Perils of the older child and Sleep Overs

I wrote some time ago now about being Nemo's Dad and the protective neurotic you become when you have a child. How it's a fine line between protection and stifling a child, and how hard it can be to find a balance.

Now my DD is 11 years old. She walks to school alone, she goes to call for friends alone, she goes to the shops alone. She also still does a lot of things with us as a family. She has yet to catch a bus or a train alone for example.

When I was 11 I did all these things too. And also, now she is older, she has friends where we don't know the parents. Not don't know them very well, but don't know them at all, have never seen them, don't even know their names.

So last night a long phone call from a friend resulted in 'Mum can I go for a sleep over at Ophelia's house?' (names changed to protect the innocent) and I stopped and thought.........

well why not, she goes out a lot by herself, she plays with this girl at school....


I don't know the family, at all. I have never met the mum, I have never seen the house, I don't even know where it is! DH has seen the house once when he gave Ophelia a lift home from a tea at our house once (her mum obviously trusts US!) but that's it. 

I guess I just need to ring the mum and confirm the arrangements and try and assess from a phone call that all will be OK.

I asked on Twitter what people thought. And in response to a Question - Would you allow your 11yo daughter to go for a sleepover with parents you didn't know? and if not how would you go about 'vetting' those parents? I got many and varied answers! ranging from

Never! I would have to know the parents well

No, I would meet them over coffee first

I would ring them and chat on the phone.

I would facebook them (I don't have facebook and besides that I don't know the mum's name!)


Yeah, there comes an age when you can't know all the parents

Yeah if she's happy to go

Yes it will be fine, just check the mum knows.

So I'm none the wiser, I guess that DD will go, I guess there will be a phone call, I guess all will be fine. What would you do?


  1. Anonymous18/3/11

    I wouldn't let my son go (granted he's only 7 now so I haven't had to address this yet) unless I know the parents and have been in their house. I'm uber-paranoid about stuffs. My house is the hub where all the kids come and play and while that is a pain in the ass sometimes (messes and such) I'd rather they congregate here where I know what's going on than at someone else's house.

    Listen to your instincts and screw what other people tell you...including me ; )

  2. Let her go, it's character building. Seeing how other families' behave, being in a different environment and making the first gradual steps towards independence is what life is all about. I had some bad experiences at sleepovers, but they were mainly great. When you're an 11 year old girl it is so important to get chances to deepen your bond with other females by chatting, giggling and just being together. There's nothing like a sleepover to get to know your friends better. Your daughter will decide for herself based on how it goes whether or not this girl will be a 'BFF' or just another girl from school, and the sleepover will help her decide.
    I didn't gain strong enough friendships in my younger years with other girls, and had a boyfriend at 14 who I stayed with til I was 18. I'll never get that chance again to make a friend who I can giggle at nonsense with, talk about how I feel and really trust. Whatever you decide, it will be the RIGHT decision.

  3. fantasticpru18/3/11

    If you've already met her friend you should have some idea but you do have to go with your instincts. I think the fact you are asking means you know this is a crossroads in your daughter's freedom. It's really difficult but inevitable. My daughter around 13 used to practically live at friends' houses... one in particular who lived in the next town!! She'd end up staying all weekend because she 'missed the bus or some other excuse!!'. To this day although I met the mum briefly and spoken to her a few times over the years (the girls are now 21). I was more worried that the friends' parents would think I didn't care and sent her out wherever so I always at least made a call... also as she gets older it's a check that the arrangements are actually true (we're talking a bit older than 11 but teens can lie you know...lol) Good luck :-)

  4. Hmm

    Difficult, I would have to have spoken on the phone with them, know the address and correct phone number, I would also arm my daughter with a smart phone and ask nicely this once them to enable google lattitude and keep it on her at all times.

    Thats as good as you can do i think.. I used to do this and I'm sure my mum worried but i know for a fact she always at least knew where I would be and had spoken to the parents once.... its a good excuse to get to know people.

  5. Hmmm. It would depend on so much - like how confident my dd would be to ask to make a phone call if they felt uncomfortable (or would she have a mobile?) and, importantly, if there were other children at the sleepover.

    If it wasn't a birthday sleepover I would have the first one at my house involving this family. Then you could suss them out a bit when they came to collect their daughter.

    But generally, no, I wouldn't let my 11yr old stay at a stranger's house.

  6. I'd call and drop her there myself to pop in and meet them/see the place

  7. Anonymous29/3/11

    It's so easy to feel like your being an irresponsible parent but the harshest judge, more often than not, is you. My boy is 10 so I'm starting down, the walking home alone from school thing, and I did worry and still do, but he's an intelligent lad with, I believe (:S) a good dose of common sense so I trust him. We have to be careful but I won't live my life, or allow my boy to live his, as if the rules of parenting were written by a local council Health & Safety Representative! I advise you not to either! ;)


    P.S. I don't have an account for any of the listed applications etc and I'm too lazy to create one so therefore I am anonymous (but not) :)

  8. @Anonymousthe anonymous option is there for the lazy amongst us :-)

    thanks for your input

  9. Just wrote a long reply about checking her mum knows of the plans, taxidermy and other great anecdotes but lost them all. So all i can say is go with your instincts.


Thanks for your comment, all comments are moderated, no links will be approved

Popular posts