0:00:02 – Speaker 1
Welcome to the nextTalk podcast, where we share real stories and practical advice for parenting the digital world.
0:00:09 – Speaker 2
We’re your hosts, Mandy and Kim. Mandy is an award-winning author and the founder of nextTalk, and I’m the director of nextTalk, a nonprofit organization created to strengthen families through open communication. You can check out all of our resources at nextTalk.org.
0:00:24 – Speaker 1
We’re your wives, moms and friends tackling culturally relevant topics from a Christian perspective. We’re sharing what we’ve learned and where we failed. We’re so glad you’re here for this conversation. We were recently at an event and a parent asked us how we felt about sleepovers.
0:00:46 – Speaker 2
You know, the interesting thing about that is my view on that has changed over the years.
0:00:53 – Speaker 1
Well, we did a show on this years and years ago. It was one of our first shows. Bless it, Bless it. People. Don’t go listening. Don’t go listening. Those first two years of shows I can’t even listen to them. They’re so cringe, They’re so cringe.
0:01:08 – Speaker 2
Well, the funny thing that I hear in them is like we had so much energy and we were so young. What happened?
0:01:15 – Speaker 1
And now we’re tired, now we’re exhausted. I had a mom. She came to an event and she came up and she goes. I heard you speak years ago and she goes. You’ve gotten so much better and you seem more tired, thank you.
0:01:31 – Speaker 2
I’m just waiting for some new healing. Well, i hugged her Hand, me some eye cream.
0:01:35 – Speaker 1
I hugged her and I said I love your energy and I love your honesty because it’s 100% true. All of that, Yes.
0:01:42 – Speaker 2
We’re real, this is what it is, people.
0:01:46 – Speaker 1
Sleepovers. Let’s talk about it. I wrote about this in talk. I have a chapter. We’ve talked about it before, but we do need an updated show. My mind goes to my sleepovers. All the fun I had. I had a room with strawberry shortcake bedding, strawberry shortcake curtains.
0:02:02 – Speaker 2
All the stuff. I had a strawberry shortcake dress and PJs. Oh, Oh the days.
0:02:08 – Speaker 1
I just remember dancing around with my girlfriends in that little strawberry shortcake room just having so much fun dancing and just being silly and carefree and no phones Yay, and we go back.
0:02:25 – Speaker 2
We had a phone, a landline, and I remember making prank calls. That was the big naughty thing, that was the big thing. We would call, we’d look in the phone book and we would call and say something silly. It wasn’t even bad, it was just so silly And we’d crack up and hang up and giggle And you know well in scar 67 probably wasn’t even a thing.
0:02:45 – Speaker 1
It was remember when that was a thing, when you could ruin our prank calling It sure did Yeah. Yeah, But you know I I see why parents struggle with this, because screens add a whole new element to sleepover, But at the same time it almost feels like a rite of passage to as kids you know, to be able to go and experience and have fun to sleepover. So I feel like a lot of parents, especially of young kids, are conflicted about it, And that’s where this question came about at the event.
0:03:16 – Speaker 2
Yeah, i certainly can speak to that, because when we did this show before, we had made a decision as a family to have no sleepovers, and we’re going to talk about, like, the stance you can take. There’s a lot of different options when you consider this issue as a family, but for us it was like no sleepover rule And I’m going to tell you it’s something that can evolve over time, with the age of your kids and when you learn more about your kids and their personalities and as they gain your trust.
0:03:41 – Speaker 1
Okay, one thing we want to be clear about this show. we’re not going to tell you what to do. Like this is your family, your choice. but we want to give you some options. Like these are your options, and then also like things to think through, just some talking points. So if you are going to allow sleepovers or not, how do you have these conversations with your kids First.
0:03:59 – Speaker 2
Before we even jump into this, let’s just be clear that this is a conversation you need to have with your spouse. If you are parenting in a marriage, or even if you’re a co-parenting, you need to be on the same page. I have heard parents say before I just made the decision because that’s what I did And you don’t want to set that standard up in your household, so make sure you’re on the same page. You’ve talked it through before you go into these conversations.
0:04:22 – Speaker 1
Yeah, and you and your spouse or your co-parent may be on opposite sides of the spectrum here. So you may have to create a compromise, you may, whatever you, whatever you decide for your family, but if we can, you know it’s a united front We want to be on the same page if we can, even if there’s a behind-the-scenes compromise. That has happened. So first of all, i think you have four options here when, when, dealing with sleepovers, right. So the first one is no sleepovers, which is where you work him, right. Yes, no, we’re not gonna do it. We’re just not to allow sleepovers at close friends who we personally know. So this is like a select group of sleepovers.
Three is allow most sleepovers and Try to meet at least one of the parents. First, you are less strict in your guidelines than on. Two would be, because two would be like you know the family really well, your friends, you have that foundation there, you know their belief system. But three is a little bit different. It three is like I’m gonna allow most as long as I know one and it’s fine, kind of thing. And then the fourth option is really just, yes, free-for-all, right, i mean, that’s an option that you can have in your home.
0:05:31 – Speaker 2
So, as always, your family, your choice. No judgment here. For us, we started as a number one no sleepovers and we have changed into a number two, allowing sleepovers at close friends who we personally know, and I’ll explain a little bit why and how that happened. But yours is a little different the way that you parented this.
0:05:52 – Speaker 1
Well, when I wrote talk, we were number two, you know, we were allow sleepovers at close friends house. And I will tell you, it got sticky when we got to middle school, because then I, you know, you’re not hanging out with the families as much in in our school, like two elementary schools fed into the Middle school. So all of a sudden I didn’t know all these kids, mm-hmm, and so that became tricky because it kind of seemed like I was being judgmental when I would say, no, you can’t sleep over there, like I don’t know them. You know, because I was transitioning from elementary school when I was invested in these families and I knew them and I they were my friends. And then we get into middle school where I don’t know.
So I kind of feel like, yes, we started out as a number two but we have kind of evolved into a number three as the kids have gotten older and I I think that sometimes what happens, because You see your kid being able to discern certain situations and as they get older, you’re like, okay, you literally can ask them is this a safe home, is this a safe place? And so your, your conversations are more with that your own kid, about discerning if the home is safe, versus when you’re in elementary school Like you’re doing all the vetting because they don’t have the discernment yet. So I do think it sometimes can evolve and change over time.
0:07:05 – Speaker 2
I I agree 100%, and that’s very much like what happened with us in our family. We started out when our kids were a little bitty, basing our decision on our own experience. So we said no sleepovers. A lot of bad things can happen in the dark and in a strange place, all kinds of things. And then our own experience, some things that we had seen and done, lots of fun stuff at sleepovers, but also some not so good stuff. And so we were saying you know what? we’re just not gonna do it. It just doesn’t seem like a necessary thing and it’s a better way for us to keep our kiddos safe. And that was the rule that we outlined to our kids. We explained why and they seemed okay with it.
0:07:43 – Speaker 1
I want to add this to about no sleepovers. Okay, and hear me when I say this if you are making a logical decision about having no sleepovers, I think that’s great right. That’s an option that you have as a family. I think where we have to be careful is a lot of times we make parenting decisions out of fear. So something really awful happened to us and we project that on our kids. Now I’m not saying you may not need to learn from that experience and know the signs and teach your kids some things to be aware of when they are at sleepovers because of your experience, But I do think sometimes we have to be careful. Just making the snap decisions completely out of fear Does that?
0:08:26 – Speaker 2
make sense. Yeah, and that applies to all kinds of situations in parenting. Parenting out of fear rarely goes well, and I think in this situation with sleepovers, you can take what happened, you can apply the lessons you’ve learned and then make a decision as a couple for your kids, and that’s the best that we can do right, prayerfully, thoughtfully, making those decisions. In our case, we felt like that was the best thing. We allowed kids to come over to late and then they’d go home, or vice versa, but just not overnight sleepover.
Fast forward to late elementary school, middle late elementary school, and one of our kids has had a very, very close friend since pre-K.
They are like two peas in a pod and we are very close with their family, their whole family. We’ve been to each other’s homes, we do life together, and so the conversation began again when they started asking about sleepovers should we revisit the guidelines? And we were very open with our kids. Here’s what we’re seeing now that you’re older, now that we know your personalities, now that we’ve had these conversations, now that we know what you’re capable of, and now we’re willing to talk about it again. And we included them in that conversation and we decided that very close friends that we knew and had a relationship with number two on our list we were going to be okay with having sleepovers with. Instead of just saying, oh, we changed our mind, we walked our kids through the process of why we changed our mind and what our expectation was of our kids, and so it actually became a really good conversation and ended up being a good experience for us.
0:10:04 – Speaker 1
So I love this because I think it can be applied to so much more than sleepovers, kim, because I know a lot of people will say you’re not getting a phone till you’re 30. Yeah, well, then you know the kid hits a certain age and they’re so responsible and you’re like I could see the benefits of this. I understand now why this could happen, and so that’s a conversation you know, sometimes I feel like parents when we dig our heels in and we’re like, no, we got to wait till this age to do this, this or this or this. It can damage the relationship with your kid just because you’re being all like stop her, let’s call it for what it is. Like we’re not caving Now I’m not saying don’t cave to peer pressure about a phone, sleepovers, anything, because everybody else is doing it. That’s not like how, why you’re going to let your kids do it.
But I love your example, kim, because you know your kid was asking you hey, i really want to do this, this is important to me, and you heard your kid. That’s. That’s a perfect example of hearing your kid hear them out and then kind of walk through Okay, why do we have this guideline? And is this an exception here And is this something we can talk about and maybe adjust? This makes for a great open communication in a family, no matter what guideline that you’re dealing with, because your guidelines do need to change and evolve as your kids get older and they can figure stuff out for themselves. That’s that’s so important to their development, to their critical thinking and to looking at you like as a parent who’s going to guide them instead of just like a law enforcement officer. That’s not how we want our kids to see us.
0:11:38 – Speaker 2
You know just all these strict rules all the time And I always want my kids to think mom is reasonable. You know mom and dad are reasonable And that doesn’t mean we’re going to do what you want to do, But I want to hear you out, I want to hear your reasons why. I want to discuss where we stand and then explain the decision we make. And that means reasonable to me. And so they can come to me with something crazy and I’m not going to dismiss it or something that makes sense, Like having this type of sleepover made sense and we were happy to readdress it and shift our guideline.
0:12:10 – Speaker 1
Well, and I mean FOMO is a real thing and that means fear of missing out. We’ve used that acronym before And again. That doesn’t mean we cave because they’re just having FOMO, but if they’re responsible kids and they’re open to talking about what if this happens at a sleepover, or what if this happens, and you’re walking through them, preparing them for this situation, i mean that’s pretty cool And we don’t want to miss that life lesson just by saying no, no, no, no. We’re not going to allow it.
0:12:39 – Speaker 2
Absolutely So. let’s say, you’ve made the decision to do sleepovers in some form or fashion, whether it’s allowing them with just close friends, a few sleepovers with parents, you kind of know, or just all the sleepovers. What are some things that you need to cover with your kid or some guidelines you need to implement before they actually go and sleep somewhere else?
0:13:00 – Speaker 1
Well, in this day and age with screens, my mind automatically, from a nextTalk perspective, goes to if the kids are searching something bad Online, right, I don’t want my kid to be at somebody else’s house thinking Mom and dad will kill me if I look at this. That’s not what I want my kids to think. That’s not what I want to instill in them. I want them to think is this good for my heart and mind? And so that’s like one of our core next-talk things is we’re always teaching is teach your kids to protect their own heart and mind. Like they have to become a self-advocate for themselves. It’s their job to protect themselves.
And you know, use simple examples. So like like if a kid is telling your child at school about a scary Halloween movie that they’ve watched, like a real scary, like killing movie, and your kid is starting to have nightmares and they cannot sleep, right, Great teachable moment about protect your heart and mind, You can say, hey, you know how that visual got in your head. And now that you can’t sleep, that’s what I want to protect your heart and mind from on screens. So if you’re at a sleepover and somebody’s Googling naked women or naked boys or sex and all these weird things are popping up. I need you to protect your heart and mind because once those images are in your mind, you’re going to see and think different things, And I don’t want that for you. So you need to again walk them through the process of how to protect your heart and mind and why it’s important. Use little examples there.
0:14:34 – Speaker 2
Not just the rule, the reason behind the rule, very, very important. Now some practical things that I always go over with my kids, and my kids are young, so I’ll even revisit these every time they’re about to leave, just to kind of plant it fresh in the front of their head Changing behind closed doors Don’t change in a group or in the bedroom with all the kids, because you never know if someone has their phone or the iPad or whatever it is, or if someone else walks in with something close and lock the door and change so you don’t get recorded, because even if they’re in middle school or they have a phone or they’re older, they could post it, they could share it, they could send it and you don’t want that out there. You’ve got to protect your body. You’ve got to change behind closed doors where no one else is.
0:15:18 – Speaker 1
And it may not be malicious or intentional, like you may just be caught in a mirror and they’re just taking a selfie and then all of a sudden your image is out there, right. And also this is a talking point for locker rooms. So this goes above and beyond even sleepovers talking to your kids about being careful who they’re changing in front of and screens out, and that sort of thing. Also on Be Real, now it’s the front and back camera, so even if somebody’s in a locker room taking a picture of a selfie one side, it’s gonna photograph the other side. So, again, you just have to be aware This is a conversation you need to have with your kids on all sorts of levels.
0:15:56 – Speaker 2
Also, online strangers are absolutely real And for our kids sometimes when we talk about things like this, it seems like really far away. It seems like not something that will affect them or our family, but it’s important to remind your kids that they’re real and it can affect anyone. Good families like ours And so we never, ever, communicate online with people we don’t know. We don’t give out personal information like what school we go to, where we live, any of that, our church, none of that.
0:16:26 – Speaker 1
That is protected information I was talking to a group of middle school girls one time, and talking with online strangers has kind of become their print calling. no joke, So they will get online. they were telling me we were talking to this guy from Russia at two AM or whatever, and we were telling him where we went to school, what we did and, like you know, I had like red flags, but they just thought it was so cool, because that’s kind of become their print calling. And then it got weird and he started saying weird stuff and they hung up and disconnected. but they had already given him so much information And so I was concerned about these girls.
So again, it’s just don’t let your guard down at two AM and be like, oh yeah, I go to school here or here’s my address or whatever, because then it’s out there And then you have to kind of live in fear, like this person online who I really don’t know who it is, no matter how they’re representing themselves has my address. So that’s a scary situation, right, If you really think about it.
0:17:28 – Speaker 2
Yeah, so definitely go over that again with your kids. Online strangers. I wanna talk about this next one in two different ways.
Most of our sleepovers at this point are one-on-one just one other kid, two things there.
Sometimes you’ve approved the sleepover with this other family or this other friend, and then that family invites more people who you haven’t approved, and so it’s really, really important to talk with your kid if this is being planned and you don’t know about it and your kid is going and you’re thinking it’s just the one-on-one, that you have that conversation with the parent, that you redefine your guidelines, that you make sure that you’re comfortable with that.
You have to be on the same page, because having a one-on-one sleepover is a lot different than a group and it changes the things that your kid needs to be aware of. Now there’s the other side of that. Your kid goes to a sleepover and some kids are invited and some are not, and if they’re having fun and posting pictures and we’re having the best time ever dancing around in videos, whatever it might be, there are kids who weren’t invited who are going to see that, and that could be so hurtful. That can damage relationships, it can create resentment, and so make sure you go over that with your kid. Like, not everybody will be invited And we want to be sensitive to other people’s feelings who are not present at the party.
0:18:44 – Speaker 1
Well, and some older kids now have Life360 circles So they can see where each other are without even posting. That’s a whole conversation too. Do you want your friends knowing where you are at all times And you know we had a lot of discussion around that, like it better be your very close friends and not just some random person at school that we barely know and they’re tracking your every movement. You know, as my kids have gotten older and they’ve wanted to be in Life360 circles, i let them discern because to me that’s part of growing up. Now, if my kid was in elementary school and they wanted to do that, i would be like no, not yet. This is you need time to grow up and expand and get your inner circle figured out. But that’s a whole thing too as far as the tracking and stuff.
0:19:28 – Speaker 2
So your kid has a sleepover and the friends are there and you’re all talking and having a good time, and sometimes you’re telling stories about what happened at school. You’re talking about other people and it can turn into gossip really, really, really fast. I mean that happens with us as adult women. I mean, maybe that happens with men, let our guard down. We let our guard down, we do, and we get to talk in and everybody’s like yes, oh, my gosh, did you hear this, did you hear that? And the gossip just rolls out. And that can so happen, especially at night, when you’re tired, you’ve had all the sugar and you’re having all this fun And then suddenly it’s a gossip session. Share this with your kid to prepare them.
Proverb 1628, gossip separates the best of friends. Those late night talks can turn into gossip fast and we want our kids to be careful of what comes out of their mouth. A tongue can create such hurt and division, and we want to set that standard for our kids because, unfortunately, even if you’re gossiping about someone else, it tells the other people in the room that you’re willing to gossip And that can let them know that you may not be a safe place. And so this conversation has a lot of layers that you can talk with your kid about, not just for sleepovers.
0:20:42 – Speaker 1
Absolutely Great point there. Also, here’s a big one. You know, of course we want our kids to be respectful and listen to the adults in charge, but we have to be careful. We have to be careful with how we word this. There has to be loopholes. So I always tell my kids if an adult ever asks you to do anything immoral, illegal or inappropriate, don’t text or call me. You know we don’t want to say listen to the adult to do whatever they would say to do, because then kids get confused if there is something inappropriate like touching or weird advances or anything like that. So you always have to show that loophole like it’s okay to defy an adult if they’re asking you to do something Moral, illegal or inappropriate if they don’t have their own phone.
You know, when kids are younger you can say just tell the mom that you’re feeling sick and you need to text your mom. Or Maybe you have a code word. When my kids were really little We had a. I forgot to feed the dog and if I ever got a text from the mom saying your kid forgot to feed the dog and Told me to tell you that was my cue my kids feeling very weird. They need me to come get me right now, before they had a phone. So like, do a code like that, anything like that. We just need to be prepared for a worst-case scenario and make sure your kids are prepared for it.
0:22:00 – Speaker 2
I love the secret code. We did that. We do that just to have a safe word for your kids. So come up with it together and that way they can text you, call you whatever it is, and they’ll know like help is on the way. I love that so much. I think it’s also important here. One We often don’t think about is gun safety, not about the gun debate. Here We are not saying have a gun or not in your household, but just make sure your kids know what to do if a real gun is brought out. If one of the kids, like at the, the host home, goes and wants to show off and they know the code or they figured out where it is. So many bad things can happen and so our kids need to have a plan if they’re faced with that situation.
0:22:41 – Speaker 1
Absolutely. And you know, at the end of this, like be the host home, you can implement your own guideline. Yeah, the host home. You know, when my kids were little up through middle school, phones always stayed on kitchen island and so they could check them whenever they needed to. But it was just my way of being able to keep them in a Open area of the home to reduce the amount of googling and all of that or bad content that could they could be seen. I didn’t want people being exposed under my roof. So be the host home and that’s awesome.
The other thing I want to say to wrap up this show, kim, is if you allow a sleepover and you’ve gone through all these Practical tips and you know, you’re setting your kid down and saying you’ve earned this privilege because I trust you and we’re talking Through these things. But the other thing is, on the flip side of that, after the sleepover Now they’re gonna be tired. So don’t do this right when they walk in the door or right when you pick up, but maybe the next day or two days after you know when kid is well rested, you need to circle back and get some information And dive into hey, what did y’all do? Didn’t. Did anybody print, call anybody or FaceTime? You know we used to do that kind of stuff. Did anyone call strangers? Were you ever uncomfortable? Let me know, just so we can talk it through. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna end sleepovers. I just want to make sure you’re good, everything’s good, and there’s nothing that you’re carrying around like that’s bugging you. That may have happened at that sleepover.
0:24:08 – Speaker 2
And I find too and I open up with questions that kind of loosen up the mood, that helps. So I’ll always say, like what is the funniest thing that happened last night or you know, the other night? or I’ll ask about pajamas Did somebody have like silly pajamas on? like we’ll start with something funny to kind of loosen the mood up and then Move into some more of the questions and inevitably, you know, usually it’s all good things But at least we’re opening the door, so there’s something weird happened or uncomfortable, they’re sharing it with you so you can walk them through it.
0:24:37 – Speaker 1
And no matter what subject you’re covering with your kids sleepovers, phones, what happens in a locker room, whatever always remind your kid Hey, if you’re laying down at night and it’s bugging you and you can’t sleep and it’s going around in your mind Like, is this okay, is this not okay, that’s a big red flag. Let’s talk to mom and dad and see what’s going on. We always want to be the source to kind of help our kids navigate if they’re feeling like something’s off.
0:24:59 – Speaker 2
We hope that these are some helpful tips for you and conversation starters. If there’s something that you’re doing that we didn’t mention, we’d love to hear from you. You can always email us at admin at nextTalk org or direct messages on our social media. You are part of the nextTalk family and we love your input.
0:25:18 – Speaker 1
Thank you so much for joining us, listening and sharing our podcast. Because of you, this show is in the top 5% of over 2.9 million podcasts.
0:25:27 – Speaker 2
We have lots of resources for you from counseling to live events Or if you have a show idea or a question for our team, visit our website at nextTalk org. We’d love to hear from you.
0:25:41 – Speaker 1
At nextTalk. We’re more than cyber parenting. It’s conversations to connect.
0:25:44 – Speaker 2
This podcast is not intended to replace the advice of a trained healthcare or legal professional, or to diagnose, treat or otherwise render expert advice regarding any type of medical, psychological or legal problem. Listeners are advised to consult a qualified expert for treatment.
Transcribed by https://podium.page