DEAR ABBY: I believe your answer to "Perplexed in Pennsylvania" was incomplete. Co-ed slumber parties are now common, which (as you pointed out) does not make them appropriate. However, the ones my children were invited to when they were adolescents were acceptable to me because they were well chaperoned and did not involve any actual "slumber." Rather, they were an excuse to stay up all night playing board games, watching videos, eating junk food and just talking. This is different from what you might imagine, where the group of children would be sent off to the family room to fend for themselves.
You should have advised "Perplexed" to get more details about the party, particularly as to what activities were planned and who would chaperone. -- GINGER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR GINGER: Perhaps. However, I'm still not sure I agree with the concept. Some readers agree with you, while others agreed with me -- and that's what makes for an interesting discussion. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: When my son was a senior, three couples went to the prom together, and I invited them to stay the night. I had breakfast ready when they came in, and I'd promised the parents I'd make sure both genders had separate sleeping quarters. The guys crashed in the upstairs playroom; the girls settled in the den. I was up until 5:00 a.m. making sure I knew where everyone was.
They were all good kids, but I would warn "Perplexed" that when hormones are raging, you just don't give kids any opportunity at all. It was worth losing a night's sleep to make sure all of them were safe. -- "V" IN ASHEBORO, N.C.
DEAR ABBY: Co-ed slumber parties are nothing new -- and in my experience they were harmless fun. When I was 14, I was invited to my first co-ed slumber party, hosted by a boy in my class. We went swimming, ate junk food, and watched music videos and old movies all night. Those parties were great fun, the source of some of my fondest memories of my youth. We were always under adult supervision, but no one in our group even considered doing anything inappropriate.
Of course, I grew up in a small town where all the families knew each other. -- ACM, GERMANTOWN, MD.
DEAR ABBY: Our daughter has also been invited to co-ed slumber parties. We let her go; however, we picked her up at 10:00 p.m. or as soon as the planned activities were finished. -- TUCSON, ARIZ., MOM
DEAR ABBY: I attended a few co-ed overnights in high school, and I can tell you that PLENTY happened. Tell that mother to stick to her guns! -- MOM FROM MICHIGAN
DEAR ABBY: When our twin sons were given permission to ask five friends each to their 9th birthday party, one son's list contained the expected familiar names. The other gave me four boys' names and ... Wendy! I hesitated and asked, "You invited a girl to a boys' slumber party?" Our son thought nothing of it.
I called his teacher (a friend of mine) to obtain Wendy's phone number, and when I explained why I needed it, she laughed and said she could understand why Wendy was invited. "She can run faster, throw a ball farther and hit harder than any boy in the class." Our sons are now grown, but we still tease them once in a while about inviting a girl to the slumber party. -- SHARON IN INDEPENDENCE, MO.