Sleepovers. One of the most controversial topics in the parenting realm lately. While the great debate has many questioning if sleepovers are safe or harmful, it seems like more parents are opting for the no sleepover rule.

But when did sleepovers, previously considered a childhood rite of passage, become so problematic? 

Related: Mom goes viral on TikTok for ‘unpopular’ opinion about kids & sleepovers 

At some point, most children probably want to escape their day-to-day life and experience what it’s like to operate under someone else’s. They think about nights watching movies and eating popcorn with their best friend or playing hide-and-seek with their cousins long past their bedtime. But those experiences are growing far and few these days. So what changed? Why are more parents deciding no sleepovers?

Many parents have taken to TikTok to debate why they are choosing the no sleepover rule.


Reply to @flyingserpantkick Thank you for respectfully asking for clarification! #traumamama #nosleepovers

♬ original sound – _trauma.mama

Understandably, a lot of parents are more aware of the potential risks associated with them—and for many, those risks outweigh the benefits.

That statement stands true for me. I grew up in a time where my friends were having sleepovers practically every weekend, but my parents rarely allowed me to attend. As a kid, I didn’t understand why—likely because my parents never took the time to explain their reasoning. I resented them for quite some time, feeling like their decision made me miss out on a lot throughout my childhood. But as an adult with a child of my own now, I get it—and my “no sleepover” rule makes more sense because of it.

There’s so much going on in our world that I don’t want my kid exposed to. Oftentimes, I say that I want to protect him at all costs, but then I wonder about what the costs really are. With saying no sleepovers, am I depriving him of opportunities to expand his social palette? To become more independent? Will he understand my reasoning or grow to resent me because of it? If my decision helps to maximize his safety, does the rest really even matter? 

Related: Viral TikTok explains why more and more parents are saying no to sleepovers

I find myself teetering both sides of the argument, even though I believe more in the no sleepover rule. I don’t want my child feeling like he missed out on opportunities to foster deeper friendships like I did. I want him to have those memorable childhood experiences. But more than anything else in the world, I want to protect him. And sleepovers, in a way, are a form of relinquishing control and putting his safety into the hands of someone else—and that’s not always easy.

As a kid, I was sexually abused on multiple occasions—and yes, one of the occurrences happened at a sleepover. Now while I don’t want to look at life perpetually through that lens, while I don’t want to deprive my son of experiences based on what happened to me, while I don’t want to operate out of fear… I just can’t ignore the risks. And that’s where my current no-sleepover rule stems from.

Related: 8 essential ‘body safety’ rules to keep your kids safe 

There can be a lot of good that comes from our kids stepping out of their world and into someone else’s, but there’s also the possibility of them being exposed to the things that we try to protect them from. 

We have to weigh so many factors and unknown variables when it comes to sleepovers—and they seem endless. Things like sexual assault, weapon safety and substance use are just a few that pop into mind. And then you have to take into consideration your child’s age and communication levels as well as their understanding of right from wrong. Not to mention wondering about who else will be attending (like older siblings or other family members) and if the parents will be present at all times. 

And honestly, these dangers have likely always been present. But in the day and age of social media and helicopter parenting styles, we’re just a lot more aware of them.

With my son still being a toddler, I’m not comfortable allowing him to stay over anywhere at this age. On occasion (and this has only happened twice when my husband and I were out of town) he has stayed with my parents. While my husband is pretty relaxed about the debate and believes that if we know and trust the people our son is with, I still find myself full of parental sleepover anxiety.

Related: If you’re against sleepovers, give ‘sleepunders’ a try

Even when discussing sleepover rules and having conversations pertaining to weapon safety and other factors, allowing your child to stay elsewhere can still be nerve-wracking. As our son grows older, and as my husband and I help him understand things like bodily autonomy, right from wrong and speaking up for himself, my positioning may change and maybe I’ll become more relaxed. But only time will tell.

With that being said, I see why sleepovers have become such a great debate. There are a lot of pros and cons to weigh, and some see the risks more clearly than the benefits. But I believe everyone has a right to their own decisions for their children, even if it’s implementing a no-sleepover rule. Because at the end of the day, we know our families best and we set our boundaries accordingly. That’s all that matters.

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