Sleepovers: What’s A Parent To Do?

Lesley-IwinskiIt was the first Friday of the first week of kindergarten, and one of my daughter’s new classmates was having a sleepover. What!?!?

Sleepovers can be a hot-button issue with parents coming down hard on either side of the divide.

“They have to grow up some time! Sheltering them will only make them weak!” and “I’ve read too much about inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse to ever let my child spend the night with anyone!”

So, what is a parent to do?

Use common sense, trust your values and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I think is a reasonable age to have friends sleep over at my house?
  • Is my child ready emotionally and physically to spend the night away from home?
  • Can she go for the party and then return home later in the evening?
  • Am I setting a precedent with my older child that I am willing to continue?
  • Do I know and trust the parents?
  • Will the parents be home the entire night?
  • Are there older siblings? If so, do I know and trust them?
  • Are there firearms in the house?
  • What are the benefits/liabilities of a sleepover at this friend’s house?
  • Is Internet access monitored at the house?
  • How often are sleepovers permitted?
  • Is there a security system?

If the answers are acceptable to you and you trust your child, you are ready to talk to her about your expectations.

Make an agreement that if she feels uncomfortable or wants to leave at any time, she will call you, no matter what time it is. Have a code word if she wants.

Finally, be vigilant. Check up on them (without being obvious, of course). Verify that your trust is well placed.

When infractions occur, deal with them calmly and allow it to be a learning opportunity for both of you.

Trust yourself. You have your child’s best interests at heart.