Written by Doctor G

Kids and Sleepovers – What Kids Might See!

DSC_8696Friends of our family recently divorced, and our children are the same age. The divorce has been final for two months, and our son was invited to join the dad and son for a local holiday stage show and a sleepover. What we didn’t know, and found out in the morning when picking up our 10 year old, was that the “new girlfriend” had accompanied them to the show, and also spent the night. This led to lots of questions from our 10 year old in the morning, and frankly, good conversation. We were disappointed (and shocked) that the dad failed to mention this to us BEFORE it happened. Should we say something to him now that it’s after the fact? Learn from this and limit time together for awhile? Or something off the board? Help!

Anonymous, in FL

I bet this was a shocker! I’m guessing your son had questions about this man and his new girlfriend having a sleepover. And I’m really glad it led to good conversations, because it sounds like you saw this for the opportunity it is.

What’s awful about this? Maybe:

  • A break in trust between you and the adult father friend of your family.
  • The real possibility that your son and his friend spent some time talking about sex, and adult relationships.
  • An important conversation that started before you had time to prepare.

What’s excellent about this?

  • Your son is building the habit of bringing hard or puzzling questions to you.
  • You get to pass on your values along with some facts!
  • A reminder to ask specific questions (even of good friends/family) when giving our kids into their keeping.

Open communication.

By engaging with him, you let your son know that talking to you was the right thing to do, and always is. We can not predict everything that will happen to or around our kids. Creating and maintaining a family culture that allows any conversation will protect him better than the most hovering of helicopter parenting could.

The Facts – and Values – of Life

Was this your first sex conversation? Probably not. Even if so, this is when you get to talk about what you believe in, at the same time that you answer some basic factual questions. Your son is looking to you to know what to feel and think, not just to understand the mechanics. As a tween or young teen, he will begin to fashion his opinions based on yours. That may not last, so take advantage of it!

Ask good questions!

It is easy – so easy! – to get surprised by the situations our kids land in. There are warm, respectful ways to speak to parents of our kids’ friends about possible pitfalls. Here are a few suggestions for next time:

  • Who will be around? This is good because you never know who is visiting, if there will be a sitter, or even if an older child is having friends over who might bring a different element to the experience.
  • What are the plans? You may want to ask about the rating of the movie they’ll watch, or how late they’ll be out with the kids.
  • Do you have any rules you want me to let my son know about? That way, if you hear “Yes, please tell him the boys are not allowed to play with our guns in the pool after the sitter goes home and before we get back” you can perhaps reevaluate your decision about the sleepover!
  • Thanks so much for having him! He’s really looking forward to it.

Even people you know well have different rules, culture or attitudes at home. Very few people will fault you for asking.  And just asking a couple of questions will make most parents understand that you want open communication with them.

You asked what you should do now, and I’d say that depends on your relationship with the Dad in this situation. You may choose to talk to him about it, so he understands the conversation he tossed you into, and so that he knows you want better communication. You could even frame it as a “Thanks – we had a lot to talk about with our son after that sleepover. How’s the new girlfriend?” 🙂


Parents, how do you get “enough” information when your child is going for a sleepover?

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