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OT - question for parents re: sleepovers ...

I know this is not what we are here for but I have a question that I'd like to ask a general group and so I'm posting it here ...

how do you handle it when your kid wants a sleep over at someone's house that you aren't comfortable with? My son is 10 and there is one house in the neighbourhood that I'm just not ok with him spending the night at. I do allow him to play there during the day, mostly b/c the neighbourhood boys tend to travel in a group and sometimes they just end up there and I don't want my son to feel left out - also, it's usually the mom around in the day.

which brings me to my biggest concern: the dad, he has sworn at the boys, yelled at them and I think that he may have a bit of an alcohol problem. I'm not trying to judge him, I'm just not comfortable with my kid spending the night there.

Basically I'm just looking for suggestions on how to explain that to my son in a way that isn't going to worry him. What would you say to your son/child?


Sat. May 17, 3:36pm

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Yeah, this is off-topic but it is important.

It sounds like you are right to trust your instinct. I understand not wanting to "judge", but yet as a parent we have to provide a safe environment for our kids. Personally, my wife and I have decided not to allow sleepovers with anyone (with exceptions for the few cousins we have around.) Instead, we offer a "late night". The kids play into the late evening until some time we set in conjunction with the other family and then we take them home (or go get them.)

We'll provide movies, popcorn, games etc to make it fun and they don't usually complain! It killed me at first because I used to sleep over at a neighbor's house all the time as a kid--usually outside under the stars too! Different times...

If you decide to allow sleepovers with some families and not others, i can just suggest that you tell them that you need to know them better before allowing it and leave it at that.

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 5:07 PM

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I just said no, but offered that the kid could sleep over at our house. I heard lots of protesting, and just ignored it. Eventually she stopped asking for that house. When she got older, she agreed with my reasons, but not at the time. Good luck and just say no. Don't offer a reason other than you aren't comfortable with it and stick to your guns.

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 5:15 PM

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5:15 - love it. Be firm, don't overexplain, offer an alternative, stick to it (i.e., be confident with your decision!)

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 5:27 PM

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We have had to deal with this situation as well. I explained my reasons to my daughter at a level that an 8 year old could understand. It's tricky because I don't want her to repeat what I've said to her friend later and cause hurt feelings, but I also want my daughter to understand that I'm not just being mean and saying no. Believe it or not, my 8 year old understood my reasons and agreed with me! Her girlfriend is always welcome in our home, just don't want my child there.

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 7:34 PM

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This thread worries me.

I am not a parent, but the 19 year old sister of 2 younger brothers, aged 9 and 11. My brothers are extremely popular with the neighborhood kids. We have every toy and gaming system imaginable. My parents let them go anywhere and they are all welcomed in our home (sometimes with greeted teeth, because they are all extremely loud, obnoxious 10 - 11 year olds).

The only little boy not allowed in our home (but in the backyard) is the one who leaves our house everytime with one of my brothers' small toys. He's also the friend who comes from a... well.. Not-so-good home life. There's another boy also a while ago who was being picked up by his mother. He protested and slipped something about how he didn't like his mom and her boyfriend "always hitting eachother all the time." This set off a huge red flag in my house, and it especially upset my dad.


Am I missing the point, or over-thinking thi whole thing? Maybe its hard for me to understand -- like I said, my only role is the 19 year old, oldest child of the house. I guess I just had to speak up and ask, because this is 1 of the few topics I see discussed in these threads that I honestly can't relate to.

I would hate to think any of my brothers' friends' parents feared them coming to our house. What's going on at these kids' houses that you don't want your children to be around, and how did you find out about it? Are you at all apprehensive about any possible negative influence the other kid could have on your own child?

Sorry for the long-winded post but I'm very curious

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8:05 PM

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If this kid is growing up in such an environment, he needs all the surrogate parents he can get. I would have him over for dinner lots, and make sure he feels comfortable around you and can trust you. He may need someone to talk to sometime. I wouldn't tell my kid the reason for the no sleepover policy; kids repeat everything. Just provide an alternative and leave it at that.

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8:27 PM

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Trust your instincts. There are certain kids I wont let my kids play with at their homes even during the day. I just try to fill their time with other activities. Unless you know them really well, and really, how well can you know someone who is on their best behavior when they see you?, you really don't know. I wouldn't leave my kids with soemone overnight who I suspected had an alcohol abuse problem for sure or any other suspicious reasons. Parents have instincts for good reasons, use them or you will end up sorry. Better safe than sorry I think. Good luck. And yes! Kids repeat everything, so just tell them you dont know the family well enough. :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8:41 PM

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OP here ...

thanks so much for all the great thoughts!

to answer a few things: the boy from this house is always welcome in our home and yard and it's not the child that I have any concerns with. I don't see him as a bad influence or a threat to my kid's well-being, he's just a little boy too.

I found out through my own kid when he had been sworn at - he came home and told us. It shocked him. He even asked permission to repeat what had been said to him b/c he knew it was wrong. he/they had been called "little f*ers" and told to clean up their f*ing mess - they had Lego spread all over the familyroom. I don't find that acceptable AT ALL! Neither my husband or I would ever speak to our children that way and would NEVER say that to anyone else's either!!!

my suspicion about the alcohol issue is because I know he drove home drunk last year, took out one of the fences in our mutual back-alley and lost his licence. We were all aware when it happened and I have heard his son talking opening about when at my house. I've also been to several "kids" parties in their home/yard where there has been a lot of drinking.

I'm not a prude. I partake in drinks myself. BUT I don't mix kids & drunk adults! A couple drinks is one thing - drunk adults are another in my opinion. I'm not saying NO parent should ever be drunk, but I don't think it's appropriate to happen in front of kids.

to the 19 y.o. sister who posted - I'm sorry but not sure I understand your question is? I too would be upset to know that my kid was not welcome in someone's home and i would want to know why! I'm not saying though that I don't want my child to play with this child, just that I am not comfortable with my son being in their home overnight b/c I'm not comfortable with one of the parents.

I think for us, the answer is going to be to keep it simple, say no and leave it at that. If my son pushes for an explanation, I will use the "we don't know them vey well" answer. I'm not sure if it will suffice but I don't believe that I should tell him something that I expect him to keep secret. I don't know that I think that's fair to him. He trusts us and if he knew that we felt unsure of his friend's parent, I think he might worry about his friend and that's not his burden. He's also a very chatty child and I just think that worrying about making sure he didn't say anything would be stressful for him.

And thanks for reminding me that my gut instinct is there for a reason!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008, 2:46 AM

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Hi OP, and if the answer doesn't suffice for him, just tell him, that's all I have to say about it so don't ask any more. I wouldn't let my kid stay over at that house either based on what you describe. Some other houses my daughter didn't spend the night at: 1) where I found out that the single mom left them alone from time to time with no parent supervision without telling me 2) where the family smoked pot and my daughter knew it 3) where the invite was for co-ed sleepovers (6th grade - my daughter hated us for that one because 'ALL' the other parents said it was ok, and I didn't think it was appropriate - and my husband said 'hell no'. 4) where there was a creepy older brother with creepy friends and the girls were 14 then and 5) where the plan for the night was to watch Blair Witch Project (girls were in 5th grade on that one). Without fail, in all grades, even through high school, when my daughter said she was invited to the sleep over, it was a rule that either her dad or me had to speak to one of the parents and check out the situation. i started it young, so she would expect it in high school rather than view it as a sudden trust issue.

Sunday, May 18, 2008, 12:25 PM

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the 19 year old sister here again..

I'll be straight up -- most of you sound like the 'over-protective parents' that a majority of my friends had and they rebelled against their parents every chance they got.

Personally, I could always go wherever and do whatever I wanted and have never gotten in any sort of trouble, ever, once.

It is a strange and sad world we live in when you have to have your car doors locked as you're driving through the city, and if the parents aren't there to protect their child, then who is?

BUT when do you finally loosen the reins?
One of my friends turned 20 and got her first car this past January, and had a 10PM curfew up until that point. Since I've had a car, I was always the one who drove us around and she always had to call and check in with her mom and had to be home around 9-10PM. But once she got that car, there was no stopping her. Her sister is 23 and she started ignoring the same curfew rule when she was 16, purposely staying out till 5AM on the weekends (if she came home at all) and eventually her mom gave up.

Back to the sleepover situation, which is what this thread is really about, growing up, I was the one who decided who's house I felt comfortable at, and who's house I didn't. Granted, I'm sure my parents had to have felt comfortable with other parents too but I guess I never ran into a family that my own family didn't trust. I remember one night, I was sleeping over at a friend's house and her mom smacked her. I immediately called my mom to come pick me up and never slept over there again. She was definitely not a bad mother but that kind of thing frightened me.

What age does your kid have to be for you to tell them WHY they can't go to their best friend's house? If my parents ever hid anything like that from me, it would have driven me crazy. I probably never would have told them anything either, but instead I always voluntarily told them where I was going, when I would probably be back and who I was with and they've never flat out told me I couldn't leave the house.

Sunday, May 18, 2008, 2:12 PM

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So, 19 year old, what are you saying? That the best way to parent is to not parent at all?


Sunday, May 18, 2008, 8:13 PM

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pp is right, don't listen to 2:12 - she's not a parent & doesn't understand that this is your child and you must use your insticts to protect them.

Sunday, May 18, 2008, 11:13 PM

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You find when you are a parent that things often change, including your ideas of what's overprotective.

My son cannot sleep over at a particular child's house, because that child has often been beaten up and threatened by various older brothers and live-in boyfriends. My son is at an age where some kids would get this and choose to stay home, but he is very naive and doesn't really think he can ever get hurt, and he has never had any real experience with the kind of thing this boy lives with. I don't let my son sleep over there because there isn't adequate adult supervision and he isn't old enough to defend himself.

Do I worry about the influence my children have on other people's children? Sure I do, where it's warranted. I've never been troubled when parents didn't want their children sleeping over at my house. In situations where we were going to be gone and one of my older boys was going to be in charge, the parents always know--because while I trust and have complete confidence in my two eldest sons, they have no reason to feel the same way, and molestation by the sons of family friends is one of the more common scenarios. If the parents aren't okay with it, it doesn't happen. Do I feel insulted for my sons' sake? Not on your life.

I don't let my children make decisions for themselves that I don't consider them mature enough to make, but I do increase their autonomy as their maturity increases. My 16-year-old makes most of his own decisions. I have taught him right and wrong and how to listen to his feelings, and I generally trust him to do that--even though I know he will make some mistakes along the way.

There is no one right way to parent, so don't stress, sister-poster. None of us are probably harming our children irreparably by sheltering them from things we feel they aren't prepared for.

Monday, May 19, 2008, 1:10 AM

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Thanks, 1:10 for at least CONSIDERING my point. You sound like you at least see where I'm coming from even if you don't agree.

8:13 and 11:13.. Of course I'm not a parent. I'm posting here to simply bring in another perspective. I wanted to join the discussion because I thought it was interesting but I'll just leave it up to the parents/i> because as usual, you guys are always right :)

Good day.

Monday, May 19, 2008, 5:03 AM

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Monday, May 19, 2008, 5:26 AM

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I feel you are placing judgement on the family a little to quick. Just because he curses does NOT mean he is an alcoholic or a bad father. I feel you believe this family is below you therefore you do not want your child to spend the night there. I am also a parent and I only allow my children to have sleep overs with a very few of their friends this is because I do not know what goes on behind closed doors. You are the parent, you do not have to explain why the answer is NO it just is and leave it at that.How about getting to know the parents better then judge them.

Monday, May 19, 2008, 8:29 AM

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I'm sorry but a 19 year old can't possibly comment on the job of parenting because you're still in that "Don't fence me in" mindset. At 19, I thought my parents were overprotective killjoys too. There's a big difference between giving your child some freedom and protecting them from potentially harmful situations. If the sleepover was at a good friend's house and you knew the family, but still didn't let them stay that might be considered overprotective. But when there are concerns such as inappropriate behavior and alcohol, who in their right mind would send their child there? The fact that 19 yr old ended one of her posts with "You're always right anyways" shows that she doesn't quite understand the magnitude of being a parent. When it comes to my kids, you're damn right I'm always right. And frankly, I don't care what anyone thinks about my child for not staying somewhere. If it saves them from being abused or treated inappropriately, my kid can be the biggest dork on the block. Fine by me.

Monday, May 19, 2008, 9:34 AM

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I would definitely trust my gut, OP! We were given that sense to keep ourselves and our children safe.

There were plenty of times my parents wouldn't let me go to certain houses (even during the day). Looking back, I know exactly why (the houses were filthy, the parents were scum-bags, and they would leave their children unattended often).

I'm 26, and I remember being 19 and having the same feelings as the PP. My parents seemed a little too strict, and I was rebellious. I look at my parents now, and I realize that they were just being GREAT parents. Just make sure to offer lots of time where you are willing to have the neighborhood at your house (that's the give and take).

And, I know that this may be a lot for you son to keep secret, but tell him the truth about why he's not allowed to go to certain neighbors' houses. My parents would never let me know the "why" of the situation, and, as many children do, I blamed myself and thought I wasn't doing well enough to be allowed to sleep out. You don't have to go into detail. "I don't know the parents well enough to feel comfortable letting you stay the night" would be good. And, if you're up for it, have the parents over some night.

OP, it is you that gets to decide who you want your kids around. My parents always took them with us to parties because they couldn't afford a babysitter. I grew up around adults drinking and swearing. It wasn't a big deal to us. It made me an extremely social child. You just have to consider your standards and what's right for you and your family.

Monday, May 19, 2008, 9:46 AM

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OP Here thanks again ...

9:46 - your post gave me an idea .... I think that in the next few days we will have a generic discussion about sleep-over's in general and I will set some basic ground rules for both kids that are not particular to anyone else, but to our family. It would actually be fairly easy to simply set out the houses where they are allowed sleep-overs - focus on the positive vs. the negative! :)

In the past this hasn't been much of an issue b/c they never asked for sleepovers other than a couple of kids whose families we know well and have had sleepovers going for years.

I think the information will be a lot easier to digest and be less of a "secret" if it's not about anyone else in particular but our family rules on sleeping over.

I could explain to both kids that if they would like us to get to know another family better then we will start by having the whole family over for a BBQ or a dinner date.

To the poster who thinks I made the leap from swearer to alcohol problem - I think you missed my post in the middle of this thread. The alcohol issue is unrelated to the swearing. I even actually swear myself *gasp* ;P ... but in the 10. I actually agree with you that the whole thing seems very judgemental and THAT is a huge part of what I am struggling with in the whole thing - balancing feeling like I might be judgemental and still protecting my child from a situation that just doesn't feel right! at the end of the day, sometimes I guess not all judgments are wrong if the potential in NOT assessing and coming to some decision about a situation has the potential to hurt or place my child in danger.

to the 19 y.o. sister poster - I do appreciate your post. It's good to get the other perspective but I also agree with the beautifully worded 1:10 post that points out that, like most of experience when we become parents - A lot of things change about our perspectives. Like you I had very few restrictions and a lot of freedom as I child and I KNOW that many, many situations I was in as a young child and as an older teen, my safety came down to sheer luck. I'm not willing to count on that.

thanks again all for the great thoughts!

Monday, May 19, 2008, 11:03 AM

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OOOPS

a sentence seems to have disappeared from one of my last paragraphs!

This:

To the poster who thinks I made the leap from swearer to alcohol problem - I think you missed my post in the middle of this thread. The alcohol issue is unrelated to the swearing. I even actually swear myself *gasp* ;P ... but in the 10. I actually agree with you that the whole thing seems very judgemental and THAT is a huge part of what I am struggling with in the whole thing - balancing feeling like I might be judgemental and still protecting my child from a situation that just doesn't feel right! at the end of the day, sometimes I guess not all judgments are wrong if the potential in NOT assessing and coming to some decision about a situation has the potential to hurt or place my child in danger

should read:

To the poster who thinks I made the leap from swearer to alcohol problem - I think you missed my post in the middle of this thread. The alcohol issue is unrelated to the swearing. I even actually swear myself *gasp* ;P ... but in the 10 years that I have been an adult I have never sworn at a child or called them a little f*er! I actually agree with you that the whole thing seems very judgemental and THAT is a huge part of what I am struggling with in the whole thing - balancing feeling like I might be judgemental and still protecting my child from a situation that just doesn't feel right! at the end of the day, sometimes I guess not all judgments are wrong if the potential in NOT assessing and coming to some decision about a situation has the potential to hurt or place my child in danger.

I also forgot to mention that I like the idea of the option of a late play date! This works on a couple of levels b/c my son, who is a night owl, tends to come home from these sleepovers extremely overtired b/c he stays up SO late and gets up just as early! I can ensure a bit more sleep if I have him home! :)

Monday, May 19, 2008, 11:08 AM

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I tell my kids that the neighbors have "different rules in their house" than we do. She can't be in the yard when their kids are playing "Build a Fort" with hammer and nails, or when the mom lets them chop up a stump with axes and she's nowhere in sight. If they're doing that in the yard, imagine what goes on in the house!!! Saying that seems to put her on enough guard to know when to get out of that yard when something unsafe is going down...

Monday, May 19, 2008, 11:32 AM

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