Playdates & Sleepovers: Preparing Your Kids for Those “What If” Situations Without Being the “Crazy Mom”

It finally happened. My almost 10-year-old asked me when she was going to get a cell phone. Her exact words were: “I don’t have to have one right now, but I heard some of the kids in my class are getting one for their 10th birthdays, so I was just wondering.”


I’ve told my kids that I am not sure when I will get them their own phone. There is no exact date or age I am ready to commit to at this moment because, honestly, those small pieces of plastic scare the crap out of me. If my kids sometimes can’t remember to take a shower, I am sure as heck not ready to trust them with a phone.

But it’s not just electronics. My 8-year-old wanted to buy a shirt from Justice that I didn’t think was appropriate, despite her assurance that another girl in her class had the same one. Then I said no to shoes with heels. And then I said no to watching the movie Pitch Perfect, which apparently was a discussion at the lunch table (I personally loved it, but I wasn’t in the mood to explain that shower scene). I found middle ground by letting them watch the music portions on You Tube.

It used to be so much easier. No, you can’t bring Lunchables to school because I’d prefer if you had something else. No, you can’t stay up till midnight like your friend because our rules are different. No, you can’t watch Calliou because he makes mommy want to put pins in her eyes. Easy decisions, easy parenting.

But it’s so much harder now. Now there are sleep overs at parents’ houses I am still just getting to know. Now they have friends with unfettered access to technology. Now I am having serious discussions based on other people’s parenting styles, discussions that are important and serious and could be life-saving.

And I started thinking, if raising kids takes a village, why do I feel like I am on an island?

I never thought of myself as a strict, helicopter-type parent, but I am a “what-if” parent. Every time I let my child do something new, I try to run down the “what-ifs.” What if I let them go to a house that has a gun … would they know what to do? What if a stranger tried to contact their friend online, would they know what to do? What if, God forbid, another mom took them to Justice without me (can you tell how I feel about that store?)?

Whitney Fleming
Whitney Fleming
Whitney Fleming is a mom of three daughters and a marketing professional who writes about finding joy in life's struggles at her blog, Playdates on Fridays.

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