Would You Let Your Teen Have a Boyfriend or Girlfriend Sleep Over? A New Book Says You Should Consider It

I thought I was pretty open-minded and (dare I even say it?) sophisticated when I visited Amsterdam as a college student, but you could have knocked me over with a sneeze when I saw the debauchery all around me: Prostitutes in windows on display like Victoria’s Secret mannequins. People openly perusing hash-stashes at coffee shops, and then firing up joints, right at their tables! Theaters boasting not just X-rated shows but live X-rated shows.

In the twenty-plus years since, Amsterdam hasn’t changed. So why, one wonders, do the Dutch turn out such relatively clean kids? According to an article in Time, despite the fact that Dutch parents are way more permissive than we are (two-thirds of them allow their teenagers to have co-ed sleepovers), our teen pregnancy rates are eight times higher than theirs. Our abortion rates also are double and our instances of AIDS are three times greater. Oh, and we smoke three times more dope than they do -- even though they’re legally allowed to buy and indulge in the stuff and we’re not.

Obviously, the answer isn’t to buy our kids a bag of weed and drop them off at the Motel 6 with their boy or girlfriend. According to Amy Schalet, author of Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who was interviewed in the Time piece, the missing piece is communication. In the Netherlands, families talk openly about sexuality and love; in America, we preach abstinence (while our kids are watching the cast of Glee get it on weekly in musical-bed fashion). There, they believe teenagers can actually be in love and handle relationships; here, we mumble about hormones and suggest icy showers. They think marijuana is a mostly harmless social drug; we’re convinced it’s the gateway to a lifetime of heroin addiction and homelessness.

Watch: Would You Let Your Child Have a Co-Ed Sleepover?


Are the Dutch asking for trouble? You might think so. But obviously they’re doing something right.

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