20-40-60 Etiquette: Do you know the parents?

Can my child go to a sleepover if I don't know the friend's parents?
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: August 24, 2012

QUESTION: Is it OK for your child to attend a sleepover when you have never met the parents?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: It depends on how old your child is. Seventh-grade through high school — no, it is not OK. My mom always knew the parents, and if she didn't, I couldn't go. If they are younger than that, I would be hesitant to let them as well.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: I have dealt with this issue often, and my short answer is, no, I don't let my children stay the night at someone else's house unless I know or have at least met the parents and talked to them long enough to feel comfortable about the situation. My children understand that rule exists no matter who invites them.

Usually, a child's invitation to a sleepover opens a door for me to meet new parents. I have handled this differently at different times. If it's to spend the night with a single friend, I suggest a play date first. If the sleepover is a birthday party, I call to explain my rule and find out who else is attending. Most parents understand because they have the same rules for their children. We want our children to be safe.

The parents are usually very open about who will be at home during the party, where the siblings will be and what the schedule is. Sometimes I let my children attend the party but then agree to pick them up later the same evening, so they don't spend the night. This is also a good solution if the kids have activities the next morning. Then, when we arrive at the party, I enjoy visiting with the parents before I leave for a while.

My daughter handled this situation in a creative way years ago, in first grade. She had gotten to know a new friend and came home from school one day to announce that I was to be at McDonald's at 6:30 that night to meet this friend and her dad. Puzzled, I was trying to figure out why, and she told me the two girls knew they couldn't play together until their parents had met each other. They wanted it to happen soon, so they arranged it.

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