There s a trend causing some parents to lose sleep. Coed sleepovers are becoming more and more popular. Julie Ogata from ParentMap discusses some of the pros and cons.

When did it become acceptable for teenagers of both sexes to spend the night together?

We re not just talking teenagers. ParentMap actually talked to some local parents that are dealing with this question and they have 11 and 12 year olds, so it s starting as early as the tween-age years.

Time Magazine did an article on this more than 10 years ago. Recently, Ladies Home Journal and The Seattle Times have both tackled this subject, so it s getting more mainstream.

What are some of the pros?

Some parenting experts say coed sleepovers can be beneficial because children can learn they can just hang out and socialize with the opposite sex.

They can have fun without the pressures of dating or being physical.

One local church leader who frequently organizes coed sleepovers say he thinks the sleepovers can be a good break from the daily pressures of homework, sports and activities.

What are some of the cons with coed sleepovers?

Amy Lang is a local expert on teenagers and sexual health and she says a coed sleepover can, of course, lead to risky behavior. In fact, most of the experts ParentMap talked to said they would not allow their own child to attend a coed sleepover.

There is also the risk that your child might be put into a situation they are not emotionally ready to handle.

What are some tips you can give parents who are trying to decide if a coed sleepover is okay for their child?

Ask questions. Who s invited? What are the parents like? How do they plan to keep an eye on the children? What is the plan? Where will the boys sleep? Where will the girls sleep? What time is drop-off and pick-up? Will there be in and out privileges?

Have a heart to heart with your child about if they want to go. Experts point out sometimes your child might have hesitations and they don t know how to handle the peer pressure or communicate that to you.

Compromise and do a sleep under. Your child can bring their PJs, sleeping bag, watch the movie, play the games, eat, and then you pick them up right before bedtime.

Consider organized sleepovers. Look for organizations that might host a coed sleepover, such as a church group, sports team or a school event. These are normally more structured with many limits and consequences for breaking the rules.

For more information about this topic, go to ParentMap Magazine's website.

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