Sleepovers have become a thorn in my parental-side.
Not actually HAVING them... but letting my children GO to them.
And considering what has come to light with politician Michael Gardner... I just want to add my 2 cents about the famed childhood tradition: The Sleepover...
Our family is very careful.
And I am sure many families are. Though I am always a little knocked to the side when an authentic invite comes when I've not met the parents or have no idea what the inside of their home looks like.
By the way, my kids are 7, 10 and 12. Young and getting to be not-so-young.
I struggled for a long time with the thought of allowing any sleepover for my children. A situation with a young girl I grew up with, in a sadly similar situation as the one involving Michael Gardner (that came to light years after my childhood, but well before my parenthood) has given me a profound pause when it comes to letting my kids sleep over at someone else's home.
Even with families I feel I might know very well.
The thing is: you just never know.
For example, I know someone who KNEW, trusted... etc... and *it* still happened.
To a child with parents who are careful. And protective. And talk to their kids.
Like, CAREFUL, GOOD, INVOLVED PARENTS.
But it's not just molestation that worries me.
I was at a Mother's of Preschoolers group one time and a speaker made a point that hit home for me as one who would be not only sending my kids overnight, but bringing other children into my own home... At night, we (the family) are tired. Our guard goes down. What about domestic violence? What about what parents think is OK to watch on TV at night? What kind of pajamas do they walk around the house in? Etc, and whathaveyou...
Allowing one's child to sleep over in another home has risk. Period. Be they your best friend or someone you met just once.
I liked what this article had to say about how to keep our children safe. However, when considering a sleepover I don't just consider my children's bodies -- I consider the mind and heart as well.
What does our family do? Since you asked...
I don't want to "deprive" my children of the great fun and great memories of childhood sleepovers. They can be SO much fun! So...
We have a pretty small circle of friends. I guess our own little "Circle of Trust."
We have stepped outside it a time or two, but... makes my tummy upset. It just doesn't sit right with me.
It's hard to keep that circle closed. New friends come along... GREAT families. Sleepover invitations bounce our way often.
And it's awkward.
To say no.
To have boundaries.
With people who are probably absolutely wonderfully safe.
But my perspective is, yes... it's uncomfortable and PROBABLY, MOST LIKELY perfectly safe.
But then... Michael Gardner. Upstanding citizen.
What about older siblings?
I'll be honest, I am not wild about the thought of sending my girls to a sleepover where there is a teenage boy -- particularly if I've never met him.
(I just want to add a note for my few wonderful teen fellas who read here . Yous guys. I know and adore, and if you are reading this right now... I am not talking about YOU)...
But parents... I make this point as the mother of an almost-teenage boy. I know my boy and trust him, but I don't expect that trust from other parents with little girls.
Unless one absolutely bans the sleepover altogether, there will always be risk. What hit home hard for me was when it happened to a family I have long admired and know to be very safe with their choices for their children.
It can happen to anyone. And not just at sleepovers.
This parenting business. It is not for the faint of heart... How about you? What does your family do?
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