Goshen News, Goshen, IN


April 7, 2014

'Can I spend the night?' Just say 'no'

— Have I mentioned I’m a morning person? Love those early, early hours. They’re fresh and sweet, much like a newborn baby — quiet, gentle, promising. Oh-five-hundred is my finest hour, and coffee goes best with a sunrise.

Having this morning proclivity has its “other hand” though, namely that late nights are awful for me. Just awful. Sometime after supper I sense it creeping up, this shadowy tiredness that mocks, “The day is over. You are getting v-e-r-y s-l-e-e-p-y.”

I can’t study late at night. In fact, I can’t really think much at all after about 10 p.m. Midnight seems like the most cruel hour, and by 1 a.m. — unless there’s fresh coffee and a baby on the way — I’m just, as they say, toast.

That made me the odd-ball weirdo at slumber parties, where the goal was to stay up as late as possible, even all night if one could do it. Truly, even as a teenager I found this appalling. A logical, morning-preference person, I would think, “Why? Why in the world would you want to stay up all night?”

But the first girls asleep might suffer misfortune — her tiny, embarrassing bra in the freezer, unflattering permanent-marker tattoos on her cheek or the does-it-really-work trick of putting her hand in warm water in hopes it prompted her to pee in her sleep.

For heaven’s sake — really?

Thankfully, despite being asleep by midnight at slumber parties, I suffered no such trickery, unless I’ve blocked it out. But the fact that I could have is one reason my husband and I have adopted a “no sleepovers” guideline for our own children.

Yes, that’s right: My children neither go to nor host slumber parties. And we don’t plan to change that policy any time soon, either, even — or especially — as our oldest hits the so-called “tween” years.

Sleepovers just don’t make good sense to me.

Turns out we’re not the only families who have a “no sleepovers” rule. It was a friend of mine, an experienced mother whose insight I trust, who first suggested it. She had adopted such a policy with her children and sold me on the wisdom.

I googled, then, just to see what other people had to say, and found a slew of discussions, blog posts, news stories and other comments from mothers, mostly, who have chosen the “no sleepovers” lifestyle for their children.

A “Today” article from 2009 about the topic notes, “Forget the sleepover rituals of junk food, ‘truth or dare’ and late night gab sessions that have ushered tweens into teens for decades. A new generation of parents are sticking to strict no sleepover rules.”

I live my life in the minority, but it’s still nice to know I’m not alone.

First ask, “Why?” Why a sleepover? You might come up with an answer like, “for fun.” Honestly, that’s all I could think of — for fun. Well, if fun is the goal, then I can think of more healthy, risk-free ways for my children to have fun.

What do I mean — risks? What’s risky about a slumber party? Ah, now that’s where I do have more than one answer. One, there’s the no-sleeping part. Although they’re called slumber parties, there’s usually minimal slumbering happening. Children need 10 hours of a sleep a night.

Two, there are creepy people and dubious environments, and you just can’t screen for everything. I suffered some inappropriate touching as a child with supervising adults in the next room — the offender was a friend of the family I was visiting. You just don’t know what — or whom — might be at someone’s house interacting with your children.

Three, what good comes from a sleepover? Maybe some friendships strengthened, I suppose, but, again, I would say that can happen in other ways. Instead, sleepovers make for children who probably ate junk food, did not sleep well or at all and, maybe, had the opportunity to participate in or be on the receiving end of the aforementioned “bullying.”

Or maybe worse.

Rhetorically: What’s good about any of that?

Lest one worries that my poor, unsocialized children don’t get opportunities for meaningful interactions with people outside our family — and there’s an eye roll here because this is the quintessential argument about homeschoolers — I have considered allowing my child to either be or to host a house guest.

During a summer day-camp experience, for example, when each day requires a long drive to camp, it might be helpful for one boy to stay at a friend’s house for ease of transportation. If so, we plan to make sure the boys understand the concepts of hosting or being a house guest. They boys would sleep — yes, sleep — in separate rooms, even, and the young gentlemen could learn the courtesies you give your host or your guest, whichever you are.

Think of all the useful social skills they’d gain being each other’s host or guest for a night or two. Think of all the fun they’d have.

Think how I could put them to bed — and then, myself to bed — at a reasonable hour and wake up to my favorite sunrise coffee since the boys would be snoozing through their 10 hours’ sleep.


News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, student nurse, midwife’s assistant, childbirth educator and doula. She is from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 574-333-4903 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”


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