Years ago when our children were very young, my husband and I made a family decision to not allow sleepovers or slumber parties. There wasn't a particular incident that spurred this decision — only that neither of us could remember anything particularly uplifting about the sleepovers in our childhoods, and felt uneasy about allowing our children into the homes of some of their friends. Rather than making case-by-case decisions, we figured it would be easiest to just have this as a family rule and make it much easier on ourselves. Thus, our family rule became “No sleepovers or slumber parties. If we are invited to a slumber party we can accept a ‘late night' invitation instead.”
This has worked out really well over the years. My children have been invited to these events, of course, but as soon as we state our family rule, it has been accepted and my children's friends still invite them over for play dates or late night activities. We don't generally allow overnight friends at our home either, other than a few exceptions when someone has asked if we could watch their children while they are out of town.
Rather than debating the evil or non-evil of slumber parties (yes, I do know that kids can in trouble at other events — including broad daylight; and yes, I do know that some slumber parties are totally above board). I would like to share this quote by Elder Larry Lawrence from one of my favorite talks of all time, “Courageous Parenting,” and then share with you a funny experience we just had with sleepovers. First, the quote. (I must say, I felt a bit validated when Elder Lawrence said this:)
May I express my personal warning about a practice that is common in many cultures. I am referring to sleepovers, or spending the night at the home of a friend. As a bishop I discovered that too many youth violated the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity for the first time as part of a sleepover. Too often their first exposure to pornography and even their first encounter with the police occurred when they were spending the night away from home.
Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence and when their defenses are weakened late at night. If you have ever felt uneasy about an overnight activity, don’t be afraid to respond to that warning voice inside. Always be prayerful when it comes to protecting your precious children.
A few weeks ago, one of my daughters received an invitation to a birthday party. It was a slumber party, and it was at the home of our stake president.
At first, my instinct was just to stick to the family rule. Then, I waffled a bit and argued with myself about my reasons for having this rule — and it boiled down to protecting my kids. Did I feel my kids would be protected at my stake president's house? Well, yes. So, I nearly gave in. But then we discussed it in family home evening and decided to stick with the family rule. It was a family decision, and our reasoning was that we should be consistent no matter who is extending the invitation. I explained to the kids, “While we might trust you to be at the (stake president's) house, we aren't sure that every home is as secure. It's easiest just to have a consistent rule and stick with it.” Besides, I knew there would be other girls at the party who had extended an invitation and we had said no. It's not really fair to those good families to say, in essence, “We trust our kids at the stake president's house, but not at yours.” So, we accepted a late night invitation and let them know we would pick our daughter up around midnight.
When my daughter got home from the party, she said she had fun but was a little disappointed that she couldn't stay. I asked her if anyone asked why she had to leave and she said that they did. Her response to them was, “Well, my mom just doesn't trust everyone.”
I laughed with the stake president's wife about this later. My daughter had essentially told them that we didn't trust them! I kind of wanted to crawl under a rock, but once I explained it to her all was well, she understood our decision, and respected it.
So what do you think about sleepovers/slumber parties? I am interested to hear other opinions!