Why I Have a No Sleepover Policy


Why I Have a No Sleepover Policy

Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with sleepovers. I remember feeling anxious thinking I was missing out on time with friends if I didn’t stay the night, because whether it was just girls or a late night with boys, fun plans were always made. On the other hand however, late nights and poor sleep were things I paid for the next day.

I didn’t start sleeping over at friends’ houses until about the sixth grade. I remember at the end of the school year, my friends and I planned a sleepover, determined to stay up the whole night. We were victorious in our efforts. I was so proud of myself, until I got home and crashed. That same morning, I had to go to softball practice. I was delirious and my stomach was so sick I threw up — my body was done. I got home, went to bed and slept from 10am to 6pm.

By the time I could drive and had a pretty decent curfew, I started to get the best of both worlds. I would stay late and hang out with my friends, but head home when it was time to sleep. I knew that I would still miss some of the fun or conversation with friends, but at that point I didn’t care. When you are light sleeper and love sleep, nothing else matters.

Now that I have middle school kids, sleepovers have been brought up multiple times. It’s only natural to want to have a sleepover with friends on a weekend, but I have made a “No Sleepover” rule in our home. And here’s why:

During my adolescent years, in between the fun activities and experiences I had with my friends, were also things that weren’t fun and I don’t want my kids having similar negative experiences. When I was in the ninth grade I had a sleepover with two of my friends at one of their homes. I don’t recall whether her parents were home; if they were, they stayed upstairs. As we settled in, we turned on the TV to watch a show. One of my friends mentioned watching a channel with which I was unfamiliar. It turned out to be porn disguised as a show. I don’t think I even registered that I was watching was porn; rather I thought it was an adult show with sex. Over 20 years later, those images are still stuck in my head.

There is a place called The Other Side Academy, started as a place for people who had a hard life, been in jail, etc. There, people are taught to recover and progress, and eventually rejoin society. They have a graduation ceremony for those who have finished the program, where each graduate shares his/her story. They report that 95% of the bad choices they made took place at a sleepover. Many of the graduates were molested and abused sexually at a sleepover. Most people think abuse is something performed by adults, but peer-on-peer sexual abuse is on the rise. Kids exposed to porn so early want to imitate what they see.

Bad things can happen anywhere, perpetrated by anyone. 

50% of abuse is done by a trusted non-family member.
40% of abuse is done by a trusted family member.
10% of abuse is done by a stranger.

(Click here for more about these percentages.)

There are many horrible things to which our kids can be exposed during a sleepover. Those risks are high and can be life-altering. Luckily I was never assaulted, abused or molested during any of my sleepovers, but the risk was there and so many risks are there now. We need to be educated on the realities our kids are faced with, especially when there is social media and internet access at their fingertips.

I don’t want this to be a fearful post, one which makes us feel scared to leave our homes. I don’t want that to be the takeaway. There is no way to take away all the risks of life, but as parents it’s our goal to not add to the risk. I encourage you to research the risks of sleepovers. Let’s be purposeful and educated parents to our kids. A resource I like is Ralphie at Simply of Purpose.

If not having sleepovers allows me to protect my kids from possibly having to go through life-altering experiences, I’ll continue with my “No Sleepovers” policy.


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