Teen sleepovers: Yea or Nay?

A Facebook friend recently asked her friends if teen sleepovers with significant others was a common thing now. I don’t have any data on this, so I don’t know if it’s a trend, but it is probably more common now than it was 50 years ago. Just about 99.9% of the people replying to the post answered with a variation of “Hell to the No.” I responded, “Well, it depends.” Only one other mom agreed with me and she had lived in Europe for a time. I was not surprised.

Most of the time, adults want to protect children from making unhealthy decisions that result in early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Parents may have other goals. For example, helping their children avoid intense relationships early on, or prohibiting sex before marriage. They may want to prescribe what is acceptable in terms of sexual orientation. But I think most parents can agree on pregnancy and STI prevention. It’s how we achieve our goals that opinions vary greatly.

How it works in the USA

So what does the evidence show us about what works? Many Americans have the “Not in my house!” attitude. I get it. Most people don’t want to condone teen sex, “They should be focused on school” or “I’m not going to make it any easier for them.” So to go along with this attitude, this is current state of the union for teen sexual health in the USA:

After a long stall, teen pregnancy rates declined between 2008-2011, however we still have the highest teen pregnancy rate when compared with other comparable countries.One in 4 teens have an STI in the USA (from what I could find those rates are far higher than rates for comparable countries in Europe)

The European way

Many European countries look at teens, sexuality, and sexual behavior in a different way. They see it as part of their normal development. They expect sex to happen eventually and so they make sure to give their kids access to the skills (communication, negotiation), information (anatomy and physiology, birth control, sex ed), and tools (birth control, sexual healthcare services) to be sexually healthy.

What is comes down to is, the more say you want to have regarding your child’s sexual health and behavior, the more you need to embrace and affirm that they are sex