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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Sleepovers with cousins of the opposite sex (ages 4 and 11)

June 2004

My 4 year old daughter loves to sleep over at her cousin's house. They are both male and are 6 and 11 years old. She sleeps on the floor in between their two beds. We are not concerned about the 6 year old but are concerned that the 11 year old is too old to be sleeping with our daughter. We don't want to start a family squabble and are trying to get some info before presenting this concern to my sister. Thanks for any advice.

There is absolutly NO reason why they can't sleep in the same room together! I mean they are cousins for crying out loud! I don't even see what the conflict is. The boy is eleven and her cousin so what is the problem?!?! A bit disturbed

I don't think there is anything wrong with being concerned, frankly I think more people should be more careful with their children--- Given the alarmingly high rate of rape and molestation (especially with girls). While it may be disturbing to believe that a trusted family member could do something inappropriate, statistically it is usually a close reletive or family friend. I have known and worked with many kids who were sexually abused by family members and a few who were older cousins, but on a more personal note, my little sister was molested by my cousin when she was three and he was nine. Simply speaking children are curious and preteens are especially curious. I appreciate that he may be a great kid and he probably would not do anything, but do you really want to risk it? Keep in mind that I didn't see the original post so I don't know the specifics, it would be better if there were other children and adults, but I say trust your gut, protect your kids and find a polite way to say no thank you if it doesn't feel right to you. I applaud your concern! anon--- for sisters sake

I don't recall your original post exactly, but felt compelled to respond after seeing another response. What I would like to point out is that at around age 11, boys are getting their second batch of testosterone and entering puberty. Kids this age (and younger) are sexually curious and often experiment on each other. In most cases this experimentation is part of normal and healthy sexual development and is not problematic when it occurs between similarly aged kids. However, when the experimenation is done by an older child on a much younger kid (even very innocently), it can be harmful to the younger child. If it were me, I would not allow my much younger daughter to have overnights in the same room with her older male relatives, just to help minimize the opportunities for this occurring.

My perspective re your question is different than those I've seen offered so far. When I was around 11, we visited for a weekend with friends of the family at their beach house. Kids slept up in the converted attic- one very big room- in sleeping bags. As I recall, there were about 4 of us altogether, boys and girls of various ages, including their son who was about a year older than me. We had a great time. It was a pajama party- essentially no different than those I had with my girlfriends.

While I think that it is very important that molestation is recognized now as more common than once known and reasonable caution is only responsible, in this age of the sensational media we hear too much about the bad and too little of the normal and the good. That has created a level of fear that I see as out of proportion to the truth of everyday life. I think that is a shame to deny kids the opportunity to have wholesome and fun interactions with the opposite, as well as their own, gender. Let's remember to look at the whole picture. Thanks for raising the topic. anon

Why Sleepovers?

June 1999

Sleepovers: it's just ever so fun to talk and giggle with a friend once the lights are out. And it's fun to wake up in the morning next to your friend and then getup and maybe have your mom or dad fix something special like pancakes. My son, also an only child, started having sleepovers when he was 4 and had always tremendously enjoyed them.

I think that sleepovers are just inherently exciting---even as adults (which is why we don't sleep too well at someone else's house?) It's exciting to go to sleep with someone else and even better to wake up and be able to start right in playing again. Think about it; brushing your teeth with your friend, breakfast with your friend.... I think that if your living arrangement allows for sleepovers they are great fun for the kids (tho' in my experience everyone can be really grouchy the following afternoon.) (and when my daughter and her friend started using their sleeping bags as slip-n-slides I got a little grouchy that night)

Regarding sleepovers: Pamela, age 10, says, Kids like sleepovers even if you get more playtime during the daytime, because we like to sleep in sleeping bags, and unroll them, and whisper to each other, and fall asleep talking with friends, and it's pretty special.

I suppose the answer to why? is that it's a novelty. I don't have any set philosophy about this. Our 4 yr-old son has had two sleep-overs with his best friend who is also our neighbor. First she slept over at our house, and then a month later he slept over there. I suppose since we're closeby and are friends with the parents we didn't worry. Both times the kids had a great time. They'd actually been asking to do this for awhile. The first requirement we set was that they be night-potty-trained which they both did at a little over age 3. Beyond that we just played it by ear. Oh, and we happen to be family-bedders, especially during the winter. Our son had absolutely no problem sleeping in a strange bed- goes to show we haven't ruined him :-)