In Defense Of Slumber Parties

Going to slumber parties used to be a fun thing, well, unless you were the girl who got her undies put in the fridge, or the first to fall asleep, or the one who cried because they were doing drugs in “Footloose” (that was me). I guess slumber parties were not always that fun — groups of girls can be a**holes — but they weren’t exactly damaging either. There’s a piece in The New York Times this week about the “emotional bloodshed” slumber parties can cause kids. Separation anxiety, bullying, and attention deficit disorder are cited as reasons to be wary of sending your child to a sleepover.

“This night away from home, this now iconic childhood activity — a step toward mock independence and at the same time an intense exposure to peer standards and pressures — defies simple guidelines but calls for family conversations which range from individual medical issues to social norms and parental judgment.”

I know I’m not a parent, so I may not have all the facts, but really? Has it gotten to the point where kids can’t handle slumber parties? I understand wanting a child with legitimate medical or emotional issues to sit the slumber parties out, but to treat them as dangerous or damaging seems crazy. Parents, feel free to jump in here if there is something I haven’t considered.

I was a sensitive child who experienced bullying every once in a while, who attended slumber parties regularly, and had fun most of the time. And the times that I didn’t? I got over it. I don’t look back fondly on the memory of having my hand dunked in warm water and peeing the bed at a slumber party with older girls, but I have moved on. What I remember more vividly was the sleepover where I prank called QVC and got on the air (one of the proudest moments of my life) or the one when we spent an entire evening learning the African Anteater Ritual from “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Maybe things have changed, but I think it’s unwise to shelter children from their peers. In fact, in doing so, I think we’re making them more neurotic. You can’t stop children from being d**ks to each other, but you can teach them the best coping skills possible, the kind that can be practiced at slumber parties. [NY Times]