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Just when you thought you crossed the finish line of the hardest leg of child rearing (ya know, all that breastfeeding, potty training and language stuff), your kid hits you with another whammy: “Can I go on a sleepover?” And these days, the question is way more loaded than it was when we were little. Here, we present the case for both letting your kids go and putting your foot down. Where do you land?

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The Case Against Sleepovers

Were those screeching brakes we heard? If you believe that a sleepover isn’t a rite of passage but an opportunity for disaster, you’ll agree with the slew of parents who have recently taken their passionate opinions online. Their reason? They say there’s no surefire way of keeping track of your kids when they’re out of your hands.

For ScaryMommy blogger Janel Mills, for instance, the issue is the uneasy feeling she gets thinking about letting someone else take care of her kid for the night.

“Just as in any other aspect of parenting, it’s all about comfort level. I personally don’t feel comfortable, right now, letting my girls sleep anywhere other than our home and their grandparents’ homes. My gut says that those places are safe. If my gut can’t confirm what my head is trying to tell it, then I say no.”

And Gina Holt, writing for FamilyShare, has an even more apocalyptic view of sleepovers:

“Have you been in their homes? Do you know what actually goes on there? Are there things going on in the homes of your children's friends that you would not want your children exposed to? Do you really want your kids in the homes of others when everyone gets comfortable and walks around in their PJs? Should we really know each other that intimately? I don't think so.”

In short: It comes down to comfort level. If you (or your child) aren't comfortable, don’t push it.

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The Case For Sleepovers

Not all families think discomfort is a bad thing, however. For some parents, like this commenter on Free-Range Kids, sleepovers help demonstrate mutual trust—you trust your child to behave, and your kid trusts that you believe in her capacity to do so. Cultivating this early on is healthy for everyone. 

Moreover, proponents say, sleepovers help give your child the opportunity to practice manners while testing social boundaries in new environments. This leads to increased self-esteem and independence. (And hey, you’ll be dropping your kid off at their dorm sooner than you want to admit.)

Says family blogger and mother of two Emma Waver:

"A sleepover is a chance to see how another family operates and gives a child a chance to feel independent in a safe place. They learn flexibility and, according to this expert, a sleepover enhances their emotional intelligence. It is also a good lesson for parents in letting go."

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The Case For Compromise

Of course there’s always the middle road. Maybe you only let your kids sleep at the houses of close family or friends. Maybe you don’t schedule a sleepover until the other parents agree to a coffee date to kick off a friendship and communication line.

Food blogger and mom Caroline Edwards writes on Land O’ Moms:

“Most importantly, you and your child need to be comfortable with sleepovers. Get to know the other parents and use your best judgment when making the decision to allow your child to attend a sleepover. And make plenty of popcorn!”

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