Allowing Teen Sleepovers

If your teenager is in his or her first serious relationship, you probably have a lot of mixed emotions. On the one hand, you're probably happy to see your child in love and feeling great, but on the other, you now have the worry that he or she could start requesting that the boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night.

Depending on your world view, you may or may not consider teenage sleepovers to be appropriate.

In countries like the Netherlands, as many as two thirds of parents allow their teenage kids to have sleepovers with boyfriends or girlfriends. Dutch parents tend to be much more relaxed on these matters than most American parents, but is their practice of encouraging kids to make their own choices with sex really a good one?

Does a Liberal Attitude Toward Sex Actually Promote Responsibility?

Despite the laid-back attitude about sex in the Netherlands, Dutch teens have been shown to have fewer sexual partners and wait longer before having sex. They also have much lower rates of both pregnancy and abortion, most likely due to the fact that birth control is very easy to acquire in this country. Unlike American parents, who tend to be very skeptical about their teenagers' ability to make smart choices in love, the Dutch believe that their kids are capable of making responsible decisions, and it appears they are right. What Should American Parents Do? The Netherlands is a different country with a different culture, so American parents shouldn't expect to do things exactly the same. However, there are some lessons that all of us can learn from Dutch parents, one of which is that sex education is highly important. The Dutch educational system provides clear and age-appropriate education when it comes to sex, birth control, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Most school systems in the states teach these things as well, but some states are still struggling against the push for abstinence-only sex education, which isn't realistic. If your child's school doesn't provide proper sex education, it's your job to sit him or her down and talk about the hard stuff on your own. This is especially true if you're considering allowing your teen to have a sleepover with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The choice is really your own, and there is no right or wrong answer in this situation. However, it's important to be aware than refusing to fathom the thought of your teen having sex can easily backfire. It's much better to be realistic about the possibilities and educate your kids instead of creating a situation in which they are forced to sneak around, hide their activities and possibly make uninformed choices that could have lasting consequences.

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