Losing Sleep Over Sleepovers?

Your child wants to stay with a friend. You're not so sure. Here's how to make the decision that's best for both of you.
Losing Sleep Over Sleepovers?

I vividly remember the day I heard about the Challenger explosion. I remember exactly when and where the tragic news of Princess Diana's death stunned me. And I can recall, just as clearly, the moment my 8-year-old son excitedly announced he'd been invited to his first sleepover birthday party.

Deep inside, I cringed. Outwardly, I made a wimpy attempt at a smile and said with feigned enthusiasm, "Great!" Inside, however, I was thinking, But I don't know these people.

I wondered if there was a way to get to know this family by the weekend: "Hi, I'm Matt's mother. While we consider your invitation could you please fill out a family tree? Note your ancestors—at least four generations back—and if it's not too much trouble, could you sign these forms granting me permission to run a background check?"

The Sleepover. It's not an activity I'm quick to push my kids into. When they sleep (or should I say, don't sleep) away from home, a thousand nagging worries—some small, some not-so-small—plague me: What are they watching on TV? Is the supervision adequate? Do all sleepovers include Ouji boards and seances? Is someone introducing my child to pornography, homosexuality, or drugs?

Even when my child spends the night with a family I know and trust, I prefer to veto sleepovers, if only to avoid dealing with a tired and grouchy child the next day. I don't, however, because my kids love them and my husband, who's always had different ideas than me on how to cut the proverbial apron strings, thinks sleepovers are a great part of growing up.

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May 25

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