M.O.M.: My Opinionated Mouth
Leah Cauthron

Teenage Sleepovers

Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011, at 11:30 AM
View 11 comments
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  • When I first read this post I agreed with you. I thought of the things my friends and I did during sleepovers - and yes we did get in to some mischief.. Sometimes a lot of mischief, more than I'm sure our parents would like to know about. But then on second thought, I remembered most of those times we got caught - by our parents and had to deal with results of our poor decisions and resulted in a learning expereince. But I do think back, and those are highlights of my high school years - not the mischief part - but the fact that those sleepovers helped me forge lasting and deep friendships with girlfriends that I am still best friends with to this day. We confided so much in each other that we couldn't and wouldn't want to tell our parents at that time - and most of the time we gave and received sound advice - believe it or not. I remember all of the laughing we did, all of the adventures we had - at one sleepover we had a bat make its way into my room - and laughed as my father tried to shoo it out of the window with a broom! Almost 15 years later that story always makes its way into our conversation when visiting each other. While there are a lot of negative things that could happen at a sleepover, you'd be fooled to think all the worse offenses are in the cover of night. I assure you they are not! Sleepovers are unique; they prepare students for college life - staying up at all hours with friends - but also allow parents to keep a close eye on them while they are under an adult's roof. It helps create social situations in which students do not get in school, which also allows learning and growing experiences. That being said, I think sleepovers should be limited as special occasions, and it should be every parent's responsibility to call the other person's parents and discuss what they expect for rules for their child while under that parent's roof. If you don't think another parent is making your child abide by rules you enforce at home, maybe that particular home will be banned from the sleepover, but to ban all sleepovers is doing a disservice to children, and just making the parents look like dictators and we all know that road will lead to rebellion sooner or later.

    -- Posted by Vanessa on Wed, May 4, 2011, at 12:52 PM
  • I agree with Vanessa. Taking a social activity away just because you do not trust other kids parents is just ignorant. Maybe your kids shouldn't be hanging around the other kids to begin with (a bad influence maybe?)

    -- Posted by Mike Lewis on Wed, May 4, 2011, at 3:51 PM
  • I've had some nervous moments when my daughter went to sleepovers in situations where I did not know how much supervision would take place. It turns out my instincts were right -- there weren't substances or boys involved (as far as I know, but my children still do have issues keeping secrets from me for long).

    There were apparently 3 am trips from the friend's home to Wal-Mart in which no one knew they were gone, which I found out about over a year later.

    This friend, who has since moved, lived apart from her mother, visiting her on the east coast in the summer, and her father worked a lot and spent free time with his significant other. I was always very willing to have her over to our house because her home lacked guidance and supervision. There were a few times her father wanted or needed to go out of town and simply dropped the daughter off at our house -- no permission, no phone call, nothing. He also would ask his children (there was a boy a couple of years younger) to please, please find a sleepover so he could have a night off.

    One could take the position that we need to have a talk with this parent and set some ground rules. On the other hand, could we not issue some grace to this single dad and realize it's probably not coming from a place of lack of love and caring, but just lack of emotional resources to deal with the situation he's been dealt?

    My personal belief is that we're not mandated to avoid all temptation by shutting out the realities of the world and of other people's lives who may not share our value system. I believe our values -- even those of our minor children -- can be shaped by seeing the world and its people as they are and not as we wish them to be.

    My children do have an out -- they can call me any time of day or night from any location and they will be picked up and brought home. Any questioning and consequence will wait until the next day. This is whether they just don't feel comfortable at a sleepover or party, or they've extricated themselves from a date situation gone bad, or they find themselves drunk as a skunk on a county road (none of these has come up but I throw them out as examples). There WILL be questions and there WILL be appropriate consequences, but they know the first priority is just having them home safe.

    That's just my $0.02. For what it's worth, my parents were counselors/psychologists and it was the same deal for me -- anywhere, anytime of day or night, I could call and they would come get me.

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Thu, May 5, 2011, at 6:56 AM
  • One more point after reading responses...is there any long lasting harm in no sleepovers vs. the potential for harm in allowing them?

    -- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Thu, May 5, 2011, at 10:12 AM
  • How about picking up the phone and contacting the hosting parents and check to see if there will be supervision? What is the harm doing that to begin with... Especially before you say absolutely not!!!

    -- Posted by Mike Lewis on Thu, May 5, 2011, at 4:09 PM
  • Personally, I think either way (sleepovers or not) there could be long term consequences good and bad. I think it's all in the way you define things and how you come to the resolution of sleepovers or not. You want to involve your kids in the decisions and make them feel they are contributing to it - and really let them contribute to the discussion - don't just fake it. In this way they have a sense of ownership in the decision. I think that is the main issue. Children want to feel they have a say, and that they are being heard - not unlike many of us. But what's good for your kids may not be good for mine. Best option, listen to your kids, set boundaries and rules, but be willing to negotiate so that everyone feels good about the final decision and that you come together as a family. (And, obviously one that is non-negotiable is drugs and alcohol.)

    @Amy - that is funny you mention your daughter doing that - as that was about as much mischief as we would get into. We would sneak out and end up at another friend's house sitting around... doing the same thing we were doing at the sleepover - talking and laughing or sometimes we'd "scoop the loop" and park up town to hang out with other kids our age. Of course as a parent now, the thought of my son doing that when he is older scares the you-know-what out of me - but at the time as a teen it seemed fun and daring. Point is with things like that they always get caught and it's always a way of opening up a dialog with our kids to teach them why we care so much about them! :) Plus they learn about the consequences of their actions - and building a set of skills for when really tough choices come during college and the after high school years when we won't be around to shield them.

    -- Posted by Vanessa on Thu, May 5, 2011, at 5:27 PM
  • I will say I'm never thrilled with attitude for the remainder of the weekend after a sleepover. They rarely happen on a Saturday night of a regular weekend as the sleep interruption and resulting fatigue last into the next week.

    I also admit that my usual response to "Gertrude wants to know if we can have a sleepover!" is a stifled (or not so stifled) sigh.

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Thu, May 5, 2011, at 11:52 PM
  • What is wrong with parents knowing the parents of thier kids friends and making decisions based on the parents? KISS-use your heads.

    -- Posted by dareesa on Mon, May 9, 2011, at 9:22 AM
  • I'm sure your the memories that you had where great and the fun was awesome, but as a parent you have a fundamental duty in preparing your child for success. staying up all night in high school will not help you stay up all night in college. The unfortunate issue is when parents put social events ahead of common sense parenting. The popularity of your child is not as important, as helping them make sound decisions. As parents, it is up to us to educate our children by observing positive and negative behaviors. When your child is not whithin your view, this is hard to accomplish. Sleep overs are great for grade schoolers, where they are learning independance. When your child reaches their teenage years, the parent needs to guide, educate and help them put themselves in situations to succeed. Finally, the more parenting you do , the closer you and your child will be. If you can't be the parent, they will find that emotional need somewhere else and you may not like where they find it.

    -- Posted by Coach Bob on Mon, May 9, 2011, at 5:21 PM
  • I have to be totally honest with you that when I first read the heading, you had my interest. As I read your article, I kept in mind that everyone parents differently, however, (you knew that was coming, didn't you), I don't agree.

    I have a 15 year old, and we have had a multitude of very successful sleepovers. The first thing we do is agree on who is invited. Once that's established, she invites the girls, and my husband and/or I call the parents, letting them know our child is having a party, how they will get to our house, as well as what time they can pick their child up, or when we will drop them off. We had some trial and error sleepovers, but nothing major. My husband and/or I are there the whole time, and as can be backed up, I am generally up most the night, baking, cleaning, or on the computer. Do I know what's going on in my child's room? Pretty much, as I make several trips up there, and the door is kept open.

    Our daughter has been allowed to go to sleepovers, and there are a couple places she is not allowed to go because of parenting issues/lifestyles, which my child told me about. I feel very fortunate she does this, because we instilled in her that telling the truth up front, is better than having it come out later.

    I am puzzled over the drinking and drugs, because they are simply not allowed in our house, and if you are in touch with your child's and who they associate with, then you would be aware of something like that. It's really about being an informed parent.

    Sleepovers aren't just for sleeping, they talk, sing, dance, watch movies, laugh, and just hang out.

    If we have a family function, she isn't allowed to go if we leave early, or is picked up at an appropriate time to allot that she's in a mood to participate. School and school related activities can leave them, tired, out of sorts, and in a non-participating mode, and we don't ban our children from those, so why ban them from socializing in a controlled environment?

    I encourage parents to get facebook if their child has it, as it can be a wealth of information. I also encourage you to have an open line of communication with your child's parents to talk to each other, it's amazing how you can learn by doing so.

    I just want to say I am NOT a perfect parent, but I want my child to get the most that is possible out of life. There's a time when you need to trust your child, and if you if that trust betrayed - then you bring in the "big guns", and the Boys Town rules ... my child isn't a criminal, and neither are the friends, so I feel that instilling Boys Town rules, is a bit of overkill. Just my opinion, which doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it wrong.

    In closing, you have to do what YOU feel is right for your child, and his or her well-being. Unfortunately, we don't get to go back and redo. Have a good one!!

    -- Posted by granny58 on Thu, May 12, 2011, at 12:29 PM
  • All you need is an open line with the parents on both ends. Kids that want to get in trouble wont have a problem finding it. I think we have become a hovering parent society, children can grow and learn without you holding their hands all the time. If you talk to your children and they know what YOU expect from them and you have set boundries and consequenses they will be less likely to get into trouble and will make resonable choices. Let your kids talk honest and openly with you. Raise them to be future adults.

    -- Posted by spencer lover on Fri, Jun 3, 2011, at 2:34 PM
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