Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why We Don't Do Sleepovers

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I remember being 8 years old and my best friend having a birthday sleepover party.
I remember trying everything to convince my parents to let me go. She was practically my sister. Our mothers were best friends! We had grown up together.

I tried it all. 

But my parents stayed strong and reminded me that we don't do sleepovers.

They explained their reasons, like they had done so many times in the past and I brushed them off thinking none of those things could ever happen to me and that they were ruining my life! 

And I'll admit it, I swore up and down that I would NEVER deprive my children of the oodles of fun I was sure I was missing out on by missing countless sleepovers throughout the years.
Never.
I would never be that mom.

Well now I am that mom---and frankly, I'm proud to be her. 
I can remember the first time I ever held Hayley in my arms and sensing everything in my world shifting. My views were changing and I knew I would end up doing a lot of the things I swore I'd never do as a parent.

Things shift when you're holding that tiny infant in your arms and realizing you are responsible for them for the next 80+ years {give or take...}.

And one of those shifting things became sleepovers.

Now before I give you my own personal reasons for not allowing sleepovers, let me tell you that it hasn't been easy. Hayley's best friend is the daughter of my best friend and I trust their family wholeheartedly. I have felt conflicted at times thinking it'd be so fun to let them have sleepovers together. Lucky for me, my best friend views sleepovers the same way so the decision has always been no.

But here are my reasons for not allowing my children to have sleepovers:

- We don't do sleepovers because of my experiences. Even though I was only allowed to spend the night at my cousins' houses, I was a much different person there. I stretched a lot of my parents' rules while spending the night away from them. Although nothing extremely dangerous ever happened to me during sleepovers, I don't feel like the positives outweigh the negatives. 

- We don't do sleepovers because body safety is extremely important to me. My children are young and they will be considered young in my eyes for a very long time. I have taught my children about good vs. bad touch but just teaching them about these things isn't enough. I need to create safe spaces for them where they feel free to create their own boundaries and this is much harder to do when they are not under my roof. 

- Pornography. Sigh...Pornography and it's technological advances have made sleepovers more dangerous in my eyes. It is hard to know which homes are protected from this evil and which homes aren't. Children are all different and the average age of children first viewing pornography is around age 7. What. The. Hell. I mean, if that doesn't scare you, I don't know what could. It sure scares me!

- Even if I trust my friends, I cannot surely know everything about every person in their household. Children can be taken advantage of by an older brother, sister, cousin, or even a family friend. Just because I trust my friends does not mean I can trust everyone they know. There is no guaranteed stamp of approval for everyone in the household. 

The fact is that supervision is much lower during sleepovers. Parents go to sleep and assume the kids are asleep all night too. But that isn't always the case.

I don't believe our world is more dangerous than it used to be. I believe we are able to fight against the danger and see it more than we used to and that makes us believe there is more of it.

I don't believe sleepovers are going to make or break my children's upbringing. They might hate me for a while {they've already expressed their opinions on this subject many times} but in the end, that is worth it for me because I will know that I've done everything in my power to keep them as safe as I possibly can. I'm more interested in keeping them safe than I am in being the cool parent. And I'm just going to assume that someday they'll thank me for that, just as I've done with my own parents.

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And if you needed a disclaimer, we don't judge others who choose to let their children have sleepovers. This is something I was raised with and something that I've prayed about many times and feel like is the right choice for our family.