Why We Allow The Sleepover
The Sleepover, that age old issue that drives many a parent of tween and teen girls to despair.
Your child invites over her best friend for a play date they are happily playing together pretty much most of the day. You start to dread pick up time, because you know you are going to be bombarded with the question “Mum can we have a sleepover”?
You then stutter and stammer trying to think up any excuse, while 2 pairs of wide eyes eagerly wait your answer, as they jump up and down on the spot.
Why does every play date for a 10-16 year old have to end up with a sleepover?
The problem I have in my house are the ages of my girls.
My younger two girls have watched their older sisters have slumber parties with all their friends, watched them have their “besties” over frequently for the sleepover and obviously now they want to follow suit.
Miss T, who is nearly 11 has just started getting into the whole sleepover thing. We can no longer invite a friend over to play, without the whole sleepover question raising its head at least a few times during the day, often in front of the friend and often putting me on the spot.
I know a lot of parents don’t like the idea of their kids sleeping at other peoples homes.
Author James Dobson in his book Raising Girls states the following:
“Sadly, the world has changed in the last few decades, and it is no longer a safe place for children. Pedophiles and child molesters are more pervasive than ever. That is why parents must be diligent to protect their kids every hour of the day and night.”
“The threat can come from anywhere—including neighbors, uncles, stepfathers, grandfathers, Sunday school teachers, coaches, music instructors, Scout leaders, and babysitters. Even public bathrooms can be dangerous today…”
Hell I’m never going to let my girls out of my sight again!!
While he has a valid point, are we setting up our own children to fail?
If we surround our kids in cotton wool every moment of every day, how can we expect them to be able to make rational decisions in regard to their own safety?
Where do we draw the line?
It is said that most cases of child mollestation occur from within the child’s own family home, or indeed at the hands of relative or close family friend.
Are we being a bit neurotic thinking that evil is lurking around every corner, or is it indeed just doing that, waiting for its opportunity to strike.
If we don’t allow our children to do sleepovers, do we allow them to do the following?
- School camps
- Walk to school alone
- Go to a friends house for play date
- Scouts or Guides
- Play sport
- Holiday camps
It is said that we need to bring up our kids to have resilience and to arm them with the tools and knowledge to navigate certain life situations.
The problem is, by omitting the sleepover from the risks of potential hazards your child may face, is this creating a false sense of security for you as a parent?
Yes you may have minimised one risk, but there are plenty more out there to contend with and to take it’s place.
So unless you confine your child to the home, limit who they come into contact with, forbid any extra curricular activity and limit their social lives, you are never going to eliminate the risk completely, especially as they grow into teens and your control starts to wane.
So what’s the answer?
How To Keep Your Kids Safe at a Sleepover?
- Arm your child with the knowledge and the confidence to speak or shout out if they find themselves in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared.
- Only let your child attend sleepovers where you know the other parents well. My daughters only have sleepovers with kids that they have been friends with for years. I have also known their parents for years and in some cases we are quite good friends also.
- Teach them to say “no”! There are certain movies you allow your kids to watch. If the host child pulls out a movie that they know you wouldn’t allow them watch, you want them confident enough to say so.
- If you feel uncomfortable with them going to their friends house, maybe have the sleepover at your place. That way they still get all the fun, but under your watchful eye.
- Make sure you let your child know that it is OK if they want to call you before they go to sleep. Advise the other parent that they may want to do this also. Keep a spare pre paid mobile, for family use that they can take with them. It may give you peace of mind that they can contact you at any time, without asking the other parent for permission first.
- Be prepared to leave at a moments notice to pick up your child if necessary. If they ring you to come and get them, they are going to want you there as soon as possible.
So while we allow our girls to attend sleepovers, we don’t allow them to have sleepovers with just anybody.
There are ways to let them experience the fun of a sleepover that every girl seems to love, the makeovers, the popcorn and movies, the gossiping, the dancing and loud music, and yes the giggling to all hours. While endeavouring to make it as safe as possible.
You are never going to eliminate all risks from their lives but you can help,to minimise it to a certain degree .
This parenting gig is hard…..