Middle school is a time when many kids are beginning to show an interest in the opposite sex. Coed dances or gatherings at school may seem "safe" enough, but young teens may be invited to a private party at a friend's house or even (horrors!) a coed sleepover. There can be a very fine line between being overprotective and guarding your child's safety.
Our culture places an overriding importance on sexuality and on "appealing to the opposite sex." Children are trying to figure out these messages and are also responding to their natural interest and curiosity. One goal for young teens is to offer them plenty of opportunities to get to know kids of the other gender as whole people. Dances and social events sometimes just perpetuate giggly, flirty surface interactions that don't allow kids to really get to know each other. Rather than prohibiting kids from engaging in coed activities, it is important that we support them in participating in safe, fun activities. Equally important is maintaining open communication with them so that they can check in with us when things get difficult. Here are some ideas:
- Support school activities. As you indicated in your question, participating in school activities seems like a good way for kids to have a chance to spend time together. As well as going to dances, you can help your child look into coed sports teams, year book committees, band, and school clubs in which both boys and girls participate.
- Choose families where you know the parents.