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Washington Post writer panics over sleepovers, worries about guns, gender issues

Guns, drugs and COVID exposure, oh my! 

The three feared fiends are among the reasons Washington Post writer Cailtin Gibson says sleepovers have gotten “very complicated.”

“Among parents who are skeptical of this particular rite of childhood, one question — “Can I spend the night?” — unleashes a slew of others: How well do we know the other parents? Are there guns in the house? What about alcohol or drugs? What is the risk of covid exposure? Are there older siblings around? Will the kids be watching YouTube or TikTok all night? Is it a girls-only or boys-only gathering? (And what about kids who don’t adhere to binary concepts of gender and sexuality?) What might happen if they stay the night, and what might they miss if they don’t?” she wrote Tuesday.

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Gibson said the “once-simple rite of childhood” faces new barriers now, especially among Gen Z parents who are taking their parenting styles – and critiques of others’ parenting styles – to the web.

She pointed out that the decision to keep children away from sleepovers has even emerged on TikTok in the form of the viral hashtag #NoSleepovers, adding that skepticism is backed by “parenting influencers” and “psychiatrists” who are also wary of the dangers.

“Many Gen-Z TikTok users have meme’d the awkward experience of turning down sleepover invitations because of wary parents,” she said.

The article delves into a story of a mother named Cicely Thrasher who encountered a sense of dread when asked if her 12-year-old son would like to stay over at a friend’s house for a sleepover.

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“She immediately started Googling: Are sleepovers good or bad for kids? and child development + sleepovers and risks and benefits of sleepovers. She listened to child psychologists on TikTok, scrolled through blog posts and searched newspaper articles,” Gibson wrote.

“She politely declined the sleepover invitation, and kept scouring the internet,” she added, sharing that the mom wanted to justify her decision by scouring the web for similar viewpoints.

Gibson offered experiences from other moms, including one Portland mom who said she remains wary of letting her “multiracial boys” stay with a host family because they are “often the only kids of color in their group of friends.”

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Another mom said parents’ posts about hard liquor made her second-guess letting her children sleep over at others’ houses.

Gibson said some parents attempt to mitigate the situation, asking other parents about their homes and lifestyles by asking questions such as, “Do you use parental controls for screen time? Do you own a gun? [and] Are you vaccinated and boosted?”

She chalked up a majority of the division to social media, where parents are growing increasingly wary of others’ parenting styles and parents showcase their personal philosophies for the sake of social media trends. 

Some, for instance, have gone viral for the “free-range parenting” trend, allowing their children to run amok according to their own whims and wishes, including going barefoot in public, eating ice cream before dinner, eating dirt or sand and letting their children choose their own hairstyles even elect to shave their heads.

The trend showcased divides among parents, garnering criticism from some who alleged allowing children to run free would expose them to a multitude of dangers, while others praised the trend as positive for growth and self-esteem. 

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