3 Tricks to Try in the Event of a Tween Sleepover

By: Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner

Mom, Can I Sleep at Jack’s Tonight?

Ah, sleepovers…the epicenter, thus far, of peer pressure and questionable teenage behavior in my son’s life. As my kids have gotten older, I realize that I was unprepared for the transition from the little kid mega-event of a sleepover to the casual, “Mom, can I sleep at ____’s tonight.” This new, impromptu “crashing at someone’s house” version of sleepovers can bring along with it a series of puzzling (and maybe even disturbing) scenarios that will make you ask—both of your kid and of the host parents—“Really???” Read more >

Here’s are some scenarios that I know to have definitely happened during one of these impromptu events:

  • Sleeping in your clothes on the floor, an ottoman, or someone’s legs
  • Contests to see who can stay up the latest (5:30 a.m. is the record)
  • Watching R-rated movies
  • Five boys eating six pounds of gummy bears
  • Lots and lots of energy drinks (Monster, Red Bull, Mountain Dew???!!!)
  • Sneaking out to run around outside in the middle of the night
  • Walking (with the host-parents’ permission—not mine) to a nearby strip mall after curfew without adult supervision
  • A dad, who when I called the next morning to say I was coming to pick up my son, didn’t even know he was there

My advice to you on how to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made falls into three simple practices:

1. Set guidelines and send kids home if they don’t follow them. Make rules that are comfortable for you and check them out with your kids, your kids’ friends, and the other parents involved. One very important guideline is whether or not the sleepover will be co-ed, both boys and girls (which, by the way, is a growing trend!)

At what age are co-ed sleepovers appropriate? Find out what other ParentFurther readers are saying >

2. If possible, host at your house more often than letting your kids go somewhere else. Did you know January is National Mentoring Month? Sleepovers can be exhausting for parents who are highly involved, but they also give you a great chance to positively influence your kids’ friends. Have a snack or a meal together; ask them about themselves and what’s going on in their lives; make your behavior expectations clear in kind, direct ways.

Get more tips for connecting with kids >

3. When your child goes somewhere else for a night, be the “dork parent” who asks a ton of questions and introduces yourself to the other parents. Always. Just go to the door. Even if your kid begs you not to. It’s so worth it to get a feel for the home, the adults present, and the other kids. Also, get an adult’s phone number. I’ve tried relying only on my son’s cell phone, but have realized that it’s best to have an adult’s number in case my son can’t (or won’t) answer his phone. Finally, ask about planned activities and require your kid to tell you if they go anywhere other than where they’ve said they’ll be.

Fortunately for me, my kids talk a lot. I only know all of the things I mentioned above because my son experienced them, felt in each case like something wasn’t quite right, and told me so. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out until after the fact.

His younger sister is going to be bummed when she figures out how savvy I’ve gotten.


1. “Losing Sleep over Co-Ed Sleepovers?” via Education.com.
2. National Mentoring Month
3. Image via lady_lbrty on Flick’r.

I am continually disappointed and downright frustrated by the parent who has your child over for what is supposed to be a few hours, and then when it’s time for THEM to drive my kid home (as agreed upon), suddenly there is an invitation to have a sleep over extended to my child, rather than being extended through me.

I’m sorry, but what ever happened to courtesy or an invitation at an hour more reasonable than 9pm? Or speaking directly to the other patent??? Grrrr. Erks me to no end!


Mothers are really going into a trouble for this behavior of children. Since the teens with growing ages are becoming naughty and naughty under the influence of friends and just disregarding the feelings and orders of parents. Child’s friends and relatives have a major effect on the child due to new interests on the outside world. Parents can guide their children on this but forcibly we can not indulge the thing on our children. Our step to this is to give more time to our teens because I have see that if we don’t find much time for our children then there is maximum chances of the children being go into bad relationships. So the firm responsibility is to give time for our children. Children do make their sleepless nights and lot out at other parents houses with other kids, but I can say that these above points are really the required things to follow and to get it into the mind too.


Hi, Jennifer! Great advise and really easy to remember. I have couple of other tips that have helped me. My husband and I are raising 2 kids (13 and 6). The oldest has had countless sleep-overs (never co-ed) in her career as a social butterfly. As part of that we come up with two rules above and beyond the tips you’ve shared. Rule #1 – When you ask to have a sleep over the person you want to invite (or their parent) must not be in hearing distance. I don’t want peer pressure (other parent to me or other kid to me) to say YES when there is a good reason not to. Rule #2 – I MUST meet the other parent before I commit to the sleepover. So, if it’s a phone call or email – I must have some sort of communication with the other parent. In that communication I ask “will you be at home during the sleep over? Do you have any rules at your house that I (and my daughter) should know about? What can my daughter bring to your house to share – movie, games, candy, pop corn, etc.?

Our (my husband and I) mantra is “We are DORKS and we are proud!”

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