As the girls get older, I knew there would come a day when they would ask to stay the night at a friend’s house. I was perfectly fine with joining them for playdates and being able to keep an eye on them for a couple of hours but to leave them at someone’s home, was something that I could not wrap my head around. I always remained solid in my decision to just say no. Why? I didn’t have a clear answer. I often joked with the girls and said “ there are three of you! You can have a sleepover together whenever you’d like!” For me, I think it has always been about control. Control of who they spent time with, control of knowing they were safe, and just having that peace of mind.
My oldest daughter just turned ten, and she came home with a cute little letter.
“Hi! My name is Angele. I am Avery’s mom. She is turning 10 in a couple of weeks and I would really like your daughter to come to her sleepover. I know that you don’t know me, so I wanted to write ahead of time so we can get to know each other.
P.S. I know that your daughter can’t have sleepovers but would still like to get to know you.”
I probably stared at the paper for a week, trying to figure out how and even if I should respond. I never wanted to come off as a parent who just shut certain things down, but I knew deep down inside I wasn’t comfortable with it.
I kept a list in my head of things I was okay with, and things I was not… sleepovers went high on the “not” list.
I read so many articles on the pros of a sleepover. I even thought of how cool it would be to plan one!
- Learning about the dynamic of other families
- Gaining a sense of independence
- Practicing their flexibility
- Children getting to try new experiences
- Parent getting a break
I get it, and as much as all of those things were great.. I still wasn’t buying into the idea of my kid being in someone else’s house for a night.
As a kid, I went to sleepovers, and even family trips with my friends quite a bit. Going to a school with the same girls for years made it so easy for my mom to get to know other parents pretty well. From holidays to game nights, there were things we all did as families, as well as just as friends. It was different for my daughter though. We moved around every three years, and it was difficult finding the time to get to know all of their friends and most importantly, their families. I always said that making friends as a child was so much easier. As adults, so many other things play into it. Not only do you have to find the time between busy schedules and work, but actually wanting to invest in someone else was the hard part.
My biggest worries have always been the influence that the girls would be around. As much as I try to prepare them for things that will happen, or are said, I know that there is no bigger influence than those who your child will spend time with.
I got super curious as I continued to ponder the right words to send back to this mom. I decided to post about it, to see if other moms had any opinions. Three hours after my post, I was shocked to see the hundreds of comments and amazed that I was not alone in my thoughts.
There was a small group of moms who seemed to be okay with letting their kids go to their friends’ homes. Some of the moms said “they didn’t allow them to leave, but they would gladly welcome other kids to come to their home.”
It was one comment in particular that opened a whole new can of worms. “Sleepovers are fine, but I only allow my girls to go, if no teenage boys are living in the home.”
The comments blew up with moms who agreed, and also moms who were extremely upset about the stigma that was placed on having male teenagers seen as monsters in the home. They explained that it was scary for them, and the doubt that was in their heads about something bad happening while they were not with their child. I understood their concern, yet it brought me back to my original thoughts about knowing the family first. It is so hard being a parent and knowing if you are making the right decisions for your children.
As I thought more about it, I ended up meeting the mom for coffee. We talked about our kids, hobbies, and everything in between. I left the meeting feeling good about the girls being friends, but no more inclined with my daughter spending the night. I settled on letting her go to their house for a couple of hours to celebrate, but being picked back up that night.
It may just take time, but as for now. I think setting up a fort and having a girls’ night with her sisters will just have to do.