When you're child becomes a teen, sleepovers involving a couple of classmates, a big bowl of popcorn and some cartoon-covered sleeping bags have become a thing of the past. Unfortunately sleepovers can take a more sinister turn during the teen years with many teenagers using them as cover to stay out late, experiment with alcohol and/or drugs, and host members of the opposite sex in their bedrooms. However, this does not mean that your teen will engage in these activities nor that you must ban sleepovers entirely to avoid them. Instead, simply discuss house rules regarding sleepovers with your teen and make sure that everyone involved understands the expectations for the next time their friends decide to stay at your home.
One of the first house rules that parents should discuss with their teens regarding sleepovers is about invited guests. Are there any specific individuals who are not allowed to stay the night in your home? Are members of the opposite sex allowed to stay the night in your home? How many invited guests are allowed to stay the night in your home at any one time? Will invited guests need to prove to you that their parents know where they are for the night? These are all questions that parents of teens must consider before allowing their teen to invite friends over for a sleepover.
While it's highly unlikely that today's teens would plan to gather 'round the piano for a sing-a-long during a sleepover, it's best if you discuss what are acceptable activities when there are guests staying the night. Are there any areas of the home that will be off limits to guests? Are there any items or possessions that you do not want guests handling? Is there a certain time when they must shut off the television/computer/games console? How do you feel about telephone calls from/to either your house phone or your teen's mobile? Many of these rules will likely conform to the house rules you keep anyway, but it's best to remind teens of them before each sleepover.
Food and Beverages
When teens have friends staying the night its pretty normal for them to expect to pig out on ice cream and crisps, but are there any food or drink items that you would not want your teen offering? To begin with, discuss your policies on alcohol (and illegal drugs), particularly if you keep a stocked bar in your home. Also consider discussing who will buy food and beverages for the sleepover (is it part of your housekeeping budget or will it come from your teen's spending money?), where it will be stored (in your teen's room or with the family supplies?), and if there are any items that can not be taken during a sleepover (the ingredients for tomorrow's dinner, for example). Also consider discussing take-away and delivery options with your teen so that you won't be awakened at 3am wondering if they really were just getting some chips…
Finally, discuss the logistics of a sleepover with your teen before each sleepover. Who will be picking up and dropping off the guest? Are they expecting to leave your home at any time, and if so how do they plan to get there? Will you expect them to be home by a certain hour? Will you expect them to be in bed by a certain hour? Where will they sleep? Will you require them to be awake by a certain hour? Is there are certain time by which guests must leave the next day? While these rules may change depending upon the situation, it is best for teens to know of your expectations before each sleepover so that there are no hurt feelings or shocked surprises while you have a guest in your home.