To Sleep Over Or Not To Sleep Over—That Is The Question

By Dannah Gresh, Creator of Secret Keeper Girl

Some of my best memories with my mom happened at sleep overs she hosted in our home. I can still see her perched on the shag carpet stairwell to our basement as she watched over giggling girls. Never can I remember falling asleep without my mother’s watchful presence perched right where she belonged. Of course, I never knew she was supervising. I just thought she was having fun with us. She giggled more than any of the rest of us.

In recent years, slumber parties have come under the scrutiny of discerning moms. And for good reason: many times these parties are not well supervised, leaving the girls vulnerable to unfiltered Internet access and Netflix selections that you hope your daughter will never watch! (I write about this in more detail in my book Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl.)

Christian bloggers Tim Challies and Faith Tibbets McDonald saw first-hand the increasingly controversial nature of sleepovers in their summer blogs, 6 Reflections on Sleepovers and Losing Sleep Over Sleepovers?.  Both asked the same question, and both received a tremendous conglomeration of responses.  Should I allow my tweenager to sleep over?  Is it safe?  Frankly, it seemed that some had responses that were rather black and white. I’m not sure that’s fair. Our communities are different. Our own personal stamina as moms is different. And, most importantly, our children are different. (Keeping my very verbal and extroverted Lexi from sleepovers when she was ten would have been like asking her not to breath!) I think there is more than one answer to the sleepover question!

Here are three reasonable responses.

  • 1.) NO Sleepover Policy. I’ve had friends adopt this, and their daughters survive quite well despite what everyone around them says. My dear friend Kim adopted this for her girls, much to Lexi’s lament since she adored her daughter. One reason for the decision was her daughters’ commitment to ballet. The rigorous schedule of their lives didn’t permit for sleepover hangovers the next day! It was the right decision for her and her daughters.
  • 2.) Limited Sleepovers Only At Familiar Homes. The second is to let your daughter go to sleepovers only at homes where you know the family well and have confidence that what the girls will be doing is safe and morally appropriate. This policy is something I suggest you ease into when your daughter is 10, 11, or 12. Bob and I adopted this one and felt comfortable with our choice. Our daughters were always and only allowed to stay where we felt they were safe and the parents shared our moral values. It was never uncomfortable for me to ask the moms to speak into any movies or television programs that were planned. (And, I always made it clear that I’d happily pick my daughter up if everyone else was allowed to see a movie that she was not. Guess what? I did that once! Lexi lives to tell about it.)
  • 3.) Be The Host! But I think the best option is to be the host home. Like my mom! Frankly, I don’t recall sleeping over at other houses at all. Maybe one. And then, I always wished I was at home. Being the host puts you in the driver’s seat of media content, bed times, snack foods, and conversation. Yes, even conversation can be planned and productive! Our Secret Keeper Girl Pajama Party Book makes that easy and sets you up to do just that, but even if you’re a “no sleepover” mom, you can host a “pajama party.” (Yep, I selected that title carefully.) And your younger daughters will love the thrill of having friends over in their jammies even if the party ends before the sunset. From a Christian perspective, I think it’s fair to say that it is our job as parents to create peace and safety for our children when they lay their heads down to rest—whether it’s alone in their comfy bed on a school night or with a gaggle of girls in sleeping bags on your living room floor!


“In peace I will both lie down and sleep: for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.”  Psalm 4:8

“To sleep over or not to sleepover?” is one of The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces: Praying Your Way To Realistic, Biblical Answers by Dannah Gresh. Find the peace you’re looking for as you pray your way to the right answer for each individual child.

Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl Tour is a faith-based mother-daughter connecting experience. This 2 1/2 hour event features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Incredible balloon sculptures,  mother/daughter conversation time & colorful confetti cannons make the night unforgettable. 



Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is the best-selling author, speaker , and creator of Secret Keeper Girl, America’s most popular tween stage show for moms and daughters. Dannah has authored 27 books, including And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth) and is considered one of the leading experts on the subjects of sexual purity, modesty, and true beauty. More than 350,000 people have attended her live events. She has been a guest on CNN, Fox News, and the 700 Club and is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and Family Life. Her TEDTalk on tolerance for virginity offers thought-provoking look at why sexuality is enhanced by self-control. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bob on a hobby farm with a menagerie of animals. The couple has four young adult children.

Katie - October 8, 2014

How do you adopt #3 if all the parents of your daughter’s friends are like minded? And if you host one, and then they host one, how do you say “We trust ourselves enough to host one, but we don’t trust you enough to let you daughter sleep over at your house.”? These are genuine issues of mine which is why I’ve adopted plan #1 for the time being.

Kelly Smith - October 8, 2014

Thank you for this! Our girls are entering the sleepover age. We get the eye rolls and the “come on, Mom!” when we limit sleepovers to only those we know very well. This is great affirmation and some food for thought on the other options.

Jenn - October 9, 2014

my daughter recently attended a “no sleep over pj party”, which I thought was an excellent solution. The girls showed up in pjs, they had pizza, watched a movie, and played slumber party games, but everyone went home at ten o’clock. They had all the fun of a sleepover without a lot of the drawbacks.

lorelee Siemens - October 9, 2014

We have a NO sleepover policy. Just last night I was reminded of why we made that choice. A family I trusted, very conservative, (even stricter then I am with music and movies) suddenly feel apart and the truth of what was happening behind the doors came out. A missionary family, active in church, and now social services is involved. A friend said to me with tears in her eyes, my daughter slept over at their house all the time! I have seen in my work expererince such horrific things that have come from homes that everyone trusted.

Tam - October 9, 2014

Thanks so much for this!! While I wouldn’t allow my daughter to go just anywhere, I do want her to experience the fun of sleepovers.

Joe - November 11, 2015

We follow number two and do sleepovers at friends houses whose parents we trust have the same biblical values we do., the problem we face is that those same parents don’t allow their children to sleep over our house. It hurts my daughters feelings and honestly don’t have a clue as to why the parents don’t allow them too. Lately, it’s something we hadn’t notice but has been brought to our attention by our daughter.

Amy - May 16, 2017

In regards to #2 – I thought I would share my experience. I grew up in a very loving Christian home and attended Christian school through 4th grade. I had a very good friend from my school who also came from a great Christian family. My parents knew well and trusted her parents (and rightfully so, they were great). Without going into details, there were some things this friend did to me/bullied me into participating in over a period of times while sleeping over at her house. At the time I was too young to recognize it as abuse and though I had a very open relationship with my parents I felt, in my immaturity, as though I was to blame for what happened because I had “allowed” it. (This was how I viewed it as a young child – I know better now) Because of this I felt too ashamed to tell them about it, even though now I know they would have been loving and supportive, not condemning. Also, she was my best friend and when I spent the night we had fun doing lots of other things as you mentioned – movies, pizza, playing dolls, etc. So I WANTED to go to her house, and always expressed genuine excitement over it, even though way back in the corner of my mind I dreaded the night coming.

She slept over at my house too and when that happened my mom always supervised as yours did. But this girl would pretend to fall asleep and then, in the middle of the night, after everyone was asleep would wake me up to try to get me to participate.

I say all of this so that you understand that those of us who make it a black and white decision don’t necessarily do so out of irrational fear but of rational, thoughtful caution born out of our past experiences. I know you listed no sleepovers as a valid option and I’m glad, but I just wanted to add my perspective for those moms who haven’t experienced what I have in their past. Even with the precautions you have listed, abuse can happen. So please take that into consideration when making your decision. If you haven’t been through something like that you may not know what to look for. My parents never imagined what was taking place and they were wonderful, cautious parents who were trying to have safeguards in place. It is worth my daughters missing out on a few hours of fun to keep them from suffering abuse that can have a lasting physical, emotional, and mental impact.

Finally, this is getting long, but as someone else mentioned when you do sleepovers with some but not all there are some really awkward conversations that will have to take place. You could end up hurting relationships – say with the family at school you don’t know well. For us, it is simpler to be able to say we don’t do them so as not to harm our testimony by offending other parents.

Just some food for thought.

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