Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Overprotective much?


Or just being cautious?

I don't know...I'm at a stand-still...and I don't know what to do.

Mr. Wonderful and I, we've agreed that we don't want our kids staying at other people's houses...unless we know them really well. Really, really well (grandparents, close friends, cousins, etc.).

I'm feeling like, perhaps, we're isolating our children from their peers by doing this, tho'. Both of us deeply feel that, at this point in our kiddos lives, family is a priority.

Family time and family life take precedence over time with friends...but I'm seeing now, especially with Big A., that outside of school, he tends to get "left out". We've talked with his teachers, they all say he gets along great with the kids, he talks about his friends at school...but he never asks to have friends over or gets invited to friend's houses.

I'm seeing it starting with Miss E., also. And a part of me...the part of me that remembers how important it is to fit in and be liked and have sleep overs, wants them to do all of that.

Then, the mother in me...you know, that incessant worrier, that irrationally fearful nut job...takes over.

I've taken care of way too many kids (and let me just say, even one is too many), who are entirely messed up because of some sort of abuse that happened to them as children.

And I want to protect my kids from that. From even the possibility of that.

But, am I hurting them in other ways?

I would be more than happy to have them "host" friends here, but I feel like there is always some "reciprocation" that goes along with that.

And how do you handle that?

Friend's mother, "Since Mary just played at your house, we'd like to have Miss E. over!"

Me, "Ah...nope. You or your husband or your neighbor might be secretly crazy child abusers. Sorry, no dice."

You see what I mean?

Bah! Why does it hafta be so hard to be a parent sometimes all the time?!

Gosh, I had "second homes" when I was a kid...and I think I turned out all right (other than the whole, nut job weirdo part...).

So, here I sit. Wondering...how much do you push your kids to be social outside of school? How much is too much? How much is not enough?

Heavy stuff...any advice?


41 comments:

  1. I'm right there with ya...well, I was. I always said my kids won't stay over at others houses but they can surely have friends over. I never wanted them to be afraid of not having me in the next room....or did I not want to be bothered by a 2am phone call to come get my "i want my mommy" boy? Either way, I learned to put my fears in Gods hands and let Him watch over them.
    Don't get me wrong. I KNEW the parents of the child he was going to stay with and they KNEW me.
    Bottom line...you'll know when it's right for your kiddos!
    I don't think it's HURTING them by not staying with their friends overnight. They may even thank you later for keeping family life SO important!

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  2. I'm one of those kids who had an abuse happen when I was little. But it wasn't because of going to a sleepover. That being said, I feel like I am going to worry about the same thing when I have kids.

    But I can also say that I had a friend who would NEVER sleep over at my house. She would always call her mom to get picked up in the evening... and that kind of bugged me.

    I think if you ever decide to let them stay over at someone's house, let them borrow a cell phone and tell them they can call you if they ever need anything. I think good communication goes a long way.

    Not sure if that helped, though... :)

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  3. sigh. i have the same dilemma. Sweet Pea is at the 'sleepover' age and I remember how it was for me going to someone's house every other weekend but it was always people we KNEW and had KNOWN for years. never just brand new friends. I too don't want her to panic if spending the night or to feel like an 'outcast' if she is unable to. Like every parent we all just want the best for our kids and until they can determine what that is we have to do that for them. So maybe Miss E doesn't go over to Mary's house to sleepover, but is she allowed to play? or can it just be that your house is so "fun" mary only wants to hang out there?????

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  4. I am really weird about where my kids spend the night too. Don't feel bad. But I think there is a point when they reach a certain maturity level (and only mom and dad know this point) that it's okay for them to stay at certain friends houses. Megan is 11 and just started spending time at other kids' houses, that being said, she is a VERY mature 11 year old....she's 11 going on 35. =) So if I know the kid and the parents, then i will let her go. You just have to make baby steps. My 6 y.o daughter doesn't spend the night at friends yet. Neither she nor I are ready for that yet....like I said, just take baby steps...

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  5. Tyler doesn't spend the night anywhere except our old babysitters house. Her mom barb is a friend of mine and she has known him since birth...Tyler is 7 and I let him play over at his friends houses after school. I know the parents and if Tyler wants to play I get to know them. I have a great relationship with him..however he is an only child and he tells me all of the details of his day. He is extra sesitive so I hear about everything...I know anything can happen but I don't live in fear..My mom always says God will take care of us have no fear! So I live that way but it is a tough call

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  6. You know I am so overprotective and such a worrier. Growing up - like you I had a second home at my best friends house. I am not sure how it started but we were young and our parents I guess got to know each other. I even vacationed with my best friends family and vice versa. But both of us( my bf and me) were only children.
    Anyway my oldest is only 5 and she does playdates but I am with her. I feel that if you do enough like this you will get to know the parents and the kids will end up growing up together- you know.

    But we are moving soon and hopefully that is it- because if we have to move again, we will miss out on the chance of getting to know the kids and the parents my daughter goes to school with.

    I don't know- its a tough one. I really have not had to think too much about this one yet.

    I will be interested in how it turns out for you.

    I want to say my kids will never sleep out but I did and a lot. And sleepovers were a blast. So I dont know??

    Now my head hurts and you got me all panicky!!

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  7. I understand you not wanting your daughter to go sleep over with her friend if its just the two of them, but what about a sleepover party? Perhaps host one at your house. On not really knowing the parents/neighbors, why not invite them over when your kids are playing together. Or taking time out of your day to have coffee with the other mom. I know life is busy, but if you are struggling with this, perhaps it would help to make time to get to know the parent's of your child's closest friends. Not all of their friends, but the ones they talk to the most about. Those are the ones they are going to want to be around the most, right? I had 'second homes' too when I was little, but my parents hung out with the parents at that house too. And I don't think it was because they were friends, because they don't keep in touch now that the kids are grown up. We had dinners together, and my mom and dad got to know everyone whose house I was at, neighbors and all...and some of them were a bit odd too, lol. I hope this helps. I agree with the commenter who suggested letting them have a cell phone. and you can call anytime you want too. Pray about it. Its a calming thing that can really help out.

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  8. I too, worry about abuse. But I took a workshop about "Body Safety Rules" and how to teach them to your kids. These rules are supposed to make them less of a target for abusers. Of course--you still have to be so so so careful with who you trust your kids to, but it helped me to think that at least I was doing SOMETHING. You can google "body safety rules" and I'm sure there's a ton of info, but some of the rules were,
    "We don't keep secrets in my family" (surprises yes, secrets no)
    "I'm the boss of my body" (we have such a good time shouting that at one another)
    "You never have to hug or kiss ANYONE (even grandma or uncle joe) if you don't want to"

    But I digress--I don't/won't let my kiddos do sleepovers either. And I wouldn't worry too much about reciprocation. If you have kiddos stay the night at your house, they can always just have a play date or a "late night" in return. Keeping kids safe trumps good manners.

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  9. I think friends and sleep overs are very important part of being a kid and doing fun different thing. That being said mine is not at the sleep over age yet so I can't say anything from exp. with my own. I remember my mom would always have to meet the parents and usually hang around and talk to the mom a bit when she dropped me off. I agree with the cell phone thing. That may be a good thing to ease both of your minds. In the end you have to do what feels right to you and what you think is best for your children. Sorry not much help :)

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  10. This is something you truly need to follow your gut on- if you change your mind down the road, it's totally fine. But right now, if you (and your hubby) are that concerned, then it's for a reason and your kids need to stay away from sleepovers!

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  11. i agree whole heartily. my husband and i feel the same way. we have decided it's important for our family to be the "fun" house - the house where all the kids want to be. that way we can keep an eye on everything and everyone.
    our kids will know that unless we know the parents 100% that they aren't allowed there.
    and my answer to other parents...thanks so much for the offer but we love to keep our kids close...ya'll are welcome over here ANYTIME!!
    :)

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  12. It is a tough one. We are at that point with Drew, and he doesn't get asked to stay over at other's houses either. We are not as against it though. We will allow it if we do know the parents. For example, he has gone over to play at someone from his boyscout group's house. The father ran their den, and Andy helped out a lot. So he got to know the dad.

    With your kids, why don't you try getting together with them and their parents to start with? Get to know the parents that way? I think it is a healthy part of growing up to have those experiences, but as parents we should just be aware. What type of kid is he/she? (the friend I mean). Is the friend involved in activities? If so, which ones? What do the parents do? Will your children be supervised the entire time...I think if you can have some set standards, then it is ok.

    I always fear being overly sheltering and having my kids go wild at college with all they never got to experience when they were young.

    I don't think there is a hard and fast rule. Just whatever you feel as their mother, is right for them.

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  13. I'm with you! I don't let my daughter stay the night at anyone's house unless I know them really well. She's actually going to attend her first sleepover with a non-family member this weekend.

    The biggest blessing with my oldest has been really getting to know a couple of the parents. I think they're just as hesitant to send their kids as I am, so it's an honor that they trust their daughters over here, and the opposite it true as well.

    I'm also lucky in that I live where I grew up, so some of the parents(though much older than I am), have known me since I was a kid. And I've known them that long as well.

    But... we steer clear of sleepovers and favor "almost overs" where the kids come, dress in pj's watch movies, etc... and then get picked up at 11 or so to go home. I read the idea somewhere once and it works like a charm... at least for my 4th grader!

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  14. So glad I am not the only paranoid Mama.. and being a victim of abuse as a child I don't care if my kids hate me now for not letting them go to sleep overs or any friend they want. I don't want them to be screwed up like I was. I am okay now just incase you were wondering but it took a really long time to be OKAY. Oh and the worst part it was a family member. Seriously who can you trust??

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  15. I just have the other parent call me and let them know that there are bed wetting issues and I don't want anyone embarrassed. This is true for 1/2 my crew. I call them non-sleep overs anyways. No one sleeps and everyone is cranky the next day. I hate them, too! I only like to do them if the parents are going away and need a sitter. We host and no one questions it, yet.

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  16. I have let my daughter sleep over at a good friend's house. We had several long talks beforehand about things that could happen. She understood that she could call me and I would be right there to pick her up and bring her home if she ever felt uncomfortable.

    My kids have asked to have others sleep over at our house but it just isn't feasible due to space restrictions (too much work being done on the house right now). The only one who has spent the night was their cousin when her mama (my SIL) was at the hospital having another baby.

    My advice is - don't do it if you are still too uncomfortable. But if you trust your kids enough to make the right decisions, then you have to give them enough space to do so.

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  17. no advice, just empathy. I'm so glad my kids aren't old enough yet to have to make those decisions. I know it will be SO tough for me. PRAY and go with your gut! Trust the Lord in all things. Good luck!

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  18. I completely agree with you and I know that my children most likely will not be allowed to sleep over at friends' houses. For the time being, they are only allowed to sleep over at one set of grandparent's house.

    When I was in fourth grade, I had a girlfriend come stay the night at MY house. She convinced me to engage in activities that we shouldn't have and I wasn't confident enough to tell her, "no!" I lost my self-confidence that night and I have struggled to regain it ever since. That being said, I do feel that although the ultimate decision was mine, I felt ill prepared for this type of event. My parents didn't teach me that others shouldn't touch me and they didn't instill in me the confidence to just say, "NO!" I feel that if we, as parents, teach our children right from wrong, show them how to be confident and strong, and we ourselves are "approachable," incidences like these would not happen. I should have told this girl no, ran upstairs to my mom and the girl should have been sent home. That didn't happen and now I am scared to death to allow my children to sleep over. When our cousins have stayed the night, the doors are to remain open and beds are not shared. I can't control what happens at other people's houses and that is what scares me the most. We have one cousin that tries to convince my daughter to undress and play "doctor" and while these things might seem "innocent," to me they aren't. Our daughter will never be allowed to stay the night at the cousins house, as we now do not trust her or her parents to protect our daughter the way we would.

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  19. That is a really tough call and since I am not a parent I cannot say that I will not feel the exact same way when I am.
    However, that being said I remember sleep overs with my friends, at my house or theirs being some of my favorite memories of childhood. I think as long as you know the parents and are cautious it is great for children to be able to experience these childhood activities. Who doesn't fondly remember slumber parties and buildng forts to sleep in with your girlfriends.

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  20. This is a hard one with no easy answers. We never had this question as our oldest began sleeping over. Her friends parents are close friends of mine from when I grew up. Easy... now it is a little more difficult as she broadens her horizons of friends and our second daughter jumps into the pool of parents we don't know as well. I do worry as they stay over and do really prefer them to have people over but I remind myself of one thing. Our niece was abused by a babysitter and it wasn't someone they didn't know well it was a family member. I am careful but yes we do let them sleep over.

    On another note though we do put family time in front of sleep overs if we have had a crazy week and need to reconnect. We aren't afraid to say no

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  21. I worry too but have found a balance. I have connected with families and have gotten to know their moms (if it is a daytime playdate)...and we aren't at the age of sleepovers yet...but I think if you are able to spend time with the people you can develop good family friendships that will lend themselves to play dates...but i am stumped on what to do about kids from school that you don't really know. So hard. I am dreading that time of parenting.

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  22. I don't think there's anything wrong with just doing stuff at your house.

    I've told Hubs that we need to be sure to have the coolest game room around, so that when the boys are older, all their friends want to come hang out here, so we don't have to worry about it.

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  23. Realistically, doesn't most child abuse occur by people they know well? I agree with taking the time to get to know the parents of your children's close friends, so that everyone is comfortable. We cannot raise our children in a bubble. It's important to teach our children how to handle difficult situations, and then trust in them.

    I think that as a society we are going a bit too far in the name of protection.

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  24. I am COMPLETELY like you. I guess I would try to invite the friend and their family over for dinner one night to get to know each other and then if you feel comfortable you can let them spend time at the other person's house. I am again, so like you. It freaks me out what can happen to your children at someone else's house. Good luck!

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  25. No advice but I totally think are aren't crazy. I am going to have to ready through everyone's answers and see what people say because I am the same way as you. My kids are still little enough where it doesn't matter but the thought of them being out of my site at someone elses house literally makes me sick to my stomach. Good luck, hope you get some better help than me agreeing with you! :)

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  26. Well, since I only have a 10 month old, we're a bit far away from sleep overs. But I can tell you how my mom handled it, and how i will more than likely handle it. If I know the parents REALLY well (ie, through sports, PTA or church) then I will let them spend time with THOSE kids. I think that there is a fine line between being overprotective (we can't protect them from all harms in the world, as much as we'd like to try) and then being realistic. I think you probably could make an effort to get to know other moms (or perhaps you already do) so that you feel comfortable letting your kids be around their kids, and then go from there. Parenting is so hard because we want so desparately for our kids to like us, but we also want to protect them. Good luck!

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  27. My parents were the same way with me when I was growing up and I am the same with my boys. My 15 year old could care less about staying at someones house, but does enjoy going to the movies with his friends on a Saturday night. My 10 year old would much rather stay at home and hang out with family than stay over with his friends. He actually only has one friend that he does stay with and they have been friends for almost 4 years now, I know his dad, dad's girlfriend, his mom, his grandmother and grandfather. You are not being over protective in my opinion you just care. The 10 year old actually asks to stay the night at his aunts house more than he does his friends house. I know that I can trust his aunt and uncle.

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  28. I'm a paranoid mama too. My kids are allowed to have sleepovers, but only at certain people's houses. I have to know the parents, and be comfortable that our values are the same.

    This is hard on my daughter, because I won't let her sleep over at her best friend's house. But her best friend has an older brother. And the older brother has a friend who stays with them. And THAT friend showed my daughter and her friend a Playboy and there is no way she is going back there while that boy is there.

    There are worse things in life than not having enough sleepovers.

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  29. I didn't read all of the comments so please forgive me if I am repeating something. My kids are too little right now for me to have the same worries - but I know that they are in my future. :)

    My advice would be to ask your kids how they feel and go from there. Maybe they really don't want to sleep over at a friends house or maybe they have 1 friend who they would like you to consider allowing them to stay with. If that is the case then you can set some guidelines - like meeting the parents or having them over first. You may also want to only allow them to stay if it's a party - where there will be several other kids there also, maybe even someone that you know well.

    Don't know if that helps at all - but I'd definitely talk to them about it...you may be worrying about something that isn't even an issue with them! :)

    Good luck and let us know what you decide!

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  30. We always made a point of getting to know the family of their friends. Talking to the parents at games or scouting events and seeing what they are all about that way.

    I also worked in domestic violence, with batterers in a drug rehab program, and I was so leary of men who showed any kind of controlling or texrbook abuser behavior.

    In all of this we did learn a valuable lesson though that us even more certain we were doing the right thing. One afternoon we let my older son Dylan, in 4th grade at the time, go to his friends house after school to see some kittens and I would pick him up an hour later. Turns out the family raised Python snakes and fed the kittens to the snakes. I just about died and left the house with 3 kitties because I couldn't stand the thought of them becoming snake food. I also reported the family to animal control. Never again were my children allowed anywhere we didn't know every thing we could about the family.

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  31. I am in the same boat you are. I rather my monkey stay home and friends come here than her go to friends. I let her go to church activities without me but it takes a lot. Sometimes I just want to tag along but then I am like no hubby and I can use the alone time. I have one friend that I have never minded her being over at their house. I have that fear that something will happen and she won't speak up for herself.

    I think that as parents if we let our guard down even once it might hurt our children and we won't know what to do to forgive ourselves, so instead we keep close eyes on them even when they are grown and gone.

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  32. We live in a small town, so you "hear" things. And you know things. Of course, not everything can be known though. My kids are very limited to sleepovers. There are only a couple of kids for each of them where they can stay at the other friends houses and vice versa. And it's not very often either. I make sure that I am making choices where I know the parents will respect my wishes on what my kids can and cannot do. Like no, they can't go walking all over town, or even down the street. There is fine line between letting them enjoy life so they don't rebel, yet making sure they are safe and doing age appropriate things.

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  33. Found your blog through blog frog... I have to say I'm kinda the in-between mom about sleepovers... I need to speak with the parents, understand the rules and what will be going on at the sleepover - if its a birthday party, how many kids and how will it be supervised etc... I usually will allow my R who is 11 to go to parties before one on one sleepovers for the first time, but most of the time she gravitates towards the same friends and trades sleepovers with them... so it comes up fairly infrequently - my usual response is to say not this time and then invite the other parents over with their child to get to know them better... and then decide yes or no after that... kids are always welcome to stay over here... as long as R's room is clean ... so its an incentive to make sure there are no dust bunnies under the bed ....

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  34. I understand completely. I think that when your kids are away overnight, you lose so much control of their safety. Sure their parents might be harmless but what if their siblings have friends over that turn out to be an abuser or something? Can you prepare a list of questions to ensure that you have a full understanding of what is going to occur without sounding like a paranoid freak? I think that a child's innocense is SO important to protect and preserve and I feel fortunate to have a lot of close friends at my church with similar aged children as my 18 month old. But come school age, I am not so sure I can trust people I haven't known for years and years.

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  35. Clearly Rory isn't old enough to have this issue yet, but as a dance teacher of many many many young girls, I can weigh in on the social side. You are absolutely right that not letting them sleep over can be isolating. Key word: can. It's all in what is considered cool and uncool at the moment, and it will change and go. My advice would be to allow sleepovers at friends of the family's house and at your own home and call it good. (I can safely say Rory won't sleep over anywhere I haven't known the parents well and for years.) Can Miss E sleep over with a friend from church perhaps? It probably won't be as much of an issue for your son, boys are so much more lenient. Girls though are brutal, as I'm sure you remember.

    I'm afraid I rambled! I'm sorry! I see both sides so equally on this issue and know families on all ends of the spectrum. I'm praying for peace of mind for you!

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  36. I know you already have a lot of comments and I didn't read them so I don't know if I am repeating anything but I wanted to share with you.

    My mom was/is super overprotective. She I am 20 going to be 21 this year with a child of my own and she still treats me like I am 13.

    Because of my mothers protectiveness I don't have close friends. I was never allowed to go anywhere without her, couldn't even ride in a car without her or my dad. I when I was 12-14 I would get invited to things and she would want to come or just said no because it was to "dangerous" I have been allowed to stay away from her only one night in my life.

    You get the picture. I know the feeling of wanting to protect your child. Anyone who is a parent should. But don't go overboard. When your child hits 13 at the most start letting them have a little bit of room. Make sure there are rules firmly in place but let them have a little room to grow into their own person. Because if you don't in the end your child will resent that later maybe even rebel.

    I did a lot because of my mom that I don't think I would have had she had better placed rules and allowed me a little room to grow. I don't mean to be pushy or step on any toes!

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  37. I will admit I did not read all the responses.

    My pastor said that if he had to parent again he would NEVER allow his kids to go on sleepovers.

    I was never allowed to go on sleepovers as a kid. Yes, I felt left out.

    My kids? Well, I am VERY selective. So selective, we just say NO. lol. We are very careful of things we watch on tv and everything out kids are exposed to. Not to an extreme...but we are selective. I don't like my kid being somewhere we she or he has no control and feels like she or he has to go along with the crowd. Kids in large numbers or even numbers beyond one..lol...will find themselves doing things they normally would never do. Now, I will allow my kid to go on teen overnighters at the church and stuff like that..and church camp. However, no sleepovers unless I know the family and know what's going on.

    My cousin played with a gun at a sleepover and died. I didn't even remember that until now...so that really didn't influence me before....I was so young when it happened I hardly knew about it. Crazy things happen...maybe I am overprotective but at the end of the night I KNOW where my kid is.

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  38. You are the mom and know what is best for your family, whether or not it fits with what everyone else does.

    I will say this, abusers don't normally prey on well-adjusted kids who talk to their parents. They don't normally want to get caught. It is good to be cautious, good to get to know friends' families, good to open your home and be selective about where your children go.

    The most important safeguard you have against abuse is your relationship with them. It makes them a less likely target and will help them get through something should it somehow happen anyway.

    And nowadays you have to ask about those sleepovers. Apparently, boy girl sleepovers are becoming more popular!

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  39. No way are my kids ever sleeping anywhere but here and my moms...period. I have an 12 year old step daughter and her mom lets her go over anyones house whether she knows them or not and you know what...my stepdaughter got molested my a neighbor... I could never live with myself so its as simple as no way, here or Nanas no place else (not even my MIL who thinks its appropriate to sleep in the same bed as her grandchildren) It is a different time than when we were kids and changes have to be made. Its my job to protect my kids.

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  40. We have 2 shy, anxiety kiddos... so we started with birthday parties only... mommy stayed. then girl scout activities..mommy stayed. slowly she had a couple playdates... I asked if I could have coffee with mom so she could get comfortable... she only plays & sleeps over at one friends house (age 9 btw) we are family friends now... she ALWAYS calls me before bed... so I can know if she is ok... ;) otherwise her playdates are my coffee dates... makes me feel way better getting to know the parents! My son is the same way... so I have done the same on a much smaller scale with him... age7. Group playdates & birthday sleepovers help too!! I do have the anxiety to lean on ... that has been helpful with parents understanding me having 'coffee' while the kids play! She is 9 - only plays at 3 friends houses - and sleeps over with 1. I am good with that!

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