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My 1st grader is wanting to spend the night with one of his school friends. How do I go about getting to know that family. I'm uncomfortable with him going until we meet. Am I being too careful?


Tina Nocera Replied: No, you are not being too careful. But honestly, if you ask most parents about sleepovers, the children rarely sleep. They often keep each other up all night which results in a cranky, possibly sick child the next day. Perhaps you can consider what is called a 'sleep under' which is where the child comes home (in PJs) later than normal but does not spend the night. You might ask the question, why do we even need a sleep-over?
Posted On 2007-09-08 06:52:32
Mark Borowski Replied: No, I don't think you're being too careful because you just never know and let's face it, they're probably total strangers. I think the best thing to do is explain to your son that when you have a new friend, you get to know him more first before doing something like a sleepover. Then you can simply have the kids play together on several occasions, and offer for them to play at your house first either after school or on the weekend. You'll get to know the parents through the phone conversations, drop off and pick up, etc. and by how their child acts while playing. You may also want to offer one of his parents to stay awhile during a play date like for a meal or something. You should also take the opportunity to drop your child off at their house and strike up a conversation and stay awhile. Another option is to be open about this upfront - by approaching the parents and mentioning that your son wants to sleep over with their son, but you'd prefer you all get to know each other a little first through some play dates, etc. They might appreciate that. Of course, they could also be on their "best behavior" during this time if there was something negative they wanted to conceal. Regards, Mark
Posted On 2007-09-07 16:59:20
Tara Paterson Replied: Dear parent, You can never be too careful when it comes to your child. I would suggest you pick up the phone and call his mom. You can get a good initial sense about her by your phone conversation. Be aware of any feelings you have while you are on the phone with her. Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel uneasy? You can also gather a lot of information from the dialogue. If you feel comfortable with her, be honest with her about the discomfort you felt in letting your child spend the night without knowing their family. She should understand and most likely would have felt the same way. If she doesn't understand, you may not want your child to stay there. Ask lots of questions until you feel at ease and comfortable. Ask your child questions about the child he wants to stay with. If you still aren't sure, you can ask their teacher in confidence about whether you should have any concern. The key is making contact and asking lots of questions. Hope this helps and good luck! Warmly, Tara Paterson, Parent Coach
Posted On 2007-09-07 09:25:27
Trish Booth, MA Replied: No, you are not being too careful. As your child expands his network of friends, it is important to know where he is going. That way you both can feel comfortable with his increasing independence. Perhaps rather than starting with spending the night, suggest a play date. This can be a short time after school or a longer time on a weekend. This will give you a chance to watch them play together as well as meet the new friend's parent. You can offer to have this play date at your house. Before the play date, think about what information about the family you would like to know. That way you can bring up these concerns when you talk with the parent during the drop off or pick up. Also think about what you want to share about your son. If you don't feel comfortable with an overnight at the friend's house after this encounter, you can suggest the overnight be at your house. Then, try to get to know the other parent better through a casual meeting or a shared adventure such as both families going to a park.
Posted On 2007-09-06 14:17:55
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