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.