Has your child been invited to a sleepover? Chances are good you’re a lot more anxious than your kid. Before you break into a cold sweat, remind yourself that your child will eventually leave your home—your job is to prepare them to do so. And importantly, most sleepovers go off without a hitch.
Regardless, that doesn’t mean you should let your child attend blindly. Whether it’s their first ever sleepover or just the first at a particular house, ask questions to figure out if it’s a safe environment for your child and to put your mind at ease.
Ask the Parents
How many kids will be attending?
The bigger the party, the easier it is to spiral out of control. It’s important to understand the size of the party, and find out if there will be kids you and your child don’t know in attendance. Asking this simple question can give you and your child a better idea of what the party will be like (e.g., quiet, rowdy, or prone to hijinks).
Will there be adult supervision, and if so, what type?
Find out what adults will be home. Some families consider older siblings or grandparents sufficient supervision—you might not. You also may want to ask where the adults will be in relation to the kids. If the kids are downstairs, will the parents be upstairs or hiding away in a bedroom? If you don’t know the other children, or if you feel your own child needs close supervision, this question is doubly important.
Are there guns in the home?
This is an important and often overlooked question. Are firearms safely secured in a locker or safe? Is ammunition kept separately? A competent gun owner shouldn’t mind explaining their situation. Guns don’t have to be a deal breaker, but you should ask plenty of questions to make sure you’re comfortable with the family’s safety precautions.
Will internet use and television be monitored?
Are you OK with R-rated movies and unfettered web access? If not, find out the hosting family’s internet and television policies, and make sure they align (or can be aligned) with your expectations.
Is your child ready?
Does your child understand sleepover etiquette? Are there any medical or social issues—insomnia, night terrors, or bedwetting—that could be a problem? No one knows your child better than you do.
Do you know the family?
Have you met the parents and seen the home? If the host family is unfamiliar, or if you know they don’t share your core values and parenting ideas, think twice. Alternately, use it as an opportunity to get to know them better.
Are YOU comfortable sending your child?
If your answer isn’t a resounding yes, consider alternatives. You could allow your child to attend for a few hours and come home before bedtime. You also could offer to host at your own home. If you’re just not comfortable with a situation, politely decline.
Sleepovers can be fun and exciting for your kid, and can provide you with a well-deserved break. By asking the right questions and trusting your gut, you’re more likely to have a safe and stress-free experience.