Our home is our children’s place of refuge and comfort. In it, they enjoy our love made tangible with their rooms decorated to their own liking, hearty food prepared for them on the table, and even some luxuries we can afford. Guided by the rules we set, our children move around freely and comfortably in our homes whilst being continually trained to not abuse the familiarity. Whenever our kids are at home with us, our minds are at peace that they are happy, safe, and protected.
Inevitably, there will come a time in our children’s lives when they will ask for permission for a sleepover at a cousin’s or friend’s house without us. To send our kids on their own to sleep in another’s house is quite unthinkable for some parents. So, we asked dear moms, “What is your take on allowing your child to do sleepovers?”
As you read other moms’ responses below, ponder on your own take, or try to come up with your own. Open a discussion about it with your spouse and other mom friends, and let this begin a healthy discussion on confidence, custody, and consent.
A sleepover is a source of conflicting emotions on the part of parents. The magic word “yes,” or the go signal for the child to participate in a sleepover, bears the weight of parents’ trust and confidence. Some parents perceive sleepovers as an avenue for their children to feel their trust and to apply the values and skills they learned at home while having fun with their friends.
“To be honest, allowing them on sleepovers makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because they are being independent and have that quality time with friends/cousins. Sad, because it gives me the realization that they are not kids anymore. But as a mother, we need to let them feel that we have trust in them and let them learn how pakikisama works.”
Mommy Erika, mom to Ethan Jae, 13 and Erin Jae, 3
“As a mother, I want my children to experience new things, so I allow them to go to sleepovers as long as they know their limitations. I’ve already allowed my teenager once to go on a sleepover with her friends because I see it as a good instrument for her growth as an individual. Having sleepovers can help my children improve their communication skills with peers and even gain fun memories with their friends.”
Mommy Angie, mom to Marjon, 15
Teachers are bound by law to assume the role of parents when students are in school. This is clearly expressed in the doctrine of in loco parentis (“in the place of a parent”) in Article 18 of the Family Code: “The school, its administrators and teachers, or the individual entity or institution engaged in child care shall have special parental authority and responsibility over the minor child while under their custody.” No wonder why some parents are more lenient in allowing their children to go if the sleepover is a school-initiated activity.
“I will allow my kids to sleep over only if it’s about school activities. In today’s generation, teens are very vulnerable. As a parent, we really need to set boundaries for our kids not because we don’t trust them, but because we want to keep them aligned on their purpose in life.”
Mommy Rachel, mom to Lucas, 3 and Misha, 5 months
“I will only allow my child for sleepovers if we are together or if it is part of the school activity with the assurance that she is guarded/monitored by an adult. Otherwise, she may do sleepovers when she is independent enough—for me, this is when she earns her own money, however young she may be.”
Mommy Jackie, mom to Ellie, 9
“For other parents who approve of sleepovers outside the context of school activities, it’s crucial for them to know who they will entrust their child with. This is a huge concern because a “safe space” does not only involve secured premises, structure, or building, but also and more importantly, reliable and trustworthy adults. Hence, knowing who will look after their child in the sleepover is a prerequisite to allowing him or her to participate in the activity.”
“I will only let my child have sleepovers with family members, such as first cousins, and only under the strict supervision of a trusted adult relative, so she doesn’t miss out on having fun and can make her own memories as she grows older.”
Mommy Kaye, mom to Olivia, 6
“As a parent of two teenage girls, it is natural for me to be very hesitant in allowing my children to sleep in other people’s houses. However, given the clear objectives and conditions, I give them the chance to experience sleepovers. This only happens if I totally know and trust the people/family that they will be staying in for the night. I communicate with the family/parents and their friend/s before giving my permission. One of the most important conditions is that my daughter and I must communicate through video calls and chats whenever possible during the sleepover.”
Mommy Candy, mom to Yvanna, 14 Grey, 19
“As parents, we should be friends with our children and their friends’ families before we can let them go for sleepovers. The host parents should be the ones to ask my permission to allow my child to participate in the sleepover activity, in that case, I’ll be more at peace to know that there will be an adult to supervise the children and it depends on my child’s age as well. He must be responsible enough to handle himself.”
Mommy Grace, mom to Rome, 7
In this day and age, it’s never too early to teach our children what they need to learn in order for them to spot red flags on their own later on. Even if their kids are not in the age of sleepovers yet, these moms have started to take action on teaching their kids the skill of knowing what’s right and wrong, and the value of consent.
“I can’t say I am “pro” to this practice as I am hesitant to allow kids to do sleepovers. I agree that sleepovers may be beneficial for growing children as they learn to navigate and explore better but, in my opinion, this too should be monitored, and children should also be educated on how to decipher danger in any form before we can finally let them go for sleepovers.”
Mommy Grace, mom to Rome, 7
“At this point that my girls are 5 and 2, I can say that sleepovers are not yet on the table. But as early as now, I orient my kids that no one can touch their bodies without their consent and that they can say no if they are not comfortable being hugged or kissed, especially by the opposite sex. With this small practice we do early on, I pray that they will be able to apply it as they grow older to avoid unnecessary trauma. When they grow bigger, I think I would feel more comfortable if their friends will be staying over at our place where I can see and guide them. Times have really changed and as parents, we do what we can in order to protect them.”
Mommy Mae, mom to Elise, 5, and Rachel, 2
Some parents fully understand the huge responsibility that they have when they host a sleepover. Mommy Tess, for example, hosted a sleepover when her daughter Cassie was just 7. Mommy Tess made sure that rules were in place, and that all of Cassie’s friends will be safe and comfortable. According to her, Now that Cassie is 10, she is now more at ease with sleepovers because she saw how her mom prepared for her and her friends. These were Mommy Tess’ considerations, and these could be great tips for parents, too!