Middle School age daughter wants Sleepover and I don't know the parents, any advice? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 09-04-2014, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Middle School age daughter wants Sleepover and I don't know the parents, any advice?

My daughter just started middle school. Her elementary school merged with two other schools in Middle School and now there are tons of new kids. She's making friends which is awesome. One of her new friends, who I don't know, asked her to sleepover. I don't know the family at all, and while I'm sure all is probably ok, there are some things I want to know before I'm comfortable, so I asked my daughter to have her friends' mom call me. NOW, what is ok for to ask without seeming like an insane person (ie--are there guns in the home? if so, are they locked up? are you home or will a babysitter be there? if so, what's her deal? what is there are teenage boys hanging out)? FYI, I'm fairly laid back but my mind went to a new place on this one!
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#2 of 26 Old 09-04-2014, 07:11 AM
 
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One thing I did as my kids got older and were hanging out with people who I didn't know, is send them with a cell phone. For awhile, it was my phone and they could call me on the home line, and then I got them a phone to share. Eventually I got them each their own phone.

Part of my thinking is that what will actually keep my kids safe in the teen years is their own judgment. I can't know all the parents, and even parents who seem OK and answer questions the "right" way might have an unsafe situation at their house.

I don't think there is anything wrong with talking to the parents, or going up to the door and introducing yourself when you drop off your DD. But I think it is time to talk to your DD about situations and how to handle them.

The only bad sleepover situation my DD ever had was R-rated scary movies before she was ready.
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#3 of 26 Old 09-04-2014, 08:05 AM
 
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Never!

Our family really doesn't do many sleepovers. The exception is family and really close friends on rare occasions.

We know too many people who got into trouble or were abused at the hand of someone else during a "sleepover". We sort of adopt the philosophy of what can't you do during the day that you can do at night.

We look at it as, every time our children go to the home of someone else, we are relinquishing our parenting to them. We are a no PG-13 movie family for our children, no matter what their age. Just a personal choice. We've made that known to friends/family, and had that violated before. People don't care to uphold our parenting values if they think they are lame. We didn't have these children to allow someone else to raise them, even for an overnight.

People are welcome here to play anytime. We just don't do sleepovers. We value our children's rest, in their own bed, and my husband and I put our children to bed at early hours to spend time with one another. We will occasionally change this for a friend or family member to spend the night, but it's rare..no one sleeps well, kids end up getting tired of one another, and the little's get left out and they aren't used to it.

So, no..not big on sleepovers to begin with, and certainly not with anyone we don't know. Too risky.
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#4 of 26 Old 09-04-2014, 11:40 AM
 
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I'm a little concerned that the kids are so close so fast. Sleepover is a pretty big step to be taking with someone. How much after-school time have they spent together? Is it a group sleepover, so a bunch of friends are being invited over? By the time kids should be sleeping over (IME), they should probably know each other well enough that the parents have at least met each other during a drop-off/pick-up. Maybe things have changed, but I'd be a bit worried about whether or not the kids truly know each other well enough to judge whether or not they'll be able to put up with a sleepover...

I would want to get to know the parents a little first. A phone conversation may be enough, but I'd really feel better meeting them. Not a huge big interrogation, you can get a feel about people from meeting them. The biggest concern is safety, for me whether or not the family rules are followed is secondary.

There aren't always questions you can ask about safety. You don't know who'll lie. You don't know when the parents/persony ou're talking to doesn't know that someone else in the house is a threat. A lot of the questions would just potentially alienate the family and cause problems (ex. "Are you sure no one will rape my child while at your house?" "Are you sure my child won't be exposed to illegal drugs while at your house?"). Personally, I'd feel a lot better about meeting at least some of the family and getting a feel for them. Of course, you can't know, but kids have been abused all over. I've heard of fairly young girls being gang raped in their school's restroom by a bunch of boys their age. The only way to ensure our kids aren't abused by someone else is to keep them in the house, never let them out of our sight, never let them alone with anyone else (no- not even your partner or other kids), never let them learn to be self-reliant. Which'll cause other problems. Different people have different limits. It's fine to say "no sleepovers, I don't feel they're safe". It's fine to say "I'm willing to let my kid sleepover with parents I've never met in person, I feel they're safe". Personally, I'm in-between.

In terms of rules I agree that, at some point, a lot of it is your kid's responsibility. When I was 12, I had a friend whose family didn't do PG-13 movies. The one time I suggested one, she politely declined and said why. No big deal. I don't know if her parents ever told my parents. If you're raising your kids vegetarian, by middle school they should be able to ask about ingredients and politely refuse. I was never big on candy/sweets. Someone could have put a giant cake in front of me, said "feel free to have as much as you like", I'd've taken a small slice, eaten around the frosting, and been done (soda, though, has been my achille's heel). At the same time there are kids who, even if you do your best to ensure they follow your rules and keep from giving them the chance to break them, will go out of their way to break them. Even if you warn the parents about your rules, some kids will lie and say they got permission to for the sleepover. You know your child, you have to make the call on whether your child will obey your rules even when you aren't around or not.

There are also some rules that are okay to bend for a day. Different people have different limits on that. Eating fast food every day is obviously very unhealthy, but one day isn't too bad if they go back to good food every day. If they decide to fill your kid with sugar, they'll have to deal with the sugar high and crash. A lot of families will treat a sleepover as a special occasion so will bend the rules the way rules often get bent on special occasions.
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#5 of 26 Old 09-04-2014, 01:22 PM
 
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We ran into the same thing last year. We haven't let DD go to sleepovers at new friends' houses. But we have let her attend a couple overnight slumber parties at houses where I had at least met the parents. My thinking was that for a party, a) my child would never be alone with an adult, and b) there's safety in numbers.

I am so so happy that I went with my gut on refusing at least one sleepover, because we later found out that DH and I are *not* OK with the goings-on over there. That girl is welcome at our house anytime, but DD isn't allowed to go to her house anymore.

I agree with the PP who said the kids can play all they want up until bedtime. I'm another believer in everyone getting their sleep.
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#6 of 26 Old 09-05-2014, 03:08 PM
 
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This is an interesting question. I wouldnt want to prevent sleepovers completely because i think it could be an enriching exprience for my child. On the other hand, i have never had the experience of having my child invited for a sleepover when i dont even know the parents.

I agree with the poster remarking that it was bizarre that there is a sleepover request so early in the friendship. To me, that is something you would do with someone you know very well. On those grounds, i wouldnt allow it. I would want a playdate first, and i would want the playdate at my place. If they still wanted a sleepover , then i would want the sleepover at my place.

In my mind, playdates precede sleepovers until both parents are comfortable that it is the right thing.

Meeting the parents is nice, but meeting doesnt equal knowing. How are supposed to tell if a man is a pedaphile by meeting him once?

Also, i agree with making sure your kids know their own boundaries, and are not afraid of speaking up for themselves, and of being honest with you if they have been made to feel uncomfortable in any way.

They definitely need a cell phone, and i would be calling, even on a sleepover where i knew the parents.

Lastly, my son had a sleepover with girl he has known since birth. I have known the mother since birth (but the father was away) I had no problem with a sleepover, until i found out they hired a babysitter. I never consented to someone other than my friend (the childs mother) taking care of my son, and wasnt happy about that. I never expressed this, but it just goes to show, that you even have to be careful with old friends, and make your boundaries known.
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#7 of 26 Old 09-05-2014, 05:20 PM
 
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I agree with the poster remarking that it was bizarre that there is a sleepover request so early in the friendship. To me, that is something you would do with someone you know very well. On those grounds, i wouldnt allow it. I would want a playdate first, and i would want the playdate at my place. If they still wanted a sleepover , then i would want the sleepover at my place.

In my mind, playdates precede sleepovers until both parents are comfortable that it is the right thing.

They definitely need a cell phone, and i would be calling, even on a sleepover where i knew the parents.
There are a lot of reasons why they might be having the sleepover now. For example, it might be the other girls birthday, or it might be a "start of a new school year" gathering.

My kids stopped calling get togethers "play dates" before middle school, and would have found this odd language.

I don't understand requiring they meet at one's own home first. If my kid invited another child over, and that was the parent's response, I suspect it would effect how my child felt. "So, you can't come to my house, but your mom is REQUIRING I come to yours before we do anything outside of school?" That's really just rude.

Although I've always made sure my kids could call me, I've never called them to just to check up on them. The phone is there is they need an out. I actually really trust my kids to make basic life choices.

May be part of this for me is because my older DD has serious social deficits due to being on the autism spectrum, so I wanted to nurture my younger DD's social life and let her enjoy *normal* life and *normal* events. And for awhile, that was sleepovers.

I think if nurturing your child's friendships is a goal, but you are uncomfortable with the sleepover, you could accept the invitation with the caveat that your child won't sleep over, but that you will pick them up at an agreed upon time (10 or whatever) so the kids can have their fun. But changing the whole thing to your house, your rules, your deal is a little.....rude.

I've seen some very nice things happen at sleepovers. Fun games played, movies watched, pancakes eaten, and bonding conversations happen. One of the best nights of my DDs life was staying up all night watching the Lord of the Rings movies, and then watching the sun come up with her friends (that one wasn't at our house).

I think that moving into the teen years, its helpful to let go of the idea that our offsprings friends need to be people that we know well. I also think it is helpful to make one's own home "teen friendly" and to encourage our kids to invite their friends over. But doing so in a friendly/non-controlling way just seems healthier to me than *requiring a playdate.*
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#8 of 26 Old 09-05-2014, 05:23 PM
 
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I think the best way might be to just to offer up some information of your own that makes it clear your dd has been raised in a fairly protective environment and you just want to make the parents aware that she's a little innocent and possibly a little sensitive as a result. I'm not putting it this way as a judgment, nor do I even necessarily think it's true of your family: it's just a way of making sure the other family understands that your guardianship standards for your dd are high, and by implication that you expect that from them. Also explain that a sleepover in a household she doesn't know well is a new experience for your dd and you want the parents to know that you are fine if she wants to call you at any hour, whether just to talk or to come home early, in which case you'll happily come and get her. I think any reasonably responsible parent would take that information in and try to ensure that nothing happens during the sleepover that would shock or annoy you, or upset your dd. And that, I think, would create a little bit of a safety net around your dd.

The response you get from the parent on the other end of the phone will probably be understanding and reassuring, and will put you very much at ease. If you get a weird vibe, then just call back with an excuse to wriggle out of things on your dd's behalf, or say "We've decided as a family that it would be best if I come and get her at bedtime. A sleepover will be just a little much right now."

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#9 of 26 Old 09-05-2014, 10:19 PM
 
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"There are a lot of reasons why they might be having the sleepover now. For example, it might be the other girls birthday, or it might be a "start of a new school year" gathering. "

IMHO, a group sleepover is different than a one-on-one (someone mentioned 'safety in numbers'). If it was a group sleepover, I'd expect the OP to have mentioned it, so I'm assuming it's a one-on-one.

"My kids stopped calling get togethers "play dates" before middle school, and would have found this odd language. "

So did I, although it's possible the poster lives in an area where even older kids still call them "play dates". You still understood what was meant. This just seems like a really unnecessary nit-pick. If we're supposed to limit ourselves to our children's language, well, I shouldn't even be typing this since my kiddo's preverbal.

I do agree with you that hanging out doesn't necessarily have to happen at your own house- if both parents say "the first meeting has to happen at MY house", it's never going to happen. It doesn't even necessarily have to be at either person's house, it could be a family outting of some sort. I still maintain that it's a good idea for the kids to spend time together outside school at least once- being able to stand each other during the very brief periods you get at school and being able to stand each other for about 24 straight hours are two very different things.

I did have a sleepover with a friend who I'd never met outside of school, but it was more than halfway through the school year and we'd spent a good amount of time getting to know each other. Depending on when school started for the OP's daughter, these two may have only known each other for a week, I doubt more than a month. I really don't consider it the same thing. If they're such close friends as to warrant a sleepover this soon- then their friendship will weather having to hang out a few times before getting to the sleepover stage. If their friendship can't weather it- it wasn't much of a friendship to begin with.
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#10 of 26 Old 09-06-2014, 05:36 AM
 
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My opinion? Just have a casual chat with the parents. Introduce yourself, chat about the new school and how pleased your are that your daughters are making new friends. If you feel the need, open yourself up to her about the fact that this is new territory. It may be for them too. Even if it isn't, all of us who welcome sleep overs have "BTDT" at some point in the process.

To my recollection my DC has not yet had a sleep over at someone's home who I haven't met in person. That's because my DC ended up going to middle school with a bunch of old friends though. Honestly? I'd love if she breaks out a bit more and meets new friends. I think I would be pleased and excited for her if she had a new friend and wanted a sleep over. At this age I would be comfortable with an overnight with a new friend. I may, personally, not even feel the need to speak with the parents first. Though, logistically, a conversation would probably happen w/o forcing the issue.

As for guns. My informal impression of gun owners and tragedy is that most of the stories we read about are from gun owners who consider themselves responsible.
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#11 of 26 Old 09-06-2014, 02:13 PM
 
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Yes, i would be much more comfortable with a group sleepover, and if its for a birthday party, or some such occasion it is self explanatory. As for playdate/get togethers, whatever you want to call it. I suppose its age specific language, butreally beside the point.

Also, theres nothing rude in and of itself to suggest your child have the sleepover at your place if s/he really wants it. That conversation doesnt have to involve the other parents. Personally, i would prefer it at my place for reasons of convenience as much as anything else. There's nothing offensive about that.

Also, if someone suggested the same to me, i wouldnt be offended. I would understand, hey, they dont know me...
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#12 of 26 Old 09-10-2014, 02:41 PM
 
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My daughter just started middle school. Her elementary school merged with two other schools in Middle School and now there are tons of new kids. She's making friends which is awesome. One of her new friends, who I don't know, asked her to sleepover. I don't know the family at all, and while I'm sure all is probably ok, there are some things I want to know before I'm comfortable, so I asked my daughter to have her friends' mom call me. NOW, what is ok for to ask without seeming like an insane person (ie--are there guns in the home? if so, are they locked up? are you home or will a babysitter be there? if so, what's her deal? what is there are teenage boys hanging out)? FYI, I'm fairly laid back but my mind went to a new place on this one!
I see nothing wrong with these questions if you want to ask them. You have every right to ask anything you want. You are just a concerned parent.

My middle child is 12 and I have not allowed her to sleep over at anyone's house I don't know really well through my own family or my ex-husband's family. She has only slept at two friend's houses in the past and one was in a hotel for a slumber birthday party with 2 adult chaperones I trusted and the other was another girl's slumber birthday party and I found out later the dad worked 3rd shift and before he got home the mom left for work at 6:00am so the kids were alone from 6:00am until 8:00am when dad got back home and went straight to bed and no one could bother him. No more sleepovers with new friends after that one!!!! FAMILY ONLY for us.

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#13 of 26 Old 09-10-2014, 02:43 PM
 
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I hit enter too soon. I've found that it's better for my daughter to have kids over to our house for sleepovers. That way I know she's safe. I just don't trust people. The one person she slept over with that the parents were not home for 2 hours that morning had an older brother and for all I know he would have messed with the girls. They were all 10 and 11 at that time and he was a few years older. You just never know. I just don't trust anyone in this day and time. There are fathers and uncles that hurt kids in their own families. It's just too scary out there and not worth it for my child to possibly get hurt just for a little sleepover.
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#14 of 26 Old 09-10-2014, 06:34 PM
 
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It's just too scary out there and not worth it for my child to possibly get hurt just for a little sleepover.
Many people feel this way about the world, but it is important for parents and children (when they are ready) to be aware that the vast majority of abuse comes from people children know and, I believe, people within the family.
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#15 of 26 Old 09-11-2014, 07:36 AM
 
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I find it pretty appalling that other people let other people's kids be unattended without the parents consent or knowledge....appallling and bizarre. Do they feel that their daughters need for a sleepover supercedes the safety of their children and other peoples?
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I find it pretty appalling that other people let other people's kids be unattended without the parents consent or knowledge....appallling and bizarre. Do they feel that their daughters need for a sleepover supercedes the safety of their children and other peoples?
Not in my experience. I think some of this comes from the diverse communities many of us live in. Now that my DC is nearly 13, I may consider a quick run out to the store when she has friends over without feeling the need to check with parents. There is an age where we do stop asking. What that age is really depends and, in a diverse area, we can unknowingly be out of sync with other families without meaning any offence.

I tend to keep communication pretty open and clear when kids are under my care but I have noticed that not all families do this and I feel like some assumptions about autonomy around the early teen years is reasonable. From time to time I've been surprised by what has been allowed when my DC has been a guest but in general my feelings about this diversity are positive. This has been a bit part of what allows us to stretch and reevaluate what DC is ready for or, alternatively, helps us firm up our own boundaries as a family.

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Oh my goodness, all good reminders to me. My DD1 is newly in middle school, invited to a sleepover next weekend with a family that I don't know. She will go. I have no issues with it. We've talked about safety for years. She carries a phone with her at all times, and will text if she needs me to come get her which she knows I always will no matter what time it is.

I wouldn't of thought about parents in middle school not being ok with kids being home alone. DD1 is almost 12 and stays home alone almost every day between school ending and gymnastics practice starting. She takes herself to and from most all her activities, via feet, bike, or public transportation. She brings friends here all the time without parents present. I know the kids are here because she always tells me that so and so is coming home with me but I don't always know the kids or the parents. We live in a very central location (for this very easy access) so a lot of kids use our house as a crash pad between things.

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#18 of 26 Old 09-13-2014, 07:25 AM
 
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Of course, doing some quick local errand is one thing, planning a night long absence with someone's else child in your home is another. At least let the other parent know how you do things so they can make a decision. Agreed older kids can be left unattended. But i want to know as a parent what the stakes are. I leave my 9yo unattended quite alot. He knows not to cook or answer the door in my absence. What are the rules in the other home?

I was very free range growing up, but there was always an adult in the house until at least aged 18. ...we went to night clubs alot...our mom took us, and i was with siblings and friends ....still find it weird leving 13yos unattended without letting the other parent know...
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#19 of 26 Old 09-13-2014, 07:28 AM
 
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Oh my goodness, all good reminders to me. She brings friends here all the time without parents present. I know the kids are here because she always tells me that so and so is coming home with me but I don't always know the kids or the parents. We live in a very central location (for this very easy access) so a lot of kids use our house as a crash pad between things.
Sounds good, but most likely the other parents know who you are and where you live. Most likely they have an idea where their child is after school. You seem to know where yours is.
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#20 of 26 Old 09-13-2014, 08:45 AM
 
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At 13, everyone I know was babysitting ot hurt people's children.
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#21 of 26 Old 09-13-2014, 09:35 AM
 
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My daughter just started middle school. Her elementary school merged with two other schools in Middle School and now there are tons of new kids. She's making friends which is awesome. One of her new friends, who I don't know, asked her to sleepover. I don't know the family at all, and while I'm sure all is probably ok, there are some things I want to know before I'm comfortable, so I asked my daughter to have her friends' mom call me. NOW, what is ok for to ask without seeming like an insane person (ie--are there guns in the home? if so, are they locked up? are you home or will a babysitter be there? if so, what's her deal? what is there are teenage boys hanging out)? FYI, I'm fairly laid back but my mind went to a new place on this one!
I suggest you get to know the family first before letting her sleep over. Its better if you both have visited each others home. These days you don't know how people are. This way you will know if there family has same views as you.
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#22 of 26 Old 09-13-2014, 09:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post
At 13, everyone I know was babysitting ot hurt people's children.
yeah, but I still wouldn't have left kids having a sleepover in my house unattended at that age.

On one hand, I was pretty mellow about my DD going to other houses because I felt like she had good judgment and a phone.

At the same time, I was more conservative about having other kids here. For example, even though I didn't question other parents about who would be at their house, I always offered information about who would be here. I also said that I was fine with Pg-13 movies, and wanted to make sure that was fine with them too.

My deal was that I wanted to nurture my DD's friendships, and I didn't want to accidental do something that another family thought was over the line so the child couldn't come back.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#23 of 26 Old 09-14-2014, 02:57 PM
 
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I'm going with my husband's view on this one, and that is that he is from a culture where kids don't sleep over at each other's homes. Maybe a relative if something happened with your own family, such as a parent being in the hospital or something. But not just as a fun thing to do, and not just something friends do. There's nothing they can't do during normal day hours, even up to 9-10 PM.

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#24 of 26 Old 09-14-2014, 05:45 PM
 
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Of course, doing some quick local errand is one thing, planning a night long absence with someone's else child in your home is another.
I think I may have missed the part where we were talking about leaving children for long evening absences. If that's what we're talking about, I should clarify that I think evening supervision is a give-in in my community. Not that young teens aren't left alone in the evening (DC often pairs up with kids whose parents will be out for the night), but long evenings alone are something that are generally mentioned to parents. I think this was the case all the way though childhood when I was a kid and will probably be something I expect for DC as well.

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#25 of 26 Old 09-14-2014, 07:54 PM
 
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I think I may have missed the part where we were talking about leaving children for long evening absences.
I missed it too, and I can't see any examples above. I see comments about brief absences, while the kids were either asleep, or being overseen by an older brother (and I'm very sorry but as the parent of a teen boy I find it disturbing that the mere fact that someone is a teenaged boy makes a parent concerned that he's a sexual predator ) and there was mention of an evening where the children were supervised by a hired babysitter.

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#26 of 26 Old 09-15-2014, 12:57 PM
 
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The hired babysitter happened to my 6yo.
I guess there are degrees of 'leaving minors unattended'. Whether all night, or for several hours in the early morning/late evening, (it was one of those three, but i dont care to go back and look), i want to know whether or not my child is attended by adults or not. I make the call as to whether its appropriate for him or her, not someone else. Thats what im saying. I dont think i'll change as my child gets older. If my child will be on a sleepover, i want it to be made clear to me 'We will leave them inattended for a couple of hours from 4-6", or whatever specifics, 'Is that ok with you?"....
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