Help!

I don’t like to criticise other peoples parenting skills I really don’t. How they choose to parent, is their business. Who am I to judge? But when it comes to other peoples parenting affecting your children, what are you supposed to do? It can be so difficult.

This weekend, my son was invited to a pal’s house for a birthday sleepover and the thought of what he has been up to, just makes me cringe. But what can I do? Yes, it was a birthday so probably a complete one-off and yes, I am probably over-reacting (It has been known! Hehe!) But all the same, how do you handle other people’s parenting when it is so completely against what would be your own usual standards and boundaries?  

To start with, it was just a casual verbal invite from his friend at school and being in High School now, you just don’t get to meet other parents like you do at Primary School. It’s a whole different world, and one that I am still struggling to get used to.

When I asked my son if there was an actual invite, he looked at me like I was mad. ‘No, it’s just a bunch of us going for a sleepover.’ Oh, okay, so I’m supposed to send you off to goodness knows where,  with goodness knows who, until goodness knows when, just like that? So after a few texts back and forth between him and his friend, he conjured up a telephone number and address. I mean, I can’t be the only one who would want to speak to the parents of the child before letting my son sleepover? They are only twelve! Not even fully fledged teenagers yet. I mean, I’m not asking for a full CRB check here, I just want to know where my son will be for the weekend and have a contact number! So we did call his parents, and of course as expected, it was all fine and well so off he trotted for his sleepover.

We collected my son this morning and he looked as white as a sheet. Apparently, they stayed up all night long watching horror movies and playing horrific sounding X-box games and didn’t go to sleep until after breakfast. Oh, and they had a doner kebab for dinner – they were allowed to order whatever they wanted from the take-away *clutches chest*

Don’t get me wrong, it was a birthday treat, sleepovers aren’t renowned for their actual sleep element but there are treats and there are treats, right? If there was a complete opposite to what I let my son do – he found it all and more besides at his friend’s house! And he had a ball by all accounts!!

I just wouldn’t dream of letting my 12-year-old watch horror movies – I even censor pre-watershed soaps if I think there is a particularly hairy storyline coming up. I can’t be alone in this?

And yes, he does have a PlayStation and a Wii, but they are both downstairs and playing computer games is definitely a family thing – not a hidden away in their bedrooms for hours at a time thing. In fact, we don’t let the children have their own televisions in their rooms for that very reason – so we can see what they are playing – and how long they are playing for. And the games themselves – I wouldn’t dream of buying him a violent game – just the titles alone of the games that he’s been playing all night long sound horrific! But I can’t be the only parent to stick to the age guideline certificates can I? 

As for the junk food – yes, it was a party and a complete one-off and it is not the end of the world. But what is it about parties that make some parents throw complete abandon to all thoughts of what we feed our children and ply them full of junk and e numbers? I mean, in all honesty, there is never a time that I would even think to let my children order a doner kebab from a take away! But now I am sounding like a complete snob..

I am the first to admit that I am terribly protective of all four of my children and I am guilty of cotton wool parenting. I know I am! And I guess that without meaning to sound judgemental, my son’s friend obviously has parents at a completely different end of the parenting spectrum. And do you know what, when it comes to how they look after their child – I couldn’t care less how they do it!

My issue is, how do you handle it when somebody elses parenting is enforced on your child by circumstances such as a sleepover?

I can’t stop him from going to sleepovers can I? But should I really just have to cringe and bear it?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

I think because he is my eldest, we tend to encounter all sorts of ‘new’ problems with him and I guess it’s true that your inexperience as parents tends to make the eldest child the hardest done by. I don’t want to be the über strict parents and I certainly don’t want him to miss out on sleepovers and the like, but how can I let him go off and do all the things that I would never ever let him do at home in a million years?

Help!

34 thoughts on “Help!

  1. London City Mum says:

    I am planning on migrating to Outer Mongolia before my eldest hits his teens.

    At least he can converse with the yaks and take up yurt-building to tide him over into adulthood.

    Not sure what ‘I’ will do, but that’s beside the point.

    LCM x

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  2. Mary Contrary says:

    Sounds like you knew at least the kid, if not his parents, prior to the invitation. Since he didn’t seem like a complete fruitloop, I’d imagine the parenting he’d had wasn’t all that bad for him, and certainly won’t be all that bad as a one-off for your child.

    Really, just look at the kids. If they seem okay enough to hang out with yours, go ahead and let him go to sleepovers and whatnot. If he starts demanding doner kebabs and 15+ games, simply tell him that those are not kosher for the rules of your household.

    Kids will always want what their parents won’t give them, and isolating them will only add to the attraction. I do remember that, when I was his age, in the pre-technology era, horror stories were a great pastime, and I wasn’t much older than your son when I started on them. Didn’t turn me into a homicidal maniac either.

    The stricter parenting isn’t always the better. I respect the Waldorf education system, but television is completely verboten in it until the age of at least 7, and I simply don’t buy that my toddler will turn into a worthless bum because he watches a couple of hours’ worth of CBeebies a day. Heck, -I- have done a good share of learning by watching his shows.

    Two sides to every story, and all that jazz. Re: cotton-wool parenting… would you really want your kid to go all wild (that is, wilder than normal) once he’s away to college and slips the leash?

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      I really don’t want to be a strict parent but it seems to be so hard to find a balance between having clear rules of what you find to be acceptable without seeming overly strict. I agree with you completely that the stricter parenting isn’t always the better but it can be so hard.
      His friend does seem like a good kid and I’m sure it was all a one-off and you’re right, one sleepover really shouldn’t have such a huge affect on my son. But all the same it is quite hard to stomach!

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  3. becky says:

    I wouldn’t be letting my child back there in a hurry!

    I am not paranoid about certificates and do let my 6 & 3 year old watch 12s at home but only with me with them. I will only take them to cinema for U or PG films. Our only TV is in the living room so I can monitor what they watch.

    When my older step children used to stay their dad let them play 15 games on the Xbox even though they 12 or under. I think this is too young and I am sticking to 7 and under games with mine. If my husband wanted to play an 18 game he had to wait for me to go to bed!

    A bit of junk food is not too bad as a special treat but I’m sure one kebab wasn’t enough for a hungry 12 year old.

    Not got into sleep over territory just yet but not looking forward to it 😉

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  4. Mwa says:

    I remember seeing my first horror movie at 16 and being completely scared. I’m surprised 12yr olds would want to see them. I’m in no hurry for my 5yr old to get to that stage.

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      I guess there would be peer pressure between the boys to watch it too – it would be hard to stand up and say ‘I don’t want to watch a horror movie!’ And in all honesty, I suppose curiosity would kick in as well – forbidden fruit and all that.. My son knows that I would never let him watch scary films so if he gets the chance to – then it is inevitable that he would want to!

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  5. Sharon says:

    I know how you feel. I was really annoyed when my 3rd was about 3 years old and was climbing up onto a table outside. My brother in law smacked him (only on his hand) and pulled him off it. I couldn’t believe that he’d smacked MY child! But he was just reacting the way he would if it had been his son, and was worried that he might fall. It took me a long time to calm down after that, I would NEVER dream of smacking someone else’s child, even if I did it to my own.

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  6. TheMadHouse says:

    OK I think I am a little with Mary on this one, if the child was all that bad then it would have been a no without even phoning the parents.

    I am ok with the food, one off and all that, but not the movies and games.

    But we can not push our expectations on to other parents. You are raising him and a one off thing shouldnt effect everything, but saying this I am dreading it ith my two

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      Good point, his friend seems a lovely young thing and you’re right, it was a one-off but it is all still a bit eek! I think sometimes it can come as a bit of a shock to hear of other parenting that is so the complete opposite of your own and then the thought of you putting your trust in them to ‘parent’ your child, even if just for a sleepover, it is a bit scary to be honest!

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  7. Holly at Itsamummyslife says:

    poor you that’s horrible. I really feel for you, I bet he didn’t really want to be watching horror films all night either, most probably wanted to get some kip at some point but the peer pressure makes it all so much worse. I would be horrified too. It is actually horrifying. Hope you have a good week despite this. x

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  8. JulieB says:

    Interesting dilemma, and one I hope I won’t have to face for a long time (buries head in sand). I think if I were in that situation I would be relaxed in the first instance and hope it was a one-off, but explain to my child why I felt uncomfortable about it if they ever wanted to do something similar at home.

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      That’s pretty much how I have handled it to be honest as I really don’t want him to be put off from telling me things in the future in case he thinks I won’t let him go on another sleepover etc because that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve tried hard to play it all cool while inside I’ve been screaming ‘Noooooooo!’

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  9. Lindsey says:

    OK So I love your blog but I live in the states. Florida to be exact. I searched “doner kebab” I think I’m missing out on why ordering one for dinner is bad. It looks like what I think of as a gyro. Are they that horrible.
    Growing up over here might lead to cultural differences but as far as horror movies. I remember growing up watching the cult classics Poltergeist series of movies, the Friday the 13ths, the Nightmare on Elm St series. It was all started by Micheal Jackson’s Thriller video to start my love of Horror films.
    So this is my opinion.
    If watching a Horror movie, at 12, is the worst thing you have to worry about then maybe I live in the wrong country. At 12 most pre-teens are starting to think about sex(scary thought.) In my opinion I am way more worried about “real life” situations that could have occurred at this party. A obvious “fictional” horror film would be my last concern. I would focus on what were the ages of the other children at this party. Maybe the birthday boy has older brothers, of driving age. Do I know that they will not be able to leave. If they leave will they be supervised. Not that a 12 year old would come up with such rebellious actions on his own but surrounded by older teenagers leads to pear pressure. And young girls are even more scary. I believe the average age for girls in the US to lose there virginity is down to 14. So scary to think about. I do consider myself a “strict” parent but unless this “doner kebab” is made from marijuana then I think the sleep over sounds pretty standard.
    P.S. I do agree with you on the video games. Some contain way to graphic material, not suitable for children or young adults.
    Regards,
    Maybe living in the wrong country.

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      Do you know what, I’ll be the first to admit that I can over-react and yes, I know it wasn’t the end of the world and all things considered, maybe it wasn’t so bad. But hopefully the scary ‘real life’ situations you mention there are still some time off yet – he is only 12!
      I certainly don’t mean to be strict in my parenting – but I guess compared to some then my way is quite strict but hey, I’m doing my best : )

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  10. Nickie@Typecast says:

    I’m so glad that Lindsay posted prior to me 😉 I agree with almost everything she said and I’m in the UK, as you know.

    This isn’t an either/or situation – it’s what you feel comfortable with but I can guarantee that the way you parent your eldest child will not be the way you parent subsequent children.

    If you’re not happy about what happened then mention it to the parents. I don’t for one minute believe that they let their child watch horror movies all the time and let him play 18-rated X-box games but I do think that they may have let him get away with it for one night as a treat with his mates because he probably told them that “all his mates get x,y,z” 😉

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      I totally get what you are saying there and that is a really good point – I know it was probably a one-off for his birthday but it’s all still a bit – eek! I think I am sometimes too keen to dismiss the ‘all my mates can do/have etc’ lines and don’t let that ever sway my decisions but I guess that’s just my way.

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  11. Shafeena says:

    Again, as a really young and inexperienced mother, i don’t have much to add, its just maybe because i sort of am closer and remember more of how i felt when i was in my teens. That Once you have your values set in your kids, they draw their own lines. You cant control their every situation, but you can set your bases and standards on how they react to them. The best you can do is i guess teach 😀 and hope they learn

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      It is really hard because you hope that you have taught them right from wrong, and hope that you can trust them when you are not around. I think it is quite a difficult age as it’s so hard to let go and not be in control of every little part of their lives anymore – it’s all new to me that’s for sure!

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  12. Sally says:

    Hi,

    As a parent of a 4yo, I don’t have much useful to add, except – sometimes realising that other families do things in different ways is a positive experience for kids. Why not use the experience as a starting point for discussion with your son – what did HE think of the rules at his friend’s house, and does he have a better understanding of why your rules are the way they are, as a result?

    This could backfire horribly, but I’d be tempted to talk about how tired he was the next day, or whether he was still hungry after dinner.

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      It’s funny you should say that because he actually said himself the next day how tired he was and although it might have been fun, maybe staying up all night isn’t such a good idea! Bless him! It’s hard as well because I don’t want to be the finger wagging ‘told you so’ sort of parent, I just hope he can see for himself why we do things differently at home.

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  13. Susan Mann says:

    I have read this a few times and I still don’t know what to say to help. I’m not in that situation yet but my newphew who is 15 has been on many many sleepovers. They never seem to sleep, there are def no kebabs but there is junk food. I think if it’s a one off it’s fine but not knowing where he is staying is a big no no. Good luck and by the time my two get there I will be coming to you for advice. xx

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  14. Nova says:

    I’ve always been really careful with other people’s children checking that they are allowed to watch a certain film for example, Harry Potter, when they are 10 or 11….but I have been shocked in the past that my son has been allowed to watch 15’s at other houses when he was a lot younger. I am funny with soaps too, we just don’t have them on at all. Now computer games….my sons play games that they are not supposed to but I do monitor their behaviour. They are now 13 and 16.
    Alcohol at other people’s house is my new issue and worry with my 16 year old….gulp!
    I’d try not to worry too much, and it’s not something you allowed to happen and I bet he felt awful the next day from a lack of sleep.
    You were right to check where he was going though- I can’t believe how many parents don’t. My son’s school had a big talk on that, checking with the parents etc…especially with parties.
    Good luck, it’s hard. ;0S

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      I’m with you – I would always check if something was okay first but I tend to be over cautious when ‘parenting’ other peoples children. This parenting lark just gets harder the older they get, doesn’t it? Give me a teething baby over a teenager in the making any day!! ; )

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  15. Trish@ Mum's Gone to says:

    It’s not easy is it. And reading the replies, everyone has different boundaries for their children. My boy is 14 and his mate is staying over for a sleepover this Friday after a school disco. They asked me last night if they could invite a couple of girls from the local girls’ high school. I hyper-ventilated. His mate said, “They’ll sleep in another room”. Hubby took over at this point and said “NO”.
    They took it rather well, just “Ok”, shrugged and that was that. No huffing and me just needing a stiff G&T.

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  16. mummyinahurry says:

    I am only glad I dont have to face this particular dilemma at the moment, but I would have definitely reacted in the same way as you. I don’t even like horror films now, but at 12. Really. Sometimes I wonder if other parents are so ‘liberal’ because they are scared of letting on their true feelings. Either that or I am so far out of step with everyone else, I really need to think about emigrating!!

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    • yummymummyno1 says:

      I often feel quite out of step myself! I don’t know, it’s all down to different parenting styles I guess but sometimes I can’t help but think that some parents just don’t know how to say no to their offspring – a problem that I don’t seem to have! ; )

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  17. Baby Dines Out says:

    I was aghast reading your post. I would take it up with the parents myself. We’re all too worried about offending others, rather than communicate what are legitimate boundaries. Do it gently of course, but do it.

    Films have an age rating for a reason and it’s one thing to decide to ignore that in relation to your own children but you do have a responsibility for others’ children in your care. You’re not dictating what they do with their own children but what they do with yours.

    The food thing is less of an issue, I think, as a one off (even if it is not what you would choose for your own children).

    I have to admit that if I found the parents unsympathetic to the film issue it would probably be the first and last time I allowed by child to stay at their house (regardless of complaints from said child!).

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