Our family has decided to avoid sleepovers. Before you start reading (which I hope you will do before commenting), let me start by saying that this is what we, after much prayer and consideration, have decided as a family. This is what works best for us. This is our rule for our family. This is in no way a judgment on others who do something different. We are just families that handle things differently. I recently re-read another post that was written last year about this topic. I have mulled over sharing this before and have decided it is time for me to share my own experiences.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on…to the 3 reasons why our family avoids sleepovers.
By Will Odom, Contributing Writer (and Erin’s hubby!)
When we were young parents with a newborn, a godly woman, whom I respect greatly, gave us some advice that Erin and I took to heart and discussed at length.
She was the preschool director at our former church and demonstrated immense love and caring for families with young children.
Everyone needs someone like her in their lives, and we are truly blessed that God crossed our paths.
One day while sitting in her kitchen, she shared, with compassion in her voice, one of her biggest regrets as a parent: letting her kids spend the night with other children.
I immediately had flashbacks to my own childhood and the numerous sleepovers that I had been a part of.
I also instantly knew why that was her regret.
As a parent, I am charged with protecting my children, whatever that may look like. It is often difficult to find a balance between letting them explore or develop and keeping them safe.
Check it out here for yourself and discover all the great features and how it an help your family as one tool in your tool belt.
I want them to climb trees and ride their bikes with no hands. I want them to take risks and have fun doing so. I don’t want to raise fearful children that live in a bubble, but I do want them to be cautious and be prepared.
I want to protect them from things that can hurt them physically, mentally or emotionally.
I strongly believe that is my God-given responsibility as a parent. That looks different for different families, but based on my experiences and those of my wife, we determined that no sleepovers is one step we will take to protect our daughters.
There are really 3 parts to why our family avoids sleepovers for now:
1. Personal Experience
The reason I instantly knew of my friend’s regret is because I had experienced what can happen when children are unsupervised in someone else’s home.
While many kids go to sleepovers that are not a problem, it only takes one incident to ruin a child’s innocence. That was the case for me.
I have never shared this publicly and really very few people know about my experiences, but if sharing my own pain will encourage someone to be more cautious, I am willing to share.
As a preteen boy, I was first exposed to graphic pornography while spending the night with the son of a family friend.
They had a satellite dish (a big deal since we lived out in the country and didn’t even have cable), and he knew which channel showed the graphic scenes. When his parents went to bed, he would turn it on and watch it. He also knew where the magazines were kept.
He was older than me, so I didn’t want to seem like a “baby,” but part of me knew it was wrong and that we shouldn’t have been watching it. I was ill-prepared for dealing with the situation.
It was also during those times that other, more personal circumstances unfolded.
I was taken advantage of by my friend a few times and asked to do things that no kid should have to do. A couple of times, someone else was also involved.
I don’t want to go into details because some things are better left unsaid and glorify the Enemy, but I have dealt with the scars of those interactions well into my adulthood.
Because I had never been taught how to handle the situation, I’m not sure I even realized what was really happening at the moment.
I was embarrassed and confused and didn’t know what to do or who to tell. This would affect me for years to come.
As time went on, that stopped, but other sleepovers would still introduce me to things that I was not ready to handle.
In addition, though my wife (Erin) was never molested physically, she was exposed to other issues at sleepovers.*
Again, I know that not all sleepovers end as poorly as some of mine did, and I had sleepovers that were harmless and fun. However, if there is a chance that something could go wrong, it is not one that I am willing to take, so this is why our family avoids sleepovers.
2. Technology: Now vs Then
Many people say that things are worse now than when they were growing up. I am not sure that I agree with that.
It’s not really a now vs. then battle. These types of things have been happening for quite some time.
I believe the issue is that many accepted what happened, were scared to say anything, or didn’t know how to talk to anyone. As such, these situations went unreported.
However, on a certain level, I do believe it is worse for one reason: technology.
While TV and magazines have been available for a long time, the Internet and smart phones have made things so much more available and accessible.
While I can’t always control technology, I can teach my children how to use it responsibly. That way, when someone tries to show them something at school or they are tempted themselves, hopefully they will return to that teaching.
I pray that when that day comes (and it will most definitely come) that God will direct them back to the values my wife and I have tried to instill in them, and they will make a Christ-centered decision.
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I have just found that sleepovers tend to leave children vulnerable and put them in situations that perhaps they are not ready to deal with when it comes to technology and being exposed to things their little eyes should not see.
As they get older, we have discussed how this might change, but as for now when they are little, our family avoids sleepovers.
Some would say that we are sheltering our children by not allowing them to participate in certain activities.
There are numerous other ways that I will foster my kids’ independence, let them explore, have adventures, etc., but this is not one of them.
Soldiers are not sent out into battle without preparation, training, guidance, and education. Why would I send my kids into a battle that they are not prepared to fight?
Yes, we will teach them how to deal with the situations and stand by their side as they go through life. We will instruct them in how to protect their boundaries.
We will teach them about sexuality and guide them as their bodies develop.
I want them to know what to do if something does happen and for them to be assured that they can always come to us.
The question has been asked if this works both ways.
Do we allow children to spend the night at our house? And the answer is no.
We do allow others kids to come over and play even if the parents don’t stay.
We take these precautions, so I am not alone with other people’s children so that there is not even the appearance of something.
I’m not so sure that anything good really happens at night anyway.
One of our favorite recommendations this year is the Pinwheel Smartphone for Kids. We were very hesitant about giving our oldest daughter a phone. Up until recently, we had said, “No!” for months, but that’s when we discovered Pinwheel.
Why not just have longer playdates or other activities during the day?
Anything that is worth doing can be done during the day.
We are extremely picky about whom our children can stay with. So far, it has only been with their grandparents.
While we don’t live in fear, we do what we can to protect our children. We do not want others to be fearful but to be wise.
Ultimately, our children are a gift from God, and we trust them to our faith in Him, but God has also entrusted them to us. And that is something that I take quite seriously.
We strongly believe that education and training your children is a key component to protecting them, so this is why our family avoids sleepovers for now.
Here are a few resources to help parents of younger children begin conversations with their children:
- It’s My Body
- I Said No
- The Right Touch
- No Trespassing-This is My Body!
- Sara Learns to Yell & Tell
- Samuel Learns to Yell & Tell
- God Made Me: Safe Touch Coloring Book
- The Swimsuit Lesson
- Do You Have a Secret
Check out the free mini-ecourse training on Talking to Kids about Sexuality from Intoxicated on Life.
Read my follow-up to this post, 4 Resources for Talking to Children About Safe Touch, for even more suggestions.
Do your children participate in sleepovers? If you avoid them, what are the reasons why your family avoids sleepovers?
Even though I was never molested or abused at a sleepover, I experienced my fair share of exposure to things and unedifying behavior that I would like to protect our girls from.
I never told my parents any of this when it was happening. So, although I was never abused, I was exposed to some very adult things at sleepovers. It’s also important to note that I always went to Christian schools. ALL of these sleepovers were at the homes of children from my Christian school or church. ALL of these sleepovers were at the homes of Christian families.
Read Will’s follow-up to this post by clicking on the image below:
I’m a mama bear. I barely let my 2 year old out of my site. But I think your fear of letting your children sleep over places could be fixed by one simple thing: educating and preparing them. Teach them to have boundaries and to stand by them.
But hey I just have a two year old and who knows I could change my mind down the road 🙂
Lauren, I do think that education and training are very important, but like Will said in the post. We don’t send soldiers into battle until they are trained and ready, so I don’t think children are ready to handle some of the situations at their age, even if they are being educated. An older child or adult can hold great power over a child, and their training may not have prepared them for all of it. They absolutely need to know how to protect their boundaries. I think that is an excellent point.
I totally agree with you, Erin. I’d like to add that things can progress faster than a child can process, to be able to say, “Wait, I need to leave and tell someone about this. This falls into the category of what mom said I should not be around.” In mere seconds, all that training is out the window because the child is not in control of the environment.
Sleep-overs give a mixed message of who is in control. The host family is given the control authority to the point that everyone can see each other in their PJs, brushing their teeth, laying in bed, sleeping, and it becomes a very relaxed situation. But when something suddenly goes wrong, will a child still be on guard enough to reclaim the authority not to obey or not be polite to the host family? Ugh, it creeps me out just thinking about it. I agree, I don’t think children are capable of it.
Secondly, as much as you think your child holds the same values you do, and is repulsed by the same things you are because you told them so, it doesn’t always hold up when under the pressure of being accepted by their friends.
I absolutely agree Kate. I love what you said about it progressing faster than they can process.
I appreciate this post and the comments. When you err on the side of caution, sleepovers are not a necessity or a luxury to be indulged in as a child. I admit that as an adult things can happen quicker than you are processing and that the issues of reclaiming authority or not wanting to be impolite can be sticky . Why allow a child to possibly face the same? I don’t see it as a matter of being overprotective but protecting appropriately.
I respectfully disagree, I am sorry for the both of your experiences, I raised 3 girls and now have our 11 year old son, I believe God uses people in different ways, if we are to be used then we have to allow God to work through our children as much as adults. Prayer works, I know from personal experiences and Faith goes a long way. If we as parents are doing our job in the home then we should be rest assured that with open communication with our children we will know whats going on and trust their judgement knowing we prepared them. Having said that strangers and just anyone are not permitted, and when a problem arises we discuss it. I would hope Zach our 11 year old would call any time of night to come get him if he felt uncomfortable for he knows he can. IE today’s technology, why he has a personal phone (not smart phone) just for such occasions, As a parent and how I always went about it with my girls is I always knew where they were and always talked personally in person with the parents where they were staying. If for any reason my gut (the Holy Spirit) told me something or felt uneasy then they did not stay. No of us are perfect and surely not our own children, we can only stay vigilant. I see more harm than good sheltering a child. We all leave home with baggage no matter what the perfect home life style is. I feel God knows best and see’s what we don’t and always revealed. For us Zach only sleeps over with those of our baseball team where all us parents are close and know each other very well so we are Blessed. But I personally cant go through life in fear and certainly can’t raise our children to be in fear, they must be allowed to grow and experience and Pray they share the gospel with those who are lost or be an influence on that child whom maybe in a troubled spot such as the example of porn in this article, our children must experience right and wrong and step up to do the right thing. Today if not always been, they learn and are exposed in our schools worse than maybe a sleep over. Even in our churches. A bubble does not do it for us. I know peer pressure can sometimes be difficult but here we teach our children to rise above, lead, be helpful, and chose your friends wisely then leave the rest to Prayer. Our children and the other parents always knew what we expected and our rules, many times we received calls from the other parent asking if a certain scenario was alright so communication and respect is very important. Just my thoughts
My mom called and knew the parents…. That didn’t change the fact my friends and I in middle school found there parents alcohol and got drunk??! Went to hang out with boys, where they did inappropriate things, etc. We would wait until the parents feel asleep! Never be over confident. There is a chance you really have no idea what is going on. I am 30 now and my mom still doesn’t know half of the things that went on starting in 5th grade.
Wow, Gretchen! That is exactly why we are so cautious in this area.
I agree… for me it was mostly being around unstable families that looked completely stable on the outside (and to my parents). But I knew better after staying over with them a lot… but as a young girl, I really didn’t understand what was going on.
I also had a bad experience during a sleepover where we simply stayed up too late, and the movie (very graphic showing male nudity and lots of sex scenes) came on “Lolita.” About a young girl having lots of sex with an older man…. It did affect me. I’m also close to 30 and have never told my parents, why make them feel guilty. But I’m definitely going to parent my kids differently.
I agree. My friends parents made us whiskey sours and we sat around the bar with them before leaving to run the neighborhoods at night. My mom knew where I was and knew the “nice” parents where I was staying. Thank God, the father was not a molester as well. Harsh, but frightening.
That is why you have to know the parents well and know their beliefs. I have only allowed my son to stay with my mom and one friend and the only reason he stayed with the one friend is bc of how well we know the parents. My kids don’t even go play at someone’s house unless I know the parents and know they don’t even have a casual drink
As the wife of a soldier, I can say it is wrong to send a soldier into the field without both software (training, practice, etc) and hardware (helmet, weapon, protective clothing, etc.) A soldier also needs orders! Shelter those dear children while you train and equip them for the real world, and prepare a good set of instructions before you let them go.
We really don’t go through life in fear or in a bubble either. They have plenty of opportunities to adventure and explore.Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Hey there. So just some quick mentions. Your children do not have to go to sleepovers to experience these things. I know families where they do not allow sleepovers but there kids have still been exposed, either at school or by sneaking out, or lying about other things just so they can escape the control. Just be weary of this and do not limit your children to where they feel rebellious. These terrible things that you experienced can so easily also happen during a daytime play session. You cannot shelter, you can only teach. Let them roam in a safe environment. The child will probably not understand why they can’t do what others can, and will tell other children this, which can lead to feeling left out or not good enough. All actions have an effect. Remember while you pray over these things. Yes, each family is different, but remember that just taking away one potential danger causes another. God bless.
My mother thought I was in the safest place in the world. Wrong! 1. Even with increased technology there is not time to call a parent when someone gets in the bed with you while you are sleeping. 2. There are tv shows/media I don’t want my children to see and am surprised when I find out people I thought had the same convictions actually watch things I find abhorrent. 3. Peer pressure is tough. I could go on and on. I am not saying sleepovers are wrong they just aren’t happening for my kiddos.
All the stuff you said is great, but you seem to be assuming that the parents who read this article have never considered your view. That is of course ridiculous, they have and have decided against it. The question becomes at what age is it ok? Would you send your 4 year old daughter over to a house to sleep over where older kids were around? Is she ready to LEAD at age 4 with her peers? Age 6? It’s not “wrong” to think as you do and I’m not condemning it by any means, but I just caution anyone from thinking that “their” view is the perfect one. We all know our kids best and make decisions based on our experiences. I had some terrible ones as an unsaved kid in a non christian family and friend circle. So at least now that we’re Christ centered in our family we have a great start, but assuming that sin is vanquished in all the families we know or in our own kids is a danger I’d rather not have come back to haunt my kids. So I would have to agree with Erin and Will.
I agree in the fact that education and training start at home. Open communication is key…teaching our children what is right and what is wrong and to tell someone. Bad experiences don’t just happen with sleepovers. I would be more frightened to send my child to school than I would a sleepover. Anything can happen anywhere. From my own experience, I can say that I was expose to more in school than I ever was at a sleepover. Let me also state that, my son was molested by a babysitter but he knew, even at the age of 3 yrs to “tell”, because that is how we trained him to do. We took action and he has grown into a fine young man, husband and father. I respect every persons decision to raise their children how they see fit…God trusted us to be their parents otherwise He wouldn’t have chosen us to be.
I think sleepovers are all apart of growing up. You have to prepare your children and provide the right resources. I was reading another parenting article and it was about having a family rule of not having secrets. Which I believe is a great rule so what happens at a sleepover doesn’t stay at a sleepover. I believe that sleepovers will come at a certain age and only when my children are ready. Even if something happens. Then they will learn from it.
Even if they get raped they will learn from it??? Wow just wow
Damon, Absolutely perfectly stated! Thank you!!
Looking back, being able to be one tiny night of comfort/stability to friends in a tough home- or being able to stick to my guns and keep them out of trouble for as many nights as I was there; wow, what a blessing that was for me! I can’t imagine not allowing my children that opportunity…
I love this article. It’s so funny to be a parent now having to make these decisions. I was take advantage of as a child by both older children, family members, and adults (non-related), both physically and otherwise. My husband wasn’t. I have to give him time to understand why I’m hesitant, but in the end, he would rather err on the side of caution. One person posted that a good parent will be in prayer over their children and have faith that they will be protected by God. In a perfect world, this would be plenty, but God has given us all (saved and unsaved) the ability to make our own choices and sometimes people’s children get caught in the crossfire. I had parents who loved me and prayed for me, especially my Mom, but things happened, unfortunately, and to be honest, a cell phone to call home AFTER it happened wouldn’t have been much comfort. I knew my parents would have certainly done anything to make that pain go away or even rewind time, but they couldn’t have, and no parent can. As a matter of fact, at that moment, I was filled with so much confusion and embarrassment that I wouldn’t have called if I had a way to do it. As parents, we should be there to pick up the pieces when our children are hurt, but we should FIRST avoid things that will shatter them in the first place. And for the people who are offended because you won’t allow your children to sleepover, just remember, We don’t owe our children to anyone.
I would have agreed with your post several years ago when my oldest son was 11 too. We have raised our son in a Godly home, we have taught him to stand up for himself, for his beliefs and for others, we have done everything that you mentioned we need to be doing as parents. However, the influences of the world are strong and it is amazing how suddenly they can get pulled into it. 3 years ago, I would have thought such sleepover limitations were silly, I now completely agree with them.
Damon, I completely agree with you. My children are getting older and the most important thing has been the open communication with them and REALLY knowing the people and situations you are leaving them with, then trust God to take care of them and keep them from anything/everything harmful. God protects or children more than we ever can so we should be trusting Him to do so. I am so sorry to ever hear of bad things happening to anyone and I know that guides them into what they decide for their own children, usually, but it really does come to knowing the people that are in your childrens’ lives. I also completely agree that God uses people in different ways and one way I know God uses my family is to have our home open to those who need us. We are not perfect, far from it, but we have been blessed to be able to help those around us and in turn help ourselves grow knowing that we need to be the influence God is using us to be. We just make it a point to really know the environment and the people we are sending our kids to or receiving kids from. For example, my son sought an opportunity to help a kid in need, who he knew was struggling with his family life. The kid was so upset he wanted to run away. I couldn’t let a kid do that when I knew that if nothing else we could help him. My son gave him my phone number and reassured him that no matter what, day or night, that if he needed someone we would be there. My son became friends to that boy, and my daughter to his sister. And when the mom got the courage to leave their father who had actually developed a mental illness and began putting the family in danger and abusing them, we also became great friends. The family has turned their lives to Christ and she has had battles with breast cancer and brain cancer. Her kids are always welcome in my home and we have had them stay over many nights, especially when she has had to go away for days at a time for treatment. I would never turn them away, or any child in need for that matter! And my kids have spent many nights there, making memories that they will cherish forever. I agree with the authors of this article that what works for some does not work others but I have experienced that all it really takes is getting to know people and trusting God. My family is so blessed in that my kids have become friends with some really great kids whose parents are also really great people. If we didn’t allow to have them get to know us and us to know them on a more personal level we wouldn’t have the relationships we do now and both parties would be missing out.
Basically, if you are not sure what kind of things your child will be subjected to, then you are right in not allowing them to be in certain situations, but don’t let it limit your ability to really get to know people because you and your children can be missing out on some pretty awesome opportunities God wants to be using you and them in.
I have also experienced first hand with my kids that they are exposed to more disgusting and harmful things at school then what they will ever be exposed to in their friends’ homes, but I know God is using them to take a stand for Him in their school, so I just try to teach them and prepare them for everything that comes their way.
Please be aware your children are not likely to ever tell you if something happened. Children often carry the shame and believe it is their fault, and that it is too late, and that they messed up. I never told.
Erin and Will,
I never had bad experiences while sleeping over. I slept over with one friend primarily and it was a good family and I was well-loved there by all of them. They were my sane family.
However, my son ended up in serious trouble at the age of 14 while sleeping over with friends – right next door to my house. He wasn’t molested but got involved in some legal stuff that would never have happened had I said no to the sleepover.
I respect you for making safe choices for your family. Children can play all day together, they don’t need late nights and the risk of horrific things happening by sleepovers.
Not a fan of your soldier metaphor. I am a soldier and have literally been sent to battle with very little training and equipment to fight those battles. It has at the end served me well because of the lessons I learned through experience, ingenuity, and creativity.
I agree with you 100%. I have 3 children and I don’t allow sleep overs with them going to someone’s home or other children sleeping over. I have never been on a sleep over before because I always like being with my parents and my sister’s. My sisters have went to stay with other friends “sleep over” and never complained about any problems. The only people that my children have spent the night with is my parents. I never want my children’s safety to be compromised, because I went against my better judgement. I like the tip about longer day time play dates.
Erin, this comes from a mom of grown children. I think you are right on the money. My husband and I made the same decision in the 90’s with our kids for all the reasons you mentioned and one more important one. For most families, Saturday is a family day…we found that if they had a sleepover on Friday, they were always tired and cranky Saturday. So we lost that opportunity to (happily) be together.
When I was young in the 60’s and 70’s, things WERE different. Moral issues were more constant from one family to another.” The rules” were basically the same everywhere. That is not the case now. Besides, what do they lose by not having sleepovers? If they never go, they’ll never miss it. Kids should be home at night when they are the most vulnerable.
I completely agree with this post. Sleepovers can be dangerous and you are wise to take precaution to protect your children. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter.
I just beleive by sheltering your children in a home where they can’t spend the night with their friends. At a certain age this could lead to your children feeling as if they were left out and cause them to act out as adults to makeup for what they were unable to do. There are many percautions you can take but God will put you through situations that may not be pleasent but he has reasons for these events.
We might re-consider once our children are old enough to protect themselves, but right now we feel we must do everything possible to protect them. My husband was severely damaged by what he experienced at a sleepover.
What about cousin’s sleeping over at another cousin house? Its family. Lol I’ve only had slept over my friends house twice because my mom is overprotective, I was in middle school. Other than that I hang out with my cousins, and they mostly sleepover. Just spending quality girls family time together. Especially since they’re my first cousins.
Thank you! Unfortunately my husband and I have both shared your experiences. We also deeply believe that family is home base and that a close family who ends the day together is of great benefit.
The culture has the idea that children should grow to be completely independent of family. I think the public school systems jump in and fill in the void left by a lack of close family. Either way, we are created for connection. Kids find their own way and independence on their own and a close family who supports and regroups together is only a benefit.
Wow! Thank you, I’m always the black sheep of family, and I’m the mom! I’m disagreed with by my parents, and my son’s father, I’ve been a single mom since my son was born, and I can’t tell you how nice and amazing it is to hear other parents voicing opinions similar to mine, and not getting picked on by family members for them. Thank you so much I
I don’t think sleepovers are the problem. It’s educating kids for those situations AND proper parental supervision. My mom had a bad experience where an older brother of her friend was involved. But she didn’t tell anyone, and the parents didn’t even know that he snuck out to where the girls were sleeping. Instead of confronting the problem she held on to that fear and didn’t allow me or my sibling to participate in sleepovers. I’m not saying her fear wasn’t legit or justified, it very much was, BUT that scenario was unique to that night. She could’ve solved the problem if she’d talked to any adult, or if an adult had been properly supervising their kids. My friends had sleepovers all the time, but the parents had a rule where there was no internet on, DVD movies only (cable couldn’t be on), and they were allowed to come in at any time (and they WOULD pop their head in every now and then). And no bad things ever happened! Because parents were being parents.
That being said, sheltering your kids will not protect them from those things. We live in a world where a WiFi connection is easy to find, and porn can be easily accessed in seconds within our own homes. We need to teach our kids about those things and hope they will do the right thing. We live in a world where sex is glorified and so casual that abuse rates are increasing, but are happening in broad daylight by people that no one expected. Those bad things can happen. But we can teach our kids to fight back and speak up if anything does unfortunately happen. But sheltering them from sleepovers doesn’t mean your kids will be protected from those awful things. If there are people or kids set on sharing porn with their friends, that can happen at any time (all they need is lack of supervision). If a person is ill enough mentally to want to molest children a few hours between day or night will likely not stop them.
I experienced some trying things as a kid even though I never went to sleepovers. My friends talked in hushed tones about inappropriate things on our trampoline in the middle of the day. I was physically attacked by some boys after school in middle school. Someone close to me dealt with a pornography addiction as a young teen even though his parents monitored the internet and kept it password protected.
My point is you really can’t tell where bad things can happen, and who might inflict them on your children. regardless of time of day, age, or who they are with. But you can teach them, monitor them, and pray for them.
As for me, I missed a lot of fun and clean fun with my friends because I want allowed to sleepovers. Many of my friends made memories and even more friends at those events. So yes, I plan to let my children attend sleepovers at places I feel comfortable. And you better believe I will tell the other moms what happened to my mom so they will monitor and protect like I would. I want my kids to have fun, be around their friends, experience things as silly as sleepovers. If something happened,yes, it would kill me inside. But it would be the same if something happened while they were at school. It wouldn’t make it school’s fault, it would be the peoples fault.
I just have to say one thing about your plant to tell other moms about your mother’s experience and having that be your safety guarantee. If their husband or someone else really is a child molester, the mom of the household might not know anything about it. I can completely understand how your experience has made you not want to deprive your children of something you were not allowed to experience, and that is obviously your right. I have watched specials on the news about how children react completely differently when a situation actually occurs even when they have been taught to handle bad situations in a certain way that follows the teachings of their family. In the moment, many children forget all that they have been taught and fall pray to bad decisions. Many children are more afraid to come forward than you would think when something does go wrong because they are afraid of getting into trouble. I took enough child psychology classes in College to know that this is more often the case. I am sure many parents would argue that their children would surely do what they were taught it a tough situation and would be perfectly fine. I just think that Erin and her husband have a right as well to decide to take away one more possibility for something to go wrong in an environment when children are known to do things that they would not do knowing a parent was watching. At first I thought this article sounded insanely over protective, but now I can understand where they are coming from, and will be cautions when my little one gets old enough to have sleepovers.
Fight back, speak up? Adults can sometimes successfully fight back and speak up if confronted by a dangerous situation, that is if they are physically stronger than a dangerous person. But a child? Children can be taught self defense, they can be taught to speak up; however, that doesn’t change the fact that they are children. They can’t possibly be expected to have the life experience and perspective nor often the physical strength and mental agility to protect themselves from an abusive person. Child abuse statistics show this to be true. Children are vulnerable to abuse and experience it even in “good” homes. Child abusers are very, very good at targeting and grooming victims and the hurt of even a single incident can last a lifetime.
I’ll just get to one point. When I was 13 or 14 I spent the night over at my best friends home. I had stayed over there many times through the years. The mom and dad were a Christian couple, kids were Christians also. We were next-door neighbors and we have grown up together. We went to church together.
It was always so much fun to have a sleepover! Then one night I stayed over and I woke up in the middle of the night and my best friend’s older brother was standing over the bed staring at me. I tried pretending I was asleep. I’ll stop there with any more discussion of my night of fear that played into my adulthood.
I never told anyone until I was an adult. This exact situation that happened in the middle of a quiet dark night in a bed away from the safety of my own bed in my own bedroom in my childhood home would not have happened in the school room.
Yes, yes, I know that things can happen at school, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with this discussion. The discussion is about letting your children stay overnight in another person’s home where they do not have mommy and daddy to call for.
I don’t understand why anyone would want to risk something happening to their child for the simple reason that they enjoyed sleepovers when they were young. Hogwash.
Is it prudish that I won’t let my children sleep at my sister’s house? I love her dearly but they leave a loaded gun out of a safe, watch shows I don’t approve of ( even though “kid friendly”) , kids access cell phones to play games…etc. I feel crushed inside bc I love my sister .
You will not always be there to protect your children from danger.. it is better to arm your children with as much knowledge as possible for one day, you will be gone and they will be faced with difficult life decisions. Never count on tomorrow..
My sister’s husband showed my kids pornographic pictures while babysitter for them. This happened in my own sister’s home. She broke the sacred rule of trust!!! We were estranged for three years until she finally woke up! Guess who the entire family took sides with!!! You guessed it!!! My sister, they didn’t want to offend her!!!
I am fully on board with your hope that educating them will help them avoid these situations, but unfortunately the situations still arise and peer pressure often wins. The blessing is in the conversations and teachable moments that come from building that firm foundation that leads them to conviction and repentance to further trust in what we teach and why God commands obedience.
I wanted to say thanks for this post. It really hits home. I also do not allow sleepovers for my children. I have talked to them about having a voice when someone does something you are not comfortable with. 🙃 I wish someone would have had that talk with me. I also had an inappropriate situation arise while staying at a (life-long) friend’s house. Whether you talk to your children or not though, when they’re at someone else’s home to stay overnight, things can happen. I have talked to my children about inappropriate content on TV, electronics, and radio as well but again in other’s homes, even if the child does say something, it isn’t up to them if it gets turned off. I do allow my children to stay the night with 1 (out of 6) of my siblings when their spouse is out of town. They aren’t lacking any social interaction and are not sheltered by not spending the night with others. The article made me cry. Wonderful for you that you go with your instincts.
Hello (: I love this article. Have you ever read Child Guidance by Ellen G. White? Hope to hear from you.
No, Vanessa, I have not read that. Thank for you reading the post.
I have read that book and know the advice given. Which I followed with my kids. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home and I saw way too much in other people’s homes. So I knew firsthand that keeping my kids home was really the only way to make sure they were safe. Another thing I wanted to protect them from were the horror movies…which tend to be popular as kids get a little older.
I have this book and refer to it often! Thank you for this post- I have a 5 yr old and 2.5 yr old and never thought about how sleepovers could be negative. My children are obviously too young for them but now after reading this it has me thinking about when they are old enough. I actually loved sleepovers growing up and fortunately did not have any bad experiences except having a few pranks pulled on me during the night. 🙂 But after reading Will’s experience I do recall how we would be doing activities that parents probably wouldn’t have approved of and we were not being watched over – nothing major – just making prank calls and such.
But I agree even if we train them and teach them, why would we want to subject our children to the potential of having to deal with those situations when they really are not ready for. As their parents our job is to protect them and why would we want to put them in a situation like that. It’s not sheltering them- it’s just not putting them in situations that they are not mature enough for. And even if they were educated about those type of situations, children are very easily influenced and may end up giving in to peer pressure, regardless what we taught them.
Thank you for this post- very eye opening- and thank you Will for sharing such a personal story- that took courage! God Bless!
I agree with the heart behind it but also think it is about teaching your children to protect their boundaries. I am very particular who my children are with especially the parents. Some kids are good but the parents are not enough hands-on for me. I have only allowed my son’s to go to 1 sleepover with close friends and their children have done 1 at our house (family emergency). One other family that share the majority of our values. It’s not a regular thing and we never leave the kids alone. The kids don’t sleep in the rooms together and must be asleep before I go to sleep, even if it’s 2am
I respect the parents they are absolutely against sleepovers and don’t judge at all. I think every sleepover must be weighed and prayed carefully.
I agree Christy. We absolutely need to teach our kids to protect their boundaries. I like that phrase. But at this age, we are just not sure they are capable of that, so we just continue to teach them and stay away from sleepovers.
Thank you for sharing.
This post had my stomach in knots as it really spoke to some of my own childhood experiences. Some of which to this day I’ve only spoken to my husband. It’s a hard and scary world… I’m all for letting my children take risks and learn to protect their own boundaries but I believe there will be PLENTY opportunity for them to learn to do that in a more controlled environment if you will.
Kind of n the same context of how I’ll let my daughter cross the street with me in arms reach, but I wouldn’t let her do it over a busy street while I stood on the sidewalk and waited.
Thank you so much for this article!! I was starting to feel like I was the only one who was uneasy about sleepovers. We should not make our decisions based on fear, and our bad sleep over experiences do not speak for all…..but you can never take back the innocence lost, and I see this as a matter of discernment not fear. When I buckle up my children it’s a standard precaution out of love and protection, not a source of fear or anxiety. If someone really feels like their children are “missing out” I have 2 points to consider. 1) Historically, how long do you think slumber parties as we know it have been a “thing”…I could be wrong, but I’m guessing only a few generations. I think our children will socially survive. 2)You could always host a happy medium, mother daughter slumber parties, or father son sleep overs where child AND parent enjoy in all the safe fun activities. Win win! So yes, thank you so much for bringing up this important topic, and for sharing your past to possibly spare another child the same fate. We still need to have the conversations with our kids about boundaries and expectations, but I don’t think talk is enough to prepare a CHILD for some the often unspoken tragedies that can occur, so thank you 🙂
Cookie, I love the idea of the parent/child sleepover. I had not thought of that before. And yes the conversations and guidance are always necessary.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
I love the idea of parent/child sleepovers too. We do this a lot when we are traveling and staying a night or two with friends. It’s also something a friend at church and I have planned on doing too. I love the aspect of getting to have quality time with an adult friend as well as being able to make sure my children and safe and comfortable.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
Thank you both for sharing this and being so open and honest with your past experiences. I think that this is often a subject that parents take for granted (participating in sleepovers) because it was always the norm when we were growing up. The article from Challies was one that my husband and I read last year, too, and one that sparked a lot of conversation between us as well. We have decided against sleepovers for the reasons you and Challies listed. I think he also brings up another good point when he talks about how he and his wife avoid awkward conversations about why their kids can spend the night at one person’s house and not anothers– they have simply decided to make a blanket rule against sleepovers.
As far as children being able to clearly define their own boundaries goes, I think that this is missing an important point. It is often not a matter of children even having an opportunity to say “no, I don’t do that” or “no, I don’t want to watch that”. Exposure to things can happen so quickly and it is not something you can take back. I know that in my experience, I never had anything too serious happen to me, but my first experiences with young friends drinking vodka, smoking cigarettes, and watching horror movies all happened while at sleepovers. And this was before high school. Even if a child knows better than to participate, it puts them in a very uncomfortable position.
I know that there are some aspects of sleepovers that are fun and sweet and can make great lifelong memories. However, it’s just not a risk we are willing to take. Instead, we can enjoy the sweeter aspects of sleepovers together as a family– staying up late to watch movies, eating more popcorn and candy than is good for you, having silly shows and dress up together, and so on.
Thank-you for sharing this. I must say that especially coming from a dad. We have allowed some sleepovers with my oldest son who is now 17, but most were at our own home. I believe in all that you have said. I wish I had not succumbed to the pier pressure when he was younger. There is really no need for over night sleeping.
I’m glad you found it encouraging.
My daughter has been allowed to only stay the night with close family also. She has 1 aunt nearby she spends the night about 3 times per year. She is a mamas girl and still wants to sleep with m (us).
Glad you have that family close.
I am mom to 5 kids…3 are adults in their 20’s and my youngest 2 are 11 and 10. I have always been against sleepovers, mostly from experience but also because I took my job of being their protector very serious.
I am shocked today to see parents drop their kids off for sleepover party and not even meet the parents, as in ever!
My daughter was invited to sleepover party which was being hosted at a hotel!!! I had never met the parent since they had just moved to our small town. Of course I would not allow my daughter to stay overnight but I was considering to let her go until 8 pm.
When I asked basic questions like where will the girls be eating (since it was a hotel) and if the girls were going to swim…how many adults did she have attending (hotels do not have lifeguards) the parent actually got offended and defensive! I heard from one of my friends that the girls were going to do a beach walk with flashlights and that activity wasn’t even listed on the invite. I was about to rescind the RSVP but my daughter came down with the flu and that was that.
I think it is important to always listen your gut and do what is best for your family.
My teenage son’s favorite birthday celebrations have been when he has friends spend the night. It’s only a few boys, but we make sure we remove all medication from its normal (public) area, as well as our knives. I trust my son, and I trust each of those boys he invites, however, I also know that pack mentality can be a powerful thing. And while I don’t think any of them would do anything for an unsafe reason, I do think (simply because of the personalities of these particular boys) that some might be curious in an “I wonder what would happen if…” sort of way, and the others would also be curious and there you go. :/
As for him spending the night elsewhere, other than family, he has a couple of friends whose families I trust enough to allow that. They are as mindful as I am about what is viewed, etc. in their homes.
That said, it is a new day and I have younger children for whom we have yet to need to make a decision about sleepovers. We’ve already began contemplating homeschooling, based upon what we’ve had to deal with in the public school system. (Sadly, pornography was being taken to school on iPods when our son was in 4th grade, so that discussion happened early and often since then.)
Thank you for the good thoughts.
Mel, I am so glad that you have found what works for your family and have made wise decisions. That is so discouraging about your son. I know it can happen anywhere.
I agree with each of your points, and position as a whole. I am very saddened to hear of your past experiences, but appreciate your willingness to share them. I am also saddened by the fact that you were hesitant to post on this subject. It seems like protecting your children is frowned upon these days. I haven’t completely figured out why that is. It seems like if you don’t allow your child to do something that someone else does, they think that you are “judging” them or accusing them of poor parenting. They then can become viscous in defending their point of view, to the point of name calling, etc. I’m not making reference to any comments on this page, just in general. I do the best I can to make the best decisions for my family, and I assume most people do the same. I am so frazzled just trying to take care of my own family, that I have absolutely no time to worry about another mommy’s choices. Haha, all of this to say thank you for your honesty, despite the potential for negative feedback!
Sarah, I totally agree with you about the judging thing. And yes, they do become quite vicious.
My son only sleeps at grandma’s or his aunt’s house. He doesn’t care to stay with friend’s yet but he’ll ask if they can stay here, which I don’t mind. He’s only 7 so I’m sure he’ll change his mind soon. (Which led me to wonder how old your kids are) I think there are only 2 friend’s homes I trust him to be in since we are very close with the parents. I hadn’t put much thought into it yet but your article worries me. I remember the situations I was put in but that was at my aunt’s house! Also, I’m sure the worry is normal when dealing with strangers or parents you don’t quite know all too well but it can happen with people you know too. Recently one of our good friend’s daughter was inappropriately touched by a church leader at a church festival on the church grounds, you can’t feel more safe than that besides your own home and yet that happened. Then there is this, I was taken advantage of by my own family member while in his care when I was home sick from school. Evil is everywhere, so don’t think for a second it can’t happen in some of the safest places you would expect. Sadly. I can completely appreciate your guard up, just don’t let strange people and strange places be your only concern. Thanks for sharing!!
Lisa, my girls are 6 (almost 7), 4 and 2, so they are still quite young, but this will still be a rule for quite some time. And yes, I do agree that it can happen anywhere. That’s why I think it is important to educate children and still keep an eye on them.
Honestly, I’d never looked at sleepovers in this way before! I can see where you come from, even though my personal experiences were very different. You can never really know for sure what happens in other families.
Some of my best childhood memories have been from slumber parties and they were all entirely innocent. In my mind, it seems like we had slumber parties all the time during the school holidays, although they probably didn’t occur that frequently. For me, the best part of sleepovers was discovering another family’s routine. In some families, you’d have breakfast at the table with the entire family present. Some parents allowed us to picknick in the garden in the morning. I remember one family where every member had its own set of towels and as a guest I’d get my own designated set too. (I know that’s a strange example, but we just had shared one towel in the bathroom at my family home and I remember feeling so proud and special when I got to use my pink guest towel set there). Obviously we didn’t go to sleep right away, but we’d read books out loud to each other, played board games or just talked. I cherish all of these memories, especially as I didn’t grow up in a happy family and this was my way of experiencing real family life.
I did grow up in a village so especially back then there was a lot of trust between people. We wouldn’t lock doors or bikes either. I’m sure bad things happened as well (I grew up in a house where abuse and domestic violence were common, we can’t have been the only family where these things happened behind closed doors) but it wasn’t something people really thought about. My parents knew all of my friends’ parents from high school. I guess people were less concerned about things back then.
Love your comment. I too grew up sleeping over friends and had only positive experiences. It made me a much better person as I learned that each home had its own culture. If you can’t trust your friends, then you need better friends. I was also able to travel to Europe when I was in high school and shared a room with my friends. I am not sure I could of done so well overseas without first learning to stay at others homes her in the US.
I’m so sorry for what happened to you as a child. I have no plans to allow my son to go on sleepovers, for all the reasons that you listed. It is something that I might consider on a case-by-case basis at some point in the future, but I highly doubt I will ever allow it. I have wonderful childhood memories of sleepovers, but at this point the risk outweighs any benefits I could see for my son.
That is pretty much our decision as well Claire.
I agree 100%. The things I was exposed to as a young impressionable girl still haunt me. Thankfully I never did anything that I am overly ashamed of. And things just get worse when you have a few silly boy – crazy girls and then you throw in an older brother. I don’t ever want my children put in situations where they have to make the tough moral decisions I did.
I agree Cindy. I don’t think kids should have to make those choices.
I totally agree with you 100%. I also remember things happening from when I was a kid sleeping at friends houses. I agree their play dates could be longer they do not need to sleep somewhere else. However I don’t mind if her friends sleep here once in a while but only occasionally bc she is always so worn out the next day from staying up too late
Thank you Brandi!
Thank you for writing this! I agree with you 100 percent. Even before we had kids my husband and I decided that this would be our rule. Have our kids missed out on anything? No. Their friend’s parents feel the same way about sleepovers as we do so it’s a non-issue. I have read the book mentioned above (Child Guidance by E. G. White) and it’s wonderful. Very eye opening. Thanks again!
Our friends pretty much feel the same way as well, Damaris. It’s so freeing to know we are not alone. 🙂
I appreciate when people like yourselves say the thoughts that are in mind out loud. We have been very cautious about sleepovers in our house and I do not allow sleepovers at other people’s houses. I did not have the troublesome sleepover situation as you have but I also don’t want my children in a place where they cannot ask me or their dad for guidance before it’s too late. It is not control over child it is controlling the environment which I do to protect them in daylight so why wouldn’t I do that at nighttime as well. Thank you for this post.
Absolutely Denielle! I don’t think young children, even when educated, always know how to handle those situations.
I do not yet have children, but I do enjoy reading your posts and seeing points of view on different subjects, as I feel that I will need a variety of advice when that time comes! One question that I was curious about…will this rule apply when the children apply re older apply and there are activities like church lock-ins? Some of my favorite memories of high school were staying with a group of girls at a church member’s house for for the weekend. I do for sure see the points that you make otherwise, and it is heartbreaking that that we live in a world that makes this particular kind of monitoring necessary.
I understand this decision all too well.
I myself had things done to me by my same sex peers at sleepovers, things that a young child should not have to deal with. (But it has always made me pray for my peers, what happened to them for them to do that to someone else?)
I never told my parents because I was embarrassed. And it still effects my personal life to this day.
Though I allow my 7 & 10 yr old to have sleepovers, it is my greatest fear that their innocence too may also be compromised. I ask lots of open questions when they return home and go off their ques to hopefully catch or prevent anything from happening.
But after reading this, it is making me think twice about sleepovers.
My husband and I are not religious at all nor were either of us physically molested but we feel the same way. Our sons are 5 years and 5 months and we do not allow anyone but their grandparents to babysit and there are no sleepovers at our house or other’s houses. We have gotten a little lax with our 5 year old when it comes to babysitting by letting other family and close friends watch him because he is now able to talk. Too much can happen when children are unsupervised and we are not willing to take that risk.
Growing up, I went to a TON of sleepovers. I experienced thing there that I never told my parents, and I experienced things there that I wouldn’t want my kids to experience. BUT, I still plan on allowing my children to go to sleepovers. We just have strict rules.
These include both my husband and I knowing BOTH parents of the children the kids would be staying with. And not just a meet one time, but knowing them well.
The girls know they can call us anytime, and we have a secret word that means, “come get me”.
The girls know the rules. They know what they can watch, and what they can’t.
We have also allowed sleepovers here, but we never go to bed until the kids are all asleep. They also sleep in an open room without a door.
My kids are 10, 8 and 3. The 3 year old has never stayed the night with anyone, the girls have a couple times, but only with three different families that meet our rules. They also go together.
I think your reasons are justified, and don’t judge anyone for choosing not to do sleepovers. BUT, I wanted to share our rules and my thoughts as well 🙂 Great post!
Thanks for sharing your perspective and adding to the discussion.
You make some excellent points. I was introduced to alcohol at a sleepover when I was 14, and not wanting to seem “uncool”, I did drink it. While I have not *really* suffered any ill effects, there are so many things I don’t want my children being exposed too.
That being said, I have let my 9 year old son have his cousins sleep over, and he has slept over 1 friend (who is our next door neighbor)’s house. We know each other very well and know boundaries.
My son is very allergic to cats, dogs, and other animals so that automatically puts a limitation on sleep overs also. I will have to pray on this for the future.
Hi, mummy to 3 little girls. I’m not Christian either, but I do agree unfortunately with your reasons for no sleepovers. My oldest (5) has had sleepovers, but we intend to stop them this year.
Out of interest, you say your children go to grandparents overnight, but I do wounder if this was not an option, if your children would spend that same time with say friends who also had children, where in the case you both had to be else where?
If we did not have that option, I believe we would speak with a very trusted family that shared our views. We would probably speak with them first about our experiences and rules. For example, some friends of ours do not have family in town but needed someone to watch their kids when she went into labor, so they spent the night with us. We know them well but also took other precautions to ensure that everyone was comfortable and safe.
I 100% agree with you. One can never be too protective of their children’s innocence. You never know what is going on behind closed doors… especially at night!
I tell my children the dangers of the world all the time. They can’t hear it too much. I don’t want them to think it can’t happen to them. It easily could. I even use news (such as the latest horrible Duggar revelation) to teach them that even if it is someone you are supposed to trust trying to get you to do things (or doing things to you) you know are wrong, it is NOT OK!
My children know not even to ask to go to a sleepover. If it is a birthday party, they can go for a little while and then come home. They are ok with that.
My thoughts exactly Amber. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for writing this, it was very informative. My children are not of sleep over age yet, and I too went to sleepovers as a child. Thinking back, there were a lot of things going on that I wouldnt want my children to be involved in. A friend recently said his niece went to a sleepover and the other girls “encouraged” her to take a pic of her private area. The pic was of course spread all over FB and other outlets which was devastating to all involved. Its so scary, thanks for giving me pause for thinking about all of this before its presented to me.
Oh no, Jen, that is awful. I really hate that for her. I’m glad this was thought provoking for you.
For many of the same reasons, we also do not encourage sleepovers. My children are 14 and 16. Some of the same concerns are also for them. My daughter 16 has a group of friends and because she isn’t allowed to go to 2 of their houses she doesn’t go to any of their houses. One because usually the only adult figure is an older brother that give me the willies and 2 because the parents and grandparents live together and that has created a negative situation: yelling, swearing and name calling. She feels that it is easier to explain that she doesn’t like to sleep outside of her own home and in her own bed. This explanation has worked for the last 4 years.
Even if they aren’t looking at pornography, drinking alcohol, or participating in dishonest behavior; there is still the fact that they eat garbage and don’t sleep. When we allowed sleepovers freely, she was frequently rude, tired and a general “delight” the next day.
I am not saying that sleepovers are completely out lawed. She stays with a cousin and every once in a very long while she is convinced by her friends to stay over at someone’s house for a party. Birthday party’s usually start early and only a few girls stay over. I have picked her up at 11:00 many times.
MY 14 year old son is mildly Autistic and has only been to 2 sleepover. One was at a friend’s house and quite frankly he was bullied. We picked him up early to the song and dance from the boy’s mother that she was so sorry that his clothes got wet and they couldn’t find his pillow and sleeping bag. He was crying and the other boys lined up to say “I’m sorry.” Then one of the boys produced his stuff. Worst night of my life.
I believe these decision are not universal, not all kids need these to grow socially. And all it takes is one bad night. If they do go be absolutely make sure you know what they and you are getting into.
That’s so sad that happened to your son. I agree that this doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for our family. Thank you for sharing.
We decided in our family before our child was born that no sleepovers was the “blanket rule”. And I love that you used that phrase, because we have used it many times in reference to this particular situation within our family conversations. There are too many things we have known that happened to other children, many times BY other children, and sometimes by adults. Not only that, but exposure to things we wouldn’t allow, such as certain entertainment, drinking, smoking, even occult dabbling has been known to happen at sleepovers we have heard of. The influence of peers seems to be intensified by late-at-night, sleepy, no-one-will-ever-know mentality. Some peers even enjoy overpowering the will of ones, just to feed their own power trip. We have been viewed as odd by many, but have stuck to our convictions on this topic. Now our child is 15, and when we think back to her younger ages, we always thought she eventually would be allowed to stay overnight. But there is no age we have found that we feel comfortable lifting this restriction. All ages of growing up are vulnerable to some degree. And what really is the point of a sleepover? I remember when I would stay over, we would stay up really late (2 a.m.), eat horrible food until some of us were vomiting, watch movies or T.V. (nothing bad) until we had headaches and our eyes were strained, and sometimes I witnessed extreme hyperactivity as a result of way too much sugar intake. The next day I remember I always felt terrible, had headaches, was in a fog, depressed, was in a mean mood, and wanted to go home. It usually took me a few days to get over it. Whereas, if you have a friend over for an afternoon and sometimes evening, spend time playing outside, have dinner together, a few junky snacks, maybe watch a movie or play video games, have time to chat and visit, then home by 10, everyone can function the next day – and barely any attitude from your child! A much better solution for parents and children combined – and healthier physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I am not sorry or embarrassed for the decision we’ve made to not allow sleepovers. I really appreciate your post, thank you so much for your honesty.
We are doing the “late over” idea with our oldest daughter for her bday this year.
Thank you for putting into words your and my number one reason for not allowing sleepovers. While my loss of childhood innocence was after school when I was home “alone” with the person I considered my best friend at the time… I also was exposed to far too many adult concepts at sleepovers. I don’t judge those who allow it but like you, knowing how deeply this affects your entire life- I’ll do all I can to protect them and sleeping over someone’s house is one of them.
Kelley, I was also exposed to many, many adult concepts as well. So between Will’s experience and mine, I don’t think our decision is as crazy as some people make it sound. Thank you for sharing!
As a child I also had terrible experiences at sleep overs. What made it worst was the fact that they happened at my cousins homes. I tried telling once but was slapped on the face for “lying” according to my parental figure.
I’ve remembered everything and when I became a mom the first thing I did was to never let my boys go to sleep overs. I was always weary of where my boys went and I always believed everything they told me.
I’M SO SORRY THAT YOUR PARENT DID NOT BELIEVE YOU. ONCE WHEN I WAS IN JR. HIGH A SAME SEX COUSIN WAS SPENDING THE NIGHT AT MY HOUSE I AWOKE TO HER TOUCHING ME. I TOLD HER TO STOP AND SHE DID. THE NEXT DAY I TOLD MY MOM AND SHE TOLD MY AUNT. THEY BOTH BELIEVED ME AND MY AUNT TALKED TO MY COUSIN .
This was a very interesting article. My children are still very young, but I know this is something that will be coming up eventually. It’s not something I ever really considered before. This article gave 3 very valid points. This is something I think every parent needs to consider. This really has me thinking.
Carrie, I’m so glad this got your thinking so that you can decide what will work for your family.
Thank you for this article. I really don’t like the whole sleepover thing either. I know at least one family where the dad doesn’t let his children do sleepovers and he’s not afraid to say it. I recall things happening at sleepovers, even ones we did with my cousins, where things happened that shouldn’t have.
I do let my girls participate in sleepovers with their American Heritage Girls troop but only if I can stay as well. As a registered adult leader (background checks, references, etc. are done on adult leaders) I can do that, so I do let my girls participate in those.
I have had trouble over the years with insistent parents who guilt me if I don’t let my girls sleep over and I hate that. My husband doesn’t see anything wrong with sleepovers until someone else (not me) says they have a problem with it and that doesn’t usually happen, and if it does, it’s very short-lived so I’m pretty much on my own. I really wish I had some backup in those situations.
I completely agree that anything worth doing can absolutely be done in the daytime. It’s silly to say otherwise.
Gemma, I like the idea of you staying with them in those situations. I need to look into AHG.
I was just curious what your advice would be for couples who need someone to watch their children overnight while in the hospital for birth or surgery? Or for a couple who needs a night alone? Especially if all their family is out of state.
We did that for some close friends of ours when they had their last child. If we did not have family close by, then I probably would rely on an extremely trusted family friend who have kids the same age as ours or an older couple whose kids are out of the house. We can’t live in fear and have to trust the Lord with our choices, but we do need to make wise decisions based on discernment. Does that help?
I very much agree with your family chose. When my daughter was younger I was very picky about which friends homes she slept over at. One of my daughters friends had older brothers, and when the two girls would talk on the phone together, the older brother would pick up on the phone extensions a say nasty dirt things, thinking it was funny. When that girl would come over to our house to play, the girl was out of control, and when the mother came over to pick up her daughter the boys would race in to our home, and go wild. When asked if my daughter could sleep over at their house I had to say no. After being asked a number of times. I finally had to say I was concerned it would be to much for my daughter. The mother told me I was sick, and our daughter could not be friends any more ( I was secretly relieved about this), my daughter told me she was al so ok with it. As years went by the boys did get in to trouble with many situations.
In my life, when I was11, 12yrs old one of my friends 16 yrs brother grabbed my private parts. I must say I don’t left men get to close to me. I think It’s wonderful you are protecting your girls & boys from those who may not. Isn’t this what Josh Duggar did to the young girl at his house.
I have 2 girls, two and under, so I’m not actually dealing with this yet. But I do appreciate reading this and gaining more knowledge before I have to decide for my family. Honestly, its hard to think about my sweet, innocent girls being in such a terrible situation. I know I can train them but you really never know about the other family and how their children are raised. I, too, don’t want to live in fear but am struggling to find the right balance.
I’m glad it gave some food for thought, Alyssa. We don’t want to live in fear either because we know that God is not the author of that, but I do struggle with that as well. I think knowledge is power, but with small children, you never know.
Kristen @ Smithspirations
Thanks for being so open about what was no doubt very difficult experiences as a youth, Will. Our family feels the same with sleepovers. Our children have stayed with my mom overnight, and they have stayed with my husband’s sister and her family before. But for us, that’s really been it. We know they are comfortable there, we are completely confident that our parenting choices will be respected, and we know they will be loved. There’s just too much risk and unknown when it comes to spending the night without us at other places.
I love what you said about parenting choices being respected and them being loved. That is so key.
I am a over concerned/ protective mother of a 3 year old girl and boy on the way. I found this article to be very eye opening and informative. I appreciate articles like this because it gives me insight to the way others feel and know that I’m not alone. I am never really that comfortable with my daughter staying with anyone. So far it’s just been her grandparents.
So glad it offered some insight.
Sexual curiosity exists, and bad things can and do happen to the most innocent people, in the most protected circumstances.
I was 10 and asleep at my grandparent’s home on the living room couch.
The family was in the dining room finishing breakfast, when my 18 year old uncle left the table and molested me in my sleep. Yes, I did wake up. No I never told any one of them.
Yes, he did grown up and was arrested for molesting his granddaughter. His teenage sexual curiosity was allowed to grow and flourish because I was so over protected that I could not tell the story until I was in my 50s and he had been arrested for the attack on his own granddaughter.
My point is: Make all the rules you feel comfortable with, but remember, human nature will find a way around them. And while your child may not be exposed while at a sleepover, he or she most likely will be at some point in time…..even with you in the next room. There are no guarantees.
Neecy, while there may not be guarantees, taking precautions does help limit situations where it could happen. I am so sorry about your situation. No one should have to endure that. I think you make an excellent point that we need to teach our children about not having secrets and help them feel comfortable sharing with us.
You are a very wise mama!!
I should have said dad! Lol Thank you so much for writing this! I am very protective of my girls and this article is very needed in our day!
I applaud you for making this decision!
As someone who had very edifying, pure, and sweet sleep over experience with friends, I must ask, what about removing temptations to begin with? When channels are blocked, when computers are shut down, when specific movies are chosen with parental consent and the tv is not connected to cable but just to DVD, when the kids come from families that are known and values shared, I do not see the harm in letting kids stay up with giggles and fun and the joy of staying somewhere new. After all they’ll be in the position of being somewhere with other people at some point whether its sleep away summer camp or dorm life in college, so why not allow them to learn how to do that well and with discernment and morality?
And they will learn as they get older, but they are still way to young right now. And will was around 10 when he was taken advantage of by a close family friend, so the age and who they stay with will probably not change for a while.
I have a 12 year old daughter who is soon to be 13. She has had sleepovers at several of her friends houses. I pity the person who ever tries to make my daughter do something that she is morally opposed to or makes her physically uncomfortable. She is a pistol! I give her much more freedom than I was given as a child. I was sheltered and as soon as I turned 18 I got pregnant because I was taught to be a people pleaser and couldn’t stand up for myself even enough to ask my boyfriend to use protection when I lost my virginity. (Bear in mind I was raised strictly religious and had planned to save myself for marriage.) My children are going to make mistakes. Bad things are going to happen to my children. But I believe that if I shelter them now, when they go to college, they won’t have had any sleepover experience. What then? Also, this is were faith comes in. I have absolute faith that every time I am not there, whatever happens to my girls will be for the greater good.
From Will: “Bad things are going to happen to my children”…Really? So you just leave it up to that? I’m sure you did not mean for it to sound that way. Right now our children are still very young, as they get older, we will revisit this and make adjustments where needed. And I’m not sure I”m willing to put my girls in a compromising situation just for the greater good. I know that God is in control, and I have faith in Him, but he also gave us brains and common sense to make decisions. It is my job to protect my child, and that is something that we take seriously.
Firstly, Will, I am so sorry that you had to experience something so terrible. This post has definitely challenged some of my thoughts on sleepovers and caused me to rethink some of my own experiences. I loved having sleepovers as a child and as a teenager! I often got frustrated with my parents for being so selective about who I would spend the night with . . . Looking back, I really can’t blame them for being protective. I remember one particular sleepover I attended when I was fourteen that was hosted at a hotel. I dearly love my friend’s mother and am friends with her to this day, but she and my parents had some different ideas about supervision. There were about five or six of us girls, and we had a separate hotel room from the mother. We had free range of the hotel all night long, and I accidentally fell asleep on a couch in the lobby. I expected the other girls to wake me up before we went back to the room. But they all fell asleep, too. I woke up with a man standing beside the couch looking down on me. It turned out to be my friend’s uncle coming to wake us up. It still terrifies me to think about what could have happened if that man had been a stranger looking for prey instead of a kind family member. I also dealt with a lot of petty girl fights that happened at sleepovers that could totally have been avoided . . . Maybe sleepovers aren’t the best idea after all . . .
Melody, thank you for sharing your experiences. I think it is important for us to reflect and through prayer decided what is best for your family.
What about mother / daughter sleepovers? Girls sleep next to their mamas. Or Dads and sons. I was thinking this would be our answer to the problem of safety. …….. What are your thoughts?
We actually think that is a great alternative, Sheila! We have quite a few out-of-town friends who have come to visit us, and that is really the closest our kids have gotten to sleepovers. They still sleep in their own rooms, and the guests all stay in the guest room (parents and kids) but they get to stay up later, have breakfast together, etc…all while 100% supervised! We’ve even had some blogging friends and their kids come visit us, and it’s been so much fun!
My reason for saying, no, is because of my experiences. These were in Girl Scouts and sleepovers at my house, when there is no adult supervision. Pressure to experiment, playing at occult activities and unhealthy story telling. I’m 55 now and still remember the junk I was exposed to before I was mature enough to stand my ground. People think I’m judgmental because I won’t let my children stay the night, but I’m not accountable to them. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but isn’t that what this about? Succumbing to peer pressure! Parents and children.
A couple years back I read an article about protecting our children like hot house started plants. They don’t get put in the ground and the elements until they are ready. As someone else said, when her son is two, she’s right there. We back off little by little as we see how they handle situations. But they are still supervised! There will come a day they can hold their own, but it happens by increments.
I really like how you said you back of little by little and give them more space and room to make decisions. That is such good advice.
we set a no sleepover rule when our girls started school. Honestly it was easier to have a “rule” than saying yes to one person and no to another. If I ever felt uneasy I didn’t have to say no to that family while saying yes to another. Just easier that way. 🙂 we have let them spend the night a couple of times as they have gotten older (now 11 and 12) with two families that we have been friends with since high school. One thing someone may want to consider if they do allow sleepovers is NEVER letting your daughter stay in a home with an older brother. . . too many risks. period. Your article was good and pointed out things that people think “would never happen to me.” I remember my first sleepover in 3rd grade. . . I was super uncomfortable because I woke up early in the morning and my friend slept another two hours. . . I didn’t know what to do. Did I get up? Lay there? Pretend to be asleep? Sounds silly, but if a 9 year old has a hard time navigating how to handle waking up at different times, I’m not so sure they can handle an uncomfortable situation like your husband spoke of. I also appreciate your statement at the beginning that this is what is best for your family. I think we have a hard time thinking that if someone does things different than us then one must be right and the other wrong. . . but that is just not the case here. Thanks for your boldness to share (and your hubs) the very personal stuff.
Thank you for sharing, Amy. I love your comment, “I think we have a hard time thinking that if someone does things different than us then one must be right and the other wrong.” We have been told we are wrong for not letting them do sleepovers, yet we don’t think others are wrong for allowing. It is a personal parental choice.
Thank you for sharing this. It is a topic I have been wrestling with and discussing with my husband. We have also decided no sleepovers and I have been saying the same as Will, anything worth doing
Hit post by accident-Anything worth doing can be done during the day. I could not agree more! Thank you for being so open.
Thank you Jenn!
I’m not a parent, but my parents followed the same philosophy for my siblings and I – we never even had a babysitter if they weren’t related to us and trustworthy. I’ll admit that I hated not being able to do participate in sleepovers during grade school, but in hindsight I appreciate it and honestly think that I may consider the same principle when I do become a parent. In the world we live in, it’s so important to be aware and cautious with everything. So I commend you guys on being open, honest, and bold enough to stand up for what you believe in.
Thank you Jessica. It is refreshing when others can reflect on their own experiences.
As a teenager myself I truly feel this will do more harm than good. I have been to plenty of sleepovers and not once have my friends and I accessed harmful material online or in any other form. Our fun is innocent. We are finishing up high school and focus more on hanging out and just being friends for the remaining time we have together. I think back to my many sleepovers as a child and again never recall being introduced to anything bad. I truly believe that it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor your children. You can’t always think your child is the “innocent one”. It is your responsibility as a parent to know who your children’s friends are and know that they will not behave in an unGodly manor. It all leads back to the parenting and sheltering will not help them when they go off to college…unless you’re considering that a “sleepover” too. Parents these days are just so ridiculous. Why do you feel the need to shelter your kids so much? Were you sheltered like that? My guess is that most of you will answer no and you turned out fine didn’t you? Those of you that were sheltered, did you have “a little too much fun” in college because most sheltered kids do. Do you want your kids to turn out like that? Teach your child what is right and wrong. Teach them a code word that they can text you to let you know they need out of a situation but PLEASE please don’t take away their childhood and make them feel different. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6
Lily, While I do respect your opinion and perspective, I disagree with many of your points. My children are still young, so this is the decision we have made for now. That may change when they are more your age and getting ready to go to college or whatever. So, no, I don’t see this as sheltering them, but really we are training them and guiding them so they know how to handle these situations. And I really don’t think sleepovers are the pinnacle of childhood activities. There are plenty of other things that they do with others kids that are fun. It sounds like you have fun and have made wise choices, and I hope you continue as you move forward. I wish you the best as you finish up high school!
I’m so glad you haven’t been sexually molested during sleepovers. A large number of children are regularly taken advantage of by older friends or the family members. It is an extremely common occurrence that usually happens at sleepovers, though it can happen during a daytime visit like it did for me.
Yes, parents need to teach their children right from wrong, but that will NOT protect them from evil people in the middle of the night. Even many pastors have been found to sexually molest children. Child molesters and child rapists are masters of disguise. They fool parents into thinking their children will be safe with them. It is not a matter of the child being taught, but of the parent being unable to protect a child when that child is not with them.
You misunderstand the situation. I am very, very glad that you don’t have the experience to be able to understand this. It is a dark, ugly, painful thing that is only truly understood through experience.
Justyn, you are so right. Parents (especially those with very young children) have a tendency to think their rules (if morally correct for them) are the answer. When the truth is: No rules, even the best rules, will prevent child abuse from happening. Good Parenting is all about letting go, and it is one of the hardest things to do.
Lily, I totally get where you’re coming from. Most of my negative experiences with sleepovers happened before high school. There were two girl’s houses in particular that I slept over at often during high school. My experiences were much more positive towards the end of high school than they were during elementary and middle school. Age and maturity are just two more things to take into consideration, as well as the values of each family member in the home. I think it’s important to to develop independence and life skills, but is staying over at someone’s house really necessary for that? I truthfully am not sure where I stand on sleepovers yet, since I have had such a mix of positive and negative experiences myself. It’s important to consider where each family is coming from before making any blanket statements either direction.
No one should feel guilty about what they do or do not let their children do, so I feel like most of the people posting that are defending the idea of sleepovers are hearing different lies from the enemy who is trying to make them feel guilty. Do not feel guilty for letting your child have a sleepover. We are all parents who do life differently.
That being said we will NEVER do sleepovers in this family. It isn’t about putting our children in a bubble, oh no! We work with victims of sex trafficking. We constantly have different people in our lives who are in need of ministry and are not picture perfect church characters. They will see sin in the lives of others, heck in the lives of their parents. This world will expose them to so very much! Heck, just go to the nearest store! However, when night time comes, my babies will be in their beds. I too was hurt at sleepovers that occurred in MY OWN HOUSE! News flash, my parents were the supervisors, and I was hurt by the other children in the home! It had nothing to do with whether or not the parents could be trusted. I was a young child who was taught strong morals, and I didn’t have a clue how to handle the situation!!! I mean, who really sits down with their children and says, “Okay, just in case one of the other children decides to molest you, this is what you need to do.” We train and prepare our kids, but do we really speak to 10-year-olds like that? I mean, maybe that is what you are supposed to do… I don’t know.
Also, I did some REALLY stupid stuff at sleepovers! I watched scary movies that have images that followed me into my adulthood, I snuck out, I saw commercials that were horrible, I played games that were borderline witchcraft, and the list goes on. I agree that we do not need to keep our kids in a bubble, but there is a different than letting them in the world and throwing them to the wolves saying “Good Luck.” This is just my personal opinion however. We will do late nights too. Party til midnight and then everyone GO HOME!
All excellent points. And yes, we all do things differently. I do love your idea of ministry and what that looks like. It can be messy and shows them God’s grace and mercy.
My wise Pastor’s wife advised me against sleepovers when my children were small, due to her experiences. I listened and followed her advice. There were times my children didn’t understand, but now that they’re in their thirties, they thank me. I was accused by others of being over protective, but this is one situation in which that is warranted. You can never unexpose a child to some things. Peer pressure can be intense, and the darkness can lower inhibitions – both great reasons to exclude your child from sleepovers. If I had to do it over again, I’d do the same thing. No regrets!!
Thank you, Brenda. I’m OK with being called overprotective as well if it removes something that can potentially damage my children for years.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with a basic set of rules and guidelines, and nothing strange or bad ever happened to me…not! I could write a book butwho cares. Unfortunately our society has been totally desensitized and corrupted by ________ fill in the blank of debased agenda’s, and many parents are willing to toss out the protective instinct and moral compass they ought to have in the name of what’s cool. So fast forward a few decades several children and a heart and mind that have been completely realigned by God and His wise word and I think it’s utterly irresponsible and appalling that we who know the ways of the world (and especially the ways of the enemy) would leave our most valuable little lambs in the place of so many unforeseeable circumstances. In other words, DUH! Good luck idiots, oh and God Bless 🙂
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with a basic set of rules and guidelines, and nothing strange or bad ever happened to me…not! I could write a book but who cares. Unfortunately our society has been totally desensitized and corrupted by ________ fill in the blank of debased agenda’s, and many parents are willing to toss out the protective instinct and moral compass they ought to have in the name of what’s cool.
So fast forward a few decades several children and a heart and mind that have been completely realigned by God and His wise word and I think it’s utterly irresponsible and appalling that we who know the ways of the world (and especially the ways of the enemy) would leave our most valuable little lambs in the place of so many unforeseeable circumstances. In other words, DUH! Good luck idiots, oh and God Bless 🙂
Yes, Erin and Will. Yes, yes, yes. .
We have 5 children, and our oldest daughter is 11 years old… And, yes, she frequently asks to sleep over at friends’ homes. For all the reasons you shared, I cannot say yes to that request. For me, it just isn’t worth the risk.
Thank you, Kristy. I agree. It’s not worth the risk. I don’t see any potential benefits that can’t be obtained elsewhere.
I am sorry that your husband was so deeply harmed. And I’m sorry that you felt as though you were exposed to things you shouldn’t have been. HOWEVER: our experiences as children—whether good or bad—do not necessarily determine our own children’s experiences.
It seems problematic to allow our own traumas to determine our parenting choices. I was mocked and teased by other girls on my middle school basketball team. A lot of what they teased me about still impacts me today if I’m not paying attention to my own psyche. Does this mean then that I won’t ever let my son play team sports? That I’ll never allow him to be alone with other teammates? No.
So…if your children are reasonably confident, have been informed about what’s inappropriate and appropriate, have a way to safely contact you and know you’ll come get them at any moment if they need to “bug out,” I hope you’d let them enjoy staying over at a friend’s (especially if you know the family, the family is intact—married, biological mother and father). Many of my fondest memories from middle school and high school come from sleepovers with my friends. We ate junk food, looked at stupid stuff online, watched movies, and talked about boys. Someone offered me a beer and *gasp* a smoke at a sleepover once; I said “no, thanks” and lived to tell the tale.
Honestly, sexual assault and molestation are FAR MORE likely to occur in homes where one or both parents are absent. All the variations: divorced and remarried, divorced with live-in partner, single people playing house with partners coming and going. If your children are sleeping over at a house where both married, biological parents are present, sexual assault snd molestation is less likely; then, you just need to worry about the siblings.
Really, I think that’s my concern here. The pain of what you both experienced as children seems to be impacting your thought process here.
As an aside, I do not like the double talk from commenters. The author and his wife brought up real traumas, but commenters are lumping those painful traumas in with such mundane stuff: being offered a drink or a smoke. And further, there seems to be zero self-reflection from those commenters: being offered the bad baddies didn’t set them on an unalterable course to rock bottom. They likely said no or tried the bad things and didn’t like them, and moved on with their lives. So, yeah, a beer and a smoke are no where near sexual assault and molestation on the trauma scale, amirite?
To continue: my son–who is a mere preschooler now—will enjoy sleepovers and I look forward to hosting them as well. Obviously, the families will be screened with my own criteria, and I really will have no problem saying “no” to some and “yes” to others (we already do that now with play dates).
I don’t think your children are missing out, but I think you two might be missing out. I know my parents enjoyed the “break” when I was out, and I know they got a kick out of seeing my friends and I act goofy. They got a peak at a different side of me, and they got a small peak into who I was hanging around.
Your kids won’t be social pariahs, and they’ll be happy well-adjusted adults because they obviously have such loving parents. I just hope you both can find peace with your traumas and not have them peaking around your shoulders while you parent.
As an adoptive mother, I don’t understand why you keep referencing “biological parents” as a safety factor for sleepovers. I really don’t think my home, with two happily married adoptive parents who have had my son since he was a week old, would be any more of a risk factor than a home with two biological parents. (Not that I plan on hosting or sending my son to sleepovers anyway…)
I don’t think “A” meant her statement to come across the way it did, at least I hope she didn’t. But, I had the exact same thought as you, Claire. I may not be my daughters “biological” mom, but I’m the only Mom she will ever know. I was in the hospital the day she was born and she came home with us when she was less than 30 hours old.
Thanks Stephanie. I honestly didn’t know what she was getting at with that “biological parents” thing, and I was hoping she could come back to clarify.
From Will: While our experiences do not necessarily determine those of our children, I think it unwise to ignore history when thinking about the future
I completely agree with you and your husband Erin! I have a teenage age son and we have never done sleep overs either! I was very fortunate to have never had any bad or inappropriate experiences during sleep overs as a child. Neither did my husband. However, I am a former elementary school teacher and the stories I used to hear when I was teaching from students, parents, and colleagues was enough for me to have a conversation with my husband when I was pregnant. We, too, decided that sleep overs just aren’t worth it! We have had other children spend the night at our house, but only if we know the parents well and only on rare occasions. Interestingly enough, our son has never had an interest in going to a sleep over. When he’s been invited (even when he was much younger) he’s never wanted to go. We did have a conversation with him about our reasons when he was 6 years old. His response was eye opening to us — “that’s fine, I don’t really want to go anyway. I like my own bed to sleep in and I don’t always like other parents rules.” In his 6yr old way he was telling us he wasn’t comfortable with the idea either. Even as a teen he’s not interested. He now says, “I don’t want to go because I know they watch (insert any number of awful sitcom shows on tv)” or “I know (said friend) is allowed to watch R rated movies.” So for our family it’s never been an issue. We are very blessed to have a son who’s level headed with strong morales!
I feel I should clarify that the stories I heard while teaching from students and parents were not law breaking or molestation. But things like a 7 yr old watching horror movies.
Thank for your perspective, Margot….that even without a bad experience, you still see it as a risk. We have been told that we should not base our decisions on our experiences, but you didn’t have that experience and still made this decision for your family.
My parents set the rule of no sleepovers from day one but one of my sisters was a strong willed arguing type and at 8 years old was putting up a tiresome fight over a friends birthday sleepover. They began to give in and I (older by several years and many sleepovers missed) became angry and let our parents know that it would be proof of their favoritism for my sister if they let her go. Bold on my part but I knew how much I had “missed out on” by not being at sleepovers that seemed to create very close friendships amongst my classmates at our Catholic grammar school. It pulled my parents out of their mode of giving in, Thank God! The hosting family had an adult family member who no longer lived with them. That adult family member broke in, the night of the sleepover, beat every person/child in that house with a bat and then burned the house down. Needless to say, none of me or my siblings ever asked again and my children (adults now) never attended any sleepovers, for the obvious reason and many more stated in this blog post I now know some of the bonding that went on at those sleepovers that forged the friendships I was not able to be a part of. And I am truly Thankful to my parents and God for guiding them!
That is absolutely horrid! I’m so glad y’all avoided that trama.
Amen and amen!!!!!!
Lily – while it’s working well for you, the next gal or your sister, it might not be working well for them. When they say they are sleeping over at a friends and end up pg at 15 yrs of age. I agree with the writers here. Too much risk and no need for children to be exposed to the ugly side of life before it’s time. Our creator made light and dark for a reason. God bless and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
I wanted to comment on your statement about not allowing your kids’ friends to sleepover because you never want the appearance of something happening. I just wanted to give you a different perspective.
I came from a very destructive, dysyfunctional home with drug and alcohol abuse. I had friends who were not allowed to stay overnight at my house (which as a parent i completely understand now) but i practically lived at my christian friends homes. I slept over, went on vacations with them, took part in celebrations, etc. These families literally changed my life and showed me Christ. Some of my sweetest memories as a child and a teen was doing things like listening to adventure in odyssey as i fell asleep at a friend’s house…something i couldn’t do at home. Not to mention we lived below the poverty line so I was always happy to have a good breakfast at a friend’s house. There were even a few times where i discovered on coming home the next morning that I missed out on a horrible fight at my home because I was away. I feel God protected me in this way because I always seemed to miss the worst incidents because i was sleeping at friends house. Had i not spent so much time at my friends homes, I would have never learned how a loving, Christian family operates. Much of how I raise my children i learned from my friends parents.
I get that we live in a scary world and sometimes it can be scary to open our home to others. My husband is a piano teacher and we’ve had to put safeguards up for the same reason. But I think you can really miss out on blessing the lives of children who may not only enjoy hanging out with your kids, but may need to see how a loving christian family functions, on top of maybe needing to have a break from the stress at home.
In regards to sending your kids to sleepovers, I feel it is a personal decision and though I will allow my children to go to sleepovers when they turn ten, i do have friends who have chosen not to and it’s an area we just agree to disagree. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your perspective. We do have children in our home quite often, but just don’t do it with sleepovers…unless the parents are with them, like our family friends visiting from out of town.
I can identify with Amanda’s post regarding learning good things from friend’s parents. I slept over at friends houses often, but never had any sleep at my own home.
I learned that all fathers are not angry all the time, and that they can actually touch their wives affectionately without causing their children’s brains to warp.
If my father had been more open with me regarding sexual matters, I might have been able to tell him about my molesters…yes, plural. All I know is: being so strict with your children that they fear telling you is not good.
In my case, I believe, had I had open communication with my parents, several other little girls would not have been molested by the same man who molested me. However, that would not have prevented them from being molested by someone else.
My sons never slept over at anyone’s house, but they had coaches who attempted to molest them. I want child molestation to be stopped, but I know it cannot be completely wiped out, because some of us are broken and all the preventative measures in the world won’t stop the broken mind from doing awful things.
Prayer helps the victims, but I don’t know what can be done to help those who are the chronic molesters. And this act goes so far back in human history, that at one time it was thought to be beneficial to all concerned. Believe it or not.
Our home was a Christian oasis for our son’s friends too. They often spent more than one night safe, secure, well fed with us. They escaped bad situations at home. I felt that God called us to provide a view of a normal, happy family for them.
I have been a long time fan of your blog but have never commented on a post before. This one is really close to my heart though because as we’re preparing to have our second daughter, I’m trying to prepare myself for when situations like this arise.
Growing up, asking to go for a sleepover was a coin toss. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and my parents were generally fairly protective. Unless it was to a cousins house or my grandparents, it was usually no. On occasion my parents would say yes and most times they had no reason to be worried (usually just a group of girls, eating snacks and watching sappy movies). However, there were times when I specifically asked to do a sleep over to cover up the fact that I was going to a party or meeting up with a boyfriend. Usually this led to drinking and/or promiscuity. The worst event didn’t happen at my sleepover, it happened at my little sisters sleepover. I slipped out once my parents were asleep to meet up with them. My sisters best friend had older brothers. I had had a couple drinks and slipped out to use the restroom. One of the older brothers (I was 15 he was 22) got me into his room saying we were going to watch some TV. He was extremely attractive and I was incredibly naive. He took advantage of me that night and to this day I’m not sure if I left that room a virgin or not.
That was just one incident but there are countless others. I know for a fact that my 18 year old sister is allowed to have sleepovers at the home of a “Christian” family and that the father drinks and has even hit his daughters friends. You may think you know 100% of what’s going on and that your kids will come to you if something happens but I assure you 80% (if not more) of the time, you’ll never find out. I have countless stories from myself, my sisters, my cousins, my friends and all their parents believe their kids would tell them if something happened.
Also, bare in mind that unless you know without a shadow of a doubt that your child is saved and serving the Lord, he/she is not your warrior to send out into the world to bring it to Christ. You are suppose to be leading them to Christ. Even if your child is saved, their ability to comprehend cause and effect and consequences isn’t fully developed. I said all the right things and did all the right things in front of my parents and the church and was HEAVILY involved in church life but I didn’t truly come to the Lord till my adult years. Ultimately what I’m saying is protect your children even when they think they don’t need protecting. I know had my parents not intervened in my life when they did, I wouldn’t have met my now husband and had the life I now do. Yes, they could have done more but I’d rather the expense be on my skin so I can protect my children based on what I’ve learned.
Thank you for sharing Christina. I especially agree with what you said about children going into the world. If they are not saved, how can they bring others to Christ? Thank you.
Thank you for sharing. My husband and I have six children. Three older who are now parents and an adopted younger family, three siblings. Our three youngest, two now in middle school and one still in elementary school, all get invited constantly to sleepovers. Truthfully, we live in such a different day now than with our first family. We prayerfully made the decision to not allow sleepovers based on many of the things you shared. It is funny the old saying, “the older I get the smarter my parents get.” Our older children who are now parents understand so much better now why we did a lot of what we did to protect them. We too are a family of faith. I am on staff at a church. Although our children kicked up a fuss at first, the older they get the more they are learning about God, having Godly characters and the consequences when we make bad choices can oftentimes stay with us for a long time. I have never forgotten one conversation, years ago, that we overheard from our son, now a father of four young children. It was New Year’s Eve and he was a senior in high school and ‘all’ his friends were going out for the new year. He was just 17. We told him although we trusted him, we did not know or trust all the others that would be out on this particular night. We told him he was welcome to invite friends over to play games, have lots of food, etc., but he would not be going out. His girlfriend at the time was giving him a hard time the phone for not getting to go. Our son replied, ” you know, at least my parents love me enough to care about what happens to me or might happen. come over or not. i am staying in and will wake up in the morning the same person i am tonight…safe and not regretting decisions I might have made under pressure.” As the night went on, we had at least 30 kids hanging out and ringing in the new year, having a ton of healthy fun. My husband and I smiled around the corner and knew that we were doing something right. We are not our children’s friend….we are their parents…..entrusted with them by God and charged by Him to watch over them to the best of our ability. It is not the end of the world to determine sleepovers are not a necessity for a children’s childhood. What might be the end of the world, is things they are exposed to and cannot escape nor forget when they were under our watch. We don’t judge others who still invite and still have sleepovers. We just lovingly decline. I too had an awful experience with a family I babysat for when in high school. Over the summer they invited me, and would pay me, to accompany them on vacation to help watch the kids. To a 16 year old, this sounded fantastic. Unfortunately the father hounded me the entire time. Was constantly in my space, too close, too personal, too touchy. I prayed every night that God would protect me and it was the longest week of my life and I will never forget it. I would never want my 13 year old daughter put in that situation. Thanks for sharing your story.
“We are not our children’s friends…we are their parents.” AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! In my opinion, this is exactly what is wrong with kids in today’s society.
Sandy, thank you for sharing such beautiful words of wisdom.
Thank you so much for sharing! It’s wonderful to see that we are not the only ones who have made this decision. I wholeheartedly agree with you. What are some good kind responses to other parent who ask if your children can have sleepovers with their children?
Erin and Will,
I completely agree and very much appreciate this post. I was exposed to things I never should have seen as a child during sleepovers. There is truly nothing “good” about a sleepover that a child can’t experience without being put in that vulnerable and sometimes dangerous situation. Thanks so much for the excellent post, guys!! 🙂
As someone who was raised in a somewhat idyllic environment – homeschooled from first grade with loving, Christian parents and grandparents who lived with us and with whom I was extremely close – and someone who only ever got to spend the night at family member’s homes until a certain age I could not agree more with this piece. In fact, in my opinion, my parents should have waited a few more years before allowing me to stay over. I was never molested or physically harmed in any way, but I was exposed to things at other people’s homes (even including family members) such as horror films and video games and even some playing ‘house’ type activities that were borderline. I wouldn’t want my children to play that way at the ages that I did. Our oldest is 9 and has never been invited to stay the night anywhere. We typically hang out with her homeschooled friends who all have similar attitudes toward parental responsibility for which I am grateful. A few months ago a mom approached me separately from her and asked about our sleepover policy. I told her we still wouldn’t be comfortable with her sleeping over anywhere and she graciously accepted that response. I am grateful for my parents, grandparents and Godly family members that gave me such a firm foundation and for respectful and gracious friends who are currently on the same path as us.
And to Lily’s point – I did have a period of rebellion in my college age years. I ended up as a single mom in my 20’s. However, I know of several family members who went through similar experiences in their high school years because they had very hands-off and little to no supervision. So, I don’t think that whether or not you are a ‘sheltered’ child is the problem. The main problem is SIN. Clearly we are all human beings prone to sinful behavior and we will find ways to reach out of what our parents have taught us and to test God to see if His word really is Truth. Thankfully the verse Lily posted is a great pearl of wisdom for us parents!
Thank you Tonya! I appreciate you sharing your experiences and story. And you definitely bring up a valid point about the main problem in our society.
This is odviously a hot topic. In my heart I know that the Lord does not want me leaving my children in the care of people who are not me and my hubby. I’m so glad that you had the courage to post this in public.
A lot of important, and too little talked about, stuff in this post. I also like that you mention your relationship with God so much. I also experienced the same things that the author did except this happened during the day, in bedrooms, backyards and play forts. Which is why I wonder if it is more of a parental supervision thing and not so much the type of event, but I can understand why sleep overs are in a class of their own. School systems have realized how much kids need a lot of supervision. In my experience, kids aren’t left alone near as much as in the past. Maybe parents need to follow suit.
I totally agree, Will. While I think kids need the freedom to be kids, I also feel that a good dose of supervision is a good thing. That’s why I’ve never completely bought into the free-range movement.
Thank you Will. Your comment rings very true with our own decisions and thoughts.
Hi Erin and Will,
I wanted to thank you both for sharing this post. While I’m not yet a parent, I do have memories of the… interesting… things that went on at sleepovers when I was a kid and teenager. I wish that I had been prepared at all (my parents weren’t Christians) for the things that I would see and experience. I wish they had cared as much as you care for your children. While you can hardly wait in line at the grocery store without seeing an eyeful, prayerfully your kids will be spared from exposure to the things that no eyes should see. And with your vigilant protection and awareness, they might be spared from other violations, as well. Thank you, Will, for honestly sharing your experience with what so many men struggle with (which probably often start as seeing something unintentionally). Unfortunately, we can’t unsee things. But thank you for taking a stand, though unpopular, to do what you think is right to protect your children. God will honor your faithfulness.
Thank you for your honest and relevant article. I absolutely agree with your decision. A lot of people have brought up preparing and educating our children as a way of helping them be ready for all situations. As a Christian, I believe that we are sinful, and in need of God’s grace. This means that our children are sinful too, and unfortunately this means that they will be tempted and will fail to overcome temptation. So, if they are watching something they are not supposed to be watching, they will not necessarily want to stop even when they know they should. Also, if there is a child predator in the home (so often it is family or a family friend!) that you are unaware of, a young child will likely not be able to tell them to stop simply because they are afraid.
It is just not worth it to put our precious children at risk.
we have decided not to allow sleepovers for our family as well. I have an 8 year old, 6 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old. So far we’ve only had to decline invitation for my oldest, but I’m sure more will come.
I too had negative, inappropriate experiences as a pre-teen and teen at sleepovers. Which I never told my parents about. And I was raised in a loving, Christian home. Things escalate quickly, and kids are drawn in before they have the nerve to speak up. Sure, we can teach them and train them. But we really have no control.
When my daughter was invited to sleep at a friends, we invited the friend over for a “late-over”. She stayed til 10 pm, we painted nails and watched a movie – then I walked her home. Everybody had fun, but everyone got to sleep in their own beds!
I love that idea! I’m going to use it!
I truly had no idea people had such strong opinions on this matter of sleepovers. We have raised 4 biological children and now have three adopted children who are 11, 11, 12. We did allow sleepovers with the older children. Our younger children have their nieces sleep over nearly every week. They are also 11 years old. Our children have only spent the night at the homes of our grown children. We homeschool and their closest friends are their nieces and nephews. We have also participated in group campouts where parents stayed with their children.
This article came at a great time. One of our daughters has a friend who is constantly asking when she can spend the night. While I do like the girl and her mother, I have no intention of allowing my daughter to spend the night. It is good to know other people feel the same way. Now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, I will probably just tell them we ‘don’t do sleepovers’.
My immediate reaction when I first started hearing people talking about not letting their kids sleep over was something along the lines of, “Wow, helicopter parent much?” But the more I think about it, the more I see the point. While I attended plenty of perfectly innocent sleepovers, I had some rather inappropriate things happen to me sleeping over with the daughter of some friends of my parents. She taught me things that no child that young should know (I was 5; I think she was either 5 or 6). I don’t even want to think about where she learned them. Being young and foolish, I passed them on, too, to my brother, as well as another girl in the neighborhood. For me, they resulted in an addiction that lasted until I was finally able to break free of it at 14 years old. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been without the events of that single sleepover (not to mention my brother’s and neighbor’s lives).
I don’t think the author is saying that not letting kids sleep over will solve these kinds of problems completely. I doubt there’s any single thing that will. But just like open communication and education before problems arise, I think keeping your kids out of places where they could be in danger of abuse or major peer pressure without adults around is just one of many ways to help them stay safe and strong in doing what is right.
Thank you Cassandra for your perspective. I love you said at the end.
I agree! 100%! We don’t do sleepovers either for the same reasons. I sincerely appreciate your honesty, and I hope that because of this article others will at least think twice about sleepovers.
I am not against sleepovers, but recently my nine yr. old spent the night with my neighbor with several other children from our complex. The next day my son came home and told me that they all piled in the mothers car and went for donuts. Too many kids for anyone to wear a seat belt. I couldn’t believe this woman would drive my kid somewhere without asking me, and have too many kids in the car with no belts. On top of that, my son KNOWS how I feel about seat belts, and that I have to always know where he is. The sleepover was right next door, he could have just come home! I had a long talk with him about this, and it made me think- don’t always assume that another parent has a stable common sense!
Yep! That has happened to me a few times too! Once I even confirmed before I left that they would not be going anywhere by car. I wouldn’t say she lied, but she may have forgotten what she told me. I thought she was more like minded. Nope.
I totally agree with you. My husband and I do not allow our son to go to sleepovers, either. He has spent the night with his grandmother a few times and we do allow other children to sleep at our house (only when it was needed because a parent had to work). We have never even allowed him to go to another kid’s house to play without one of us there. We do not consider ourselves over protective; just parents who want to look out for their son. All the neighborhood come to my house almost everyday of the week. Th parents love it and so do we. It’s a win win. There is nothing wrong with making this choice. Anything that will keep your children innocent for as long as possible is good parenting. We don’t even watch non-children’s television while our son is awake and he is five years old. God gave us our kids as a gift and it is our job to love, nurture and protect them. Be proud of your choice and praise God that you have the insight to protect your family.
Thank you so much for writing on this topic. Though my daughter is only two, I’m glad to have the reminder to begin these considerations. My husband and I have had almost identical experiences, and I plan to do everything in my power to protect my daughter from going through the same thing. I do have a question: how do you explain things to your 6 year old? Does she feel left out or excluded by her peers? My only fear in implementing this rule (though it wont keep me from doing it…)is that my child will become so bitter about not being able to participate that she will inevitably rebel and sneak out anyway. Thoughts?
The saying “hind site is 20/20” rings true regarding sleepovers, even for teens. My boy/girl twins are 15 years old and I am quickly realizing that even at this age sleepovers are not good. When my kids visit other homes and see how other families behave it is sometimes a positive thing but more often it is a negative. I no longer take for granted that other parents will ensure that they are conducting themselves in a mature way. Sleepover incidents have resulted in my teens witnessing domestic violence, being offered alcohol, seeing verbal disrespect towards parents by their friends and entitlement behaviors.
Sleepovers are not worth it at any age.
Thank you Will and Erin! You said it well! I would just like to add something here: I was at a youth girls sleeppver once. All christian girls, and nothing bad happened. BUT, the foolishness of that evening was very unfitting for christians! I was quite appalled, and said something about it that night to them. So, as a mother now, I don’t plan on letting my children do sleepovers except maybe with family members who are very trusted (Aunt, Gramma and Grampa). Why not do something as a family with another family? Both set up our tents in our yard, and all look at the stars together?
God bless you, and continue to raise those precious girls for HIS glory!
Someone said it above…”I wish I had not succumbed to peer pressure and allowed sleepovers”. Isn’t that what parents are afraid to do, to tell their children “No”? Yes, things can happen anywhere at anytime, but really are sleepovers that necessary to our children’s development? Most of the trouble I got into was before, during or after sleepovers. Most of what I regret and wished never happened. No one loves our children as much as we do and no one will go to the lengths to protect them like we as their parents would. Why even consider a situation that could become questionable? If we are even thinking about this topic, then it is on our hearts. We are called by God to do what is right, even if it goes against what others say or do, Christian or not.
Oh, I couldn’t agree more! When my children were young, I dreaded them being invited for sleepovers and usually politely declined. One of the reasons was that they were so young! I don’t know when sleepovers stopped being for 11, 12 and 13 year olds and started being something that 5, 6 , and seven year olds were doing, but I was not a fan.
I didn’t like abdicating my parental role to someone else and even though my kids didn’t like it at the time, those were the rules of our family. When my children were in fourth or fifth grade, it was a thing at their school to go camping for a weekend, as a school event. Nope, they didn’t go. I personally thought it was insane and stupid to take about one hundred nine and ten year olds out in the woods, with only school personnel to supervise.
Thanks for the post. I couldn’t agree more. My parents always had a no-sleepover policy and I am grateful. We have the same rule for our own kids and are glad to be part of a church where the majority of the people feel the same way. One thing our church has done which is so fun is a mother-daughter slumber party or a father-son campout. That way, the kids still get to experience the fun of a sleepover or slumber party, but it’s properly supervised AND great bonding time with the parents. We as a family also do a living room slumber party for special occasions (such as Christmas eve) and it makes SUCH good memories 🙂 My girls drag every last pillow and comforter to the living room and we make a huge bed for everyone to share. We don’t normally co-sleep so it’s very special 🙂
This is a great response by Dr. Dobson on this topic. I know I’m in the minority on this topic, but I’m wary of grandparent sleepovers also. My boys have spent the night with their grandparents once, when I was in the hospital.
I have gone back and forth on this issue. I myself was abused at sleep overs by a family member. I was taught that if I was touched to tell in certain areas to tell and I wouldn’t get into trouble.. I didn’t because I felt shameful and dirty. Also, there was fear in the home around sexuality that I picked up on. I was very sheltered in massive fear from the outside world and sleepovers at any homes unapproved. . I still ended up abused.
Sexuality was not the only concern. Witchcraft. I was taught not to play with anything called a ouija board. I didn’t but the family of a local church bought there daughters Scary Stories book and allowed scary horror movies. I was exposed to things evil I couldn’t handle. I also participated in middle school with some of the evil things like trying to call up Bloody Mary in the mirror as I gave in after being made fun of. All in ” Christian homes”
I said all this to say, there is no perfect formula. It isn’t my place to tell another parent what they do is right or wrong. Everyone has a past and do as they feel is best. Pray, ask God for direction and discernment and to alert you if things seem off or even okay. I was alerted and fell into temptation and I wasn’t old enough to handle it. I even stood against peer pressure. But I eventually caved. I didn’t even know what we were doing all in the bathroom with the lights off doing a satanic practice. Guard your hearts and pray. Fear is not your friend. Wisdom is.
Your article came across my newsfeed on facebook posted by another friend. This didn’t happen by chance, and I’m so moved by your individual faith and the faith your family possess as a whole. I have a step-daughter who is 7, we share 50/50 custody of her, and a 10 month old daughter. Since becoming a mother, I take parenting sooooo serious. Sleepovers is one of them, as my 7 year old asked to go to a friends house to spend the night this summer. Although, I can not control where she goes when she is not with us (when she is on the week with her mom) I still teach her of safely and to do what’s right, even when I or her dad are not around. I felt guilty telling her no when all her other friends are doing it, I can already see that the girls at school leave her out, but I didn’t know how to explain “why”. What I wanted to say was “I’ve been on sleepovers, and I know what goes on-it’s not good.” Even when I got to high-school, I stayed the night at my friends house purposely because their curfew was later than what my parents allowed. Even after all that exposure, people would tell me “But you turned out just fine.” I didn’t know how to respond, I STILL didn’t want that for my girls. I’m just so relieved I’m not the only one who thinks they are not safe, and because of your post that I stumbled on, I started thinking of everything (technology). Although I have been a Christian since 12, my faith has only started to matter to me now that I am a mother and try to lead an example for my girls. Thanks to your post, tonight my husband and I are going to discuss parental controls on the TV, tablets, and start monitoring everything for the innocence of our children. I hope it’s not too late for our 7 year old, but for our 10 month old we will be more secure. I also am going to discuss with their grandparents of monitoring and asking them to set controls on their devices when the children are with them during the day. Thank you for your honestly, your bravery of posting this, you have inspired me today!
Carissa, thank you for your kind words, and I don’t think it is too late at all. You have to decide what is best for your family.
I also respectfully disagree. I fear that by not allowing our children to experience things they get an unreal view of the world. As far as older children having an influence, I would not allow my child to spend the night with a child that was older than he is. However, I believe there comes a certain age where children understand what is and is not appropriate and can be trusted to make the right decision. That being said, I respect you making the right decision for your family. I do hope, however, that even though you don’t allow your children to have sleepovers, that you still are very open to the topics of sex, sexual abuse, etc in an age appropriate manner. My parents never talked about that stuff with me and their response was to just say it was for marriage and move on. I found out about periods and sex and stuff from books at the library. All this led to me being sexually assaulted at the age of 19 because I didn’t realize what the signs were pointing too. I wish my parents had been more open with me and made me feel more comfortable about this topic and maybe I could have stopped what happened to me.
My husband’s parents never discussed that either, so we have already begun talking about it with our girls. Thank you for being respectful!
This reminds me of a quote from “Finding Nemo”. The dad says, “I promised I would never let anything happen to him!” Dori says, “You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him! Not much fun…”
Don’t really consider the things that happened to my husband as fun. But my children to have plenty of other opportunities to have fun and explore and make memories. This is just not one of them.
I love this ,thank you so much for sharing. As a child myself I never slept over anywhere (grandmas only) not because I wasn’t offered or allowed it’s because I never wanted to.I never felt safe anywhere but home or my other home (grandmas). I try to instill those same safety,care,love,comfort values with my own son so far he’s only 7 and has been asked to sleep over a few places however I’m not comfortable with it and neither is he so it really hasn’t been an issue. This is something I will be praying on and about with my husband for future times.
We have had one bday 7 boy sleepover where the boys where not ever once unattended by both my husband and I plus another adult. But I will say all the children were close family friends who are use to being in our home regularly with and without their parents , we go on trips ,celebrate birthdays ,holidays etc with them and their family’s it’s does make it a little easier in that sense. So thank you so much for sharing your stories.
Î have been following the comments and I was thinking. There is a difference between a sleepover/slumber party and babysitting overnight. The purpose and goal make a big difference in the children’s expectations and behaviors. How the children are split up into rooms and when the lights go out makes a difference. We would still take all our precautions.
We have taken children overnight from people like-minded. When we travel, we stay at friends and family’s houses. It’s fun, but it’s not a slumber party. The same difference would be between inviting a family over for dinner or having a birthday party. The expectations in behavior are different. One other family is different than collecting the whole gang.
Does that make any sense?
Thank you so much for this article. We have a two and a half year old son and a baby on the way, and my husband and I have discussed this very issue at length, deciding based on our own experiences that we would make it a rule for no sleepovers.For the commenters who say you are sheltering your children and putting them in a bubble if you don’t allow sleepovers, I think that they are thinking sleepovers are accomplishing more than they really do. There is a lot of room during the day for exploration and independence, risk taking etcetera. What possible benefit is there for having children actually sleep over at each others houses? They’re supposed to be sleeping right? But that’s the problem, they don’t. I went to a Christian school and my mother only let me go to sleep overs with “good Christian families”, but sleepovers are where I first witnessed pornography and occult practices. Even less disturbing things like, eating really horrible food up until 3 o’clock in the morning, isn’t something I’m sure my parents would have approved of. To people who say that sleepovers are all a part of growing up, who says? Just because it was a part of one family’s culture doesn’t mean that it is necessary for all children to experience to have a happy healthy childhood. My husband had similar except worse situations in his sleep overs, similar to what the author of this article experienced. I know that there have already been a ton of comments on this article, I just wanted to chime in to those who think that educating and preparing your kid is enough, I really don’t think it is. My mother did an amazing job educating and preparing me, and I’m sure she would not have thought I would have let someone show me a movie that had pornographic images, but when the time came I just felt too awkward and under pressure to tell my friends to turn it off. I guess that’s what I’m trying to get out, weigh the risks versus the benefits. Its not like the benefits are so phenomenally amazing and the risks are minor. The risks are pretty heavy, & I really don’t see any benefits at all, for those who do see benefits, at least weigh the risks against the benefits when making this decision.
I completely agree with your article and thank you for writing it. People can’t understand why i’m so “hard on” my kids, im not hard on them, im simply doing what is best for them. They don’t go anywhere without me or my husband & they spend the night no where, they have only had a cousin spend the night and thats rare also. I was exposed to many things by going to other homes and by some friends coming to my house. I Will educate my children & pray God’s protection over them constantly! God bless you for writing from your heart!
Erin, I just came across your Disney post and this one and love your blog. We are missionaries in Ecuador so we feel strongly about giving kids the gift of a global world perspective. So enjoy Costa Rica and if you ever want to explore Ecuador there are lots of organizations here you can team up with.
I’ve had a hard time with this subject on sleepovers. I don’t let our kids but I’m more than happy to let kids sleepover here. I know–doesn’t seem fair but one I’m still wrestling with and trying to figure out what works best for our family.
I wish we were closer so I can pick your brain on all things blogging. Our ministry doesn’t allow me a lot of time but I’m growing my blog little by little.
Stop by our place: Inspired by Familia if you have a moment.
Blessing on your blogging journey and grace-filled parenting.
Thank Mari! We actually have some friends that minister in Ecuador as well and would love to come spend some time with them in their ministry.
I appreciated your article. My parents took this same approach with me and my brothers. At a young age we only stayed with grandparents and graduated into staying with cousins. I only remember staying the night one time with a non-family member. I was in middle school by that point, and her dad was gone for the weekend. However, I remember one of my friends had a birthday party/sleepover combo in elementary school. I begged to go. I was allowed the party, but I would be picked up before the sleepover. My parents did not know her parents very well and were not comfortable with the sleepover. I’m so glad they made that decision. After a few years, my friend’s dad turned out to be a not so nice person. To think my parents may have saved me from a terrible memory! My parents sheltered us while allowing us to explore with careful guidance required of a Christian home. My brothers and I are more emotionally and morally capable than many of our friends growing up. Also, our social skills did not suffer. Every one wished they had parents like ours. With children of my own, I follow their example in many areas including the sleepover policy. So far my oldest (2 years) has stayed the night with grandparents twice. One day we will have to answer for the decisions we have made for our children. I know I have and will make many mistakes, but I will do everything I can to keep them safe and to protect their innocence. Thank you for your article! It is so hard to explain this to parents with different viewpoints and/or values!
Great piece. I once read an article when my kid was younger saying, when you are ready to accept, I’m sorry then it’s okay for your kids to sleepover. To date I’ve never felt any reason where I’m sorry would suffice.
When I was growing up, we had the same rule, the only exception being that we could stay with our grandparents and at the house of one of our cousins who is about the same age as my sister and I. This certainly never seemed unfair and I never felt deprived. Staying over with our relatives was more of a treat this way, and we did not miss out on fun because we still attended sleepover parties but were picked up earlor in the evening.
I plan on a similar rule for our daughters, although if my sister and her husband end up having boys, the list may dwindle to only grandparents. I’m quite picky about who the girls stay with during the day, as well. It’s not their job to worry, it’s my job to keep them safe.
Your words reflect my husband and my hearts. In all area of child rearing our hearts are to glorify God and guide our children as Christ guides us. So many times I feel “overprotective” but I know God is usiing this time to build them up for when we do have to let them out into the world. My prayer is they are equpped to overcome temptation, stand up for what is right and trust God to make what seems like it could be bad (peer pressure to fit in, etc) actually make them strong and a light to those around them.
I completely agree with this and for the same reasons. Although, I have let my kiddos attend 1 sleepover. BUT I was there too! The family I let them stay over with is of course a very close friend of mine so why wouldn’t I want to also have mommy time with my good friend, talking and playing cards while our kids enjoyed a sleepover together. Lol! Only time they slept over a friends house.
I haven’t read all the comments and I respect you for your choice. I’ve always found, as a seasoned parent to three bios and many foster children, that parents who, themselves, have been survivors of abuse tend to be more wary than those who haven’t been. Not a judgement, just an anectodotal observation with many examples of such. But that’s neither here nor there.
I will say that, Erin, your classification that somehow because you were in CHRISTIAN homes (your emphasis), your experience was different. I’m not going to bring up the famous Christian family in the news that had this happen- in their home- ooops, just did.. but beyond that sensationalism, that kind of blanket statement is the exact one that can backfire on a person. We are a God loving family here, as well, but we do not assume just because a family is Christian that it makes them perfect, close to perfect or even all non-molesters. I dislike when people act like Christian people are above or better than others. Isn’t that the exact thing Jesus was trying to teach all along? That one is not better than another?
I think you may have misunderstood my statement. I actually agree with you and was saying that just because I was in Christian homes did not spare me from being exposed to inappropriate things. I hope that clarifies a little.
Completely agree with this. I always had pretty good experiences at sleep overs but there were a few people’s houses I stayed at where there was very little, if any supervision at all and things could have gone down hill very quickly.
If God ever chooses to bless us with children, we won’t allow sleep overs either, except at the grandparents.
I have read your article and many of the reply’s. I just want to say I applaud you for doing what YOU feel is right. We each have the right and obligation to do what we feel is best for our families. I also applaud that you both came to this agreement. And although I tend to agree about younger children, things happen more often with older children, too. God bless you and your family as you seek to follow His guidance and will in your lives.
I respect your decision but don’t totally agree. My children have sleepovers but only with VERY trusted people and only a few. When kids come to our home we are ALWAYS supervising.
i respect your opinion but I have to say I do t agree with it. Your reasons can be applied to every situation in life. My child can be run down crossing the street but I don’t keep them crossing the street. We raise our children well and give them values for life. The Lord taught us what was right and then placed before us good and evil but left the choice to us. Our children need to learn to stand up to evil when encountered not hide from it.
I couldn’t agree more. Our job is to teach them what is right, and to a certain extent tell them what to do, but at some point we have to trust our children in making the right decisions themselves. My parents were always very straight forward about everything and never hesitated to share their opinions about anything. They told me what they believed to be right and wrong, some things I wasn’t allowed to do, while others things were up to me to decide. By doing this they took a lot of the fun away from ”doing something wrong” which lead me to not make bad choices. I’ve never smoked, I never drank at parties, etc. yet a friend of mine whose parents were extremely strict, didn’t even allow her to attend sleepovers with close girlfriends at the age of 17, ended up with a child that did way more wrongs then I ever did, including drugs.
So my point is, trust in your children. If you can’t trust them to make the right choices when it comes to small things growing up, what’s going to change when they are adults? Isn’t the ultimate goal to raise a good, happy human being?
Yes, they do need to learn, and we need to educated them. But until they are prepared, we are choosing not to send them into this particular battlefield. Crossing the street is a necessity where sleepovers are not. They can learn any of those things without sleepovers.
I have to say I don’t completely agree with this article. Yes, there are many things that CAN happen at sleepovers, but are you really going to base your whole life on what could happen? When you get in a car, the car can crash and you can DIE, yet you get in the car anyway, cause life is full of what-ifs, but at the end of the day, it’s those what-ifs that make life worth living. You’re not protecting your child by not allowing them to attend sleepovers, in fact, you’re creating a child that will most likely one day do something they never would have done simply cause they weren’t allowed when they were younger.
If you want to protect your child, prepare them, let them know that if they ever need you, no matter what, they can come to you. Of course you don’t need to let your child attend sleepovers from an unreasonably young age, but at a certain point, you have to show them that you trust them. Some of my greatest childhood memories derive from sleepovers. Why doing things at night makes it more memorable, I don’t know, maybe darkness makes thing more exiting, but the point is you can’t always control what your children are doing, or even what happens to them. The things you mention in your article could happen anywhere, and though I’ve never experienced anything like what you described, I think the measures your family has taken are too extreme, and will not benefit your family in the future.
I have seen several other people mention driving as well. However, driving is a necessity. Sleepovers are not. Yes, education and equipping them are absolutely key, but until they are ready for that, we have chosen to avoid this one area for now. Yes, those things could happen anywhere, but why expose them when it isn’t necessary. You state that you have not experience this, so perhaps your views would be different if you had, bu I don’t think sleepovers are some pinnacle of childhood experiences that will affect my children’s future if they don’t attend them right now. Each family has to decide what works for them.
I understand Lauren’s point very well. My mother’s best friend’s husband was one of my molesters. It would happen while I was waiting for my friend (his daughter) to come out and play. And it would happen while his wife’s back was turned…washing dishes..for instance. The point I need to get across is: Parents need to allow their children the freedom of speaking to them about any and all events that are occurring in their lives. I was taught to respect my elders at all costs, therefore I could not ever tell what Mr. so and so did to me or what my mother’s brother did to me, or what my older cousin did to me.
After I was an adult, I still could not tell my parents what their best friend’s husband had done or my relatives. Please allow your children to feel so comfortable with you that they will tell, and save so many others from the same confusion and heartbreak.
I have also experienced inappropriate behavior a/o conversations at a sleepover as a child. Kids act out to show off to look cool –
I agree 100% regarding the responsibility to protect my children. It’s very hard to explain to others without them feeling insulted.
It’s also hard to be the only parents with these boundaries. It’s amazing what parents today let their children see and do.
I enjoyed reading your article. I’m sorry you had to experience what you did- but if the result is your children never experiencing what you did than good has come from a bad thing. Xoxoxox
I struggled a bit with the sleepover idea, that and camp (unless it is family camp). I agree 150% And I am not ashamed to admit I am protecting my children. They are both 8 years old (twins) and are still very much attached to me. I get my cues from them and they are not comfortable being with someone even in the daytime with the absence of my presence. This tells me a lot. That they still need me and I still have a little bit more time with them before they grow up, and they will eventually, so why worry about it? I know all about being attacked and scrutinized for sheltering my children because I home school my children. Which may bring up an even touchier issue… Although they may not have the same experiences at school that they may at a sleepover, our precious children are entrusted to and left in the hands of someone else in our absence for the greater part of the day. For a full 10 months. The institutions that teach around here are extremely Godless, and the influence over the extended period of public schooling could have worse repercussions than a sleepover… I know of more than one of my family members losing their innocence to a teacher. I also know they teach (in more detail) what your kids may have picked up at a sleepover. But that is just my 2 bits.
Our minister and his wife are a couple I really admire about 10 years ahead of my husband and I in life. She recently told me that they never let their kids be alone with a man and to model this out minister is never alone with other people’s kids either.
I was really impressed by them, and they made it work for almost 9 years so far. Made me think about situations I hadn’t before and I’m glad I’m thinking now, and not when suddenly asked by someone if our child can stay over.
Thank you for this post. My husband and I have made the same decision for our daughters. Question- how do you let them know? My barely 5 year old already knows about sleep overs ( where do they learn this stuff so young??) and asks regularly for one. I know this may be a battle in the future and just wondering how you handle it. Thanks.
Thank you for writing this article and sharing your views. My parents were European immigrants who couldn’t believe people did sleepovers and did not allow me and my brother to go on sleepovers. Never no sleepovers. They were so carful and told us openly they didn’t want anything to happen. And no camps either. And you know what nothing did happen to us we had a innocent happy childhood. Thank you for sharing your experiences it really helps. I’ve allowed sleepovers at my home but not my kids going on them. My daughter doesn’t like to leave me she doesn’t even want to sleep at Grandmas (we allow grand parents) and you know what that’s ok. In grade 5 (next year) her Christian school goes to a camp for the night and she doesn’t want to go and I don’t know if I want her to go!
I’m sorry if I’m being disrespectful, but what happens when she has to move out to go to college or whatever outside of your home? It’s great that you guys are close, but don’t let her get too dependent on you. Even if you have to force her to, I think you should make her more independent
I agree, there are plenty of things that can be done in the day time. My daughter is 17 and I still don’t allow her to sleep over. I did once when she was 16 and I regret it! We have to protect our children.
My family also does not do sleepovers. My wife’s dad, a former LDS bishop, has a saying, “Nothing good ever happened at a sleepover.” We think he’s right.
Hello, I don’t know how old your children are, and I may be a bit young and naive in saying this (I’m 15). I’m a daughter of a pastor and he takes his job very seriously but my siblings and I are allowed to sleepover. I’m not sure about my brother and sister, but I can say for myself, I’ve personally never been exposed to anything graphic during sleepovers or anywhere. I think I was allowed to have sleepovers in kindergarten with this one other girl. We used to go to each other’s houses almost every day after school and her family was Korean as well in Virginia which is why my parents were more open to letting me sleep over, because they could talk to them and understand what they said without a translator. I think she was the only person I had a sleepover with (which was about a year because she moved back to Korea and I moved to Arizona some time after). I made some American friends and was allowed to sleepover at their houses (they did live right down the street), I was in about 3rd grade. I do understand that every situation is different, but I think you should give your children the choice to sleepover with their friends. If you believe you’ve raised your children right, they will know what to do. They’ll make good friends who won’t expose them to whatever because chances are, they’ll probably be just as innocent. I think you should at least allow them to have sleepovers with their best friends who you personally know and trust. Give them some freedom now under your guidance so they don’t become overwhelmed by it when they can do whatever they want. Children are smart, if you don’t give them freedom, they’ll find a way to take it. Also, I’d just like to point out that just because someone claims to be a Christian, doesn’t really mean they actually are (I don’t mean to offend anyone, it’s just true). Also, just because the parents are Christian, doesn’t mean the children are.
Thank you so much for verbalizing my thoughts exactly. (I’m almost 15 and you said it perfectly)
I agree with no sleep overs. I am a divorced mother of 2, My children have been through a lot with there father and his 2nd wife. My children do not trust adults they do not know very well. I have had not had good experiences with sleep overs my self , growing up. My father is a pastor, we grew up in church and had christian friends, but that still did not protect me from things that happened. Never abuse, but peer pressure, awkward moments when the adults did questionable things. I am the only one who can look out for my children being a single mother. My kids are teens now, and I know they can handle them selves and they do, but they can have friends over during the day. I have prepared my children in the way of the lord and they know right form wrong, still it is better for our family not to do sleep overs at our house or their friends homes.
I totally agree with you and for all the reasons you’ve stated! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this way, but even if I were, I’d maintain my position. This issue just came up when my 12 year-old son was asked to sleep at a friend’s house for the first time, and I had to say, “No.” I plan to show him this article! Thank you!
I am in agreement with you. I have picky these days who my kid stays with after a few bad experiences. And this is really not just a Christian thing but a concerned parent thing.
I am incredibly curious about your opinion of camps. I spent many years in camping ministry, and am really curious what you think about that.
My husband and I have not come to an agreement on what we are going to do with our children yet. I don’t see much edifying about sleepovers until at least 14-16yrs old. But I feel like summer camp might be different. There’s less sneaking around and breaking the rules in the younger grades, and most camps are REALLY careful because they don’t want to risk lawsuits. It only happens once a year, so it’s definitely a special occasion that is definable. There’ side finitely at least one adult sleeping in the room WITH the kids. But you don’t know who the other kids are, so there’s also extra risk. And bullying definitely happens at camp (I had it happen in my cabin, and it took a while to figure out what was going on and put a stop to it).
I would definitely be interested in what your opinion is and why.
I won’t personally be allowing my child to attend camp unless I attend with her. I was a camp counselor at several different camps during my college years. I also studied Theology and Youth Ministry. In my experience and my education, I think they can be just as dangerous. Unfortunately, I attended a camp, where the director was requiring the young boys to shower in a large group and without any clothing WITH the adult director. I, along with other camp volunteers only learned about this after it took place. And, for reasons unbeknownst to me, no one reported it! In fact, the man now preaches in a congregation somewhere and even more bizarre – he has NO credentials regarding ministry or Theology.
Anyway, all of that to say it can still happen at camps. Unless you and/or your husband are able to stay IN the same cabin to have a close watchful eye, I would personally refrain.
We haven’t had to deal with overnight campus just yet, but some of our friends who have had to deal with them just chaperone the camp. They give the kids space and allow them their independence, but they are there as well. Our kids are still young, so I think this might look different when they are teenagers.
Projecting your own fears on your children is wrong. All three things listed are personal fears being dumped on the children. I have been to many a sleep over and non of the problems mentioned (with the exception of some nudie magazines) ever happened to me. Children can not be sheltered from the world forever and if they are not taught about the mentioned fears by you the parent then they will learn about them from the rest of the world. Guaranteed. Children need to grow up and learn!
I agree. Children are not protected by over protection and over thinking for them. As parents, you need to allow your children to think for themselves and have so much trust in you (their parents) that they can ask any and all questions freely. Good and bad reside in each of us….the place and time and age are not things you can control…your children will be accosted at some point at some place by someone. They need to be strong enough on their own to resist and even fight back if necessary. And they need the real love of their parents. The forgiving love, not the rule making and punishment “love”we often prescribe to and think all is well.
We all make our decisions based on experiences or lack thereof. So we are making these decisions based on our experiences and wisdom gained. I also do not want to just leave it up to “your children will be accosted at some point at some place by someone.” That is perhaps one of the most disturbing statements I’ve read.
I just wanted to say Amen! 🙂 I cannot recall a single God-glorifying sleepover. Like you, the sleepovers I attended (with a couple exceptions) were in the homes of Christian friends from church. My sister was assaulted by another girl at a slumber party, my friends and I talked to strangers in a chat late at night, and there was a common loss of sleep which is never healthy, especially for a growing child!
My field of study was Theology with an emphasis in Youth Ministry and we learned a lot about how to protect members of the youth group from predators, who as you probably already know, tend to lurk in churches and children’s and youth programs because children are largely unsupervised AND parents are unsuspecting of church friends/family. We also learned that events like “lock-ins” are largely unproductive and foolish. Are you familiar with them? It’s essentially a co-ed sleepover facilitated by parents and youth workers INSIDE the church building, where everyone stays up ALL night. To this day, I’m astounded this was considered normal and acceptable because I grew up attending an otherwise largely conservative church.
My heart goes out to your husband and you, and everyone who has attended a sleep over. I just think they’re bad news. I am so thankful nothing more horrific happened to me. As you stated, nothing good happens at night that cannot happen during daytime hours. I applaud you for courageously choosing to share your decision and for making the decision. I have made the same one. I also don’t allow my child to go to friend’s homes because you just never know. Again, like you said, children are not ready to be put into battle.
Only since going through college in a town away from all my friends and family have I come to the conclusion that I’ll be following my child to college, should they choose to attend an out of state school. I was assaulted by my boyfriend at the time and never reported it because of the shame I felt. After I finished school and continued learning about brain development, the value of family and peer support, I began to feel from an academic standpoint and from experience that sending an adolescent to school away from everyone they know during one of the more challenging times of their life is not in their best interest. I know I’d receive backlash if I shared this with the masses and I know not everyone is assaulted who attends college, but if my family had been closer by I have confidence I may not have endured what I did for the length of time that I did, if I had experienced it at all. I will take the label of being a helicopter parent everyday and anyway if that means protecting my child from a deeply traumatic and life-altering event. It shapes a person in ways no one can grasp, unless they’ve experienced it themselves. I never want my child to experience that kind of grief.
Again, thanks for sharing. I am sure this has blessed many. I hope it has influence the minds of others, who perhaps had not considered the perspective you shared. 🙂
Thought this was a form of a ministry site, talking about “God” – but then I noticed that our browser had to block 20 (TWENTY!) different advertising and tracker items for it to be safer for us to use… Amazon associates, Conversions Box, Double Click, Facebook Connect, Facebook social, Google Analytics, Google Platform, Gravatar, Gumgum, hello bar, new relic, pinterest, comcast, sentry, share this, sumome, triplelift, twitter button, wordpress stats, yieldbot. Are you doing this for people, or for money? What is your drive?
Thank you both for your vulnerability! We also have the same values for our family. Unfortunately, both my husband and I were molested by other children when we were kids. We understand the importance and necessity of keeping our gifts safe. We do not even let them stay with all family either. God bless you all and continue to give you godly wisdom in marriage, parenting, and life. Your children will thank you later for protecting and keeping them safe as we should!
How do you address the rules of no sleepovers with your kids, especially when dealing with birthday parties?
My daughter is almost 4, but I already see the excitement already beginning. Her friend we babysit regularly has parents who are divorcing. Last weekend was her first time to go spend the weekend at her dad’s new home. I helped her pack since we were babysitting her all day. She was very excited. When her dad picked her up, my daughter said she wanted to do that with her dad too. I tried to explain how it’s really more fun that her daddy lives with her instead of only seeing him every other weekend like her friend does. My daughter describes my husband as “fun daddy” & they do fun things together regularly- it was the idea of the sleepover that captivated her. (A couple months ago we went to visit family, so she understands sleeping at other’s houses & had fun.)
I have a good friend who is a Counselor & she’s heard a lot in sessions and sees daily struggles related to scars from childhood. She’s made a rule for her son that he can only have sleepovers with those she knows deeply- grandparents and a few of her friends she’s known a long time and knows their hearts/character. Growing up, my father-in-law always told my husband and his sister “the cockroaches come out at night.” My husband still says that regularly, especially when we hear about another crazy thing in the news.
While I was never molested I was exposed to plenty that wasn’t in line with values my parents wanted for me:
– a friend whose parents stored their bookcase in her room- which had a Joy of Sex book on it. She knew the book well. I’d heard about sex at school, then that was my next understanding of it. Certainly messed with my understanding of what sex was designed to be into my adulthood.
– at a 3rd/4th grade birthday party a mother added a splash of gin to each of our glasses of punch
– rated R movies even as a young elementary child
– a friend’s dad who walked around in his tidy whiteys around bedtime/first thing in the morning. (from a family where I never saw my dad in his underwear and that was a shock and even at 3rd grade I remember thinking that was gross. lol)
– lots of language & attitudes that my parents would not have wanted me exposed to/adopting
– I witnessed a friend and her dad having a raging screaming match with each other for about an hour. It was shocking/a bit scary to be around an adult that enraged, but I was stuck- her dad was in the doorway. I also felt pretty awkward that I couldn’t leave the room so they could discuss their private issues by themselves.
*I don’t think I told my parents any of those things. I didn’t think to. But now I’m sure could have benefitted to process some of it in a healthy way with them.
I don’t have any kids, and I commend all parents for raising their children to the best of their ability, heaven only knows the challenges most children face on a daily basis. My parents never let us do sleep-overs, and I can’t say that I really missed it. I was raised with a lot of cousins so every once in a while my cousins got to stay over, but it was definitely supervised. My parents never let us stay over friends houses. I often ask parents, with today’s technology, and so many dangers, how do explain such dangers to your child without terrifying them. How much information is too much, and when is the right time? I do have a question for parents: if it was safe, proven safe, would you place a chip on your child? If this meant that if something happened, they could easily be located, then once they turned 18 years of age, they could have it removed. Is this an invasion of privacy? In today’s world, I would honestly say that I would strongly consider it.
I appreciated reading your article. We have 3 adult daughters and also 2 boys age 5 and 2. I will never understand why people use the word shelter in a negative vein. Why would we not want to shelter our most innocent? When did preserving innocence become somehow “holding back”? We homeschooled our daughters and will most likely also our boys. And I have never had occasion to regret any decision made to protect or shelter. My only regrets have come from the occasions I got lax in my convictions or caved to my own peer pressure. There is no peer pressure quite like fellow parent peer pressure! Our daughters were never in any way lacking in social skills, actually the opposite. We do not gain wisdom or courage from surviving difficult situations, we survive them because of courage and wisdom. Wisdom is found only in God and His word. Courage is found in knowing who you are in Christ. This is how we help prepare our children for adulthood, not in trial by fire experiences.
This blog post hit home for us. We have two young girls 7 and 9. In the past we have allowed sleepovers. Currently, we have decided not to do so. I couldn’t agree more, what can they possibly do at night that they can’t do with an extended play date during the day. My oldest would come home extremely tired, crabby, and overall disrespectful. We dealt with the aftermath for a few days and it just isn’t worth it.
And then there is the technology issue. So many young kids have access to the internet because they have their own tablets. No parental controls, no supervision. I just don’t believe in it and I need to protect their innocence as long as possible. But, it is tough! So many friends are exposed to so much way too early. It is socially accepted and that is so unfortunate.
Thank you for your post!
We should let the statistic speak for themselves. 1 in 5 female children (of course, that is only reported cases) will be sexually messed with. 1 in 20 young men will be as well.
It sadden me to read the comments from the Christian above who is ignorantly laying his kids down on the altar of fun and calling it faith. God warns us all through scriptures about having knowledge.
I was sexually preyed on as a child. Now in my adult years, I finally let my mother know. She was shocked because she had so carefully screen everyone around us. But sexual predators, 3 out of 4,will be your own family member.
Be sober all you parents.
Lacy is so right. My own parents would have been shocked too I believe, had they known. But then again, who knows? They might have had similar stories of their own to tell. Just take in those known statistics, and take them to heart. Life is unpredictable at best. Trust no one when it comes to keeping an eye on your little ones.
I totally agree with your post about sleepovers. Our 5 children have all left the nest but in the several years that I have had to think over those child-rearing years I’ve had a constantly recurring thought: I wish we had never let our children do sleepovers (either them going or their friends coming). I don’t have any proof that those sleepovers were the direct cause of any of their current problems but since it keeps coming to mind as one of the things I did wrong and not much else does…well, it just makes me think it WAS the culprit and so I just have huge regrets about that.
I didn’t read very many of the comments, just some of the first ones, but the opinion that “if you teach them right values, they’ll follow those and always do what’s right” is just not always true. They MAY eventually return to those right values/teachings but we have no guarantee that our right, godly and Biblical principles will be followed/obeyed by our children. For reasons that we can never understand, some children choose to go in a different direction than we taught them. It’s a painful thing for parents to bear but, somehow, we survive. We’ve done our part, they’re making their choices and the rest of the story is in the Lord’s hands. I’ve had to tell myself that over and over again so that I don’t go crazy with the insaneness of it all.
All that to say…It’s better not to put them to the test and let them do sleepovers.
I know this is an old post and you have lots of comments already and this isn’t said to change your mind or dissuade you from holding true to decisions you have made, but let me tell you my story.
I grew up in an abusive home. I Prayed for day a friend would invite me to her house to play or sleep over, which rarely came. Eventually I was put into foster care and my grandma (my foster mom) wasn’t the best parent either. I had few friends, but was part of a church youth group who did week long girls camp and the girls often had sleepovers. Spending time with these girls, their parents, other church leaders helped me find my faith, I read from scriptures for the first time, and eventually I joined the church that these girls were affiliated with. Did we sometimes watch a movie that may have been a little too much (nothing above PG-13)…maybe, did we have cliques…yes…but I GAINED a testimony staying over with these girls, families, and leaders.
Lots of bad things can be done, seen, or participated in, but lots of great, uplifting, spirit promoting things can also happen at a sleepover.
I realize there are different experiences, and I’m so grateful that you had the one you did. It was definitely a blessing. I have heard similar stories as well.
I feel the same way. I also first saw porn, was taken advantage of, and did idiotic things at sleepovers and my husband was taken advantage of as well. I hear the same all too often. Throwing our children to the wolves is not a rite of passage. Also, sleepovers are a largely American cultural phenomenon.
I do not allow my daughters to spend the night at other people’s homes. At seven they have stayed away one night at their grandparents home. I do allow them to have sleep overs. I am friends with both mom and dad of all their friends. Prior to allowing them to have stay overs I invited both parents over for dinner many times so that I was able to get to know them and find out their values and talk to them about how they were raising their children. I did this for a period of 2 years before allowing them to have their friends stay the night. They are not allowed to play in their room with the door shut, they are not allowed to be playing on tablets or laptops. We have them bring their sleeping bags and they all “camp out” in the living room. In addition, I do not go to sleep until the last child is asleep. I do not have them frequent, maybe twice a year. As they get older, this is something we may phase out all together.
I agree with this. I have 4 kids and I have struggled with this decision. So far they have only stayed with family and my oldest girl stayed with one friend under constant supervision of the grandmother. She is 6. As much as we want to trust our children after proper training I think it’s best to ere on the side of caution. I was the kid at a sleepover that introduced an inappropriate piece of information (via a printout) to the other girls. I was shown this naughty picture on the bus and since it was a source of giggles I too shared it. And I was caught by the mother! I was so embarrassed. It was the first and only time I ever instigated something like that but I mention this because I was a “good kid”. No one would have ever thought I’d bring something like that to the party. And it’s important to realize that at the time I didn’t overthink this. I was given something “naughty” and I simply shared it. I didn’t feel like a rebel or the bad kid. I simply passed it on and our curious nature as kids took over. We were all curious about this kind of stuff as our sexual nature was developing. Anyway, that plus a bunch of other sexual molesation at school has made me think more than twice about letting my own kids too far out of my sight!
We also decided to avoid sleepovers after a Pastor shared how he had been exposed to some things which he knew to be wrong on a sleepover. Our children only have one shot at innocence. It takes ONE time for that to be lost. ONE time for them to be scarred for life. I don’t believe in over protection, hovering over their every move, but I do believe in protecting them and not letting them get into situations which could ruin them for life.
I know this was a post from a while ago but I thought I might add my two cents if it doesn’t bother you. I am 16 years old and my parents have always let me go to sleepovers. Yes, I was introduced to things that my parents couldn’t control, but it taught me two important things. 1) How to handle a situation when it arises (one instance led to me reading a book at a sleepover while they watched videos) 2) How to open up to my parents when something happens. But that wasn’t actually what my main point is. What I would like to note are two things. 1) I would have really had an issue because I’m homeschooled and didn’t really have opportunities to see other people which has led to isolation issues as I’ve gotten older, which I believe would have been worse if I wasn’t able to have some of those opportunities when I was younger. 2) I would have been exposed to the same things whether I went to sleepovers or not. I have. I’ve seen it. We are living in the world and there is no way to avoid it. Just my two cents.
I know this is an older post but how do you feel about overnight camps? I had similar sleep-over experiences but we do have a family sleep over in our living room every Friday night (movie night) which really doesn’t end up being a sleep over just a lay around and watch a movie, then go to bed lol but my kids still call it a sleepover 🙂
We haven’t had to deal with overnight campus just yet, but some of our friends who have had to deal with them just chaperone the camp. They give the kids space and allow them their independence, but are there as well. Our kids are still young, so I think this might look different when they are teenagers.
Great article! I agree with it all and we do the same for our family!
What are your thoughts about Schools and even christian schools having these “retreats/”outdoor-ed” where the kids 6 grade and above sleep over for a two or three days during the school week. What are the schools thinking that put these on? What qualities are they trying to instill? Or is that their contribution to the kids fun. I love what Will said, paraphrased “what good thing happens at night any way.” We go to a Christian School and have found out that the next year and the years after they try to have these so called retreats. I would like to approach the powers to be and get these activities changed, any suggestions or comments. It seems that holding a kid back from them has a big effect on the children socially.
I do agree with you whole heartedly! there is a big difference between leaving your children in the care of grandparents and aunties or uncles that you have known all your life and leaving them with the family of another child they met at school.
We don’t do them either. My experiences: pornography on tv and magazines, sneaking out of the house, practicing kissing with girlfriends, kissing boys, watching R rated movies, trying cigarettes, alcohol, playing ouja board and other creepy games. All this done under the age of 13. I rarely remember any good things we did. And my parents didn’t need to “talk” with me about any of these things or “prepare” me. I wasn’t an idiot and I knew better but out of curiosity and “coolness” I did it anyway. And I was a pretty good, mainstream kid. My parents don’t even know this to this day. Sleepovers are just fine with them still. No way, no how.
It is so sad how many of us experienced these things and our parents had no clue! It seems a lot of us are avoiding these for a reason!
My mother only allowed me to spend the night with my cousins, never school or neighborhood friends. I sure disliked it then, but understood once I became an adult.
Hi Erin, Our family shares your views. Our children do not do sleepovers for many of the same reasons you stated. My question is how do you deal with friends or families that disagree with your decision? Our child was asked to sleepover by a friend from church. When we said no, they were very offended and felt rejected. They assumed we didn’t trust them,accused us of raising our child in a bubble and being overprotective, even turned it into you think your child is holier than ours. Even after trying to explain our reasons they were not ok with it. This is a decision that we have made for our own kids and have to do what we feel is best for them regardless of what other think. However it has put a real strain on our friendships with some of the parents.
Hi Amber! It’s great to find likeminded families! For us, we just started being very vocal about this from the time we made the decision, so that people would know. We haven’t had many question us at all because we’ve been so vocal about it. Feel free to forward this blog post along to anyone who disagrees! Maybe our reasons will help?
Hello! I know this is an older post, but just wanted to say, I completely agree with you. For all the reasons you mention, and more. To let a child sleep in a home with adults away from yourself is foolish. Most parents don’t know the parents where their child will be staying, their interests, their situations, their private lives. You can’t know if there will be a fire, if they will remember to lock their doors, if they even care to lock their doors,………letting a child spend the night away from home is sending them out on their own to fend for themselves. Never.
I just came across this post and I agree with you. My daughter is still too young, but I plan on having the no sleepover rule in my house. I was wondering what people think of sleep-away camps. I’m thinking of letting my daughter go to a all-girls Christian sleep-away camp when she’s older, around 10-11 years old. Now I’m wondering if that’s a crazy idea, given all of the reasons not to.
We haven’t broached that topic together yet, but it’s honestly crossed my mind b/c it really would be no different from sleepovers. :/ My mom usually went as a chaperone to a lot of camps until we were teenagers because my sister has type 1 diabetes. I would probably consider going as a chaperone. I would love to hear from a mom of older kids on this one!
This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this article of yours, but this time I felt like responding. When my daughter was younger (6ish?) she started spending the night once a year at her best friend’s house. I know and trust her parents, and have been completely okay with it. They are like family. Better than family, in fact. I trust them more than my own family. The problem became when other friends (around the age of 10?) started asking my daughter to spend the night. I had read this article, and really appreciated what you said, and I just wasn’t comfortable. So I sat down with my daughter, and we made plans. She could go to “sleepovers” and stay until bedtime, but not sleep over, and only if there were no males in the house and the mother stayed with the kids. So far, this has worked (she’s 12 now). So I wanted to thank you for making me think about this and make plans before it was too late.
So glad you found it helpful, Sabrina. It’s important that each parent decided what works for their family and stick to their plans.
Good article. My son slept over at his friends house b4 because i had no one that day to take him to school and his parents were willing. A few times it was just stay over. But over time when he said the cartoons they watched, videos games etc. Things i didn’t let him do. I was thankful i didn’t need them for sleepover/school anymore. I saw that they were the kind of parents (lovely/kind people still) that didn’t pay that much attention to what their kids watched or play. And the rare times his friend slept over, he was bored because we didn’t have any video games and we didn’t watch tv like do. And i saw over time he was a little bully. And there were times he said he wanted to go back home, seeing as though he couldn’t do as he wanted. So i told my son no more sleepovers. And its true, no matter how we tell our children to behave and be aware or certains, at sleepovers we are not there, so we never really know. I’m glad my son tells me things and i encourage that in him and not to lie . My mom always said real friends come to your house too and want to stay with you. As a child we had maybe once or twice a sleepover and we already knew enough. And as we got older sleepovers was never something we thought about. Knowing that most of our friends didn’t think/eat/live like us. I ask Jah/God to always help to teach him the right things and to guide him on the right part. It’s not always easy when they go to school and such. But i think how we raise our children is our right or wrong and we shouldn’t change our values to accommodate others. I tell my son always, you are you, there’s no one like you, so don’t try to be like others.
Could i share this article
Over this may hear my daughter had become friends with another girl who had this rule in her family. Thank you for your post with your reasoning. It gave me a look into how other people think. My children have always been allowed to have sleepovers at our house. But we do have a rule that before a child sleeps here or one of ours sleeps somewhere else they have to have 3 daytime paydates first where adults can see how the children get along. That has ruled out many children for us over the years. Again thank you for your perspective.
I have a friend who was sleeping over a friends house at the age of 12. While her friend was taking her shower the dad (PTA member and prominent family in the community) came in to the bedroom and gave her a dollar to keep quiet for letting him touch her. When my friends family tried to handle this they were met by being ostracized and ridiculed for such a terrible accusation. She has carried that with her all these years into her 40’s. So if any child can be protected from such a horrible experience not to mention what repercussions come after, then so be it. Protect your children against all evil that is in the world at any cost, it’s our God given job! And it is none of any one else’s business to tell you how to do that. My now 30 year old daughter shares with me some of the things that she was exposed to as a teen at sleep overs and thankfully knew how to handle them. She thanks me often for being the “b****” and mean mom for just doing what other parents didn’t care enough to do and for loving her enough to do it and hold my ground, not caving in to “peer” pressure. Yes, adults have it too. Much like keeping up with the Jones’s. We don’t do that either! Kudos to you both for doing your job as parents!!
Wow! I hated sleep overs when I was younger so as a girl I never really attended many, and if I did I usually ended up calling my mom! No shame in wanting your mama, I learn this more everyday. But as a teen I attended my fair share at homes of church friends and family. I was fortunate enough to have never encountered anything truly problematic. Our tiny human is only 1 but I can foresee us implementing a similar rule.
I think it’s never too early to start thinking through these things!
We have 5 children that we homeschool. Our little community is a handful of families we’ve known since our first children were babies. We have family sleepovers. It is super fun!! Just thought I’d share in case you hadn’t thought of this yet 🙂
We love family sleepovers! We have done them with local friends, but we have several out-of-town friends we have done this with, and our kids think it’s the best thing ever!!
Emily L. Pittsford
For whatever it’s worth I am saddened by a few of these comments. You and your husband have made a wise choice. And to hear some take a turn at saying their children are wise enough to protect themselves is well…ignorant. It is our job to keep them safe. And I applaud you for your decision. Blessings to you both!
Thank you so much, Emily!
I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe this was mentioned, but who would a child go to when all the “responsible adults” are sleeping? I agree with your position on this. I’ve been the same way so far with my 8 and 10 year olds. Add in animal allergies that can lead to asthma attacks, so much of their well being is at stake. It’s just not risks I feel like I can take.
That is so true! Would a child want to wake up the adult? I know I probably would have been scared to do that when I was a child!
I completely agree with no sleepovers. I was exposed to things I shouldn’t have been at sleepovers when I was young. As a teenager one sleepover party included other girls sneaking in cigarettes and alcohol. And I’ve heard countless stories over the years about family friends or family members molesting youth. Our children only sleep at our home or their grandparent’s home. (Or once in a great while – like every few years – they might stay at an Aunt and Uncle’s home.) Also we don’t let them have friends stay over because I never want to put my husband or I in the position of being falsely accused of misconduct.
Wow! Our reasons line up perfectly! I am the same as you–I don’t want to put my husband in a bad position either!
Just this past weekend my 13y0 daughter had a sleepover with 3 friends since it was her birthday. I trusted us I don’t trust anyone else. However, we were hanging out with them and one wanted to watch a movie on Netflix. We were asking her if there were any bad scenes and/or language since this girl had watched the movie before. She said no. It was when we started watching it that the girl said “oh yeah there is this one seen but it doesn’t show anything” We were both curious and asked her more about it. We didn’t continue watching the movie but I can’t help but think if we would have not been in there they would have watched it. I think my daughter probably isn’t the most popular girl now since her parents aren’t “Cool” It doesn’t matter…what does matter is what she could have seen and would have if we had not questioned. Our children do not go home with others and spend the night for this reason. It is so scary now with all this technology how easy it is for young ones to see or hear things they should not be seeing or hearing. Probably will not be anymore sleepovers in the future.
One more thing… what about family members? Aunts and Uncles? Do you think that is safe? I’m sure it is for my prayer and judgement just wanted to know your thoughts.
The only people they have spent the night with is my parents.
Thank you Erin and your husband for this post. My husband and I have just implanted this rule in our own house with our daughters and for these exact reasons. It’s as if you were listening to our prayers and conversations! ha. I do have a question- our daughters are 6 and 3. Our six year old is just now starting to ask about sleeping over at a friend’s house or having someone over. How did you explain this to your kids in a way that they could understand and didn’t make them fearful?
I am so glad to find likeminded families, Michelle! We have been telling our girls that we don’t do sleepovers in our family since they were little. We haven’t explained the reasons–and they haven’t really asked why. Our 7-year-old has only been invited to one sleepover so far, and we let her go until about 10 p.m. and then picked her up. She knew from the time she got the invitation that “our family doesn’t do sleepovers.” We let her have a “stay-later” for her 7th birthday, where the girls brought their sleeping bags and pillows and wore their pjs, and we did popcorn and a movie, but then the parents picked them up. That is how our girls will do sleepovers. We will probably tell them when they are older why we made this rule.
Thanks Erin. I can see this working for us as well. We keep praying that even our close friends will understand and respect this rule that we have made. It certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t trust them.
I also don’t let my kids sleep over. I don’t care if people think I am being spiteful or overprotected. I will not allow it and that is it. This is all due to personal experiences I went thought. You are doing the right thing by not allowing it!
Thank you, Maryna! I’m glad there are other families out there that feel the same way we do!
I am so glad I found this site. Our 13 year old son has never been to a sleepover. My husband and I are both in agreement that sleepovers can pose a lot of risks. We have said no to a few sleepover invites when our son was attending another school. Now that he has transferred to a new school and has been there for 3 years, he has made a very good friend. This friend is turning 13 in a few weeks and has invited our son and 6 other boys to a campout/sleepover. The invite is from 5 pm on a Friday until 10:30 am the following day. We wouldn’t mind letting him join the daytime activities and are willing to pick him up late evening. How do you suggest we communicate this to the boy’s parents? What pick up time do you suggest is appropriate? Will the boys think the whole idea is weird? Would it be better that he doesn’t go at all? Thank you for sharing!
Hi Michaela! I know that it is so hard to decide how to approach things with other parents, so they are not offended! We only have girls, and our oldest is not quite yet, so I’m not sure if I am the best person to answer, but for us we just told the parents that our family has a family rule that we don’t do overnight parties, but we could let her stay until 10 p.m. She is so young, though, that it wasn’t an embarrassment to her. I would ask your son if he will be embarrassed for you to have to pick him up early. If so, it might be better not to go at all.
Thank you for sharing this!! I couldn’t agree more with you and your wife. Our children need to grow in a safe home and once they’re older they’ll have a strong foundation to face the many things this world will throw at them. As for now they’re under our care and we are charged to love and protect them. It takes one bad sleepover to change their life.
Could you please guide me on what you would explain to your girls when they ask to sleepover?
I would like to know how I should explain it to my 5 year old daughter so that she will understand?
May I email you at all regarding one or 2 other questions please? 🙂
We have just always told them from the beginning that we don’t do sleepovers. They can go to a party until late, and we will come pick them up but that we would rather have them at home with us during the night.
I didn’t allow my 5 and 3 year old to sleep over at a home. But I did allow them to go in the basement with an older child (age 9). During the few minutes at a time (I went down to check in the kids every few minutes). This older child was turning on a movie or video (my children don’t know the difference) showing men shooting themselves in the head. I can’t undo what my children saw. They were scared. And just sat there. Of course they did. The situation was happening faster than they could process. Much better to prevent the situation than to try and clean up such a mess.
I was molested by my friend’s brother at a sleepover. They were a member of our church and I’m sure my mom thought I was perfectly safe. I don’t let my kids do sleepovers. If a friend is having a sleepover birthday party I will let my kids go for a birthday part, but pick them up before the sleepover begins. I just don’t want them to ever have to experience what I went through.
Wow, Aaron. Thank you so much for sharing your undoubtedly painful story. It is stories like yours and my husband’s that led us to this decision. We have received some negative feedback on this post, but if it just helps one person make this important decision and save their children from the pain you and my husband experienced, it’s worth it! Thank you again!
I let my kids sleepover with my mom when she is in town from Michigan, and with my dad and stepmom. My 12 year old stays over with his best friends whose mom happens to be one of my best friends and the children’s ministry director for our church. I am extremely protective of my kids, and just recently discovered my son saw “porn” in elementary school when a kid told him to look at the cool video on his device. To this day, my 12 year old has no idea what sex is or how babies are made, and I make no apologies for that. As far as the porn goes, I asked him (just two days ago) what exactly he saw and his reply was “They got nude and did WRONG things.” And I cherish that innocence to the core. Now then, I am overly cautious partly due to the fact that my mom’s father molested her, her sisters, and some of my female cousins. One of my cousins has had years of substance abuse problems trying to cope with what happened to her. For whatever reason I was spared, but I wasn’t allowed to spend the night there and my cousins slept there all the time. The molestation wasn’t brought to light by anyone but my mom until a few years ago. My grandmother worked nights and when my mom told what had happened to her, no one believed her. It wasn’t until a friend stayed over and went home and told her dad that police were called. My mom was kicked out and her dad went back to living at home and molesting his daughters. I have since forgiven him, but he has never met my daughters and he never will. If you don’t put your children in potential situations, then these things have a significantly decreased chance of happening. We homeschool our kids and their friends are church friends that I trust. I never want my children to be in a compromising situation, so I don’t give anyone the chance. As parents it is our duty and responsibility to protect their innocence and I will do that with my life. I carry a taser in my bag and am not afraid to put someone on their knees to protect my child. No one has the right to hurt a child, we need more parents willing to stand up to this world and put our foot down in the name of innocence and preserving childhood. Every parent gets to make the judgement call for their kids, just remember that danger can be lurking within your own family so be vigilant and know the situation. Once lost, innocence cannot be gotten back. I’m not willing to risk that for anything or anyone.
I was 4 when I woke up with a grown man’s fingers inside me. No preparation was going to make a difference, and being able to call my parents afterwards wouldn’t have made any difference to the impact its had on my life, or the way it seemed to paint a spiritual target on my back for much of the rest of my childhood.
At 13 i was at a church school sleep over when I was bullied to the point of tears by people who were normally my friends, led by one girl who didn’t like me. I think I feigned sickness and went home, but to this day I have trust and abandonment issues.
I have no family around, and my girls are my responsibility and while I might kill for a night off, for some R&R, if I can get them through these formative years with their innocence, and with it their souls, in tact, I will do what it takes. I could not agree with you more.
I’m a mama bear. I barely let my 2 year old out of my site. But I think your fear of letting your children sleep over places could be fixed by one simple thing: educating and preparing them. Teach them to have boundaries and to stand by them.
But hey I just have a two year old and who knows I could change my mind down the road
Sorry for the lateness of the comment- I know you posted this over a year ago. After reading the blog, it’s obvious that there is really only one reason why you don’t do sleepovers: you find it’s the best way to protect your children from abusive influences (I was kind of looking forward to hearing your other reasons). Another reason you didn’t bring up but I think is valid is the social drama that often occurs during these situations- like mean girl stuff; my children encountered these problems even with kids that came from very godly families at our church. WWhatever the reason, there’s nothing wrong with this decision, and I’m sure it’s a lot more common than you might imagine. In fact Amy Chua wrote about her no sleepover policy in her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and she made a compelling case. So much so that if she had written that book when my kids were little, I would definitely have reconsidered allowing them to go on sleepovers.
I can see were this article is going and I understand your view. Personally I feel sleeps overs are a opportunity to learn and develop. I would also want my kids to know I trust them and there judgments. One question for all parents would be determining when the appropriate age is they could sleepover if you don’t mind the opportunity of the kids sleeping over and also who they are actually sleepingover with. I might also add my wife was taken advantage of when she was young. So when we got married we had this discussion and surprisingly she said she still would want our kids to have the opportunity to have sleep overs. We have a few kids and we have allowed them to have sleepsover only at there cousin homes at the moment…
Thanks for your perspective, John! I’m so sorry for what happened with your wife!
I have three sons and a daughter and we don’t do sleepovers either. My children participate in lots of activities and have plenty of time to interact with their friends including play dates. I just don’t see the need to sleep at someone else’s home and my kids have never asked.
Sleepovers were not part of my childhood experience although I did sleep over at friends starting in junior or senior year of high school. When I was younger, we were allowed to play outside with the neighborhood kids but the rules were to be in the house by dark and not to go into anyone’s house…such a different world now.
It is such a different world today! I’m glad we aren’t alone in this! More and more parents are choosing this path.
hm. cannot say i agree with this. i also was molested while staying with family friends. i had other things happen during the course of my life which are bad (though not traumatic) memories. these things made me stronger. these things also would not have happened if my parents had prepared me for these situations and if i had a phone. that said, the joy of sleepovers and connecting in that way with my dearest friends and their families is something i do not regret and will not deprive my child of. she is 11 and has slept over with friends whose families i know well and trust. we don’t do it often, but i won’t slam a “no” on something this way. i also will not live in fear of what could happen. we have discussed molestation since she was little. we have role played on how to get out of tense situations, peer pressure and the like. she is a very strong girl with a good head on her shoulders and she will be okay.
So sorry you had to experience that, Liz. But that is just not something we are willing to expose our children to and risk something like that happening. No “fun” at a sleepover is worth the years of pain or issues that can arise from something happening at an event that could have easily been avoided. There is nothing that they learn at a sleepover that can’t be reinforced at other times during other situations.
This decision is not based on fear. I am not a fearful person. But it instead if based on much prayer, discernment, and wisdom. I do think, like you said, that educating our children and communicating with them about these issues are of paramount importance. At the same time, I am not willing to put my child in harm’s way because she is strong. You don’t send a soldier into battle until they are properly prepared and mature enough. And as our children mature, we will revisit this decision to determine the best course of action for them as they gain more freedom and responsibility .
I work for Child protective services and I’m also a parent. I can tell you that all children are different and require different social environments and techniques. Placing any human in “box” is not healthy. I have good memories of sleepovers, embarrassing memories, and negative memories. But, they have also helped empower my own decision making AND helped me mold my value system.
Don’t limit your children. Just monitor them and have objective conversations. If you dont….they won’t tell you SHIT. Trust me. I’ve seen it too much. Sorry for the language, I’m just sharing my expertise.
Listen. Ask open ended questions. Display empathy. Self care! Everything will be alright 😉
Thank you for your perspective, Carissa…though I am little surprised that working for CPS you aren’t more hesitant about this issue. However, you needn’t worry about my children. They are just fine and live quite full lives with lots of adventures with family and friends. They don’t need to be gone at night to be empowered to make their own decisions or cement their value system. We can do that just fine during the daylight hours and early evening. There is nothing they learn at sleepovers that they cannot learn in other situations. That being said, our kids are still young, and we reevaluate this decision quite frequently. As they mature and get older, they will have more responsibility and freedoms.
We also haven’t done sleepovers, except when I’ve been in labor, and needed someone to watch our other children. Don’t have grandparents or any family around. But now my husband is starting to let older ones attend some, when they’ve been a junior and senior in high school. Just this week, our two younger ones (ages 11 and 13) have been invited to two separate sleepovers. My question is, what is your advice in telling your kids why you don’t think it’s a good idea?
I think as they get older, we will need to revisit this issue, and I believe that educating our kids is a high priority. We have actually told our kids that we just want them in their beds in our house at night. That there is really no reason to be elsewhere. I have told my older two that some people do have the same values that our family does and that some bad things happened to daddy when he was a kid and that we want to protect them from that. I did not tell them details but just generalities. We want to be open and honest with them.
Is it wrong that I won’t let my kids even sleep at my sister’s house? They leave a loaded gun out of a safe. Watch shows I don’t approve of ( even though “child friendly” ) & kids often access smart phones etc. I feel crushed bc I love her so much .
I would definitely NOT if I were you.
Children behave differently when they’re hanging out with their friends. They also behave differently when they’re in other people’s homes. Sometimes this is fine, sometimes it isn’t. My stepson (age 16) is generally well behaved and he behaves well at sleepovers (feedback from parents), so he’s allowed to attend sleepovers at other houses. However, his sense of entitlement radically over-inflates when he has friends over at our house. Combine this with aloof and disrespectful friends, and we now have a firm no-sleepovers rule at our own home.
This rule is recent, though I’ve been aggressively pushing it for almost a decade. Historically, I tend to say no to sleepovers (the risk and stress isn’t worth it). My husband hasn’t always agreed with my stance, which has lead to arguments. His ex-wife and her husband don’t like sleepovers either, so he feels like he has to be his son’s advocate over the matter. Let’s just say he learned a harsh lesson about picking battles; it took a train wreck of a sleepover for him to come over to “the dark side” with the rest of us.
Sleepovers can be fun, but they’re not for everyone. They’re also not a right. I’m sure there have been countless children who didn’t have sleepovers who still had happy childhoods full of personal growth, and went on to be well-adjusted adults.
Sleepovers are a (bad) cultural thing which exists in a few countries and whose potential benefits (zero, in my opinion) are heavily outweighed by the potential risks (exposure to pornography; indecent behavior or even molestation; exposure to alcohol, drugs or smoking; or, at the very least, exposure to values, talk, and behaviors that one doesn’t deem beneficial to one’s own children (unsuitable television programs, video games, etc.)).
In my country (Eastern European), such a thing as sleepovers didn’t exist when I grew up and I don’t think it is popular there today either. People there simply don’t like their children to sleep at other people’s houses. (That’s why I say this is a cultural thing; there are millions of people who lived without sleepovers and that was the LEAST of their concerns, really!)
Also, I myself, as a child, wouldn’t have wished that as I only felt and feel comfortable in my own house. This doesn’t mean that I’m not independent or that I don’t have social skills or that I missed out on anything important in life. In fact, it is by NOT copying others that I managed to focus on my goals and be successful in life, even in the foreign country where I moved.
I moved in a professional interest to a Western European country where this thing exists and I don’t see its benefits at all. In fact, it is sad and harmful that people tend to copy everything that others do, without more reasoning. Fortunately, not all people do the same.
I also see the results of this type of habits (which involve young people spending too much time with peers): smoking and alcohol consumption at an early age, not enough focus on learning, loosing one’s innocence at an early age.
If I think well, in fact, everything BAD that I learned in life, I learned it from peers (sometimes too early in life). And it wasn’t even during sleepovers, which I never did or wanted to do; it was during simple play without adult supervision.
I am an educated person, postgraduate, and I have a strong conviction that sleepovers are not at all necessary and that they take away from a child’s innocence (even if you, as a parent, don’t get to know about it; because most of the times you DON’T!)
Darlene Anita Poellnitz-Whinfield
Oops just won’t cut it! Our most important job as parents is to raise our children to fear the Lord and honor him in all their ways. “Fearing” the Lord means also fearing even the appearance of situations that are not pleasing to him. Learning to trust the first authority in their lives is part of that process. As a parent, my child has to respect, honor and trust my judgement in my role to protect and train him properly. Placing him in situations that could compromise our beliefs intentionally when he is at his most vulnerable (night time) is irresponsible. #metoo has DRAMATICALLY demonstrated that grown women have a difficult time managing expectations and asserting control over other adults (male or female); it should not be such an amazing mental conclusion that a minor age child would find it difficult to manage situations that are adult in nature. Women are being disrespected and harmed in their homes everyday and coming to church putting on a good face. Men are coming to work and performing with exception and distinction knowing that their wife is abusive, destructive, sneaky and living a double life. NO ONE knows what is truly going on in anyone else’s home or life. You get ONE-TIME to keep your kids safe and OOOPS just won’t make it Okay when they come to you 15+ years down the road stating that ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’ or ‘neighbor’ used to do this or that to me and that is why I now have this or that issue. It’s not about ‘fear’; it’s about trusting whatever instincts the Lord has given you about YOUR child. The enemy is after all of our kids; but some more in particular because they have a unique calling. Don’t allow anyone to shame you from doing YOUR JOB. Watch, pray and guard your kids. OOPS won’t help. Ooops won’t bring them back. Many children are missing because someone thought it was ‘okay’ just this once to compromise. Many children are dead because someone decided perhaps I am being too overprotective. No Such Thing. The Lord is protective over all his sheep and we should be as well over that which he has given us; even if one goes astray, he looks for it. How much more for our helpless, innocent, clueless kids. There are registered sex offenders near most homes, and teachers are having sex with students. Being careful and cautious is NOT ‘fear’ controlled; it’s being wise. We protect our homes, bank accounts and cars; we go to great lengths to insure and place technology to monitor THINGS we value. The enemy has always gone to great lengths to destroy children (especially males); are we not reading The Word? BC and AD. No one can persuade me my responsibility is just to feed, clothe, shelter and provide ‘fun’ is all there is. Thank God for the Word and the leading of the HOLY Spirit. Put on your Whole Armour. This IS a battlefield.
I am thankful to find this post. I was searching how to tell parents politely my child would not participate in a sleepover. I welcome children here, am almost a babysitter for other parents because of this. But I am not comfortable sending my daughter to anyone else’s home to sleep.
I’m so glad you found the post helpful. You’re not alone!
I completely agree but how do you get mentally ok with allowing the kids to go to over night camp?