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How do you handle sleep overs for teens?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

How well do you have to know someone before you let your child spend the night at their house?  Do you have to meet the kid's parents first? 


In the past, my rule has been no sleep overs unless I know the parents fairly well, like a friend at work or someone I got to know through the school after school day care program


But now that my DD is getting older, - 14, she's making friends whose parents I don't know or come in contact with.  She wants to spend the night at their house or vise versa and I don't know if I'm being overprotective with my rule or not.


I know I must sound like a clueless parent, but I was raised in a religion that was pretty cult like in nature so I don't know how the average parent screens who their kids hang out with. 


The only people I was allowed to associate with were kids in the same religion.  I went to public school, but I was not allowed to hang out with any kids that weren't members of the religion after school.  Everyone knew everyone else's parents so you didn't have to worry about whether you knew the parents or things like that.


The opportunity to review my rule has come up recently because my D14 has made a friend at summer camp and she wants her to spend the night at my house.  I don't know this child, I don't know who her parents are and I don't feel comfortable letting some kid I've never met before spend the night in my home.   I want my D14 to make friends, but I'm not sure if I'm being silly about this or not.

post #2 of 9

I do generally like to meet the parents first, but I've made exceptions for when the kid is a member of a group, like her homeschooling group, where I know other parents who know the parents, if that makes sense. At 14 I also didn't worry so much about kids she knew from school, if I dropped her off at the home, made sure the parents would be at home, and that my dd had her cell phone and could call me if she was uncomfortable with anything.

With a kid from summer camp - does she live nearby? Will a parent be dropping her off at your home? Honestly I really don't worry about kids coming over to my house, because I'm there and keeping an eye on everything. What are your concerns? Maybe if you can figure out exactly why you feel uncomfortable with it - what you worry will happen - you can decide how to best deal with those concerns while still letting your dd stretch her wings a bit.


My dd is 15.5 now, and between the ages of about 12 and 15, there was a definite learning curve and slope towards more freedom for her, coupled with more responsibility and a greater bond of trust that had to be built. We took small steps, and as she progressed in confidence and maturity, and as my trust that she could handle unforeseen circumstances grew, she was gradually able to make more of her own decisions on how and with whom she spent her time, even at night. Kids mature at different rates, and you'll have to try to judge how you feel about your dd's competence.

post #3 of 9
I am not a huge fan of sleepovers - I really think of them as a thing that happens a couple of times a year for older kids. I also have only let them happen with families I know well. However last year my 13 year old was invited to sleepover at a boy's house who he had played on a summer all star team with - the boys' dad had coached the team as had the husband of one of my closest friends. I would have picked him up early if he hadn't been endorsed by people who I knew so well. So I guess I have to know them well or know someone who does.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by grethel View Post

Honestly I really don't worry about kids coming over to my house, because I'm there and keeping an eye on everything. What are your concerns? Maybe if you can figure out exactly why you feel uncomfortable with it - what you worry will happen - you can decide how to best deal with those concerns while still letting your dd stretch her wings a bit.


Good question.  Obviously I have control over the situation when the kids are at my house, but I don't if my DD goes over to someone else's house.  So I guess my concern is if I let some kid spend the night at my house, they'll want my DD to return the favor and spend the night at their house.


My DD is 14, and has an auditory processing disorder.  She is very smart, but sometimes lacks common sense.  Of course my biggest worry is that she might get molested by the child's father or another family member when everyone's asleep.  Molesters don't walk around with signs on their foreheads saying they're a predator, and I don't know if my D14 has enough sense to speak up if something was to happen to her.


So I guess my worry is if I let some kid spend the night at my home, then they'll want my D14 to spend the night at their home.  I think the guideline of either I know them well or someone I know knows them well sounds like a good rule of thumb.


Thanks for the input.

post #5 of 9

I've never understood the common idea that each invitation has to be reciprocated. To me, if I receive an invitation to dinner, I am not obligated to invite the host to my house for dinner. That seems manipulative, not gracious. When my daughter was younger. I know that there were some invitations she received simply because the child wanted to come over to our house in return, and when I didn't make the invitation the child complained. "How come I never get invited to your house?" or "Can I come over to your house for dinner since you came to mine?" Apalling, IMO. And not indicative of a real friendship.


So if you don't want your child to visit away from home (or the other way around), just don't do it. You aren't obligated to do anything that you aren't comfortable with, even if demands are made about it.


Interestingly, I felt that late elementary school, around 11-12 years old, was the time for sleepovers. Earlier it seemed too young and later it just seemed wierd. I don't sleep over at my friends' houses and I don't think that it's wise for teens to do it; they are learning to be responsible young adults and that just wasn't a practice that fit with the trajectory, to my thinking. Of course there are camps and such that provide these opportunities, where there is supervision, an impersonal space for socializing, and larger group interaction.


I also didn't let my child entertain in her room; again, it seems just wierd when there are spaces in the home specifically designed for entertaining. Yet nearly every child who was invited to the house asked to see her room, before they'd even settled in on an activity. Really intrusive, IMO. She always said "no, my room is private for sleeping, we play in the living room."


I never regretted sticking to my values on these issues and my daughter didn't have a problem with it. It made her experiences at camp and college much easier because she already knew how to respect others and could say "no" to people hanging out in her room, laying on her bed, and so forth.


And of course I concur with you about the issue of safety.


Most of the socializing my daughter did was in public places: the park, the library, the movies, restaurants and cafes, athletic activities, and day trips; That's how she lives now as an adult and she feels it makes her life easier and her relationships more enjoyable.

post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by amber3902 View Post


I don't know if my D14 has enough sense to speak up if something was to happen to her.



I think that you need to work on that for a lot of reasons that don't have anything to do with sleepovers -- because sexual assaults can happen anywhere, at any time (I'm a survivor). Talk to your DD, find a class for her to attend, etc. Work on this!!!!


As far as sleepovers, I send my kid with a cell phone, and then I sleep next to the phone. I trust her judgement, but if at any point she her best judgment is that she would be better off at home, I will RUN and GET HER. Honestly, sleepovers with people I don't know really well are out of my comfort zone because of my own issues. None the less, I know that I've get to let my DD grow up, and that the more I teach her to trust her judgments and listen to her inner voice, the safer she'll be. So I just make sure that she can get a hold of me. So far, there's never been an issue. It turns out that she likes nice kids, who generally have quite nice parents.  I like a lot of her friends parents once I get to know them.


An aside, because this isn't a sleepover story -- my DD started spending a lot of time at a boy's house and I was really uncomfortable with it, because he was a boy and I didn't know his family. I went out my way to get to know the mom and now she is one of my best friends. She is one of the nicest women I've ever met!

post #7 of 9

i think it all depends. I would let her have friends stay the night at first and see how she likes it. I hated sleepovers as a kid and just did them because my friends pressured me. But as I got older just refused myself.

Also most molestation happens from someone a child knows. I would work on the fear she would not tell you more. Especially since she is past the peak age of molestation (8 to 12).

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Linda – So sorry to hear about what happened to you.  I’m a survivor of a sexual assault as well (by gunpoint) and you are right that it can happen anywhere at any time. 


I just worry that she wouldn’t know to speak up or come to me if something happened.  Despite my always telling her she can come to me with any problem, there are times when she hasn’t.


For example, she got into a fight with a girl on the school bus.  She didn’t tell me about it until almost a year later.  But then, another time she told me right away when she was having problems with another girl who was being mean to her.  My D14 can be a little gullible at times.  Also, even though she's a very bright girl, her APD affects her memory, and she can be a bit of an air head some times.  I just worry that she doesn't have the judgment to know when something isn't right.  Her APD makes her unsure of herself at times, and sometimes she has a hard time speaking up for herself.


So I think I’m just going to stick with my original rule.  While abuse can happen anywhere at any time, for me, sleep overs pose too much opportunity for someone if they wanted to molest a child, what with everyone asleep.  So if my D14 wants to hang out with a kid I don’t know too well, I’ll just take them to the mall to hang out or something like that where I can monitor what’s going on.  That way it's a win win -  I can keep an eye on things and she gets to socialize.

post #9 of 9

Hm.. actually I see a sleepover as an unlikely place for someone to be molested since the girls involved are generally sleeping right next to each other and any noise would wake the other up.  But maybe that's just because anything at all seems to wake my daughter.  I confess that I"m also happier when there are several girls all sleeping over since that tends to mean they will giggle and play all night and not sleep. :-)


DD is 10, so not quite as old as yours but has started to want to have sleepovers or after school playdates with her school friends.  As a WOHM I often don't get a chance to meet the parents of other children.  But  I do talk to them over the phone before I allow DD to go to another house to play.  She carries a cell phone and I'm confident she would call me if something was off or she was uncomfortable.  My general rule about sleep overs is that she should have played with the child a reasonable number of times to know that she is comfortable with the family and feels safe with them.  I also go in and talk to the parents before I leave her with them to make sure some basic safety measures are in place (adult at home, no snarling dog, no guns (I ask), that sort of thing.  I make sure I have their name(s) and phone numbers and that they have mine.  I have the same rules for my 13 year old DS as well.

For children coming to my house, I make sure I reach out to the parents ahead of time to tell them a little about myself and our home.  Again I make sure I know how to reach the parent(s) in case of an emergency or in case things aren't going well.

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