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Teen Sleepovers a Bad Idea

Why We Don't Do Sleepovers

Tween and teen slumber parties are a hot topic in Circle of Moms communities. Here, moms share three reasons for keeping the tween and teen set at home at night.

1. Drinking and Drugs

When it comes to sleepovers, Lori is one of many moms who feel there are just too many unknowns, including the possibility that your kids will be unsupervised and tempted to make bad or risky choices. She works in a hospital, where she's seen many parents lose kids to accidents. She says, simply, "You don't know what goes on in other people's houses. . . . You just don't know what other parents will allow them to do."

As if to bring this point home, Paula M. relays the story of a Sweet 16 sleepover her daughter attended where four girls got sick after smoking pot and drinking in the host's bedroom.


2. Teen Sex

Several members are adamantly opposed to sleepovers because they can wind up being coed, a trend moms say is on the rise.

Veronique P. is guided by memories of her own hormonal adolescence: "I remember those years very clearly, [so] I never would I let a boy sleep over at my house, nor would I let my daughter go to a sleepover where there will be boys. Not a good idea. I have no intentions of being a very young grandmother and having to support that child and my daughter."

Katie agrees. "You have to be careful at that age and especially with girls."

3. Dangerous Strangers

A member named MeMe feels bound to protect her kids from dangers she's read about in newspaper headlines and seen on the news. "While many parents may believe slumber parties are harmless fun, several news stories about molestation at a sleepover have given many of us parents reasons to worry about slumber parties and concrete reasons to avoid them," she says. 

Lisa J. agrees, asserting that, "Even if we know [the parents] somewhat there could be a 'compromising visitor' that drops by. They could have a porn movie going. There could be drinking, whatever. It's not that I don't trust my children — I don't trust every person there."

And Kelina, like Veronique, thinks back to the risks she took during her own teen years. "I'm so freaking amazed that nothing happened to me," she says. "In all likelihood most kids who have sleepovers have great experiences, and are never in harms way. But that one-in-a-million chance is the one that curdles my blood, because nothing could ever take that back."

Join The Conversation
ElizabethCapdevielle ElizabethCapdevielle 4 years
@JulieDillon and ChetMC, both of you have suggested that people who "don't do sleepovers" are overprotective--and irrationally so--and that those of us who don't let our kids spend the night at other kids' houses as a regular form of socializing are not allowing our kids to be independent or to prepare themselves for adulthood by taking on challenges. This is a misrepresentation of the people who don't allow sleepovers. Not letting your kid spend the night at a friend's house just for fun is not the same thing as not letting your kid do productive, interesting, challenging things by herself or himself. A sleepover at a friend's house--staying up too late because you're texting people, watching movies, and painting your nails--is a lame way to learn socialization. Don't think that whether we allow sleepovers is the measure of whether we foster independence. It's not. There are infinitely many other ways for kids to be independent, to socialize, and to learn from mistakes. They can get a job, for example. Be involved in service clubs. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Backpack through the wilderness for a few weeks. Go on a mission trip, helping kids who are worse off then they are. Travel to a foreign country for a summer and learn another language. Do actually hard things that involve worthwhile social challenges and real consequences for actions. You don't have to go to sleepovers to prepare for any of these. What we need to avoid is giving adolescents the wrong kinds of freedom--freedom to act without perceivable consequences, to experiment meaninglessly, to hurt people's feelings and disrespect themselves, to mess around with each other's bodies and minds. Teenagers need outlets for their curiosity, passion, and they should have REAL ways to put these amazing energies into action. Unfortunately, in our culture it's normal to put kids in a weird world of meaninglessness and stupidity. We pique their desires but delay their satisfaction for many years. Messy sexual experiments and mean friendship politics are just symptoms of teenage boredom, self-doubt, and unhappiness. The negative effects of "normal" teenage socializing are subtle at first, but they are real, and they are very hard to heal. I really like what you've said, ChetMC, about making the decision on a case-by-case basis. Of course that's what we all probably DO, when we're actually parenting and not just posting comments! :-) I'm posting here because I would like to influence our culture in three ways: (1) discourage people from criticizing those who are "overprotective," (2) encourage greater protectiveness and thoughtfulness about what teens are doing, and (3) encourage the expansion of children's freedom, responsibility, and family connectedness. If you've read recent psychology literature on parenting adolescents (books like the classic *Reviving Ophelia,* for example) you know that what adolescents really need is more family closeness and parental attention, not less. It is damaging to our kids to be let go into the chaotic world of teen socialization. Teens are hard-wired to be self-interested and self-focused, as well as keenly sensitive to others' thoughts and actions. Their intense peer consciousness can turn to a kind of sickness, quite easily. They need to know that where they really belong is not with their friends but in their families, where they are loved unconditionally and people are looking out for their best interests. They also need to feel the sense of responsibility to others that family life creates. Friends come and go, but your family is your family forever. You are accountable to your family. Teenagers need to know that they are not just respected but *treasured* by their parents, just as they were when they were little, and that their bodies, minds, and souls are valued highly for their intrinsic worth. To make this clear, they need *higher* expectations for family involvement, *less* time with peers and *more* time with family members--especially people who are older or younger, like grandparents and younger siblings. Oh, and ChetMC: As for the frequency of abuse within the family being higher than outside the family...sure. But I think that's just more support for the idea that children should be supervised by their parents and should spend the night--when they are especially vulnerable, in the privacy of the place where they take their showers, change their clothes, and sleep--at home. The reason that predatory family members are more likely to be abusers than outsiders is that family members have unsupervised *access* to victims. It's not because other people's parents are somehow less dangerous, intrinsically. If we send our kids out to other people's houses to spend the night--to spend unsupervised time, in the privacy of the home, at night when others are sleeping, etc.--we just put our kids in the same vulnerable position they would be in at home. But at home, we can use our judgment, know who's in the house, be mindful, and make sure that we are keeping them safe. To sum up: Give kids real freedom with responsibility, not just "social opportunities." Respect them enough to protect them. And don't count on other people to parent your kids for you.
JulieDillon JulieDillon 4 years
Fear is our biggest enemy! Be careful on how much you "protect your child" because it can unintentionally lead to your exact fears! Education, awareness, and knowlegde is power. Are you potentially placing your child at risk? Absolutely, every day there is something putting them at risk. However, these sleep overs are ways to teach your child Independance, socializaiton, and how to LEARN from there own mistakes, teach others and grow from amazing adolecents to beautiful adults. "Lengthening the leash" as I call it, a little bit at a time, so when the leash is taking off..they do not GO CRAZY
ChetMC ChetMC 4 years
I'm confused by two things... 1. How does only having family sleepovers protect your child from molestation if the bulk of children are molested by family? 2. Do you really do your child a service if you insist that they sleep under the same roof as you every night until the day you drop them off at the dorm for college?
ChetMC ChetMC 4 years
I agree with knowing your kids' friends and their families as opposed to unilaterally banning all sleepovers. I'm not going to say I'd let my kid sleep at any and every friend's house any more than I'm prepared to say I would never let my child sleep at a friend's home. It's really a case by case thing.
ashleyhenrey ashleyhenrey 4 years
I am glad to hear that i am not the only one that does not do sleep-overs, well at least not at friends houses, my children are only allowed to stay at families houses. I feel that at 9 years old my daughter is not old enough to stay with friends and i dont want to put her in an uncomfortable situation. alot of this is due to a situation i went through as a child living with a child molestor and not even knowing. thankfully we were never touched but i feel as a mother i need to protect my daughter as much as i can.
Dadonamomssite Dadonamomssite 4 years
When my wife plans a sleep over for my 9 year old daughter and her friends, I am trusting but at the same time overprotective. I choose not to sleep 1 day is not going to hurt. You cant control every situation but if I can teach my daughter to make the right decissions and ask me questions of things she has heard that she does not understand it will make easier. So far she will ask me how to handle certain situations.
Angela14627396 Angela14627396 4 years
You can't live your life in fear! Have the kids do the sleepovers at your home where you can control these things. Make your sleepovers a place where kids are safe from drugs, boys, and strangers.
Christy14627061 Christy14627061 4 years
Are you kidding me!!! Get to know your kids friends and their families. Trust that you raised your kids to pick the right friends. When we were growing up the same things happened in the world it just wasn"t as advertised as it is now, and you survived. You can only live in a bubble for so long.
SherylLandstrom SherylLandstrom 4 years
As a child everything immoral I learned from a sleepover and these were supposed to be good moral households I went to. Because of this I with my husband support have decided that sleepovers are for grandma's house only. I was raised very sheltered and in a very sheltered society. But at sleepovers no matter how wonderful the parents of the home I was staying in... once those doors closed or they went to bed for the night WOW the floods of the wild world opened up. I learned about sex all forms... as a young girl (8) (my parents wanted to be the ones to explain this all to me and they never got the chance - some stupid kids beat them to it and not in the right way either), then I learned about drugs and got to touch them from my friends older brother at another house when (10), at another house I learned about Satanism at the same age which terrified me, at 12 I was running around at 3 in the morning toilet papering homes, same year at another friends we were was playing hide and go seek and was overpowered by her 22 year old brother who home from college. Although he did not rape me with his penis I can certainally say now, as an adult knowing what I know, it was absolutely a sexual assult and rape in at least 3/4 of the States. One thing for certain he should be in jail as a pediophile... at that same party he and his sister showed me how to masterbate and yes we all practiced. After that... I NEVER went to another sleep over. My parent never knew why I never wanted to go. I just changed always got sick come Friday night. At 13 I tried to commit suicide. SO... will I send my kids to a sleep over or talked to that friend again? NEVER. I think about how "GOOD" the families were, wealthy, educated, upstanding citizens, religious... but yet in the end it was a son who obviously was a preditor. NEVER will I let my child be put in a lions den freely.
PamDunn PamDunn 4 years
Sounds like sleepovers have changed a lil bit. When I was a kid they were with one other girl and we ate popcorn and watched movies.... My kids won't miss out on having their friends over...
LynnetteCotner LynnetteCotner 4 years
My neighbors niece was molested at a sleepover by the girls father. None of the parents knew the mom would be working that night of the sleepover. Since then I frown on sleepovers (obviously). I would possibly allow it at my house with a couple close girl friends, but I would want to know the family well. However I really like the Lateovers idea in the comments above!
amyanderson592 amyanderson592 4 years
I was an over protective mother and my girls are now 24 and 30 years old. They both are well adjusted and have high pressure jobs. Neither are married but they own their own homes and live very well, thank you very much Desisoares....
LissetteBurgos LissetteBurgos 4 years
I am so glad I read this article because now I know I'm not the only one with these types of concerns. I get alot of backlash from my peers who are parents for being to overprotective but I feel some things just can't be compromised. I feel like you can put your children in a healthy and safe environment to test their decision making abilities. You don't have to put them in risky situtations to test them because sometimes it's not their poor choices that will effect them and that's all I'm trying to explain. I'm just glad I'm not alone. Thank you :)
EmiliaKoiler1370721671 EmiliaKoiler1370721671 4 years
My daughter is 10 and she can only have sleepovers with one friend at a time, and the only family she ever has had them with is a girl we know like family and whose mother took my and her daughter on a school overnight trip. This isn't overprotective, because some of her grade has already been dating and kissing in 5th grade!
musthavefaithmom musthavefaithmom 4 years
We have late-overs. The kids (15 yr old girls only) can stay over until midnight. Nothing good happens after midnight!!! not to mention very over - tired hormonal teenagers to deal with the next day. My daughter has accepted this plan and has lots of fun! The best thing is she's NOT a nightmare the next day:) and everyones happy!
DesiSoares DesiSoares 4 years
Goodness it sounds like there are some seriously over protective people out there. It's no wonder there are so many kids that can't handle the pressures of everyday life when they're kept in a bubble all their life. Why not just lock them up in the house totally cause someone MIGHT kidnap them or a plane MIGHT fall out of the sky... get a grip people.
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