To Sleepover, or Not to Sleepover: That Is the Question

At the Gresh home, it seemed like last summer was sleepover season. And with Pinterest providing a plethora of picture-perfect inspiration, it’s unlikely that this summer will be any different. When school was not in session I often found myself with one less big and important excuse to say “no,” even though I usually wanted to, knowing that I would be the one paying for a sleepless night in the days to come.

I wasn’t very intentional about how I would handle sleepovers, but the conversation has changed dramatically. In recent years, slumber parties have come under the scrutiny of discerning moms. And for good reason: Many times these parties are not well-supervised, leaving the kids (usually girls, let’s face it) vulnerable to unfiltered internet access and Netflix selections that you hope your child will never watch!

After a lot of prayer and advisements from moms, I decided that there are three reasonable responses to sleepover drama.

One is to have a “no sleepover” policy. I’ve had friends adopt this, and their children survived quite well despite what everyone around them says.

The second is to let your child go to sleepovers only at homes where you know the family well and have confidence that what the girls will be doing is safe and morally appropriate. This policy is something I suggest you ease into when your kids are 10, 11, or 12 but not much earlier. Before this, a child isn’t really emotionally ready for it and there’s even a lot of evidence that the stress can trigger things like bed-wetting.

But I think the best option is to be the host home. And that’s what I primarily opted for when I was raising my kids. (There were a few sleepovers at other homes, but they were always well-trusted friends.)

Keep in mind that if you’re a “no sleepover” mom, you can host a “pajama party.” Your younger kids will love the thrill of having friends over in their jammies even if the party ends before the sunset.

What’s your position on sleepovers? Do you allow them or avoid them or something in between?

What’s your position on sleepovers? Do you allow them or avoid them or something in between?

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28 thoughts on “To Sleepover, or Not to Sleepover: That Is the Question

  1. Sleepovers… Tough call. We’ve allowed them in various situations. One or two friends spending the night is a whole lot different than a large group. In groups, the kids tend to feed off each other and make decisions that they wouldn’t on their own, like making big messes etc. We don’t do large groups often. If it’s going to be a group where my daughter is uncomfortable, I pick her up around 10 or so. My daughter will often text me with questions about what they are doing or watching, too. We’ve had some tough conversations, but with each experience she has grown more mature in her own ability to make wise decisions. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to know a lot of her friend’s moms, so it makes it easier since we’re all pretty much on the same page. If I don’t know the parents or the child, then we often opt out of the spending the night portion of the activities. For the most part, my daughter is more of an introvert, so we don’t have to make decisions about big sleepovers often.
    At the same time, hosting more than one or two friends here is difficult because I have an autistic child, too. :-).

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    • Jennifer has access to movie ratings and nixes some at this age that aren’t appropriate. Also with books that her eldest wants grandma to buy for her. I always take a picture of the book and text it to her mom for approval – same with clothes that I buy for her.

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  2. I honestly just can’t do it. I just feel like there is so much out there in the world that I can’t bring myself to let my daughters sleepover anywhere. I would be willing though, to let my girls have pajama parties which we have done. These work out well for both sets of parents and the girls still have a blast. We’ve even let them stay out until 11:00 just to make it more fun. My girls have several friends that they play with that the parents have a no sleepover rule so it works out really well for all of us.

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  3. A friend and I were just talking about this. I have a NO sleepover policy but then she brought up what about like a family or (we have boys) a father son backyard campout. I thought maybe that would be somethng I would allow.

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  4. Nope NO SLEEPOVER policy in my family. I will host every no and again but my kids will NOT sleep at Anyones house.

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  5. When my daughter was 8 or so, the sleepovers started. She was invited to two family birthday parties. This was before the age of phone internet and Netflix, but we were very concerned about the movies. I went to the moms, who were close relatives. They told me the movies they had chosen. I checked them out online and ok’d them. But the girls did not go to sleep when predicted, so another movie was put in. It was PG and one we did not approve of. The third time, we again contacted the mom and asked about movies. Then we told the mom and our daughter, now 10, that if any other movie was shown, we had to approve it first. My daughter called late at night, saying they wanted to watch another movie. They chose one we didn’t approve of. The parents allowed it, and my daughter hung out in the other room. It was a bad experience. That’s when we adopted a no-sleepover policy. We tried a few other times as she got older, always with bad results. So my daughter was probably 17 before she ever slept at a friend’s house. By then, she knew the families and knew which ones she was comfortable staying at and which ones she wasn’t. In fact, due to bad experiences, and our lifestyle (we traveled often for our ministry), we adopted a policy that our children never even played at someone else’s house without one of us. It was very inconvenient, but we were often glad for it. God provided a way for each parent to do what He calls them to do, even if it’s difficult and different from everyone else. Now that my older two children are grown, they have told me that they were thankful that they didn’t get involved with things at other kids’ houses. They have visited homes, and said “You were right to not let us play there without you.”

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  6. I prefer to host the sleep-overs so I know a) sleep is happening (11-6 is great)
    b) supervision is happening (girls can be SO brutal to each other!)
    c) the movie/Internet/conversation content is appropriate

    That being said, there are a FEW parents I know who have girls the same age that I trust to do the same and my girls have had overnighters with them. At almost 11 (twins) they struggle with emotional meltdowns from lack of sleep the next day or two so it’s definitely more of a summertime doing.

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  7. As a kid some of the naughtiest seeds were planted at sleepovers. My parents were quite relaxed in their decision making. It has taught me to be far more discerning with my kids.

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  8. I have let my girl go to some but they are mainly just birthday. I recently told her no on a couple of invites because the parent of both kids is living with someone, older kids having boyfriends over, etc. Although I don’t want her there I wouldn’t care if they came to my house. I wish I would have adopted the no sleepover policy. My daughter is nine and for some reason sleepovers are the in thing around here.

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  9. We have had sleepovers with 20 girls before (4th graders.) We LOVE them! BUT we are careful to ask permission for applying make up, fingernail polish, removable tattoos and we tell the parents which movies will be on during the party in the party invitation. We have a no texting after 9pm unless it’s to your parents rule here also. We also ask for parents’ phone numbers before the party.

    Some of my fondest memories were slumber parties my mom let us have. We never had to limit the number of girls we could invite and we could invite school, church, and neighborhood friends.

    One special thing if it was for my sister’s birthday party (or mine) is that the other one could invite a friend over so we felt included.

    I see many reasons NOT to have sleepovers and I do not trust easily because of stuff that happened to me during my childhood (not at sleepovers.) But for the most part I think that supervised, overnight (sleep by 2am usually) parties are great.

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  10. Life is short. “Today” is a gift. With 2 girls, they can always find a reason to celebrate. We choose to give the gift of making memory-making moments by hosting themed girl events, PJ parties, and sleepovers. Most become annual events: Polar Express PJ Party, Christmas Princess Tea Party, Summer Luau, Giggling Girls Getaway, etc. However, i learned you don’t have to have a theme, nor detailed schedule, and it does not have to be a sleepover for girls to have lots of fun. They enjoy endless hours laughing just being together, and they won’t forget it! Movie night in the backyard, swim or water toys, games, attending mother-daughter events… including Secret keeper! If you do take on the responsibility to host sleepovers, have older youth or young adult be the head elf. Yes, we hosted an E.L.F. (ever lasting friends) PJ party/sleepover. Our head E.L.F. was a college student that helped chaperone, lead in some fun team building games, and shared her own story. We pre-selected movies that were appropriate, had snacks, and they provided lots of giggles to last a life time. Life is short, I encourage you to just celebrate!

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  11. I like two and three. Summer is sleepover season at our house as well. My girls are 11,8,and7 so I’m still very hands on and give lots of direction and supervision. Movies are usually picked out in advance along with snacks, and crafts. Often we play an outside game or go for a walk in the dark with flashlights. I like to keep it active, a dance party is really fun! We love Brit Nicole and One Girl Nation! So far my girls have only been invited to sleep over at a few friends houses that we know the families well and share their values.

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  12. i HAVE A 7 YR OLD dAUGHTER . I HAVE NOT MEET ANYONE HERE THAT I WOULD TRUST WITH HER SLEEPING OVER THERE HOUSE. IF ANYTHING SLEEPOVERS ARE AT MY HOUSE ONCE IN A GREAT WHILE. AS A CHILD I WAS EXPOSED TO A LOT OF STUFF. A WELL SUPERVISED ENVIRONMENT IS A PLUS ! WE DO ACTIVITIES AND LEARN TO MAKE STUFF AT MY HOUSE A MOVIE “SOMETIMES”.

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  13. We have always been the type if we have anything at all, we host them. 🙂 Now that our children are getting older they are frequently asked to come over… or stay the night. Our policy is if we do not know the parents or have not seen where they live (especially friends bedrooms) we don’t allow it.
    It is very awkward at the time to meet a parent for the first time and ask to look inside their home before leaving our children. We have had parents have no problem at all in this request. They respect it and if anything appreciate it. It shows that we care about our children and it helps our children care about themselves and their surroundings. No standards can breed carelessness. Children that don’t have boundaries feel abandon by their parents/caregiver and do not feel loved.
    It takes seconds for images and conversation to go to far…. I’d rather tell our children what we believe and why believe in living a life that glorifies God according to His Word in our home. It is important we look out for them now, so when they are old they don’t depart from it. Sheltering them? Oh no! Covering them with wisdom and training them along the way? Yes! Overdoing it or being over protective? Sure! They are valuable just like God has a plan for them the devil does too. 😛 Do we have to be in fear? Oh no way! God is the one that is in control! He is our shield and protector!
    Just like we tell our children to not play on the road for their safety, that is why it’s God’s protection to set limits and boundaries for us and our children. We just need to hear and obey the boundaries He is setting for our families individually. Every family is different, and that’s okay. You have to know what God is instructing you to do as the steward over your little blessing or blessings.
    We get one chance raising our children! 😀 We want to hear the Lord say well done good and faithful servant.
    Is it a whole lot easier to let them go where ever they want?? YES! 10X Yes! But how high is that price and how far will it take them, because of the cost. Is the cost effective and protective to God’s plan or a hindrance?
    Let’s empower a generation that Blossoms, Blooms, and Grows, in God’s plan through His Son Jesus Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit for them here and now! 🙂

    On the front lines fighting the good fight of Faith!

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  14. If I said yes, I met the parents and discussed with them my limitations. At times, church moms that I thought I trusted disappointed me, and my girls did watch movies I would have preferred they didn’t. Hosting is great – wish I had bought a house that was more conducive – with 4 kids, it’s been hard to give kids the privacy (little brother always wants to be a part of things)

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  15. I’m the host home! There are a couple girls my 10 year old is allowed to spend the night with. But otherwise, I’m the host home. We’ve done everything from 1 or 2 girls to inviting our whole American Heritage Girls troop (with me staying up ALL NIGHT LONG with them!) for birthdays. My daughter is a social butterfly who is homeschooled, and not in any co-ops (very social, but learns better one-on-one than surrounded by friends!). So sleepovers and lots of outside-the-home activities feed her social nature, while allowing me to do what I can to protect her heart–and her friends’ hearts.

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  16. My oldest daughter is only eight so she’s still a little young for sleepovers anyway. However, I don’t like them or agree with them. Between lack of supervision and not “knowing” the family, movies, internet etc… I just don’t want to go there.

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  17. Once upon a time I coached an Upward (church-based) cheerleading team. On my squad of 9 girls, age 9, 5 of them knew each other from school. Those 5 would chat and generally hang together without a significant effort on my part to make them include the 4 others. I decided a sleepover was the answer; the team could watch a movie, paint nails, dance, giggle and in general do girl bonding activities in a safe environment where I could encourage interaction. 7 of the girls came but I had to pace the night because the moms of the inner circle girls, my fellow church members, weren’t sleeper girls, they were go-home-at-10 girls. It broke my heart that my girls didn’t get to bond.

    I have to disagree with the assessment of ability to stay the night; my 11 year old is a stay-the -nighter and has been for years. Her 14 year old brother is barely able to go to sleep away camp with the youth group.

    Do not let fear rule your decision. I work in media and can tell you firsthand that sensationalism sells, 4 girls eating popcorn and sleeping in the living room floor do not.

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  18. Opinions please. We have a 13 yr old boy that we have let have sleepovers since he was probably 8-9. Mostly his Nana or Auntie but also with his best friend. We are friends with the parents and went to the same church. A few years ago, the husband decided he wasn’t going to go to church any more and doubted his salvation. We decided to let the occasional sleepovers continue. A year ago, the husband (who still wasn’t going to church and had picked his old habits back up) had an affair on his wife. Then this passed fall he cheated again(she doesn’t know about it this time). My husband and I have decided that our son wouldn’t be allowed to sleepover there anymore. My question is: how do I go about telling her this? She is also a really good friend. Bc of his infidelity, he lost his job and they recently had to move 1 1/2 hrs away. She sent me a text asking to have my son come over. I didn’t respond. :/

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  19. I have allowed them but want to speak to the parent & meet them b4 any sleep over occurs. I also prefer & offer for her friends to come here most often. New friendships r harder to manage. At 13 it gets harder

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  20. Be led by the Holy Spirit. Every kid is different. Some can handle it and some can’t.
    In my personal experience, a larger group made me nervous, so I tended to lean more towards sleepovers that had five or less. Can’t be too careful these days; my mom had always made it clear that if I felt uncomfortable with the group or if they were doing things that they shouldn’t be doing, I could call her–anytime, even at three in the morning–and she would come get me. Overall, I would say sleepovers are a definite “go”. Just be cautious 🙂

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  21. I loke sleepovers.

    I really think I was born to be a 70’s mom. But If my daughter sleeps over some place else I need to know them very well. IF kids sleepover at our house, I collect all electronics before bed. I think we can be come so dogmatic and make hard and fast rules that do not benefit anyone. Once they leave our home every night is a sleep over. Better to teach now while we can correct and help them learn to discern.

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  22. We did not allow sleepovers until age 10 – this was not a popular policy. We made a couple of exceptions for birthday parties. After 10, we only allowed them on 3-day weekends (so they could recover the lost sleep) during school vaca, or in the summer. Now when my daughter is 13, we do allow them more frequently, but only at homes that we trust. And we do end up hosting frequently, which is fine, too.

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  23. As a pastor’s wife, I have seen first hand the opportunities for abuse that sleepover’s provide. These are good families who love their children very much, but things happened that changed their lives forever. There’s plenty of opportunities for children to be together and enjoy each other’s company without sleepovers. I refuse to be part of the sleepover mistake.

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  24. We have a no sleepover policy in our house. We do so for many of the same reasons others have mentioned. But I take a different twist with my kids. I remember what I felt like after a sleepover. Regardless of it being just me and a friend or a large group, we didn’t sleep. We were told to sleep so we’d crawl in bed. But then we’d talk for hours into the night. (Conversation also takes a very different form after the sun goes down. Many times an unhealthy form or too intimate form.) The next morning I just felt awful. My 15yod really struggles with fatigue. So for health reasons, we’ve opted out of them.

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  25. I have boys…so its more like camp out….since I always tend to say no….it feels like all the time with my oldest , I said he could go to his friends for a camp out…will not do that again, when he came home, I wondered where my child was…as a Christian… I don’t want to seem like “I am better than you ” but I don’t allow my kids certain access to certain games…my 10 yrold is 5ft tall and almost 11 but going on 15 and it was worse after this “camp out” so I will allow 1 kid to spend the night at our house but no more camp outs…aka Sleepovers

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  26. The heartbreaking truth is my son was sexually assaulted at a sleepover. It happened 2 years ago, and we are still faced with tentacles that are deeply embedded in his life. NO. Just don’t. It’s not worth the risk. The loss of innocence is devastating. There is no recovery, there is only survival. He has acted out with another child, so now friendships have to be closely monitored.
    I promise it does not matter how well you *know* the family. The chaos and turmoil never leaves. If something happens the child and family are changed forever. I’ve walked this path, and wish I could redo it all.

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