Are Sleepovers Too Dangerous to Allow Anymore?

Readers: nrfirydbif
Remember, whenever considering any childhood activity, no matter how innocuous, first think about how TERRIBLE you’d feel if it ended up a tragedy from which your children (if they survive) NEVER RECOVER. Then go ahead and decide if you think they should do it.

Here’s a lovely example of that worst-first thinking, below. It’s from a blog called Frontline Moms & Dads. A similar post, “Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers”  is going viral and appears here.

I am often asked by parents about how to handle child sleepovers in their family. To even broach this subject can sometimes feel uncomfortable because it raises so many interwoven issues such as:

At what age are they safe?
At what homes?
With what rules?

So I sometimes hear people practice speeches such as…

“Now if you are at someone’s house and anyone touches you in a private spot or shows you pictures of naked people, I want you to call me right away.”

I can appreciate the training intended by those speeches, and I have said similar things myself. But let’s think logically for a moment. [Note from Lenore: This is where I thought she’d say, “But of course, the odds are that your child will never encounter this on a sleepover.” Instead, she continued — ]

Statistics show that it is very unlikely that a child will actually call for help, even after being told to do so by his/her parents.  But even if the child did call, the abuse would already have occurred!

That is why I am going to make a deep proposal.

No sleepovers. None.

I know that might sound extreme, but I am not the only voice proposing such a thing.

“I think the day for sleepovers is over,” says James Dobson.” Child abuse is so rampant today and so pervasive that you just can’t afford to run the risk.”

Feel free to check out all the reasons. I was considering whether I should post this on my site, since there are a whole lot of people who are worst-first thinkers, and it makes no sense to decry their every post. But after a few of you sent this in, and then the other anti-sleepover piece started trending, it seemed like the idea is or could become mainstream.  That’s when it makes sense to swoop in and point out that we keep taking away almost every opportunity kids in our culture have to be on their own, unhelicoptered.

While I always advocate teaching your kids to recognize, resist and report abuse, I also am so sick of “abuse/rape/grooming” becoming the FIRST things we think about when we contemplate letting our kids have a night of fun and independence.

As Peter Gray keeps pointing out so poignantly: in most of childhood — school, home, any structured activity — adults rule. Only in play do kids get to be the adults. At a sleepover, they are the adults at NIGHT. How powerful! It’s like Halloween: taking on a scary, exciting  challenge — being  beyond your own bed when darkness falls.

I’m desperately hoping the sleepover does not go the way of playing outside: seen only as a danger, not a childhood right (and rite). – L.

The night is dark and full of diamonds.

The night is dangerous. (So is the day.)

, , , , , , , , , , ,

90 Responses to Are Sleepovers Too Dangerous to Allow Anymore?

  1. hineata June 30, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    I love the kids going on sleepovers, and don’t listen to this sort of rubbish. However, when you think about it, how old is the sleepover thing? I remember staying overnight with friends, but am reasonably sure my parents only slept over with cousins….of course, for my dad that involved months-long ‘sleepovers’ when his mother was too sick and his father too mentally ill to look after their children. But certainly fun sleepovers didn’t happen. And they still don’t for my kids’ cousins in Malaysia. Children stay with family only, pretty much. (Where, of course, statistically they’re more likely to be abused…).

    So I have nothing against sleepovers – as I say, personally I am all for them – but I understand if people aren’t interested in them. They sort-of don’t fit with lots of cultures…

    In fact a lot of the girls’ friends don’t do sleepovers – the parents are first-generation immigrants and these simply aren’t the done thing. And those kids seem to be surviving childhood fine :-).

  2. Jill June 30, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    James Dobson is a lying fear-monger. Child abuse is no more rampant today than it ever was. Statistics show kids are far more likely to be sexually abused by a family member or someone they know well than by some random adult at a sleepover.
    I couldn’t find a single instance of a child being molested while sleeping over at a friend’s house. Not one.
    I personally can’t stand Dobson. He takes a very conservative Christian stance against same-sex marriage and thinks homosexuality is a “choice.” He opposes sex ed in public schools that isn’t abstinence-only. He’s an advocate of corporal punishment,and he thinks men should be the breadwinners while women have a duty to stay home and mind the kids.
    In short, he’s intolerant and hateful and anything he says should be ignored.
    Sleepovers are a fun part of childhood. I used to eagerly look forward to sleeping over at my friends’ houses when I was a kid. As an only child, it was so much fun to pile into sleeping bags with a group of other girls, giggle and tell secrets. It was a little peek into the world of what having sisters was like, and I loved it! Taking that experience away from kids “because something might happen” is just wrong.

  3. Martin June 30, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Several years ago, a neighbor was arrested for child molestation. My daughter, then in elementary school, had spent the night at his home several times. I had to have a very uncomfortable conversation with her but was satisfied that nothing untoward had occurred while she was in his home. (The facts of the case were never made public as he died of a heart attack before trial, but presumably involved his step-children who were both in elementary school.)

    Despite this history, my children still go on sleepovers. In fact, even when we first learned of the allegations against our neighbor, it didn’t ever occur to me that forbid sleepovers. My children’s ability to go out into the world and deal with people without a parent in the background helps keep them safe. They trust themselves because we trust them. They feel competent because we let them know we believe they are competent. We can’t prevent our children from ever encountering bad people or bad situations, but by giving them age-appropriate levels of independence, I think they are better suited to handle whatever comes their way.

  4. Jill June 30, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    And seriously? The part about someone showing you pictures of naked people made me laugh so hard that I spewed coffee through my nose.
    The only pictures of naked people that anyone showed me at a sleepover was when my friend Barbara used to pass around copies of Playboy and Esquire that her father hid in the garage (he didn’t hide them too well, I guess, or she wouldn’t have found them.) We’d ogle the (kind-of) naked ladies and talk about how we couldn’t wait to grow breasts.
    That, of course, was pre-internet. Now I suppose kids go online at sleepovers to look at naked ladies. Because children are innocent snowflakes who have absolutely no interest in sex.

  5. Crystal June 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    How about we encourage parents to do their homework and go with their instincts instead of making an across-the-board ban?

    And who says kids won’t call? When I was 7 or 8, I had a sleepover where my friend’s older sister started talking about things that made me uncomfortable. So I called my mom and she came and got me — no big deal, and I still went on sleepovers afterward.

  6. Martin June 30, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    My kids had no problem calling home either. PG movies were ok, anything else they needed to call and get my approval. They had no problem calling and no problem telling their friends they needed to choose something else if I said no to the movie in question.

  7. Jen June 30, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    My daughter is 8. She has had sleepovers at one friend’s house for a couple years now. Now that they are getting older, all the girls are talking about them. If I know the parents and am comfortable with them, I am happy to send her off for a sleepover. It’s ok that she gets to do things she would at home. It’s ok if she doesn’t care for the food. It’s ok if there are rules that are different. I think it’s good for her to see how other people live. And if there are some things that are not quite ideal. . .then it’s good for her to know that the grass is NOT always greener. the way I figure it . .children in other families survive and thrive, even if their parent make different choices than we do. I would not send her someplace that we feel is unsafe–but what I consider unsafe are things that are truly dangerous. If there is something that we really don’t want her to do, we will say so in advance. Otherwise, we trust that the parents will take the necessary precautions to keep both their and our children safe.

    There are one or two unfortunate children who have living situations I just don’t want to expose my child to. But by and large, we are comfortable with all of her friend’s families. . .we’re even for it if the dad will be in charge of the overnight (can’t figure out why so many parents are against this concept!).

  8. Warren June 30, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Kids of the parents that buy into this crap, have a lot more to worry about than sleepovers. They need to worry about being shut in and completely controlled.

  9. lihtox June 30, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    The author is not only exaggerating the risk, but the danger as well. S/he writes that by the time the child calls for help, “the abuse would already have occurred!” But unless we’re talking about rape or physical injury (which the author does not mention), a one-time encounter with a creepy adult is not going to hurt a child very much. It’s not going to ruin their life.

    And why the emphasis on pedophiles? Not to excuse child molesters, but I’d be much more worried about a parent with anger issues. Late at night, kids at a sleepover are being loud, parent snaps in frustration and comes roaring angrily into the room and freaks all the kids out. Even if the parent doesn’t hit anyone, that could scar a kid a lot worse than being patted on the butt.

  10. Jill June 30, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Jen, if the dad’s in charge that means (OMG!)a MAN will be with the children. At night. In the dark. When anything might happen. Literally anything. Because all men are raving sex fiends who are only prevented from raping small children by the presence of their wives.

  11. J- June 30, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    To hell with the statistics. I am as deeply offended as I have ever been. I am a good and loving father. For some harpy to insinuate that I am going to use my son’s birthday party as cover to molest her children is obscene to the point of insanity and has put me besides myself.

    If I were to direct at her the all of the profanity ever uttered in the entire history of the human race, it would not be enough. How dare she, how G-d damn dare she!? Doesn’t she realize that by implementing this policy, the damage is already done. She has tacitly expressed to her children, and every body else in the neighborhood, that each and every father (lets be honest, no one suspects the mother) is a sexual predator in waiting. Not one adult male, not one father of any of her children’s friends is trustworthy around her precious brood.

    If she is that paranoid, does she even let her children sleep under the same roof as their father?

    In an a just world, I hope that her friends realize that is what she is saying. I hope that her friends are as offended as I am, and I hope her friends make her a pariah.

  12. CrazyCatLady June 30, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    My youngest is at a sleepover right now. To make it dangerous, the kids are sleeping in a tent, and my son has had a couple of instances of sleepwalking. He will be fine.

    That said, the mom sense has tingled at times and I have refused to allow sleepovers. Turned out to be somewhat justified. One case the parents were doing meth, and really with 6 adults in a two bedroom house there wasn’t room for another person. The other case there were college students dropping in all the time at all hours who had no sense about what to talk about in front of kids. Again, a small house, so not much of getting away from it. Unfortunately some unauthorized touching did happen in that house.

    However that has not kept me from having my kids do sleepovers, I just let my kids do them with people that I feel that I can trust a little more. Some families, I would feel fine if I died for my kids to go live with tomorrow. Others…not so much.

  13. Stacy June 30, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    We just hosted a sleepover for eight ten-year-old girls. Only a couple parents knew us personally. One mom who was not from the U.S. said she was nervous at first, but her husband convinced her that it was time to let her daughter attend a sleepover. I can’t tell you whether the three girls who didn’t attend had other plans or were not allowed, but there certainly is no mass hysteria about sleepovers in our suburban town, thank goodness. No one even minded that we have a teen son.

    OTOH, we are encountering a new set of parents with our younger child, and many seem to have more helicopter tendencies. Only one other mom and I dropped off our children at a six-year-old birthday party in the home. The rest of the parents all sat awkwardly in the family room for two hours. When I arrived to pick up my child, they all knew which two kids had been dropped off. Fortunately, the birthday girl had been dropped off at my child’s party a few weeks earlier, so I knew her parents considered that normal. Hopefully, as the other parents spend time with people like us, they’ll learn that it’s okay to relax and give their kids more independence.

  14. Jen June 30, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    J — I am with you. As a culture we say we want men to be more active in their kids lives and then we vilify them for it. As far as a mom or dad who is so suspicious about other parents — what does that say about their own family? It’s hard to ignore the haters — but by staying above the fray you are also teaching your kids an important lesson.

    All I know is that when I have a group of kids over, if I’m not feeding them then I’m thrilled that they are playing independently so I have a few minutes to get caught up on things. My husband on the other hand might be the one that is taking them fishing, helping them build something or doing something that requires a helmet, a box of band-aids, and being hosed off before entering the house.

    Once when my youngest daughter got sick at preschool, a friend who works an early shift picked her up. I got there to find my kid snuggled up on the couch with her husband drinking gingerale and arguing the finer points of a my little pony cartoon. I didn’t think it was creepy or inappropriate, I thought it was sweet and I was thankful for the help. the only disturbing thing was how much a 60 year old man knew about my little pony. . .but he has grandkids too. 🙂

  15. Dirk June 30, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    James Dobson?!?! He’s a nutcase!

  16. LisaS June 30, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    The father of one of my sister’s best friends was a child molester – not only hit on several girls at the school where he was a teacher, but also his own daughter. My sister had no idea. He never acted weird when she was at his place.

    But, my kids haven’t had a lot of sleepovers, mainly because most of their friends have divorced parents who are very protective of their time with their kids. Also, my daughter’s friends’ parents have concerns about my son being home – not because he’s a predator, but because he’s a boy 2 years older. Whatever.

  17. Sharon Davids June 30, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    The favorite birthday party of my daughters was her ten year old sleepover. Three girls, one cake, one trip to Cici’s pizza buffet (with free meals for two out of three kids), a lot of nail polish and watching Kalani on disney channel. It is almost three years later and my daughter and her two friends mention what fun they had that night in 2011. They had the chance to mostly not parent directed fun for a couple of moments.

    She has been to other sleepovers. She started in our building I remember promising to walk up four flights of stairs if she needed me and she did not. Now sleepovers not a big deal but a lot of fun especially when I am not hosting.

  18. Neil M. June 30, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Part of me can’t help but wonder if “Lisa Cherry” is on the level or if that post is an elaborate, Andy-Kaufman-style joke. I mean, really…”night breeds secrecy”?!?

  19. Papilio June 30, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I was too shy to go on sleepovers, but my friend wasn’t so she always came to my place. Lots of fun, heh heh heh.

    @Jill: “Now I suppose kids go online at sleepovers to look at naked ladies.”
    That reminds me of this PA, telling parents to talk to their child about sex before the internet does it for them:

  20. hancock June 30, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    I’m not a big fan of sleepovers, but I have to let go from time to time. The kids want to go camping and have parties with friends and family. I can’t lock them up until they come of age. That would be wrong. Bad things could happen when they are out of the house and normal routine. So what? Bad things happen at home too, but most of the time we shrug it off and move on.

    Most issues are not emergencies, and are good practice for adulthood. If there actually is an emergency, they should have enough knowledge and experience to know what to do, because I as a parent gave both loving instruction, and let them have the time and space to test that instruction.

    There is place or the “no” due to mother’s intuition, but most of the time kids need he practice of getting out there. That reminds me, I need to organize at least on camping trip this summer and it should involve fire and sleeping under the stars.

  21. anonymous mom June 30, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Being married to a registered sex offender, I’m particularly sensitive to these issues. We do allow our oldest (a boy) to have sleepovers with friends whose parents know the situation. He’s had friends sleep over a few times. I don’t love sleepovers, though, and will only have them if the other parent asks (so it’s more babysitting). (And, yes, these families are entirely aware of my husband’s status and the story behind it. Generally, once we tell people the story, they don’t have any concerns about their children spending time in our home.)

    However, due to both his status and to having two boys in the home, we will NOT be allowing our daughters to have sleepovers. There is just too much potential for accusations.

    That’s where my concern is: accusations of abuse–especially involving other children in the home, rather than parents–not abuse itself.

    I remember sleepovers when I was a kid. Honestly, a lot of stuff happened that today would be considered serious sex offenses. It was stupid, non-traumatizing kid stuff like somebody’s brother and his friends all deciding to moon us, or somebody’s brother wanting to gross us out by flashing us, or somebody’s brother and friends trying to peep in on the girls while they got dressed, or even girls comparing the size of their breasts without shirts on. Now, I think all of this is normal, harmless, immature preteen stuff. However, in today’s climate, any one of those things could get a child slapped with a sex offense charge and put on a registry. And now, in the age of preteens having smartphones, there is so much more potential for kids to get themselves into serious trouble in a setting like a sleepover. Even something like one child showing another porn could be a prosecutable offense.

    That would be my fear: that something would happen at a sleepover that causes a parent to freak out and call the police and suddenly we’re dealing with serious sex offense charges rather than just some immature, inappropriate behavior that is handled by a talk and some parental consequences and moved on from.

    So we won’t be allowing our girls to have anybody sleep over, and we likely will be stopping any boy sleepovers very soon, once puberty starts to rear its head. I am very uncomfortable with my son attending sleepovers, because his two very good friends who he’d like to have sleepovers with both have a couple of sisters, and I just feel like that’s a situation that, in today’s climate, is fraught with a LOT of potential danger. So we’re pretty much a no-sleepover family, but for fear of allegations of abuse (because of the reality of same-age sex play and experimentation that does sometimes occur at sleepovers) not fear of parents preying on kids.

  22. K June 30, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    My daughter has had a few sleepovers and parents have talked about a few more that haven’t taken place. When I started out as a parent I wasn’t crazy about sleepovers, but have always had instincts that fit into the free-range arena. Now that CPS has made their rounds in our little circle of friends I feel that generally speaking sleepovers are one of the safer ways that kids can start to feel a little independence with minimal risk both from predators and CPS. There are adults there etc.. I admit I encourage them more with the friend who is a single Mom than some of the other friends. I think that while there are many upstanding men in our communities the majority of crimes, no matter what kind, are more likely to be committed by men than women. Men are more likely to use poor judgment and drink a six pack when they have children as guests. They are more likely to do something scary or dangerous if they lose their tempers. I think that is unfortunate, but I think it is true. So, now I try to make it a point of getting to know the Dads too, when previously most of the conversation was with the women.

  23. AnotherAnon June 30, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    OMG, the homophobic part about “same sex experimentation…” Keeping your kid locked away from having privacy with others of his/her same sex will not keep them from being gay if they’re gay.

  24. anonymous mom June 30, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    @AnotherAnon, the problem, though, is that if you do get a paranoid, homophobic parent who finds out their child DID experiment in some same-gender sex play at a sleepover, they might run to CPS or the police and the other family and child could find themselves in a world of trouble.

    I’m not trying to spread paranoia. But, hysteria around sexual abuse–and particularly the redefining of normal childhood sex play and experimentation, with same age or nearly-same-age children, as abuse–is something that needs to be considered.

    When it comes to “vetting” parents for sleepovers, I’d definitely also consider whether they are the kind of people who would, if their child engaged in some sex play with a friend, consider their child an abuse victim and the other child a predator, and get the authorities involved. Certainly, for example, the children of the woman who wrote this article would NOT be somebody I’d feel comfortable having in my home overnight (or having my kids spend the night in the home of).

  25. Jon June 30, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    I refuse to sign in to the site to comment, but:

    Dear Ms. Cherry.

    Your childrens’ risks of being injured or killed in a car accident are extremely high. Perhaps as high as 1 in 120.

    That is why I am going to make a deep proposal.

    No riding in cars. None.

  26. Kevin June 30, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    So…would these parents feel ok saying to another parent, “I’m so sorry, but my kid can’t spend the night at your house. I’m concerned that you’d sexually abuse him/her.”

  27. Edward June 30, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    The authors of Frontline Moms and Dads are ultra conservative Christians as is evident from examining their site and various supplied links on it. Their only concern is any attack on their religious beliefs and they have no problem using their 10 children or anyone elses to deflect those presumed attacks.
    As I have stated here before; I am a Roman Catholic, I was never abused as a child and have never abused anyone as an adult. Still, I am opposed to everything I saw and read on Frontline Moms and Dads. Those people have a very narrow view of the rest of the world.

  28. Uly June 30, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Dobson encourages parents to beat their kids, and he thinks he has a leg to stand on when it comes to the subject of “child abuse”?

  29. Aimee June 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    In our experience, the worst thing that happens to our son at sleepovers (either our house or theirs) is that the boys get no sleep whatsoever (I guess you could call them “sleepovers” rather than sleepovers) and are a nightmare the next 2 days. LOL

    My sister forbids sleepovers for all the reason cited in this worst-first article. I’ve always felt a little sad for her kids because of it. Sleepovers can forge strong, lifelong friendships, and can also teach kids the resiliency of sleeping away from home.

    Lastly, isn’t college the biggest sleepover ever? Wouldn’t it be better for your kids to be crying from homesickness at 11 or 12 than at 18?

  30. Reziac June 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Well, just remember, if it’s too dangerous to let your kids sleepover at their friends’ house, it’s also too dangerous at your house to let the friends sleep over with your kids.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket — ALL houses are SO dangerous that NO kid should EVER be trusted to sleep in a strange house — not even their own!!

    Idiotic. If you’ve raised your kids at all (as opposed to coddling and bubblewrapping them), they’ll have a clue.

  31. Curt June 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    By this person’s logic, sleepaway camp is out as well. They also may as well as find a college the child can commute to because you never know what might happen in the dorm!

  32. anonymous mom June 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    “Lastly, isn’t college the biggest sleepover ever?”

    “They also may as well as find a college the child can commute to because you never know what might happen in the dorm!”

    With the claims being made that 1 in 5 women will be raped during college, I have no doubt we’ll start seeing many parents insisting their daughters live at home during college.

  33. Jenny Islander June 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Anybody who cites Dr. “I beat my 12-pound Dachshund to make it mind and that’s why you should listen to me about parenting” Dobson in support of their argument has automatically lost any credibility. Either they think like Dobson or they fail at reading comprehension. Ignore.

  34. Not saying this time June 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    I (37)was sitting with my mom in the garden at a birthday party two years back. Now my mom is a shizo and has been all my live. We were sitting there and she was smoking when all of a sudden she asked me if i had any problems sexually. Not something you normally talk about at a birthday party, specially
    Not with mom then she began to tell me a story about when I was three and how she thought that i was probably sexually molested by the neighbor.

    But you know what…. Whatever happened then… I dont remember.
    …. Whatever happened after that when my mom and I lived on the street for a year… I dont remember… Whatever my quirks are now i have to deal with in my current situation… However i came to have them. Whatever happened it wasnt the end of my world… And i’m happy that i dont remember. Cause its the thinks that i do remember that bother me the most and those are the way i was always treated as special and ” broken” when i came to live with my dad at age 4 after that year of living with a full on shizo mom on the street. Its always having eyes on you and that any behavior is put under the microscope to be psychoanalyzed that gave me the most trouble later on. It kept me from leaving it behind and being seen for who i was. It kept me from growing into my responsibilities and into an adult. It took a lot of fights to finally be able to get away from the constant control and worry of my father and stepmom.

    Even when worst things might have happened. Even when there is trauma, a kid needs room to grow and experience and grow into the self and do the normal kids stuff and that includes being weird and not knowing why you did stuff. When the raising of the child becomes second fiddle after the trauma of the child, the kid gets stuck and doesn’t get any room to move on from it.

    And that is what scares me the most of all this fear mongering. That it not just says that all kids are in danger all the time, but it also says that when something does happen… They will be ruined for life.

  35. Donna June 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    I loved sleepovers as a kid. My daughter loves sleepovers as a kid. I feel bad for kids who don’t get to experience this rite of childhood.

    My daughter had a sleepover this weekend with just the dad home. Mom was at my house for Girl’s Night Out. Apparently we have all gotten old as mom was home before the kids fell sleep, but they were with just dad for most of the night. And I didn’t think twice about it.

  36. Taed June 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Since the majority of molestation is done by close relatives, I’d like to modestly suggest that children should have perpetual sleepovers — they should NEVER be allowed to sleep at home. It’s just too dangerous at home and it’s the only way to be sure. Think of the children!

  37. Taed June 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    My son is now 13 and has been having sleepovers since he was 3. There’s never been any problems that are beyond the normal being noisy and staying up too late, except for on a recent sleepover, we discovered afterward that all the boys were looking at a bit of porn together. I just told him that it’s normal, but it’s not cool to do it at a sleepover. Other parents might react differently, but that’s how we choose to handle it.

  38. J- June 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm #


    Thank you for your understanding. However, I am not staying above the fray, I am knee deep in it swinging a club.

    Let me paint you a picture of myself. I am 6 foot 3 inches, 240 lbs on a skinny day, built like a line backer (actually a weight lifter), and I wear a full beard (part of my Jewish heritage). I look like, to put it mildly, what every woman’s self defense instructor paints a verbal picture of when she describes a rape scenario.

    It is my cross to bear, and yes I mean that fully. As a big, bearded guy, I do feel the eyes of suspicion on me. When I started dating the girl that eventually become my wife, several of her friends warned her not to date me because I was “big and scary looking.” I have been confronted by “concerned” mothers over innocent behavior. I have been accosted coming out of a unisex family bathroom because of course the only reason for me to go in there was to molest a child and not change my son in private.

    I would call myself a men’s rights activist, but the SPLC just declared that to be a hate group. What I want is not to be thought of as a rapist, child molester, or spouse abuser for what I look like. I love being a dad and I will fight whenever the need arises to be seen as a dad and not a perv.

  39. anonymous mom June 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    @J-, my husband is also a very big man. He’s about 6’4″ and 230 pounds, also with a big beard. And he’s told me that he will, if he’s waiting for an elevator and a woman is also waiting, not get into the elevator with her, lest he scare her. If he sees a woman about to enter a parking deck as he is entering it, he will purposely take another route to his car, even if it’s longer, so she doesn’t worry that he’s following her.

    I have told him that I think that’s insane paranoia. However, I’ve recently seen many women online claim that these are things that ALL men should do, because women are just so scared and fragile that they should never have to be in a position where they could even potentially be vulnerable around a man. I have seen women argue that, if a man is lost at night driving around, if he dares to stop to ask a woman walking alone for directions, he’s part of “rape culture,” because he is intimidating her and causing her to feel threatened.

    I’m not sure when women revelling in feelings of constant fear became syonymous with “feminism.” I’m not sure when parents being paranoid became synonymous with good parenting. And I’m not sure when we decided that if anything bad–or even just unwanted–happens to you involving sex or touching of any kind, you are ruined for life. All of this seems much more disempowering than empowering to me.

  40. Claudia June 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Well by the same token no playdates, no interactions with anyone not cleared by a clean police record (as if that really helps anyway)…

  41. John June 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Jill, I think you’re being a little harsh on James Dobson. I personally admire him for his family values and he did not say that homosexuality was a choice but that homosexual ACTIONS were a choice which is true as is heterosexual ACTIONS. In fact, he has stated that he understands a gay person’s anger when his colleagues claim that harboring homosexual desires is “a choice” because he does not believe that.

    But with that said, I do disagree with him on certain issues as he has also strongly recommended in his book “Raising Boys” that teenage boys should NOT be allowed to babysit very young children because of the risk of sexual abuse. Now THAT I would agree is a ridiculous assertion! But he did admit that his stance on that particular issue has offended even many of his Evangelical Christian readers. So please understand that not all conservative Christians hold to that extreme way of thinking. And when he says “Child abuse is so rampant today and so pervasive that you just can’t afford to run the risk.” I really don’t know how he arrives at that assertion or where he gets his data from but as we all know, that is simply not true.

    But to be honest with you, many of your secular child psychologists and therapists are not much better. They all seem to live in a fear mongering world when it comes to child sex abuse. To give you an example, my brother-inlaw who passed away a couple of years ago from years of alcohol abuse, was a very abusive father to my niece. So my 52-year-old niece is currently undergoing counseling due to the years of verbal and sometimes physical abuse she underwent at the hands of her father while she was growing up. But the first therapist she went to somehow came to the conclusion and tried convincing my niece that her father was sexually abusing her. In fact, she tried gearing her counseling session with my niece based on that notion. That is when my niece immediately stopped seeing this therapist because although she readily admits that her dad was an awful father, she knew for a fact that he NEVER once touched her sexually in any way, shape or form! The abuse my niece went through from her dad was not sexual but verbal and sometimes physical which can be just as bad.

    So even these secular therapists can be so whackily hung up with child sex abuse that’s all they insist on focusing on!

  42. Jake June 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    “Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers” Is definitely the better one out of the two. The author took a more rational approach and decided to wait until his child was older to allow sleepovers.

  43. CaitlinHTP June 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    This is so sad. I truly cannot understand the state of parenting today.

  44. Sharon Davids June 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    The state of parenting is sad. I sit here also knowing that the mother of one of my childhood friends is dying (of cancer and old age). She gave me one of my best childhood memories and very loud and very fun sleepover at her house when her daughter and I turned 11. I can remember it very well even thought it happened in the late 1970’s. It wasn’t for me but my birthday was in the same month so I celebrated for both of us. My friends birthday is tomorrow so I am wishing her a happy birthday.

    Most of my daughter’s friends don’t even have Dads. My husband doesn’t like some of the moms but they include me in the single moms club because my husband works retail and I often land up going solo at my daughter’s events especially picking up from late events. I admire the women who play both Mom and Dad and most do it will a lot of intellegence and style.

  45. Jenny Islander June 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    @John: You mean the family values that led Dobson, when he discovered that the 12-pound family dog was sleeping where he didn’t want it to sleep, to beat it with a belt and kick it instead of just picking it up and putting it where he wanted it to be?

    The family values that taught the dog to have such respect for its adored paterfamilias that it did not happily greet him after he got home from a business trip, rather the opposite?

    The family values that led Dobson, after repeated failures to train the dog, to conclude not that he needed to change his approach, but that the dog was irredeemably stupid?

    The family values, led by the aforementioned wise guide and teacher Dr. Dobson, that led him to order his 12-pound dog to attack a prowler in the garage–as if the dog, who Dobson admitted he had failed to train in the past, would magically know what “attack” meant and knowing that would go after somebody on command of Shouty Belt Guy? The 12-pound Dachshund?

    Dobson says a few nice things. But if you want to know how things are in a family, look at the pets. They can’t be trained to pretend that everything is okay.

  46. Thomas Arbs June 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Let’s face it, the clause we all know “not strangers, but family and friends are the real danger” indeed potentially points to the parents of a friend who host the sleepover. To the dad and, yes, theoretically also the mom who our kids have met countless times in the daytime, who have accompanied school outings or been over for barbecues – exactly those parents our kids would trust.

    Still, as with any other case, I tend to live life not carelessly, but not overly distrustful either, and have fared well with that. And fondly look back on my last sleepover, around age ten, on a sailing boat, with a girl. It took me a while to understand why, a year later, the mother would no longer allow it, I was that innocent.

  47. Jenny Islander June 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    WRT big men in elevators, the problem there isn’t helicopter parenting and it certainly isn’t feminism; it’s the fact that some men feel as though they have the right to demand attention, time, sex, etc., etc., etc., from any woman they decide they want, and some don’t–and the ones who do feel that way don’t wear signs. The ones who do feel that way see absolutely nothing wrong with (for example) cornering a woman with whom they are alone in an elevator until she agrees to whatever they say they want because she cannot get away, he is bigger than she is, and maybe if she submits he won’t actually hit her. The men who think like this insist that they are not rapists, BTW; they are “playas” or “pickup artists” or “assertive.” And, again, they don’t wear signs distinguishing them from men who don’t. And any woman who has had an encounter with one of these men knows that law, culture, and custom in the U.S. automatically puts the woman in the wrong. (“What were you wearing?” “Why were you in that place at that time?” “Had you had sex before? With that person? With a person at that event? With anyone, ever?”)

  48. marcussba June 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I would think having a discussion with your kids about swimming pools and unsecured firearms would be a better way to counsel kids prior to a sleepover, considering how many die from each of those every year.

  49. axiom June 30, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    The real reason not to let your kids go to sleepovers; because without the hovering parent perpetually in the background they might feel safe to tell other kids or parents how they’re being abused (sexually or psychologically) at home.

    Anyone who beats their dog is probably also beating their kids.

  50. Donna June 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm #


    I agree about therapists and sexual assault. My best friend had a breakdown a couple years ago which caused her to finally be diagnosed as bipolar. Her therapist wants to blame all her problems on a sexual assault, a single fondling when she was 8. The fact that her father and brother are also bipolar and she has a wealth of issues from the past that she needs to deal with never concern her therapist at all. As far as her therapist is concerned, all her problems are the result of being fondled at 8.

  51. K June 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    I think our society as a whole has gone downhill over the past 50 years with too many unsupervised kids committing crimes (gangs, etc.) and too many men being caught either with child pornography or some other equally bad crime and/or lack of judgment. There isn’t really a lot of respect for the more conservative morality and values of years past. Butts stick out of oversized pants etc..

    My grandparents grew up in a little town that really liked it’s kids and most of the kids were free-range. As a society, we do not give the impression of having grown up to a point of being responsible and having the qualities that are required for the trustworthiness required for not having to consider safety of either adults or kids when talking about less supervision. Hence the hesitation with sleepovers.

    Lenore posted a story on about how Scotland is setting up a CPS guardian to watch over children from the time thy are born until the time they are 18. I certainly hope that won’t happen here. If another country has already done it, eventually it will probably come here. In the meantime before we get our state appointed guardian, inadequate parents must make the decisions… with consequences for making a bad one.

  52. Jen June 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    @J —

    You sound like a large majority of the dad’s around here. 🙂

    My guess is that you, like them are gainfully employed, work hard, take excellent care of your family, make sure your kids are doing their homework, attend all school events and conferences, stop and help someone by the side of the road, get involved in your community. . .

    being cautious is one thing. . .but prejudging someone is a good way to isolate yourself from a lot of good people. 🙂

  53. CrazyCatLady June 30, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    K, you say that you are most comfortable with your child sleeping over at the single mother’s house.

    The ONLY child molester that I personally know, is a woman. Who abused the friend of her son, who was about 12.

    I don’t know the men that you hang around with. It may very well be that they are more likely to “drink a six pack” and make poor decisions. Honestly, they sound like alcoholics if that is what they are doing.

    The men that “I” know, who are parents or grandparents of my children’s friends, the hold jobs, do not cheat on their wives, and do not drink to drunkenness every weekend. As far as I know, none of them molest their kids, but then I probably wouldn’t know that until after the fact. Honestly, I think some of the men are more responsible than their wives – they don’t do “bunko parties” that are an excuse to get drunk, or have “wives night out” (bar hopping) and things like that.

    K, I suggest that you find a better circle of men to hang out with.

  54. K June 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Kids and women determine the circle. Men are for the most part at work and happen to be the spouse of so and so. A few of the men drink more than I am comfortable with. They work and appear to love their kids etc.. Aren’t bad people. I don’t know the numbers, but I bet men generally consume a lot more alcohol than women do. So, yes, there is favoritism for the single friend when it comes to sleepovers. Sleepovers are not limited exclusively to her house. Not politically correct to admit or fair maybe fair to some other men, but men are overwhelmingly more likely to get into trouble whether it be a genuine misdeed or a false accusation. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few stray women who get themselves into trouble too. I know some men that would rather be on a business trip when the sleepover takes place. I also know some upstanding men who would be the first ones to say that men overwhelmingly fill our jails… Sorry to the men out there…

  55. Mandy June 30, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    We had sleepovers all the time as kids, usually just one friend at a time but often a herd for birthday parties. One friend’s dad never let her sleep over, but it was because he was selfish with “his time” with her, even for my summer birthday party during his several consecutive weeks. She stayed over all the time when her mom had her.

    Did naughty stuff happen during slumber parties? Yes, of course! In middle school we talked dirty about boys, and compared notes on boob growth and tampons vs pads. In high school, we met up with boys to flirt and at one friend’s house would often sneak sips of booze from their bar cabinet. I think the behavior my parents would have most disapproved of was staying up way too late and having birthday cake and coke for breakfast! Most of what we got up to could have been (and often was) just as easily accomplished without a sleepover.

    That being said, I did get groped by my cousin when we were staying at our grandparents’ house when I was about 10. It was icky but didn’t ruin my life. The whole sex-abuse paranoia is ridiculous, particularly in the obsession that it will inevitably ruin a kid’s life. Bad stuff happens; it usually can’t be prevented; and if you did your job as a parent correctly your child will use it as a learning experience and/or develop resilience that can be put to use in the future.

  56. anonymous mom June 30, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    @Jenny: “The ones who do feel that way see absolutely nothing wrong with (for example) cornering a woman with whom they are alone in an elevator until she agrees to whatever they say they want because she cannot get away”

    I see people say things like this all the time to justify their fear of sharing an elevator with a man, but I’m not aware of there being anything approaching an epidemic of women being raped in elevators (an event which, if you think about how elevators work and how often people come in and out and how short most trips are, is clearly not going to be easy to pull off even if somebody wanted to). I’m sure it’s happened, but it’s certainly exceedingly, exceedingly rare, given how often men and women share elevators together. You are far more likely to be raped by your boyfriend or spouse (or to be struck by lightening, or to die in a plane crash, or to die of secondary drowning) than you are by a strange man in an elevator. There is simply no valid or rational reason to worry about being sexually assaulted in an elevator.

    Worrying about a man in the elevator with you raping you is, frankly, like worrying that the Middle Eastern person on the elevator with you is about to blow it up. It is a fear based on media-driven hysteria, not actual risk-assessment. What I find so sad is that the same people who I HOPE would think it was wrong and prejudiced to believe that sharing an elevator with an African-American was dangerous because they might try to rob you have no problem thinking it’s fine–even empowered–to be afraid to ride an elevator with a man because he might try to rape you.

  57. anonymous mom June 30, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    @Mandy, I think the problem is that, increasingly, we refuse to distinguish between incidents of inappropriate sexual contact that are icky and unwanted but not inherently traumatizing–like being briefly groped or being flashed by a stranger–and the kind of abuse that we know, whether it is physical, sexual, or verbal, does tend to cause longer-term trauma. That kind of abuse is nearly always violent, repeated, and/or perpetrated by somebody who is a trusted figure in the child’s life. And I do think that when we start claiming that being groped one time is no different, in terms of the level of trauma and the impact on your life, than being repeatedly raped by a parent or guardian, we are both setting many people up for a lifetime of feeling like a victim (because who *doesn’t* have at least an incident or two of some sort of unpleasant or unwanted sexual contact in their past, if we start including things like groping and exposure?) and trivializing the kinds of abuse that really do have a profound impact on a child’s life.

  58. Warren June 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    You need to deal with some unresolved issues with alcohol.

    When I come home after being out in the sun all damn day, like today……….I will have some beers. Does not make me an alcoholic, nor a bad parent.
    So stop generalizing and stop with the bias.

  59. Beth June 30, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    ” Child abuse is so rampant today and so pervasive that you just can’t afford to run the risk.”

    That’s all I needed to read to know this guy is a nut. Rampant and pervasive amongst fathers who cherish and love their families as much as I do mine? Oooooookay.

    I’m OK with NOT believing that the fathers of my kids friends are uncontrollably attracted to children.

  60. Rebecca June 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    I am mostly a free-range parent of a very capable and confident 7 yr old. The subject of sleepovers recently came up and I found, due my personal experience, that I couldn’t say yes. At 5 I was molested during a sleepover. I didn’t tell my parents. At 8 I was exposed to hard core pornography during a sleepover. I didn’t tell my parents. At 13 I was put in a sexually inappropriate position that included both of the above at a sleepover. I didn’t tell my parents. 3 sleepovers. 3 exposures. So, for our family, sleepovers are not in the game plan. BUT, I don’t want to be THAT mom, so our compromise is that you can attend the party, stay up as late as you like, I’ll come pick you up when everyone “goes to bed”. I know it seems extreme, but there are some things you can never un-see, and some experiences that shouldn’t be a part of childhood, and are unforgettable once experienced. My life was permanently altered by these experiences, my views toward healthy sexuality were all over the place for years.

  61. Rebecca June 30, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    I forgot to add that none of this was perpetrated by an adult. All was by peers or older siblings.

  62. Matthew June 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Back in the 80s I slept over at a friend’s house, and it later came out the father was sexually abusing them.

    His behaviour made sense once that came out. He was deferential to me to the point of seeming like I made him nervous. Either way, he gave me a wide berth.

    Whether he was afraid of stuff coming out, or was attracted and didn’t want to take a chance, I don’t know. I also don’t know if his behaviour can be extrapolated to others.

    I do seem to recall abusers usually having power or authority over their victims beyond the physical. I find it very likely most would not risk abusing a kid over whom they had no power.

    And as a guy that’s 5’8 and, lets call it, not particularly muscular, and borderline babyfaced, the bigger guys deal with it more often, but even I’m been accused of “rape culture” for taking the elevator instead of 4 floors of stairs.

    I also had my hours cut at a tutoring lab because some mothers were convinced that in a room with 5 adults and 20 kids ranging from 4-18, I was a danger. Not for any history, but simply for the external nature of my plumbing.

  63. Cherry June 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    I was molested by a neighbor boy, chased by a teenager wielding a knife and my friend’s step dad groped me and a couple of friends and actually DID molest his step daughter. Apparently, I should be an emotional wreck. I survived all these incidents and am more leery than most people. I have subsequently discovered that most all of the women I have questioned about childhood abuse have had absolutely NO incidences of molestation whatsoever. After hearing that my case was the exception, rather than the rule, I was able to let my daughter spend the night with friends and she is so happy and confident. We all see the world through the filter of our experiences and need to remember that most people are good and trustworthy. I can’t let my bad experiences affect my daughter’s whole life.

  64. Tony Burns June 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    No sleep overs? A great way to create paranoid adults. Do these parents ever think long term?

  65. hineata June 30, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Oh, gosh, I just went back and read the actual link to the first article. I have been what would be termed in NZ a ‘fundamentalist’ Christian (short for believes the Bible, and follows much of it – never wore a veil, submits to my husband only when it suits me, LOL!:-)), but honestly most of us here would be chucked out of this type of US form of Christianity in milliseconds….

    Reading it reminded me of a pastor from a large city in the UK, who after a conference in the States remarked that the mid-West town the conference was held at was more Christian than Heaven! He was so homesick for his ‘pagan’ city, LOL, that he was tremendously relieved to find a punk at Starbucks :-). The sad part of that story was that she told him he was the first Christian to talk to her over the course of the conference – and this was toward the end of a conference that featured some ‘big names’ in evangelical Christianity.

    I don’t know, the whole isolationist thing always really bothered me, and still does. There are good and bad in every race, religion and strata on the planet – why would you want to isolate your kids from others who aren’t your creed/colour/religion etc.? A few of my boy’s best friends over the years have been Muslim, the cousins and Grandma are Buddhists, some friends (and my dad, actually :-)) had gang connections, most of the people we know are ordinary types.

    Interestingly for the woman who wrote the first link, the sexual abuse one of her daughters suffered was at the hands of what appears to have been (if I read it correctly) a respected church elder….just the kind of ‘safe’ person, who presumably shared her beliefs. Well, maybe not all of them, after all!

  66. hineata June 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Sorry, the point of the above was that I think this no sleepover business stems from the isolationist form of evangelical Christianity, which has probably been pointed out above.

    Also I agree with John – James Dobson is (well, was) not such a bad bloke. I say ‘was’ because I haven’t read any of his recent stuff, so he might have gone loco, but the older stuff I found pretty practical when the kids were little, totally normal compared to the two ‘swings’ represented by William Sears and Gary Esso, both of whom I stupidly read too.

    And while it is non-PC to admit it, I also believe there is a distinct difference between something like what colour you’re born as, and who you are attracted to (both of which are not choices) and what acts you engage in. Homosexual orientation is most likely not a choice – engaging in homosexual sex, just like engaging in heterosexual sex, most certainly is a choice. I could be attracted to the married bloke next door – assuming he was also attracted to me, it would be a choice to follow through and sleep with each other, thus becoming ‘adulterers’, and upsetting all sorts of people. The issue is these days sex is such a part of the culture that we seem to think having sex with whomever we fell like whenever we feel like is some kind of absolute necessity.

    It isn’t. It might be a lot of fun at the time, but it isn’t a biological necessity.

  67. E June 30, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    I read one of the articles and see that they are coming from a very all encompassing (yet narrow) viewpoint. So for people with like minds…well no amount of anything is going to change that.

    I’ll say that I do think the “sleepovers” have been taken to a whole new level these days with the frequency and number involved.

    As teens, I see the gravitation of “sleepovers” to whomever has parents that either don’t care or are too stupid to keep the kids from drinking. One one hand, sleeping over keeps the kids from dealing with driving issues, but on the other, it condones excessive drinking since they can just crash in place.

    I never once worried about my kids sleeping over as elem/middle school kids, but I admit I didn’t like the HS sleepovers at people’s home where I knew they drank a lot, and allowed their kids and friends to do so (as long as they didn’t drive). Sure, I can expect my kids to abstain, but that’s a tough sell when you are getting a green light by another adult and you don’t have to see your own parents at the end of the night. We ended up just limiting the number of times they could spend the night out because the lack of sleep was becoming an issue.

  68. George Kurtz June 30, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Back in the pre-internet days, a sleepover consisted of me calling my parents and telling them I wouldn’t be home because I was staying with a classmate. If it was someone new, they’d ask for the phone number. The might have checked with the host parents while I was really young, but I know they trusted me to say I was invited by fourth grade.

    So we’d hang out and, if it was a school night, go to school together in the morning. (And yes, I’d wear the same clothes the next day, ooh, scary!)

  69. Nic June 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    How do we give children the chance to listen to their inner voice that tells them if a situation makes them feel uncomfortable, and the chance to respond appropriately if it does, if they have you hovering over them and ticking off safety checklists for each experience?

  70. Natasha Batsford June 30, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    I actually laughed when I read the title, but having reached the end of the quotes passage I’m not laughing any more.

    “Child abuse is so rampant today and so pervasive” … is it though? IS IT?

    I wish people would use evidence rather than scare tactics.

  71. Shari June 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Our only rule was that my Mom needed to have met the parents, or at least have spoken to them on the phone to make sure I was welcome. If she felt red flags, she would keep me home.

    My two worst childhood sexual attacks happened at camp by the hands of other kids. It was awful. I was mortified and crying. Does that mean no camp, ever? Did my parents yank me out and sue the camp? No way. My little sister ran to beat the boys up, some kids got kicked out, and the other showed his shame and remorse. We moved on and I fervently loved camp other than those days.

    Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but I think that most kids are going to encounter inappropriate sexual attention or touching at some point in their lives. They need to be taught that if it happens, it’s not the end of the world. Yes – recognize, resist, and report. Don’t let it define you.

    Abuse that scars kids for life is most likely abuse by a trusted person, especially if it happens repeatedly, or an extreme incident.

    The chance that a sleepover parent will go beyond an inappropriate touch or exposing the kid to adult material is, I think, remote, and is something the kid can learn to put in perspective.

    I feel like if your kid goes through a bad situation but you back them up and help them gain perspective and seek justice, they will bounce back less innocent but OK.

  72. Celeste June 30, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    I’m not a big fan of sleepovers; they make a huge mess of the house and the kids are usually a wreck/pain in the butt the day after due to lack of sleep. When I was a kid in the late 70s/early 80s, I had plenty of sleepovers and a few of them got a bit weird: once I saw my friend’s father walk across the hallway in the nude; another time my friend’s mom asked us (my friend and I) to take a bath together – which made me feel uncomfortable; and then of course there were R rated movies that showed naked ladies and stuff before I was officially allowed to see such things. I navigated each situation though and I still wouldn’t ban sleepovers entirely for my kids. In essence, I agree with Nic: children need to be taught how to care for themselves, secure in the knowledge that they can come to you with anything; then they should be given normal degrees of freedom so they can have the chance to experience life, trust their instincts, and act accordingly if something feels not right.

  73. CrazyCatLady July 1, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    K, it sounds like you need to get to actually know the men that your female friends are married to, (or the dads of the kids that your child is friends with.) Maybe start with a BBQ at your place or the park on a weekend when the fathers/men can come. If you actually get a chance to really talk with the men, you probably would have a different opinion of them.

    I say this as a mom at the park who did not shun the stay at home dads who came to the park with their kids. (The wives either had a really good job that didn’t make sense for them to stay home, or they alternated shifts with the wife and were the ones available to take their kids to the park program.) MOST men are JUST as responsible as their wives. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be meeting these wives during the day – they would be at work because their men can’t hold a job.

    And women drink to. More in some parts of the country than others. It may wine instead of beer, but as in France, the wives, just like the husband, are not drinking to get drunk like teenagers.

    Oh, and to back this all up, this is why men’s car insurance goes down as they get older, and after they get married. Because statistically, they are less likely to drive drunk and make stupid decisions. Ask your car insurance person.

    As to the jails…I suspect that you will see that most offenders (male and female, other than for a few white collar crimes) tend to end up there when they were young, stupid and before marriage. Just at the same ages that car insurance is most expensive. To address why male, it is because men do mature more slowly than women, and as a gender may be more prone to risk taking at a later age than women are. Once an adult…they are charged as an adult. Regardless of gender.

  74. MichaelF July 1, 2014 at 4:12 am #

    “Child abuse is so rampant today and so pervasive that you just can’t afford to run the risk.”

    Sounds like an epidemic, call the CDC

  75. Let Her Eat Dirt July 1, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    Our kids are still little, so we haven’t done any non-family sleepovers but I look forward to having my kids enjoy the experience. As a dad with daughters, I can understand folks being leery of sending their girls over to a house where they may be older brothers — teenage boys can be crazy! But part of the fun and importance of sleepovers is to experience a different family’s lifestyle and do things that you might not get to do at home. Sure, as the kids get older there may be silly (but mostly harmless) hijinks like a brother mooning the kids or even (the horror!) same-sex experimentation, but those are part of growing up.

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    A dad’s take on raising tough, independent girls

  76. Mrs. H. July 1, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    But it’s okay if someone shows my child pictures of naked people during an afternoon play date?

    I think the people writing these things show an appalling lack of imagination (or maybe just garden-variety puritanism) if they think sexual activity is only possible after dark. Why, I’ve had some of my best, most mind-blowing…

    oh, never mind. Think of the children!

  77. Christina July 1, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I love sleepovers. Loved them as a kid. Love having them at my house now that I have kids. Love having my kids gone for a whole night. We usually have one every other month at our place. Ditto for kiddos going to a friend’s house. We don’t live near family, so I feel like it’s an important experience for them.

  78. John July 1, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    @Cherry & @Shari…..I’m certainly sorry to hear what you ladies went thru during your childhoods regarding the sexual assaults. BUT aren’t you offended at people who assume, because of your SEXUAL assaults, that you’re “ruined for life”? Now I LOVE uncle Bill O’Reilly and agree with him on most issues BUT he drives me absolutely insane when he describes a kid who was sexually assaulted as “ruined for life”. If what they went thru wasn’t bad enough, here you have people who claim to have sympathy for them place a “ruined for life” label on them. Does that really help their cause? O’Reilly is certainly not the only one who sprouts the “ruined for life” label as many people nowadays assume this everytime a child is SEXUALLY touched in any way shape or form.

    “Gee Betty, you really qualify for this teaching position and are a very smart person and I really sympathize with what you went thru as a child BUT I can’t take a chance in hiring you because….you’ve been “ruined for life” and might pose a danger to the kids.”

    Now I realize there are some forms of sexual assault, i.e. sodomy, anal rape, that definitely have the potential to deeply affect a child well into adulthood BUT that’s certainly not a given because kids generally are resilient and can put the past well behind them. I just feel that people are rubbing sand paper into their wounds by ASSUMING they’re “ruined for life”.

    When I was 16, a male hair dresser put his hands down my pants and fondled me during a late afternoon appointment at his salon. I just slapped his hands and told him I wasn’t interested and then got my haircut someplace else next time. Obviously an uncomfortable situation for me but it would be absolutely ridiculous to say that it “ruined me for life” and it’s also ridiculous to say that it even affected me. Just one of those awkward moments as a teenager.

    @Jenny….James Dobson might be a bit over reactive when it comes to children and sexual abuse like most child psychologists and counselors are but he has NEVER condoned or promoted animal abuse. I have no idea what you’re reading or where you’re getting your information from or what you’re taking out of context.

  79. Uly July 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Dobson wrote about beating up his elderly dog because the dog didn’t want to sleep in the “approved” doggie bed.

    The information comes right from his own book. The man advocates child abuse, and has no compunction about publishing details of animal abuse.

  80. Melinda Tripp July 1, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Gee Lenore, do you think you hit a nerve?
    Common sense people!
    Do you know the people? Like their kids!?
    Trust your child?
    If you had a positive experience at slumber parties , you are more likely to allow your child to go.
    Personally I had good experiences. However my daughters, are very different , one slept over and went to camp…the other did not sleep away from home much till she married……just know your kids, use your instincts. The one comment about the parent with anger issues hit home for me,
    My first husband had terrible temper issues and My niece and nephews were not allowed to stay over
    Because of it…so again…your kids, your family, do what is best for each of them.

  81. Jenny Islander July 1, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    @John: The Strong-Willed Child, /i> first edition, pp. 11-15. The passage is written by Dobson in the first person and clearly describes Dobson hitting his dog with a belt because in his opinion the only way to gain his dog’s compliance was to “threaten him with destruction.” I understand that Dobson may have had it removed from later editions. However, he has never to my knowledge recanted it.

    Dobson prefaces his anecdote with a list of reasons why his dog deserved to be beaten, which he summarizes as “not pulling his own weight in the family.” Anybody who is not a misopedist who can’t tell the difference between a dog and a child can tell that the list boils down to things that the dog–a 12-pound Dachshund–was not physically or mentally able to do, and things that it might have been able to do if Dobson had actually been able to teach instead of simply commanding and getting frustrated. Also, the dog’s attitude to Dobson is in no way the attitude of a dog toward the leader of the pack;* either it had a mental problem that made it incapable of forming such a relationship, or Dobson screwed it up. Furthermore, according to Dobson, the “moral” of his anecdote is this:

    Just as surely as a dog will occasionally challenge the authority of his leaders, a little child is inclined to do the same thing, only more so.

    Hence the belt.

    You may only have read the Dobson who pretends that he never said that. Nobody who endorses Dobson in his original unaware self-revelation gets a pass from me.

    *”Alphas” and “omegas” are an artifact of throwing a bunch of unrelated dogs or wolves together in a confined area. Free-living packs acknowledge as leader the one who makes sure that the pack has food and shelter, reassures the frightened, and gently but firmly redirects unruly behavior. In other words, a parent.

  82. Jerry July 2, 2014 at 12:57 am #

    I currently live in my own house with my girlfriend. One night she invited her niece to come spend the night with us because she had not seen the house yet. Her niece wanted to bring her best friend along. My girlfriend knew the family and so it was no big deal. I spent the night watching baseball in a different room and they spent the night eating ice cream and watching funny movies. I joined them for a few minutes until they informed me that the living room is the girls room and I had to leave.

    I would be willing to bet that this is the kind of things that happen in 99.99% of all sleep overs.

  83. Robert Monroe, Jr. July 2, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    My wife is a clinical social worker and, over the years, has had a few girls in her office who have made false charges of sexual abuse after going on sleep-overs at someone’s home. It always comes down to the girls lying to get attention from their parents but, before that happens, the accused is questioned by police, humilated, etc. Because of that, my wife has said that we will not have any sleep-overs at our home. And, I’m fine with that.

  84. John July 2, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    @Uly and @Jenny…..I don’t have time to get in any peeing contests over this but Uly, I read thru your links and I still say that Dobson is being taken way out of context. If you honestly believe that he’s referring to children being “crushed” in a literal sense (perhaps by a bulldozer?) and not figuratively (like maybe sent to his room at 2 PM on a sunny afternoon to stay there the rest of the night?) then I really can’t help or convince you otherwise. And neither can I help you if you honestly believe that Dobson is calling for the literal “destruction” of family pets.

    When I was a youngster, there were occasions when my father slapped me across the face for talking back. There were also occasions when he picked me up and spanked me on the behind (when I was 5-years-old and threw a scissors at him). THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT AND IT IS NOT CHILD ABUSE!! I’d like to believe that I’m a better person today because of it. Now there are some parents who choose not to strike their kids. There is nothing wrong with that either. As long as they have an effective way of changing their child’s miscreant behavior. But some kids are battle-hardened and do not respond to mild forms of discipline. In that case, I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to step up the discipline and I don’t know why that’s so hard for you to understand. Spankings can hurt but so can falling off a bicycle. In fact, I’ve had friends whose fathers actually took a belt to them! This form of discipline was not uncommon in the 1960s even though I personally would not go to that extreme with my kid. But these kids all turned out fine and are now respectable adults who love their elderly parents despite of being whacked by them with the belt when they were kids!

    There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with a parent getting physical with their child as long as it is done within reason. Some parents spank their kids and some parents might jack their obnoxious kid up against the wall while telling him to behave himself. Then there are some parents who just take away their kid’s cell phone and then there are some parents who will do both! Whatever is effective for that particular family The problem is, we’ve been brainwashed nowadays to believe that spanking kids is evil and will scar them for life!

  85. Uly July 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    John, how does a kid become “battle hardened” without their parents being the one to escalate the “discipline”? And if it DOES have to be escalated, clearly it isn’t working, so why are they still doing it?

    Furthermore, there is NO context that justifies beating up a small animal. Simply none. However, even if there were, the context in THIS case shows that it is a pattern of abuse that he directs towards those weaker than him – his pets and children. Have you *read* his book? No? Well, then, you’re in luck! There is a woman who grew up under this form of abuse who is right now going through his book The Strong Willed Child and blogging about it.

    Enjoy! And don’t pontificate again until you have some idea what you’re talking about.

  86. derfel cadarn July 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Put simply the majority of children are abused by someone they know, very likely someone in the family. This shoots your entire line of “thinking”(word used loosely) out of the water. I would suggest strongly that the writer seek counseling ASAP

  87. Jenny Islander July 2, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    @Uly: I initially read the “No? Well, then you’re in luck!” as “Lucky you, you never experienced the direct unfiltered id of Dobson.” He isn’t as nakedly creepy as, say, Pearl, or as blusteringly dismissive of criticism as Ezzo, but they all come from the same place: They frame the care of a nonverbal, bed-bound, utterly socially naive, effectively quadruplegic person with an incomplete brain as, “This person has arrived in my home with the pre-framed intent to diminish and overthrow me and must be broken to his place.”

  88. John July 3, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    @Uly….yes, I have read his book and I do know what I’m talking about! You’re blowing things out of context!

  89. Jenny Islander July 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    Please explain the context in which a grown man beating a 12-pound short-legged dog is okay.

  90. CorningNY July 8, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    I think sleepovers are fine, if you know the parents and the children involved. The one thing I would worry about is guns in the home. It would be uncomfortable, but I would ask the parents if they had guns in the home, and if so, if the guns were locked up with the ammunition locked up separately.