When I was a teenager, which I like to think was not that long ago, there were no one-on-one co-ed sleepovers, although I do remember a whole lot of drama over a handy given at a New Year's Eve slumber party while everyone else was sleeping. (Not by me.) Nobody even thought to ask. (Not that I was hanging out with, like, the T-Birds. Mostly some kids in Drama Club. So there wasn't too much sex anyway.) But not even the one set of "if you're going to drink, drink in the house, and also here's some alcohol" friends' parents would've permitted it.
Henry Alferd wrote a piece for the NYT yesterday about the awkward adult conundrum of when to let their kid's boyfriend/girlfriend sleep over in a Sex Way. At 16? At 18? Do you make them wash their sheets? Will you be able to run into your daughter's boyfriend's mom at the Safeway and make small talk without the lingering memory of bleaching her son's DNA off your sheets? What is the precise middle ground of Carrie's mom in Carrie and Regina George's mom in Mean Girls? (All questions asked, more or less, by a Motherlode/NYT column that responded to the piece. She leaned towards Carrie's mom, not that it's a bad thing.)
A number of progressive New York parents think they've found the happy medium. One Brooklyn mom, Nina Lorez Collins, actually allowed her 17-year-old daughter Violet's 19-year-old boyfriend Nile to move in on a number of conditions: Do chores, don't make her mess up her schoolwork. Naturally, the choice brought out the Judgy McJudgersons, says Collins: "People always ask me, ‘Where were Nile’s parents during all this?’ They live in TriBeCa. They’re lovely.'"
There's a big difference between not giving a shit if your kid's BF/GF spends the night and making a reasoned decision based on your relationship with your kid. I think, as is so often the case, there's no one-size-fits-all "right" way to deal with this kind of request as a parent; it depends on your trust in her judgment, your own comfort level, and tons of other weird elements my non-mom brain probably cannot even fathom.
Nile and Violet are now at two separate colleges in New England. Collins, who is divorced, says that their successful co-habitation had one bittersweet benefit:
But the greater dividend of his stay was that it gave Ms. Collins’s three younger adolescent children a view of committed love that far surpassed most of what they had seen from adults. Ms. Collins said, “I hope they won’t settle for less.”