From the age of six both my daughters have been receiving invitations for sleepover parties. With the kids being older, sleepover requests are still streaming in. Our stance on this is – we simply do not allow sleepovers at friends.
Before I continue, sleepover exceptions include staying over at their grandparents and cousins, go on school camps and for the first time this year my eldest daughter went to a one-night group sleepover at school. As for the group sleepover at school; our kids attend an all girls school and the sleepover is a social event organised for a specific grade. Well supervised by female teachers, they have a programme of activities lined up for the girls and they all sleep in the school hall that is secured.
As for other sleepovers at friends – we have a “no sleepover” policy. Yip we are the uncool parents who don’t allow this. And we will not succumb to parental peer pressure because other parents are allowing it and therefore we should too. Surprisingly many parents that I’ve spoken to feel exactly the same way.
I know that there are people who feel differently – and that’s ok. Each to their own.
As a child, my parents did not allow me to sleepover other than at my grandparents. Friends invited me on numerous occasions for sleepovers but my parents stuck to the rule. It frustrated me that I was the only one out of the circle of friends who were not allowed to sleepover.
When I started university my parents started slacking the rope. At 19, I could go clubbing but had a strict curfew. Often my dad would drop and pick me up at the club. They changed the rule on sleepovers; allowing me to only stay over at friends whose parents they knew. What my parents weren’t aware of was that these friends’ parents didn’t always know our whereabouts. At times I felt uncomfortable with where we went and who we went with.
Of course I never told my parents this but it opened my eyes to many things. And yes at 19, I was so to say an adult and could navigate my way out of unpleasant situations. And there were times that my safety was compromised. But I could make choices based on my gut feeling and whether I felt comfortable with a situation or not. If not I would opt out from going or sleeping over.
Now that I am a parent, I totally understand my parents reasoning for not allowing sleepovers.
The benefits of sleepovers are often highlighted. Spending a night at a friend’s house can be fun, memorable, it can help with development, enhances self-esteem, it strengthens relationships and they experience how other families live. But surely all these things can also be experienced without having a sleepover.
Plus so far it hasn’t been an issue for our daughters.
So here is what our no sleepover policy is based on.
We know you but we don’t know enough about you
We know our daughters’ friends and their parents fairly well. I mean we don’t frequent their homes and know their business. So there is that underlying difference of knowing someone vs knowing enough about someone. And that is what matters the most. The thing is if I don’t know your values, beliefs, your behaviour in your own home, your social boundaries, who else stays at your house and who else will have contact with my kids when they sleepover; then it makes me a bit uncomfortable. I know that keeping the lines of communication open is important but asking these questions to some parents might be offensive.
We will not make a judgement for one and change it for another. Even if we know the parents exceptionally well, sleepovers at friends is still a no-no. And therefore it makes it easier to have a no sleepover policy instead of allowing sleepovers at some friends and not at others. We don’t have double standards and therefore we also don’t allow friends to have sleepovers at our house.
When kids have friends over parents tend to slack the rules a bit. Leaving them to do their own thing without checking up on them. Other parents might not have the same view points on having strict limitations to screen time, social media and the internet. For one I know that my daughters are sensitive viewers and anything scary will disrupt their sleeping pattern and result in bad dreams.
Although we continue to teach our daughters about safety, inappropriate adult behaviour and what to do if they feel uncomfortable. There is no disputing the fact that bad things can happen during day time play dates but when children sleep, it is easier to overpower them. The point is, when they are not under our roof and not sleeping in their own beds; we basically have no control over their safety. Yes we can tell them to kick and scream but where do they run to in the middle of the night. Our job as parents are to keep our daughters safe.
We allow our kids their freedom and don’t want them to miss out on opportunities. So if invitations for sleepovers arrive; we usually inform the parents that they can have a sleep under or late night. This still gives them the benefit of going in their pj’s, have all the fun they can but at a certain time we will fetch them.
Bottom line is, we not out to see the risk and dangers of sleepovers. In most cases it is pretty harmless fun. We want our kids to grow up and be independent and make sound decisions. Who knows in a couple of years when they much older and can make their own judgments perhaps we would consider otherwise. For now we have peace of mind knowing that our daughters are sleeping in their own beds.
What are your views on sleepovers? Please let me know. Also note that this is our stance, you might think differently. Everyone has a different parenting style and that should be respected.