You can never be too safe.
That pretty much sums up my parenting style. As my kids are getting older, I am learning that I have to redefine who I am as a parent constantly and how flexible I am willing to be with my boundaries.
Right now, sleepovers are off limits.
Well, I’m being dramatic. There are a handful of people that they are allowed to spend nights. None of them include their friends and honestly most of family isn’t on that list either.
Simply put there are just way too many things happening. I’ve been a teacher for over 17 years and I can not even count the amount of times I’ve read papers where students overshare that they have experienced “suspicious” encounters with family members and even friends of friends. I’m just not having it.
In retrospect, I assume that is probably why my parents did not allow us to do sleepovers. It was very rare that we were allowed to spend nights over anyone’s house. As I am typing this, I literally am just remembering that one of the few uncles that I was allowed to visit overnight always had a “funny smelling” cigarette going at night. He would put me to bed and then go into his room and I would always smell funny smoke! Ha!
My issue isn’t the “funny smelling cigarette smoking” uncle but more so the cousin who might just be a little older or the family friend who just happened to stop over to say hi. And if I’m being honest, this is to safeguard from even kids that are the same ages as well. Although I personally never experienced any traumatic events in my childhood, I’ve been around long enough to know that anything can happen.
Most people kind of shrug their shoulders when I share that my kids can not spend nights at friends homes but I usually get the side eye when I share how that rule applies to family members too.
Maybe I will lighten up as they get older but those moments will be rare. Call it being “overprotective” if you must, it’s what works for me and gives me peace. This rule is not just limited to my daughter either. The same applies to my son too.
I have already started having the “body safety” talk with Zavier at almost three years old. Just this week, I started teaching him the anatomical names for his private parts and he even has a list of people that he must recite to me that are allowed to clean him or check him in that area. I even practice with him what he should say if anyone approaches him or his body in an uncomfortable way. I do not allow anyone to shame him into saying anything other than the technical names either.
A year or so ago, Zara was at school and was “corrected” for saying vagina. She was told to say “lady parts” and I quickly had to correct her and tell her that vagina is not a dirty word. She does not have to whisper it or be shy when she has to say it. Taking away the shame behind the words vagina and penis for my children is my way of empowering them so that they are clear with their boundaries about their bodies.
Parenting in 2018 has its own set of concerns and there are so many things that are beyond my control but minimizing opportunities where something could happen is within my control. I obviously will not be able to protect them from all that life will throw them but any measure that I can take to preserve their innocence for as long as I can will be taken.
I like to call myself a practical parent, flexible even. But I will not ever negotiate being a vigilant parent, being a present parent. That’s not an option.
P.S. Here’s a great article on why there’s no such thing as being “too cautious.”
Here’s the catch: I am open to hosting the sleepover at my house.
Were you allowed to attend sleepovers as a kid? Are you okay with sleepovers as a parent?