Editor's note: This article was originally published on Anne Banks' blog, Travel Parent Eat. It has been republished here with permission.
Sleepovers have elicited some strong emotions among parents lately. Many parents are choosing to skip the sleepovers and opt for other friend-bonding experiences.
It seems like kids come programmed to want sleepovers. There's something exciting about having guests overnight. I have lots of fun memories about sleepovers and all the crazy activities that happened on those late nights. I used to have birthday party sleepovers when I was in elementary school. Then, as I got older, and my friends didn't have curfews, I would sleepover at their houses to avoid my own curfew (sorry mom and dad).
Of course there are so many fun times involved with sleepovers. Truth or Dare. MASH. Pranks. Ghost Stories. Friendships really can be made and solidified with those late night, soul-bearing, sharing conversations. You learn more about your friend's family when you see them first thing in the morning.
Children can gain independence when they sleep away from family. They can adapt better in circumstances like scout camps, sports camps, and other activities that require nights away from home if they've had the opportunity to participate in sleepovers.
Those are the good parts of sleepovers.
But there are bad parts of sleepovers.
The pranks can become humiliating or destructive. Making someone share their deepest secrets can provide fuel for taunting and cyberbullying later when those friendships dwindle.
You don't have control over what your children will be exposed to when they are at someone else's home. The friend's family may be OK showing rated R movies to children under 17. The family may be OK walking around in very little clothing.
The kids really don't get any sleep.
Neither do the parents.
As a parent, it would make me nervous to be responsible for so many extra children. We are already very protective about our home with just our precious children. I can't imagine how nervous I would be having several precious children in my home.
There are also ugly parts of sleepovers.
Parts no one likes to talk about. Abuse can happen at sleepovers. This is the main reason my sister doesn't allow sleepovers.
How well do you really know your children's friend's parents? How well do you know their siblings? What would you do if a child who had stayed at your home accused you of abuse?
Where do you stand on the spectrum of sleepovers? Do you allow your children to sleep at other's homes? Do you allow friends to sleep at your home?
Currently, my stance is only family. I trust my family. I trust my siblings and their spouses. I trust my nieces and nephews. When my husband and I travel, there will be sleepovers, usually at grandma's, but I'm not going to stop cousins from staying over as well. Maybe I will revise my opinions as my children get older, but I don't see the need for sleepovers with friends. I think late nights will work just as fine, and have better results than the actual sleepover.