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Parents of LGBTQ+ Kids: Rethinking The Traditional Sleepover

Parenthood is not for the feint of heart.

Raising mini-humans can test your limits and make you question whether you are doing the right thing with every decision, big and small. In fact, today’s parents face more challenges than ever before due to an increasingly diversified, always-connected world, and that includes making decisions about something as seemingly simple as the traditional sleepover.

In 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control released its national survey of high school students, called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and included information on LGBTQ+. For the first time, we know that some 1.3 million kids, or roughly 8% of all high school students in America, report being lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

So, if you are the parent of a child who identifies as LGBTQ+, what do you do if you the topic of a sleepover or slumber party comes up? How much should you take into account your child’s sexual preference since, traditionally, slumber parties are single-gender? Is it time for this to change? What about rules during the party? Should you have a “no doors closed / no
touching rule?”

The parent-child relationship is the most vital aspect of every child’s life, even into adulthood. The constructs of gender identity have historically been viewed through a biological lens while current research takes a patient-centered perspective.

Parents are encouraged to take the latter approach in all parenting matters since an individually centered perspective allows parents to proactively determine rules and boundaries, as well as expectations and consequences for most concerns. It also allows their child or teen an opportunity to be accepted, acknowledged, and appreciated by their parents, instead of being compared to their siblings.

Sleep on It

Our children are worth taking time to consider a few key areas when asked: “Can I have a slumber party?”

  • Setting – slumbering in the den instead of a bedroom;
  • Clothing – a themed-party atmosphere instead of the traditional pajama party;
  • Timing – daytime party with the dark curtains instead of the privacy of nighttime;
  • Age/Developmental Level – knowing your child or teen’s sexual developmental level (How have they expressed curiosity? How do they respond to intimacy images liking kissing or flirting when parents are near?);
  • Gender – gender expression (i.e., clothing choices) provides parents guidance on which boundaries are necessary;
  • Peers – past interactions with your child or teen’s peers provide decision-making data; and
  • Behavioral History – your child or teen’s history of working with family expectations is a predictor of future cooperation.

How much do you need to explain to other parents when it comes to the slumber party? For example, if your daughter is a lesbian, and you are only inviting boys to the party should you tell the boys’ parents about your child’s sexual preference?

The need to disclose your child’s sexual attraction (aka, orientation) status is theirs to tell. Parents need to know safety is being addressed, so a list of rules, boundaries, expectations, and consequences is normally more beneficial for parents permitting their child or teen to attend a slumber party than knowing your child or teen’s LGBTQ+ status.

Sleepover Ideas

A 10-year-old gender-fluid pre-teen whose parent has shared a couple of “sex ed” talks with the pre-teen might have a slumber party invite with this type of information:

  • What: Chris’ Independence Day Slumber Celebration
  • When: Tuesday, 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 midnight
  • Where: Chris’ huge game room
  • Who: Chris’ “Fave” list of friends
  • How: Costumed dressed in 1776 gear
  • Why’s and However’s?
    • Slumber = anyone caught slumbering will be initiated into the British Navy.
    • Teams only – anyone caught A.W.O.L-ing will be stripped of rank and privilege.
    • Attention! – anyone caught in a cowardly position (like being undercover with another) will be addressed by the Commanding Officer (aka, Dad) and returned to their Base Camp (aka, home).
    • Salutes at midnight – respect Command announcement without insubordination.

Raising a child is difficult, regardless of sexual orientation. So while there may not be an easy answer for every decision you have to make, know that you are not alone.

Here to Help

When life seems difficult and you need a safe, confidential place to go, we’re here to help. Contact Maison Vie for more information on how we can assist you with family or LGBTQ+ counseling.

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