The latest victim of parental terror? Sleepovers. According to this AP story by Kelli Kennedy, parents are afraid of everything from junk food to “inappropriate” movies, to Internet surfing, to the possibility of their children being drugged and raped.
The modern parental thinking method applies: Since a drugging/fondling incident DID happen once, and since it was ON THE NEWS, it must be happening ALL THE TIME, and it could POSSIBLY, even PROBABLY, happen to MY kid, so in order to avoid this fate, I must PROTECT my child by glue-gunning her to my side. (Ouch!)
Now, as I hope you know, Free-Range Kids does not say that horrible things never happen. It does say (I does say?) that basing our parenting decisions on worst-case scenarios does not make us better parents. It makes us the parents of kids who don’t get to do much. Who think the world is crawling with creeps. Who say things like the 9-year-old I just heard of: “I can’t go outside! Someone will kidnap me.”
How can you keep your kids safe on an overnight? The AP article quotes Michele Borba, author of “12 Simple Secrets Moms Know,” who gave pretty simple advice: Get to know the family. If they seem normal, let your kid go. Remind her (or him) that she can stand up for herself if something gross happens. And that she can always talk to you about anything weird or upsetting that she did and you won’t be mad.
There. Now I, too, am talking as if going on a sleepover at a friend’s house is like spending the night in Attica. From what I remember, there’s a lot less throwing chairs and a lot more throwing pillows. — Lenore