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.

I know he's right and that sleepovers can be a positive experience for my kids. Connie Schultz, Family Outreach Specialist for the State College schools in Pennsylvania, points out one plus, saying, "Sleepovers give children a chance to see how another family lives." Still, she adds, "I do advise parents to allow their children to sleep over only where they've visited comfortably before and where the rules are similar to home."

Chances are your child will be invited to a sleepover by the time she's 7 or 8. According to American Demographics magazine, sleepovers are becoming more common at a younger age. And although your child may be close friends with the child hosting the party, the busy lives we parents lead may mean that you don't know the parents as well as you'd like. The best way to handle your concerns is to develop some family guidelines before the invitations start pouring in. Just as the right age to try a night away from home varies from child to child, effective family sleepover policies also will vary. If you're stuck for where to start, consider how these families handle the issue:

Patsy Rougeux, mother of four, says, "We limit sleepovers to friends whose parents I really know. I live in my hometown so I know a lot of people. If one of my children makes a friend, I put effort into getting to know the parent. Even when I know the parents, I don't always trust that they have the same policies or morals I have. So I get on the phone and ask what's on the agenda for the evening."

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May 25

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