Sleepover Safety

Sleepover

Personal note :: I’m grateful for this friend and her family who is one of our “sleepover approved” families!

As a “rule”, we don’t do sleepovers. I put rule in quotes because it’s not a “live or die” rule. I’ve tried those, they don’t usually work for us.

Here’s why ::

Right now, this very second, my girls have a friend over for a sleepover. And I love it. I love that my house smells like popcorn and sounds like little girls giggling at a sweet, young pre meltdown Lindsay Lohan. But, I definitely have a bit of a double standard. I have long said, “I’m not a fan of the sleepover unless it’s at my house.” I’m sorry…ish! Grinning!

All that to say that my views on sleepovers have sort of morphed over the last few years, but the spirit of the views has remained. It is still my job to see that my girls are safe – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To be clear, it has been a little easier for my views to morph because my girls are older. When my kindergartener came home from school with an invitation to a sleepover birthday party, it was the easiest “No.” ever. Ever. I knew the mom only as a classroom mom. I met the dad at a school function. That was it. Um. No. No, you may not have my six-year old daughter at your home for eighteen hours when I don’t even know your middle name. No. And, now I’m judging your parenting for asking.

The first time we hosted a sleepover, the girls were turning 10 and 8. One of the guests was a new friend, so I was nervous about even asking the mom. We had many mutual friends, but we had just become acquainted with one another. I called her and said something like this- “We would love to have Anna sleepover, but I want you to feel no pressure or weirdness to say no. I get it. Just so you don’t have to ask, I’ll go ahead and tell you with absolute sincerity that we do not have any alcohol or porn in this house. We do have some guns, but they are locked up like they are supposed to be. We have a golden retriever and no older brothers. And, I’m super neurotic about movies and shows, so they won’t watch anything sketchy. If the guns are a deal-breaker or if you just feel icky, I get it. No worries here!” I meant it. I wouldn’t have thought a thing about it had she said, “I’ll just come get her around 11pm.” I’ll tell you right now and I knew it then, I would not have let my child sleep over at their house at that moment, but I was happy when she agreed. Her daughter is precious.

I had not planned on that little speech, but because she overtly thanked me for my transparency about it, I’ve recited those words many times since. I’m grateful for that first little Sleepover Speech. If I get to say it first, it lets other parents know a few things about me. Right then and there. Discerning Reader, you can decide what it says to you. What I hope it does say is that I’m a mom who doesn’t mind awkward conversations and that those things I listed are important to me. They do not have to be important to you.

A few weeks ago, Tim Challies wrote a post entitled “Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers”. I found myself agreeing with him while feeling like a hypocrite because we have allowed the rare sleepover. Then I remembered something. It’s not a “live or die” rule. My discernment wins every time. 

Yes. Discernment. My Spidey Senses.

The title of this post is “Sleepover Safety”, but I don’t have a list of ways to ensure your child’s safety at a sleepover. There’s no guarantee. But, I do know that when my spidey senses start tingling, I better pay attention. Discernment is the best tool you have to keep your kids emotionally, spiritually, and physically safe and healthy. I’m not saying be ruled by fear. Be smart. Wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove.

Moms, Dads – we don’t have to let the tears of a life ruined rule us, either. When you make a decision, stand firm! I absolutely do not believe that sleepovers are an integral part of growing up. Yes, they are fun. Of course. Yes, sleepovers can be completely harmless. It’s silly to think otherwise. But, I do not believe for a second that sleepovers are a requirement of a fulfilled, healthy childhood.

What say you, Discerning Parents? What are your thoughts on sleepovers?

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21 Responses to Sleepover Safety

  1. Kathie July 25, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Agree!! We only have one child that G sleepsover with and they are closer than family. My BFF for 27 years. I don’t feel bad about it either. It’s just something we don’t do.

  2. Christi July 25, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    My son is only four, we have not had the sleepover thing come up yet. However, I think I would be very wary. I went to a few sleepovers as a kid and it’s a prime bully feeding ground. I remember especially with girls there was always that one girl that everyone else ganged up on and picked on. But they acted like perfect angels in front of the parents. I think it takes a good deal of parental involvement and supervision to have a successful and healthy sleepover experience. I don’t want to deny my child something that could potentially be fun, but like Melissa said the more information I’m armed with or can arm parents with about my house is definitely important. But, I too think we’ll save sleepovers for when he’s old enough to stand up for himself and when we know the family. Thanks for the great article.

    • Melissa July 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      Thank you for reading! I didn’t mention my specific sleepover incidents when I was a kid, but there are stories!

  3. Rebecca July 25, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    Friend, you know how timely this is due to our recent exchange via text!! You speak right to my heart on this. In fact, I almost could have typed the article myself!!

    • Melissa July 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      Yes! I appreciate you!

  4. samantha July 25, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    I have prosecuted an individual for sexually assaulting a young girl at a sleep over. It made me realize you just have to think hard about allowing your child to spend the night at someone else’s house.

    • Melissa July 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Thank you for commenting. I am assuming your line of work to be criminal justice; I can’t imagine the stories you could tell. Thank you.

  5. Stephanie July 25, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    My son is only 10 months, but I have recently thought about sleepovers after that young girl was stabbed at a sleepover by her best friends!! I would definitely have to know the parents well and know that they would be involved and supervising. Although bad things can happen other places as a parent it is my job to keep my child as safe as possible. I love the idea of discussing beforehand about what is in your home and who will be there.

    • Melissa July 28, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      Goodness! That’s terrible! Yes, all we can do is trust our instincts, right?! Sometimes it’s unpopular. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  6. Gia July 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    We’re from IL and just moved to TX. I had no problems letting my 2 oldest boys have sleepovers (both at our house and at their friends) while living in IL. Maybe I’m being naive, but I dread when they ask to have sleepovers here in TX because it’s not uncommon for families to have guns in their homes. I don’t mind if one day they want their friends to sleep over at our house, but I would rather they do not sleep at someone else’s house. How do I handle this and what do I tell them (as well as to their friends)?

    • Melissa July 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      Welcome to Texas!
      I say go with the up front and honest approach. If you have an issue with firearms, make it known. Let parents of friends know if you have anything that other parents may find questionable in your home, too, like alcohol. If you would rather not do sleepovers all together, don’t. Just let it be known from the get-go. I say, “Sorry, I’m one of those moms who is not a fan of sleepovers.” And be done. That’s all.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

    • Elva July 29, 2017 at 12:40 am #

      I have friends from out of town who feel the same way. Check out BeSmartForKids.org for tips on how to ask about the presence of guns in the home and what questions to ask to see if they’re stored safely. I always include it in the laundry list as Melissa does (alcohol, pools, dogs, guns, etc.) if my kids will be having playdates without me. We’re going to limit sleepovers to trusted family and close friends for now.

  7. Jenn August 2, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I agree with all of this post, but I resent the “And now I’m judging your parenting for even asking.” What you are comfortable with and what others are will differ quite often. To immediately jump to judgment without a conversation is just tacky and rude. They extended an invitation, and it was your right and choice to decline. Leave it at that. By then judging you are only teaching your kids to judge others on limited interaction, too.

    • Melissa H January 8, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      Jenn, I am so sorry that I didn’t see this comment MONTHS ago!! I get what you are saying, and sometimes this is what is difficult about the written word. The “judging…” quote you mentioned was more cheeky than anything. Meaning, I was shocked by the request for a sleepover by someone I hardly knew. I did not (!) verbalize that to the mom or to my kids. Thank you for reading & for taking the time to comment!

  8. Nikki Sughrue December 29, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Thank you for this…my kiddo is only two but I’ve seriously already started worrying about play dates and sleep overs and your speech is a perfect way to say “These are things that are important to me” when inviting someone’s kid into YOUR house. And yeah, i won’t even think twice about saying “Nope”

    • Melissa H January 8, 2015 at 9:25 am #

      Nikki, So sorry for the delayed reply here! Thank you for reading & commenting. We do have to know the things that are important to us, right? And, then, stick to our guns. It can be lonely, though, so I appreciate you “getting me” in this regard.

  9. Nichole December 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    To ve completely honest, I will allow sleep overs. The thing i will always do first is get to know the parents and or siblings first. If i get a weird vibe i will NOT hesitate to say no. I will let thwm know what i condone and what i do not. We have guns in this house. They are locked up tight ALWAYS. Like you said make it known what you feel is onayy and what is not. But right now my daughter is 2 years old. I don’t have to worry right now. But i will ALWAYS make sure i know the family. Like for example i would allow my daughter to spend the night with my best friend and her daughters. Because i know her and her family.

    • Melissa H January 8, 2015 at 9:26 am #

      Nichole, You nailed it. The “weird vibe” is what I’m talking about! If my “Mommy Spidey Senses” start tingling, that’s it. End of discussion! Thank you for reading!

  10. K July 28, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    Most Chinese parents do not ever ever allow sleepovers.

    I only have a son but if I had a daughter and IF I were to have a sleepover, i would make sure the boy and Dad go on an overnight trip during the sleepover.

  11. K July 28, 2017 at 9:00 am #

    Or another solution would be to have a mom
    and child sleepover.

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