In the six years since I became a parent, I've been to pretty much every kind of kid's birthday party: charming, small backyard bashes; elaborate tea parties with professional kid entertainers and more decor than I had at my wedding; parties at pottery shops, gyms, pools, and spas; the list goes on and on. But recently I heard about a new category of birthday party making its rounds among the 7- to 9-year-old party circuit: the coed sleepover.
My first reaction was something like that pensive emoji: "Hmmmm." Listen, I understand we live in a new world of gender fluidity and the rejection of gender norms. I'm all for embracing children for who they feel they are, not who society tells them they should be. Beyond the gender issues all modern parents have to consider, there's the fact that I want my daughter to have close friends of both genders.
I have quite a few close guy friends from my childhood whom I still stay in touch with and whose friendships I value greatly. I hope my daughter will have the same experience, and from what I can tell so far, she's well on her way. She hung out just as much with the boys in her kindergarten class as she did the girls and counts a few of them as her favourite friends. I'm just not sure she needs to spend the night at any their houses before they finish the third grade.
The grade-schooler coed sleepovers that have been popping up in my quiet suburb are all thrown by responsible, trustworthy parents. They have the boys and girls sleeping in different bedrooms, and I'm sure all the children will be well supervised. I mean, these kids are 8 years old; how much trouble can they really get into anyway? (Or am I just being naive here?)
But yet, there's something about sending my kid to a coed sleepover — really at any age before she leaves for university — that makes me a bit hesitant. Maybe that fact reveals that my gender politics aren't as enlightened as I'd like to think they are. Maybe my own adolescent experiences with aggressive boys makes me reluctant to put my daughter in a position where she might be similarly uncomfortable, although rationally I know that she will be in many of those situations over the course of her life, no matter how much I try to protect her.
Maybe I just don't want to admit that my daughter is getting old enough that an coed slumber party is actually a thing. So what do you think? Should it be? And if your child was invited to a coed sleepover, would you let them attend? Let us know in the comment section below.