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Q. Our 12-year-old is invited to a school friend's birthday sleepover. I've always had an uneasy feeling the parents don't supervise their kids very well, and a mom I trust agrees I shouldn't let my son attend. What do you suggest? And if I say no, how should I explain my decision to him?
A. Follow your instincts and the advice of the mother you consulted. When your son asks why he has to skip the party, your answer should be short and simple: "I'm not comfortable with you staying there. If you really value this friendship, we could invite the family over for dinner next week. Maybe if I get to know them better, I'll change my mind. But for now, you're not allowed to go." Remember, if you do meet with the parents, keep an open mind, just in case you're wrong about them.
Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.