When it comes to parenting we all go about it differently. The way I parent my boys is so different to how even my closest mates parent. We all have the same values and morals but the way we parent day to day really varies.
The other day one of my friends, Mel, who works with us here at Show + Tell, said she will not let her kids have sleep overs. My jaw dropped when she said this.
We decided to write our views on the sleep over. You usually fall on to one side of the fence – are you Yay or Nay the sleep over?
Here are our very different thoughts on the same topic, ‘The Sleepover’.
Monty- The pro sleep over mum.
I vividly remember the first time I slept at a friend’s house. I was about seven years old and it was my best friend’s place. I was equal parts nervous and excited to sleep over at a place I had never stayed before. I felt grown up and super cool. We were in the same grade at school and had often played at each others house but had never had a slumber before. Our parents knew each other from pick ups and drops offs but they were not friends as such.
Pretty much every weekend from then on, I would sleep over at a friend’s house or someone would sleep at mine. Some of my favourite childhood memories are from midnight feasts, watching scary movies, making up dances and sleeping top to toe with my friends.
I am now a mum of two boys and I can’t wait for them to go to sleep overs at their friend’s house. Of course I won’t let them stay at someone’s house I have not met before and if I think the parents are bonkers obviously it will be a no, but I don’t see a reason why they should not be allowed to.
I understand that as a parent it is our responsibility to keep our kids safe and out of harms way. I know there are creeps out there who pray on kids but I also know that I can’t wrap them up in cotton wool. Things could easily go bad at school, while at sports practice, getting dropped home from a play or any other time they are not in front of me. I can’t be with my boys to protect them all the time, but I can talk to them and do my best to teach them about safety and what to do if they find themselves in a sticky situation. There is risk everywhere, and the sad thing is that majority of abuse happens within the family, so should I not let them stay at a relatives place to minimise this risk?
I don’t want my kids to grow up fearing other people and I want them to have fun. Missing out on things like sleep overs as a kid really sucks, I want my boys to enjoy their friends and soak up all the goodness that an innocent sleep over has to offer. My boys are still young (2 and 5), but when they are around seven and want to sleep over at a friend house, I will most probably let them.
Melissa- The no to sleep overs mum.
I’m Melissa and I have two kids, an eight-year-old daughter named Dominique and a six-year-old son named Luca. They’re both in school and while Luca is still navigating the big world of Year 1 friendships, Dom, who is in year three, has established her girl squad. They’re a nice group of kids with lovely parents, a couple of whom we have become great friends with. I have stepped well out of my comfort zone in the past couple of months and done the birthday party drop-off (BIG step for me), but I draw the line at sleep-overs. While none of her friends have actually invited her to a sleep-over before, I know it’s coming soon and I also know that my “no” will probably make my daughter hate my guts. But it’s not my job to make sure my kids like me – it’s my job to make decisions that I think are best for them.
For me, eight is just far too young to sleep at a friend’s home. The time will come when she will be allowed, but I don’t see that happening for several years and even then, it won’t be at every invitation – just the parents who we know well and who have a well-established relationship with both us and our children.
While facing a potentially inappropriate situation is still difficult for teenagers (and even adults) to handle, I think it’s almost impossible for a child of eight to understand and deal with. While my kids are young and essentially vulnerable, I’m not willing to test those waters – even if it’s an unlikely scenario. If my child is at a person’s home and they have guests, I don’t know those people. Do they have older siblings? Do those older siblings have friends over? I know what abuse can do to a person and it changes you in a way that is irreparable, so I’m just not willing to take that chance with my kids because once it’s done, there’s no undoing it. They are so young for such a short moment in time and while friendship and connection is important, I don’t think you need to sleep at your friend’s house to bond you. There is plenty of time in the future for that.
Look, I know bad things happen all the time to children with even the most cautious of parents. I know abuse happens within families, I know there is only so much control I can have over my children’s world and while control might be a bit of a dirty word, I think it’s essential in parenting sometimes. For now, my kids can sleep at their grandparent’s home and the home of my brother and sister; because they are the only people that I absolutely, without question, trust with my children’s lives.
What do you think?