So Lila gets an invitation to a schoolmate’s birthday sleepover and before she can tumble off the bus good, she’s shoving the little glossy card in my hand: “Can I go, please, please, puh-leeze, Mommy?”

All that begging and you’d think I don’t let her go anywhere.

And er, um, you’d be right.

Yes, I raise my hand and readily admit that I’m a play date blocker. Like, on the highest levels. If I don’t know your mama, I haven’t been to your house for any significant length of time, I haven’t a clue who all lives there, and your kid’s home-training is a little questionable? Nope—my kid’s not coming over.

Think this is a little excessive? Eh, not in my book. See, my mother was the same way—would look at me like I had four tongues and an extra set of teeth if I fixed my mouth to ask if I could hang out with someone other than her pre-approved list of kids. As far as she was concerned, I didn’t need any more stinking friends. Every last one of the ones she’d hooked me up with went to our church—the children of my mom’s long-time girlfriends. On Saturdays, we kids all hung out at the bowling alley, chewing on steak fries and scrounging for quarters for another game of Ms. Pac Man and Centipede while our parents slammed their bowling balls at the pins. If the ‘rents were feeling particularly randy, we’d all end up in someone’s basement, playing Monopoly and Connect Four and eating bowls of chitlins and collards while our parents talked and laughed about grown-up stuff with the other grown-up folk. And on Sundays, we all shared the same pews—reciting our Bible verses together and singing in the youth choir.

Those kids—they were family. Fully vetted. Millner endorsed. A decent bunch. Mommy could leave me at any one of their houses and trust that I was being well cared for, nobody was filling my head with nonsense or saying and doing inappropriate things in front of me or to me, and when she picked me up, I was a reasonably happy camper—the same kid she dropped off.

These days, things just ain’t the same. Moms are dressing up their 10-year-olds in skin tight skinny jeans and high heeled shoes (like my Nick wrote about HERE), letting them surf the internet unchecked, and parking them in front of the TV to watch whatever, without any concern for the messages their kids—and mine!—are picking up from wholly inappropriate shows. Heck, go on YouTube and search “Stanky Leg,” and see how many videos you find of babies in diapers, dropping it like it’s hot to that explicit song—all-too-many of them in front of video cameras operated by their mamas (like in THIS ONE).


All I’m saying is there are a scary amount of parents out there who can, in an evening, defile my kids in ways that are wholly intangible until my girls are standing in front of their grandfather, surfing YouTube, quoting Lil’ Wayne, doing the Stanky Leg and begging for stilettos.

No ma’am—I can’t have that. Lila and Mari are my pride and joy, and their parents work too hard to let them enjoy being little girls to have it all ruined during the course of a sleepover.

Which was a little hard to explain to the 7-year-old, who really just wanted to hit her friend’s slumber party hard—overdose on pizza and cake frosting and giggle through the night with her fellow 2nd graders. I sympathized with her plight, but yeah, sleeping over at that girl’s house was a no-go.

Luckily, my dear friend Gretchen, who is every bit as concerned about such things as I when it comes to her Maggie—Lila’s best friend—came up with the brilliant idea to let our girls go to the party and stay until cake was served, then retire to their own private little slumber party over at Gretchen’s house, where the girls could have plenty of age-appropriate play, be in bed by a decent hour, and I could trust that my kid would come home the same sweet, innocent, 7-year-old Lila as when she left our house.

So yeah, I draw my lines a little differently from a few of the other moms around my way. And my girls may think I’m a little too old school—a little too strict when it comes to scrutinizing who has the honor and privilege of my girls’ company.

But hey—that’s why they’re the kids and I’m the mom.

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  1. My mom was the same way. She did not allow me to go to any friends house far less sleepover. In my senior year of high school, she finally let me go to my best friend's birthday party. At the time, I was resentful towards my mom for being so strict. However as I grew older, I realized this was necessary.

    As a mother now, I know I will be faced with this same dilemma and resentment from my kids but in the end they will certainly understand.

  2. Amen to that Sistah! I already feel sorry for my 2 girls when they get to that age. I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 9 month old and the older one hasn't even slept over at her grandparents house for the night. My siter in law is always telling us to go away for the weekend and leave them with her. The offer is tempting at times but I knew my life would be changed forever when I made the choice to have them and I'm okay with that. Any road trip that my husband and I take they will be tagging along. Its home to your own bed and it will always be that way. I know first hand how one perverted close family friend can change your world forever. My girls will never know that experience, not with me as there mommy. I do hope though,that as they get older I'll be able to let my fear go(somewhat) and at least let them stay over at their grandparents house 🙂

  3. My mother never let me participate in any sleepovers. I remember being really upset with her brand of parenting. Now a mother, my children aren't going to any sleep overs, hang overs, or any other overs. I am so happy now mama looked out for me. Hopefully, my 3 little ones will feel the same way.

  4. Well…in these times I can certainly see why…however I was allowed to go to sleepovers and have them as well. Nothing"bad" ever happened to me at any of them. They were friends from schools, my moms friends, and some from dance classes. I think that(as a therapist) its important to foster many relationships. That is not to say that my mother didn't have tricks up her inviting them over to my house more often than I went to theirs..or even inviting parents over to the house to sit doing my "play time"( I have tried this with my own kids from time to time). However I did have many friends.. different friends…and I enjoyed that fully. Just my two cents …everyone has to make decisions best for their homes.

  5. I am glad I am not the only one like this. My oldest is 5, and she only sleeps at home unless we are out of town of course. I just recently have found a friend that I trust them with for a few hours at a time. I am an advocate for kids being with their parents and sleeping in their own beds. With that said I do not see sleepovers in our future.

  6. Hey you don't want your child around everyone. Sometimes the parents have no sense and sometimes it's the kids you despise and the parents you love. My kids are always trying to go someones house and it never happens because of the gut feelings I have. Usually I am right.


  7. musingsonmotherhood

    I couldn't agree more. Although I was allowed to sleep over when I was a child, times have changed and my daughter will likely be a teen before she is allowed to sleep away from home.

  8. Jacqueline Lewis

    I agree, my eldest son (12) doesn't understand. He told us he didn't want to go to camp the entire summer because he had plans with his friend. Well I said you better begin now with setting up dates for us to meet his parents. Because you cannot go until I've met them over a few weeks or months. You just don't know what people allow that you don't allow.

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