A Dad’s Point-of-View: Sleepovers

By Bruce Sallan
Bruce Sallan
Bruce Sallan

When I was a kid, I did “sleepovers” at my friend’s houses. By the time I was double-digit age, it was no longer “cool” and it stopped. Today’s kids start sleepovers early and, apparently, they never end. Today, there are sleepovers of groups of high-schoolers, and sleepovers of boy/girl couples IN one of their parents’ homes. HELLO?

The “cool” factor and being “too old” for a (group) sleepover apparently is not present at all today. Of course being able to “sleepover” with a boy or girlfriend with the full consent of both parents is irresistible and completely encouraged and condoned in some quarters. Boy, I was born in the wrong time!

What is this teaching our teenagers? I fully support the idea of sleepovers for younger kids, but our teens? And, a young couple sleeping together with full approval of both sets of parents is okay?

I have a good single-dad friend (divorced) who was put in the awkward position of saying a resounding NO to his teenage daughter’s desire to go cross-country and spend a weekend with a new “boy” friend at his parent’s home with their approval. My friend’s ex was just fine with it so my friend was put in the “bad guy” role. Thankfully, he stood his ground and, as I said to him, did the right thing which will be recognized by his daughter in due time.

His ex has often puts him in the “bad guy” role. This is a very familiar situation to many divorced couples. This ongoing notion that being our kid(s) best friend is a good thing is ridiculous. Our job is to be their BEST PARENT. Their so-called “best friends” will come and go. 

Taking the right stand is simply harder. And, given how many times in our teens’ lives we must take the “right stand” it gets tiresome and sometimes they just wear us down. Add to the mix an ex that isn’t on the same page and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!

Sleepovers. What do they do all night in these group sleepovers? My 17-year-old son is very active in “drama” and his casts often do sleepovers in groups. According to him, there are no “couples” and they enjoy listening to musical theatre and/or watching movies/television. I believe him. I just find it hard to believe.

On the boy/girl boyfriend/girlfriend front, I suppose the parental thinking is if it’s going to happen anyway, why not have in happen on our turf, under our control. I think that’s abdicating the job of being mom and/or dad. It’s easy just as it’s “easy” to say “Yes” rather than “No” to many of things our teens ask.

What about consequences? When is the last time you held firm on a (punitive) consequence? I plead guilty to recently “folding” when I was so sure I’d be steadfast on a consequence. My son made a great case for not being grounded, even though he acknowledged he violated the reason to be grounded. I thought I made a great decision in relaxing that consequence by substituting a mutually agreed-upon different one.

Hmmm, is that like a criminal negotiating with the judge a different (prison) sentence? Time off to go visit the old folks home? Wear a tech device and travel the world? “I trust you.” Oy vey. Did I really do that?

My older son never did many sleepovers. When he had his first girlfriend, she just came over and hung out at our house. One evening, my wife passed his room. He had left the door ajar and she couldn’t help but notice what was going on. She rushed and got me. Being the mature man/dad that I was, I quietly pumped my fist and said to myself, “That’s my BOY!”

Our biggest concern, seriously, was that she was underage, as was he, and that her mom needed to be aware and cool with the consequences of her daughter being sexual. We were close with both the mom and my son’s girlfriend so reaching out to the mom was easy. She was so nonchalant about it that we were stunned. I’m sure sleepovers would have been just fine with her.

I must admit that I’m somewhat undecided on this issue though I’d probably err to the side of no sleepovers at a certain (older) age under most circumstances. Perhaps, for a special occasion, a group sleepover with real parental supervision would be fine.

What do you think?

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 Bruce is the author of “The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad’s Point-of-View” and “A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation.” He gave up a long-term showbiz career to become a stay-at-home-dad. He has dedicated his new career to becoming THE Dad advocate, as well as explaining Social Media to the world in layman terms. He carries out his mission with not only his books and his column “A Dad’s Point-of-View”, syndicated worldwide, his “I’m NOT That Dad” vlogs, the “Because I Said So” comic strip, and his dedication to his community on Facebook and Twitter. Join Bruce and his extensive community each Thursday for #DadChat, from 6-7pm PST, the Tweet Chat that Bruce hosts.

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