Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
How do you say no to a sleepover? My fourteen year old is asked to sleep over so many people’s houses that if I said yes to all of them she’d be an emancipated minor by now.
I’ve been going with “not tonight” but other parents are definitely noticing. My daughter told me that the kids’ parents have said that Mr. Archbold doesn’t trust them. It’s not that I don’t trust them, it’s just that I don’t trust them with my children who mean more to me than anyone in the world. Is that so hard to understand?
Last weekend I had a Dad walk up to me and say his daughter wanted to know if my oldest could sleep over. I’m being honest here, I’d never laid eyes on the man before. He’s a divorced parent who gets his daughter once or twice a month and I’ve never seen him at any of the games. And all I’m thinking is do parents actually say yes to this kind of thing? I might as well give her a boost into an unmarked van because that’s what this guy was to me – an unmarked balding van.
You know what, how about we start with sending over our frog for a few days. We see how that goes and then maybe the dog. Or maybe like they used to do in health class in junior high when they gave you an egg to take home for a few days to see if you cracked it.
One mom asked me after my kids’ basketball game while her other two kids were literally cursing at each other across the gym. I’m thinking no.
“Uhm,” I said. “We don’t allow sleepovers.”
A blanket statement. Pure. Simple. Easy. But unfortunately not true.
The problem is that we have allowed sleepovers with one family who we know very well. And word has gotten out. So now it looks like we simply don’t trust certain people – which, I guess, we don’t.
Is it that bad not to trust certain people? Here’s the thing. Should trust be a given? Isn’t it something that still must be earned?
Look, I don’t know if these people think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a 14 year old girl watch Dexter or Game of Thrones. I don’t know if there’s going to be an older sibling there which is a danger sign for me. In these days of internet and cable television, kids need monitoring. How closely do they monitor their children?
Look, I know that when I was a kid we all went outside and played all day with the neighborhood kids and the parents got to know each other mainly because other parents dragged us home to tell on us. We all knew who ran a tight ship and who didn’t because the good parents told on you to your parents. That was the benchmark. Seems like a good benchmark to me, now that I think about it.
My wife always responds to requests by saying that we’d be glad to have their child sleep over our house –which makes it quite clear that the issue is not the kids but the parents.
I think the toughest part about being a parent is learning to say “no” for the good of the child. Sometimes it even means saying it to other parents for the good of the child. I'm not here to make buddies. I'm here to raise children. It may take a village to raise a child but I sure get to decide who's in my village.