Recently I received an email from the mother of one
of my second grade daughter's classmates. In it, she talked about
the upcoming birthday of her child, how she was hosting a sleepover
party and would my daughter be able to attend on such-and-such a
I've never met this woman. I couldn't pick her out of a
line up with a gun to my head. Honestly, I was freaked out that she
had my email address until I remembered that I included it in the
school directory. Her daughter's name is slightly familiar in my
home, but not to the point that I know who she is either. But my
little girl was excited at the prospect of having a sleepover -
this magical thing that signified in her mind that she was a "big
My first thought was, "Okay, let's see if we can make this
work." I looked at the dates and sent the mom a reply that my
daughter might be able to attend. I needed to think about this
Upon reflection, it didn't seem like such a great idea.
After all, this was not a close family friend or relative that I
had a relationship with or had known for several years. This would
be the equivalent of having a pleasant conversation with the person
behind me in the checkout line at Target and letting my daughter go
with her on an overnight trip. Except I would have spoken to the
person and Target first.
I went to the internet to see if I was the only one
freaking out over this concept and discovered that there was a
whole movement to stop the practice of sleepovers. It was
refreshing to see that, while most of these people were being
viciously mocked in the comments of their articles for "taking the
fun out of childhood," I wasn't the only person that had concerns
about this practice.
I'm not interested in making my daughter's childhood less
fun; however I'm not interested in that fun at the expense of her
safety. If I was to let her sleep over at someone else's home, here
are the questions that I would want
answered (keep in mind that I am completely
willing to answer these to let a child spend the night in my home
1. What is your internet /
wifi policy? Is your wi-fi secure? Does your child have the
password? What kind of devices can have internet that the kids will
have access to?
2. Do you have firearms in the
home? Where are they? Loaded / unloaded?
3. Do you have alcohol that is
easily accessible? Do your children know where you keep it? Will
you be drinking while my child is here - even one
glass of wine?
4. Is there pornography in
your home - either magazines, DVD's, stored on your DVR or access
to it on your television through Pay-Per-View
5. Does your television have
parental controls on it, and what are they set to? Does your child
know the password?
6. Who lives in your home
besides you? Will there be anyone besides you that will be at the
house while my child is there?
7. What are your house rules regarding
modesty, appropriate sleeping attire, bathroom
8. Where will the kids be sleeping? If is
it on the ground floor and you will be upstairs, do you have an
alarm system? Will you be setting it? Does your child know the
9. Will you be taking the kids anywhere?
Driving in the car with my child?
10. What are the planned activities that
will be going on while my child is there?
Does this seem extreme? Maybe - but wouldn't you want to know
these things in order to make a decision about where your child
slept, or just hung out for that matter?
Am I overprotective? Yes, I own that 100 percent. In my
opinion, that's my job as a mother. When recent studies suggest
that up to 20 percent of girls are victims of sexual abuse during
their childhood (and according to ChildHelp.org, 90 percent of
those KNOW THEIR PERPETRATOR IN SOME WAY), I choose not to put my
girls in situation that increases their odds of being included in
that 20 percent. Just last month in Texas,
a 40-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for
repeatedly molesting eight elementary school girls whom he had
access to because of a sleepover.
Please don't misunderstand - I am not implying that I have
knowledge of someone or something inappropriate in the home of the
person that invited her. I simply don't know anything about them.
Being a mother to these two little girls is a big
responsibility. I need to protect them to the best of my abilities
while raising good, responsible citizens.
At this point, I'm not interested in going through the
checklist above to have my eight-year-old spend the night
somewhere. I'd rather suggest a Saturday afternoon get together or
a meet-up out somewhere with a fun activity planned. I think there
are other ways to teach your children the independence that is
gained from sleeping away from home without the risks to their
What do you think? Are you for or against the practice of
Jennifer Evers is a 40-something blogger and small business owner living in the Chicago suburbs with her two young daughters and a DVR full of reality television shows. She blogs about her life at Me, Myself and Jen (www.memyselfandjen.com) - single parenting, recipes, crafts and home projects, crazy things her children do, travel, celebrity encounters, community events and those wacky "Real Housewives."
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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