I was probably seven or eight at the time. I lay in a sleeping bag in the midst of ten or fifteen other girls. I am sure there was a lot of giggling and jumping around. There was probably lots of junk food. The memory is very hazy.
However, there is one part of the evening that isn’t even slightly hazy. And that is the part where the girl hosting it turned on a horror flick. Sure, it was pretty innocuous as horror flicks go now, but to my little-girl brain it was just awful. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of that night or for several nights afterwards. I can still see part of that movie if I think about it long enough. That was how much of an impact it made.
Pictures can stay in our memory forever.
I remembered this vividly the other day when I was having a conversation with some moms who really want to follow their instincts and say no to an activity for their children but are worried about offending others. This memory came rushing back as they talked. I wish I would never had gone to that party. If my parents had had any idea what movie would be turned on at that slumber party, I highly doubt that they would have allowed me to go. After all, what parent allows their small children to watch horror movies?
You’d be surprised.
And then there is the whole over-sexed culture to think of, as well. With pornography rampant among teenagers and grown men, we cannot be too careful with our young children. Remember Josh Duggar and what he did to the girls spending the night with his sisters? Do you think their parents would have ever left their daughters sleep there had they any inkling?
I am not here to tell you that your child should never sleep over at a friend’s house. That is not my point at all. But I would just like to suggest that this is an area where we use extreme caution.
If you are going to send your child to stay the night at anyone’s house, do your homework first. We would never send our child to sleep at a stranger’s house and yet, so often, that is, in essence, exactly what we are doing when we send them to a school friend’s house.We wouldn’t put our child in the ocean amidst sharks, and yet somehow sending them to spend the night with strangers is okay. Sleepovers are best if the other family is known well. If your daughter is friends but you don’t know the family, then perhaps you could spend some time getting to know the parents or, better yet, develop a friendship with them.
Our job as parents is to stop worrying about what people will think and to protect our children. There are, at best, really undiscerning parents out there who don’t care what their kids watch, listen to, or do at a sleepover. At worst, there are predators who are hooked on pornography lurking in some of these homes. We must protect our children, at all costs.
My unpleasant sleepover experience was just a small blip on the line of my life. I am no worse for wear and it could have been so much worse. However, to that little seven-year old who was me that was forced to watch something that scared the daylights out of her, it was a traumatic and frightening blip.
Sleepovers are okay, but let’s do our homework. Protecting our babies is way more important than worrying about what someone will think of us.