- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2006

A reporter recently asked me to name some of the dumbest things I had ever heard concerning teenagers and their parents. I immediately thought of two.

The first is the “supervised” coed teenage slumber party. No, really, I’m not kidding. According to a recent report, the coed sex — Oops, sorry, I meant slumber — party is the latest way for parents of teens to demonstrate how understanding, trusting and cool they are.

Typically, a particularly enlightened set of parents will host a so-called slumber party on the night of a high school dance or game. Afterward, teens meet at the hosts’ home, bringing sleeping bags and “appropriate” sleepwear.

As the festivities begin, each of the invitees slips into something comfortable. A floor or area of the house is designated for teens only, and the parents promise not to intrude unless they hear something going on that’s obviously inappropriate.

All the teens do, parents swear, is watch television and eat popcorn, dance to their favorite records or just have a rap session. Then they fall asleep, sometimes in boy-girl pairs, under blankets or inside sleeping bags that have been zipped together. But nothing goes on. The parents are sure of that.

One parent was quoted as saying, “After all, they’re not going to have sex in front of each other, much less right under our noses.”

Are today’s parents really so stupid? Apparently, some of them are.

The second dumb thing was a report from the federally funded (that’s a euphemism for “you and I paid for it”) National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which surveyed about 90,000 students in grades seven through 12.

The primary finding: Teens who have strong emotional attachments to their parents are much less likely to use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, engage in violent behavior or become sexually active at an early age.

My reaction to this revelation was, “They’ve got to be kidding.” In other words, the con artists — Oops, I mean researchers — in question spent $25 million of our hard-earned money to tell us what we already know: To wit, if you demonstrate unconditional love to a child — even if he or she acts like a jerk sometimes — the youngster is less likely to develop serious problems than a child whose parents are unaffectionate, critical and rejecting.

Here’s another astonishing finding from the same study: The presence of a parent in the home when a child comes home from school reduces the likelihood the child will use drugs or alcohol. Translation: Adult supervision is good.

Remember, folks, you and I paid $25 million for these eye-popping revelations.

Here’s yet another startling revelation, one that no one possibly could have figured out alone: Teens who have repeated a grade in school are more likely to have later problems of one sort or another than teens who have done reasonably well in school. Translation: Teens with a history of problems are likely to develop even more.

As today’s teenager might say, “Well, duh.”

And there you have it: dumb and dumber.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his Web site (www.rosemond.com).



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