Having that first sleep-over is one of those great milestones that tell a kid that they are really growing up. But, depending on the age of the child, having that first sleep-over can actually be quite scary. How do you prepare your child for a first sleep-over, and how do you make sure the house they will be staying at is safe?
Sleeping over with grandparents, or an aunt, at a house a child knows well is so much less frightening than sleeping over at the house of a school friend whose parents your child doesn't know very well. We also think that it is a really good idea for that first sleep-over to be somewhere you could reach easily and quickly, in the event your child gets frightened. Don't plan a week-long vacation with the grandparents for a first-time sleep-over. Instead, only do one night. If the sleep-over takes place somewhere nearby, you can say that you will be there in 10 minutes, should anything happen. And make sure you can easily have phone contact.
For this reason, we suggest any kid who has a sleep-over either has his or her own cellphone, or has borrowed one from you. It is good for your child to be able to phone you without having to ask permission from any adults at the house he's staying with. Of course, you should talk about the actual sleep-over in some detail in advance, depending on the age of the child. The sleep-over should obviously happen at the house of someone you trust completely... especially in the younger years.
But the same goes for teenagers as well, to some extent. Get to know the parents before you allow your child to stay over at their house and ask questions, including about alcohol use, whether they have a gun in their home, and any other uncomfortable question that you feel the need to ask. If they are good parents too, they will understand and not be angry with you.