Partner sleep-overs (for 'above age of consent' teens), are you for or against?
31 Jul 2018
Are you for or against partner sleepovers?
(for 'above age of consent' teens)
Exploring Teens written debate - Series #1, debate #4
(To ensure you don't miss any, subscribe to our monthly newsletter by clicking here)
Before we begin, I ask for consideration of the following:
- Please appreciate that these writers are not professional writers. They are part of the Exploring Teens audience and have volunteered to write one side of this debate.
- These debates show that every area of parenting has people who will passionately see it from completely opposite perspectives. Everyone’s experience is shaped by the lens of their own experience. It’s unlikely there is ever a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ position.
- Reading through the debates, I am in awe as to how much thought people put into parenting. We often beat ourselves up, but I can't see any inadquacies here. All I see is committed and passionate people wanting to do their very best for the teens in their care.
The case AGAINST partner sleepovers for your 'above age of consent' teen
I do not agree that my teenage children should be allowed to sleep with their boyfriends or girlfriends in my house. Although I understand that some parents reasoning will be that if they are going to have sex anyway, they would rather it was in a safe place, I don’t agree.
As their Mum, I believe it is my job to bring them up to be decent human beings, to educate them, to love them, to nurture them. I don’t believe it is my job to facilitate their sex life.
Aside from the fact that I am very uncomfortable with the thought of hearing my children have sex, there are many other factors to consider and issues to be decided such as, how long you would want them to know each other before it’s ok? And whether one night stands acceptable? They are also somebody’s child and the question arises as to whether their parents are comfortable with the situation?
I don’t particularly want to sit and have my morning cup of tea and make small talk with my child’s sexual partner. Being aware that your child is sexually active is very different to knowing she or he is having sex in the next room. I have allowed my teenage children to sleep over at their partner’s houses, knowing they would almost certainly have sex, but that is down to the other child’s parent.
My children can talk to me about anything. We are open and honest about sex, relationships, love, contraception etc and they respect my feelings on this matter. I’ve had conversations about this many times with friends, some of whom disagree with my decision. They argue “would you rather your child had sex in a park or an alleyway?”. Well obviously I wouldn’t, but I won’t be held to ransom by this.
If they are mature enough to be in a sexual relationship, they will want it to be a meaningful experience rather than a ‘quick one’ anywhere they can. On a more practical note, I live in a home that is relatively large and beautiful, however, it has the thinnest walls and floors ever!! I know where everyone is and what they are doing from anywhere in the house. It could make it all excruciatingly embarrassing!
Was I sexually active as a teenager? Yes. Did we ever sleep together at my parents’ house? No. Has it caused me any pain or long term damage? Absolutely not!
Author bio: 45yr old mother of 2, step mum of 2, foster mum of 3. Living in the UK with husband of 10 years.
The case FOR partner sleepovers for your 'above age of consent' teen
“I’d rather know that my child is having safe sex in a safe environment, instead of in a car or in a park”
“No way, I’m going to make it as difficult as possible for my teen to start having sex.”
“We have younger children as well as our teen; I’m not ready to explain the whole ‘sex thing’ to them just yet.”
“They’re just friends – they’re not having sex…………… are they?”
The legal age for consensual sex varies across Australian states and territories. The age of consent is 16 in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. In Tasmania and South Australia, the age of consent is 17. Young people at the age of consent are viewed by law to have general sexual competence to enforce personal boundaries and negotiate the risks involved in sexual activities.
This means it is legal in these states for teens to be having sexual intercourse and take part in other types of sexual activity. In fact, believe it or not, in various Australian states it’s NOT ILLEGAL for young people from the age of twelve to be taking part in consensual, equal and willing sexual activity, as long as their partner is also twelve or older, and of same or similar age.
Of course, knowing what is legal is certainly not the only issue to consider when a parent is deciding whether to let their teen have their partner “sleep-over”. We are talking here about sexually active teens and their sexual partners, not about ‘sleep-overs’ in the pyjama party sense.
I’m going to argue this point from a positive perspective. I’m going to say yes to sexual partner sleepovers, when both young people are above the LEGAL (16 or 17) age of consent – and here is why.
I’m a mum of four adults who were, not that long ago, four teenagers. I also work on a very regular basis in the field of sexuality and relationships education. So insofar as anyone really can, I know a little bit about teens and their relationships. I know that their feelings are intense. I also know that their forward planning skills are often undeveloped and their ability to take part in ‘risky’ behaviours is often over developed. I’d rather they work on these developmental skills and gain important knowledge about sex and relationships in a safe and supervised environment – with some provisos… Because let’s face it; there is little doubt that a teen, whether in love or lust or merely curious, is going to find some way, somewhere to spend intimate time with their partner.
So here are my 10 things – in no particular order - a teen and their parents/carers should talk about before allowing sexual partner sleepovers.
- That the partner’s parents/carers are aware that their teen is sleeping over AND sharing a bed. (Semantics matter and teens can be master manipulators, especially when adults don’t necessarily ask the right questions).
- That both young people need to be mega-respectful of others in the household; being conscious of noise, nudity, PDAs etc.
- That the whole family, including younger siblings, resident grannies and so on are ‘ready’ for this stage of the relationship. This is particularly important when there’s a big age gap.
- That both teens have all the information and resources required to practice safer sex, including up-to-date information about contraception and STI’s.
- That both teens are similarly aware of the possible consequences, i.e. pregnancy and disease, heartbreak, gossip, and so on, and have the knowledge to access assistance.
- That they are able to have a mature discussion with each other about their needs and desires. In my classes I often joke that if a young person can’t say penis, vagina, vulva, testicles, clitoris etc without laughing, they are probably not ready to be ‘having sex’.
- In my house, sleepovers were permitted within a stable, on-going relationship, where we had met, spoken to and probably shared a meal or two with the partner. ‘One-night stands’ were not allowed, for the safety of my teens and the rest of the household.
- CONSENT (my personal bandbox) Both partners must be willing and equal participants in the desire to host/attend the sleep-over occasions and anything that might occur in the privacy of the bedroom. Transparency is paramount, nobody must ever be tricked or coerced into any activity.
- That agreeing to a sleep over doesn’t mean that sex HAS TO occur every time. Everyone has the right to say no to sex or particular activities – always.
- That trust, mutual respect, intimacy and enjoyment are the basis for a mature and responsible relationship. Each of these rely on open communication and being smart and safe! You raised your teen to have values and common sense.
Of course, your decision may be very different - the decision about condoning sexual activity at home must be carefully made. It is directly tied to ongoing conversations about healthy sexuality — particularly as it relates to teenagers. In my opinion, clear boundaries must be set, discussed and adhered to.
Author bio: Margie is the mum of 4 young adults, a teacher with over 35 years classrooms experience, and currently a practitioner in the fields of sexuality and adolescent health, and protective behaviours. She is managing director and founder of HUSHeducation and the Victorian representative for Protective Behaviours Australia. Margie teachers ‘sex-ed’ to young people of all ages, delivers training to school and other staff, and facilitates child, family, staff and community Body safety Sessions and training programs. In her spare time she travels, reads and spends far too much time on Facebook.
So now it's over to you guys!
We love would love to know which side of the debate you sit on.
NEXT DEBATE IN SERIES #1 ----> Would you tell another parent of you heard something about their teen?
Click here to sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don't miss it