I’m a pretty laid back kinda parent.
My kids are allowed to ride their bikes in the street and walk up to a neighbour’s house to ask if Lucy/ Amber/Will/ Toby can come out to play.
On weekends we are pretty relaxed with bedtimes and routines and once we even had cake for dinner, just because well, it was cake.
But the one thing I can’t seem to budge on is sleepovers.
We don’t do sleepovers. There are many reasons but they all lead to the one thing. Sleepovers are just non-negotiable for my three kids.
Now my kids are pretty accepting of that – so far. At the ages of eight-and-a-half, nearly seven and four they just know that’s our gig and they don’t ask or try and negotiate a change.
If fact they don’t even really blink when they are asked. Nope we don’t do sleepovers they say and move on to the next topic.
They accept it without a worry.
But for some strange reason the ones who don’t accept it are the other mums.
Sleepovers are becoming quite a thing in our area, four-year-olds off for the night at their best friend’s house. Groups of eight-year-old boys gathering for movies and popcorn and late nights of chatter…
And each week I am facing the same questions.
Oh why don’t you just let them?
It’s not fair on your kids they are missing out.
What’s wrong with you?
When asked I am quite clear on my rule – we just don’t do them. Sure I say maybe when they are teenagers I might relax that a little but right now it’s just a blanket rule.
While I acknowledge the fact that in the majority of cases children will be perfectly safe, for me there are too many uncontrollable elements, too many things that can go wrong.
The ‘what if’s still linger in my mind.
High profile cases like that of Hey Dad star, Robert Hughes and Rolf Harris flood me with doubt about sleepovers. Statistics like the fact 8 out of 10 cases of abuse are by family friends, family, teachers or trusted acquaintances.
But to explain this to other parents seems fear mongering and overly protective so most of the time I don’t. Most of the time I just say no we don’t do sleepovers.
It’s easier with things like this to have a blanket rule. Not a oh-those-people-are-okay and those-ones-are-not. Just a no.
But it’s not an answer that pleases a lot of people.
What it seems to come back to is this uneasy feeling we all get that by having rules different from another parent we are judging their rules. That by my children not being allowed to go I am somehow accusing them of having the potential to harm my child, that I don’t trust them, that I feel like my child would be endangered by them or their child.
Parents confess what they get up to after the kids go to bed. Post continues after video…
Well the thing is in part, I am saying that. So I can see why my rules make them feel judged, and uncomfortable.
In part I am saying that I don’t feel comfortable having my kids sleep at a friend’s house. In part I am saying that I worry about what could happen even in the home of people I respect and admire.
In part I am saying I don’t trust them so I can see why they would feel affronted.
I’m not planning on changing my no-sleepover rule anytime soon so somehow the parents of my children’s friends will have to come to terms with it because really its not about them even if it seems like it is.