Single dad and a girls' sleepover party

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Spacers's picture
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Single dad and a girls' sleepover party

I saw this Dear Prudie question & answer on Monday & didn't think anything of it, but it was the subject of discussion on the radio this morning & I figured it might be an interesting debate question. Would you let your daughter attend a sleepover party if the chaperone was a single dad? Why or why not? Would your answer be different if it were a single mom and a party of boys?

Q. Single Dads and Sleepovers: I'm a single dad raising four girls. My oldest is turning 12, and she wants to have a sleepover party at our home. My concern is would other parents think it's inappropriate for a single dad to supervise all the kids? I haven't had the opportunity to know other parents very well, but most know I'm a single dad. Should I have a female friend stay the night and help me supervise to put other parents at ease? I just want my daughter to have a great birthday, and I'm worried her friends' parents will say no because they feel uncomfortable about a man looking after the kids by himself.

A: Unfortunately, I have heard from people who refuse to let their daughters stay the night at the home of a child being raised by a father, not because the father makes them uncomfortable in any way, but solely because he's a man. This is ugly and pernicious, and I'm hoping the other parents in your circle are not like that. I don't think you should mention your single status at all nor should you bring in a surrogate "wife" to ease the concerns of the other parents. If a single dad explained to me that he was doing this, that information itself would actually make me uneasy. Just come up with a guest list and send the invites, and with a houseful of 12-year-olds, in addition to your other three excited daughters, expect to get very little sleep, Dad.

Dear Prudence: Can single dads host sleepovers? - Slate Magazine

Spacers's picture
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ITA with Prudie's answer. If he's raising the kind of girls that I want my daughter to be friends with, then he's going to be a fine chaperone. I'm not sure I'd want to be the sole chaperone for a gang of 12-year-old girls, but if he's up for it, more power to him.

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DH's daughter was 13 when we met and he would not let her friends stay overnight because he didn't think it was appropriate since he was a single man. She wasn't allowed to have friends stay over until we were married and I was going to be home.

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I don't see a single dad as being a bigger threat than a married dad.

I wouldn't let my kids sleep over anywhere where I hadn't met the parents so if I knew him and thought he was a decent guy they could go over.

mom3girls's picture
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Totally depends on the dad.

ftmom's picture
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No body jump on me....but the thought of any sleepovers makes me nervous. Yes, I know they are a part of growing up, and I have great memories of them when I was a child, but man its going to be hard to let my kids go to them.

So, my knee jerk reaction to this is no, I wouldnt let my daughter go, BUT at this point that is my knee jerk to any sleepover questions. I am sure I will get over it one day.

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"ftmom" wrote:

No body jump on me....but the thought of any sleepovers makes me nervous. Yes, I know they are a part of growing up, and I have great memories of them when I was a child, but man its going to be hard to let my kids go to them.

So, my knee jerk reaction to this is no, I wouldnt let my daughter go, BUT at this point that is my knee jerk to any sleepover questions. I am sure I will get over it one day.

I think this will get easier as your oldest gets a little older. We are still pretty selective about who we let our kids stay the night at, but they do get to have sleepovers.

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I wouldn't have an issue with it.

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"ftmom" wrote:

No body jump on me....but the thought of any sleepovers makes me nervous. Yes, I know they are a part of growing up, and I have great memories of them when I was a child, but man its going to be hard to let my kids go to them.

So, my knee jerk reaction to this is no, I wouldnt let my daughter go, BUT at this point that is my knee jerk to any sleepover questions. I am sure I will get over it one day.

I agree as my kids are always with me or grandparents outside of dd1 being at preschool. It makes me nervous to think about dropping them off for a few hours or a sleep over!

But if I'm going to go through with it...the dad part isn't the issue. Smile

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"ftmom" wrote:

No body jump on me....but the thought of any sleepovers makes me nervous. Yes, I know they are a part of growing up, and I have great memories of them when I was a child, but man its going to be hard to let my kids go to them.

So, my knee jerk reaction to this is no, I wouldnt let my daughter go, BUT at this point that is my knee jerk to any sleepover questions. I am sure I will get over it one day.

I agree as my kids are always with me or grandparents outside of dd1 being at preschool. It makes me nervous to think about dropping them off for a few hours or a sleep over!

But if I'm going to go through with it...the dad part isn't the issue. Smile

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

DH's daughter was 13 when we met and he would not let her friends stay overnight because he didn't think it was appropriate since he was a single man. She wasn't allowed to have friends stay over until we were married and I was going to be home.

Did you, as a single mom, allow your boys to have friends stay overnight? If so, why the difference? I'm sad for his daughter that she was deprived of that bonding experience with her friends. I just don't get how there would be any danger when there's half a dozen potential witnesses right there in the same room. What if the parents are married but the mom works until midnight, does she still count, or would you keep your daughter home?

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

DH's daughter was 13 when we met and he would not let her friends stay overnight because he didn't think it was appropriate since he was a single man. She wasn't allowed to have friends stay over until we were married and I was going to be home.

I'm a bit confused. Her friends' parents thought it was inappropriate? Or HE did? Why would he think it was inappropriate if he was a parent and knew he wasn't going to mess with the girls?

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I'm a bit confused. Her friends' parents thought it was inappropriate? Or HE did? Why would he think it was inappropriate if he was a parent and knew he wasn't going to mess with the girls?

So what if he was accused of something? It would be the word of a 13 year old girl against his. He didn't want to put himself in that position.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So what if he was accused of something? It would be the word of a 13 year old girl against his. He didn't want to put himself in that position.

That's different from thinking it's inappropriate. That is what confused me. I am still a bit unsure of why he would anticipate such a thing happening, but it makes a little more sense this way.

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I'd have no issue with it. My oldest sleeps over at a friend's house quite often, and it's just the boy and his mom. The thought of anything happening has honestly never even crossed my mind.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So what if he was accused of something? It would be the word of a 13 year old girl against his. He didn't want to put himself in that position.

How would he be accused of something. There would have to be either mass abuse of all the girls, which I don't see happening, or there would have to be mass collusion among the girls to lie about it, and I also don't see that happening. And it would be the word of my child against his word. I know my child. I can tell in an instant when she's lying, and I would never allow her to perpetuate a lie about something like that. If I thought a dad might abuse her, I wouldn't let her go, but I'm not going to assume that all dads are monsters. I just don't live like that.

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I had friends sleep over all the time when I lived with my single dad. Actually I had a lot less sleepovers after he married my stepmother.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

I don't see a single dad as being a bigger threat than a married dad.

I wouldn't let my kids sleep over anywhere where I hadn't met the parents so if I knew him and thought he was a decent guy they could go over.

Agreed. We don't have our kids have sleepovers (at home or away) without taking time to get to know the parents and meet the kids in advance.

That said, I do believe I understand what Gloria was sharing re: her dh's decision as a single dad. I could understand someone being hesitant to put themselves in the position to be potentially accused of something inappropriate -- particularly if he does not know the kids or parents involved in advance. While I *get* that it would be unlikely with so many present as you'd think that the others would serve as witnesses, unfortunately there are those few kids... particularly in the preteen/teen set... that *may* use an accusation as a means of getting attention, or perhaps even if they didn't appreciate the house rules, acted out of jealousy, etc. Again -- I do NOT believe that would happen in the majority of cases, but the thought if that "1" just happened to land in his home it certainly could serve to give him pause. I know many youth organizations caution from not having another adult present in situations that would not be considered "public" for the same reason.

I'm sure at times, Gloria's step-daughter may have been disappointed but it doesn't sound as if he isolated her from having friends over... just not to sleep (granted maybe I misunderstood?) -- nor did she say that the sdd was forbidden from going to a sleepover. He sounds like he simply made choices to protect and insure that he was there for his dd for the long term vs. putting them in a situation that -- despite best intentions -- could be misconstrued. Is that *fair* thinking? Not really - but I think most of us likely object to some of the new realities our kids face that our parents didn't think twice about.

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"MissyJ" wrote:

Agreed. We don't have our kids have sleepovers (at home or away) without taking time to get to know the parents and meet the kids in advance.

That said, I do believe I understand what Gloria was sharing re: her dh's decision as a single dad. I could understand someone being hesitant to put themselves in the position to be potentially accused of something inappropriate -- particularly if he does not know the kids or parents involved in advance. While I *get* that it would be unlikely with so many present as you'd think that the others would serve as witnesses, unfortunately there are those few kids... particularly in the preteen/teen set... that *may* use an accusation as a means of getting attention, or perhaps even if they didn't appreciate the house rules, acted out of jealousy, etc. Again -- I do NOT believe that would happen in the majority of cases, but the thought if that "1" just happened to land in his home it certainly could serve to give him pause. I know many youth organizations caution from not having another adult present in situations that would not be considered "public" for the same reason.

I'm sure at times, Gloria's step-daughter may have been disappointed but it doesn't sound as if he isolated her from having friends over... just not to sleep (granted maybe I misunderstood?) -- nor did she say that the sdd was forbidden from going to a sleepover. He sounds like he simply made choices to protect and insure that he was there for his dd for the long term vs. putting them in a situation that -- despite best intentions -- could be misconstrued. Is that *fair* thinking? Not really - but I think most of us likely object to some of the new realities our kids face that our parents didn't think twice about.

I agree with you Missy. Dh is a middle school teacher in a title 1 school. The principal is very clear on his expectation that the male teachers on staff are very deliberate in their actions regarding any interaction with female students. He feels the same way about male students and female teachers. He does not worry about his teachers actions, but wants to protect the integrity of his staff

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This may make me a terrible parent, but I don't have time to get to know everyone else's parents in such a deep way. My kids don't do sleepovers yet -- Juliet's too young and Nathaniel, although he's 9, doesn't want to -- but I am not a stay at home mom so my time is really limited. I know many of the parents on sight or for quick chit chat but there are only a handful I actually know "well". I would still let Nathaniel stay at someone's house if the parents didn't fall into that category.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

This may make me a terrible parent, but I don't have time to get to know everyone else's parents in such a deep way. My kids don't do sleepovers yet -- Juliet's too young and Nathaniel, although he's 9, doesn't want to -- but I am not a stay at home mom so my time is really limited. I know many of the parents on sight or for quick chit chat but there are only a handful I actually know "well". I would still let Nathaniel stay at someone's house if the parents didn't fall into that category.

Me too Laurie.

Aodhan was just invited to a sleepover birthday part for a friend at school. I know his parents. I see them around a lot and his father is wicked nice. He assistant coaches and always says hi and asks how Aodhan's doing. Stuff like that. I don't know the mother near as well. I see the actual friend often because he played basketball with Aodhan and also plays little league. He seems like a good kid.

Thats about all I know. I plan on letting him go if he wants to.

ETA: I never answered the original question. Single dad would not bother me.

I really don't go about life assuming the worst case (and more unlikely) scenarios.

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Well I didn't mean I had to have intimate dinners or anything with the parents but I would like to have had even a small conversation to get an idea on who they are.

I'm not going to send my littler children over to someone's house without even a face to face conversation prior.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

Well I didn't mean I had to have intimate dinners or anything with the parents but I would like to have had even a small conversation to get an idea on who they are.

I'm not going to send my littler children over to someone's house without even a face to face conversation prior.

I get that, but if you're worried about child molesters, a face-to-face chat won't be of any help in that regard. It will only screen out the obvious raving lunatics.

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IMO, a sleepover party, with multiple kids, is different than just a sleepover at a friends house, and I would be more likely to allow my child to go to the party (in a few years), than just a one on one sleepover. I feel like that way if something makes them uncomfortable they have 'back up' in the other children, even if that just means staying within the group.

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"ftmom" wrote:

IMO, a sleepover party, with multiple kids, is different than just a sleepover at a friends house, and I would be more likely to allow my child to go to the party (in a few years), than just a one on one sleepover. I feel like that way if something makes them uncomfortable they have 'back up' in the other children, even if that just means staying within the group.

I agree that there are safety in numbers. I was trying to think about if i would have let him sleep over at the kids house if it was just going to be him. I'm not sure what i would do because in reality thats kind of very awkward and no parent has ever done that. This kid and Aodhan have never hung out outside of school or sports together and i've never had any parent go immediately from "My kid likes hanging out with your kid at school" to "lets have a sleepover"

After like two play dates or something though? Sure, I probably would.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I get that, but if you're worried about child molesters, a face-to-face chat won't be of any help in that regard. It will only screen out the obvious raving lunatics.

I didn't say I was...unless you aren't directing that to me. I specifically said my worry with a single dad is equal to a married dad and that worry is actually pretty low. There are other things that concern me more.

I do feel it's my duty, with younger kids especially, to know where they are going and who is there. As they get older that may change. I may not need to feel like I have to have a convo. with the parents.

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dp

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"Jessica80" wrote:

I didn't say I was...unless you aren't directing that to me. I specifically said my worry with a single dad is equal to a married dad and that worry is actually pretty low. There are other things that concern me more.

I do feel it's my duty, with younger kids especially, to know where they are going and who is there. As they get older that may change. I may not need to feel like I have to have a convo. with the parents.

What kind of conversation are we talking about? I'm just trying to figure out what is actually being determined by the conversation. Admittedly, i'm skeptical that people can find much of substance from a conversation or two. I suppose unless you have some very basic rules like not sending your child to a house with guns or a house with dogs or something. Aside from that...i'm skeptical how much else can be gleaned from a conversation with the parents.

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double post.

I think i'm going to start typing random things when i get a double post...just because I'm sick of saying "Double Post"

I think I'll start picking a theme. Like barnyard animals or something...or characters from the smurfs.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

I didn't say I was...unless you aren't directing that to me. I specifically said my worry with a single dad is equal to a married dad and that worry is actually pretty low. There are other things that concern me more.

I do feel it's my duty, with younger kids especially, to know where they are going and who is there. As they get older that may change. I may not need to feel like I have to have a convo. with the parents.

I just think there's not that much you can really know from a casual conversation.

I think it's great to know your kids' friends' parents and to be involved. It's just not something I can actually do, given the time constraints.

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Well yeah for starters, I want to know who would be present, who is normally at the house etc. I live in a small town so it's usually a moot point since I know most everyone already but of course..those new people throw me off ;).

And yes, the gun question would be something I would ask, not that I would stop them from going but I would want to know how they were locked up etc.

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For me, I absolutely would have to know the parents before letting my daughter(s) sleep over somewhere. I may ease up on this as they get older (much older) but for now both DH and I feel strongly about this. As to the original question, if I knew the single dad and felt comfortable with him, a group sleepover would not bother me.

And I completely understand Gloria's DH's position as a single dad...at some point (typically) those girls are going to sleep and you have NO idea what one of them could accuse the dad of doing while the others are sleeping. It only takes one liar...they do not all need to be in on it. While I agree it's unlikely, it's not a position that my husband would put himself in either.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I really don't go about life assuming the worst case (and more unlikely) scenarios.

Yeah, this. I think that its paranoid to not allow your child to have children over for a sleepover if you are a single man.

at some point (typically) those girls are going to sleep and you have NO idea what one of them could accuse the dad of doing while the others are sleeping. I

this is crazy thinking to me. This could JUST as easily happen, the accusation, if the Mom was sleeping. So the answer is to protect yourself don't have any sleepovers, or Dad gets a hotel for the night or something? If we really think that girls are making up sexual abuse allegations this frequently I think that we have a real problem. Do you guys really think that tween or teen girls make up sexual abuse so frequently that this is something that we really need to "guard" against? I don't.

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Someone who would lie about something like that could just as easily lie and accuse the mom of abuse. There's no way to protect against an emotionally unbalanced or mentally ill person who would think of doing something like that.

ftmom's picture
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I have been thinking about since, from my initial, knee jerk, no reaction.

Here is what I have been thinking. I would probably say yes to a group sleep over with 3 or more girls there, as this would give DD a 'group' to feel safe in. However, unless DD knows the dad well and is comfortable with him I would probably say no to just her sleeping over. Not because I am worried about her safety due to him being a single dad, but because she is used to dealing with a female, and I dont want to drop her off somewhere for an extended time and have her feeling uncomfortable and unsure the whole time. I would be fine for a few hour play date, but I dont want her to keep things like homesickness inside because she is worried about talking to a man about it.

This response has as much to do with my child's temperament and upbringing as anything else, I realize that. I just thought it might be a relevant point for the debate. Not all parents would say no due to fear of molestation, but due to other factors. And again I realize my thoughts on this could easily change in the next few years.

Another thing, I would definitely have to talk to the parents if my child was invited to a sleep over and I didnt know the parents well. My big question would simply be who lives in the house, or would be there that night. I do have the added advantage of being able to run those names past the investigative RCMP crew for our town though and although they wouldnt run the names or anything for me, they would let me know if anyone stood out, which would make me feel better.

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I suppose I am very naive, but I wouldn't dream of even wanting to run my kids' parents' names past the police.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I suppose I am very naive, but I wouldn't dream of even wanting to run my kids' parents' names past the police.

I would be LIVID if someone ran my name by the police because I invited their child over. LIVID.

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Apparently we watch too many crime shows (reality ones, not made up dramas) because I absolutely see stuff like this happen (and much crazier) and I guard my children and my family against risks, to the extent that I find it reasonable. I think it is much less likely for a girl to make an accusation when there were 2 or more adults there then when there was just one and it's her word against his. I always know if my husband gets out of bed at night (light sleeper, I guess), so I would be there to say that I know he didn't leave his bed.

I don't sit and obsess over these things, as some of you on this board like to make it sound (as if everyone who doesn't think like you is a wacko). I simply make decisions based on weight of risk vs. return, and I think it's perfectly reasonable for a single dad not to feel comfortable having a bunch of teen girls sleep over. If he feels comfortable with it, and I know him well, then I would be all for my daughter being involved if she wanted to be.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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DH has a firm policy of not being alone with children that are not our own or our nieces or nephews. One reason for this is because we know someone who's daughters had some friends over and they all got together and decided to accuse him of molesting them. Years later they came forward and confessed they made the whole thing up, but not until they did a whole lot of damage to his life. DH does not put himself in a position where it is ever his word against other children's word.

We do let our oldest two go to birthday sleepovers where we know the parents well. Only if we know the parents well. I also would not leave my girls at a sleep over with just a man unless it was someone I knew VERY well like a BIL. One reason for this is that about a year ago it came out that one of Alyssa's friends' father was arrested and convicted of aggravated rape. We knew him and had seen him once a week for years and had had him over to our house without having any idea that he had been raping his daughter on a regular basis for years. It is sickening and a shame that we can not just trust anyone, but in reality we can not.

As I said, we do let our older two go to sleepovers, but I really would ideally want two adults present.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I suppose I am very naive, but I wouldn't dream of even wanting to run my kids' parents' names past the police.

"Potter75" wrote:

I would be LIVID if someone ran my name by the police because I invited their child over. LIVID.

I think I need to clarify. My husband is on that unit, so of course I would OK the people at the sleep over with him. Also, due to his involvement, we socialize A LOT with the other members, so it would be like running the names passed good friends. I would certainly never ask them for something like a background check, and they would never do it if I did, but more of a 'hey, do you know anything about _____?'

Also, for the record, I am a lot less paranoid about who I leave my kids with than the other members of his department. I recommended my daycare to one of them and she turned it down because the womans husband associates with drug dealers. I figure #1 my 4 year old is not a drug dealers target and #2 the husband is working during the day when my kids are there, so I didnt have a problem with it. I think living with the reality of the horrible things that people do to each other every day makes cops and their families really paranoid, and I try not to be that way. DH likes to know the info on these things, but he usually lets me make the decisions, because he knows he would never let his kids out of the house if I didnt keep him in check. We havent come across a situation yet where he has vetoed me, though a few where I have had to talk him around.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

DH has a firm policy of not being alone with children that are not our own or our nieces or nephews. One reason for this is because we know someone who's daughters had some friends over and they all got together and decided to accuse him of molesting them. Years later they came forward and confessed they made the whole thing up, but not until they did a whole lot of damage to his life. DH does not put himself in a position where it is ever his word against other children's word.

We do let our oldest two go to birthday sleepovers where we know the parents well. Only if we know the parents well. I also would not leave my girls at a sleep over with just a man unless it was someone I knew VERY well like a BIL. One reason for this is that about a year ago it came out that one of Alyssa's friends' father was arrested and convicted of aggravated rape. We knew him and had seen him once a week for years and had had him over to our house without having any idea that he had been raping his daughter on a regular basis for years. It is sickening and a shame that we can not just trust anyone, but in reality we can not.

As I said, we do let our older two go to sleepovers, but I really would ideally want two adults present.

Unfortunately, I also know some of these stories that some think are so unlikely or it is paranoid thinking to consider them. I'm sorry, but when you KNOW people that have been molested in similar situations, you hold your children a little closer and promise yourself to protect them from that pain. I'll be happy to be considered a whacko or paranoid if it means my children have less of a chance of experiencing such a horror. I do believe that even someone you think you know can turn out to be someone completely different, but we can't go around not trusting anyone at all. We can, however, take reasonable precautions to protect our family.

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I think if I had had some of the situations you guys describe happen, I would be a lot less relaxed about things than I am now.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I think if I had had some of the situations you guys describe happen, I would be a lot less relaxed about things than I am now.

Almost 1 in 5 women in US have been raped or sexually abused, study finds | GlobalPost

This was just the top Google search I could find. I had previously heard the numbers were 1 and 4. When my mother was a girl she was playing at the neighbor's house and was molested by the girl's father. A similar situation happened with DH's sister. It is much more common than people think. I am perfectly fine with being called paranoid. I would not leave my daughters with an adult man that was not family unless I knew them extremely well.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Almost 1 in 5 women in US have been raped or sexually abused, study finds | GlobalPost

This was just the top Google search I could find. I had previously heard the numbers were 1 and 4. When my mother was a girl she was playing at the neighbor's house and was molested by the girl's father. A similar situation happened with DH's sister. It is much more common than people think. I am perfectly fine with being called paranoid. I would not leave my daughters with an adult man that was not family unless I knew them extremely well.

Someone attempted to sexually assault me, but it wasn't at a friends house or at a sleepover. He was someone I babysat for, and someone that my parents knew well.

Aren't there statistics out there that sexual abusers are very often people you know well or are family? I think it's kind of arbitrary to protect kids from one type of sexual assaulter but not the othet

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I think it's kind of arbitrary to protect kids from one type of sexual assaulter but not the othet

I think most parents would try to protect their child from any sexual assault they could.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I think most parents would try to protect their child from any sexual assault they could.

But you made an exception for people you know well

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"KimPossible" wrote:

But you made an exception for people you know well

It is not possible to protect my children from everything. I can only do the best that I can.

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Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3317

Quote from Wikipedia

Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as 'friends' of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

Ok. So according to that quote 60% of sexual offenders are acquaintances. I would not leave my daughters alone with a male acquaintance. I do not think an acquaintance = someone you know very well.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3317

I wouldn't call friends of the family acquaintances... Nor neighbors in a lot of instances. You are distilling down the statistic

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm calling misinterpreting risk crazy and paranoid.........not people. If you want to take that very personally okay. Your choice. I also admit that I don't watch TV shows that up my paranoia or fear level ~ I stick to the real world stats and real world situations.

Its fine to say you weigh the risk vs reward or whatever you said Carrie, but that risk has to be linked to a statistical basis, not rooted in fear. Thats my point. I also clearly stated that what I thought was crazy was people living in fear of gangs young girls falsely calling "rape". I've been raped, by a stranger in a second world country ~ doesn't change my reality level of what is acceptable as a norm or safe in my community. I understand where I live, I know my friends, and I don't make up all men to be potential rapists or all young girls to be drama queens falsely reporting sexual abuse for fun.

If I really wanted to protect my children (risk wise) we would not live in a house or drive in a car. We do both. I think that managing ones fear against the statistics is something that we all do. Some of us just employ it more logically than others.

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