Tara Huck, an influencer from Raleigh, North Carolina, who goes by the username @t.c.huck on TikTok, shared her “unpopular parenting opinion” in a video uploaded in October, in which she revealed that she “doesn’t allow” sleepovers, doesn’t limit screen time “as long as school and chores are done,” and if her children don’t eat what she makes, “they don’t eat”.
In a follow-up comment, Huck elaborated on her rule regarding sleepovers, with the mother explaining that you “can’t trust what happens at someone else’s house” and that she doesn’t allow sleepovers at her own house because “that’s not fair”.
The video, which has been viewed more than 1.3m times, prompted a debate in the comments, with many viewers questioning Huck’s reasoning behind the no-sleepover rule.
“Unpopular for a reason,” one person commented, while another said: “I agree with all except the sleepover one. They gotta have a life.”
Someone else added: “As a kid that grew up in a loving and safe home but with strict parents, kids just need a break from home sometimes, it’s good for mental health. As long as you meet the parents, there should be no problem with a sleepover.”
However, others were in agreement with Huck’s rule, with many others revealing that they follow a similar rule in their own homes, or that they understand where the influencer is coming from.
“We didn’t allow sleepovers either and my boys did just fine,” one viewer wrote, while another said: “Don’t see why it’s a big deal to NOT have sleepovers. The world is a crazy place these days. I do allow [my children] at certain places, but I see your point.”
In a follow-up video shared in November, Huck addressed the backlash over her parenting rule, in which she began by acknowledging the “absolute hate” that she received from viewers over her initial video.
According to Huck, she waited to address the video, which she also posted to Instagram, “on purpose,” as she noted that “y’all were bent out of shape about it”.
“Now, did I ever say that they don’t go to friends’ houses? Nope. Did I ever say that they don’t go anywhere ever? Also not,” Huck said. “All I said was, sleepovers.”
Huck then went on to explain that she allows her children to go to their friends’ houses, as long as the parents are home, and that “the only thing is that I pick them up for showers and bedtime”.
In the video, Huck also addressed some of the comments she’d received, with the mother referencing a screenshot of one comment from a viewer who had said that “regarding the sleepovers, yes we had fun back in the day, but today if different… You don’t know what might happen somewhere else”.
In the comment, the viewer also noted the possibility of a child being inappropriately touched at another person’s house, before adding that “false accusations at your own house just might happen”.
According to Huck, she picked the comment because it was the “culmination of everything that [she] meant by the no sleepovers”.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Huck continued. “And it has nothing to do with me trusting my kids. It has nothing to do with me not wanting my kids to ‘have fun’. It has nothing to do with anything besides the fact that you cannot be positive that something won’t happen to your children at somebody else’s house, even if you trust those people.”
After acknowledging that there are a “million factors” that contribute to her reasoning, she added that she is not “willing to risk” her childrens’ safety for a sleepover.
Huck also explained that her rule also applies to what may happen at her own house, as the mother said that she has a son and a husband, before claiming that “it takes two seconds for somebody to say something that will ruin your life”.
While speaking to Today about the controversial topic, the TikTok user elaborated on her reasoning, telling the outlet that she feels children are at their “most vulnerable when they’re sleeping”.
“I’m just trying to eliminate one very small factor that could potentially harm them. If they could come out of their childhood without having had a very traumatic experience, whatever that experience could be, well, that’s all I’m trying to do,” she added.
However, according to Dr Sara Douglas, a Manhattan paediatric neuropsychologist who spoke with Today, the topic of sleepovers should focus more on “harm-reduction and prevention” rather than a blanket ban.
“What makes a sleepover appropriate for a child is less about an age number and more about the individual child,” she said, adding that parents should consider whether their children can follow someone else’s rules, whether their child will be comfortable in a new place, and whether their child even wants to attend the sleepover.
Dr Douglas also acknowledged that parents should ask questions to make themselves comfortable with the situation, and that these can range from topics such as food concerns to gun ownership and storage.
“There aren’t any wrong questions, and there shouldn’t be any limitations on what a parent feels comfortable asking another parent,” she added.
The Independent has contacted Huck for comment.