55 answers

4-Year Old Sleepover with Grandparents

Yesterday my husband, two kids, and I went to visit my in-laws an hour away, and toward the end of the visit, it was suggested (without asking my husband or me) that my daughter stay the night, and as we loaded the car to leave, my daughter was upstairs picking out which bed she was going to sleep in. Neither of our kids (4 and 2) have slept over anywhere without us, and I know to some that's strange, but when both my husband and I were young, grandparent or other family sleepovers were done out of necessity, and certainly there was more planning involved than asking a 4 year old what she wanted to do at the last minute.

Both my husband and I feel she isn't ready to stay the night away from home, as she doesn't sleep well even with all of us together on a vacation, since she's out of her element. And it's an hour away, which would mean us driving 4 hours from evening to morning just to have her sleep over.

We have now been made to feel very guilty about the whole incident, and my FIL hasn't gotten out of bed today b/c he's so depressed that his coworkers get to keep their grandkids and he doesn't. I personally need more than 5 minutes of preparation for my daughter's first sleepover, and her own toothbrush and pajamas would've been nice, too. I've tried to tell them that it's not them, that my kids haven't stayed anywhere, and I guess I just don't get why I need to have them sleep over. When we go to visit, my MIL and daughter will disappear to play Barbies (I'm invited to play after a few minutes) and my FIL and son will play with blocks or lincoln logs or trains with my husband.

I know that a lot of parents enjoy the break that comes with dropping the kids off for the night, but my husband and I don't go out, we'll crash on the couch with a new movie and some popcorn after the kids are in bed at 8:30, and see the kids in the morning. Is it that big a deal to have them sleep over at 4 and 2?

Thanks in advance for the opinions, and also, do you think it'd suffice to plan for us to drop the kids off there for a few hours while my husband and I did some shopping? Is it alone time with them that they want, or is it something else?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I think you should let them sleep over. There shouldn't be much of a dif. between you and their father and their grandparents. I can't say from personal experience but my sister has three children. She has an older child he has been able to sleep over at his grandparents house since he was 2yrs old. The middle child has stayed since he was 2yrs old and the baby has but only out of nec. But i think about 2yrs old is a good age. They are old enough to understand it's bed time and they need to learn to listen to other family members and it's a TREAT. They've been doing a good job in other areas (bedtime, potty training or what not) I trust you do a good job at grandpa and grandmas house.

I have some friends whose kids have had "sleepovers" with grandparents since birth. My kids (5 and 2) have never slept away from home without either myself or my husband. It's all about what YOU are comfortable with.

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I will try to be quick....

1. If you are not going to be appropriately consulted before the offer is made and the FIL is going to behave like a child when he does not get his way, this does not engender good feelings about leaving your child with them.

2. I don't understand the overwhelming value of sleeping over. Doesn't bonding and play and appreciation occur most frequently during waking hours?

3. Why are they so insistant on spending their quality time with your children without you? I wouldn't like it either. Family should not be exclusionary.

4. I think it is faulty logic to say just because you like your husband (one assumes) his parents will be good grandparents, or that their style of grandparenting is compatible with your style of parenting. In the grand scheme of things, your preferences are paramount.

5. Communication is key, but there is a certain amount of autonomy you are entitled to employ. Just make sure your husband knows if he does not wish to step up and handle the communication with his parents, you will do so, and you are not likely to weigh your in-laws' feelings so high when dealing with what you consider to be what's best for your children.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

2 moms found this helpful

I learned from a friend (an experienced parent) some time ago that if a situation involving your children makes you uncomfortable just say no. As a parent, you should always have the final say. I agree that a sleepover an hour away from home for a 4 year old is too risky. What if she gets up in the middle of the night, for example? In an unfamiliar environment, that could be potentially dangerous and frightening.

But two bigger issues looming here involve your husband's inability to not speak up to his own parents and your FIL's use of guilt as a way to control the situation. Create some boundaries between you and the in laws. Under no circumstances should they place your child in the middle. Decisions regarding your children's welfare should be up to you AND your husband.

In terms of finding time alone with your husband or simply running errands in peace, find a reliable babysitter who's in your area. Neighbors are great resources!

Good luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful

I think that a sleepover needs to be discussed well in advance. I would tell the FIL that you need more than 5 min. notice. You need to get things together. The other thing is the drive. I would ask them if they might take her for a weekend sometime - to make the drive worth it.

My kids were 4th and 6th grade before they spent the night anywhere and they spent the weekend with my parents. That was out of necessity - we were moving out of state and had to buy a house.

So... go with your gut. Say no until you are ready.

1 mom found this helpful

My mother and father (and family) live over 1000 miles away. My father has Alzheimers and they no longer travel. The only way my daughter will have a relationship w/ my family is if I let her stay w/ them. Her first time was when she was 8 months old. She stayed for 2 1/2 weeks. Yes, that was hard on me, but it wasn't really about me (well kinda, I went to Europe for part of that time). Since then she's spent a month (wayyyy toooo long!) and another 10 days with them. And, she's only going to be 3 next week. Our time apart is difficult for me, but I don't want to deprive her of knowing her family. And, since I work, I can't just take off for weeks at a time to stay there with her.

Perhaps the grandparents could have better handled the way it was sprung on you, but I do think it important to let your children have extended time w/ them. What is the worst that can happen? Surely they aren't abusive or pedophiles??

Some of my best memories of my paternal grandmother are from the times that I stayed w/ her. I don't have those close memories of my maternal grandparents b/c I didn't have that bonding time w/ them.


I think you are very normal in feeling this way about your child or children sleeping over anywhere. I have three kids, 2 boys and 1 girl. Boy and girl who are both 4(not twins,long story) and a 10 month old. Honestly I think everyone feels not the same on this matter. I am close to my mother and my daughter just now really says she will stay the night. I think it depends on child though. We live about 45 min from both of our parents. It weird though I think becuz my FIL and MIL will try to keep all my kids overnight and they really dont see them alot, well let me explain that, they come take us out to eat(spend about 2 hours with us and let my kids act crazy), but their grandparents. i think it good for kids if they wanna stay the night with and especially grandparents. If you dont feel comfortable with it,DONT LET THEM MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY. Its your child and no one elses(well expect husbands of course).When the matter comes to an end it need to be a good and comfortable decision between you and your husband.

I think it is alone time they want plus something more, developing a special unique relationship. We are fortunate to live about an hour from both my parents and in laws. I have a 5 and almost 3 year old. They have had sleep overs since less than a year old. The grandparents love being the caretakers: feeding, baths, sleep, breakfast, planning special activities, etc. When the parents are there it is different somehow. You and your husband may enjoy a night out more than you expect. I think it would be worth the try.

I have some friends whose kids have had "sleepovers" with grandparents since birth. My kids (5 and 2) have never slept away from home without either myself or my husband. It's all about what YOU are comfortable with.

My children have been staying at aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends for overnights and weekends before they were 1 year old. It was important for me to have them used to overnights before it was 'needed'. Plus, it is a wonderful way to connect with their extended family members. My kids are all in bed before 8:30pm every night, so my husband and I always have alone time too. It's not even about that for us. We want them to have relationships with others outside of us.

We let them do week long trips with their aunt during the summer break (she's a teacher) after the oldest turned 1. My in-laws (live 12 hours away) started keeping the oldest two for 3 weeks in the summer when they were 2 and 4. This is their third summer doing 3 weeks! Do I miss them? Of course, but what wonderful memories they get to make amongst themselves. My parents live an hour away and look forward to when they can have special weekends. They like to take one at a time for the entire weekend, Friday night through Sunday, and plan activities geared specifically for that child.

The one thing I didn't get from your post was if when you went to visit - if you and your husband ever leave the kids by themselves and you guys run out? You may not feel comfortable yet with an overnight, but what about a couple hours without supervision? The first couple visits to my in-laws would have my husband and I driving around town, window shopping at the mall or getting an ice cream cone. Anything, to let the grandparents have alone time with the new baby.

i totally get being annoyed at the last minute request and going to your daughter instead of you. that can be fixed easily enough with a brief courteous conversation with your in-laws. the bigger question is sleeping over at all. if you don't do it, you don't, and there's no discussion. you don't have to justify anything.
but it sounds as if you're not sure about it. personally i adored my time alone with my grandparents. there's a dynamic that changes when you're alone with them without your parents around that has nothing to do with love for parents. it's very precious, and i hope you let your kids experience it.
when i have grandkids i'm SO looking forward to my time with them. if my kids deny me that i'll probably be right there in bed with your FIL.
so to speak.

You are completely in the right. You FIL needs to get over himself. To stay in bed all day depressed over this? Please! If they want that, they could come to your house for the weekend to visit or watch the kids at your house and you and hubby go to a hotel. My 7 yr old has stayed the night with both sides of the family, we live in the same neighborhood, both as a treat and out of necessity. At first I was a nervous wreck, barely slept, and I was just across/down the street! No way my kid is staying an hour away without either me or my hubby or both. I have a 21m daughter who has never stayed the night somewhere without me.

I would not have been impressed with having that sprung on me last minute eithe and feel that they should have asked you and your husband in private before it was every mentioning it to your children. However you really might want to take them up on the offer. My husband and I had never taken our daughter to either set of grandparents for a sleep over until she was almost 3. I can down with the flu and we wanted to get her out of the house to prevent her from getting sick as well. I also we not able to take care of her at that time. She spent 2 nights at my in-laws house and she loved it. She did have a hard time when she got home because she then explained to me in 3 year old languauge that she thought I had sent her away b/c she had made me sick. I guess the explanation that we didn't want her to get sick got lost to a 3 year old. We also didn't have any time to prepare her for this event and after the fact she didn't want to go back to their house b/c she thought she was getting left there each time b/c she was given no warning the first time it happened. If I had it to do over again I would have let her stay a little younger and prepared and explained that she would be coming back home soon etc. You never know when you maybe in a situation that requires your children to spend a night or two away from home and it will help them if the first time is under good circumstances.

Best Wishes!

I understand that you rather make plans for your kids to stay the night. That way you have everything they need. But if my kids grand parents ask to take me kids I would say yes in a heart beat. I feel your kids our old enough to stay the night as long as it is with family & you trust them. One I know the grand parents will take good care of them. Also I would love the break, which I don't get much of. Even if my husband & I don't go out. It would be nice to stay home without the kids. Maybe you should talk to the inlaws and make plans for the kids to go there for the day & see how things go & then let them stay the night some other time. I'm sure the grand parents just want to spend time with your kids.

Growing up we had sleepovers at grandparents house since we were born.Our oldest was less than 12 months old when he did. I am sorry I do not see a big deal about it. If your inlaws are hands on grandparents(like ours), why not?My husband always calls them "10 "times a day to check how kids are doing and our 3 year old just says when asked to come to the phone " tell mommy and daddy I love them but we're playing here":)(my inlaws too live an hour from us)

You really do need more notice, and they'll just have to understand that (maybe your kids have a special blanket or stuffed animal they'd want with them). All kids are different--my son was totally ready at 2 to spend the night with my in-laws, my daughter wasn't ready for quite a while after that. Leaving them for a few hours during the day is a great idea (they might just wear your in-laws out!). Or maybe they could spend the night there while you and your husband treat yourselves to a romantic dinner and night at a hotel close to their home (so you won't have that hours drive if things go south).B.

I guess I am the only one on the other side of the fence on this issue. A sleepover at the grandparents house doesn't seem like a big deal to me, it's not like they are totally irresponsible. They have at least one adult child that seems well adjusted. Also to me an hour away is nothing. We have to drive much further than that to see our family, about 7 hours. There is a problem with them just asking your child during a visit to spend the night. Things that that do need to be discussed with mom and dad and planned in advance. Maybe your in-laws want some bonding time with your kids. A lot of people like to spoil their grndkids, with their undivided attention and sometimes fun things that mom and dad might not let them do. We need to allow other family members (grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) to develop relationships with our children. It really is nice to have the support of your whole family. Try to think forward to when your babies have kids, would you want to have some time with them to do special things or time devoted just to them? Good luck to you and your family no matter what you choose.

my now 8 year old daughter stayed with my grandparents often, this broadens their abilities to be around different age groups. My little angel now will (with me watching of coarse) walk up to older people and talk and smile and the joy that she puts on their faces is priceless. i know that if i did not allow the time with her great grandparents then she would not be able to relate to these people like she does.

i do not see any harm in letting them stay with your in-laws unless u are not saying something that is putting a fear into your heart that the children will get hurt in some way.

Dear SHAM,
Being a Grandparent is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling blessings one can experience. As a Grandparent I can tell you first hand that it is the joyful experience of seeing and partaking in the family traditions,enjoying time with them as they grow and discover the wonders of their young life. I am constantly amazed at the way my Grandchildren, ages 4 and 3,have grown into little people with expansive vocabularies and endless curiosities. They seem to like the time spent with my husband and I, even if only to converse with someone other than Mom and Dad. We have the Grandchildren over each weekend, which gives Mom and Dad a break for going out or just rest time. The children adapted quickly to my home and call it their house.
As a working parent I could not spend as much time with my children growing up but I sure do not want to miss the Grandchildren. Perhaps this is what your In-laws feel. Also, I'm proud to say, My Daughter and Son in law have done a wonderful job raising two great children and we are all blessed to share them. Hope this helps. CAB

I came to this website to get an answer and found myself asking a lot of questions about your issue. My two grandsons have been staying overnight with us since they were infants. My daughter and her husband have been very involved when they stay in terms of plans and preparations and they do provide expectations of us. I don't think this is unusual.

What I do think is unusual is that you have not indicated how you would feel if it were YOUR mother or father and they requested that your children stay overnight. Would it be different?

As the MIL, I am having my 4 year old grandson for a playdate (first one) next week. I have asked if he can stay overnight. His mom is not sure he would be comfortable staying overnight, so we will have plan A and plan B in place. They also live one hour away. We both are dedicated to getting him home if he should NOT want to stay or wakes up and is frightened and inconsolable.

It is all about the dialogue. Maybe you need to have more of an open discussion with the children and your husband present with his parents. Is it you, are you putting fears into the children. What is the big deal. I don't get it.

My mother has played the game of asking to do stuff with the kids last minute and in front of the kids. I find it to be manipulative. It would show a lot more respect for you and your husband if they asked you privately. They know it is harder for you to say no once they get the kids on their side. They raised their kids. It is your turn. If you are not comfortable with having your daughter sleep over then don't let her. As for your FIL and his "depression" I might call it a temper tantrum. That is what I call a child pouting when he doesn't get his way. Both of my sisters have left their kids over night repeatedly with my parents and I have in 12 years done it twice out of necessity. You're the parents decide what you think is best. I am sure that your MIL and FIL would not want the treatment they are giving you.

Oh, I loved loved loved staying at my grandparents, and my sibs and cousins would tell you the same thing; the best part was getting to wear one of Gram's nightgowns or Grampy's tee shirts to bed instead of our 'real' pajamas. Arrangements should be made in advance, but your in-laws and the kids seem to get along so well there shouldn't be any problems with sleeping, etc. It's exciting to get to stay over...
One of my regrets is that my ex inlaws, who live very close by, told me at the outset that they would not be babysitting grandparents. Count your blessings.

Yes, the grandparents should have definitely asked first so that you could pack the necessities, but I think it's sweet that they want to be so involved!! My parents get a huge kick out of having my daughter overnight. I'm not sure I see what the big deal is?

I'm seeing a little jealousy here. You seem upset that your daughter and her grandma "disappear" to play Barbies. Please understand that there is a grandparent-grandchild bond that is very special and should be nurtured. Just because your daughter wants to play with, be loved, be spoiled, spend the night with the grandparents does not mean that she will love you less.

That said, I agree that they should have asked you before suggesting a spontaneous sleepover to your daughter. I keep toothbrushes for my grandkids at my house (if they don't have one, they could run to the local Walmart to pick one up), and they love sleeping in one of my or my husband's t-shirts instead of their regular pjs. if you are concerned about her changing her mind in the middle of the night, let your in-laws know that if it doesn't work out you would expect them to bring her home.

I understand that you were brought up to only stay at grandparents out of necessity, but please allow your children the opportunity to have this bonding time with your in-laws. As a child, I loved spending time with my grandparents. I'm in my sixties now, and at a recent family reunion all of us cousins reminisced about our wonderful overnight stays with our grandparents. My oldest grandchild has been spending the night with us since she was an infant and, since she was the only grandchild for 7 years, we have a special bond that is beyond compare.

I think you should let them sleep over. There shouldn't be much of a dif. between you and their father and their grandparents. I can't say from personal experience but my sister has three children. She has an older child he has been able to sleep over at his grandparents house since he was 2yrs old. The middle child has stayed since he was 2yrs old and the baby has but only out of nec. But i think about 2yrs old is a good age. They are old enough to understand it's bed time and they need to learn to listen to other family members and it's a TREAT. They've been doing a good job in other areas (bedtime, potty training or what not) I trust you do a good job at grandpa and grandmas house.

i'm thinking they maybe just dont think you want them left there and wether that hurt their feelings because you said no or because they feel you dont trust them is many of the posibilities. if your child stays with them on the whip it wont hurt anything, they dont need pj's or a toothbrush or tomorrows set of clothes...this is supposed to be fun and exciting to stay with grandma and grandpa. if you trust their care then let them stay and see how it goes. drop them off early and go to some stores or a movie nearby then if they havent called to come home yet head home but tell grandma that if they want to keep them they will have to drive them home should the child(ren) not want to stay the rest of the night.

Lots of people have already replied with similar answers, but just my two cents:

In-laws should never entice child with an activity like a sleepover (or anything else similar) without discussing it with you and your DH *FIRST*! Getting the child all worked up over something is a cruel and petty manipulation of them and of you. Your FIL's behavior seems like a tantrum and your MIL informing you of it seems very manipulative (passive aggressive.)

A lot depends on your comfort level with the respective grandparents - after seeing my MIL's interaction with my two babies, I decided not to leave one with her (and FIL) until they were potty-trained and could speak up for themselves as to what they would eat, etc. (My oldest had to *tell* my MIL not to put talcum powder on her privates when my MIL changed her at 2 years of age.) My parents, on the other hand, I would leave an infant with if I needed to, and we started letting my oldest have limited sleepovers (with other grandchildren) at their house as young as 2 1/2.

Many children do/act better for other adults than they do for their parents - eat better, behave better, etc. - so, since your ILs are so willing and your daughter seems excited, I would give it a try - do a drop-off early one day, and let her spend the whole day there before the sleepover. Since the distance seems to bother you, work out a schedule of who is picking up/dropping off, or meet at a half-way point to exchange her.

Discuss with your ILs conditions under which you would allow a sleepover, 'house/diet rules', ask what activities (if any) would they plan for her, etc. Make clear that you and your DH are the ones to consult with proposed dates for a sleepover, before any mention of it to your DD. In case of emergency, make sure you give them a sheet with information on your kids medical coverage ID#s, allergy info and primary doctor/dentist contact information (a medical treatment authorization form is best and you can find a free one online easily.)

My oldest DD has had sleepovers at my parents since she was about 2 1/2 - last year at 3 she spent a week with them while my DH and I took a vacation and left the country. That was difficult FOR ME, but she absolutely loved it. Last Christmas, at 4, she stayed with the ILs for an extra three days when DH and I went home with the baby, then they brought her down to us and stayed for a day. Right now as I write this, she is 4 1/2 and spending the week with my parents and two of her cousins (they took the other three cousins last week.) I miss her terribly, it's worse since we're at home with the dog and the baby, just she's missing - BUT, that is all about me. We called last night to speak with her and she is having a great time, hardly wanted to get on the phone to talk to us. Also, FYI, all of our relatives are either 3-4 hours away or 7-8 hours away. We worked out a half-way pick up/dropoff for this trip.

I understand if you feel like you aren't ready for your child[ren] to be apart from you, but I do think that you should let them have this wonderful magical time with their grandparents. Don't make this decision be about *you* - make it be about what is best in the long term for your kids. A close relationship with caring grandparents (or other relatives) is a wonderful thing! Also, I would work out some ground rules for your ILs to try to nip this manipulative behavior in the bud.

Good luck!

I wouldn't feel guilty- they are your children and ultimately you have say. My husband & I are the same- we rarely go out, because- been there done that! We relish the time & experiences of the now.
A relationship is important with grandparents, but I would be inscensed that they tried to go thru you child rather than you. Discussion of groundrules is definately needed. The fact that your FIL cannot get out of bed because he is depressed because of the incident- well that is highly concerning and I would bring that up too. Combine those two elements and that is some passive aggressive manipulation for sure. Not all families are peaches and cream in the extended relationship department, stand your ground so your kids don't get caught in the tug of war. That kind of emotional manipulation can ultimately destroy & devide families, especially when your kids start picking up on it. Good luck.

Hello C.,

It is nice to see that we are not the only couple that doesn't leave our kids overnight either. They are 3 1/2yr girl and 4 1/2mth boy, which also both are asleep by 8:30.

We ending up working this out by letting them watch the kids for a about 7 hours on Thursdays, while we make a date night out of it. We pick them up about bedtime, so they can fall asleep in the car (we live about 40mins away). So far works great, its been about 8 months.

My sister-in-law does a situation were her daughter stays a full weekend with her mom once a month, because they live about 2 1/2 hours away and would hardly see her otherwise.

Trust your instincts- they are your gift from God. I absolutely understand where you are coming from. I, too, have a 2 and 4 year old and neither has ever spent the night away from home without me. I intend to keep it that way, for now. Another option for your in-laws is to come and spend the night at your house. Make it a long weekend with lots of fun activities plannned. Your kids will be on a mini-vacation without ever leaving home. Talk to your husband about how you feel and have him try to explain it to his parents. They would probably accept things better coming from him.

I will just be blunt and hope it doesn't offend....maybe its YOU (and your husband) who are not ready to allow your children to sleep overnight somewhere, not that your daughter isn't ready. While I can absolutely understand that, a relationship with grandparents is a very special relationship that you and your husband should be nurturing between your inlaws and your children. Children need more than just a mom and a dad in their lives. Grandparents offer history and a kind of love that children can't get from parents. While it may have been better for the first time to have a little more planning involved -- maybe the spontinaity of the whole thing would've caused less stress for your daughter. Now she may be thinking "why didn't mommy and daddy want me to spend the night with gramma and grampa?" and that may ruin the next attempt. I would encourage you to allow this to happen -- even with your 2 year old as well. Some parents don't need to have that time away from their children, but having time alone with your spouse will only nurture your marriage. I think the grandparents enjoy the alone time with their grandchildren and also enjoy the whole process of seeing how the kids are during the daytime to play with and then at night time to enjoy the cuddle time, the reading and getting ready for bed and then seeing them again in the morning -- just like us parents do! Give it a chance. You and the kids might actually like it! Also, if there is a reason you HAVE to leave the kids -- wouldn't it be helpful to have someone that they are comfortable with and that is your family? My niece and nephew never stayed with anyone for the first several years of their lives -- well, now at age 8 and 10, they STILL have separation issues and it is still difficult for their parents to leave them anywhere (including school - and many times in their own bedrooms). Why put your children through difficult times they don't need to have?

First of all, your FIL didn't get out of bed due to depression about no sleepovers?!?!? That's super-weird. But with that said, here's my humble opinion....
It took a few years (until my son was 4 years old) for me to be OK with sending him to my MIL's house to sleep over. He'd been home exclusively with me for his entire life, and I think I had a hard time "letting go". What if he missed me? What if he woke up scared? My MIL didn't know all the ways I knew to comfort him. I had a long list of reasons why a sleepover was not a good idea. Then I finally let him, and he had a wonderful time! My son is now 5 and sleeps over Grandma's house all the time....and I'm just waiting for my 20 month old to be ready for her first sleepover.
Unless your in laws are irresponsible people and you fear for your childrens' safety, I think the problem may be more with your reluctance to give up control. Kids don't care if they have their own jammies or toothbrush! Run to the drugstore and pick up one to leave at grandma's house.
My beloved Nona (grandmother) died a few years ago, and some of my best childhood memories are of sleeping over and getting to sleep next to her in bed, wearing one of her bedjackets. When she passed away, the first thing I asked to have was this bedjacket, and I still keep in safely tucked away in my closet.
You're going to worry the first time your kids sleep away, but let them do it! Suggesting an afternoon drop off suggests a lack of trust on your part, but I don't know your situation. Is there a reason not to trust them? Grandparents are a very important part of your kids' lives, and you might actually enjoy a night off if you gave it a try :)

I can see that many moms have already shared their experiences, but I wanted to take just a minute to offer my insight. I agree that this is absolutely your decision and it could have been handled more appropriately.

That said, encouraging your children to develop strong independent relationships with their grandparents and other special adults ultimately benefits everyone. There may come a time that you will have to leave your children overnight. They will handle the separation better if they have experienced it before. When my children were young, I was hospitalized for several days, and my MIL stepped in to help. The children were already well experienced at staying with Grandma so it eased everyone's discomfort, including my own.

If you are more comfortable with beginning with some "alone" time during the day, then offer that option to your in-laws. You might also choose to stay nearby at a motel during the first sleepover so that you are available if needed.

As far as the drive is concerned, perhaps your in laws would share the responsibility with you. Mine live 2 hours away, ane we typically meet somewhere in between so that no one has to drive continuously or we each make the whole trip once.

Good luck and best wishes on your decision-making.

Hey C.! i know you've gotten a TON of responses about this already, but i thought I'd share with you my experiences. My parents and inlaws have been having sleepovers and babysitting dates with my daughter since she was 2 months old. She's now almost a year and is so happy with her grandparents that I feel very, very comfortable leaving her with them. I wasn't so comfortable at first, but necessity dictated the 2 month old sleepover, and its turned out to be a GREAT bonding experience for the entire family. Instead of just listening to my stories about my daughter, my parents and IL's have stories of their own, and they revel in telling them. The trust factor has also grown a LOT between myself and my MIL- she and I are extremely different, and because she really wants to be a part of my daughter's life, I take this opportunity and set out my rules, and i'm very firm about them. because she wants to see her granddaughter, she follows them, and we've been able to cultivate a great relationship. I think my daughter benefits too by knowing that mommy and daddy trust gramma and granpa, and that she can trust them too, and learn to feel comfortable in different environments. Both my parents and IL's live about an hour away, but honestly i've never even questioned that, because my daughter's relationship and experiences are more important to me than worrying about driving a little extra.
Take charge and set your rules and limits, explain how you feel, but also try and look at it from your kids point of view, and how spending time with grandparents can be really beneficial.
Even if the nights are difficult at first, if they get loaded up on sweets or have nightmares, or even need to come home early- it's not a tragedy, it's a learning experience, and one that will help them when they get older and have to be on their own. Good luck!

I think you're over reacting. Sleepover with Grandparents is what most kids enjoy. My kids (twins now 14) only had Grandmother from my ex-husband side but lived to far away. They always asked me questions like Why we don't have normal grandparents that spoil us? All kids at school spent time with their grandparents...
Groing up I was mainly raised by grandparents and I have the best childhood a would ever want. I know sometimes can be difficult because they may not have the same standards of discipline you have but they create this special bond and it's wonderful for both grandparents and the kids plus believe me you and your husband need that time once in a while.
About not having a toothbrush and pj's that's not a big deal - the most important thing is that your daugther feels happy and welcome at her grandparents house. Just try it and if she cry that she wants to go home she may not ask again until she older. I sometime have over my god-daugther (5) and at last minute she decides to sleepover at my house so now I'm prepared for those situations and always keep a toothbrush for her.
It's not a bad thing...
Good bless you and your family.

Granted it may have been nice to get some advanced noticed but sounds like they were excited and it just popped into their heads last minute. This should be taken as a compliment that they want to have special time with your daughter.

My husband grew up without having any grandparents involvement really and he now feels less able to appreciate older people. I grew up having a lot of involvement with my grandparents and older people and love older people and appreciate them and what I learn from them. I remember how much I used to love to visit my grandparents and miss them now they are all dead.

Now having children of my own it's important for both my husband and I to have our children grow up having special time with their grandparents my parents are great and my husbands well it's been very disappointing and hard to handle their behavior towards our kids, they simply don't understand how to be grandparents since their own parents were lousy at it. We have had to see it as teaching them how to do it successfully.

We all have things we can learn from other people to deny your inlaws special time with your children denies both from growing in certain areas, appreciating different ages and the love that can be shared, not to forget the memories.

My parents are very involved grandparents and my whole family love that, they attend sporting games, school functions and have sleepovers at either there place or my siblings, they babysit, take them (nieces and nephews 2 at a time) on week vacations to exotic Islands etc.... all the grandkids love Gran and Granddad. This makes for life long well adjusted children.

I hope you can allow your children and yourselves the joys of loving grandparents in your lives and special time with your husband as this is important for any marriage also in today's society.

My husband and I are looking forward to moving closer to my parents to get the benefits that we know my parents will afford both our children and to us.

Hope these is helpful thoughts.

I don't think you're over reacting at all! In-laws should respect the fact that you're the parents, they're the grandparents. Your husband may be able to explain it to them in a way that they won't take personally. My son is only 9 months old, but already I don't see the need to let him stay overnight at anyone's house. I'm sure we will when he's older, but for now we don't do it. We do take any opportunity we have to let him stay with my in-laws (my parents live about 7 hours away, so we don't have to deal with this with them) so that we can have a night out, and usually let them do the bedtime routine with him on those nights. Maybe you can come up with a time frame of when you think you'll be ready to let the older child stay with them. Maybe when she's 5, or when she is consistently doing something (sleeping well on vacations?) that you feel would show she's ready to spend the night with someone else. Whatever it is, make sure your mil and fil know that this isn't just your decision, but also your husband's, and that they must respect the fact that they can't suggest ideas in front of your child without talking to you first. I know that's easy to say, but much harder to do.

I hope you are able to figure this out without feeling guilty or pressured to do anything you don't feel you or your child are ready for.

I think your feelings on this are perfectly normal and acceptable, as would be dropping off the kids for the night. It is a personal choice. Don't feel guilty about it, its totally your call.

My 4 year old daughter spent 2-3 nights with her grandmother at our house when her baby sister was born. Other than that, I want her with me for the foreseeable future. Her aunt asks, but I am more comfortable with it this way. My opinion is that when she is older she will be more capable of making safe decisions and following Mom and Dad's rules even in an unfamiliar situation. But for the most part, I just want her near because I am her Mom and that should be good enough for anyone.

I do suggest that you give the grandparents lots of alone time to the point that you are comfortable with it. But you don't need ot make excuses for why no overnights yet. If you feel the need for an excues, say that you think they will have anxiety being away from you. And my personal opinion is that two is much too young!!! But that is jsut me.

If the lack of preparation was the issue, tell them that you will be ready to try it (pick a date) but that you want to do some dry runs first - like having her spend the whole day. Another option is to let themn stay overnight at your house and you and your husband find a hotel nearby. That way, it is your territory, your daughter has the comfort of her stuff, and you know she is safe (the house is childprrofed, the furniture won't fall on her, the doors are secure, etc.).

Either way, no one, not even your husband, should have sprung this on you.

You are justified in feeling like the inlaws shouldn't have 'sprung' and overnight stay on you, since an hour drive is an inconvenience. On the other hand....please allow your children the priviledge of bonding w/ them.
My mom takes all 6 of her grandchildren overnight, once a month. It's great bonding time for them to be with her, while she is healthy and can play with them....they love it!
Some day those grandparents will be too old and feeble, so don't deny them the opportunity to KNOW the kids, not just from a distance.
My grandmother lived one hour away and I only saw her on holidays and some weekends. When I was an adult she came to visit me for a week in Alaska....I learned more about her in that week then I knew of her from my childhood. Overnight stays mean a more relaxed time, saying goodmorning and goodnight....those are special times.
Just make sure the inlaws respect your wishes, rules, and timing...you be in charge of that so you can be comfortable with it.
Your FIL's reaction is dramatic, but trust me, grandparents get together and 'brag' on thier grandkids...it's exciting for them to be able to tell thier stories, so don't be too hard on him....what else do they have that's exciting in thier lives? Being around children gives them excitement and youth back into thier own lives.

Hi C.,

I agree with the post Laura made. Your in-laws need to respect your boundaries and not view your decisions as something you are doing against them or that you don't trust them. You and your husband have every right to decide if and when your children are ready for a sleep over and to plan ahead. My mother used to pressure my sister to leave the grandkids with her (sister lives one hour away), but then call to have my sister come pick up one of them for one reason or another.

I have to say that your FIL's behavior sounds manipulative and juvenile. Maybe I am being harsh here, but his staying in bed is tantamount to a temper tantrum. That is a pretty poor example of how to handle a difference of opinion and that in and of itself would give me pause as to whether he is a good example in other ways. If the kids don't behave the way he wants, will he go to bed and sulk?

I feel for you and I am sure you will do what is best for your family. Take good care.

Dear C.,

I am a mother of two and a grandmother of two and PLEASE let me explain that most grandparents cherish time with their grandchildren. Most grandparents are able to do things for their grandchildren that they were not financially able to do for their own children.

My own two children are the lights of my life. They were and are my reason for being. When I see them with their children I realize again how much I have been blessed.

Are you worried that your children will prefer spending time with the grandparents as opposed to spending time with you?

If the drive is so long - why not drop the children off early one day - take a mini vacation for yourself and hubby at a nearby hotel and go back and get the children late the next day?

You talk about the MIL playing Barbies with your daughter and your FIL playing blocks, etc with your son. So-what is the harm there? Allowing your children to spend time with their grandparents broadens their knowledge of people and the ages and stages of life. You say that you dont want the children to sleep over because they have never slept over anywhere. That is not a good enough reason. Sooner or later - your children will spend the night somewhere other than their home. Why not allow them that experience now?

You say that when you and your husband were young - staying with grandparents was done out of necessity. So is that how you want your children to remember grandparent overnights when they are older?

When I was young - I spent overnights on weekends and a week or two with my grandparents in the summer. These are some of my most precious memories of my childhood. I remember so many fun filled days. I am sorry that neither you or your husband had these opportunities but please do not deprive your children.

I understand being annoyed about the whole last minute thing but I think as a family you should set down and talk about the whole thing. I have two boys ages 6 and 3 and they love staying at grandma and grandpa's house. My parents live two hours away so when my kids decide to have a sleepover we usually have a half way point where we meet so that neither one of us has to drive the whole way and the whole way back. Another thing my parents have done is they have rented a beach house near us and have let the kids stay with them there so that they are close to home if anything would happen. They did this the first time my youngest stayed with them cause we were not sure how he would do and he was fine. This past weekend he had his first sleepover at their house and he loved it. He did not want to come home. I know as a child I loved going to my grandparents house. I would try and work something out so your daughter can stay over at least one night. Just think these sleepovers would be memories that your daughter will have forever. Life is too short and you never know what could happen. These are just my opionions but the memories I have of my time spent with my grandparents has helped me with the lose of my grandmother and I am 27. Hope this helps.

Our in laws started out with the same behaviors of expecting things with out thought to our needs. Then when they didnt get it they played the passive agressive route as well. They really put it on thick just as you describe yours are doing. We had a difficult road with them at first, but we STOOD OUR GROUND. Thank God, or this would have been much worse and gone on forever. Now they know thier place. They know the rules. They know they will only get what they want by following them and being kind. My hubby had to really stand up to them for this to happen. Until he did they were making me out as the bad guy (as it was easy to manipulate their son but not me). It was horrible! Now that my hubby is the one to say no, to stand up to the rules, etc, they are nice to me. When they are not kind they dont see us or hear from us for some time. When they are nice we call them often and visit. Finally, we are all one big happy family now. but...it was really bad for the first year or two. With your kids in the picture it shouldnt take that long. If you give in and talk and talk about how the kids can ease into staying...well, they will know their tactics are working. Just say no, it hurts our children if you go through them...we will let you know when we are ready for that. Thats it, let them burn up. they will have to get over it.
Good luck.

So, my fiance grandparents kept him once a week because they loved it and would go and get him and his sister. My aunt and uncle did this with their first grandparent, another aunt keeps 4 or her 6 grandkids 1 night a week for kids night. I think that's great if your into it, not bad for them or you. My parents and both sets of in-laws (my fiance parents are divorced) want our son overnight, he's 3, we don't do it. Sometimes grandparents what that special alone time, so we'll go out to dinner or a movie or even shopping (so much more peaceful without the heard) so they have that. We try to do it over dinner, that seems to be important to our parents and have occasionally gone to dinner and a movie, where they do bath and put them down, then we either stay there too, or we put him in the car asleep, then they have that special time, but we are there. It's fine to let them if you want, but there is no reason for it, so don't be forced. I'm sure when he is older we'll let him, but not yet and I won't be forced into when and neither should you. I would try letting them watch them and going out, a little QT time with your husband can be good, but then you don't have to worry and they get the struggle of not being at home in her element.

I agree w/most of what others are saying. It is ultimately up to you (and if you are concerned about the g-parents...esp w/FIL being so melodramatic...sounds a little overdone to me). However, letting the kids sleepover is a great experience for all! I didn't let my son sleepover anywhere until my second son was born, but I have let both boys sleepover alone a few times since #2 was 20 months or so. and just a side note...they usually go to bed MUCH better for someone other than mom and dad, not to mention they are better behaved, and in the case of my kids...they even eat better and different foods they won't even try for me! haha! Kids are funny that way! You probably at least want to set some rules though, if you decide to let them stay. 1 is to discuss ahead of time, and 2 is to possibly share the responsibity of transportation. If you are worried about car seats, trade cars w/the inlaws...I do this w/my mom all the time. If she watches the boys so we can go out or even overnight, I take her car and leave mine. that way if she needs to go somewhere, she has both of their seats in the car and I don't have to switch them out! also, if they do some of the driving that will help w/the trip load. Another perk of letting the kids spend the night is that they are so happy for the time they had, and they are even more excited to see you when the stay is over...this is not a sign that they had a bad time, its just true that absence makes the heart grow fonder...its also a good break and healthy for the kids to have other caretakers. This will even help w/the transition to school as well. I was very unsure about it at first too, even though the g-parents in our area are MY parents! PS...my boys are almost 5 and 2!

Hi C.,
I agree with Amanda P., a sleepover at the grandparents house dosen't seem like a big deal. Allow your kids to enjoy their grandparents while they are still here and capable to care for them.

If I were in your position, I would be so happy that a grandparent wanted to be so involved. Unless your child was crying that she didn't want to stay, I would have just gone with the flow!

I think you were a little hard on your in-laws. Since they live an hour away, its not like they can pop in and visit the grand kids anytime. You should be glad they want the grand kids to stay the night. Enjoy that time with your husband....go on a date and see a movie or dinner. Since you dont go out much, just stay home and cuddle on the couch and watch a movie...believe me, its nice without the kids interrupting sometimes. I think its just alone time they want. That's what grand parents do...just be lucky that they are around to spend time with them.

I have been in both positions. We didn't really have family close enough to leave overnight at first and so the kids didn't stay over until they were about 10 or so. I never felt the loss of this but my mother did keep the "local" grandkids on occasion so I know she did miss not getting to keep mine. I am now a grandmother and see another side. It is fun to have the grandkids by myself. I love having everyone together but there is a certain bonding that happens from being with them by myself. There is just a different dynamic. Try leaving them with the grandparents for a few hours at first. Talk with your in-laws. Explain how you feel. If they are reasonable people who care about your feelings they will listen and try to understand. Work toward the overnight. You know your child best. She may not sleep real well away from home but the time she shares with them may be worth it. Just make sure the following day is not loaded with activity so she can rest if necessary. Be glad your in-laws want to have the children. Mine did not like "babysitting" or having them overnight. My mother-in-law said she had raised her kids and was done with that. She missed out on a lot. I think if you try to work with your in-laws they will see that and be willing to work with you.

Good luck,
Grammy Nan

sounds like your in-laws just want to have some quality time with their grandchildren. Four and two are very fun ages! A few hour shopping spree may be the place to start.

The fact that your child wants to sleep over means she's feeling comfortable - however it might still mean she is not ready to sleep over all night. My nine year old daughter had trouble sleeping overnight at her grandmother's house where she has slept overnight several months before and she was with her siblings so it's going to happen at any age at any time anywhere. Test it out - plan on them sleeping over - and make reservations at a local hotel and have a nice night out with your spouse - you both need to do that - I know because my husband and I finally spent time alone together after five years - it's good for your marriage. My son still sleeps with us and he's four so trouble sleeping at night is the same for us. By staying close by means if you are needed you don't have to drive so far to pick them up and also have had a nice chance to go out with your spouse.

Don't feel guilty. My husband and I feel the same way and all of our relatives live within 25 minutes of our home. I agree that more time would have been needed, and you would need more time than 5 minutes notice to teach your 4-year-old rules about sleepovers, even at the homes of relatives.

You and your man are the parents. You have perfect authority to say where your children will be and when. If you don't believe in sleep overs at a young age, explein this politely to the Grandparents and then follow your principles. You should "call the shots" and not allow them to push you into something you do not feel comfortable with.

One of the best decisions we ever made as a family was our move to this area so that we would be close to my parents. We have three kids and the two girls have been doing sleepovers with friends and the grandparents since 3 years old. My son doesn't have the close friends that my daughters have so being able to have sleepovers with his grandparents or aunt has been a godsend. In this way, he doesn't feel left out and we feel totally comfortable about where he is sleeping. There is a lot of great quality time that comes from spending time with grandparents but you must feel good about the decision. I don't know your situation but I would encourage you to consider beginning to take the kids to the grandparents house and begin to get them used to being in their house without you. You never know if there will be some sort of emergency and the grandparents may have to watch your kids. It is much better to have the kids used to spending time with them without you than not. Good luck with your decision. Take it slowly and you will be amazed at how the kids will blossom by spending time with the grandparents!!

Hi C.,

I say let your kid(s) sleepover. What is it going to hurt? Times have changed since you were growing up, letting the grandparents keep the kids for no reason at all is okay. I can't remember when I started, but when I was a kid I stayed with my grandparents EVERY weekend just because I wanted to and they wanted me to. My parents weren't going out or anything, in fact they had my little sister with them. Just find something to do with your husband if you want to justify it. I would let them stay the night. It sounds like the kid(s) have fun with the grandparents, the kids will go to sleep eventually (if they have any problems at all). Just keep in mind the kids will come home tomorrow, you have everyday with them, the grandparent's days are limited (no matter how young/old they are)because obviously they are older and because they do not live with the children. The grandparents took care of your husband so it isn't like they don't know what they are doing. By not letting the kids stay, you may make them feel like you think they are incapable of keeping your children.

Hi there! I agree you need more notice since it is something new for you and your family but be glad they want to keep them. My story is much different and we'd be super thrilled if we got an offer from the grandparents. Maybe dropping them off for a bit in the beginning would make sense in your situation, try it you might be surprised at how much they like and you and your husband as well! Good luck and have fun!

Don't let the inlaws guilt you into not letting your children sleep over. You are the parent and you know what your kids are ready for or not. Go ahead and plan maybe a shopping or dinner and a movie night for you and your husband and let the kids stay with the inlaws. If your inlaws do not like that idea, then gently remind them that until your children are older, overnights will have to be planned in advance, especially since you live 2 hours away.
I would be a little more concerned about the inlaws trying to guilt you, as well as their persistence in playing separately. How about having the inlaws join you on a hike so they can see how you and the kids all interact together? That may show them why you're not ready for the kids to spend the night anywhere, as well as show them how easy it is to play with both grandkids together.
Good luck!

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