Kids and slumber parties seem as sweet and traditional as Mom’s apple pie and getting a tan while watching a baseball game, huh?
Blame it on Grease, or maybe personal experience, I’ve always assumed our girls would eventually age to the time when they would have sleep overs complete with giggles, pranks, and outrageous memories. (I’m not sure why I assumed this; every slumber party I attended as a youth involved games of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” scary stories, or attempts at making an Ouija Board move. Guys I know have said they had their first exposure to pornography as a child at overnights. These are not awesome activities for children.)
Despite expectations and the accepted traditions of my childhood, I’m questioning whether we’ll allow the girls to have or attend slumber parties while they’re still living in our home and we have a say in their activities. The hairs on my arms are standing straight up and there’s a creepy-crawly feeling at the back of my neck.
Yesterday I read several blog posts about why parents should think long and hard before they let their kids attend sleep overs. (I Don’t Trust Parents Outside My Circle; The Safe List – And Why You’re Not On It, among others.) James Dobson had already gotten into my head on the subject — he speaks out against slumber parties in his book Bringing Up Girls because you just can’t determine with certainty what will happen in another person’s home or the motives of everyone present.
The world is changing. People are pushing boundaries and not exhibiting self-control. Kids are suffering… and by suffering, I mean case after case is coming to light of kids being molested while at sleep overs.
It’s not all pillow fights and fingernail painting.
I’m not into fear mongering and I genuinely despise distrusting the folks around me, but I can’t help but wonder: what is needless fear and what is cautious wisdom when it comes to this issue? Can we predict the moment innocence is destroyed and protect against it by saying “no”?
Years ago someone close to us, someone we trusted completely, molested his daughter. I am, to this day, baffled that I never suspected him capable of this type of wrong.
Me, with my high levels of paranoia and suspicion… I had no idea.
I made a mistake in my judgment then that still haunts me. Today I will do anything to protect my children from a mistake in judgment again. That may mean I go to an extreme length, to ban sleep overs for fun from our family activity list.
(I do put slumber parties in a different category from emergency issues like hospital visits and such. I’m talking about a gaggle of pimply creatures wanting to push boundaries and act silly while sleeping 45 minutes for the night just for the sheer joy of experience.)
Because I’ve spent a bit of time fretting about pajama parties, I shared the current instigating posts via Facebook. A friend who works with the juvenile justice system saw the links and wrote me a note:
“Of the 14 felony and/or misdemeanor sex offender teens I have had on my caseload, all 14 were first offended on as children by a family member – usually within the home or close extended family. Another three who were referred on other alleged felony charges (not sex related) also reported to have been molested by a family member as well.
I don’t know the national stats but, so far, in 100% of my cases that have anything to do with sexual abuse, it has been a member of the family (the majority of these being middle class families).
And that is what I find scary. You truly do not know what sin and sickness lies in the hearts of those around you – even family. Especially family. We’re taught to be cautious of strangers and trust family – but trust does not mean being blind, it should be paired with a discerning and watchful eye.”
The idea of distrusting people to this degree… well, it rubs me the wrong way. I want to believe that people are good and protective of children! And yet…
…truth is truth. I don’t know any parents who would take their kid to a truck stop half dressed and leave them there to hitch-hike home. But I know a lot of parents who would trust their friends and family members to watch their kids overnight. And what if the outcome is the same?
The U.S. is leading the world in human trafficking and sexual crimes. Huge numbers of men and women are addicted to pornography. These crimes are not taking place in some inner city somewhere or in someone else’s neighborhood, they are in our living rooms, on our streets, prompted anonymously via internet, smart phones and magazines; fantasy appears in reality as our friends, cousins, PTA members and politicians search for the next big adrenaline high… and use our children to satisfy their sickness.
These are not the isolated incidents by ungodly people. I know with certainly there are at least four cases — within my immediate circle of influence — of adults who have admitted to being victims of molestation/sexual abuse that took place at church or youth group activities. In church. Where people are supposed to be trustworthy and God-fearing.
Ay-yi-yi. (Proof we’re all sinners in need of radical heart change and grace.) This is not a safe world where people “eat rainbows and poop butterflies” and everyone sings “Kumbaya” or “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
Deep breath. (As this post is at risk of turning into a ramble of fear.) Here are my take aways:
- It’s going to be very, very hard for me to ever have the kids sleep away from us. I’m also not going to offer to have other kids at our house just for fun. In cases of emergency, etc., I have a different standard. But fun overnights? Nope. I’m planning to squash those with abandon.
- There is brokenness inside of each of us. Humans are painfully messed up and capable of atrocity. The most horrible news story you’ve ever read? Guess what? I’m capable of that act — and so are you. It is only by the grace of God we have self-control and don’t regularly indulge in evil; I don’t want to ever take that for granted.
Now that I’ve scared you with my fears run amuck, I’ll do my best to return to my regularly scheduled humor posts. But before I go…
Do you have reservations about sleep overs? Or were they the best part of your childhood and you feel you’ll be robbing your kids without them? What are your take aways?