Sleepovers- Yes or No? And, My Worst Sleepover Story. Ever.

By Erin Bishop

Last week a mom in the Whatever Girls Moms Prayer Group asked us fellow moms what we thought of sleepovers.

I was surprised at all the strong opinions. Some said yay; some said nay, but most said no way.

The moms that do allow sleepovers said they prefer the sleepover take place in their home or only in the home of close and trusted friends. I fall into this category, too. We don’t do a lot of sleepovers, but when we do, I generally have them at my house so I can watch and listen to what’s going on.

When my daughter, Grace, was younger, I let her do sleepovers more often, but I’ve since tightened my grip after a few incidents. I don’t think Grace has gone to more than ten sleepovers in her life.

Have you noticed that girls are so quick to declare their new friend their “BFF” and want to have sleepovers right away? It’s a difficult position for us moms to be in. We want to encourage friendships, but many of us know from experience it’s important not to rush into relationships too quickly.

While chatting with the moms of the prayer group I retold my worst sleepover story and I’m going to share it with you. Then, I’m going to tell you my second worst sleepover story.

 

Worst Sleepover

When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I had a sleepover at my friends house. She lived in an apartment with her mom, older sister and younger brother. The older sister was in middle school and kind of wild. I can’t remember if the mom was there the whole time and went to bed early or if she went out on a date and left us kids with the older sister to babysit. Either way, the sister’s boyfriend came over.

We spent the evening in the living room watching movies. I don’t even remember which ones, now. As it got later and harder to stay awake, I stretched out in my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag, and laid my head on my pillow to go to sleep, my friend next to me in her sleeping bag.

The sister and her boyfriend were on the couch watching movies with us. I must have drifted off to sleep because I woke up to the sudden sounds of heavy breathing and weird noises coming from the couch behind us. I was scared and confused. What was going on up there?

The noise and sounds of movement continued. I had no idea what was happening and I was really scared. I felt trapped.

I lay in my sleeping bag shaking, quiet tears streaming down my face, forcing myself to be absolutely quiet. I was afraid they would find out I was awake and that I’d get in trouble for some reason.

My skin was crawling. I knew something wrong was happening. I heard the boy say “thank you” to the girl. I don’t remember anything else they said.  Then he left.

I eventually fell asleep.

The next morning I mentioned the weird noises to my friend and she said “oh yeah, she has boys over all the time and has a hole in all her underwear for her boyfriends”. Still ignorant of what was going on, I brushed it off.

Later I figured out what was going on.

Can you imagine this happening to YOUR child at a sleepover? I would come un.done.  It wouldn’t be pretty.

The second worst sleepover was at a birthday party sleepover for a classmate. The girl and I weren’t that close, but I went anyway. My friend from the first sleepover story was there, too.

This party was fine, but the mom and brothers weren’t that friendly. And their house wasn’t that clean or sanitary so I felt uncomfortable.  I had my friend there, so I thought I could tough it out.

It got late and the mom went to bed. Their house made weird and scary noises. I regretted being there.

It didn’t take long for some of the girls to get in a catfight. My friend and I tried to keep out of it.  The hostess and a few of the other girls went and told her mom what was going on and when they mom came back my friend and I were accused of being mean and saying things we never said. In response, the mom bullied us.

I wanted to go home so badly, but at 8 years old or so, kids aren’t really empowered to advocate for themselves, so I took the verbal abuse and waited it out until morning.

Girl drama and pranks escalate at sleepovers and, the true colors of parents and kids come out over time.  As they get older, some kids sneak out, help themselves to their parent’s car, and get into alcohol and other things. As my friend Angie says, “nothing good happens at a sleepover after 11PM.”

Where do you stand on sleepovers?

I shared my two worst stories…do you have one? (I seriously hope you can’t top mine, because mine are pretty bad!)

Do you have a fun sleepover story to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teens and Porn: The Second Glance

By Jen Ferguson

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I’m normally mesmerized by the landscape when I’m running in Texas in April.  Beautiful wildflowers stretch themselves toward the sky.  Bright blues, yellows, oranges, and reds take my breath away even though they’ve been a part of my life since I was five years old.

That day in April, I was running and admiring when something of a different nature caught my eye.  Honestly, after I saw it, I said to myself, “That must have been a Victoria’s Secret ad.”  I meant to jog on by because who wants to carry trash with them on a run?  And jog on by I did until I heard God whisper in my heart, “Go back.  Pick it up.”

So I turned around, started back up the hill, and picked up the piece of paper that littered the sidewalk.  Upon further inspection, I quickly discerned this was way worse than a VS ad.  Although the size and shape was not much bigger than a baseball trading card, it carried enough weight to possibly ruin a boy’s life.

You might think I’m exaggerating but my husband found his first piece of pornography stashed in the woods of his neighborhood.  And that one glance had enough pull to keep him coming back to it in some form or fashions for years to come.  Here, on the sidewalk, across from the junior and high school, were two pictures of two girls, with two phone numbers that promised satisfaction like they had never felt before.

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I stashed the card in my runner’s pocket and when I got home, I shredded it into as many pieces as I possibly could.  Bit by bit, I prayed for the two women who revealed themselves on a discarded piece of paper.  I prayed for the boys who had already seen it and for those who were spared…this time.

Here’s the thing: I wasn’t running in a trashy part of town. I was in my own neighborhood.  Porn isn’t regulated to the slums or the dead-beat dads, or kids whose parents aren’t invested in their lives.  No, porn preys on anyone and everyone who will give it a second glance.  But in order to know not to look twice, our children must know why not.

There’s a 3% chance that your boy or a 17% chance that your girl will never be exposed to porn.  I don’t like those odds and so therefore, I want to teach my children what to do if they are exposed.  You see, not all exposure is willful exposure.  I didn’t set out to see porn on my run that sunny April morning.  Your child may have a friend that says, “Hey!  Look at this!” and before they can utter “What?” a smartphone is shoved in their face and there before them lays a naked girl or torrid sex act.

If my two girls are part of the 83% of girls who will see pornography sometime between now and when they are teens, I want them to know all the reasons why not to look again. What can we teach our children to do when confronted with porn?

We can teach them that God wants more for that girl/boy/woman/man on the screen.

We can teach them to look away and then pray…for themselves, for their friends, for the people in the industry.

We can teach them to ask God to remove the image from their minds.

We can teach them that sex isn’t for everyone to see and if they are watching it, they are robbing themselves of what sex is intended to be.  It can be so much more beautiful than how the world portrays it to be.

These conversations are hard conversations and not all the words may come out the right way, but it is important that the words do come out, that we open a dialogue with our kids so they feel safe telling us what the world has handed to them that day.

We may often times feel ill-equpipped, but we must trust God will fill in the gaps.  We must trust there is nothing He cannot redeem, even exposure to porn.

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Teen Perspective: “God’s Hospital”

by teen guest, Kayla Henning

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I believe that when the church is fulfilling its true purpose, it is like a hospital.

I can’t even count the number of times that a friend has told me she felt judged by the church. I myself went through an extremely difficult time with my family. Instead of helping us through our problems, many church members pushed us away.

The only thing that kept me from not leaving the church was the fact that I knew the way my church was acting did not reflect the nature of my God. That seems pretty ironic. The first part of the word “Christian” is “Christ,” so we should aim to act like Christ. When we behave the opposite of Jesus, we paint a faulty picture of God.

While some church members refused to let the “sick” into the “hospital,” I can distinctly remember the true Christians who “nursed my family back to health.” They did not push us away, they listened to us.

I will never forget one “nurse” who greatly impacted me. My music teacher noticed that I was feeling down one day. When no one was in the hallway, she came up to me with tears in her eyes. She simply gave me a comforting hug. She did not have to say anything. That hug said more to me than any words she could have spoken.

My music teacher accurately conveyed the Healer to me. She healed me as Christ would have done. God will never refuse to let the sick into the hospital. Instead He is most committed to healing those who are wounded the worst.

One story Bible story that hits home for me as I think about the way church members should treat each other is the story of when Mary Magdalene was caught in adultery. Jesus did not stone her, he helped her. He cared for her well-being, then told her to leave her life of sin. Mary did not stop sinning because she had to, but because she wanted to. She loved Him. Jesus deep care for her is what “cured” her from her sin.

Through the ups and downs of my church experience, I’ve thought about how the church treats outcasts. What am I personally going to do as a result of my belief? Am I going to just sit and complain about the way others have mistreated my family? Or am I going to remember those who helped me and then try to emulate them?

My memory of my music teacher reminds me to be a nurse for others who are spiritually sick. The next time I see someone who is lonely and afraid, I want to be willing to shed some tears and give a hug.

Will you do the same?

 

Your Turn:

  • In what way has (or hasn’t) the church been a hospital for you?
  • How have you ministered the healing of Christ to others?
  • Anything else on your heart!

 

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Kayla Henning is a soon-to-be college freshman who Cheri Gregory (aka “Mrs. G”) loved having in her AP English Lit & Comp class last year!

Grace for Mama

Each year, as the school year begins I make plans. I do the same thing come summer time. A few short weeks ago I sat down to plan our summer. I want my boys to become more accomplished readers. I want to get the bedrooms organized and deep cleaned early on in the summer. I want to carve out time each day to get ahead on all of the blogs I write for.

Just a few weeks in and I can already see my plans failing. Yes, we have definitely done some reading. But we haven’t sat together in the living room as we read together for thirty minutes then read individually for an hour. {Told you I planned everything out.} Yes, I have told the boys to clean their rooms, but no, I haven’t deep cleaned and organized. And not only am I not ahead on the blogs I write for, but I am behind. Many of the things on my daily agenda haven’t even been given thought to.

I feel like I have failed and yet we are not even a month in. I hate that feeling. The feeling like I already messed up so why try. Why not just throw the list out the window and let them do what they want all summer.

This mama needs some grace.

give yourself graceToo often we tend to be hard on ourselves. We don’t complete something so we feel like a failure. It’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon and we realize the kids haven’t had lunch, we feel as thought we are a neglectful mom. We need to give ourselves some grace.

We are human. We will mess up. Plans will fail. It’s okay. We will mess up on the diet, we will let the kids sleep later than they should on a nap, we will forget to make that phone call, we will goof from time to time.

Give yourself some grace. Just take a breath and get back to it.

 

Safe Email Options for Our Girls

By Amy Sullivan 

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I want to protect my tween girl from the drama and danger, which often accompany the online world. My solution: Keep her access to the Internet as limited as possible.

And let me tell you. This strategy has worked great.

Until now.

When I was growing up, the end of the school year meant exchanging phone numbers with all my friends. For my daughter (whose group of friends don’t have cellphones yet), it meant exchanging email addresses.

Email addresses? Really?

Then, our girl started making The Sullivan News, a weekly newsletter to send to our far away, family members, and the email question came up again.

And again my response was an email address? Really?

These exchanges prompted me to check out kid-friendly email options, (and to share my new found knowledge with you). I’m not techy, and I craved two things: safe and simple.

What I discovered is there are companies who provide safe email access for your girl by giving her a taste of the freedom she desires and the ability for you to still supervise her online communication.

Here’s a sampling of what I discovered.

Kids Email

  • Provides parental settings, which allows your children to only correspond with people on an approved contact list.
  • Scans each message for inappropriate words or images (bye, bye dating and weight loss advertisements).
  • The ability to carbon copy parent on all ingoing and outgoing mail.
  • Fee: Kids Email is currently running a special of $2.99 a month for 13 months. 30 day trial version is available.   

Maily (for iPads) 

  •  Provides parental settings, which allows your children to only correspond with people on an approved contact list.
  • Allows kids paint, write, take photos, have backgrounds, stamp,  and send photos with email. Super fun interactive options.
  • Fee: Free Although both senders and recipients of email must have a Maily account to communicate.

 Zilla Dog

  • Provides parental settings, which allows your children to only correspond with people on an approved contact list.
  • Profanity and information filter. Users can communicate with people who don’t have a Zilla account.
  • Free: Free.

Let’s hear it mamas. Have you given your tween or teen girl access to email? How do you monitor email? Do you use a specific email program or just maintain access to her password?

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