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Reconsidering Sleepovers

Wendy Green - February 20, 2009

I remember sleepovers from my childhood. I was a less-active youth and didn't always have solid "do not's" from my single-parent father, which often left the door open to participate in sleepover activities that would not have occurred in my home.

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I wasn't always completely sure where the line stood between OK and NOT OK, but the peer pressure and excitement surrounding the party made the choice to follow along a pretty easy one. Watching horror movies, playing with ouija boards, and sneaking out at night to meet other friends were among the activities that I would never have attempted under the watchful eye of my dad.

The lack of standards and supervision during some of these sleepovers would have been a cause for concern to all the parents involved, had they been aware. But to my single father, the reprieve from a chatty, enthusiastic, and emotional pre-teen must have been welcome. In his mind, I'm sure he thought the other parents would be as diligent as he would have been when it came to clean television, safe games, and careful supervision. Fortunately I was never hurt during any of my sleepover stunts, but I do have vivid memories of movies I shouldn't have seen and activities in which I shouldn't have participated.

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I talk to my kids often about the dangers of sleepovers since our family has a fairly strict no-sleepover policy. We have had this policy supported many times over the years by the negative experiences of others.

An extreme example of the danger of sleepovers was found a few years ago in Sacramento, California. A husband, father, and elementary school teacher was sentenced to over twenty-one years in prison for committing lewd acts against children while also photographing his crimes. His victims were girls who were sleeping over at his house as guests of his daughter. He slipped drugs into their drinks in order to take advantage of them without their knowledge. The parents who entrusted their daughters to this man were shocked that this person that they admired would commit such horrible acts.

For us, the sleepover issue actually began at a stake conference fireside in late 1995. Our stake president at the time, Larry Lawrence, counseled our stake to beware of sleepovers and slumber parties. He explained that many children have drunk their first beer, sworn for the first time or lost their virtue "on a night when they did not have to look their parents in the eye when the night was over." He advised us to take comfort in knowing our families were safe under the same roof at the end of each night.

His own children (he had six) were allowed to go to sleepovers but he would pick them up around 10:00 P.M. or so instead of having them spend the night. Many times his children would be disappointed because they could not stay. They would be angry or in tears when he picked them up. Yet each child, as an adult, thanked him and his wife for that rule. As they grew older and found out what had gone on with those friends at those sleepovers, they realized and appreciated their parents' wisdom.

We decided after that meeting that we would heed his warning about sleepovers and not allow them. We have never regretted this decision. When friends have asked why we have such a policy, we can list several reasons.

Family doesn't always equal safety.

Even when it comes to family, we are cautious. I won't allow my kids to sleep at relatives' homes unless I am there too. My kids' cousins are great but I don't know who their friends are and kids can be exposed to danger so easily. There have been many stories in the news about kids being molested by family members or friends of family members.

One weekend nine years ago, Annie* from Vallejo, California had close relatives come to stay with her family. In the middle of the night, while she was sleeping upstairs, her daughter was molested by a visiting cousin. The girl was too shocked and too scared to call out and didn't relate the incident to her mother until several years later. The family was devastated that someone they loved and trusted would do such a horrible thing. Incidents like this occur every day. The typical child molester does not "look" like one; most are at least marginally adept at concealing their crimes. Studies report that over eighty percent of children are abused by someone the family knows and trusts. In fact, in a September 14, 2007 _New York Times_ article, "Disturbing Facts about Sexual Abuse," author Steve D. Levitt reported that only eight percent of abusers are strangers.  

"Long time, no see" probably warrants a hotel.

Long-time-no-see friends generally equal distant relationships that warrant hotel stays. It would be rare to hear someone whose child has become a victim say, "I knew something like this would happen. He appeared shifty and dangerous right from the start." Much more often the response is more like, "I never would have thought him capable of something like this." While one might argue that the case in Utah was an isolated incident, it's impossible to recognize a perpetrator beforehand and most victims' parents express shock and surprise upon discovering who has hurt their child. The hesitancy to offend others is understandable, but this is a risk worth taking.

Standards vary from home to home.

In Helena, Montana, Karen* allowed her young daughter to attend a friend's swimming sleepover. The father walked around the house nude while the girls were in the pool (with the nudity in full view). Karen's daughter was upset by this but wasn't sure what to do. She finally called her mom and told her what was going on. Her mother picked her up immediately. The father felt it was his home and he could do what he pleased. That's somewhat true! As a guest, your child is placed in an environment that may have standards that are drastically different from your own. If a household has decided it's okay to watch R-rated movies, would the bar be raised for your child? What if the parents feel it is acceptable to have a gun in the home and you don't? At a sleepover, kids know that the parents will go to sleep eventually; that unsupervised time is often seen by children as an opportunity to impress their friends by engaging in risky behavior.

Of course sleepovers rarely involve life-threatening situations. Often the problems are small but can be quite troublesome nonetheless. Jennifer* of Layton, Utah thought a sleepover with the neighbor's children would be a lot of fun for her five-year-old daughter Sarah. The night Sarah came home, she had trouble sleeping. Jennifer was upset to learn that the father in the home had told very scary ghost stories to the group of girls. In the name of fun, that father's actions gave Sarah nightmares for weeks. She was so terrified that she even refused to go to the bathroom alone.

Even if your child isn't sleeping over, there area always concerns when he or she visits someone else's home. One evening my son went to play at the home of a friend from Primary. He came home and described a video game they had played that was rated "M" for "Mature Audience." It was quite violent; a game I would not have allowed in our home. I was upset that he had viewed a game in which the goal was to kill as many people as possible. I had assumed that family had the same feelings about those games that I did, but I was wrong.

Sometimes other kids are the problem.

When her son asked if he could have a friend spend the night, Annette* of Springfield, Missouri agreed to the request. Later in the evening she was shocked when she walked in on them behaving extremely inappropriately. She took the boy home and told his mother what she had witnessed. The mother apologized profusely and explained that the boy had recently been molested by an uncle and was acting out that victimization.

I spoke with a woman who works for Child Protective Services. She said that CPS deals with many cases just like Annette's. Kids who have been molested may act it out on other children. The CPS worker agreed wholeheartedly that a no-sleepover policy could drastically reduce the number of these types of incidents.

When one group of LDS boys in a quiet California neighborhood got together for a sleepover, they had a great time just talking after the host parents went to bed. The conversation soon turned innocently to television. However, soon one boy began telling the others, in graphic detail, all he had seen on the pornography station after he had figured out how to access the forbidden channels on his family's satellite system. Several of the other boys told their parents what they had heard. Those parents called the storytelling boy's parents. The boy apologized and the satellite was removed, but the damage was already done. As Dallin H. Oaks has said, "The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food but the brain won't vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall."

Two or more heads are not always better than one.

Sometimes when groups of kids get together, they seem to share one brain. Goofiness can lead to silliness, which can sometimes lead to some really foolish choices. It only takes one mischievous kid to get the others to commit various crimes of stupidity. Toilet papering, vandalism, and crank phone calls have all been known to occur at sleepovers in the name of fun. Most of these activities probably start out with the intention of being only harmless pranks, but some of these pranks are now considered misdemeanor crimes.

Experimentation is more likely to occur.

As my stake president shared with us all those years ago, when children know that they will not have to face their parents until the next day, they may be more likely to experiment with things they shouldn't like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or sex. One mother of a former drug addict said that in her experience, sleepovers were how many young drug users began experimenting. Of course, the most important thing in these harmful situations is to teach our children how to stand up to peer pressure, but limiting situations in which temptation may be especially strong (like at sleepovers) is an additional helpful defense.

There is peace in knowing your family is safe at home.

The peace that comes from knowing each and every one of your children is safe at home is priceless, but that peace does not come without challenges. Children may be resentful as they hear about the fun had at a sleepover after they were made to go home. They may be angry or frustrated at "being treated like a baby." By calmly repeating your policy guidelines regarding these parties and sticking to your family's rules, your children will protest less over time. When boundaries are stated clearly and coupled with expressions of love and concern, the general responses will be positive.

Find fun sleepover solutions.

You want your kids to have fun with other kids and you understand that as they get older they enjoy the excitement of a late-night get-together. When you steer away from sleepovers, there are still lots of great late-night activities that kids will love.  

Take turns with other neighbor families hosting "lateovers" instead of sleepovers. Decide how late you're willing to supervise the kids (perhaps until around 10:00 p.m. for younger kids and until 11:00 12:00 for kids 12 and up), let them "hang out," play, chat, and watch movies--everything they would do at a regular sleepover. This way, kids can have the fun of a sleepover, but without some of the risks that can be involved in all-night events.  

Try an "earlyover" and invite your child's friend to come for an early breakfast and fun games--they can even come tin p.j.'s if they want! What a fun way to start a weekend or summer day!  

Kids love to play night games. They can be active, rambunctious, and social, and they'll probably be tired enough by the end that they'll want to go home. Here are some ideas: glow-in-the-dark volleyball, Frisbee, or soccer, glow stick tage, Marco Polo, and capture the flag.  

Girl Get-togethers

Host an "evening at the spa" and invite your daughter's friends over to do each other's hair, paint to nails, and give facials--all while chatting away and doing what comes natural to a group of young girls.  

Have a pajama party, but at this party you actually make the p.j.'s. You could either all head to a fabric store and pick out the fabric for each girl, or have each one bring her own fabric. Provide a simple pajama bottom pattern and then let them take turns sewing their pieces together. Add a little music and some sewing snacks and this will be a fun, unique party that, in the end, provides a very cute party favor.  

Hold a tear-jerker movie marathon and introduce your daughter and her girlfriends to an oldie-but-goodie. Have each girl bring her favorite romantic movie (be sure to add your own favorite to the collection and introduce them to a new favorite!). Once everyone has arrived, have the girls narrow their choices to as many movies as time allows (you may need to start this party pretty early to get the girls home at an appropriate hour). Then just pop some popcorn, put on some bunny slippers, and make sure there are plenty of tissues available!

Boy Get-togethers

Organize a video game tournament. This is not only a way to let the boys do one of their favorite activities, but it can also be a great way to show the boys that there are many fun video games available that aren't sexual or violent. Let the boys bring their favorite games and let the battles begin!  

The boys could have an action-packed movie marathon of their own. There are still many movies that are exciting and fast-paced but yet still hold an acceptable rating. Sports movies are sure to be a hit. A few great ones include Rocky, Cool Runnings, Rudy, Mighty Ducks, The Sandlot, and Miracle.

If you decide to eliminate or limit sleepovers for your family, your kids can still be safely involved in fun nighttime activities. These might require some extra effort on the part of the hosting parents, but if the families involved take turns with these responsibilities, the burden is lightened and all can share the benefit.

The outcome is worth the effort.

As parents, the safety and welfare of our families is always our main concern. We have been trusted with the sacred responsibility to not only rear our children in truth and righteousness but to protect their innocence as well. Consider the risks involved with sleepovers and carefully decide what you feel should be your family's boundaries. With precautions, we can ensure that our children grow up to be happy, healthy, and secure.

***Names have been changed.

(If you're still not convinced . . .)

-Canceling sleepovers altogether may be too extreme for you. But before you say yes, here are some tips for keeping it safe, from experts and conscientious parents alike:

-Always meet the parents beforehand--ask them about house rules and the evening's plans (how closely the kids will be supervised, etc.), telling them you assume they'd like to know yours in the same situation.

-Look at the home's location--is it in a safe area? Does it look safe and cared for?

-Reinforce your standards with your child--review how they might say politely that they don't watch certain kinds of movies or play certain games.

-Drop off your child at the door--talk with the parents and agree on a pick-up time the next day.

-Create a "safe phrase" for your child--if they want to be picked up, for any reason, they can call you and say "my stomach aches."

-Never question your child's desire to come home--if your child has had enough of the stay, tell them you'll be over immediately.

© LDS Living, Jan/Feb 2009
Comments 56 comments

morpho said...

08:47 PM
on Oct 07, 2013

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I would have gotten more out of this article if it took a more balanced approach. Lots of fear tactics with these stories, there can also be great experiences with sleepovers. I didnt like the comment about the gun...really! I wouldn't be comfortable with my kids sleeping over somewhere where the man of the house has no way to protect the family. And if you don't know a family well enough that the dad is walking around naked then there is something wrong with you. Do you your homework, find out about the family and the friend and make a good decision. We can't shield them from everything. And how will they acclimate to the mission (sleeping with a stranger), if they are treated like a baby until they are 18. Lots of Missionaries coming home because of attachment anxieties. Just some thoughts from another viewpoint.

dagny said...

09:55 PM
on Oct 07, 2013

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I have to say that not even church sleepovers are always safe. Our oldest went to several sleepovers; we stopped doing them when she came home and reported that the YW presidency showed them an R-rated movie, putting a pillow over the screen during the bad parts. That was the straw that broke our camel's back - no more sleepovers for us. BTW - our Bishop talked with the presidency, but no action was ever taken.

kremlincardinal said...

01:38 AM
on Oct 09, 2013

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Good article with a lot of good points. It's possible to have good, clean and fun sleepovers, but it's getting harder and harder to trust they'll be like that. Incidentally, Larry Lawrence was my mission president and I have so much respect toward him and his wife.

nc_od said...

11:32 PM
on Oct 09, 2013

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Are you kidding me? Your kids must be miserable because you are taking all the fun out of being a kid by being overbearing. It is literally more dangerous to be a passenger in a car than to go to a sleepover, this article is ridiculous... If we are going to protect our kids from every little thing, then we should never let them ride in cars, because they are much more likely to die in an auto accident than get hurt at a sleepover!! Come on!! Do you not have anything better to do than to impose your own worries and insecurities on your children?? And what's this about girls activities and boys activities?? Last time I checked girls and boys liked the exact same thing. I'm a girl. I loved MarioKart and The Mighty Ducks, Space Jam, and A League of their Own. Why can't girls have a video game/sports night?? So misogynistic. What girl enjoys sewing or even knows how to?? I don't know anyone under the age of 60. Certainly not a favorite "kid's pasttime"... Get with the times!!

rockthevote said...

10:24 AM
on Oct 15, 2013

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I don't know why so many are dissing this article...this is a very important one that every parent should read! I was exposed to pornography at a sleep over when I was just 13. I am not saying it's the root to problems I have had since I growing older, but it did trigger some curiosity that's for sure! And the family I stayed at seemed like the ideal LDS family....they just weren't aware of what their son did when his parents went to sleep...or what kind of channels they had on their TV. Just be careful and make it a priority to know who your kids are staying with and what they will be doing. Even asking for a report of what happened at the sleep over wouldn't be a bad thing.

heatherb19 said...

12:09 PM
on Oct 15, 2013

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Thanks for this article. It convinced me. I grew up being able to go to sleepovers, and nothing bad ever came from it, thankfully, but I know of experiences my friends have had, and I cannot bear the thought of letting my children be exposed to that kind of thing, especially through any negligence of my own.

applejelly5 said...

10:22 PM
on Oct 16, 2013

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I wish that I could have gone to more sleepovers as a kid. The ones that I got to have or go to were awesome. I found this article to be over dramatized, and ridiculous. And I hate to say it but this church, just like most churches, set out to control people's lives beyond a reasonable boundary. If I want to let my kid have a sleepover, they will have a sleepover and be a REAL kid. And sheltering kids from the real world will not do them any good in the long run. Shame on this article, and shame on controlling churches!

cubby said...

09:29 AM
on Oct 19, 2013

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We made the choice of no sleepovers and never regretted it.

buginchina said...

12:10 PM
on Oct 23, 2013

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In all honesty, I've never understood the point of a sleep over in the first place! I don't feel that this article over dramatizes anything given the experiences that I had coming from a very 'active' LDS family and with a very 'active' LDS neighborhood. Why go to a party where you are going to be asleep for the majority of the time that you are there? They just never made sense to me. I really think that you can accomplish the same amount of fun and excitement having a late over as you can with a sleepover without having to compromise safety.

memo said...

12:39 PM
on Oct 23, 2013

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I wish had gone to fewer sleepovers as a child. It seemed we had a rule about no sleepovers, but somehow we badgered or guilted our parents into letting us go. A few I remember were clean and fun. And then there were the others. One included a rated R movie that had a beautiful song turned into a raunchy one that still comes to my mind whenever I hear the words to it. At least four other times, I was exposed to pornography. Stuff that I haven't been able to get out of my brain even though I am over 40. Those were also the days, when it was a magazine hidden away somewhere. Nowadays with smart phones and electronic devices that are so accessible--you have to be from another planet not to see the dangers there. A simple "funny baby farting" video can turn into something much more salacious just by seeing the other video clips offered on the side bar. For some reason sleepovers seem to start with a great purpose for having fun, but the recipe of being late, no parents hovering, easy access to inappropriate material and kids naturally trying to outdo each other then evolves into something entirely different. There are so many others ways for kids to have fun. Late nights and early morning activities are just a few great alternatives. I wish I hadn't made my parents feel so guilty that they let me go, I wish I hadn't seen those things, I wish I would have had the courage to say no I don't want to see that, I wish I would have had the courage to talk to my parents, I wish I could get those memories out of my mind. But I can't change any of that. I would much rather have my kids tell me when they are grown up that they wish they had gone to sleep overs than to have them wish they hadn't.

memo said...

01:19 PM
on Oct 23, 2013

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And for those who think their children will tell them when stuff happens. . .I had a good relationship with my parents. I told them almost everything. They knew the other parents. For me, the thought of exposing what was going on to my parents and getting my good friends (who I would spend the next several years in church and school with) in the hot seat and maybe even their parents? Getting five or six other girls and their parents involved? That takes a lot of courage that I didn't have. Also, when I consider how relatively tame my exposure to porn was to what is available to any child old enough to spell with access to the internet, it makes me cringe. Of course sleepovers aren't the only place they can be exposed, but it sure offers an easy opportunity. And I would like to know of anyone having a positive response to letting another parent know that their child can go to so and so's sleep over but not theirs. Kids talk. It won't take long for the kids and parents know who is being singled out as the "No no" house. I would have all kinds of resentful feelings if a parent told me my home was not a safe place for their child to be. I find it much easier to have a blanket family rule of no sleepovers. Fewer feelings hurt and one more way to protect the little ones until they are old enough to protect themselves.

smiles4miles said...

01:23 AM
on Oct 24, 2013

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Can not believe all these ignorant mothers giving this article a harsh comment. They obviously don't care enough about the welfare of their children to see risks in this type of activity. I was molested as a child at a sleepover, it's been a personal choice to not allow anything like to happen to my kids. They are healthy and happy. They have lots of friends and it has never been an issue with friends. Their friends know that it's just not something that we do and they are cool with it. It's the judgmental moms out there that need to cool down and let us raise our kids how we see fit. And i wouldn't be shocked if your kids end up having a horrible experience at a sleepover and then you'd reflect and think "Hmm... maybe i was being too careless." Or who knows, from the way some of 'mothers' are going on, you're child might get molested and you'd just give them a hard time about being a tattle-tell. SMFH. Good Luck with that you frickin' judgmental cows.

yellowlily said...

03:30 PM
on Oct 26, 2013

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My daughter was just removed from a daycare where the providers 14 year old son was arrested for molesting children age 2-10. His Mother had no idea he was molesting kids when he went to sleepovers and when he had sleepovers at their home. She also offered overnight care as part of her in-home daycare. We are very lucky that we never used this service. It saved her from being one of the victims. They believe that this stemmed from him watching late night pornography. This is a real problem. It happens everywhere. No sleepovers for our kids.

bubblymom said...

09:48 AM
on Oct 28, 2013

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I have great memories of sleepovers when I was a child, and want my kids to as well! This article is using extreme circumstances and fear tactics. The sad thing is, people take this as gospel teachings and not a mere suggestion!

aprilvt said...

10:40 PM
on Oct 28, 2013

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I'm not LDS, but I enjoy reading articles on various subjects by various believe systems. I absolutely agree that sleepovers should be avoided. I am an incest survivor who understands clearly that you can't always predict which homes might have "problems" you don't want your children exposed to. My dad was a deacon and Sunday School teacher in our church, and everyone had the deepest respect for him. But my dad was a pedophile. No one would ever have guessed this about my dad who was so well loved in our church. My three children are grown adults who have always thanked me for protecting them while they were young even if it did mean no sleepovers. This is not an LDS vs other faiths issue. It's one that's wise for ALL parents who care!

amyc said...

02:48 PM
on Oct 30, 2013

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It's extremely disturbing to me that so many parents on here are so laid-back about the possibility that their child could be exposed to pornography at a sleepover. One comment even used the phrase "lesser sin" to describe the types of things children might do at sleepovers without proper supervision. In my opinion, pornography is going to be a major source of evil in our society and it will continue to get worse, mainly because parents are not thinking clearly and realizing that it really is EVIL!

jbizzle519 said...

06:32 AM
on Oct 31, 2013

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I am 25 and I still remember the things that happened at sleepovers. Members and non-members. It all depended on that friend and the choices they made. I think parents should be more selective and involved in their child's choice of friends. My parents never asked me the simple question "Are you comfortable there?" Thats all it takes. I don't think I will let my kids go to sleepovers for the sheer accessibility of inappropriate material out there. The main thing is that kids are curious about their own bodies, and if parents were more direct in teaching the importance of the sacredness of the body... There would be less cause for worry.

mommy2teach said...

11:55 PM
on Nov 06, 2013

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@moremon - I find it very ironic that you want someone to respond to you with "a response that is neither scripted, nor preconceived," and yet you seem to have the preconceived notion that all Mormons have the same views and opinions. I am a Mormon and I agree with you that it is more important to teach our children how to react and defend themselves in a situation than it is to not allow them to be in the situation. That being said, I think that this article is insightful to help parents better prepare their children for those situations. My advice to you would be to "grow your intelligence". Judging an entire group of people based on one person's opinion is called being prejudice and ignorant.

happilymarriedmom said...

12:47 PM
on Nov 07, 2013

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"The peace that comes from knowing each and every one of your children is safe at home is priceless..." Tell that to a very lovely LDS friend of mine who was the mother of eight-six boys and two girls. Her husband decided early to enforce a strict policy of no sleepovers, which they did, and which gave her loads of comfort...right up until the early morning hours when two squad cars pulled up in front of her home and arrested her husband for molesting a scout at camp. Turns out each night she locked her doors, secure in the knowledge they were safe, she was shutting in a pedophile sociopath with her children. He kept her pregnant and producing males, which he carefully groomed over the years to be his personal sex slaves. They are all now adults and of the six boys five have decided they are gay, (two after temple marriages and children of their own they molested) and the youngest son committed suicide. The two girls still live with their mother, and are afraid to be two feet away from her, though both are in their thirties. How can God allow a man like that to have so many sons to molest and destroy? They went on to do the same thing to another generation. That strict "no sleepovers" policy really worked for my friend, didn't it? I agree with those who say you teach your children to be aware, and work to solve problems, not create more. We have the example set by Church leaders who do not advocate having our children in church-sponsored elementary schools. Why? Because we do not live in the Church. We live in the World. We need to arm them to prepare for it, otherwise, we're just drinking our own bathwater.

mmey said...

10:57 AM
on Nov 08, 2013

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I have grown up in Utah for most of my life. I am not LDS, but live in a community that is predominantly Mormon. As a teenager, I was a nanny to several Mormon families and I saw many children being raised with a strict, conservative upbringing. The tighter the guidelines, the more socially inept the children were. In addition, the parents who used extreme protective parenting, ended up having problem teens. This article parallels much of the LDS parenting guidelines I saw as a nanny. As an outsider, I saw how it didn't work and later backfired. The reality today is that the world is a scary place. Now a mom, I can understand wanting to swear off sleepovers. But, if I'm going to do that, I might as well get rid of the TV, computer and cell phones. This is just not realistic. Healthy boundaries go a long way, giving your child the tools to grow responsibly instead of denying them that opportunity. Instead of highlighting strategies for protecting children, I felt this article used scare tactics that basically advocate isolating your child from experiences that can enrich their youth. It comes down to doing your job as a parent. A child can be molested just by going to a friend's house and not necessarily sleeping over. First line of defense is doing your homework, thoroughly. Next, is making sure you raise your child with an awareness of unsafe situations and ways to protect themselves until help arrives. This preparedness translates beyond sleepovers... it's giving your children strategies to deal within the realities of this world. It's something they will take into adulthood. Our job as parents is not to cut them off from life and put them in a bubble because it's scary out there, which is what I think this article suggests.

enevi said...

06:58 AM
on Nov 14, 2013

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I grew up in a Mormon family with parents who were not controlling at all. But after each one of us five children had incredibly negative experiences at sleepovers (porn introduction, sexual games, molestation), they instituted a no-sleepover rule. My dad's catch phrase (part-jest) ever since has been "the Holy Ghost goes to sleep at midnight." After instituting the rule, however, we did a lot of other fun things instead. I remember a lot of "late-nights" where we had ping pong tournaments and my mom's hot fudge sauce. I reject the idea that preventing sleepovers has to be done in a way that is overbearing.

enevi said...

07:10 AM
on Nov 14, 2013

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I should add that "doing your homework" is not enough. My negative experiences occurred at the house of the stake president's daughter--by all accounts and outside appearances a very good and wholesome family.

christi1011 said...

07:44 PM
on Nov 21, 2013

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http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/courageous-parenting?lang=eng&query= What the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand.

melodyt said...

02:15 PM
on Feb 05, 2014

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My parents were at the same stake conference and decided to stop sleepovers for our family as well. As a teenager it was hard sometimes when all my friends were doing something that I wasn't but now that I am older I am so grateful that parents protected me from the possibility of things that could scar me for life. Did I miss out on some fun with friends, yes. But the alternative is frightening and looking back as an adult I'm okay with "missing out" on fun nights. As a parent now, I am strongly considering doing the same with my family.

luckymomof7 said...

03:31 PM
on Feb 05, 2014

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to happilymarriedmom, I think the woman's strict rule about no sleep-overs had absolutely nothing to do with her husband being a predator and is totally irrelevant, except that it didn't prevent her children from being molested. I think the author intends to say that having a no sleep-over rule can be one thing you can do to protect your kids. Obviously there are many other things we can and should do to protect our kids. Incidentally, I think we can teach our kids all we want and they still won't be safe. Let's face it, kids are vulnerable. We have a responsibility to keep them safe from these situations as best we can. Also, many people are responding as though it is a very cruel thing to deny the tradition of the "sleep-over" to their kids! If you have a loving supportive home and have fun together as a family, your kids will be fine without sleepovers, I promise! My kids range from 22 to 9 and I have seen this to be true in my family! The litmus test is what they choose for their own families, and I bet they will make the same choice! We are not extreme about it either. It's a general rule for us. Occasionally if a friend invites my child on a family trip, and my child is older (say 15) I might allow it. I was at the same stake conference as the author, and was in fact in her ward in 1995! This is a wonderful article Wendy, I totally agree with you and have never regretted following this council!!!!! No amount of sleep-overs could make up for a molestation. It's not worth it.

ruralgirl said...

03:38 PM
on Feb 05, 2014

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Is there a certain time when it might be appropriate for a family sleep over? I am a single LDS aunt with some darling nieces. I would love to be able to have a girls night with them, do pedicures, watch movies and gab together. The cousins don't get together very often, in fact, they live at opposite ends of the state. My place would be a great mid-point for them to meet and have some fun together. I understand the decision to not participate, but I know some of my nieces go to their other cousins' homes for sleep overs, like when Mom and Dad are going on an overnight date or meeting. Why shouldn't I be able to have these kids at my place? I will honor the parents decision, but I remember hearing Sister Dew telling about having her nieces over for a girls' night.

noellecampbell said...

03:45 PM
on Feb 05, 2014

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First World problems.

luckymomof7 said...

03:58 PM
on Feb 05, 2014

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also to applejelly5, I would like to point out, this is not an LDS church policy as far as I know. This was the suggestion of a local church leader in California almost 20 years ago. We knew him well personally and totally respected everything he said. I am still grateful he shared his insights and experiences with all of us. He wasn't trying to control our minds or families, he was trying to save us some unhappiness in our lives. As a church leader no doubt he counseled many victims as well as perpetrators, and wanted to help us avoid circumstances which could be injurious to our children.

jeremy_barnes said...

04:16 PM
on Feb 05, 2014

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I like the idea of late-overs followed up with an early-over the next morning at the other families home for a fun breakfast. Nothing missed out on. My sister had a thing with my dad. If she didn't want to go to a party when a friend called she would ask my dad, while shaking her head no, if she could go. He would say no to which she would act mad at him while still in the phone, but thank him after she got off. A good friend of ours oldest daughter would call home if she was with friends. If she asked if she could stay until a certain time he would agree. Their code for her not wanting to be there but not wanting to offend someone was to just ask how long she could stay out. He would tell her it was late enough and she needed to come home. Kids are smart. Coming up with code phrases makes it easier to talk.

rhsfamily said...

10:11 AM
on Feb 06, 2014

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To the comment that being a passenger in a car is more dangerous than a sleepover: physical danger isn't the only and main issue that the article even alludes to! Our minds are amazing things and it's very difficult to forget something we've witnessed or heard. It's way more important to me to protect my child from being molested, hearing graphic stories, watching something we wouldn't allow, partake of substance, do anything that would get them into trouble, especially as a child, than to think I'm ruining my kids childhood. I have very little memories of sleepovers that didn't end up with terrible memories, or potentially dangerous and scary, life threatening and habit forming activities. The idea of no sleepovers for my kids never occurred to me until a few years ago and It's NOT going to ruin their childhood.

dlsully said...

10:15 AM
on Feb 06, 2014

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Some of the comments on this are incredibly ridiculous! Really? Some of the most horrible things I learned as a child, I learned at a sleep-over. Does it always happen? Of course not. Choosing to forgo sleep-overs certainly does not mean that the "church is controlling" or people are overbearing or FOR PETE'S SAKE...we can compare it to car accidents. All of these comments are downright ludicrous! It is often a matter of spiritual testing more than physical. And children can still do fine out in the world as they get older. We do not allow sleep-overs and are truly glad we do not.

jaredspencer said...

02:03 PM
on Feb 07, 2014

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This article is spot on. That's why I don't let my children attend EFY. A bunch of hormone raging children under the supervision of slightly older hormone raging young adults frightens me. Especially since EFY is typically held on college campuses, where worldly temptations run rampant. It's also why I took my kids out of school. Eight hours a day of unsupervised peer interaction. My kids were defenseless against all the bad language and potty jokes. That's why I also stopped driving my kids around to get out of the house. Billboards are covered in filth. Sometimes car radios blast innapropriate lyrics that my children can hear and be harmed by. My children spend their days (and nights) safely confined in a no-stimulus room with just their scriptures (though I had to cut out a lot of the Psalms for vulgarity). This is success as a parent.

mom2two said...

02:40 PM
on Feb 07, 2014

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I am so grateful that so many posting here were able to be just kids without any worries. Unfortunately I am not so lucky. I was molested by two family members. I also went to school with a girl who got drunk at a slumber party (where boys had sneaked in with beer) and fell down the stairs and broke her neck, she was 11. I get that we don't want to coddle our children, but I really don't believe throwing them into the fire isn't the right thing either. Our family rule has been no sleepovers and we have never regretted it.

charmed7 said...

04:36 PM
on Feb 07, 2014

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Not to be rude or anything but I am amazed at the naive people leaving comments. Taking away sleepovers is in now way taking the fun away from your children or depriving them if anything. U can have late nights and have lots of fun. Times have changed!! I had lots of sleepovers but things were different back then. With the epidemic of pornography addiction there are more and more child predators out there and they are not all adults people!! I have a friend that counsels teen sexual predators. They all started out getting addicted to pornography on computers, iPods, iPads and phones. They have molested siblings, cousins, and friends of their siblings. It is not a bad thing to be overprotective in this day and age. Considering the amount of wonderful things to do to have fun in this world it isn't a horrible thing to take away sleepovers. I would rather take away all sleepovers knowing that for the most part the sleepovers would have been fun and your child would have been fine to, to avoid the ONE time it wasn't because it only takes once to hurt a child and have it have everlasting, damaging affects!!! We live in a different time guys and we can't judge the way we raise our children by how we were able to live thirty years ago.

noemchen said...

05:16 PM
on Feb 07, 2014

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When I was young, I went to sleep overs at my best friends house. It was just her and I and we always had fun. Or we had sleep overs as a YW activity every once in a while at our YW leaders home. Her husband and sons went to his parents for that night, so it was just us girls. Our leaders would sleep in the same room with us (mostly the living room). We would teach each other how to braid hair, watch movies or just talk all night. We started with a little spiritual thought and had prayer together before the first ones fell asleep. We always liked it and it bonded us together. My parents let me go on vacation with the family of my friends (girls) and never did anything happen to me. My parents always knew the parents of my friends. If they did not like me to stay over night, they would encourage me to have the sleep over at our house. We had sleep overs at our house, too and it was always tons of fun. Maybe it is different in the US (I am from Europe), even in the Church. Never heard of something terrible happen during sleep overs. I do not know yet if I would allow my kids to stay at friends houses over night. I think it would depend on the friends. I would make sure I know them and have a good feeling about it - I am sure the Spirit will warn us if it is not good to let the child go. But I also would encourage our children to have the sleep over at our place, so I know where they are. As for protecting our children... I think we cannot protect them from all the evil in this world, but we can give our best to make them strong enough to resist temptation and do as Joseph and Potiphars wife and get out of a bad situation! I hope my children get enough self confident to stand up and speak up for what is right!

richchipper said...

07:19 AM
on Feb 13, 2014

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These are the most frustrating topics. If someone chooses not to have their kids go to a sleepover, that is their right and stewardship. But to tell others who don't feel the same that they are "bad patents" is ridiculous. They are not breaking commandments or church guidelines (otherwise there would be no camps or scout overnighters or youth conferences). This is one of those "personal commandments". Pray for your answer and move on. But don't tell me that because I feel differently that I'm a bad person. I get just as mad at people who try to get everyone to get rid of their TV's or that fast food is the devil...

sunshineliz said...

05:58 PM
on Mar 01, 2014

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I had some marvelously fun sleepovers. As a teenager with my best friend. I had ALOT of sleepovers though before then that are exactly what they are warning about here. As a small child I was abused by friends, by their brothers, there was porn, even just one friend acting out rape with her dolls. Before you think this was just isolated incidents in isolated areas, all these things happened in three different states in entirely different regions of the country, with LDS members and non-members. My parents either trusted the other parents as their friends or didn't bother to even get to know the other parents. And even as a teen, my older brother had a sleepover and I woke up in the middle of the night with one of his friends trying to kiss me (at least it wasn't worse, but you get the idea.) We have a no sleepover policy for our kids now.

sunshineliz said...

05:59 PM
on Mar 01, 2014

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I had some marvelously fun sleepovers. As a teenager with my best friend. I had ALOT of sleepovers though before then that are exactly what they are warning about here. As a small child I was abused by friends, by their brothers, there was porn, even just one friend acting out rape with her dolls. Before you think this was just isolated incidents in isolated areas, all these things happened in three different states in entirely different regions of the country, with LDS members and non-members. My parents either trusted the other parents as their friends or didn't bother to even get to know the other parents. And even as a teen, my older brother had a sleepover and I woke up in the middle of the night with one of his friends trying to kiss me (at least it wasn't worse, but you get the idea.) We have a no sleepover policy for our kids now.

bgtaylor4 said...

02:24 PM
on Mar 15, 2014

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"Paranoia may destroy you." Article is great as a cautionary, wake-up call to naive drones (which possibly many parent might be). Mostly the article and the comments are either horror stories or the absence of any information (because sleepovers were banned). Most telling is the naive, bubble induced effect upon the untested when (alas) they must finally leave the confines of their protective cocoon. And some of this is funny -- horror of horror someone heard their first swear word at a sleepover (been to a local elementary school lately?), heard a scary story, snuck out at night to do such horrible mischief as tp-ing a house, made crank phone calls... seriously people!

funof5 said...

11:31 PM
on Mar 25, 2014

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Why even have your kids go to school? They're exposed to just as bad if not worse things, and can be molested, raped, introduced to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and can even skip school! Someone could be walking down the street and be kidnapped. Are you going to stop your kids from going outside too. I would be more worried about a public school then a sleepover. Unfortunately this is the old we live in..... Bad things happen everywhere!!

jb02 said...

10:31 AM
on Jun 03, 2014

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I find this to be a hypocritical article coming from a church that sends girls away on a week long camp in the woods, asking them not to bring phones or any other "distraction" and with leaders that they may or may not know. Usually surrounded by other wards in the stake with leaders and girls they don't know. They also take the boys on scouting trips and hikes without parents present. It's pretty naive to think that just because it's sanctioned as a church sanctioned event your kids won't be exposed to any of the things listed above in the article. I've been bullied at girl's camp, my brothers were exposed to listening to raciest jokes made at the campfire outside their tent all night, and yes it was a church troop. It's also the same church that takes kids away for 2 hours every Sunday and puts them with leaders they don't know. Anyone can walk in to a church building on Sunday or Activity Day's/YM/YW nights. I think it's poor logic to make the argument that this is why you don't allow sleepovers, but allow your kids to participate in these other activities, you're putting on your "Church Blinders". You can't have it both ways. The church is made up of people, imperfect people. You don't have to look outside the membership to find abuse, neglect, and pornography. Why else would it be addressed in General Conference/Priesthood Sessions? In the end I keep it simple, I teach my children correct principles and let them govern themselves. I am very disappointed in this article.

lmcd said...

03:17 PM
on Jun 03, 2014

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Should I remove my child from the Boy Scout group at church then? I can't go to the camp outs and neither can my husband because of health issues. They are planning a 5 day camping trip in the mountains... The Scouts is part of the church youth program, should he not take part of it then?

evansfam08@gmail.com said...

09:10 PM
on Jun 03, 2014

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Great article, I felt the same way about sleepovers, so in my family we had what we called "Cinderella night". if friends were staying at our home, I took them home at 10;30 or 11, and if my kids were at some one else's home, I would pick them up at 10;30, this worked out so great, and then the children still had energy for their Saturday activities and chores.. the great blessing we learned from this was when they became teenagers, none of them would want to stay out late, because they would get so tired on Saturday, and they all had things they had to do, especially when they were 16 and got jobs... so the benefits were amazing...

amm0009 said...

10:08 PM
on Jun 03, 2014

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Sleepovers are a gateway to evil. Got it.

stoc said...

01:53 AM
on Jun 05, 2014

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I had a wonderful childhood with MANY great friends and sleepovers. But, I, like many others here was also introduced to things at those sleepovers that I never would have been in my own home. Before we had children, we decided on no sleepovers. Then I started hearing talks such as the one by Larry R. Lawrence, in the October 2010 General Conference. He made some great points: "I have always believed that nothing really good happens late at night and that young people need to know what time they are expected to come home. There is a great deal of wisdom displayed when parents stay up and wait for their children to return home. Young men and women make far better choices when they know their parents are waiting up to hear about their evening and to kiss them good night. May I express my personal warning about a practice that is common in many cultures. I am referring to sleepovers, or spending the night at the home of a friend. As a bishop I discovered that too many youth violated the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity for the first time as part of a sleepover. Too often their first exposure to pornography and even their first encounter with the police occurred when they were spending the night away from home. Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence and when their defenses are weakened late at night. If you have ever felt uneasy about an overnight activity, don’t be afraid to respond to that warning voice inside. Always be prayerful when it comes to protecting your precious children." These thoughts were reiterated by President Monson in November of the same year. We don't have to agree, but I find my strength and discernment much more effective when I follow the counsel of the chosen leaders of the LDS faith. I hope my children appreciate it when they are older.

julesrules said...

08:30 AM
on Jun 05, 2014

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Those who feel that this article is unnecessary and out-of-touch either simply have different standards, which is fine for their family, or did not experience being put in an uncomfortable situation as a youth. what the number is this George, and could have benefited greatly from this advice and practice. Just because an individual feels there is no danger does not mean it does not exist. I will not mention all of the trouble I got into under the roof of my own home with my parents in another room. because of that, I have always had this role with my children, without being able to explain it. Now that more overnight invites are being ended, I will use this as a reference to help my kids better understand that because of our own experience in life, this is what we are choosing.

dotcomma said...

08:30 PM
on Jun 05, 2014

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Each of you have a right to decide whether or not to allow your children to spend the night at someone else's house. There are a lot of great things that can happen and do happen at sleepovers! There are great memories that can come from them! If you talk to therapist's/counselor's and bishop's and stake president's and the many people who counsel other's for a living, you will see why we have been advised against it! There are a lot of bad things that happen at sleep overs too! And there is a reason President Monson talked about it! I think I would prefer to be obedient to his counsel than listen to my own advice! I sure hope that the ones that are completely disregarding his counsel and being obtuse don't have to learn the hard way! I'm being completely serious here! We are free to choose but we aren't free to choose the consequences! It would certainly be hard to take if our kids had to be the ones to pay for the choices we made! Don't discount it...think about it! Your son or daughter will thank you later! And you will NEVER regret your decision!

friendshipishappiness said...

04:22 PM
on Jul 09, 2014

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We all want to keep our kids safe. But, do you know to be safe your kids should never be left with a babysitter? Not even if they are church members? They also shouldn't want to the bus stop or to school, or be anywhere out of your sight,both night and day, to keep them completely safe! This is an example of over-the-top safety from someone who means well, but is over-zealous. Sleepovers, campouts, etc. can be memorable occasions in a very good way. Don't you trust your parental instincts? Don't you think about each situation individially? Or do you just think that one "blanket policy" will keep everyone "safe", if not happy. Sometimes parents have to let kids go to things, if they trust the individuals (adults) involved. Parents also need to trust their children to call them if the child or children do not feel comfortable in a situation. Let's not turn our kids into hermits, afraid that something might happen to them all the time. Let's listen to them, though, and be sensitive to any uncomfortable feelings they may have, and take them home if they decide they want to leave a sleepover or campout if we parents feel it is necessary.

allyn said...

11:09 PM
on Jul 09, 2014

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We made plenty of mistakes as parents, but we erred on the side of caution on this issue and did not let our children participate in sleep overs. All five children grew up without being molested and each has thanked us for this hard stance that helped to keep them protected from such things.

allyn said...

11:22 PM
on Jul 09, 2014

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Also it would have become a sticky issue if we said our kids could stay at one family's sleepover, but not at another family's sleepover. That certainly would have been a way to offend friends and fellow members of our ward, if some felt we could not trust them while others we did trust. It was better to be considered overly strict by all ward members and let their opinions pro or con not be our concern. Like I said before the healthy and successful adults that were once children in our home have all thanked us for the no sleepover policy.

kimb said...

11:36 AM
on Jul 10, 2014

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I agree with friendshipishappiness. We can not shield our children from life. We may not always be there. Be smart and listen to the spirit and teach your children to listen as well. Talk about everything with your children to the level they are mature enough to understand. Empower them with knowledge and the ability to stand up for themselves. Let your children know that as a parent, you are there to help and guide them and sometimes that will mean they will not be allowed to do some things or go some places or be with some people. At the same time, when the situation is right, and the child is allowed to 'do', and 'go', and 'be', they will grow knowing you, as the parent, trust that they can be responsible for themselves. Every child, even within the same family, is different and so is every situation. We each need to respect the decisions each parent makes for their individual child. We may not always agree, but we need to allow differing opinions and respect them.

imldsru said...

12:49 PM
on Jul 10, 2014

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What about Boy Scout Camp?

imldsru said...

12:54 PM
on Jul 10, 2014

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I agree we need to have a signal for our kids. My son called me from his friend's house for what seemed like no apparent reason. I asked him if he wanted to come home and he said, "Yes I do". I later found out that the parents were having an argument and the father knocked the mother out in the kids presence. I thought I knew the parents. This was supposed to be a sleep-over. We just never know even when we think we do.

richchipper said...

12:39 PM
on Jul 11, 2014

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kimb - the best piece of advice I've seen on this. I may steal that "go, do and be" from you!

chirpchirp said...

07:07 PM
on Jul 11, 2014

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So, should I not send my boys on Scout campouts and my girls to girl's camp?

fashn4ladies said...

10:23 PM
on Jul 11, 2014

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Being night owls on weekends, & hubby being a Computer Game Geek, we hosted our boys sleep overs EVERY WEEKEND, when they were teens, but NO ONE SLEPT, til they crashed @ 6 a.m. NERF WARS, were declared on any 1 if toilet seat was left up,& BURGLAR ALARM WAS SET 2 prevent SNEAKING OUT.They ate pizza, ice cream, soda, & I provided room service so they didn't have to leave their computer. Full house.
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