Friday, September 10, 2010

FF: Sleepovers

Happy Friday!

We're opening up the Friday Forum to discuss sleepovers. It seems like sleepovers can be a bit of a polarizing issue in parenthood - some parents don't see the harm in allowing them, others feel pretty strongly that they're not a good idea. We (Em & co.) happen to fall more toward the "not such a good idea" end of the spectrum, (we're aware that this will be hugely unpopular with the 11-14 year old crowd.) We've already been confronted with some of the delicacies of the issue and our oldest just started kinder.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this...

Will you/do you allow sleepovers? Why/why not?
Please share any experience you've had surrounding this issue - from your own life, as a parent who is currently dealing with it, or looking back at this aspect of parenthood in retrospect.

I'll probably pop in on the comment thread to give more of my reasoning behind our No Sleepover stance :)


emily said...

(wow to be first you have to be up at 1am pacific time)
I am a 'no sleepover - except with family' mom ... and even then i have my reservations - but i feel that i am justified in being the mom on this one. i feel that as the mom i am inspired/blessed/guided to know what is best for my kids and how to best avoid danger. not that i feel that sleepovers are dangerous (in fact i whined enough as a teenager that my mom gave in and let me go to a few sleepovers)... i just feel that temptation/satan is real and that geting out of harms way is the best way to insure safety.
our best alternative (and has worked already with my not quite 10 yr old and 8 yr old) is late-overs. they go (or more often kids come here) and we have popcorn, watch a movie, play, eat candy, paint nails, run around, laugh and have a great time until 10ish and then everyone heads to their respective bed in their own home and we have effectively had all the fun of a sleepover without the actual 'sleep' part.

i'm excited to read what all the rest of the moms have to say about this subject!!

Sally said...

My husband and I really don't have any problems with sleepovers as long as it is someone we know really well. With that being said, we don't allow them very often. I've talked to a lot of parents who do the late night thing instead and the kids seem OK with it, so that may be what we end up doing eventually too.

Jonesy said...

I started letting my girls do them at 8, but ONLY with people we know WELL.
That being said, a good friend of mine discovered a couple of years ago that her 8 y.o. daughter was being molested by her 14 y.o. cousin at their family get-togethers at their cabin.
It's hard to walk that thin line between letting your kids have all those fun experiences in life, and keeping them safe and protected from every little (and big) thing. For us, it's going to be a situation-by-situation decision, but I'm not going to ban them altogether.

jeanine said...

My 5 year old has been invited to quite a number of sleep overs. For some reason I haven't felt good about letting him go... so I listened to my instinct and didn't. I let him go to the first one until 10:00 and then picked him up. He was NOT happy with me. I haven't decided to ban them altogether but these were all invites from kids at school who I didn't know very well (or at all).

I think as he gets older and has better judgment and knows right from wrong my opinion may change. I just feel, at 5, he is way too young for sleepovers (unless it's at Grandma's).

My husband and I both were allowed sleepovers as children and never had issues... although I remember feeling uncomfortable sometimes and would fake a headache so my mom would come get me.

The Alexanders said...

I think the time of sleep-overs has passed. Although I had tons of sleep-overs as a kid and teenager, I think the world was a slightly different place then. My daughters are too young to have been confronted with this issue yet, but if it's not Grandma's or a close aunt (I wouldn't even feel comfortable with some family), then it's probably not going to happen. If it's a rule from the beginning, they'll probably be less likely to be upset about it. Why take a chance in today's world? In my opinion, a sleep-over is not worth something that could change your child's life forever. Why risk it? We have to protect them. That's my opinion anyway! :)

Abbie said...

We're going to be a no sleepover family. I know what I did on sleepovers and it was never good, wholesome stuff - we were mean and naughty. And I've heard horrible stories about sexual abuse. I'm not one to make a decision based on fear, but it scares me big time. And there are great alternatives like late-overs (friends stay until 11 and 12). I may sound like a grandma saying this, but I think we have to be extra careful these days - there is some scary stuff out there.

Also, sleepovers aren't big where we live. No one has room for an extra child to sleep at their apartment:)

Amy Jean said...

I agree with most everyone. For both reasons mentioned: abuse and stupid stuff that happens. My husband is not as strict, and we'll probably take it as a case by case thing, and rely on revelation.

Mandi said...

We're on the "NO" route as well. I don't remember anything good ever happening at sleepovers. They're just opportunities to get in trouble. Plus, you get some seriously grouchy kids to come back home the next morning.

Mrs. Small House said...

We're no sleepover family as well. I went to a lot as a kid and they were with people my parents knew well but there was still a lot of bad stuff going on. My son thinks I'm just mean, I'll have to show him these comments :)

Jesslyn said...

I grew up with sleepovers being a near constant activity. Certainly every birthday party!! And then you reach adulthood and learn of the horrors that can be associated with them and you think, "Huh? Where was that happening??" It's a different world than the 70's and 80's. Our oldest is only 3 so we're not quite there yet. We know first hand that serious problems can result, even amongst family members, so we've decided to be a no sleepover family unless something really major changes our minds. I have much less problem having them in my home. But there's still a giant question mark hanging over it. I'd LIKE my girls to have the fun that I had but there's no denying it's a different world.

Melissa said...

We are in the middle. I had set an age of 12 in my mind, but at 10 my daughter was invited to sleep at her very best friend's house. I felt okay about it, but was going to pick her up at midnight. She called and said she was okay, so we gave it a shot and she did great. My worry was that she wouldn't be okay being away from home, but because we trusted the family and she was comfortable, it worked well. Her 10th birthday party was a sleepover with her very best friends.

I evaluate each sleepover as they come. We don't have a blanket rule. There are some where I would not feel comfortable (where I don't know the parents), and there are some that will effect activities the next day (the girls stay up way late), and there are some I say no to because I've been ambushed and am being pressured to make a decision by my daughter or her friends. I am a planner, so I have to have time to think. :) I try to listen to the spirit and go with that. And as much as possible, I offer my house so I can keep an eye on things. :)

With the same daughter, and now with our 8-year-old, we have done "sleep unders" which is the same idea as the "late over". All the sleepover activities, but everyone goes home at 11:00 p.m.

I am giving all this a second thought as I read about those of you who attended sleepovers with mischief. I didn't attend many, and was always such a rule follower that it makes me more of a naive mom. I really like hearing all the perspectives. So far we only sleepover where there is a really hands-on, present parent. I'll have to watch that as my girls get older.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have decided to not host sleepovers and also not allow our children to go to them.

We're ok with having them go and stay until 10 or 11, then come home.

This decision comes from our own experiences as children. My husband's first exposure at a tender age to pornography happened at a sleepover. Sexual things between girls happened at mine. We also have a family member that took advantage of girls sleeping over at his home to gratify his sexual urges.

And yes, all these things happened in "good" Mormon homes. Don't fall into the trap of thinking just because it's a good Mormon family that it's OK to leave your children there. Things aren't always as they seem...

Molly said...

My husband and I disagree a bit on this subject. I enjoyed sleepovers as a kid, and it's hard to say my kids have to miss out on them altogether. My husband is of the opinion of absolutely no sleepovers. My oldest daughter is 10, and it is hard for her, since many of her friends are allowed to. I agree though, that the "late-overs" are a nice compromise.
It's good to see that we're not the only parents who won't be allowing them, though!

Rachel Mae said...

Wow--with a two-year-old, I've never even thought about this before. I slept over a lot as a kid but always with the same family, our very best family friends and it was always fine. I would be more worried about what teenagers are doing at a sleepover . . . anyway, thanks for bringing the topic up. Something to contemplate before I have to make a decision!

Bloom said...

As far as small children are concerned, my boys have had lots of sleepovers at grandmas' and aunts' houses, and that has been great for their relationships with them, and I think also positive for their autonomy and ability to be happy without mama. Obviously, as mentioned in several comments, you have to be very cautious about where you let your children stay--even with family.

As far as my own experiences, I'd like to say this:
I think there is a HUUUUUUUGE difference between a sleepover at your best friend's house--just you and her--and a giant birthday sleepover with anywhere from 3-20 girls. Any time I slept over with a dear friend, everything was calm, I was assimilated into family life--dinner, dishes, bedtime routine, etc., and we went to bed at a reasonable time. And I still have really wonderful memories of all of those sleepovers with my best friend and her family. They were a big part of my life. But, pretty much any large group sleepover I went to resulted in no sleep (=grumpy Saturday), exposure to mature/inappropriate conversation topics, viewing of super scary/inappropriate movies (whose mom was letting 12 year-olds watch Stephen King and why wasn't I brave enough to call my mom to pick me up???!!!), playing stupid, ridiculous games like 'light as a feather, stiff as a board,' etc. So, just using my experiences as a guide, I can see myself with older children allowing a small one-on-one best friend sleepover with a situation and parent I found extremely trustworthy, but shying away from large group things. Mob mentality is never good!


The Parkers said...

The only sleepovers I ever had growing up were with my two best friends at their houses or at mine and the occasional birthday party. For me, the sleepovers with my best friends were so harmless and casual...we even had them on school nights when we did homework and big projects together in high school. It was just two or three of us and so innocent and some of my best memories growing up, but I know times have changed and I am aware of the dangers of usual sleepovers. I would agree that most sleepovers are not a good idea these days and that the new concept of late-overs is probably going to replace them. With that said, I think as my children get much older we will probably allow the occasional friend to spend the night or vice versa, but it will definitely be on a case-by-case basis and only with friends/families we know and trust. The kind of people that I would trust to watch my children if I were in the hospital with a new baby or out of town emergency or basically friends that are as close as family to us. All other sleepover situations will probably be a late-over. But something else to keep in mind is that just as much naughty stuff can happen in the after school hours at friends houses when their parents aren't home from work yet. I've seen much worse stuff happen then than at night. ALWAYS have your kids come to your house if their parents aren't home. Thanks for all the good comments on here.

joyfulmama said...

A dear friend of mine had the oporutnity to talk with a police officer whose assignment is to investigate child pornography. She asked him what would be the best way to protect children from this, and he said "Never let them have sleepovers." We were already leaning towards a "no sleepover" rule, and that clinched it for us. Only "late overs" for my guys.

The Parkers said...

Yes, Anne, you posted your comment while I was typing mine and I just read it and completely agree. That is basically what I was trying to say. The small best friend sleepovers are sooo different than the large crazy ones with all these random people over. So thank you for writing that point so well. I have the exact same opinion on the topic as you do. Thanks for the comment.

Linds said...

When I was young and my father was a Bishop for our church we held a family meeting. He explained that already in his short tenure as a Bishop that he had a number of children and adults come to him to confess HORRIBLE things that had happened at sleepovers. He was completely shaken by it. As a family we decided not to do sleepovers (except for specifc activities like girls camp, etc.). I've set the same rule for my family. My husband completely disagrees with me but I'm putting my foot down and overruling him. I guess I get to be the bad guy on this one.

Robin said...

Hello everyone!
What is it that people feel is unsafe about sleep overs, what are these `serious problems that can arise`
I am asking because I want to be aware, not because I want to dispute.

Kari said...

I wonder if there is any difference between girls and boys. Do you know what I mean?

Michelle said...

I will not allow sleepovers. Mainly for all the reasons stated previously, but also, what of you or your spouse was falsely accused of something as well. It is better to be safe than sorry....

Anonymous said...

Another reason to say no to sleepovers when children are young, is so when they are teenagers they already know the answer to the 'sleepover question'.

When I was a teenager, the only reason my friends and I asked for sleepovers, was because we were too drunk to go home. An easy way to hide drinking from our parents!

Obviously something not every parent is going to have to deal with, but something to be aware of none the less.

amanda jane said...

we are big fans of the late over. recently I even heard of a scenario where the kids get together for breakfast the next morning. I love the idea of keeping my kids under exposed to all those possibly tainted variables.

Anonymous said...

I say sleepovers are not such a good idea. A number of people have said, "It's okay only if it is just a best friend/one on one basis" or "we know the family really well."
Sexual abuse (in all it's varying forms) occurs MORE with family and close friends than strangers. So it's interesting to me that people are casual about that. I think in a lot of cases people are ignorant to it b/c they haven't had bad experiences of their own so they're okay with it.
Additionally, you may know and trust the mother/father and other children in the home where you are allowing your child...but have you thought about the 14 year old buddy that is staying the night with the older brother that same night as your child? Do you know him? Do you know the Uncle that is staying the weekend at their home?
I know I sound paranoid but I speak from experience that 90% of all sleepovers that I participated in led to a variety of scary things. Some more severe than others.
It is NOT worth risking. There is nothing wrong with telling your children "no." It is SO much better to be safe (and maybe even bordering paranoid) than sorry. You can participate in all the fun till 11 or 12 and then come home and be safe in your own bed, in your own home.
Do my children spend the night at my mothers house? Absolutely. My mother in law? Sure. Grandmas house? Of course. But that is it. The risk is too high. The stories I hear from others and my personal experiences solidify my own and my husband's opinion that our children and their innocence is worth far more than the hype of a sleepover.

Anonymous said...

This has been so interesting to read, especially with a starting post that includes the statement that satan is real. My daughter is only 16 months, so we are not facing this issue. But I will not rule out sleepover categorically. It will be a case by case basis. Sleepovers can be a very fun and special experience. I remember watching SNL and eating Cool Ranch Doritos with my two friends. I have to say that I am kind of surprised at how anti-sleepover people are. I like the idea of sleep under or stay later - that seems like a good compromise.

Rae. said...

I think this is GREAT topic! It's one my husband and I have already been discussing.

I hate to be a blanket rule kind of person...I'm honestly not that way in many departments, but in the sleepover department I think we are going for the "no sleepover" rule starting now, while our kids are young simply so we'll establish the habit now.
I'd rather be have this argument now with my 4 year old than my 15 year old someday.
I have family members that have been victims to sexual misconduct/abuse. And in their cases, it was trusted family members/ best friends causing the abuse (The most common form of sexual abuse by the way).
So I recognize that I might be overly paranoid because of these personal stories. But none-the-less, I figure if my child is going to ever be threatened by such evil, the chances increase as I allow sleepovers than if I didn't. I realize you can apply that same logic to warp almost any situation (they'll never get in a car accident if they never get in a car either, you going to ban cars while you're at it?!)...but my gut consistently tells me to avoid sleepovers.
For the most part, every inappropriate movie, every teenage misdeed, every late night inappropriate conversation over the phone with boys, etc. came from my sleepover experiences. There were some great memories too, but to pick and choose everything on a case by case basis is going to mean battle after battle with my child.

Grandparents house is the only exception. For now. I hope I'm doing what's right. You never want to rob your child of opportunity.

Plus, it just feels good getting each of your children under the same roof every night. Go out into the world and have fun until late at your friend's house, but rest your sweet head at home!


Thanks for the thoughts!


Joy @ Light Bulbs said...

No. No. No. Not my kids. I had too many bad experiences when I was young that I don't want my daughter to have. I will let her stay till bed time then I will be more then happy to pick her up so she can sleep in her own bed. After all she will be well rested and happy. If she stayed that isn't going to happen.

Anonymous said...

I am going to be on the no sleep over side as well with my children. I think it is interesting that some feel that it is ok with just a best friend because when I was a teenager and "spending the night at my very best friend's house" I was really at my boyfriend's house. My parents never ever found out, not even to this day, because my friend and I were with each other all the time so I think my parents thought they didn't have anything to worry about me being at "her house".

Anonymous said...

To speak from experience, go with your motherly intuition. You never know what is going on in those "trusted" family/friend's homes. They might not even know what is going on in their own home. Sexual abuse between siblings went on in my home, nobody knew our "perfect family" had this secret. My parents did not even know.
Not that any friends were ever at risk to this but it still was happening.
I had great experiences with sleep overs but those 1 or 2 where my friend taught me to play dr or what have you are not worth the positive experiences.
Go with your gut or if you have too many kids to be able to feel your gut for what is right, just say no, better to be safe than sorry.

Anonymous said...

uggh. How sad is that? I want to protect my kids! We've always said no to friend sleepovers. Reading these posts makes me think we should say no to all family. But I think I'll have to rely on the spirit for the family decision case by case.

Bloom said...

Maybe some of my hesitation about sleepovers stems from a residual uneasiness about them from my own childhood - I got homesick every single time I tried to spend the night away from home. At 5:30 in the afternoon when my friend and I were planning the sleepover, it sounded like a good idea, but by 11 o'clock at night when we were settling into bed, I hated it and just wanted to be home.

I agree with many of the things that have been said in this thread. Mostly though, it is just my maternal intuition that tells me that sleepovers are not a good idea for our family. So we won't do them.

And I really liked what Rae said about a blanket rule - I'm not often inclined to make a rule, but in this case it seems easier to make a rule than to fight the battle time after time, after time.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.


Rachael said...

Wow, it's been very interesting to read all of these!

A few thoughts:
1) Anyone I know who works in law enforcement does not let their children spend the night away from home.

2) We have switched overnight babysitting with our closest friends twice.

3) I had a lot of sleepovers with my close friends in middle school. However, my parents probably only let me stay 50% of the time that the other 3 girls were having a sleepover; eventually all their shared extra time together meant that I was the outsider, and it was completely awful being with my so-called "best friends" for about a year before my family (fortunately) moved to another state.

4) As a general rule, my husband and I are planning to do the late-overs...that way our kids still get time with their friends (avoiding #3), but hopefully we'll be able to avoid all of the horror stories we've heard (#1).

Anonymous said...

I am commenting as an older mom. My kids are all in their 20's and 30's now. Even back when I was raising my kids I didn't like sleepovers. I said no to most of them, even the cousin ones. My children all grew up to be normal, well adjusted, non-deprived adults. They had plenty of friends. They had their full share of fun experiences. There are no lasting effects from not getting to sleep over away from home.

So, I'm just saying to all you young moms: Don't be afraid to listen to your heart. You don't have to explain it, or justify it. If you want to be the one making sure your child has a safe sleep at night, in your own home, just don't let anyone talk you out of that. Don't be afraid to set rules. Don't be afraid to be "the only Mom who thinks this way".

sarahandmatt said...

I'm a no sleepover mom. I was raised that way and the few times I whined enough to be allowed, I ended up calling my parents to come get me at 11pm. I have offered to let my daughter take her pjs and call me when she's ready to go to bed. So far, she hasn't done any sleepovers. Even the few sleepovers I went to as a kid have taught me how easy it is to get into trouble when you get a bunch of kids together with little parental supervision for a whole night! Parents gotta sleep sometime.

Valerie said...

It's sad that something I really enjoyed as a child is now something I really don't want my children to partake in. Even though "most" of my experiences were fun and memorable, there were a few that were uncomfortable and I couldn't' wait to go home. After reading all the comments and the majority being NO on sleepovers, I really think it's clear that the sleepovers are just not a good idea. We have tons of comments from people saying their personal experiences were not good, and to not do them! That is enough for me to just be a NO sleepover mom and to have late overs. My job as a mother is to protect my children as best as I can and if that means being the mean mom, so be it. I don't want to put my children in a situation where something bad happens to them that they aren't old enough to understand or to know how to get out of or feel trapped. I know as parents we can't protect them from everything...but avoiding possible "bad" situations is at least the best way I can protect them. I have learned that no matter how much you want to, you usually don't know or can trust people. Sometimes that even means family. sad but true :(

Anonymous said...

I’m 40 years old and I still have sleep over’s- our guest room is used often. My kids’ friends are welcome to spend the night as well.

Banning sleep over’s does not protect anyone from anything- its lack of supervision that leads to problems like sexual abuse, inappropriate games and movies etc. Its just as dangerous to be inattentive to what your kids are doing at 2 pm as at 2 am. Conversely, my kids and their friends will be just as safe at 2 am because I will know what they are doing, feeling, talking about etc.

Tricia said...

I only have a 15 month old, so I haven't had to deal with this issue yet, but I do have a question. If you and your husband want to take a vacation without the kiddos what do you do? Only have grandma babysit? What if grandma works? Having grandma babysit for a whole week is quite the chore for her.