Vigilant Parenting – Sleepovers

 Sleepover – an occasion of spending the night away from home or having a guest spend the night in your home (especially for children). Has absolutely nothing to do with any sexual activities.

Several years ago, a friend asked if it was okay for her son to spend a few days with us, as she had to travel out of town on an official assignment. Being a single mom, she was concerned (rightly so) about leaving her son home alone with the nanny. It was a pleasure to have him and my children were quite excited about having company. Anyway, one night during his stay, we were awakened by our guest who had suffered a severe asthma attack and the inhaler was not offering any relief! While his mom was mindful enough to pack his inhaler, she had inadvertently forgotten to mention that he was asthmatic. We rushed him to the hospital at 3 a.m and thank God the story ended well. I learned a BIG lesson that day – when hosting children especially for sleepovers ask the parents if there are any health or allergy issues you should know about.

The debate on whether to allow sleepovers or not is nothing new and my intention here is neither to speak for or against it. Different families…different dynamics…different considerations. While some people are quite open about sleepovers, others are a lot more selective and only allowed their children to sleepover in homes of family – grandparents, siblings and cousins.

Regardless of how selective one is about where their children “sleepover”, vigilance is important. Apart from health scares, other legitimate concerns include sexual molestation, disregard for boundaries and “spiritual” issues (particularly in our neck of the woods).

To make sleepovers a great experience for the kids and parents on both sides, and ensure proper courtesies are extended, here are a few guidelines.

  1. Always confirm from the host parent if it’s okay for your child to come over. Don’t just assume it’s okay even if your child is a regular at the hosts home.
  2. Share contact details so that it’s easy for the parents to call should the need arise.
  3. Let your child know he / she is free to call you or ask the host parent to call anytime they feel uncomfortable about anything going on.
  4. Don’t forget to mention any issues your child has, such as health problems, sleep disturbances, bed-wetting.
  5. Pack adequately and ensure your child has all they’ll need.
  6. Where appropriate, depending on the age of the children, ensure there is appropriate adult supervision at all times.
  7. When your guest misbehaves, correct as you would your child and where necessary depending on the severity of the misbehavior inform the parents.
  8. Remind your children to properly behave and when they return home, observe for any new habits, vocabulary etc they may have picked up which should be addressed promptly.
  9. If you feel uncomfortable about your kids attending a particular sleepover, do not allow yourself to be pressured into saying yes. As the parent, you are fully responsible for your child.
  10. To avoid passing on conflicting messages to our children, it’s prudent to restrict sleepovers to homes that share similar values as yours.
  11. In consideration for the host parent, endeavor to pick up your child early enough.
  12. Insist that your child thanks the host parent for having him /her.

We’d be glad to hear your experiences with sleepovers and share any tips that others can benefit from on


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