As I continue my blog series on the question, “Should I let my child have a sleepover?” I want to focus on the details… things you should ask a parent hosting a sleepover, or expect to be asked by the parents of kids who may be staying at your house.
Should I Let My Child Have a Sleepover?
If you’re asking the question, “Should I let my child have a sleepover?” you’re not alone. In the first part of the series I addressed the question of whether to allow any sleepovers. If you’ve decided that your child can sleep over at friends’ houses under the right circumstances, you still have to decide on a case-by-case basis what those right circumstances are.
Know that it’s important to have a conversation with the parents before the party. Be prepared to ask the tough questions, and even go to the host’s house if it will help to ease your mind. Getting to know the parents can make it easier to let your child spend a whole night away from your supervision.
- TV: Will the kids be supervised? What will they be allowed to watch?
- Telephone: Will the parents take away the kids’ cell phones at the beginning of the party or put other measures in place to limit unsupervised phone calls and texts? Crank calls and calls to the opposite sex are a favorite slumber party pastime, but in the age of “sexting” things can get out of control pretty quickly.
- Bedtime: Will the parents enforce a bedtime, or at least a time at which the kids must stay inside? Sneaking out is another tradition.
- Food: This one is particularly important if your child has a food allergy or diabetes. Find out what will be served, and what will be available after the grownups go to bed. Talk to both your child and the parents about the importance of avoiding problem foods, but offer alternatives that help your child feel at home, rather than singled out. Slumber parties are a time for treats!
- Other Rules: What other issues are important to your family? Ask the parents hosting the party if there are any other rules your child will need to follow.
- Weapons: Are there weapons in the home? Will they be locked up? This one is important for your child’s safety at any age.
- Who will be there? Find out whether the party host has an older sibling of the opposite sex, or whether members of the opposite sex will be at the party. This can be a big red flag for parents who want to protect their adventurous tweens or teens.
If you’re not happy letting your child sleep away from home, consider hosting your own slumber party on occasion so your kid(s) can have the experience in a safe environment. Whether your child is 7 or nearly ready to leave the house, having social space to be a kid without parent over-involvement is an important part of maturing into a responsible adult.