In the last couple years, my oldest daughter started asking to spend the night at a friend’s house. I hate to be negative about the prospect of a sleepover with her because of the twinkle in her eye and joy in her voice. My heart sinks every time I gently remind her that our family isn’t going to participate in sleepovers.
At least at this point in our parenting journey, my husband and I say “no” to our kids spending the night at any friends’ homes.
Luckily, I’ve found myself in good company, as there are many of us mamas who spent many nights sleeping over at friends houses who have decided we aren’t going to let our kids do the same.
Sleepiness Leads to Poor Choices
Plenty of research shows teenagers do NOT think as clearly and are prone to taking more miscalculated risks when they don’t get enough sleep. One study showed teens have less emotional stability, less behavioral control, and can’t think as clearly when they are sleep deprived.
I have many memories of making poor choices with my friends during sleepovers at a MUCH higher rate than when we spent time together during the day.
How can we expect young people who are staying up late to make wise decisions?
Peer Pressure Is Dangerous
Many sleep overs are in groups, which means more peer pressure. This can easily lead to worse decision making.
Somehow the larger the group, the less young people seem to think for themselves and the less willing they are to stand up for things they believe are right.
I’m not comfortable putting my kids in these types of positions when they aren’t mature enough to stand up under this type of pressure.
Little to No Adult Supervision
We adults work hard all day. I personally know by the time 8:00 p.m. hits I’m already beat. So I don’t blame parents who fall asleep while their kids and friends are having a sleepover, but this can mean many sleepovers are a free-for-all where there is little to no adult supervision.
I fear this leads a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.
Besides lack of supervision meaning kids may do things that are dangerous, morally compromising or that will embarrass them later, this can also open the door for abuse.
I’ve heard way too many stories of people who were abused in some fashion during sleepovers by their friends, their friend’s dad, siblings, or other relatives, neighbors, etc.
Even if I know the parents well, do I know who else will have access to my child for 10 or more hours during a time of day when most people may be asleep and unaware of what is going on?
Unlike when we were young and made poor or crazy decisions on our own, our kids have the Internet to help.
Nowadays the Internet is everywhere. If our kids are sleeping at someone’s home, how can we know what is on the TV, computer, i-Pad, gaming devices, etc.? Even if our kids don’t have their own phones, what if someone else at the sleepover does?
I’m not comfortable with everyone on the Internet having access to my kids when I’m not around. I often lovingly remind my kids that it’s not that I don’t trust them, but that I don’t trust all the people and material on the Internet who may have access to them.
There’s No Real Benefit
I know spending the night with a friend has a magical feeling about it. I remember how fun I thought it was. However, what is the point of sleeping next to your friend? If you’re sleeping, you aren’t having fun together.
So wouldn’t it also be fun to have a fun evening where friends came over in their pj’s and played games, snacked, and watched a movie together, and then everyone was picked up or dropped off at their own homes to sleep?
I think these evening “wakeovers” could be really fun and take the place of sleepovers. I’ve found it easier for us to take a stand and say no to all sleepovers instead of yes to some friends who we are closer to and make things more complicated and risk hurting other people’s feelings.
Not to mention, maybe without sleepovers us parents and our kids could sleep a little more . . . okay, probably not, but a girl can dream, can’t she?!