scorecardMy parents were always hesitant to let me go to sleepovers. After I went to my first one, I understood why.
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My parents were always hesitant to let me go to sleepovers. After I went to my first one, I understood why.

Gina Paradis   

My parents were always hesitant to let me go to sleepovers. After I went to my first one, I understood why.
LifeInternational4 min read
  • My parents didn't allow me to go to most sleepovers when I was growing up.
  • When they finally allowed me to go to one, I was excited. But that excitement was short-lived.

Growing up in a Dominican household, sleepovers had always been a hard "no." When my parents finally allowed me to go to my very first sleepover at the age of 11, I quickly realized why that was.

There were countless sleepovers I had not been allowed to attend, and I had never known how to explain to my friends why I was turning down their invitations. Whenever I'd ask my parents, my mom would say, "Because that girl probably has brothers and a father living there." At the time, I had no idea why that even mattered; I always imagined sleepovers like an episode of "The Babysitters Club," full of fun adventures and friends. What was the big deal?

I was excited for my first sleepover until a game of truth or dare

I was in middle school when I finally got my chance to go to a sleepover. My mom had a friend whose daughter was my age, and she was having a birthday sleepover. Although I had never met her before, my mom thought it would be fun and safe for me to sleep over at her friend's house.

While I was excited, I remembered my mom telling me that the possibility her brothers and father might be there was something to be nervous about. I didn't know why, but I knew it was the reason I wasn't allowed to go to sleepovers before this one. That night, there were no men in the house — but it still turned out to be a nightmare, and one I didn't even know to be afraid of.

We started off the night with just a group of eight 11-year-old girls together in a room. I felt safe. The first game we played was truth or dare. I only remember there being two truths, and the rest were outrageous dares that included things like humping a pillow. I was uncomfortable being in the same room, and I even covered my eyes or looked away. When it was my turn, the rules of the game suddenly changed.

"Only 'dare' allowed," the birthday girl said.

I felt my heartbeat in my throat. I was nervous about what my dare would be, especially since I didn't know these girls at all. My dare was to make out with the wall while everyone watched. I was only 11, and didn't feel comfortable doing things like that in front of people I had only just met. I refused, but when I did, I was told, "Do it or leave."

Suddenly, all the girls started screaming mean and hurtful things to my face, and a pillow was thrown at my head. One of the girls grabbed me by the shirt, opened the door, and pushed me while yelling, "Get out." I felt humiliated and embarrassed and wondered how 11-year-old girls were capable of such evil.

The parents in the house didn't believe what I told them

I went to talk to her mom and noticed the dad was also home now. I got nervous seeing him in the kitchen because of what my mom had told me, but was so overwhelmed by what had just happened that I ignored the fear and just begged to have my parents pick me up. But instead of calling my parents, they asked why. I told the truth with tears in my eyes, but they didn't believe their daughter could be so mean. They thought I was just crying because I wanted to be included in the game.

They walked me back to the room, told their daughter and her friends to be nice and to let me play, then left us unsupervised for the rest of the night. I was back alone with those girls, and they shoved me into the corner and made fun of me while I cried until they got bored and moved on. I felt betrayed by those adults.

Thinking back now, those parents probably didn't want my mom to know the truth about the bad time I was having while I was in their care. But it was torture waiting for my mom to pick me up in the morning. When she finally did, I told her how mean those girls were but left out many of the details because I felt ashamed, for reasons I'm still not sure of. She told me not to worry, but it was the first and the last sleepover I'd ever go to. Now that I think of it, I never saw that friend of my mom's friend again after that night.

Thankfully, I also never had to see those girls again, but the scars they left on my self-esteem made me question many of my friendships throughout high school. I am so proud of the 11-year-old version of me that refused to do anything that made me uncomfortable just to be accepted, but it pisses me off that those parents ignored my cry for help.

I'm not sure if I'll allow my future kids to attend sleepovers. It's hard to say right now since I'm not yet responsible for a child's safety, but I don't have to know yet. I might develop a safety plan with my future kids and make decisions about spending the night somewhere on a case-by-case basis, but I'm glad I have time to figure it out.




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