To Sleepover or Not to Sleepover, That is the Question


Ah, the age old question of when should I let my kids have sleepovers? Anyone else’s kids start asking if they could have a sleepover with their friends, only to have their mom expertly dodge the question? Or is it just me? My oldest turned ten at the end of July and just had her first sleepover. I’ve accidentally (but mostly on purpose) avoided the subject for a few reasons  — mostly because I’m avoiding the whole “my baby is growing up.”

sleepoversWhy we held off sleepovers until recently

I do not want to scare anyone in any way, however, the stark reality is that most sexual abuse occurs with someone a child knows and trusts. Sleepovers potentially introduce your child to new people that you might not be aware of.

As a therapist, the main reason for my avoidance of sleepovers is hearing too many stories of trauma that yes, included that friend’s brother at a sleepover. Maybe it was selfish, but not allowing my oldest to sleepover at a friend’s house was mostly due to protecting her.

My oldest is super smart and inquisitive, but she can also be timid, shy, and anxious. I did not feel confident until recently that if she was in an uncomfortable situation, she would be able to know what to do, despite having open conversations with her. In simple terms, I didn’t think she was emotionally ready.

Also until recently, I worked full-time out of the home. I cherish the family time we get on the weekends. I knew there would be a time that “friend time” would take precedence (and appropriately so) as she got older. I am soaking up all this time that I can with her, now.

Reasons to consider sleepovers

This summer, all on the backdrop of corona too- we decided to let our oldest go to her first sleepover. We took into account the following:

  • It was a family we were familiar. We’ve known this friend and family since early elementary school, the girls go to school together, went to the same before/after/summer school program, have celebrated birthdays together, and go to the same stables as we do for riding lessons.
  • As our oldest turned 10, we also felt she had become more emotionally mature and able to tell us if anything were to happen. We also felt confident that she could identify if an adult or child was trying to get her to break any rules, in any way.
  • We have also talked to her about the correct names for body parts, consent, and generally listening to your gut if something just doesn’t feel safe or right.
  • We also knew along with the above, she was ready in general, and that she wouldn’t be calling us in the middle of the night, missing home. She was excited and understood that she would be staying at someone else’s house the entire night.

Sleepovers can be a great way to foster independence, learn and see how other families live, and continue to build strong friendships. However, I firmly believe you don’t need to have sleepovers to foster these things.

Now, we have officially survived her first sleepover but we won’t be making it a regular occurrence. I’m still holding onto her childhood for a little bit longer and soaking up all the time I can. But her getting older and being in the double digits, I know that friendships will become increasingly more important and I will let my grasp go… just a little.

Have you done sleepovers yet? Why or why not?



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