And the award for The Worst Mummy In The World goes to..

So here’s the thing.

My twelve year old daughter was invited to a sleepover.

But, and it’s a big but for me, I have never met this new friend before and don’t know her parents. My first instinct was to say a big fat NO! No way can I let my precious little girl go off and stay with strangers for the night. But of course she didn’t understand my concerns at all and just thought I was The Worst Mummy In The World *sigh*

cotton balls

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I am the first to admit that I am a bit of a cotton wool parent. I can be really over-protective, I know I can. And I know for a fact that friends of my twelve year old daughter and even more so my thirteen year old son, are allowed much more of a free rein. But I just find it so hard to loosen those reins. The older they get, the more I seem to be pushed out of my comfort zone and I don’t much like it, I’m not going to lie.

This sleepover would have meant her going to stay with people who I don’t know from Adam. How am I ever supposed to feel okay with that? Those alarm bells in my head were ringing ten to the dozen with all the what ifs and maybes and I just couldn’t ignore that. I know it doesn’t make me very popular with my daughter but her safety and welfare comes before anything else for me. How can it not?

As it turned out, the sleepover was actually cancelled because her friend’s sister was ill. So all of the agonising on my part and tears on my daughter’s part were in vain. This time at least. But there will be a next time of course. And I’m not sure that my position can or will change when it comes around again.

So what do I do?

I suggested to my daughter that maybe her friend could come over to play at our house after school one day and have dinner. That way at least my daughter wouldn’t feel like she was completely missing out but at the same time, the over-protective parent in me knows that she is safe. And of course I get to meet her friend and when we take her home, I would hopefully get to say hello to her parents. I think one of the hard things about going up to high school is that you just don’t have that contact with school friends or their parents like you do in primary school. My daughter has thrown herself into high school life and I’m so proud of just how well she settled into a such a huge school after her small village primary school beginnings. But of course, without meaning to sound like a complete control freak, it means that I don’t get to know her friends any more like I once did.

Maybe I do need to learn to let go. Maybe there’s no maybe about it *sigh*

But honestly? I just don’t know how.

12 thoughts on “And the award for The Worst Mummy In The World goes to..

  1. fireflyphil says:

    ‘Letting go’ is one thing, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to get to know a family a bit before your son or daughter spends a night with them. What you suggest is perfectly fair, and if everything’s fine, then there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘hello’ to the family who are being kind.

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  2. Gavin Cruickshank says:

    I hesitate to say that my mum is a controlling influence because that paints too black a picture, but that could almost be her speaking.

    She would want to know who I was with, what time I’d be back, and want a phone call before bedtime. Heck, she would still like those things now, and I’m twice the age of your children.

    By the sound of it, she’s fitted right in at high school, which is a hard thing to do, but you’ve identified that it brings with it a sense of independence on her part.

    It’s ultimately up to you how you proceed but it would have helped me at that age if my mum could have built trust in stages. For example, if I showed that I could play nicely with one friend over, then it could progress to two or three, then to going around their house unsupervised.

    I’m not saying that I didn’t have friends over but it was always planned in detail rather than being spontaneous.

    Do let us know how you get on.

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  3. Kirsty says:

    I think you’re being reasonable here. You’re right – you don’t know what their home and attitudes are like and you can’t guarantee she’d be safe. How about now that this one’s cancelled, stick with the plan to have the friend over for tea anyway and get to know them before the next sleepover request comes around. Or have them sleep over at your house and get to know them that way.

    Scary stuff as in a few short years she’ll be away on her own and you won’t know where she is every day or night. Things change very quickly.

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  4. Caroline Smith says:

    The secondary school years are the most unsettling ones for parents, for sure, and this is just the beginning. When I read mummy bloggers moaning on about sleepless nights and the small stuff, I sigh and think ‘please stop complaining,. Just enjoy the lovely simple times with your little ones’. Sleepless nights, boredom, adjusting to being at home after years of a high powered job – these things will all fade into insignificance as your kids head into their teens. A friend of mine held down a demanding full-time job while her children were primary school age, but she felt that secondary school was when they needed her most, so she stopped work to be there. I completely understand why. The teenage years present much more of a challenge and you’ll need your wits about you. I have boys and feel a huge sense of relief when I pick my oldest up from a party unscathed. Drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships, it’s a minefield, not forgetting those life changing exams to pass. It’s hard letting go, but you have to gradually and they need their independence. Communication is key, Know where your kids are, demand contact numbers, talk to the parents of the friends that are having sleepovers and parties on the phone well beforehand (even it this is the first time you’ve spoken to them in your life). This is not the time to be shy and as they get older don’t assume that your kids are where they say they are going to be, their social lives change constantly. Demand regular check-ins with you, in return for which they can have some fun, freedom and grow up.

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  5. Midlife Singlemum says:

    Why not have a Sunday Brunch to herald in the new school year and as a get-to-know-you for your daughter’s close friends at school and their parents. That way you would meet some of the other parents and children and at least have other parents to confer with when faced with a situation you are uncertain about. Personally, I think the parents’ committee should arrange such an evening at school for each class at the beginning of the year. It’s not just safety issues but also helps when rides are needed and for all parental support and particioation.

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  6. Corinne says:

    I would have been the same. My eldest son is 12 (nearly 13) and I’ve been in a similar situation. In the end I called the parents in question (and being parents themselves) they completely understood, I popped over for a cuppa, saw their home, saw they weren’t complete weirdos and everyone was happy. My son was vaguely embarrassed by me doing it but happy that it meant he could go over for the sleepover.
    It is difficult but they are still children and still need guidance about keeping safe from their parents, when it comes up again I would suggest doing the same, it’s not being over-protective it’s knowing where your children are and that they are safe. At least this way she will still be going with your knowledge and in future will not want to do things behind your back.

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  7. Icklebabe.com says:

    Ohhh this is such a tough one. I remember it well with teen Ellie, I have to admit when she first started secondary I did let her sleep over at a new friends house without me meeting the parents first. But I did make sure I called the girls mum to introduce myself ( she was actually lovely and we ended up talking for about half dn hour ) and also we dropped Ellie off at the sleepover as well. I know this doesn’t stop all the dangers you maybe thinking of, but really and truly short of only letting her stay over with family or life long friends , do u ever really know? Ellie had her mobile phone with her and is sensible enough to ring us if she was in anyway concerned . I hope that doesn’t make me a bad parent, I think it just makes me a realistic one. But I do totally understand your emotions and I don’t think the answer is ever a clear cut one … Luckily for me Ellie only sleeps over at her very best freinds house now ( the one I didn’t know when she first went to secondary ;)) and now Ellie is like part of the family there and her best freind is the same here. Sometimes you do have to take a “calculated” leap of faith I think * cowerers now waiting for huge backlash* xxx

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  8. Chickenruby says:

    I always insist on meeting a parent prior to my children sleeping over, going out for a full day and holidays. I’ve been greeted with many a blank response from my children, their friends and even parents as to why I want to meet them. I still insist now that my 16yo son introduces me to the friend whose house he is staying at and ask for the parents number in case of emergency. Recently the 16yo went to Mozambique with his friend for a week, I very nearly cancelled his trip as the parents were unavailable for me to meet as they were busy. I would not and will not let my child go on holiday without meeting the parents, sleep over without having numbers and address. My youngest is 12 and I am alarmed at how many children have slept over at ours without the parents at the very least calling me to say ‘is it ok?’ I end up calling them to check they are aware that I have their child for the night.

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  9. Susan Mann says:

    I don’t think you were being unreasonable at all. I think you have every right to know the person before your daughter spends the night with them. I understand it’s not what your daughter wants to hear but you have to do what you feel it right. x

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  10. Super Amazing Mum (@SuperAmazingMum) says:

    oooh not the worst mummy in the world at all….I haven’t got to this stage yet, but I am sure when I do I will be exactly the same as you. I think that rather than rush into a sleepover it is fine for your daughter to go around for a bit and tea and then when you pick her up you will get a feel for the parents? Equally, speaking to them on the phone, explaining your concerns which I am sure will be common ground!

    Good Luck! xxx

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