“I know all mothers worry about this.”
It was a conversation with a school mum that sparked my interest. Her eight-year old daughter wanted to have a sleepover with a friend and the friend happened to be a 10-year old boy.
She was uneasy about it, in a manner she didn’t want to be completely candid about. Because after all this is a 10-year old boy, an innocent child, and her daughter just eight-years, still in the world of fluro pink scooters and loom bands.
She knew in her mind that they would stay up late talking about Minecraft and planning a promised lemonade stall, that they would surf YouTube for gaming videos made by kids their age and they would eat too much candied popcorn and forget to brush their teeth.
But in her heart she held a tiny kernel of fear. A what-if? A when-does-it-cross-the-line? What age should I be concerned?
It’s a question that pops up time and time again in parenting forums.
Should I let my daughter attend a sleepover party where boys will be?
My nine-year old son wants to sleepover at his best friend’s house and she is a girl should I let him go?
I was shocked to see my son was invited at an eight-year old’s sleepover party and girls will be there. Does anyone else think this is a bit much?
The answers seem to vary – from many being shocked at the thought of boy /girl sleepovers to others thinking it is not a big deal.
I have three children – a boy turning eight this year, a boy turning six and my daughter just about to turn four. For me the idea of an opposite sex sleep over isn’t an issue. My kids are a long way off it being inappropriate (and the fact is my boys they aren’t actually interested in hanging out with girls.)
What worries me more is the older boys and my younger sons.
That reads like such a loaded statement doesn’t it? But for me it is about influence. My five-year old son wants the older children to like him, to approve of him, he acts the clown for their attention. Like any younger child he then laps it up.
What is concerning is what kind of attention they give him. It’s the bullying, the inappropriate language, the lack of understanding of certain boundaries for younger kids.
I know all mothers worry about this.
My children have friends of all ages and I trust and adore their friends, but I also know that they are kids. What one ten-year thinks is okay to watch on YouTube may not suit my easily influenced five-year old.
Just the other day I overheard a nine-year old ask my seven-year old “don’t you know how babies are made”
Ahem, I interrupted loudly. Hows about you leave that conversation to me?
It is difficult to keep your kids in a bubble though. I learnt more about the facts of life from the playground than the kitchen table, and that is the way it has always been, but as parent you wish to keep them as innocent as long as possible don’t you?
For all sleepovers I think that each and every decision should be formed within each individual family. Some kids are more mature than others, some children are better equipped to deal with situations than others. For some families boy/ girl sleepovers may be okay, while others may not feel so comfortable.
As parents we are all just learning the ropes as we go and there is no hard and fast rule for each family. I know we have to teach our children resilience, independence and confidence and we have to trust them.
My friend ended up letting her daughter go on the sleepover and as far as I can tell the only think she learnt was how to swear in French. An educational experience all eight-year olds need right?
What are your thoughts on sleepovers? Would you let your child sleepover at a friend's house of the opposite sex?
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