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To Sleepover or not to Sleepover

To sleepover or not to sleepover is becoming an issue in our house now that my daughter is getting older.  When I was growing up, my parents weren’t really that strict. It was the 70’s and 80’s and kids were given A LOT of freedom. My sisters and I were no different. However, when it came to sleepovers, for whatever reason, they were a little more selective on where they let us spend the night. It wasn’t until middle school that the rules were relaxed and I was able to spend the night at a “strangers” house, meaning my parents didn’t know the other set of parents.

To Sleepover or Not to SleepoverI was dropped off and was told to “call in the morning” when I wanted to be picked up. Nowadays, the rules on sleepovers seem to run the gamut. Many parents will not let their children spend the night if they don’t know the parents, or with anyone at all for that matter. While several parents, like me, will only let their children spend the night at a select few trusted family and friends homes.

Until recently, this was never an issue. My daughter, who is 8 years old, was invited to a sleepover at a classmate’s house. I had never met the parents, so I told her she could not spend the night, but I would pick her up around 10 p.m., which would give her plenty of time to enjoy the party. At first she was upset, but when I explained my reasons, she was fine with it. It turned out that one person wasn’t allowed to go to the party at all because her parents didn’t know the other parents, and another girl was picked up around 8 p.m.

With that, I didn’t feel like such a helicopter parent. Whether I’ve watched an episode too many of Oprah in my lifetime, or I’m just protective of my child, I have to stick by my rule. Our job as mothers is to keep our kids safe, and the fact of the matter is, I would never let my daughter walk off with a stranger at the park, so why would I drop her off at a strangers home to spend the night?

There are many factors that come into play with a sleepover. A main one living here in Arizona is the question of guns in the home. If there are guns, how and where are they stored? Digging a little deeper, what is the home environment like and what are the behaviors of the parents? Are they hoarders, drinkers, and/or smokers? Are there older siblings or other family members who may be present during the sleepover?

I have heard the argument that it is more likely a family member or close friend would harm your child than a stranger, and you can’t shelter them forever, so let them be kids. My thoughts on that are that if a stranger or family member hurts my child, well then we were all duped by that person. However, if a stranger harms my child, and I helped place her in that situation, well then I didn’t do my job of protecting her.

In the end, the family of the sleepover in question was perfectly normal and the parents were very kind, the fact was I didn’t know them. They were very respectful of the situation when I picked my daughter up, even while she was begging to stay over. It’s a very hard decision to make, and each family will have their own rules. I know I can’t protect my daughter forever, I want her to be a kid and to enjoy her childhood, but my most important task as a parent is to keep my daughter safe, and this is one rule on which I can’t budge.

How about you? Do you let your kids attend sleepovers or not?

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