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?