You get gussied up, go to the dance, go to the after party, and then go to the after, after party, which happens to be a co-ed sleepover. On one level, should parents allow their kids to participate in the co-ed sleepover; but on another level, should you, teenager, allow yourself to go? It’s one thing to go by the standards of your parents; it’s another to set the standards yourself. What do YOU think you should do?
If you’re tempted to throw a tantrum, when your mom or dad puts the kibosh on the co-ed sleepover, when you stomp your feet and call them names (like “unfair” or “old-fashioned” or worse), then take a hard look in the mirror. If you cannot handle their “no,” then what makes you think that you’ll be able to handle a “no” at a co-ed sleepover? If you can’t deal with their boundaries in a mature way, then what makes you think you’re mature enough to handle boundaries at a co-ed sleepover?
Or, perhaps your parents are cool with the idea. Does that mean you should do it? Forget about their standards for a second, what are yours? Maybe your parents are wrong; maybe they are naïve. Maybe you know better than they. Maybe you know what happens at these things, what your true intentions are, and how easily your friends can get out of control.
Just because they say it’s okay, or just because it might be legal, is it really okay? It may be legal to dip myself in honey and dance with a grizzly bear, but is it smart? Part of growing up is being able to distinguish between light and dark—there’s so much gray out there to weed through. Just because something falls in a gray area, doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial to do. You can’t get an “ought” from and “is.”
There are some fairly foolish reasons for justifying your participation in a co-ed sleepover. Let me give a few.
- “All my friends are doing it.”
It’s obvious how foolish this logic is.
- “I won’t appear to be cool if I don’t do it.”
Really? If you need to participate in a co-ed sleepover to appear cool, then guess what? You’re not really cool in the first place! And going to a co-ed sleepover won’t change that! The truth of the matter is that the coolest people are those who genuinely care for others, and who live by their convictions. Go ahead and think of the “coolest” people you know right now—surely they fit this description!
- “I’ll be going to college in just a few months, where I’ll have plenty of opportunities to have sex and do whatever I want, including co-ed sleepovers.”
So what? Logic is totally lacking here. This is like your dad saying to your mom, “Honey, let’s get a concubine—after all, I go on business trips all the time and have plenty of opportunities to sleep with other women, so we might as well make it happen at home!” Do you see the problem? Just because you can get away with something, does not justify legitimizing it. Nor are your parents obligated to allow you to do something, just because you are capable of doing it (now or in the future). Examples abound. Just because I am capable of cutting someone’s hair, doesn’t mean that I should be allowed to do so. Just because I can use a power drill does not mean that I should be allowed to do dental work.
- “If I wanted to have sex or do anything wrong, I have plenty of opportunities all week to do so.”
What, do you want a cookie and a gold star? Congratulations for not doing anything wrong! (Cough, sarcasm.) You’re acting as if not doing wrong is a virtue, synonymous with doing something right. Did you follow that? Just because you’re not doing bad behavior does not mean that you are a good person or should be allowed to tread in dangerous situations. Being the kind of person who does not do wrong things does not make you the kind of person who will do right things. And this is a perfect example. Here lies before you an opportunity to get out of neutrality: either you can do what’s wrong (go to the sleepover and have sex, etc.), continue to be neutral (go to the sleepover and don’t do wrong things), or actually do what’s right (make a decision that leads you clear of temptation in order to strengthen your beliefs and convictions, in addition to keeping those you care about—your date—out of harm’s way.) Aren’t you sick of sitting on the fence? Watch out, because those who sit on the fence will eventually hit a post.
- “I can’t believe you don’t trust me!”
It’s not a matter of not trusting you, but it’s a matter of love for you. I may love my wife, but that doesn’t mean that I put her in harm’s way. It’s not a matter of trust, but love. You need to realize that your parents love you more than they trust you. And you wouldn’t want it any other way. If they trusted you more than they loved you then you’d be an absolute wreck. Going further, in order to be a good parent, there are other things that must be considered before “trust.” In fact, trust is not near the top of the list. More than they ought to trust you, your parents ought to teach you. By setting boundaries, they are teaching you the rules of the game called life. Yes, you won’t be under their roof for long; and that’s all the more reason for them to take every opportunity to teach you before you leave. Soon you’ll be at college or on your own—what principles will you operate by? I hope they teach you well!
- “It’s just innocent fun!”
Then why have a co-ed sleepover? Play mini-golf the next day, instead. Mini-golf is innocent fun. Bowling is innocent fun. Playing Frisbee and going to the art museum are fun. Having a co-ed sleepover? Which one of these doesn’t belong? The truth of the matter is that there are deeper intentions, so you might as well have the guts to admit that. No guy (XY chromosome) is innocent. If he were innocent, then he’d be satisfied with a “guys only” sleepover. If she were innocent, then she’d be satisfied with a “girls only” sleepover. Our true intentions are betrayed by what we cry over.
What happens at these co-ed sleepovers? Sleep is a very vulnerable state, during which a lot could happen, such as sexual pranks, experimentation, and abuse. There is a greater risk for each of these to happen at a co-ed sleepover. Even if the host parents promise that things won’t get out of hand, things inevitably will. Kids will sneak off. Kids will find a way and things will get out of control. These events lead to confusion, heartache, and regrets.
But YOU, teenager, need to move beyond seeing your life as just a list of things you “don’t get to do yet.” Start looking for all the things you do get to do now. At prom, you get to show your date how much you value him or her as a person. You get to display what a true gentleman or lady is like. You get to be pure, fight for the good, and make sure everyone’s date is safe.
Where are all the men? That’s the question I want to ask as I end this post. Where are the men who bleed virtue? Just consider the Medieval Knights Code of Chivalry to see what I mean. The Knights Code did not show men what they could get away with or even what not to do. Rather, the Code told the men how to fight for the good and live for virtue. Here are a few examples:
“To protect the weak and defenseless.”
“To live by honor and for glory.”
“To guard the honor of fellow knights.”
“To keep faith.”
“At all times, to speak the truth.”
“Never to turn the back upon a foe.”
“To respect the honor of women.”
Did you catch that last one? “To respect the honor of women.” How do you think you can best do this? Do you think you can do it by placing a dozen, sleeping girls in the middle of a room-full-of-hormonal-boys? Is that the best way to “respect” their honor? To respect their honor would be to keep them as far from harm as possible, even if it’s only potential harm. Even more, to respect their honor means to treat them with dignity, worth, value, and care—not to coax them into some sacks and then wait for them to let down their guard. Men, do you realize how vulnerable a woman might be at these parties? (I am not saying that the boys are less vulnerable, or that women are any weaker.) All the while, the guys are like hyenas, waiting for them to make a mistake.
Women long to be treasured, not turned into objects for sport. Men, to be the best date this year at prom, show your date how much she is worth, just for who she is; and that you do not wish her to be in any situations of confusion, compromise, or potential threat. Show her that you’re a man of standards and virtue. She will not respect you less, but more—much more—for it takes a man to stand up for what he believes in and to rely on his own inner strength.
Convictions are much cooler than compromise.
© Samuel Kee, 2013