Sleepover Phobic

What do I do with a 9-year old who won’t go on a sleepover? Last weekend he was all excited to sleepover with his friend, but when we got there, he threw up. We thought it was a one shot deal, but it wasn’t and he wound up being driven home with the stomach flu. My plans to go to a friend’s birthday celebration were thwarted and I spent 24 hours with a bowl catching barf.

The same family has invited him over this weekend, and yeah, I have to admit I was excited because O is away for the weekend too. I have never once had a night when both kids were at a sleepover.

But now he doesn’t want to go. He can’t tell me why and insists that it is not because he is embarrassed about last weekend. Just doesn’t feel like it. I know I can’t force it, but this was supposed to be practice for a week-long camp he is going to in July. Getting used to being away from me, in a safe, easy, fun way.

Do I force him to do this, knowing it will help him in the long run? Or do I let it slide, thus enabling the phobia? I suspect its a no-win no matter what.

And that night off? It was wishful thinking.

6 Comments

  1. Suddenwidow May 3, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Before I comment on sleepovers, I just want to thank you for your book. It is the one book that I’ve read cover to cover in record time, and felt better for reading it. My husband died suddenly 6 weeks ago. Thank you for giving me hope.

    Now, for sleepovers. My now 12 1/2 year old son was the same as Carter. My son wouldn’t even stay with my parents, his beloved and adored grandparents. His younger brother would stay anywhere, anytime with anyone but not my oldest. He was just not comfortable. We struggled with whether or not to push the issue but in the end we didn’t – we let him choose his comfort level. And the good news is that before he was 11, he was ready to sleepover and there’s been no looking back. He’s even going to Europe with his grandparents this summer, which makes me anxious but not him. So my advice would be to let him find his comfort level and don’t push it. Before you know it, he’ll be ready.

  2. ANovelMenagerie May 3, 2009 at 1:48 am

    My kids can’t get away from me and this house fast enough. They’re also the type to go anywhere, eat anything, and do anything. They are CRAZY brave little souls. But, the MAJORITY of my friends’ children have the exact same issue as your son… or, even worse. And, you know what? It’s totally okay.

    You have to remember that there may be an underlying fear within him somewhere about not being at home or close to you. If you are patient enough for the task… take him. When you do, explain to him that you’re just minutes away to pick him up if something serious happens. Share with him a story of a sleepover you had that was totally fun. Give him all the positives, but let him know that FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE, you are just a phone call away. Reassure him how safe and fun his friends’ parents are and what a neat experience it will be to try different cooking and watching the way that other families live. Make it an adventure for him but let him know that the safety net is there.

    If he goes and he calls… give him the opportunity to think about whether or not he really wants to come home -or- if maybe he just wanted to hear your voice to say “goodnight.”

    YOU ARE A GREAT MOM! Keep doing what you’re doing.

  3. Shared Moments May 4, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Hi Abby,

    I have never been a big fan of the sleepover for kids. My daughter, Kim, now alomost 24, seemed to handle them well. But Lauren and her crew of friends found them challenging. On more than one occasion, I found myself either picking her up at midnight or taking a friend home in the wee hours.

    Usually, I’d just head out with a trench coat covering my PJs! The good news was that I’d also greet other bleary eyed parents in their jammies too – so a new bond of sorts formed. I mean, honestly, once you’ve chatted in your jammies in the middle of the night, what other barriers are there?

    My advice, for what it is worth, would be the age old adage, “This too shall pass.” One day Carter will be a teen and looking to separate. In the meantime, count your blessings. You have an armload of them.

    Be well.

  4. Abigail May 4, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Thank you all for your sage advice. The end result is that he didn’t go on the sleepover. After an afternoon of prying the reason out of him, I discovered that he felt that this particular friend didn’t really like him very much and had teased him a bit at school.

    At least I saved myself the coat-over-PJs-midnight run.

    Funny how with kids, nothing is quite what it seems. You really do have to trust that they know what’s best for them. Well, sometimes anyways 🙂

    I know its just a matter of nanoseconds before my armload of blessings are out of the house for good.

  5. LisaMM May 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Abby~ Ok now that I've read that your son gave you the real story, my comment doesn't seem so insightful, LOL. I was going to say that perhaps it's a problem with this friend and family, rather than sleepovers in general. That' happened with my then-9 year old last summer. She suddenly stopped wanting to do sleepovers (something she loved to do before) but wouldn't give a reason. She tried a couple times but would call me to come get her. Turns out her friend's dad was a 'yeller' and it upset her. He yelled at her friend & friend's mom a lot and she said she was afraid he would yell at her, too. Really opened my eyes, because I was thinking she was just acting a little babyish and dramatic with no reason. I knew this dad from soccer and school but hadn't ever spent time in their home.

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