lower than ours.

The women at The Cut debate the issue further.