Can Sleepovers Become A Liability?

Sometimes doing something kind for someone carries a risk to your family.


Several of my friends and I have taken in kids who have less than stellar home lives. Kids that wind up spending more time with their friend’s families than their own because of trouble at home—multiple meals, marathon sleepovers, and many pick-ups and drop-offs. 

I was talking to a friend about this the other day and she surprised me by saying that I should be careful. Careful? I am only trying to help a kid out. I was happy to help. Why should I be careful? 

She went on to say that, in the light of the whole spending too much time with someone else’s kid could lead to misunderstandings, liabilities, and legal problems.

“What do you mean?” I asked. She said what if this child got into our liquor? What if he got into prescription drugs, what if he stole something and brought it to my house? What if he falsely accused you of hurting him in some way? The possibilities seemed, sadly, endless. 

Maybe Sara Cole started out just trying to help out a kid she knew through her son. Maybe, at first, she was just being kind. Maybe. 

Oh, if only they hadn’t invented that darned texting.

I may look back on this article and be sorry I said this, but I trust my son’s friends implicitly.

They deserve anything positive I can bring into their lives and I’m not afraid to carry out random acts of kindness.

Am I too trusting?

Is my friend too paranoid?

Thank you Los Gatos Patch Moms Council member Dyan Chan for last week's important question, How Do You Help Kids Have a Healthy Body Image.

Here is what one reader had to say:

As a teen therapist, I always promote positive praise! Small positive comments to build a teen's self-esteem and sense-of-self go a long way...especially during an impressionable time such as adolescence. Unfortunately, negative comments can be just as impressionable, if not more so. One small negative slip can be quickly internalized. My suggestion for parents is two-part... First, remember your teen is watching you, so be a healthy model for them! Second, regularly remind your teen that you love them and that they are perfect just the way they are!

Chigiy Binell August 31, 2011 at 10:57 PM
Sheila I see your point. But I still can't help but think the best of my kid's friends. Maybe one day it will come back and bite me on the you know what, but for now my home is still open. BTW. I never believed any of those sleep-over allegations. What kind of parent would let their children sleep over at his house to begin with? I believe it was all about extortion and blackmail.
Chigiy Binell August 31, 2011 at 11:00 PM
I know you are a kind and caring person and I know you have opened your home up to kids that really needed to feel the love of your family. I am with you girlfriend.
Chigiy Binell August 31, 2011 at 11:01 PM
I told him that it would run in the paper and he agreed.
Dyan Chan September 02, 2011 at 04:08 PM
I wanted to respond to this earlier, but it was almost too much for me to think about! Yes, sleep-overs are a favorite activity and quite prevalent nowadays. I think it's a nice thing to open our homes to our kids' friends ... it is best if you know the friends' parents, of course, so you can have an open conversation if anything goes awry. I haven't been in the situation yet in which the friends have a rough home life. That makes it trickier, but if you can be a safe and supportive adult presence for the child, you're giving an invaluable gift.
Rachael Ustorf September 30, 2011 at 07:39 PM
"Maybe Sara Cole started out just trying to help out a kid she knew through her son. Maybe, at first, she was just being kind. Maybe. Oh, if only they hadn’t invented that darned texting." Seriously? You seriously just wrote that regarding a woman who had a sexual relationship with a 16 year old boy?! I'd be willing to bet that if this story had been about Bill Cole taking in his 16 year old daughter's best friend and having a relationship with her the WHOLE story would be different... And, that your comment most certainly wouldn't have included, "Maybe he started out just trying to help out a kid he knew through his daughter." My point in drawing attention to this is not that it's a double standard (even though it is), but that if a person has it in them to take advantage of a child, it has more to do with the individual than it does the circumstances, in my opinion. This instance; That Sara had a relationship with her son's friend, has less to do with him sleeping over at her house and more to do with the type of person Sara Cole actually *is*. Long story short; in my opinion, there's no reason to outlaw sleep overs, just make sure you know the parents of the child on your couch / floor and vice versa.


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