A recent post at Free Range Kids called 7 Reasons to Say Yes to Sleepovers, hit close to home for me. The post discusses an article on Education.com that states you should just say no to childhood sleepovers. The reasons? Kids will be tired, your house might get messy, you can't trust anyone, kids will do worse in school, they might watch movies or eat junk food, plus, your child might do drugs or be molested. Two years ago, I might have laughed this "just say no" article off as ONE over-reactive parent, but now I know differently because I've experienced this first hand. My son Cedar used to go to a free school and the parents there had zero issues with sleepovers. Then one year ago Cedar decided to give regular public school a whirl and the parents have been quite different. Each year on Cedar's birthday, for about 4 years running, he's had a sleepover. This last year, for his 12th birthday, Cedar had a new batch of public school friends he wanted to invite. We printed up some cheerful (not scary) homemade invites, sent them out and waited. Cedar's best friend, a kid from his old free school called in an RSVP right away. As for all his new public school friends, well, that was another story...
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12 year old at a sleepover – what a crazy idea!
When I finally heard back from the parents of my son’s friends, here’s what they said:
- “12 is way too young for sleepovers.”
- “We have a strict no sleepover rule for everyone in the house until they turn 16.”
- “I don’t allow my kid to go to the city, so he can’t come.” (The city? I live in Portland, so yeah it’s a city I suppose. Sorry it’s not the burbs).
- “Will there be junk food and movies?” to which I said, probably, it’s a sleepover, to which the parent said, “I don’t agree with junk food or movies, so no.”
At Cedar’s previous sleepovers we’ve had a packed house. This year, we had THREE kids, counting Cedar. Besides the two who slept over, another mom did let her son come over, but only for 3 hours, because she had a strict home by dark rule. She also gave me a laundry list of rules before she’d let her son come, including stuff like no scary movies and no video games over E. I didn’t ever bring up the fact that I was planning on sending the kids outside to play, because my gut told me no way would this mom be on board with shenanigans like that. Not having experienced parents like this much before, this sleepover issue was depressing, both to me and my son. I thought, maybe my son’s just fallen in with a strange crowd of friends with overprotective parents. Not all parents frown on sleepovers nowadays, right? Wrong.
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The many alleged ‘evils’ of sleepovers
The Education.com article proclaiming the many hazards of sleepovers has since been removed, maybe due to backlash from free range parents, but it’s not unique. After my recent sleepover experience, I looked up “childhood sleepovers” online and found that many parents don’t allow sleepovers. How come?
- One parent says, a home may have “Pornography, internet access, cable TV, pin-ups, violent games, loaded guns, fireworks or uncovered swimming pools.” My personal favorite fear from this parent was, ”Even something as simple as a dartboard can be dangerous to kids that are not aware of its dangers.” Pin-ups? Is this the 60s? On a side note I also don’t hand kids guns at the door.
- Another writer who is really freaked out about sleepovers notes, “Sexual experimentation can occur at sleepovers… sleepovers are a prime opportunity for a child molester to engage in child abuse” and she notes a dad might drug your daughter then molest her.
- If one dad is super creepy all dads must be creepy – so just say no to all sleepovers.
- Parents will most likely go to bed, leaving the kids all alone, at which point major mischief will occur and/or it sets kids up for child abuse via the other kids.
- Your child may eat refined sugar or other junk food.
- The sleepover kids will sneak out of the house and drink or do drugs.
- Another problem is that, “Plans cooked up by children alone can often turn into recipes for disaster.” I like how this point further indicates how stupid people think their kids are. Kids do have brains. Raise them to use them, you know?
- “Sleepovers are difficult to regulate and can easily get out of hand… issues like vandalism and sexual assault may occur.” Sigh.
I found dozens of articles like the ones above and apparently more and more parents are enacting strict no sleepover rules, probably because they’re reading these articles is my guess.
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