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Sometimes being a parent means making the tough decisions, even if you kids utter the words “I hate you” as a result.  This was our experience when our 12 year old son asked to sleep over at a friends house last night.  While we’ve always been wary of the whole ‘sleep-over’ idea, we haven’t been really great about reinforcing our position, especially as our kids started to make new friends after moving from Ontario to PEI 3 years ago.  That all changed recently.

After battling with him for the better part of an hour about why we were not going to allow a sleep-over, not last night, not in the future, I reached out to the Twitterverse and the parents at Kajukenpo last night.  I was overwhelmed by the responses I received.  It seems that our role as miserly parents is echoed by most of the other parents that I spoke with last night.  Some allow sleep-overs in their homes, but not at others.  While we considered that route, and offered it as an olive branch last night, it seems wrong to take the ‘no sleep-over’ stance, but ask other parents to possibly compromise the same position.

One of the repeated queries, usually by those without children, was to present the logic for our position.  There wasn’t any malice in the inquiries, so here is our defence.

Last October we listened to the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In that 2-day conference we received the following counsel from Larry R. Lawrence, a General Authority from the 2nd Quorum of the 70.  In his address he said:
“There is a great deal of wisdom displayed when parents stay up and wait for their children to return home. Young men and women make far better choices when they know their parents are waiting up to hear about their evening and to kiss them good night.

May I express my personal warning about a practice that is common in many cultures. I am referring to sleepovers, or spending the night at the home of a friend. As a bishop I discovered that too many youth violated the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity for the first time as part of a sleepover. Too often their first exposure to pornography and even their first encounter with the police occurred when they were spending the night away from home.

Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence and when their defenses are weakened late at night. If you have ever felt uneasy about an overnight activity, don’t be afraid to respond to that warning voice inside. Always be prayerful when it comes to protecting your precious children.”

Those words brought back the memories of my youth, and the struggles that I had to maintain the values of my parents and had to decide whether to accept those standards as my own, or deviate from the ways and paths of our family and religion.  While I was not a perfect youth, I can say that I resisted most of the temptations, including many that beguiled so many of my classmates.

In the grandiose expanse of life, it isn’t the decisions of great magnitude that have the most profound impact on our lives, but the simple, innocuous choices of the every day life that can sway our life from the path we want to follow.  Children need to be equipped to make the choices that will confront them in life, but all in due time.  Exposing your children to temptations that they are not equipped to manage seems like a recipe for disaster, and one that I am going to do everything I possible can to avoid.

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