If you have been keeping up with parenting blogs, daytime talk shows, or podcasts, then you will not be a stranger to the new debate dividing parents across the country. Headlining titles such as “The Case for Sleepovers” in The Atlantic and “Sleepovers have gotten very complicated” have become all the rage among parents on social media platforms.
I am a child of the 80s who played in the neighborhood streets until it became dark outside without any parental supervision, and a 90s teenager who told my parents I was going into the woods. I rarely had to answer a question besides who would be there and when I would be home. An issue with sleepovers never occurred to me until it appeared on all my frequented media platforms.
As a mother to three children, my eldest being eight, I needed to read and listen to the two sides of the sleepover saga. As with any hot topic, I had to take each article, podcast, and newscast with a grain of salt. Naturally, I understand that we no longer live in a world where kids (like I did) spend hours alone together, creating, pretending, being silly, and sometimes getting into trouble.
This new idea of a helicopter parent emerged well after my days of chasing the ice cream truck barefoot down the street.
What could go so wrong at sleepovers? Then I started to hear the reasoning behind the other side of the debate. The concern isn’t about girls being catty to one another or boys beating up the weaker kid. It goes much deeper and darker and focuses more on the lack of true knowledge of what occurs inside someone else’s home.
Parents want to protect their children and feel that putting them into a situation where there could possibly be an unknown and dangerous situation doesn’t sit well. Some parents are completely content with hosting as many sleepovers as possible if their child doesn’t go elsewhere. And then there are some parents, like me, in the middle of the two sides who want to give their kids freedom and responsibility outside their home but also do not feel the urgency to put them into an unnecessary situation.
So what is the happy medium? Currently, for me, it is only allowing my son to sleep over at houses where I am friendly with the child’s parents and completely comfortable with the family and align with their rules and values.
Could it cause some tension if my son wants to sleep somewhere I am not ready to allow? Sure. Being a parent in this information-overloaded era seems much more challenging than our parents had it. We all must try our best to take our knowledge and stick to our beliefs. If that doesn’t give you the answer you’re searching for, I always say to listen to your mother’s intuition.