One of the articles that caught my eye this weekend was Sex in a Teenager’s Room.
A few things first: It’s in The New York Times, in the Fashion & Style section, in the monthly Circa Now column. It’s written by Henry Alford, an American humorist and journalist.
I mention all that to say: Sex in a Teenager’s Room is not a serious, researched examination of the changing attitudes towards teenage sexuality. Alford begins with “One of the lovely things about not having children (besides never having to counteract a toddler’s propensity for covering all surfaces with what experts call “sticky”) is that I will probably never need to stare down the barrel of teenage sexuality,” uses a few anecdotes, and ends with his punch line: “I suppose I could always employ what I think of as the parent curveball. That’s where you guide your child and his loved one into your child’s bedroom while saying, “And in the meantime, your dad and I will be in our own room, doing the same thing.”
A slightly more serious look was taken in the accompanying blog post, Are Teenage Boyfriend-Girlfriend “Sleepovers” The New Norm?”, which (unlike the article) allowed for reader comments.
My point? On the one hand, we read articles like this, researched or not, that start a conversation about the way parents and teens navigate teen sexuality and sex, from birth control, to “sleepovers,” to living together.
On the other, in libraries, we see books being challenged for including masturbation, teen sexuality, sex, birth control.
Part of the reason is the parent of the twelve year old hasn’t had to deal, yet, with the realities of a seventeen year old.
Part of it is, even within the same town, parents are different. Some will be fine with this; others will not. Even between “yes” and “no” there will be a lot of differences in when “yes” or “no” is said.
Of course, libraries serve everyone, including parents and families that all on all sides of this issue, from “let’s not talk about it” to “please, move in.” Parents don’t always recognize this.
Let’s bring this back to books!
What books include parents being OK with a teenager’s significant other sleeping over?
I’m pretty sure that Endless Love by Scott Spencer had the parents originally being OK with this, and only stepping in to stop it when they thought the relationship became too intense.
And I also am sure, without rereading, that there was at least one Norma Klein (It’s OK If You Don’t Love Me) that had sleepovers going on.
More recent books: Rosie and Skate and Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman.