My son came home a few days ago saying that he had been invited to a sleepover at a friend’s house.
My first feeling was one of joy that my son seems to have found his feet socially. I asked him to ensure he got full information on where the sleepover was taking place, contact numbers, timings and so on.
This morning, he admitted he still has not got me any of this.
Over the last few days, I have got more concerned and more against the whole idea of him going on the sleepover. I do not know the family concerned. I have not met the friend concerned. How do I know my son will be safe in this unknown environment? If I am not pretty certain he will be safe, I am minded not to let him go. As you can imagine, me expressing such ideas impresses my teenage son not at all.
I look back to my childhood. I went on one sleepover probably when I was around his age or a little older. What made my parents think it was OK for me to go? I imagine as they are not here to ask that the fact that the parents of my friend lived in a posh area and had professional parents made them feel OK. Of course, they had lived in the town for generations and my Dad knew an lot about people through his police work. There were connections through church too.
We are relatively new to this town and don’t know many people well.
I tried to explain my concerns to my son who said I was accusing the parents of his friend of being “mass murderers”. Now I did not say that although I guess they might be for all I know. They could sanction smoking, drug use or the drinking of alcohol by teens. They could be violent or worse. Even if people have a Criminal Record Bureau check, all it actually proves is that they have never been caught for anything by the police.
I can imagine that people will think I am over the top and too protective.
Then I think about my step-daughters who were abused in their own home by their mother’s boyfriend.
I think of my friend who disclosed how a very professional man and a great friend of her parents’ abused her.
I think how many professionals I have known who use drugs regularly.
Of course, the reality is that if he goes he will probably have a wonderful time and be perfectly safe. If he does not go, it may impact on his relationship with the friend badly. I really don’t want to stop him having a good time so I think maybe I should just take the risk and let him go. Except every instinct as a mum screams against that.
Which raises the whole question of letting children go as they get older. It is a very scary business. You invest all that time in keeping them safe as they are growing up and then at some point they are on their own in a world that whilst wonderful is also “big and bad” sometimes.
Sleepover or no sleepover?
What do you think?