Sleepovers – an open discussion

I enjoyed a spirited round table discussion with some of my homeschooling girlfriends a while back, on the subject of sleepovers.

Only it wasn’t a round table, it was a rectangular picnic table, spotted with bird poop and popsicle stains.  Some of my most favorite rectangle table discussions happen there on Friday afternoons.

While our children frolic out of earshot.

We were rather split on the subject, while some of us are a clear cut NO WAY, to some leaning toward ONLY WITH FAMILY, to a few more okay with it if they know both parents really really really well.

This was a hot topic discussion that I put out on the Mom’s Homeroom Message board earlier last year.  I was blown away by the responses.  The Sleepover thread stayed around the top of the board for some months and it still gets a number of views.

The responses varied widely from being totally okay with allowing their children to attend sleepovers and having no problem whatsoever, to a good number of parents saying NO WAY, NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

And what really surprised me were some of the the NO WAY folks were of the law enforcement variety that have likely seen a scenario or two that swayed their position over to a more conservative side.

The subject of sleepovers has come up recently in our house because our girls are now at the age that they are invited to slumber parties now and again.

We’ve taken a very hard stance on the subject.  We do not allow sleepovers.

That may seem harsh.  But I’ll tell you why.  My parents had no issues with me both having slumber parties and attending slumber parties.  I even spent the night at school chum’s houses every so often.  My parents didn’t know the child’s parents all that well, but since I attended a private Catholic school, they assumed that the girl’s parents would have similar rules and regulations.

In one particular instance, they were wrong.

I spent the night at a friend’s house on one occasion.  I remember the house was filthy (and let me pause here to tell you that if you were to see my house right now you would shake your head and follow up with “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t lob stones” or something similar).  I also remember the girl’s mother didn’t say a word to me the entire time I was there.  And it should be noted that I roped my girlfriend into helping me clean her own bathroom as a gesture of good will.

I never told my own mother this.  Mostly because I think the shock might have killed her.  I was a pretty tidy kid, but I was never known to clean a bathroom without a good deal of cooercion.

I also never told my mother the details about the night I spent at my friend’s house.  We were banished to the basement to sleep on a mattress on the floor.  This was about as exciting an adventure as one might imagine for a 9 year old.  Except that we discovered a stash of some of the most disgusting adult material you could envision.  And people, I was completely caught by surprise at the images my 9 year old eyes saw.

Images that are seared into my brain forever.  It affected me.  Deeply.

On another occasion I slept over at another friend’s house, and learned that her older teenage brother was molesting her younger 3 year old sister.  I knew just enough to know that was wrong, and I did have the good sense to tell my mother.

She responded the way most mothers would respond in the 1960’s.  She called my best friend’s mom to alert her never to let her own daughter spend the night at this particular friend’s house.  And that was that.  Child services was not called (I don’t even know if there was a child services in those days) and the mother of the allegedly molested child was not informed.  And now as a mother, I grieve that decision.

I’ve always wondered about that little girl.

I attended a good number of sleepovers with little to no adult supervision.  And on more than one occasion, my friends and I were known to wander the neighborhood in the dark of night.  It is by God’s grace that we didn’t meet with any harm.

I’ll also be the first to tell you that I attended childhood sleepovers with dear friends and had the most wonderful treasured memories.  And there was excellent parental presence.  But the few negative experiences that I mostly buried until I had children of my own, were enough to sway me to take a very hard stance about the subject in my own home.

It’s a personal choice, one not quickly made.  I realize that I easily garner ridicule because I’m considered an overprotective parent.  And at the same time I absolutely do not stand in judgment of anyone who feels differently.

Our experiences shape the way we react to something, and it doesn’t make us right or wrong.  When all of this came up, my sister-in-law sent me an article she read by Renee Ellison.  Renee often speaks at our Florida Homeschool Convention, and I do enjoy her no-nonsense approach to parenting.  When I read it, Renee’s words spoke to my heart and gave me peace about my decision.  If you’re interested, go here to download the article.  It’s in PDF format.

I wanted to have a rectangular table discussion with you all.  What is your sleepover policy with your own children? I’ll be monitoring this sandbox, so everyone play nice.  🙂  I really do want to hear your opinion.

40 Responses to Sleepovers – an open discussion

  • I guess for me, it hasnt been an issue as of yet. Our kids are still “young” (oldest is 7) and they only “sleepovers” they have had thus far have been at my parents home and at our best friends home who has boy/girl same age as ours. They are our dearest and closest friends whom we share the same protective parenting instincts with and our kids are still young enough that they are asleep long before the parents are ever in bed, and so therefore always supervised). I read the article and admit even though sleepovers arent an issue I had put alot of forethought into, as far as establishing a family rule on, I agree with your stance and the authors. Most of all the “bad” stuff I was exposed to as a kid was always at a sleepover, whether one on one with my childhood best friend (unsupervised upstairs while parents slept) or at birthday parties, etc. As a teen I would sleepover at my childhood friends home (her mom was a single mom and slept hard) and we would sneak out at night and roam the streets, smoking and being naughty with the neighborhood boys — all major regrets for me. I know of a good friend of mine who was almost molested by another older kid at a boys birthday sleepover… and all the boys there were all from “good families” from our small church at the time.
    I’d rather err on the side of being too protective than risk the possible harm to my children, either emotionally, sexually, physically or by robbing them of their innocence. Thank you for bringing up this topic. It is one I will be talking about with my husband and figuring out our stance as a family.

  • Wow. I am easily sickened at the thought of young children being sexually abused. For some reason those thoughts upset me far more than most crimes. Maybe because I have a house full of young children whom I so badly want to protect from evil. Just reading your post makes me want to cry.

    My eldest turns 7 soon, and because of his bed wetting issues, sleepovers are not a problem right now. However, he has slept at a good friend’s house (we know the parents very well) so that he could get up at 5:00 a.m. to go hunting with them.

    But, I think a “no sleep over policy” is important to start now! Protection of my kids is #1 priority.

    I was blessed to not have any terrible experiences as a child, but I clearly remember making poor choices. Lots of foolishness.

    Thanks for making me think about this.

  • My children, 11 yoa daughter and 15 yoa son have both been to sleepovers. They used to attend a Christian school and the sleepovers they attended were at the house of kids where we knew the parents well and they shared our protective philosophies. My daughter’s best friend in fact, is not allowed to sleepover at other kid’s houses but can have friends over to sleep at hers. My son goes to public school now and I must admit that I would not allow a sleepover with any of his friends from there because it is a different environment and I do not know any of the parents well. My daughter is now homeschooled and I am rethinking sleepovers. I have a friend who was on a sleepover at a friend’s house when she was 14 and was impregnated by the friend’s 18 yoa brother. As my daughter gets older and is developing I am getting to the point of not wanting to let her go if there is a brother in the house. She is not allowed to go to any of her friend’s houses even during the day if only the father is home. I do allow them both to go to camp and would like to hear your thoughts on this just out of curiosity. I waited until they were 11 to let them go and your oldest is almost that age. Would you consider camp for your children or does that fall into the same category as a sleepover?
    I didn’t have any bad experiences on sleepovers but my sleepovers were very limited as my parents were very careful. A friend and I did have our boyfriends over one night when we camped out in the backyard in our teens and of course that could have gone very wrong. We also planned to try marijuana a few month’s later when we were going to sleep outside but I changed my mind and we didn’t. That is the closest I came to getting into real trouble. BTW, I am your age so sleeping outside in the backyard was safer than it would be now!

  • No sleepovers.

    My parents had no problems letting me sleep over at various friends and some of my stupidest choices were made that time. Even when we had an adult supervising it’s still wasn’t enough. I’ve gotten drunk, I’ve gotten high, I’ve lost my virginity to a guy I just met… The list goes on and on.

  • We have a no sleepover policy, too. When our children were younger, that policy (of my husband’s at the time) used to make me sad…that our girls would miss out on some really fun, friend-bonding times. However, the longer I live, and sadly–the more JUNK I see and hear about, that policy has also now become my own.

    I never had any bad experiences at sleepovers. But, reading about your and the other commenters’ experiences makes me very, very sad. We live in a world where some very TERRIBLE things happen. This is why I PRAY…A LOT. And, honestly? Why I will ask God some questions someday about innocent little children who are hurt…

  • I forgot to say…that we do allow other children sleepover at our house. I know that is totally hypocritical in a way…So, I only do it with really close friends who understand my husband’s and my hangups (and love us anyway!)

    I figure that my girls still get to experience the FUN of a sleepover, at their own home, with their own overprotective, and watchful parents. 🙂

  • Not an issue for us yet as Charlie is only 5 and a boy. Personally I hadn’t given it a thought until now.

    I didn’t have any bad sleepovers growing up. I must admit I was a classic Christian “good girl” & my best friends were as well. We just didn’t do “bad things” like smoke, drink or have sex although I had other friends who did (once I was in high school).

    Something to think about for sure.

  • Well, i guess I’m in the minority here because we do allow sleepovers for 11-yr old daughter. Not yet for 7-yr old son, but eventually we will. I will clarify that I have regular conversation with my daughter on what to do in bad situations. She also only goes to friends’ houses that I have gotten to know and feel comfortable with. Most of the other parents are more anal than I am, so I feel pretty secure with them.
    Things will change as time goes on and some of their friends’ parents become a little too lenient for my tastes, but for now, I think it gives them a great sense of independence. There is also a special bonding that goes on (especially between girls) in the wee hours, sharing secrets and dreams. (And I’m talking about the good ones here, people!)
    I understand those of you who don’t allow sleepovers and I just hope, for your kids’ sakes, that you give them different opportunities to have private time with friends and to experience some special personal time bonding with their peers. It’s important for pre-teen and young teens to have that chance. Again, I’m not finding fault with the no sleepover choice. No one wants to imagine the most heinous things happening to any child, let alone your own. But also remember that it doesn’t have to be at a stranger’s home in the dead of the night (that just triggers the idea easily) but can happen in broad daylight with a person you have, up to that point, trusted.

  • Hi DeeDee, We have a policy that our FAMILY is a package deal. We have had family sleepovers at friends homes that live too far to treck back home the same day of the visit. We camp out in the guest room together as a family while our friends are all in their respective rooms.
    I too as a child have gone on many sleepovers and have learned things that I never should have. Praise God that we can learn from our past and protect our kids. God bless, I hope the knee is better today!

  • I don’t have a “sleep over policy.” I feel about them the same way I feel about “curfew.” Meaning every situation is decided on a case by case basis. My job as a parent is to first and foremost protect my kids. I take that VERY seriously and keep far more bad influences out of our home than most. We home school as well so I do get to control a lot. But on occasion we do allow VERY closely supervised “bad influences”. For example, we’ll pre-screen a movie that has something objectionable (mildly bad language) and then watch as a family and discuss why we object. This does 2 things. First we build credibility and rationality in our children’s minds but most importantly we get to demonstrate our values and why we live that way. It acts like a vaccine. A very tiny controlled exposure prevents a whole host of trouble. So each sleepover invitation is carefully considered. If I know the parents well enough to allow my kids there in daytime alone, (and really people as a pediatric RN I can promise you not all child molestation takes place at night in dark basements)and if I consider the parents good influences than I MAY allow a sleepover. Older brothers would probably be a deal breaker. Usually when my teenage daughter has slept over it was only girls and mom there. I always send a cell phone and we discuss scenarios. For example if she is uncomfortable or wants to come home FOR ANY REASON or even no real reason– she is just “done” she knows to call at any hour of day or night say she has a “stomach ache” (our code) and I will immediately come get her no questions asked. But she never has and begs to sleepover more often. It is priceless bonding time and does prepare her for times in life where she will be on her own. But I remain extremely “picky” about the places I allow.

    On a slightly different note, if I had friends with a “our house only” policy my kids would not be allowed to sleep there. Trust is reciprocal. It’s ok if we aren’t at that level but honestly as a parent that would raise huge red flags for me. I would really wonder what weird things went on at that house. I know that isn’t fair but it’s just one of my personal biases. Not all of my kids’ friends are sleepover friends (few are) nor will I allow all of my FAMILY to keep them over night, but I do trust a few people and I’m comfortable with that. After all ANYBODY could let you down. An adult in a bathroom at an AWANA mtg, a sibling or a cousin or even God help us all, a parent. I am trying to protect them the very most I can but I also want to allow them to trust their own instincts and know when to get out and seek help when needed. As a child I was almost literally wrapped in bubblewrap until I was dropped on the college dorm steps and I had no concept of “bad” people or how they might lie, steal, or flat out trick me to get what they wanted. Talk about a lamb to slaughter. So I want my kids to know how to cope a bit more than I did.

  • Many valid and serious reasons have been presented here for not allowing sleepovers. I have another reason I hesitate with the sleepovers; my kids have come home crabby and miserable the next day because they stayed up too late. It throws off the next day’s activities and pretty soon Mom (that would be me) is feeling pretty crabby, too! We and some of the other families around us have hosted “almost overs”, where the kids bring pajamas and sleeping bags and watch a movie, have popcorn, etc. until maybe 10pm (depending on the age of the kids.) Then the guest is picked up and goes home to sleep in her own bed. I have been very selective and limiting with the sleepovers. I respect the choice of parents to adopt a “no sleepovers” policy.

  • Wow. I didn’t know this was such a touchy subject. I have taken some pretty heavy fire for our no sleepover policy, but mostly from my kids.
    I did sleepovers when I was little, and that’s where I was introduced to my own sexuality.
    At five.
    By another five-year-old.
    After I was molested by my own step-uncle.
    And when I was a grown adult, I found out that my best childhood friend’s dad was into porn and ended up in a molesting his own daughter (my friend) and they had an incestuous relationship for some time, before it was discovered and reported.
    He went to prison.
    He was a deacon in our church.
    You never know about people.
    I refuse to sacrifice the innocence of my children on the altar of “not wanting to offend anyone” and “doing what everyone else is doing.”

  • This is a subject that we having been deciding on for the past several months, since our daughter is 7 and has been invited to a few sleepovers now. So far, we have only allowed sleepovers at family’s house and one friend that we are close to the parents with. I think that it will stay that way for now. My daughter has been fine with going to slumber parties and coming home around 10, when all of the other kids are going to bed.

    I was attacked by my bestfriend’s stepdad when I was 13 & got up to get some water in the middle of the night. I’m conflicted because I don’t want to carry my fears and burdens onto my children, but when it comes down to it, I’ll do anything to protect them. It’s that plain and simple.

    You had made a very good comment, Deedee, while we were all talking about this…. there is nothing fun that the kids can do during a sleepover that they can’t do during a daytime playdate.

  • This one is so hard for us, but only because we’ve already let them go. I wish I’d set up a plan earlier! I did sleepovers as a child, nothing bad happened, and just assumed my kids would do it, without thinking. Now that I’ve had a chance to ponder, I don’t want them to go! How do I squeeze that through now?

    As I explained my sleepover thoughts to my 11 year old, she let me in on a few stories of her sleepover experiences that only solidified my position. Now I have to stick to my guns next time she asks!!

  • I hadn’t thought about this yet because my kids aren’t old enough for it to come up. For the next few years, I guess I’m leaning no sleepovers. Even if it was at a friend’s house where we knew the parents really well, I don’t want to explain the difference if there’s a house I don’t want her to go to. This is definitely food for thought.

  • In an overt and concerted effort to prevent me from going completley “Jack Bauer” on someone, we are EXTREMELY if not mostly prohibitively selective regarding sleepovers.

  • You would think, as a mom of a 5 and 1 year old, that I wouldn’t have crossed into this territory, but I have. My 5 (4 at the time) year old son was invited to sleep over at a very dear friend’s house and everything in my being and soul screamed no! Part of this comes from the fact that he is a sleepwalker and has not ever slept through the night (I feel your pain!) and part of it was just a deep unease in my gut that I couldn’t let him go. These friends of ours are probably our closest of friends and watch both of our kids for short periods of time, so we trust them totally.
    So, I guess after experiencing that one situation made my decision for our kids. As a side note, my husband never went to sleepovers, but I did and would be horrified if I knew my kids were engaging in some of the activities that we did…

  • This is timely, my daughter is having a friend spend the night here for the first time this weekend. She is six and so far she has only slept away from home with other family members. She’s already had a couple invitations to sleepover at friends houses, which we have politely declined.

    Before I’ll let her spend the night at a friends I need to know the parents, have visited their home, and my daughter needs to have gone over for a regular playdate at least once so she can let me know if it is a place she feels comfortable with. Also, I will need to talk with parents about supervision, and other people who live in the house, such as teenage brothers, grandfathers, etc.

    At this point, I think my daughter needs to be a bit older before she goes to a sleepover, though I have no objections if a friends parents are comfortable with having their child sleepover here.

  • Our current plan is “no sleepovers unless we are friends with the parents”. Honestly, I don’t even want kids to stay over with us unless we know the parents well. The current plan involves more ‘dinner parties’ with the kids allowed to stay up later then normal before everyone being bundled off to their own bed.

  • For me I go right along with your stance, HOWEVER my daughter has been to two sleepovers but both were with parents I knew very well and knew would keep a close eye on them. Even knowing those parents and knowing they share my very conservative views I was still a little hesitant because both girls had older teenage brothers. That said my daughter has been taught well and would tell me in a heartbeat if anything was uncomfortable for her. She has had one sleepover here and that was for her 10th bday. I made it a big deal that the kids had to wait till a milestone bday. I did go to many sleepovers when young and had many at my house too, no problems at all with those. However when my oldest was in preschool I had a conversation with another Mother who as a top cop in our local big city and she said sleepovers where the very first area you should be careful of and they should not happen until the kids are old enough to say something. She said 90% of the molestation cases she took on were by someone the victim knew and over half that percentage was at sleepovers.

  • Wow, I haven’t had to deal with this yet, but holy crap after reading all of these comments I think we’ll just be saying no to sleepovers. Especially after Jenna’s comment.

    I will say that I left my 5-yo son at a friend’s house with her son and their babysitter for a couple of hours one afternoon not long ago. Though nothing “bad” happened, he did tell me he didn’t ever want to go back when she was there. He told me that the babysitter’s teenage daughter showed up while we were gone. She was apparently yelling at his friend and being mean to him!

    On the one hand I was happy he told me, but on the other hand it was a wake-up call to me.

  • Oh this is a subject that is so hard…..for those of us who had great memories of 60/70’s slumber parties (yes, I am showing my age here!) we must remember it was such a different time then…and still there were times that things went horribly “wrong”….

    As the mom of five, with six in our home for several years, we had to enforce some pretty tough rules just to stay one step ahead of our kids and two steps ahead of those who intended to do harm to them. With three girls and three boys, we did some fancy footwork when it came to sleepovers. We were very selective as to who ours could spend the night with and now looking back (our kids are all in their twenties now) we ALL have regrets. One of the tough points of parenting is listening to your adult children “download” about their own childhood mishaps. While I am eternally grateful for having relationships with my kids that allow and empower them to share with me, it breaks my heart to hear what happened “on my watch”….and because of my own story of being sexually abused as a child, I thought I was diligent and vigilant when it came to my babes!

    I will say that my sweet hubby, who probably never went to a sleepover as a kid, kept telling me for years to “just say no” and I wish I had listened to him earlier than I did. We did have rules such as “all boys must be gone for the night if the girls were having a slumber party or friends sleepover” and vice-versa – they would either be at grandma’s for the night or even to the extent of going to a hotel with dad or mom.
    Crazy. And bad things can happen at grandma’s house, too. Duh!

    Another rule of my hubbies – along the same lines, that I balked at until I learned better – since we were a “blended family” was “No boys in the girls room, no girls in the boys room” – no matter who. Brothers. Sisters. Cousins. Friends of each. This helped SO MUCH once the pre-teen years hit….and I am not talking sleepover time here – just good ole “having a friend over” – hangin’ out time.
    Boy/girl games, video games, card games, etc were played in the den – so was the movie watching and lego building, etc. And when friends were over to visit – boys with the boys or girls with the girls – bedroom doors always remained opened – no exception. Changing of clothes for swimming, etc – was done one at a time in the bathroom.

    Bottom line – if I had the opportunity to raise my kiddos again- I would just say no to sleepovers. It stings for a little while….but you’ll get over it a lot quicker than the permanent damage that one wrong night can do….and the kids will too! After you say no, go buy them some ice cream…..in my book, it heals all and if you let them have all the extra toppings & such,
    hopefully they’ll forget about the sleepover and you will be a hero!

    =)

  • duh – too late to be commenting….

    “Another rule of my hubbies –” should read….”Another rule of my hubby’s” –

    not that I didn’t have more than one (long, bad story)….but the 1st one definitely didn’t have any rules for raising children! ’nuff said! 😉

  • I would like to clarify one thing in my comment. My daughter’s friend who isn’t allowed to sleep over but can have sleepovers, is from a different culture. In their culture daughters must get permission to go on overnight trips even when they are in college if they are still living at home. I will say they don’t allow their sons do go to sleepovers either tho.

  • I guess things are slightly different in our culture (we’re Asians – specifically Singaporean Chinese). My children aged 9+ and below have never been invited to a sleepover and have never had friends over. I guess we like to keep playdates to daytime. But yes, if ever my children are invited for a sleepover, my answer would be no… the only exceptions would be attending church camps where the children are closely supervised, and the boys and girls sleep in different rooms/dorms.

  • My 8 year old son has only gone to a family sleep over once a couple of years ago. It was at a cousin’s house and he was the oldest of about 5 kids. My cousin (the momma) told me he probably would have asked to go home had the younger cousins not been there to pressure him into sticking it out. 🙂 So it hasn’t come up again. He likes being at home. He does spend the night with grandparents occasionally, and he likes that. I don’t think we would do any school chum sleep overs in the near future. We have only barely begun allowing school friend play dates. (as in he’s gone once!!)

  • I am so glad to see so many other parents saying no to sleepovers. My son is only six, so it hasn’t been an issue yet. I have heard so many horror stories that I could in no way let him sleep over someone’s house. One moment of my weakness (feeling bad for saying no, wanting him to fit in, etc.) could destroy his life. I’m glad to know my thoughts are backed up by law enforcement. Great post.

  • love this subject, and so glad to see that I’m not the only one with strict rules on sleepovers. However, my rules also apply to playdates. My daughter is not allowed a playdate or sleepover with out my presence. It doesn’t matter how well you know someone…they could still do something inappropriate to your child. How many people find themselves SHOCKED to hear that their brother, husband, sister in law, uncle, son is molesting a child? ALL THE TIME this is happening. Most of my friends who were molested or raped as a child say it happened at a friend’s house with their older sibling, father, or stepfather.
    My child does sleep over at her grandparents, and a few times with my brother and his family, but this still makes me nervous. My child is 5, and since she turned 3 we have talked about good touch, bad touch, and secret touch. We’ve talked about trusting her feelings, and to always talk to me about things that make her feel scared, uncomfortable, worried, or confused. I also randomly ask her questions about her visit, and look for signs of distress, or evading.
    The biggest gift we can give our child is knowledge. Teach them about their bodies, and when it is okay for someone to touch them. provide an open relationship where your child will feel comfortable talking to you about their body.
    I could go on and on about this…previously posters are correct, bad things happen at other people’s houses. and your own. Be aware…..teach your children.

  • So GLAD to see this post!

    We’ve never done sleep overs.

    My 11 year old has been asked to a sleep over and I was feeling like a killjoy for wanting to say NO. The people are friends that we’ve know for a number of years….but my gut feeling is no.

    I worry about depriving her of the kind of fun I had growing up but then I remember the world is a VERY different place then what I grew up in.

    After reading the comments, I’m going to trust my gut feelings and continue the ban on sleepovers. 😉

  • I am so blessed and relieved by this post. I grew up in the same era as you (I was born in 1957). I had very similar experiences that you did – M.A.N.Y. And when I told my mom some, she just shrugged them off. I, too, had an early exposure to pornography. Many times actually. And, believe me, like you, I wasn’t looking for it AND I was shocked. It STILL haunts me to this day. It is just awful.

    I also witnessed terrible abuse – one was a girlfriend being beat up by her father because we got home 10 minutes late ( I was spending the night at her house). I was around 15. I was scared to death I would be next. Her mother was meek and did nothing. I wanted to run home, but I lived in the country, 4 miles away.

    I knew in the depths of my heart that when I married, I would live in a G-rated home and that it would be a haven from the world. My daughters are 24 & 26. Absolutely, I never let them sleep over. I would never want them to experience the depths of hell that I experienced. My daughters recently thanked me for being so careful.

    And let’s face it, it has to be WAY worse out there now than it was 30 years ago.

    I once read an article by Mike Farris at HSLDA that you can never protect your children too much. That’s our job. Kudos to you DeeDee. You’ll never regret your decision.

  • I am not going to comment on the sleepover/no sleepover issue, but I will tell you about something we have done–my daughter thought she wanted a overnighter party for her birthday, but we talked about it and came up with this instead:

    An Undernighter–about six girls came over, put on their pajamas, laid around watching movies and eating pizza, playing games, etc–we opened up the sofa bed and they brought sleeping bags and pillows. They laughed and giggled and had a great time. And at about 9:30 the parents picked up their daughters and everyone went home. It was a party with no tears, no crabbiness the next day from lack of sleep, no risky behavior and plenty of supervision. A good time was had by all (especially my daughter and me).

  • After reading all the comments, slowly, I forgot a couple things:
    1. We did let our girls go to a few sleepovers, but picked them up between 9 & 10 pm. So they didn’t stay overnight. I called and talked with the mother ahead and most were very nice about it. If I sensed the mom was not too crazy about it, my daughter just didn’t go at all. One such party, my daughter was 9, and I picked her up at 9:30 pm. She got in the car and told me she was so glad I said no to the overnight part, because they had a stack of “R” rated horror flicks to view “all-night-long” and she would not have wanted to watch any of them. I thanked the dear Lord for guiding me in that decision.

    2. The tiredness and crabbiness is also another huge factor.

  • I wanted to add something else. A few of you mentioned church camps, and Connie, you asked me my thoughts on this.

    At our old church, a trusted male counselor was jailed recently for molesting boys that he was chaperoning at a church camp.

    So, no way. No church camps either.

    DeeDee

  • Wow…I am going to stick out like a sore thumb here. Our boys who are 6 and 7 have been to many sleepovers, had many sleepovers, spent WEEKS with Nana at a time, and in general are allowed to with several of our friends who have similar aged kids including my best friends 6 y.o daughter and my 6 y.o neice.

    I did do some things my parents wouldnt have liked at sleepovers, but nothing too outrageous. While I do want to shield them, I do not want to prevent them from learning how to deal with situations, and knowing they can talk to us. And preferably before they get to college or situations where they are beyond our help or control.
    Steff

  • Wow, I hadn’t really formulated a clear thought on this, but my daughter is nearing the age where her friends are doing this. But my motto in parenting has been echoed by one of your commentors above: “I refuse to sacrifice the innocence of my children on the altar of “not wanting to offend anyone” and “doing what everyone else is doing.””. That statement is brilliant!!

  • We do allow them, but ONLY when I know the entire family very, very, very well. But I will say it’s super rare.
    You can’t know what’s going on and can’t undo something once it’s done. So I’m not too trusting to hand my kids over.

  • Thank you! I am an older parent and sometimes feel like I’m the only one saying no to things.
    As a pediatric nurse I have seen the after effects of sleep overs and what can happen to children. People you think you can trust can do horrible things to little kids. Jennybek put it perfectly “can’t undo something once it’s done”.
    You only get one chance to make a mistake with your child and many times there’s no fixing it.
    This has been so supportive!
    Love, love, love the idea of dinner and a late night pick up as opposed to a sleep over, great idea!!!

  • I found this post through the Diaper Diaries, and am so thankful to have read it and all of the comments. We, too, are proud card-carrying members of the “No sleepover club”. Granted, our son is only 5 and his brother just an infant–however, we established this stand before the sleepovers have started because of listening to the stories and advice of others who’ve “been there”.

    A very good friend of mine went through a truly horrific event 2 years ago. Her 5 year-old daughter was molested by her 13 year-old male cousin at a Memorial Day BBQ, while all family members were present. She needed to use the bathroom, and the male cousin offered to take her inside and wait with her. Had she not complained about taking a bath that very night–that it “hurt down there” in the water–my dear friend may not have known for a while what had happened. This sweet little girl went through what no person should have to endure–hospitals, very thourough “checks”, police reports, court hearings, it goes on and on. As so many have stated–it can happen anywhere, anytime and with anyone.

    As an elementray school teacher, I can assure you that I’ve read some journal entries from primary grades (I teach 2nd and used to teach 1st) that were troublesome. And, it didn’t have to do with things that happened to the kids–but while they were there. So many have written about “funny parents who drink that juice that makes you so silly”, while others know exactly what it is and write about parents who’ve been drunk in front of them. It is a very tough thing to share with parents–but something they need to see. So, while a child may not be abused or molested in someone else’s home, they could be exposed to things that you’re just not ready for them to experience.

    I agree that this is truly a topic that has many sides, and nobody can judge another’s choices in raising their children. Thank you for bringing up this topic, it allows for some great discussions!

  • We are also more or less in the no sleep over camp, though we have made exceptions with one family whom we know very well. Our children and their children are together at least 4 days a week, as I babysit them. However, we do intend to cut off the sleep overs as the children get older. I really like the idea of the “undernight”. But only with people I know really well and trust.

  • I am that over protective parent, and I had struggled with this as well. I think mostly I struggled with it when I knew for a fact I didn’ t want my kids at a certain house.
    We finally made that rule. You can sleep at this house, this house, but don’t ever ask about this house.
    We have talked openly and honestly with our kids for years about all things. One of the things we have asked our kids when they were younger is they had to call home when they watched any movie with a friend to get permission.
    This started some great communication and ground rules. If I didnt approve the movie I had to go get them. Those same rules and communication then played into sleep overs. We have always told them we would go get them at any time in the night if they ever felt uncomfortable.
    We have found lots of families that we love and trust. This has been great because there have been times when we had to leave for an over night or weekend that we have to pawn our kids off on other families as we don’t have family nearby.
    We have been super spoiled by the fact that our kids have been in private school and we even go to church with some of these families.
    Now that my kids are older I have no regrets about them doing sleep overs and I allow sleepovers at my house. Not many were done when they were younger, there really is no reason for it, but by middle school it’s fun.
    Girls giggle all night and boys play video games until the wee hours. It’s all fun.
    But here’s the sleep over issue I am dealing with now. For instance on Prom night many sleep over because it’s usually super late and the after party is just as much a deal as prom itself. These sleep overs are coed.
    My daughter didn’t sleep over, but it was at a home of great Christian family and the mom stayed up all night long. The kids were divided between floors.
    Always a new dilemma isn’t there?