Warning! Divorced Dad at Home During Sleepover!!!

Hi nitasiirre
Folks! Here’s why I rag on the parenting magazines. Not only do they obsess about every little detail of parenting as if it’s a make-or-break  decision, but often they indulge in Worst-First thinking (dreaming up the worst possible scenario and proceeding as if it is likely to happen). Here’s a shining example, cribbed from a longer article in Parenting (via CNN), titled, “The New Playdate Playbook.” It’s a Dear Abby-like list of Q&A’s  for parents totally stressed out by the enormous difficulty of planning, running, overseeing, perfecting and interrupting their kids’ playdates. (And “sitch” is, of course, short for “situation.”)- L.

The Sitch: You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal’s divorced dad will be home. You’re not OK with it. What to do?

The Solution: “Call and say ‘I’m sorry, and this is about me and not you, but I just don’t feel comfortable with a man supervising an overnighter,’ ” says Paone. Offer to host the girls at your place instead, if you can, or ask to turn the sleepover into a “late-over,” where your daughter stays only till bedtime. In the future, always ask who’ll be on duty before you say yes to a sleepover.

Lenore here again: Because…a man is assumed to be a predator unless his wife is around? That’s the working assumption every time your child encounters a single dad? Is this advice or indoctrination? Is this sane or paranoid? Would it possibly make more sense to (as I always suggest) teach your child to recognize, resist and report abuse, rather than to assume the very worst is going to happen when they encounter a male of the species?  Just askin’! — L. 

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193 Responses to Warning! Divorced Dad at Home During Sleepover!!!

  1. Cheryl W February 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I saw this in the magazine in a doctor’s office. It made me gag. Very discriminatory against men, men who have fought hard and spent lots of money to remain a constant in their children’s lives.

    We put down deadbeat dads because they aren’t involved and not supportive. Now we put down the dads who are supportive and are doing their best to give their children the best childhood they can.

  2. Peter February 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    If that parent were to call me, the divorced dad, and say “I just don’t feel comfortable with a man supervising an overnighter” I would respond with “You just accused me of being a child molester. I would appreciate an apology.” Then I would stay on the line and wait for that apology. If none were forthcoming, I would not allow my child around that home, fearing that the parent’s pathology might rub off on my kid. If the first thing (or second or third thing) that comes to a parent’s mind when thinking about a sleepover is molestation, then that parent needs to consider therapy, because there is probably something in their past that they need to work through, and my child does not need to be part of that.

  3. JustADad February 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    What is up with this advice?
    As a divorced dad, I find this to be incredibly offensive,not to mention paranoid. Just because i am (now) a single male in my 40’s does not mean I am some kind of predator. I echo peter’s comments.

  4. BMS February 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    As the mom of two sons, I find this incredibly offensive as well. I really don’t want my kids to grow up in a world that immediately assumes the worst of them because of their gender.

    I’m a female engineer. I’ve had first hand experience with being assumed less capable because of my gender. It sucks. It is getting better in engineering, but only because us female engineers decided to stand up and say ‘We’re not gonna take this crap anymore’ and some of the (mostly younger) male engineers agreed that the way things had been was stupid. DIvorced dads, and us married moms and dads who agree with them, need to continually stand up and say ‘This is NOT right.’

  5. Ali February 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    The commentary at the bottom of Deborahs blather was really heartwarming. Good news is, everyone saw it for the the crap it really is.

  6. Dawn February 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    I had a similar bias happen to me when I was widowed at age 30. I didn’t have kids then, and neither did my friends, but when it came to hanging out with friends, the women seemed to be afraid that all of a sudden I was going to try to steal their man. I was thinking “Hel-lo! My husband just DIED! The last thing I want is to take someone’s husband away from them! What I do want is a friend.”

    As if I can’t control myself and am sex crazed now that I don’t have a husband all of a sudden (it was a sudden, unexpected death). As if their husband’s couldn’t wait to screw the new widow. Lost a ton of friends when he died over stupid crap like that.

    The ONLY, and I do mean ONLY way I can see the above being a feasible situation is if Dad has some sort of job where he might have to leave in the middle of the night… let’s say a doctor, for example. Or maybe if he actually is on the national sex offender registry. Yup, those are the two situations I can see the mom’s point.

  7. Sarah O February 1, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    This stereotype always makes me mad because my husband LOVES kids. He lived on his sister’s farm for a while when his nephew was young, and he got used to having kids around. We live across the US from our family now and he misses all his nieces and nephew, so he loves to hang out with our children and their friends. I recently volunteered for a child watch at a preschool fair and he ended up tagging along and spent an hour reading to the kids. Some men enjoy spending time with kids. Some women don’t. It’s that simple. Stop telling your kids that men are sex perverts. It’s damaging to everyone.

    Incidentally, I just read through a “Every parent must read this so you CAN PREVENT your child from sex abuse” (this was the person’s perspective and not the title of the article. It started out on a good note saying that despite the media’s portrayal – sex abuse isn’t typically perpetrated by random strangers. It had some really excellent points and advice, but it ended up failing when it listed “suspicious people” and “Stranger Danger.” (http://www.pandys.org/articles/protectyourchild.html)

  8. Arania February 1, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Wow, shouldn’t you just report the dad to Child Services for being a single dad with a daughter? The dad could be a sexual incest predator monster!

    (that’s SARCASM, in case it didn’t come across properly)

  9. Lollipoplover February 2, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Haha! She is demeaning to all fathers with this advise. She is incredibly paranoid.

    My son went to a sleepover with just the dad present. It was all boys (and we are in Jerry Sandusky land here) and at a Holiday Inn- they rented adjoining rooms and had a pool party. We were more interested in the pool supervision (pool had lifeguards but the group had strong swimmers fortunately). They all had an awesome time.

    Shame on this parenting magazine for printing such crap. Are they going to offer advise next for this:
    The Sich: I pulled my daughter from a sleepover because I think all men are perverts and had a “late-over” instead, now she is afraid to be alone with her (insert sport) coach. I can never leave her alone. What should I do?
    The Solution: Seek counseling

  10. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    If the dad was on the sex offenders registry, he wouldn’t have custody. He might not even be allowed to see his daughter unless it was a supervised visit. Unless the judge had some reason to believe it wasn’t going to happen ever again (like the teenage romance situation and dad is now middle age.)

  11. kiesha February 2, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    I do wonder how this woman would feel if the dad in this scenario was married and his wife just happened to be out of town on a business trip or something. Same reaction? Something tells me yes.

  12. LauraL February 2, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    I highly suggest, dads above and us moms, too, that we write letters BACK.

    What ridiculousness. I do get the nervousness, especially if it’s not someone we’ve spent much time talking to. At the same time, really? Multiple girls here. TEACH your child to say NO and not listen when someone says “Don’t tell your parents or I’ll…*insert threat here*”.

    Single dads are not automatically predators. As if.

  13. Ann In L.A. February 2, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    This makes me feel very sorry for the kids whose father has custody, or whose mom has passed away. They must be treated as social pariahs for no good reason.

  14. Renee Anne February 2, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    I hate stories like this…it makes me want to slap people very, very hard. How stupid are people? The man has his child and is divorced. So, suddenly there’s something wrong with him? Do these parents, okay women, not think about their spouse and what other moms would think of them if they weren’t around? If I knew the parent, I probably wouldn’t have a problem…but if it was a parent I didn’t know, I’d spend time getting to know them. This goes for ANY parent, regardless of gender.

  15. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 12:44 am #


    Where you can go to leave a comment about this stupid “question.” There is a character limit.

  16. Sara February 2, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    this enrages me. My husband is very hands on with our daughter and by no means a child molester. He also gets grief when he is shopping with her and he takes her to the family washroom. One time a woman heard him talking to a little girl (our daughter) through the stall and called security. When he showed the woman and the guard our family picture as proof that yes he is dad of a daughter, the woman said “you shouldn’t take her shopping because that’s only for moms and daughters. you must be a pervert” He was floored. Needless to say, he doesn’t feel comfortable taking our girl shopping anymore. It’s sad because he loves doing things with her.

  17. Michelle H February 2, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    I noticed they closed comments on the article, probably because everybody was commenting what an idiot the author was. She’s the same type of person that probably railroads all the male teachers out of the schools around her and freaks out when a dad has their kid at the park alone. We don’t need people like this.

  18. Bennet February 2, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    My mom died when I was 13. I have a younger brother and sister, and we all had plenty of sleepovers, sometimes just one friend, sometimes a whole pile. If any of the parents felt uncomfortable about a single dad with teen and preteen girls (and boys, in the case of my brother) around, we’d have missed out on that experience as it’s not like there was another option. I am sure that I also would have been invited to fewer sleepovers as I would not have been unable to reciprocate due to this kind of thinking.

  19. Michelle H February 2, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    As a followup, I noticed she was from Parenting.com and found this article from the executive editor trying to smooth things over. http://www.parenting.com/blogs/pop-culture/shawn-parenting/sleepovers-sandusky-era

  20. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    Oh, so this was published in Parenting Magazine. Of which, half of the children of the readers should be male. And the magazine is saying that all those children (boys) should eventually be put in the position of answering this mom and ones like her, and then explaining to their kid why the mom is so narrow minded.

    I saw another comment on this in another blog, where the writer inserted “Jewish” for “dad” to make the point that it is HIGHLY offensive, and people (most we hope) would not have those conceptions about people of another race, religion or culture.

    When I first read the article I thought, “I bet this woman would have heart attack if she found out the girls would be supervised by the friend’s her two fathers!”

  21. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Michelle H, it is nice that he wrote that, but I don’t understand why he allowed it in the magazine to begin with, without a “get over it” response. As an active dad, as he says, it seems he would do more to promote the “lets educate you as to the facts” type of thing..

  22. Wendy February 2, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    Good lord! That is *horrifyingly* offensive (generally, and to single dads in particular). Even before I was aware of the “free range” movement, I had an instinctive distaste for parenting magazines — everything is so alarmist and hyperbolic, and it’s all such bullshit.

  23. David James (@orbix42) February 2, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    In many ways, this is the (il)logical progression from the mentality that dads are completely useless with children, and that moms do all the work. If we’re seen as being incapable of being caregivers, it dehumanizes us, at which point it’s a lot easier to make the mental leap to something horrid.

    I feel like there’s a more eloquent way to put this, but the sleep deprivation as a result of having two 1-year-olds is a bit of an impediment at the moment…

  24. librarian February 2, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    I found the editor’s attempt to “smooth things over” almost as offensive as an original article. And just serves to demonstrate that in the age of super-worrying we are loosing our capacity to tell the difference between real and imaginary dangers.
    For example my ex-husband and I share custody of our daughter, and he is every bit as involved as I am. Can braid her hair and mend her clothes just fine, thank you. Moreover, in case of any REAL crisis (fire, flood, medical emergency, etc.) he might be waaay more useful then I am, since I have a tendency to shut down under stress and pressure, while he absolutely does not. IMO, people, involved in gender-profiling, have completely lost their sense of proportion.

  25. SKL February 2, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    So why would they think it is safer to have a not-divorced dad home alone with the kids? Apparently divorce is proof of degradation – but only if you’re a man.

    Really, why did they have to say “divorced”???

    Do they realize that they are recommending the shunning of children whose parents are divorced?

  26. SKL February 2, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    I think it’s good advice in any case to ask “who will be the adults present?” before saying yes to a sleepover. Then say “let me check our schedule and get back with you.” If something sets off your weirdmeter, you can find something else to do that evening and offer your regrets. You don’t say “I’m not comfortable with you around my kid!” Do people actually say that??

  27. Justin February 2, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    I am a divorced Dad of 2 girls, 5 & 9. My 9 year old daughter wants to have a sleepover for her 10th birthday at my house. I have had several of her friends over to my house to play, I’ve taken them out, gone swimming with them & even helped one poor girl who had an accident while out bushwalking. None of the parents seem to have any objection about my involvement, but I have encountered hostility when out with my girls, playing with them & other kids want to join in the game because their own parents are too busy with their smartphones & Facebook to bother. Suddenly I am the enemy because I interact with kids & join in the fun?

  28. MFA Grad February 2, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    So… fathers supervising a daughter’s sleepover is grounds for not letting your daughter go to said sleepover because men are naturally not inclined to be nurturing parents and must therefore have nefarious reasons for acting like… a parent? *brain broke* Way to reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, Parenting advice columnist.

  29. jim February 2, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Well, I’ve never seen a copy of the magazine but I would be very interested in seeing what their advertising content is. I’d bet they make a ton of money selling ads to people with products whose general message is “you are a Bad Parent if you don’t buy this illogical and completely useless piece of junk. I don’t think we look hard enough at the financial incentives behind those who profit from the Climate of Fear… every dime that a school spends on background checks for volunteers, metal detectors, cameras, etc. is money not spent on education. And yes, when you fill out the volunteer form submitting to a background check, some contractor is making money off the school doing the check. (Trust me, I had a Top Secret clearance that cost the taxpayers a great deal more than the Navy paid me for four years’ salary, and despite no convictions or serious arrests as an early-70s high school hippie I was not what you would call a sterling security choice, but all my friends and neighbors decided to keep a bunch of rumors and accusations away from the FBI when they came calling. ‘Course when I came home on leave after the FBI visits everyone thought I had robbed a bank or something, because there was NO WAY the Navy would be dumb enough to give me a secuirity clearance.

  30. LisaS February 2, 2012 at 1:40 am #

    SKL is right: the question of who was supervising (which you always should) and giving the check schedule excuse is the polite way of dealing with it. The person giving advice obviously has no manners.

    My parents divorced when I was 11. Dad hosted many, many sleepovers – sometimes just one additional girl with me and my sister, sometimes as many as 4. My friends loved coming to our house because Dad didn’t care about messes or chores – we ate pizza, played cards, listened to music as loud as we wanted and danced all night. We had fun. There were rules, but not like at the homes with Moms. We took friends tent camping with us! No one ever mentioned any concerns. I would have cut off ties with any girl whose parents insulted my dad like that.

  31. Jessica February 2, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    As a victim of sexual abuse as a child, it wasn’t some random dad….it was my dad. Which is generally the case, someone very close to you. I have taken my experience and transformed my fear and angst into strength. When my boys are old enough to understand I will instill the recognize, resist and report.

    Stories like these make me so angry for the dad who is wanting to be involved in his child’s life.

  32. Teri February 2, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    The guy I have been dating for the past 7 years has custody of his two little girls. They were 5 and 8 at the time we started dating and are now 12 and, gasp, 15! He’s dealt with this a lot over the years. His ex-wife is remarried and lives out of state and can’t host the sleep-overs at her house, so if the kids want to host a sleepover of have a sleepover birthday party, it’s up to dad. I’m amazed at the number of parents who make assumptions and will simply not allow their children to attend sleepover parties when there is no female in the house. He has tried, as much as possible, to have his sister stay over on those nights and let her “host” so more kids will be allowed to stay. Since he and I are not married, I do not stay the night, but have stayed until the kids were told lights-out around midnight. Even so, all but one or two kids will usually be picked up by 10pm, some as early as 7 or 8pm. It’s really sad and not fair to the kids.

  33. Teri February 2, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Justin – you sound a lot like the guy I’m dating. He’s very hands-on and involved with his kids and other kids just naturally tend to gravitate to him. My daughter was 4 when we first met him – through a business deal – and she was enamored with him from the instant they met. He has since met her friends and my nieces and cousin’s kids and they all just gravitate toward him. Put him in a park with a bunch of kids running around and within 10 minutes, they’ll all be where he is. Happens every time.

  34. Obi-Wandreas February 2, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    From the response article:

    Our magazine has given voice to parents who don’t vaccinate, who let their kids play violent video games, who believe the BPA in baby bottles causes ADD and ADHD, who don’t discipline, who co-sleep, who circumcise, who don’t circumcise, who breastfeed, who won’t breastfeed. We offer—and continue to offer—a platform for all sides.

    In other words, they make no distinction between parents with brains and those who are bat-poopy crazy and dousing-a-grease-fire-with-gasoline stupid. They have effectively declared that they have no standards, and there is absolutely no reason to listen to them about anything at all.

  35. AnneG February 2, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    @ Sara, my jaw dropped when I read what happened to your husband re. the bathroom. WHAT is wrong with people?!

    I read this article too and couldn’t believe that was the answer they gave. Using this logic, a group of boys having a party/sleepover/video game fest shouldn’t be allowed to be supervised by just the mom either. Who KNOWS what she’ll try to do!

    My husband and I take our 4 year old son to a tumbling class where about half the parents bringing the kids are men. Again, using this logic, I should assume that they (my husband included) are all perverts who are there to find their next victim, right?

    OR maybe, they are simply men who choose to be involved in their children’s lives and in the case of divorced dads, want to allow their kids as “normal” a childhood as possible, sleepovers and all! I would hate to think that someone would wonder what is wrong with my husband just because he’s involved in our son’s life! Or his friend’s.

  36. Jen C. February 2, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    I, too, am irritated by this. My boyfriend’s brother doesn’t have kids, and my daughters just adore him. He is so good with children, and he enjoys being around them. At Christmas, after dinner, he and my youngest were playing with her new dolls while the rest of us were milling about in the kitchen. I never once thought anything untoward was happening. He is just a sweet, sensitive guy who has a way of getting along with kids that I sometimes wish I had.

    Anyway, I don’t think it should just be the responsibility of men to stand up and defend themselves in this matter. We women need to stand up for them as well. Praise the men in your lives who are good with/to your children! Help them show the rest of paranoid society that the vast majority of men only have the best of intentions in mind when it comes to dealing with children. We have to be their advocates, too! 🙂

  37. AnglRdr February 2, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    The original article made me feel stabby–that Paone psychologist has absolutely no business being around parents.

    But the executive editor’s “rebuttal” was a defensive jerkish piece of writing, and it makes my stabby fantasies far more vivid.

    And what girls need their hair braided all of the time? Why is that skill even brought up as if it is necessary for the successful raising of girl children? I can’t braid, and my kid is 17, and I think she’s going to be just fine.

  38. Nicole February 2, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    I read this article the other day and was pretty horrified. I don’t see how being a single dad automatically makes someone a suspicious character and potential molester, nor how having a female in the house is going to automatically keep your kids safe! Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. If after meeting them you find a particular mom or dad creepy, don’t let your child stay over. Otherwise, teach your child what behavior from an adult is okay, what is not, and what to do if a bad situation arises. Then extend the benefit of the doubt that, like most of the population, your child’s friend’s dad is probably not a sexual predator trying to lure your kid over for a sleepover.

  39. Michelle H February 2, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    Obi-Wandreas – there’s a reason why I very quickly canceled my subscription to their magazine once I started reading it.

  40. tana February 2, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Did anyone else love (by which I mean loathe) the advice to the gay dad? It’s apparently better for him to be home alone with the kiddies b/c the gay relationship may make the visitors (or their parents) uncomfortable if it’s out in the open. Of course, if it DOES make you uncomfortable, you’re petty. Much less petty than if you snub the hetero divorced dad. That’s perfectly reasonable. Why is it okay to snub either dad?

  41. Angie February 2, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    I haven’t read all the responses, but I would like to add that, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I would not let my 5 & 8yo daughters sleep over at a single dad’s house. And it IS *my* issue. It is not based on anything the dad has said or done, it is simply a protective mechanism I have to keep my daughters safe from what happened to me. But instead of saying “no” to sleeping over “ever”, I would probably offer to host for that evening, and then make arrangements for playdates in the future where I could get to know the dad and become more comfortable with him. I do the same thing with married mothers where I know there will be a male in the house overnight. It’s not a male vs. female thing. It’s a STRANGER thing. As long as the man (or woman) is a stranger to me, I am not comfortable having my children sleep over (including my 3yo son, but we don’t let him to sleepovers at all yet).

    Does this make me a paranoid mom? Maybe. Does it make me such a terrible mom that someone should not allow their kids around me lest my paranoia somehow rub off on them? Heck no. I am simply exhibiting a normal reaction of fear based on my own personal life experience. I also know that my oldest daughter is very, very shy and reserved (as was I when I was a kid) and I do not trust that she would resist the abuse (which I did not, because that wasn’t my personality until I hit my teens). And I am not comfortable taking a “wait and see” approach with a total stranger (male or female). Because I know from my own personal experience that it only takes ONE experience to do MASSIVE damage to a child that will affect him/her for the rest of his/her life. That is simply not a risk I’m willing to take.

  42. Ed Maddox February 2, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    Perhaps EVERYONE could use a little trip to freerangekids.wordpress.com/

  43. Ed Maddox February 2, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    OK I know you are already there.. So do some reading at least and see what raising a FRK is all about.

  44. BC Cakes February 2, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    Not surprising at all. I, a father, was walking my 2 girls around MY OWN NEIGHBORHOOD several years ago so they could sell Girl Scout Cookies. Our neighborhood is filled with cul-de-sacs, so I let the girls walk on ahead, each taking canvasing a side of the street. Over several minutes, due to one of the girls getting sales and the other not, one girl was farther down the street than the other. I stood on the sidewalk, half-way between them so I could help out either one if needed.

    Next thing I know, the police show up. Turns out, a “concerned citizen” called because “a suspicious male was following a couple Girl Scouts around.” Once they determined I was the girls’ father and no threat, it was suggested that maybe their mother walk them around the neighborhood. “After all, it is the GIRL Scouts,” they said.

  45. Heather G February 2, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    I am the mother of a son, the wife of an involved dad, and the daughter of a single mother. I am offended and heartbroken on all three fronts but sadly not surprised. I actually had a lot to say on how disgusted I am and why but it keeps all getting jumbled together. After reading the follow up I’m not only angry but sick.

    Worse than the fear mongering is the damage this “advice” would do to the emotional development of young girls. I grew up the only child of a single mother. If it weren’t for my friends’ dads (as well as my uncle and grandfather) I would not have witnessed, and in limited ways experienced, what a healthy father/daughter relationship was. Positive male influence is not only important for boys, but especially for girls who’s future relationships with both genders as well as self-esteem will be greatly influenced by the interactions they have. This kind of hysteria is not only damaging for the father (and I’m plenty angry about that) but also for his daughter (who’s put between her friends and her father) and for girls who have no (or no positive) male in their daily life. Way to screw over the emotional development of the next generation.

  46. Jenn February 2, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Sarah O -thanks for the link. It’s nice to have some ideas on how to start the conversation with your kids about recognize, resist and report. Sometimes these conversations come up in the car and you want to have that balance of teaching your kids to protect themselves but also to not fear interacting with adults.

    Sara -I just have to wonder, you said that a woman heard your husband talking to your daughter through the bathroom stall. Was it a unisex washroom? Because if not, I’d like to know why a woman was in the men’s room and why she wasn’t questioned (or asked to show photo ID). Most malls I’ve been to have separate washrooms for men and women so if my husband was in the men’s with our daughter, there should be no way for anyone in the women’s to hear them. Just curious!

  47. Jessica February 2, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    I used to be a different person – I figured I had pretty good instincts and was pretty lenient about my daughter spending time with her friends and their dads … NO PROBLEM right? And then it turned out that my husband’s best friend (a trusted and much loved friend – the husband of a very good friend of mine – a man we had known for YEARS) was molesting his step daughter (whenever her mom wasn’t home) – and had been for quite awhile (he had convinced the 8yo child that she was in a relationship with him – hell he believed it too!).

    We were fortunate that on the occasions when our daughter had slept over with the step daughter that my friend (his wife) was present – but her not being there would not have stopped me from letting my daughter sleep over – BUT NOW – I am VERY aware of the fact that my instincts don’t always cover it – that I can’t ever REALLY know for sure what type of person anyone is – and with statistics saying that men are more likely to molest than women – and our own experience – I’m not sure that putting my child at risk for something THAT devastating and damaging is really worth it just make the point that I am unbiased.

    It’s one thing to teach your child how they are supposed to react (and believe me we have talked and talked and talked about it with our kids well before this ever happened) but do you really ever want to put them in a position where they have to use THAT particular knowledge?

  48. Lollipoplover February 2, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    I wonder if you switched “lesbian mother” for “divorced dad” if the advise would be the same. Intolerance is Intolerance, so please call a spade a spade.
    I personally am not a huge fan of sleepovers in general because they reduce my children to exhausted cranks the next day. The sleepovers I send my kids to have the kids run them. The parents are usually not involved directly, though they do sometimes fetch food and enforce bedtime. It’s not as if the dad will be teaching these girls the proper way to shower; he’ll probably watch a movie in another room, remind them lights out at 10, and make yummy pancakes for them in the morning. He may be a great guy but I guess she’ll never know that.

  49. Otto Henderson February 2, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    @ Angie: You need therapy. That’s not an insult, it’s a fact. I, too, am a victim of sexual, physical, and mental abuse. 12 years of it, from *both* of my parents. I sought and received the therapy needed to keep me from being afraid of *strangers*.
    You see, Angie, by your own admission you are trying to “keep my daughters safe from what happened to me.” You can’t do that. What happened to you happened to *you.* You cannot change it, no matter how hard you try to solve it vicariously through your children by making them fearful paranoids. Your children will reflect your paranoia and will write articles just like the one being discussed.
    My daughters, both healthy and non-fearful adults, have raised children of their own who are also not fearful of life, the universe, and every male stranger they see. That is because they reflect the attitude in which they were raised, not an attitude like yours where the automatic assumption is that if the human has a penis, it’s a rapist.
    Your attitude is EXACTLY what this site is about: paranoia where none is warranted.
    I address you specifically, Angie, because you have *directly* and *personally* insulted me, for I am a male. A male dearly loved by both of my daughters and all my grandchildren.
    And Angie, I’m not rare, I am most decidedly average. Get the help you need, before you infect and permanently warp your children into fearful paranoids.

  50. Andy February 2, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    The Sitch: You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal’s divorced dad will be home. You’re not OK with it. What to do?

    The Solution: GROW UP!

    Or is that not an option?

  51. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    Jessica, I remember someone posting here in the past about how when they would go to the friend’s house for a sleep over how much the friend liked it. It turned out, the poster found out much later, that dad or stepdad was abusing the kids, and the ONLY nights they were not abused was the nights the friends came over.

    Just to show you that the opposite can be true too.

  52. Andy February 2, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    I just went to the article page at Parenting and saw the comments, all blasting the tone of the article and blasting Deborah as well. Not surprisingly, comments for this page are now closed.

  53. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    In defense of Angie, I also prefer to know the people that my kids will be spending time with, especially if it is overnight. I would like to chat with the people some, at the curbside, school, church, sports or such, before my kid spends a night. I do want to know that there will be adult supervision. Chatting a bit lets me know some things about them – like, are they drinking, are they relatively clean, do they smell like pot, are they talking about how sex with children is legal in Mexico and it should be here too. (That actually happened to a friend – her car broke down while at her mom’s, and the neighbor had that conversation while he fixed her car, in front of her son…) Talking a little bit is certainly a good thing.

    Now, assuming that I had met the dad at school before, or the park or what have you, I would be very wrong to call him up and say “I just found out that you are single and I don’t want my daughter at your house.” Being single does not mean that the dad does not have common sense. And, since I am a person who does not like to ask personal questions, that is one that would not come up unless the parent volunteered it.

    It would be ok to ask if other adults who you hadn’t met were going to be there. I would want to ask the same thing of ANY adult hosting things like this. I have seen some amazing lack of common sense in mothers when it comes to this – I don’t assume that anyone has the same standards as I do until I ask and find out for sure. Common sense is not a gender thing. Both sexes can have it, or not.

  54. Paul R. Welke February 2, 2012 at 3:11 am #

    As a dad who kicks serious ass in pretty much every way imaginable, I can assure you that I would probably lose my proverbial shit if I got that phone call.
    The baseless accusation that I would even think of doing anything to harm a child is nothing short of insulting, and the fact that this bush league book with their silly little “sitches” plays into such accusations makes it even crappier than I could have imagined.

  55. Matt L February 2, 2012 at 3:11 am #

    @Angie, I am not sure what comment Otto read but I understand your hesitation. As a man I’m not offeneded that you want to know who your kids are around. I think (totally conjecture here) you might be more diligent that what I have come to know as a normal baseline level of knowing but hey each of us has our thing right?

    The key, to me, is that you are not closed men or “strangers” in general and that you want to get to know people. I hope this manifests as a teaching took for your kids that rather than build a broad wall against “strangers” they know how to assess each situation and trust their gut.

    @Jessica, if you really think about it, every day every single one of us puts ourselves in a situation where we could need to use defensive skills we have picked up over the course of our lives. Sleepovers are not inherently more dangerous than other situation, it is a longer period of time for us parents to stew over what ifs and that makes a lot of us, at our core, more apprehensive.

  56. lexi February 2, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    So, children are only molested after bed-time, not before? Great plan: protect your child by picking her up before bedtime. What a load of bologna! Great lesson to teach your daughter: all men are sex-crazed perverts and you can’t even be safe at a sleep-over. Oye vey!

  57. leanne alcantara February 2, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    whomeever this person is, i was an abused child…it was A WOMAN …. use your instincts but dont condemn every male person , that is completely irrational and ridiculous, in this case, if your not comfortable then fine , but think this, my husband my sons step father is a fantastic father, i have at least 8 friends willing to leave there kids without me with him at any time, and i say how dare u acuse him or any other person of this disgraceful crap u have come up with , paranoid is not a strong enough word, and in fairness too most of the non abusive parents both male and female… you are more of a danger to your kids than any one of them !!! just by your lack of intelligence alone !

  58. kiesha February 2, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    @lexi, yeah, that’s the super weird thing to me. Whenever I went to a sleepover, all the girls tended to sleep in the same room. Sometimes even in the same bed if it was just two of us. So single dad is gonna come creeping into the room and somehow select one girl to take away to a different room and no one else notices? Or is single dad an octopus who can molest several girls at once?

  59. Mike February 2, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Sich: blah blah blah

    Solution: Ask if there will be fudge brownies provided. If not, bake some for your daughter to take.

    See how easy that was?

  60. Jen February 2, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    If you follow the logic of that response it means that the child who has the single father as a parent will never be allowed to have a sleep over at her home ever. If parents don’t feel comfortable letting their kids sleep over it would follow that they don’t trust their kids to be over there in the day either. I mean they’d be there alone under the supervision of a man.

    Not only is this offensive to single dads but it unjustly punishes children who have single fathers as their primary care giver. These children are not allowed to have anyone over because they have an “evil predator” for a parent. Way to make kids feel like they suck for not having a mom or that their is something wrong with their home situation. Single fathers should be applauded not criminalized.

  61. sploop February 2, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    aye, people are nuts. And yes it is stupid to assume a single dad is a child molester. On one hand we want dads to be just as on the ball as moms, (and insist they ARE capable!)

    on the other we don’t REALLY trust them.

    Anyway, I seriously recently had someone tell me “never” to let an older sibling babysit a younger one because her husband was sexually molested by his older sister.

    While that IS a tragedy, it’s also completely bonkers to make a blanket rule about it that applies to everyone in all times.

    Maybe it would be better to teach the kids about inappropriate touch, as you can’t bubble-wrap ’em till they are 30.

  62. Otto Henderson February 2, 2012 at 3:38 am #

    At Matt L:
    No offense taken, I’m used to lack of reading comprehension on the ‘net. Let’s look at Angie’s words again, shall we, Matt?
    “I do the same thing with married mothers where I know there will be a male in the house overnight.”
    Read that again: “…a male in the house overnight.” I’m pleased for you that you aren’t offended at being branded a rapist, Matt, but do try to understand that false accusations of rape *before they even occur* is not civilized nor even decent.
    This hideous, anti-male bias WILL be absorbed by Angie’s children and will warp them.
    Being “diligent” is one thing, Matt, instilling into children the automatic assumption that if a body possess a penis, it is something to fear, is an altogether different thing.
    It you can’t understand that, reading comprehension isn’t the only problem we need to be aware of, eh?

  63. TRS February 2, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    It is so sad. I feel bad for those little girls that only have a dad. I work almost every weekend night and my poor girls rarely get to have friends over to sleep because just my husband will be home. I have one friend that could care less but most moms are so crazy. My husband is also a Girl Scout leader with me. When I posted on a Girl Scout mom board and told people that my husband is the camp qualified person – moms were saying how they would never let their daughter go on a camping trip with a man. Helloooo! Other moms are there too. Thank goodness the parents in our troop could care less.

  64. pentamom February 2, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    From the editor’s followup?

    “But five tween girls texting and braiding and gossiping and squealing and (let’s be honest, not) sleeping might be beyond my skill set.”

    What does he think his job is when his daughter has a sleepover? Direct the activities? Monitor the gossip sessions? Share hairstyling tips?

    No, and that’s not a mom’s job either. The parent’s job at a sleepover for tweens is 1. ensure the house is clean beforehand (whether that’s doing it yourself or making sure the kids do it) 2. make sure there’s food in the house that they can prepare themselves, or make everybody breakfast if you’re feeling generous 3. make sure your daughter knows how to be a good hostess 4. deal with any serious emergencies 5. make sure there’s no completely inappropriate behavior going on.

    None of these require a typically feminine skill set. This isn’t just about male vs. female roles, it’s also about parents who think that they’re supposed to have some kind of heavy involvement in kids’ parties after the age of about 10.

    But of course, Parenting wouldn’t be in business if enough people thought that way.

  65. Christi February 2, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Lollipoplover took some of the words right out of my mouth– I can already “look forward” (and not in an anticipatory way) to when my daughter is older and invites friends to sleepover.

    “You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal’s mother(s) will be home. You’re not OK with it. What to do?”

    Largely, I’m with Peter. Confront that person with exactly what it is they are accusing you of, and then wait. The only thing I’d add to it is that I’d like to confront that person IN PERSON, if possible, and then wait. I’d love to walk up to that person in the lobby of an elementary school, stretch out my hand and say, “Hi, I’m ******’s mom. You know, I was really offended when you insinuated that I’d be likely to molest your kid during a sleepover. I was hoping we could talk about that,” and then watch her squirm…

  66. Matt L February 2, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    Otto, I guess you didn’t comprehend my second paragraph. I am not approving her stance, I appreciate that she is more interested in getting to know men than building a permanent wall and lableing every one of us as deviants with no consideration.

    Here is what I am talking about:

    “But instead of saying “no” to sleeping over “ever”, I would probably offer to host for that evening, and then make arrangements for playdates in the future where I could get to know the dad and become more comfortable with him.”

    And you know what, if any parent who was unknown to me was offering to host a sleepover, I might be tempted to take a similar tack or bring pizza and chat with this new person with whom I might become friends. She did not call anyone a rapist, although you could probably direct more of your righteous indignation toward Jessica who pulled out the “Men are more likely to…” nonsense.

  67. pentamom February 2, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    As long as we’re talking statistics, what are the statistics for incestuous parents who also abuse random non-relatives who happen to be in the home?

    I confess I don’t know, but my guess is that incestuous parents and those who pursue outside victims aren’t a largely overlapping group. I could, however, be entirely wrong, so I’d like to see the stats.

  68. kiesha February 2, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    Is it weird that I spent the night with friends and my parents never met their parents?

    I remember one instance when I slept over at my friend L’s house. When my mom came to pick me up the next morning and actually stepped into the house, she was horrified because L’s house was really really REALLY messy. Like, an inch of dust on everything, hundreds of newspapers stacked all around, piles of dishes in the sink, lots of indoor pets, etc. I got to regale my mom with the story of ordering pizza for dinner because L’s parents didn’t cook.

    This did not stop me from staying over at L’s house. My mom just told me that I better not pick up any bad habits.

  69. Stephanie February 2, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    @ Sara – I can see my husband getting into trouble with a woman with that kind of attitude too, because he takes our 2 girls and 1 boy shopping without me often enough. What kind of thought process does it take to say such things?

  70. Otto Henderson February 2, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    @Matt L:
    One. More. Time:
    “… a male in the house over night.”
    I understand that the cold black and white of this page is neutral, but speech is not. What is clearly being implied by Angie is that if there is “…a male in the house over night,” Angie is concerned that her children could be *raped.*
    Angie’s attitude is that if there is a human with a penis anywhere in the house, her children are in *danger!* Can she write it any clearer for you?
    She of course back-pedals and says immediately afterwards, “It’s not a male vs. female thing. It’s a STRANGER thing.” This, after saying: “….I would probably offer to host for that evening, and then make arrangements for playdates in the future where I could get to know the dad and become more comfortable with him.”
    Please, take a little time, read that again, and note that she did NOT say, “…where I could get to know the dad *and the mother* and become more comfortable with *them*.”
    Children hear, and children emulate. When they hear Angie say “dad” and not “dad and mom,” they will learn that “dad” is dangerous, even if he is married.
    See how easy that is? See how easy male-fear is to inculcate into a child? See how even when Angie tries to make it a STRANGER thing, it’s really only a MALE STRANGER thing? Even after she had the chance to proof read her own writing?
    Not to mention, for what, the thousandth time on this site, that Angie’s children are far more likely to be abused (if they are) by Angie or her own husband or brother than by any unknown male or female?
    What I resent, Matt, is that I am clearly and very unambiguously branded a child molester by Angie simply because she doesn’t know me and I possess a penis.
    What I resent, Matt, is that there are too many people like Angie twisting and warping their children into thinking that if you encounter a strange man, he must be assumed guilty of being a rapist, until “… I could get to know the dad and become more comfortable with him.”
    What I resent, Matt, is that Angie doesn’t even seem to be aware that it really IS NOT *her issue.* She has made it her *children’s issue* by her quite open fear of males she doesn’t know.
    To quote the hysteric from The Simpsons: “Won’t SOMEBODY think of the children!”
    It’s clear Angie has not thought of the neuroses she is warping into her children.
    And this isn’t “righteous indignation,” friend, it’s a very real situation that is poisoning our society.
    Or had you missed the point of this site?

  71. Otto Henderson February 2, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    Open comment to Lenore:
    Apologies for highjacking the comment section here, I just get a bit miffed when I’m branded a molester before I actually do the crime.
    I mean, I’m a devoted fan of P.K. Dick and all, but I have to admit to some doubt as to the ability of anyone to ‘precog’ a crime.
    And a shout out for your articles in ‘Funny Times!’

  72. AztecQueen2000 February 2, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    After I was in a car accident, I needed physical therapy three times a week. One of my neighbors was a single man who had lost his job. I asked him to babysit my two daughters. (He is also a friend of the family and has been to our house several times. My kids adore him.) Guess what? Nothing happened! He watched my kids for a couple of months until he found a day job. To this day, I’m grateful for his help and would gladly recommend him to anyone.

  73. Matt L February 2, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    ::shrugs:: whatevz there Otto.

  74. SKL February 2, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    Out of all the people I know of who’ve been molested, it’s never been during a “sleepover” (unless you count the daughters whose fathers molested them in their own homes).

  75. SKL February 2, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Honestly, I don’t mind the fact that some people are afraid based on their own experiences. That is natural. And that frankly is not the problem, because it’s limited to the individual and his/her own children.

    The offense here is that a magazine specializing in parenting advice has recommended that people say “no” to sleepovers at homes of daughters of divorce. Based on zero evidence, zero experience.

  76. pentamom February 2, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    “Honestly, I don’t mind the fact that some people are afraid based on their own experiences. That is natural. And that frankly is not the problem, because it’s limited to the individual and his/her own children.”

    Exactly. If you’re traumatized, you’re traumatized — people shouldn’t take offense even though yes, it’s unfair to let your experiences cause you to misjudge and entire group of people. There are better things to do in life than to take personally the over-reactions of people with horrible experiences in their background. But it is terrible to promote the idea to a general audience, that such judgments are a valid way to approach things.

  77. Maggie Metzger Brazeau February 2, 2012 at 5:28 am #

    Wow, what an offensive article. I’m totally with Peter on this one.

  78. Matt L February 2, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    “Honestly, I don’t mind the fact that some people are afraid based on their own experiences. That is natural. And that frankly is not the problem, because it’s limited to the individual and his/her own children.”

    And by her own admission she takes steps to overcome that fear! It seems pretty damn healthy to me.

  79. Paul Cyopick February 2, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    Being a wodowed dad of three kids, I see this type of discrimination every day. Whenever I go to pick up my kids from school, there are 20 mothers hovering around their 20 kids. A man comes by, and like sharks to a bloody piece of bait, all take a few steps instantaneously towards their children, eyeing me with that “oh no you won’t get MY child” look.

    It’s articles like this, and especially the editors response, that perpetuate the “all men are preditors” myth.

  80. LRH February 2, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    I’m a male. If you will pardon my blunt & (vulgar?) language, I was born with a certain “organ” that denotes this. I had no choice in the matter. So pardon me for living!

    And, oh yes, I am the father of two brats, aged 5 & 3 (the girl is 5) and I have NO SICK DESIRES for any kids. Women (and ONLY women) above the age of, I don’t know, 20, (I’m 43) are all that visually interest me. Period.

    If that doesn’t qualify me in the eyes of people who wrote that article, that is THEIR issue to seek therapy regarding. I feel sorry for them.


  81. Goody February 2, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I spent most of my tween years weekends at the home of my best friend whose dad was a widower. Every Saturday he’d hand us each $40.00, drop us at the mall and tell us to get lost until closing at 6PM. Forty bucks was a hell of a lot of money in 1977. I can’t imagine what this would look like today. He was clueless about daughters, and generous with money, but certainly no child molester.

    I like to do my grocery shopping alone, so my husband and son will eat lunch in the dining area of the store leaving me to shop like a sane person. He is continually glared at, like he just nabbed a seven year old off the streets and forced him to eat a cheese sandwich neatly cut into fourths and wrapped in waxed paper from a bag labeled with his name. I started packing my husband’s lunch in a sack clearly marked, “Papa” in hopes it would help but damned if people don’t think he grabbed a kid off the street, handed him a lunch neatly cut and wrapped in wax paper, marked with his name and then made one for himself…just for effect. You know how clever those child abductors are when it comes to detail. I guess they don’t have anything better to do when they’re not grabbing kids off the street.

    I guess it wouldn’t help to write, “Not A Child Abductor” in sharpie across the paper bag, eh?

  82. Anna K. February 2, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    Not only is this incredibly discriminatory, it could encourage worst-first thinking in people not inclined to think that way. A parent might read this and think, “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought anything of a divorced dad hosting a sleep over. But maybe I SHOULD be concerned about something like that.” This is just disgusting.

  83. Michelle February 2, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    First off, that article was incredible offensive, and the follow-up from the “male editor” was worse. Ugh.

    I do agree with those who say it is important to get to know the other parents in whose care we leave our children. Most of my kids’ best friends are the kids of my best friends, so that makes it easy for me. 😉 And it’s important to teach kids to recognize, resist, and report, just in case… God forbid.

    But judging someone based on sweeping generalizations can only make us LESS safe, because then we don’t have to actually get to know the people to whom we entrust our kids. If we judge men to be bad, and women to be good, we aren’t making decisions based on ACTUAL facts or risks.

    Interestingly, the only two times I’ve had issues with someone watching my kids, the offending caregivers were women. One close relative didn’t notice my three-year-old walking across the living room with a butcher knife, and then slicing up the arm of my leather recliner. (Honestly, I don’t know how that happened. She’s usually great.) Another time, a neighbor who I thought was taking her daughter and my 5yo daughter to the neighborhood pool, actually took them swimming at the home of someone I have never met — and then left. My daughter was left in the care of a total stranger who doesn’t even speak her language. I wasn’t pleased.

    OTOH, my husband has supervised many a sleep-over while I went to bed (that’s our deal if one of us gives permission for a sleepover without consulting the other — they have to supervise it!) And I spent nearly every weekend in high school at the home of my best friend and her divorced father, after her mother moved back to France. That was great for me, since I hadn’t seen my own father in years.

  84. Neener February 2, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    @ Otto Henderson: Totally agree with the point you are making. My husband takes it just as personally when that attitude is directed his way. Which it often is, since he’s a super-involved dad, and very social just like our daughter (I’m the only introvert in a house of extroverts). He is also the “…male in the house overnight…”, because he lives there with us. Imagine! (Like you, I noticed that her issue was only if it was a MALE stranger.) Should I ask him to get a hotel room everytime the kid wants to have someone sleep over? Perhaps we should just buy the house next door for him to live in, alone? Get him his own apartment? What’s funny is that we had my niece live with us for a year – my 26-year-old, drug-addicted, Hep C-positive, tattooed, pierced niece. No one ever once questioned her presence during a sleepover. My husband – who is so clean-cut he looks like an ad for the Marines – still gets questioned. It’s all because penises cause molestation…geez, EVERYONE knows that! /snark

    We have a 12-year-old only child. I was sexually abused by a stepdad at age 12 and I was an only child. But because I am an adult now and – this is key – spent the necessary time and energy dealing with the issues from my past precisely so that they would NOT negatively impact my own daughter’s childhood, I am able to separate what happened to me from my own child’s life.

    I like Peter’s advice way upthread: Call them out. Ask them if they realize they’ve just called you a child molester. Tell them you find it insulting. If they genuinely feel that way, they should have no problem saying it to your face, and if they don’t genuinely feel that way, maybe they’ll be chagrined and a healthy conversation can start.

  85. Michelle February 2, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    Oh, I forgot to mention my COMPLETE LACK OF SURPRISE about this article. I canceled my subscription to Parenting years ago because of a completely offensive and manipulative article about “How To Train Your Husband.” The magazine has always had an anti-father/husband bias.

  86. mtwildflower February 2, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    Um, sorry, but I don’t/didn’t let my young children have sleepovers with kids whose parents I didn’t/don’t know. My kids didn’t go to houses of kids whose parents I don’t know, either.

    Chalk me up as crazy if you want, but in 2011, the Department of Justice estimated child molestation for girls runs a whopping 33%…that’s 1 out of every 3 girls who will be molested before the age of 18. It’s 12 % for boys.

    At this point, my kid’s safety is tantamount to not insulting your husband/kid’s dad. While I probably would have approached it differently, “Say, I think our kids are really getting to like each other. I’d like to get to know you guys too. Would you like to come over for dinner?” would have been more along the lines my approach. But there is no way I am trusting you with my kid just to avoid offending your delicate sensibilities and it’s perfectly okay for me to do that.

    Any guy worth his salt will man up and deal with it.

    And, just so you know, if you look at me and my husband with suspicion, we won’t take it personally. You SHOULD look at us with judging eyes when it comes to your kids. Come over for dessert and we’ll size each other up. If you walk away without being poisoned, then you’ll probably be okay to take the next step.

  87. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    mtwildflower, of those statistics you are quoting, the vast majority are in danger from an immediate family member or close friend, not a stranger. and the offense is taken because the advice, and article categorically imply that a male cannot be trusted alone with girls.

  88. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    and furthermore “man up and deal with it” Divorced dads like myself do, all the time. When my kids were younger, travelling alone with them was more than enough to get tons of stares and glares, because i was a man with young boys with him. even had a hotel clerk ask my kids if they were okay travelling with me. But it would be ok if I was a women, the same clerk “reminded” me several times to bring them down for the free breakfast, like i was unable to remember to feed them.

    All men are not a danger to yours, their own, or anyone else’s kids.
    nor are we so incompetent as fathers that we cannot function or look after children without some woman there to guide us.

  89. In the Trenches February 2, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    mtwildflower, you’re not crazy; you’re just misinformed. The DoJ statistics are not credible…look into what constitutes “molestation” for them. Maybe just a little paranoid, though: geez, I’m glad I don’t have to have dinner at your place — I’m already feeling weirded out by your suspicion! 😉 Why is your default setting at ‘rapist’, and not ‘neighbour’?

  90. Charles February 2, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    There’s a response to the commentary on parenting.com by another editor, this one male, defending the article.


    It’s not much more than an attempt at damage control.

  91. Lisa February 2, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    This is pure insanity and it makes me angry. Men used to be in charge of protecting the home and now they’re apparently all pedophiles in secret. It’s disgusting that we as a country have come to this.

    This is another reason why I don’t subscribe to parenting magazines at all. I feel like they are 70% fear mongering, 30% actual ideas, tips, and information.

  92. RobC February 2, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    As a non-custodial father of two children, I am personally offended and insulted by this woman’s assumption that her child would be unsafe in a house where I was the only adult present.

  93. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    RobC, yup that is exactly why I am offended by this. If this keeps up non custodial fathers are going to have to carry proof that we can be with our kids, and their friends, lest some “concerned” adult report us for being alone with kids.

  94. Angie February 2, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    For the record, I would take the same due diligence to get to know the parent at least a little bit even if it were a single mother. I’m just not into leaving my kids with complete strangers. Judge me if you want to. I’m a big girl now and I AM capable of deciding what I am comfortable with for MY children. On that note, I will likely unsub from this blog. I only discovered it recently, and was interested in what free-range parenting was all about. But if that means leaving my kids with strangers (male or female), then it’s clearly not for me.

  95. olympia February 2, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Do people really think a man is incapable of molesting just because he’s got a woman in the house with him? In all honesty, I wonder just how protective a presence a woman could be proven to be.

  96. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Angie, no one is suggesting that you leave your kids with strangers, what we are saying here is that there was a generalization made in the original article that a divorced dad is not to be trusted and left alone to supervise kids(in this case girls) at a sleepover. There is a belief held by some that all men (or most) are predators just waiting for a moment to strike. As I stated before, it is that tone of the article that is offensive, I always (and my ex-wife as well) took the time to get to know the parents of our kids friends before they were allowed sleepovers. Free ranging means that we are willing to let our kids enjoy their childhood without letting the culture of fear rob them of it.

  97. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    olympia, do people really think a woman is incapable of molesting just because a women is in the house.

  98. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I meant because a man is in the house.

  99. socalledauthor February 2, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Wow. The thing that gets me is that it’s not the stranger that you have to fear around your kids (if you were to fear anyone) but rather the person who you think you know and trust. It’s the coach, the paster/ priest, the uncle or father or neighbor. It’s almost never the stranger… he wouldn’t know if he could manipulate the child into staying quiet with his relationship and/ or authority.

    Always amazing how facts are irrelevant when people make up their minds.

    Personally, I generally assume that most people are fairly nice people. I take precautions in certain situations (like making sure my husband had the address and pnone number for the people’s house I was driving to when I bought some Duplos off Craigslist– me, a young woman going to some strange man’s house– gasp! The things that could have happened… like he gave me the Duplos and I gave him money. Oh, the dog did try to jump on me, which I don’t like…) but I just can’t assume that everyone is some sinister evil-doer waiting to do me or my family harm. I would not appreciate if people thought that about me.

  100. Diane February 2, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Well, we just plain old don’t do sleep overs– not at our house and not at anyone’s house. They really suck. I only needed that experience ONCE!!!! I was shocked to have 9 and 10 year old girls sitting in my basement talking about making out. That was enough for me. Besides, looking back at my own childhood sleepovers, nothing good ever came from them. We just get too tired and fight or do stupid things. I am all for picking my kids up at 10pm, and only letting there friends stay until 10pm. And I don’t care if I offend a single dad, a single mom, a married couple, or my best friend. Sleep overs are just plain old PAIN!!!!! Immediate pain for the parent, and pain for the kid the next day.

  101. justaddad February 2, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Diane, but at least your reasons for not allowing sleepovers have nothing to do with the gender of the host parent.

  102. socalledauthor February 2, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    After reading the rebuttal to the article, I think I’m going to save it for use in an English class: we can use it to identify logical fallacies. There are certiainly many to pick from in there…

  103. Beth February 2, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    @mtwildflower and others, no one is saying you should send your kids to a sleepover without having met and/or knowing the parents. Far from it; and it’s unnecessary to exaggerate it to that extent.

    What we are saying is that if the chaperone is the divorced dad, and you know him and don’t have any other reason to suspect him other than his penis, there should be no reason that your daughter can’t attend a sleepover with her friends.

    Do any of you have sons?

  104. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Socalled….I love your methods of learning!

  105. olympia February 2, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Well, yes, there’s that too.
    I do believe the statistics that men are more likely to molest- but for people to say that means any man should never be alone with their kids….it’s just depressing. And then for people to act like woman in the house= instant safety, is just so perplexing to me. I guess that’s what I’m getting at, these false illusions of safety.

  106. Otto Henderson February 2, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks, Neener.
    I’m really quite sorry for Angie, her abuse has left her crippled and now she actively seeks to cripple her own progeny. I, too, live with what was done to me but I’m so freaking stubborn I vowed that not only would I be a normal human, I would raise my children to be normal, too. I didn’t want my children to be fearful and paranoid of people because of my bad experiences. (And yes, I sought the counseling so I wouldn’t be like that, too)
    Consequently, I spent a lot of time with them and never really found anyone to have a problem with it. Of course, this was years ago, but even so, I never ran into any problems.
    Now, however, I can’t even take my own grandchildren to the mall without at least one person giving me the fisheye. And yes, I’ve been nailed by ‘security’ for ‘hovering’ around two ‘underage’ girls. I was so irritated I couldn’t speak, but my granddaughter’s takedown of the ‘guard’ and the sick and twisted ‘concerned mommy’ was astoundingly sarcastic. She left no doubt to anyone how ‘perverted’ and ‘sick’ she felt the mommy and the guard (who, admittedly, was merely doing what the sick and twisted mommy wanted) to be.
    Extra ice cream all around, I was so proud.
    Clarification this late in the discussion cannot hide your male-hatred. Play the aggrieved one if you wish, but understand that when articles like this are published and people makes comments like yours, there will be people like myself who will call the authors and you out for your hideous male-bashing and the logical fallacies you all perpetrate in the name of your child’s safety.
    Of course, I could cite all the studies and all the statistics, but if you aren’t aware of them and you’re on this computer, (where you can find all the data you need in nanoseconds) then there isn’t anything I (nor anyone else, for that matter) can do for you.

  107. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Ok, here is a nuts one for you. My daughter, 12, is in a competition thingy in school. It means we have to go to a state meet, where we will be staying over night. My two younger boys will be staying with their dad, and have a guys night.

    So, I was telling the mother of my youngest son’s friend. The daughter is 6, my son just turned 7. Mom was asking if the boys were going along. I told her no, they can’t they are not allowed to ride on the bus and I would have to pay for separate rooms for them. I am chaperone for the other kids. The mom then said “Janey would never let me do that. She would think that staying alone with her dad would be just too weird! I have never spent the night away from her!”

    From the tone that mom gave, I got the impression that she doesn’t trust him alone with the girl. Which makes me really sad for the girl and the father, and for their marriage. I have met him, and he seems like a nice guy. Overall their family seems pretty nice, although mom is pretty hoovery, but then her daughter has enough energy to warrant keeping a close eye.

    And, honestly, I have met several biomoms whom I would not trust my kids with, and no biodads (or stepdads) that I would not trust my kids with. It has to do more with the actions of the adult and nothing to do with gender.

  108. AnglRdr February 2, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    I can’t imagine being married to someone I couldn’t trust alone with my child.

  109. Julie February 2, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    This article is appalling, as are the stories mentioned in the comments. I raised my son as a single mom until he was 5… I never once got a comment on having him in a restroom with me or being alone with him and a couple of his male friends. Why would I? I’m his mom. It’s stupid to not think the same way of fathers.

    This isn’t the only bad advice offered in the article, though. A lot of their advice seems based on not telling the friends parent that you allow your kid stay home or play a certain game or eat “junk”. Why? Because you are supposed to be afraid of them judging you. Because it might not seem like you’re a super parent. Also, the article mentions the horror of a 9 year old using a microwave or even an oven. My 5 year old can use the microwave, put food into the oven, and last Saturday cooked eggs for breakfast. If he knows how to cook dinner unsupervised when he is 9, I’ll be thrilled not appalled.

  110. Steve February 2, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Last summer I supervised my daughter’s birthday sleep over. Six 9 year olds. Not one parent said a thing and I only *knew* two of them. I’m not divorced (my wife was gone for the weekend though and they all knew it). Wonder if it mattered that I was married vs divorced?

  111. Gina February 2, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    @Cheryl– I think a sentence that begins “my child would never LET me…” says it all about what goes on in that home!

    When I was in Junior High, I had a dear friend whose mother had died a few years before. She also had three much older (high school/college) brothers. I spent MANY nights at her house and my parents never thought anything of it. I think I felt like it was really special to be there with her when she didn’t have any other females living in the house.

    EDUCATE your children. Tell them it’s ok to say “no” and that they can tell you ANYTHING. Any child who is old enough to spend the night is old enough to hear that and understand it.

    I would let any of my children sleep at any other child’s home, regardless of the marital status or gender of the parents. It appalls me that people think a single dad is an automatic child molester. And I’d even let my SONS spend the night at a home where there are TWO dads! Gay doesn’t equal molester either!!!

  112. Holly February 2, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    To add to the “worst first”, a Recreation Center in our area will soon begin scanning driver’s licenses upon entry and cross-referencing names with the sex-offender registry.

  113. LRH February 2, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    “Man up & deal with it?” Gee, I sort of thought the idea was to, I don’t know, not discriminate against someone based on their gender?

    When, in reality, I was mistaken, I’m supposed to “man up & deal with it” because it’s only natural for people to presume me to be a molester since I was born XY instead of XX.

    Okay, gotcha.

    (Sarcasm off)


  114. JC February 2, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Disgusting. The woman who wrote this article obviously had problems with her own father and should seek counseling. I don’t know many women who didn’t absolutely adore their father and would never think him capable of something like this. I’m pretty confident that my own two girls will reflect on me this way when they’re older and dismiss rubbish like this out of hand.

  115. Jane Howard February 2, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    I am 57 years old, one of four girls. My dad was a great guy, loved kids and even worked at the ‘Y’ camp as a counselor when he was a teenager. He was wonderful to all his grandchildren, even from the time they were babies, holding them, playing with them, etc. (although diaper-changing was not his to-do list.) Nothing saddened me more than to hear him comment that he hesitated to hold other babies or comment about them because he was afraid of being seen as a pervert.

    When my younger son was 12 (he is now 34 and a new dad) he wanted to earn some money so I suggested babysitting. He signed up for a babysitter’s class at the Red Cross and from then on had a pretty steady job as a sitter. In high school he and his brother worked as counselors at Boy Scout camp and in college, at lacrosse camps. The younger son also did substitute teaching for a while before joining the Marines. I guess they were lucky to alway have been in contact with supportive parents (usually the moms who did all the schlepping around) that thought they did a good job with the kids and weren’t out to do anything at all lascivious. Both of them are now Marine captains and literally have the lives of others’ precious little darlings under their command, so I suppose molestation is not exactly at the top of the worry list.

    I’m glad that Peter is of the mind to call someone on the carpet for skewed thinking…because if I ever saw it, I, not the shrinking-violet type, certainly would!

  116. Amanda Mae February 2, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Ugh. This makes me so angry. My parents divorced when I was 8, and I had countless sleepovers with girlfriends with only him there to supervise. And I spend many nights staying with friends at their dads’ homes as well. And absolutely nothing ever happened, and in fact, no one would have even thought that something might. It absolutely disgusts me that some parents have this way of thinking. Ridiculous.

  117. Librarymomma February 2, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    When I was a teen in the 1980s, I slept over at a friend’s house. Her father was a single dad and my mom didn’t seem concerned about my safety at the party. He certainly wasn’t a child molester, but he did have a pot party the night I slept over and didn’t conceal it from me or my friend. Just a fun little fact from my childhood.

    But more to the point, I have one child — a boy — and if he were invited to spend the night over at a friend’s house, I’d want to make sure I knew the parent or parents, not because of any threat of molestation but because, as others above have wisely stated or suggested, I’d like to know what kind of person the parent is in general and if he or she is responsible and knows what to do in an emergency, etc., but I don’t think I’d have “child molestation” on my mind and I certainly wouldn’t cancel the sleepover because I was worried about it.

    Articles such as the one Lenore shared here only foster fear and ignorance about men, single parents, and people in general. Ultimately, education of ourselves, our children, and our friends is the only way to deal with this kind of misinformation. Thanks, Lenore, for sharing this with us.

  118. BPFH February 2, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Stories like this make me glad I haven’t read any of those magazines for something around 8 years–and what pushed me over that particular edge was the assertion that any child at or over 95th percentile for weight by age was obese. (My son, at the time, was 90+ percentile for height… so at most, he was about 3-5 pounds heavier than he should have been.) That seems so tame now…

  119. Gina February 2, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    My 25 year old son has worked in Child Care for several years. We worked at the same preschool for a while. I was a teacher in the two’s class. One day, my assistant was out sick and my son was the sub. A woman who had triplets in my class (2 girls, 1 boy) told me not to tell her husband that my son would be changing diapers because he would freak out. My first thought was that if he thinks that men are child molesters by virtue of their gender, then what does he think about himself? The thing that MOST Irritated me about this was that the SCHOOL OFFICIALS told me to go along with what the mom said instead of calling the dad out on his ignorance. Like people said, it was as though he was ACCUSING my son of being a pedophile! I was livid!

  120. Eika February 2, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    When I went to my first sleepover, my parents sat me down and told me, very sternly, that they expected me to call them at 8 PM and let them know how it was going. If I did not, they would call me at 8:30. And if I was homesick or uncomfortable, I was to say ‘I forgot my toothbrush’ on the phone and they would lie for me.

    They made sure to meet all the parents before I slept over until I was sixteen, they checked that a parent would be there at all times until I was 12, but my entire childhood was filled with calls. I ‘forgot my toothbrush’ four times: once when a ‘supervised’ sleepover became unsupervised midway through, once when I unexpectedly got my period, and twice because I just wasn’t enjoying myself (too much homework to think of anything else, or being bullied by an older sibling, or something similar). I suddenly had 7-AM doctor appointments in cities requiring long drives.

    I don’t have my own children yet. Setting up a code phrase, and talking out what to do if uncomfortable, seems like common sense to me. But I cannot imagine insinuating something like that of another person. That’s just… *shakes head, wordless*

  121. Maureen February 2, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Some of my best sleep over memories are of staying with a friend who lived with her single dad. He made the most amazing homemade pizza for dinner and then doughnuts for breakfast.

    And I just love the anecdotal evidence people just live to present when these topics pop up. As if their singly story can justify this type of thinking. Someone you know was hurt by a man and therefore all men must be bad. Statistics say otherwise.

  122. SKL February 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    I am just thinking of all the awesome times we girls spent with our dads growing up. This is the first time I wondered if anyone ever suspected my dad of having ulterior motives. What a sick thought.

    I do know someone who was molested by at least her brother and uncle in her own house. I heard something about the grandfather too, and that her brothers also got victimized. So yes, it happens. But I still feel disgusted that that should taint the good stuff. LIke my dad taking me fishing. There’s nothing quite like dad-daughter quality time.

  123. Donna February 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    “But instead of saying “no” to sleeping over “ever”, I would probably offer to host for that evening, and then make arrangements for playdates in the future where I could get to know the dad and become more comfortable with him.”

    He doesn’t somehow know you better than you know him does he? So the dad should automatically trust a stranger – YOU – with his daughter simply because you are a woman but you can’t trust him with your daughter until you know him better?

    I’m amazed at all the people saying that they would not let their children spend the night at friend’s houses until they get to know the parents. I don’t think my mother ever knew any of the parents of my friends except in passing as kids were exchanged. She never stepped foot in their house nor they in hers (you just drove up, dropped whoever was being dropped off, and waived). And yet, I don’t think I spent both nights of the weekend alone ever during elementary school.

    What irreparable harm do you think is going to come from letting your children spend the night at a friend’s house, even if their parenting is not in line with yours? Unless a tragedy occurs, which could happen in the best homes, one night is not going to make a bit of difference in your child’s life. Now if your child comes home talking about the parents cooking meth on the stove, I’d suggest against a repeat visit but I tend to think my child will be perfectly safe in the home of any one of her healthy, happy middle class friends. They’ve managed to keep their own kid alive for 6 years; I think they can handle keeping mine alive for one night.

  124. gap.runner February 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    I guess I would be labeled a “deviant thinker” if I lived in the States. I have no problems with my son being around his friends’ fathers, even if I had only briefly met them. I know the kids because they are over at my house quite a bit. I figured that if the kids are nice and polite, then the fathers must be doing a good job. My son has friends who live with their divorced dads. He sleeps over at these friends’ houses once in a while. In fact, he says that he has the most fun at sleepovers where there is just a father at home. Boys need that “guy time.” My husband has also supervised sleepovers at my house when I haven’t been around because of my work schedule. Again, the boys had lots of fun because my husband genuinely loves kids. It seems like the kids have more fun at sleepovers that fathers supervise because, according to my son, mothers are stricter about bedtime and what the kids watch on TV.

    When my son was younger, I was friends with a couple who also ran in local races. Since my husband didn’t run, he was the one who watched all of the kids (the other couple had a son and daughter) while my friends and I raced. At one point the youngest child, the daughter, was still in diapers. My friends trusted my husband to change their daughter’s diaper. The last thing that crossed their mind was that my husband would molest the daughter while changing her diaper. Where do people come up with things like that?

    One more thing…About a year ago the on-base chapel advertised for a “responsible female” to work in the church nursery. While I didn’t call the person who ran the ad and tell her that she was being discriminatory toward men and branding them all as perverts, I did write about it.

  125. Myriam February 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    This is the worst advice I’ve ever read in an advice column. People are entitled to their thoughts and fears – what really astounds me about this advice is the idea that people should voice those thoughts and fears no matter how offensive they might be to the other party. Or is it so self-evident that all men are potential pedophiles that they have no right to be offended?

    It should be easy to pull out of a sleepover without effectively saying “sorry, but you could be a pervert”. How rude!

  126. Sarah February 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    It’s not just magazines that are paranoid about fathers. Last fall, my husband had a day off of work, and took our preschool-age son to the playground near our house – which is just next door to a school. After running around for a while, they sat under a tree and drew in the dirt, something I have done with my son more times than I can count. This time, though, the little boy was with a MAN and security came out of the school. Because the tree was technically on school rather than park district property (no fence, and it’s right next to the swings, so who knew?) the two (two!) security guards insisted on escorting my husband and son into the building. There they checked to make sure he was not on the sex offender registry, and asked our son questions to make sure he was really his son (like you’d kidnap a boy and then go sit next to a school playing in the dirt). Now, of course, my husband doesn’t want our son going to that school, ever. Not that I blame him, but it is our neighborhood school. Aarrgh.

  127. Claudia Conway February 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    This ‘well I just need to get to know the parents’ thing doesn’t really work for me. I mean, as if you’ll be able to obviously spot a pervert amid the nice, normal parents?

  128. katesparkes February 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    I’m glad I haven’t touched a parenting magazine in 5 years. I think I’m a better (and less paranoid) parent for it.

  129. pentamom February 2, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    “This ‘well I just need to get to know the parents’ thing doesn’t really work for me. I mean, as if you’ll be able to obviously spot a pervert amid the nice, normal parents?”

    As others have pointed out, there are other concerns than “perverts.” Someone above said that there’s no reason we should quibble with other parents’ desire to know the people their kids will be staying with, so long as some overwrought pervert fear isn’t the motivator.

    After all, at least you’ll screen out the people who aren’t even nice and normal!

  130. Heather P. February 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    Off-topic, funny, and hopefully over-the-top:

    Maybe we need to introduce this cartoonist to FRK. 🙂

  131. Becky February 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    I wonder what the author of the article would say if, in response to a question of whether the divorced dad would be supervising alone, he responded, “Oh no, my live in girlfriend who’s half my age wll be sleeping over too!”

  132. Nikky February 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Huh… does anyone else find the “Offer to host the girls at your place instead” bit of the advice incredibly arrogant? Obviously the whole thing is nuts, but… “Well, you’re probably totally inept or a monster who wants to fondle my Snowflake… why don’t you just let ME take care of it? I’m sure they’d have much more fun at my house, as I’m heaps better than you.. as proven by my supermom instinct for protecting my daughter from creeps like, well, you.”

  133. Cheryl W February 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    For me, the getting to know the parents has nothing at all to do with potential perverts. It does have a lot to do with common sense and a little bit of supervision. I do want to know that the person I am leaving my kid with won’t be drunk on the couch or driving them around drunk. I do want to know they won’t be high on pot and maybe offering it to my now tween child. I want to know that they are somewhat aware of where my kid is, just a general idea, and that that place is not the roof of the house. I want to be sure that there isn’t a party atmosphere and number of adults sleeping over as well, so that there aren’t enough beds and adult men are sleeping in beds with 9 year old girls. (Not saying they are perverts, just, that crosses some lines with me, especially when those men have been drinking. If I send my kid knowing this environment and another parent calls CPS, am I also liable? Even my husband was not comfortable with that one.) I would rather not have my kids at a house where people are driving up to buy and use meth.

    Unlikely you say? Well, somehow people like this have ended up as my neighbors with kids the ages of my kids who wanted to have sleepovers. Perhaps the call and the “I forgot my toothbrush” would work. At least with my daughter. With my son who was on the neighbor’s roof, the more dangerous, the better. I am all for boys being boys, but I also don’t want the fall from the roof or to have to pay for the damage when he falls through the roof (which is much more likely, and less damaging to him.)

  134. Julie February 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Does any one else get tired of the constant echo of “but times have changed” or “things are more complicated now”? Any paranoid behavior can instantly be justified by those phrases. People haven’t changed at all. Society hasn’t really changed, except to be more open to some ideas and more paranoid because of perceived danger. And yet, people always talk about these radical changes in the world. They talk about how they wish is wasn’t so, and act as though they are powerless to change it. They will jump up to protect their child from a myriad of potential threats, and yet will do nothing to protect them from a really, visible threat – being trapped inside a bubble of paranoia, never learning to think for themselves.

  135. Donna February 3, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    “I do want to know that the person I am leaving my kid with won’t be drunk on the couch or driving them around drunk. I do want to know they won’t be high on pot and maybe offering it to my now tween child. I want to know that they are somewhat aware of where my kid is, just a general idea, and that that place is not the roof of the house. I want to be sure that there isn’t a party atmosphere and number of adults sleeping over as well, so that there aren’t enough beds and adult men are sleeping in beds with 9 year old girls. (Not saying they are perverts, just, that crosses some lines with me, especially when those men have been drinking. If I send my kid knowing this environment and another parent calls CPS, am I also liable? Even my husband was not comfortable with that one.) I would rather not have my kids at a house where people are driving up to buy and use meth.”

    But you can’t possibly KNOW any of this. Most people know that these activities aren’t readily acceptable to the general population. They are not going to tell you about their drug habits in casual conversation. You may be able to garner some of this information concerning your neighbors and close friends but certainly not the parents of the boy your son has best friended from the baseball team no matter how many times you sit next to them at practice. Even with friends and neighbors your knowledge is limited as drug use and other socially unacceptable behavior is often kept secret from even the closest of friends. The neighbor that throws a party every night is identifiable. The functional alcoholic who gets drunk every night after work may not be.

    “If I send my kid knowing this environment and another parent calls CPS, am I also liable?”

    I don’t recall ever saying that you should send your kid into an environment KNOWING drugs, parties, perverts, etc were going on there. There is a difference between sending your kids into a house where you KNOW they are offering pot to tweens and treating people as though they just might do so until you know them better.

    I simply don’t have the time, energy or interest in cultivating meaningful friendships with people just because my kid makes friends with theirs at school that year such that I can truly KNOW if any of those things you mention are occurring behind closed doors. I don’t have any interest in limiting my child’s friends to the children of my friends. The kids are clean, healthy, happy kids. The houses are in safe neighborhoods and don’t smell like meth when I drop her off. The parents don’t act stoned, drunk or otherwise questionable in our brief interactions at school events or around town. So I’m not going to enter into worse first thinking about their families or spend a lot of time getting to know them (unless they seem like people I’d like to be friends with independent of my child).

  136. Lollipoplover February 3, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    @Julie- Yes, the “Times have changed” argument is almost as annoying as the “We are so much more informed of the dangers now” whopper. I want to correct this each time and insert “misinformed” instead, because it’s simply not a rational argument. Plus, it’s exhausting.

  137. Dave Crowell February 3, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    Wow… really…

    The Sitch: I’m an at-home Dad whose kids go to a charter school that has me teaching them at home 3 days a week. At times my wife goes out of town for a whole week for work.

    The Question: Am I allowed to be at home with my kids during this time? The kids will be sleeping over night as it is there home… and my daughter is a girl.

    Should I leave them alone rather than watching over them? I mean.. really.. I don’t want to do something horrible like leave them alone with a man.

    I stopped reading parenting magazines period. Look at the tag lines under their titles. Mom to Mom… Woman to Woman. (http://www.realmendriveminivans.com/do-fathers-matter-parenting-magazines/)

    News flash. Men are like Women. We parent the same way. You filter what we do through your eyes and color it however you want. Not my problem. I’ll be a good parent. You just have to deal with that.

  138. SKL February 3, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    This reminds me of a family drama years ago. My sister arranged a camping week in a cabin for some family members and friends. These included me, my 8yo niece, and a male friend who was gay and had AIDS, among others. We all went together to ensure we could occupy a whole cabin ourselves – otherwise, you have to share with people (of both sexes) whom you don’t know.

    I just assumed that my SIL was aware of and OK with the arrangement. My niece stayed in the same room as I did, and everyone acted perfectly normal (unless you count the hissy fit my sister threw over the way niece was eating).

    Years later I heard that there was a horrible upheaval and SIL decided that she would never let niece go anywhere with any of us again. Apparently nobody had told SIL about the gay guy, and someone had told niece not to blab. (Who could be that stupid, I don’t know, but it wasn’t me.) Niece blabbed and all h-ll broke loose.

    What I don’t get is how it was OK to send niece to a cabin where she would have to live with strangers, but not OK to send her with a person you know and have no substantive reason to distrust. It’s not like a sick gay guy is a likely predator of little girls – and it’s not like the little girl was going off in closed quarters with anyone other than me. But apparently I should have known SIL would never have approved, and shame on me for . . . something.

    To make the story more pathetic, it turns out SIL’s ex-husband molested their own daughter and is now in prison for that. Yet another sad example of misplaced trust and distrust.

  139. Jessi February 3, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Because of the flap about who knew what at Penn State, Oregon has decided to try passing this through. In a nutshell, it would require university coaches and employees of youth organizations to report child abuse to authorities. So, hears the rub. We HAVE a law that does this. Oregon has a great mandatory reporter law(seen here: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/abuse/mandatory_report.shtml) So this bill is reactionary political crap.


  140. Tilting Tiara February 3, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    “Offer to host the girls at your place instead” … seriously? As in, go ahead and hijack everybody else’s plans/fun because it’s all about you? Why not call the dad to see what’s planned, talk to him, get to know him. He MIGHT be a nice guy who loves his daughter. Maybe.

  141. Matt C February 3, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    What if it said this?

    The Sitch: You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your son, not realizing that only her pal’s divorced mom will be home. You’re not OK with it. What to do?

    The Solution: ”Call and say ‘I’m sorry, and this is about me and not you, but I just don’t feel comfortable with a woman supervising an overnighter,’ ” says Paone. Offer to host the boys at your place instead, if you can, or ask to turn the sleepover into a “late-over,” where your son stays only till bedtime. In the future, always ask who’ll be on duty before you say yes to a sleepover.

  142. SKL February 3, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    Come on, Matt C, you know men only think about sex with young flesh while women’s minds are on nutrition and homework help. Get real.

  143. Cheryl W February 3, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    Donna, actually, I let my kids do things with the kids first, but not overnights. It was prior to the overnights (and in one case, after and the household dynamics changed) that I did not let the kids stay over night.

    I don’t know, maybe we are special or something. I try to get to know my neighbors in our small rural community. My kids take some classes one day a week with other home schoolers. We pretty much know everyone from year to year and do welcome in the new home schooling moms and dads. I always think best of people first. Mostly, that seems to be pretty right on. Certainly there is probably some dysfunction in their families as there is in most families. (No one is “normal” in my opinion.) Some are helicopters, some are free range.

    Maybe it is also that I have never been in the position of my kid never having been asked to do a sleep over by a kid that I don’t the parents. Which, now that I think of it, in this day and age in our mobile communities, is actually pretty cool. I am pretty sure that in my father’s day as a child, his mother knew every other parent in the community as the school only had a total of 60 kids. So yeah, maybe you are right. It doesn’t matter if I say I want to know them first. Because I already do know them. And if actions say they are not trustworthy, then I operate on that.

  144. Sera February 3, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    Sex is never in a woman’s best interest. Women do not like sex and do not seek it. Women who have sex, especially outside marriage, usually gets hurt or disempowered.

    Therefore, if a woman has sex, she has been tricked, pressured or brainwashed into consenting to sex.

    Therefore, sex between a man and a woman is a predator/prey relationship, where the man is a predator and the woman is the prey.

    Children are easier to coerce, trick or brainwash. Therefore, they are more susceptible to being predated upon.

    Therefore, all children are at risk at being predated upon by all men, because it is easier to get them to consent to sex, and men will attempt to have sex with anything that will allow them to do so.


  145. Greg February 3, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    @mtwildflower Read the statistics again. YOU or your husband/boyfriend are far more likely to harm or molest your child than another parent or a stranger.

  146. Otto Henderson February 3, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Great Poe!
    And the sad thing is, that as sarcastic as you are there really, truly are women (and men) that believe everything you said, word for word.
    There are actual sites saying exactly the above and they are not kidding.
    Not merely sad, but terrifying.
    The SCUM Manifesto is alive and perverting even yet.

  147. Emma February 3, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    That website Parenting is hardly a bastion of sane, free-range advice. Here’s another gem from an article on child-proofing: ‘Bottom line: Assess your needs and then implement them. And by all means, don’t take any notice of others who may wonder if you are overdoing it. When your baby is at this death-defying age, there is no such thing.’

  148. cp February 3, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    It’s worth noting here that my step-father molested me every single day for 12 years … usually while my mother was in the house.

    I’d say the advise for this situation would be the same as it would be were the guardian female: just get to know them first and trust your instincts.

  149. Library Diva February 3, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    The Sitch: Despite having my MFA from Barnard College, my novel withered and died deep inside me. I was forced to take a job writing for a square magazine where the advertisers drive all of the editorial content. I find myself writing advice on choosing a pediatrician and reviewing car seats. I’m only 24, and life wasn’t supposed to be this way. How can I prove to the world that I’m still the same espresso-swilling hipster I was in grad school?

    Solution: Sprinkle your parenting articles with cheesy slang that’s cribbed from MTV and magazines written by 45-year-old men aimed at teenage girls. Don’t worry too much about whether anyone actually talks like that. Your readers will just assume that this is some sort of slang that they’re not “with it” enough to be familiar with, and who knows, they may actually enjoy showing it off to the checkout girl at Target. Also, look on the bright side: the fact that you’re no longer an academic means you can stop worrying about that pesky grammar and sentence structure.

    UGH. Also, I’m glad to know they have a “we print ANYTHING” editorial policy. If I ever become a parent, this sounds like a magazine to avoid.

  150. Sera February 3, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    @ Otto Henderson:

    If you take a look, you’ll see that out entire society believes that, word for word, to one extent or another.

    In our society, sex is viewed as “a thing men do to women”, or “a thing women let men do to them”, or a chore for women, etc. If a man has sex, he is considered to have gotten lucky, scored a goal, won a conquest, or otherwise been skillful and masterful in “beating the game” and managing to pull off a difficult task.

    A woman who has sex is used, taken advantage of, made a bad decision, been conquered and dominated, failed to defend her goal, was weak, etc. If she has a lot of sex, she is “easy” (which implies that there is some resistance but it is unworthy and inadequate), succumbed to “peer pressure”, or that her “shitty lock is opened by a lot of keys”.

    Because that sort of thinking is already in place, and thus the predator/prey dynamic, it is not exactly a large mental leap from there to children being “easier prey”, and therefore “at risk” from the sexually predatory male gender.

  151. blackwatertown February 3, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    SKL right to shale head in disbelief at the magazine for purveying such foolishness. Anyone, male, female, married, single, divorced, straight, gay, etc can be a threat – or more likely not. But that’s why you assess everyone and every situation on its merits, not by categorising all divorced men… sorry, I’ll stop, it’s too ridiculous.

  152. Christi February 3, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    “I do want to know that the person I am leaving my kid with won’t be drunk on the couch or driving them around drunk. ” -Cheryl W.

    This is my biggest fear. Reliable statistics, and my real life experience, suggest that about 1 in 4 children has an (actively) alcoholic parent for at least some part of their childhood. When I was in HS I was part of a support group for children of alcoholics and I could look around each of my classrooms and pick out the other 4 or 5 kids who were dealing with the same situation. I had two alcoholic parents and an alcoholic grandparent at home, and I now know, in retrospect, how often they drove other people’s kids around while they were drunk– my mom in particular. Had those other parents met my mom in the afternoon hours, her lack of sobriety would have been clear (not that it would necessarily have done anything. She often showed up drunk to sports games and my coaches still let her drive me home rather than interfere– that’s the real failure of responsibility in my eyes). I am far more suspicious of people’s sobriety when my kid is with them than I am about molestation. Teaching them to ward off unwanted touch is far easier than teaching them to surreptitiously sip out of the guardian’s glass to see if it is water or vodka or if their coke is mixed with whisky.

  153. Gina February 3, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    When my daughter was in first grade, she was invited to go home to play at another little girl’s house. I had met and conversed with the mom several times. There were three little girls and it was an intact family. The mom picked them up from school and took them to her house and at the end of the playdate, I picked up my daughter.

    Fast-forward…the spring of that year, we are out of town and receive an email from my daughter’s teacher stating that this mother had died. Long story short, I come to find out that she had committed suicide by pills and had been a raging alcoholic who often drove drunk with her kids in the car.

    I was raised in an alcoholic home. I hate the smell and the effects of drinking and can spot it a mile away.

    I never had a clue.

    Point being, The overwhelming number of times, your child is going to be fine. And the times where they might be a problem, you may not know it anyway. SO, Educate your child to say “NO” if they are uncomfortable…and make sure they can reach you at any time. It’s the best you can do and it empowers your child. If your child is not ready to do this, s/he is not ready for a sleepover.

  154. Heather MacCoy February 3, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    For the record: the one survivor of molestation by a parent who I know well enough to talk about it with was molested by her MOTHER. Parents are advised to assume every man involved with children is a pedophile, but every woman is trustworthy. Get to know the individuals involved, teach the kids to be safe and to speak up

  155. Cheryl W February 3, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Heather, you are correct. The only convicted child molester that I have personally known (we met as adults, prior to the molestation) is a woman. You are certainly right that parents and kids need to understand that women can and do, molest too.

    But If I went on personal experience though, as some seem to suggest that we all do, I guess I would never have a woman look after my kids!

  156. G February 3, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    u r an idiot… what is the risk vs gain? come on free range…

  157. Donna February 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    “You’ve accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal’s divorced dad will be home.”

    Okay, the question itself has been bothering me. Just the way it is phrased. It sounds like all invitations are supposed to be formal and communicated through the parent. What happened to kid coming home from school and asking if she can spend the night at Susie’s house, responding “if it’s all right with Susie’s mom” and letting the kids work it out from there?

  158. rickrood February 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Thanks for alerting me to this horrific article. Your (and my) sentiments have been reblogged at AfterSchoolAnswers.com


  159. mollie February 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Can’t ask everyone to raise their hands here but wondering if most posters are living in the US. When I lived in the US, sexual predators were the least of my concerns.

    GUNS were my biggest concern. I remember when my kid turned 3, I was living in Minnesota, and the State Legislature passed a law allowing folks to walk around with loaded, concealed handguns! Not a typically paranoid person, I became one, and then decided to move to a place where guns were a non-issue.

    Before I moved, though, and my son started having buddies, I read some advice from the American Pediatric whatever-it-was about six questions you should always ask before a kid goes over to someone’s house. They weren’t questions about male or female caregivers. They weren’t questions about drinking or drugs. They were all questions about guns and ammo, because that’s what poses the most immediate risk to children visiting US homes.

    What are the stats again about how many kids get injured or killed by firearms EVERY DAY in the US? Those guns that are in millions of homes, loaded, unlocked, stashed away to protect, only to be discovered by curious children, with tragic results…

    “…1.7 million American children under the age of 18 currently reside in households where guns are kept both unlocked and loaded.”

    Gah. And we’re dickering over strangers in bushes and casting suspicious glances at loving dads who care for their kids?

    The stats say that Dad’s car or Dad’s gun is way more dangerous to society than Dad’s penis is.


    Keep reading if you’re into quantitative stuff.

    The 2002 edition of Injury Facts from the National Safety Council reports the following statistics :

    In 1999, 3,385 children and youth ages 0-19 years were killed with a gun. This includes homicides, suicides, and unintentional injuries.
    This is equivalent to about 9 deaths per day, a figure commonly used by journalists.

    The 3,385 firearms-related deaths for age group 0-19 years breaks down to:

    214 unintentional
    1,078 suicides
    1,990 homicides
    83 for which the intent could not be determined
    20 due to legal intervention

    Of the total firearms-related deaths:

    73 were of children under five years old
    416 were children 5-14 years old
    2,896 were 15-19 years old

  160. Christi February 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    My grandfather was a gun-toating lunatic and, though my 24 cousins and I all survived childhood visits to his house, we all knew NEVER to move a seat cushion, open a box or “rifle” though the basement without permission and extreme caution.

    Looks like the firearms statistics also suggest that people should check in with their 15 to 19 year olds to see if they are feeling homicidal or suicidal!

  161. Adie Andrews (@AdieAndrews) February 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    The situation is pretty tricky and you are right that you need to rethink very carefully the way you will react. Greets olympics 2012 accommodations

  162. Nicholas February 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    I have not read the comments yet, but I want to sincerely thank you for posting this. This subversive, insulting paranoia is one of the lead reasons I stopped interacting with other kids completely as I moved into adulthood, and I think played a key role in me not deciding to have kids; it’s just not worth the continual FUD induced stress and aggravation.

    Since then I’ve ‘adopted’ a family and now have two pre-teen daughters, and my life is much richer for it. But I still deal with ridiculous pre-conceived anti-male notions. As if life isn’t already complicated and stressful enough without piling on all this extra irrational crap.

    I really think this topic needs more societal awareness, and a concerted effort to change.

  163. kiesha February 3, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I grew up with guns in the house. I was taught that if I ever TOUCHED one, I would get my ass beat. Can’t remember any of my friends ever being the slightest bit interested in even looking at them. They were hunting rifles and I grew up in a place where hunting was a huge deal (The first day of deer season was sort of an unofficial holiday– a great number of students skipped school on that day to go hunting). So everyone just grew up knowing that guns were for hunting and if you played around with one, you were in serious trouble. (Enough stories of people accidentally getting shot while out hunting also scared me into never touching anything beyond a BB gun)
    It may have been different if I’d grown up around handguns.

  164. pentamom February 4, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    The gun thing is silly. Yes, there are statistics on guns — all of which become irrelevant when you realize that a child old enough to stay at someone else’s home is old enough to be taught that you don’t ever touch guns without adult permission and oversight, and *you don’t touch anything in someone else’s house without permission, ever.*

    If they don’t understand both those principles and can’t be relied to act on them, they’re not capable of being an appropriate guest in someone else’s home anyway.

  165. kiesha February 4, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    I had a friend in middle school who’s grandmother lived a few houses down from my house. When her family would visit grandma, she would come over and we would play. She was FOREVER taking Fruit Roll-Ups out of the cabinet and eating them. I never told her not to and neither did my parents because it seemed strange to not let this little girl have a Fruit Roll-Up, but the fact that she never even asked if she could have one– just took it– rubbed my parents and I the wrong way.

  166. Donna February 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    The gun statistics (like many statistics in the US) are meaningless. The country is too vast and varied to say 3,385 kids died from guns so guns need to be a concern everywhere.

    I don’t doubt that that many kids die from accidental gunshots, homicide and suicide. However, subtract out those who commit suicide (who would find a way with or without a gun so are irrelevant to the analysis), and you are dealing almost exclusively with inner city youths. Yes, there is an occasional homicide, hunting accident or other gun death in the general population, but it is rarer than kidnapping. The vast majority of those 214 unintentional, 1,990 homicides, 83 unknown gun deaths (which is actually a very small number considering the number of guns in this country) happen in high crime, mostly inner city, areas. They are the result of a whole series of ills that plague that population.

    If you are allowing your children to visit friends in high crime areas like housing projects, ghettos, barrios and trailer parks, guns in the houses that they are visiting might be a concern (along with a whole host of other things). If you are in a typical working class/middle class neighborhood, accidental shootings and homicide are rare. The guns are most likely going to be secured and the kids in the family schooled in proper gun etiquette.

    Child molestation crosses all socioeconomic backgrounds (though still more prevalent in low income areas). In a middle class home, a penis is a much bigger threat though statistically it’s not much of a threat at all.

  167. pentamom February 5, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    Besides the fact that guns don’t seek kids out and shoot them. They’re inanimate pieces of metal. Molesters are people with wills who act by themselves.

    Of course, as we all agree, the molestation problem is so rare as to not be an issue if there is no reason to believe it exists in a particular case. It’s just that guns are even *less* so because a child can’t hurt himself by playing with a gun if he doesn’t pick up the gun, or by someone else playing with a gun if he’s taught to leave immediately if any such thing is going on — both of which are, as I said, fully within the competence of any child who is mature enough to be a guest in someone else’s home. If they aren’t, the gun isn’t the problem.

  168. kherbert February 5, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    I’m offended by the epi pen comment in the “apology”.

    I’m allergic to Peanuts. I was not allowed to go to non family sleep overs until I was able to a) question adults about food/ask to see the labels to double check, b) refuse to eat foods that I know are questionable/dangerous, c) could recite my medical history and stand up to doctors that tried to give me benadryl (stuff makes me as high as a kite).

    Still I was going on friend sleep overs by the time I was 7 or 8. Kids with chronic conditions MUST be taught to handle their condition. They aren’t going to turn a certain age and be able to handle it. My parents had me give info to triage and the doctors under their supervision from early in elementary school.

    1st semester University I had a reaction. It was my trip to the ER without my parents. I had everything ready, gave them a full medical background, knew how to deal with our insurance. The next morning I called my parents to warn them about the charge on the credit card – and overnighted them the paperwork from the ER.

  169. Donna February 5, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    I agree kherbert. Outside of having a kid with the very rare airborne peanut allergy, I get really tired of hearing we can’t do X because of allergies. Whether that be from the allergic child’s family who puts the kid in a plastic bubble lest an allergen be in the presence of the child or schools, etc. who ban bake sales and peanut butter just in case an allergic child be present.

    My ex’s nephew is allergic to peanuts. That didn’t alter what the family did at all other than read labels. At family gatherings, food (including peanut products) was laid out on the table. As soon as he was old enough to reach the food himself (around 4), J was taken to the table and was shown the peanut products. Everyone then went about about their business. He understood that those things shown to him would make him very sick so he didn’t eat them. No reaction was ever had. Kids can do it if you teach them and let them.

  170. B. Durbin February 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I do have a friend who refuses to leave her children alone with only a male supervising. In her case it’s a fear with a basis—she was molested over a long period as a child by a male relative. So she knows the fear is unreasonable, but she still can’t leave her kids with just a man… possibly not even one she knows and trusts.

    For those of us without phobias, I think using the reasonable vetting process for any adult should be the guideline.

  171. twinmom February 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    When my kids were 3 to 5 we used to hang out every afternoon after pre-school with a group of kids and parents. There were about 4 SHMs and 2 SHDs. We all looked after the kids communally and helped or scolded whichever kids were nearby. One day my son’s pants were unzipped and one of the SHDs noticed. Before zipping up my son’s pants he asked me if it was OK if he zipped them. I thought it was so sad that he felt he had to ask in order to protect himself from an accusation. One of the mothers would have just zipped them without thought.

  172. Beth February 6, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    @B. Durbin, does your friend have a son? If so, does she realize that she’s raising him with a) a fear of his own gender and b) the idea that he himself is eventually going to be feared by women, no matter how upstanding of an adult he is?

  173. Kimberly February 7, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    Recently I had something odd happen to us. I had invited my friend and her family to a vacation with us at Disneyland, actually, I had only invited her son, but she took it upon herself to invite everyone else and I said sure, why not, the more the merrier, Right? My kids had spent the night at her house before, and her son at mine. No biggy, long time friends. (This ties into the article, I promise)

    Well, first off, she accuses my neighbor of raping his daughter, because his daughter accused her older son of a sexual harassment. And her response to that was “Well, she obviously is being raped at home which is why she knew what sexual harassment was”. That really should have sent up warning signs that she was off her rocker, but alas, it did not.

    So we go on this trip. We were staying at my families beach house, which rents out for 10,000$ a week (and we were staying there for free), so obviously there are rules. She got terribly upset with me for suggesting that her kids make the bed in the morning. Mostly that was my way of getting them out of the room so we could discuss going to Disney, as it was at this point still a surprise. But she sat me down and talked with me about how they are on vacation, and on vacation they don’t feel their kids need to pick up after themselves. She also in this time, told me that she was upset because she could not smoke weed in the house and that they were not expecting something so ‘fancy’. Fine, whatever, let’s move on.

    We get to Disneyland and she and her family take off, after getting upset with me over the tickets, which ended up being cheaper than I expected and she flipped out. So, at Disneyland she refused to let her toddler out of his stroller, and did not have a good time, at all.

    The next day, the kids spent the morning out in the ocean playing, afterwards, I took a nap with the baby and my husband took my daughter into the bathroom to wash the sand out of her hair. She’s 6. She needed a bit of help, he closed the door.

    My son at the meantime was in the downstairs shower, when he got out, he ran up stairs in a towel and flashed her boyfriend, accidentally, as he was running to get his clothes.

    After that she decided that they were leaving. So we nodded and went on with our day, having a wonderful vacation.

    When we got home, oh my gosh, the things that awaited us. When she got home, she took the fact that my husband, their father, had washed my daughters hair in the bathroom, alone, with the door closed! So he obviously is a predator, and she was no longer comfortable having her kid over at my house, with everything that was going on. Also since my son ran up the steps clad in only a towel, and that him and his father shared a bed after falling asleep watching some show, that clearly he’s being abused. And I needed to ‘get help’ for my kids, and leave the horrible man which is their father. I listened to all of this, and then when she was done and I tried to have my say, she screamed at me, and hung up me, screaming that she’d get my kids taken away.

    She tried to call CPS on us, but they called shenagians on her, telling her “Uhh.. it’s called being a Dad”.

  174. Cathy February 8, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Kimberley…wow. I am so sorry you encountered such a nutcase! That’s insane!

    The whole Parenting magazine thing is a joke. The editors response was even more ridiculous and offensive, or at least equally so. Very glad I never have bothered with parenting magazines. I’ll be sure to stay away even moreso now. I have two girls, with another baby on the way. I know there are dads who laregly ignore their girls or who have no interest(which the editor of Parent obviously feels is normal and how it should be) but my husband adores his little girls and is a great dad I am sure when they are older he would have no problem hosting sleepovers and such for him. With 3 kids all 15 months apart in age I am sure as older kids/teens they will have friends over and all be hanging out a lot. I’d hate the think some people would flip out if it happened to just be my husband home at the time. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and rape. My husband is the one who helped me through my healing process, even saved my life when i tried to kill myself. He knows how horrible and how damaging it all is for a person. He always promised me I would heal and was so supportive. He’s the man who showed me not all men were monsters. It would make me physically ill to think someone would label him as a predator for being a good father to his daughters. People who have been abused and still hold onto that intense fear need therapy and need to make a conscious effort not to pass that bias onto their kids. I definitely would use caution when letting my kids go to a friend’s place, but I’m not going to judge someone based on their gender alone. Sexual abuse is horrible, and it happens too often. One time to one person is too much. But i refuse to live my life in fear. I will do all I can to protect my kids, but I will also not let my own negative experiences keep me from letting my kids from having an enjoyable happy childhood with friends and play time and sleepovers.

    As for guns, mentioned earlier, I laugh like crazy when i see someone talking about how afraid they are of guns. Mollies comment especially on people being allowed to carry loaded weapons! OMG how scary! LOL!!!!! My husband and I both have our LTCFs(License to carry) my husband carries his handgun all the time… and we own a good bit of firearms. Our kids will be taught never to touch them without permission, they will always be locked up they will never be able to get to them on their own, and we even plan to make them take a gun safety course once they are old enough to know how to handle guns safely(for hunting or shooting on a range with parental supervision, or for when they are adults if they so choose to own their own guns someday) ….being fearful of guns is so incredibly irrational. be fearful of people who have guns and do not store them safely, yes. be fearful of people who don’t know how to properly handle firearms and keep them away from them by all means! But to be afraid of gun owners who store and use their guns responsibly and safely or afraid of people who happen to prefer to carry their guns on them is the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life.You think people who are LEGALLY carrying guns are going to suddenly shoot you for no reason?? Umm, really?! Gun owners aren’t who you need to fear. You (“you” being anyone who fears guns)only fear guns cause you don’t know anything about them, gain some knowledge and then you might realize how silly it is to fear an object.

  175. beckyS February 8, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Did anyone notice that, in the original article, they suggested changing the sleepover to a “late-over,” where the kids stays only until bedtime? Because everyone KNOWS that pedophiles only attack in the middle of the night, I suppose. WTH?!? The whole article is crazy.

  176. Sarah February 8, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    no offense, but it seems like many of the commentors are going way over the deep end on this..

    the point of the answer (and article) was NOT to bash men, nor was it to insinuate that single father + girl sleepover = pedophile.

    it was to offer advice to someone who felt uncomfortable about a specific situation where they didn’t know how to handle it. obviously, not many of the commentors on here needed that advice.

    in no way did I get the feeling that the author was against men hosting sleepovers for their daughters.

    deep breaths, everyone..

    ..and a bit less drama.

  177. Otto Henderson February 8, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I can understand that you don’t “get the feeling.” So, I’ll help you out.
    “My daughter wants to sleep over and only a black is supervising. I’m not comfortable with that.”
    “My daughter wants to sleep over and only a Catholic is supervising. I’m not comfortable with that.”
    “My daughter wants to sleep over and only a Mexican is supervising. I’m not comfortable with that.”
    “My daughter wants to sleep over and only a divorced dad is supervising. I’m not comfortable with that.”
    You see, Sarah, prejudice is prejudice, whether racial, religious, or sexual in nature.
    If you’re okay with that, well, relax and don’t worry about it. Just let it go on and let the subtly implied slam that somehow, we don’t quite know just how, but somehow, it’s *okay* to be uncomfortable with “divorced dads” around “our daughters” continue in our culture. It’s all very simple for you, Sarah.
    You can let the grownups of this culture carry on, Sarah, no need to worry yourself or get excited.

  178. pentamom February 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Cathy, your comment makes me think that magazines like that are absolutely horrible for people like you, who have survived abuse. All they do is reinforce the thoughts in your head that you are trying to deal with more constructively. It sounds like you’ve made a lot of good choices in your life, and not reading stuff like that is *definitely* one of them.

    Me, I’ve never been the least bit interested in them. The only time I look at at them is in waiting rooms, and then it’s always with that “can’t look away from the train wreck” attitude — ooooh, what stupidity are they printing THIS month?

  179. Jewel February 11, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    Here’s my take on it. I can understand how one could see the “situation” posed as worst-first thinking and thereby become upset. But really, it’s not like someone is taking something away from you…it’s not YOUR RIGHT being infringed upon if someone else’s child is not allowed to play with your child/sleepover at your house etc.
    So you wish all those people would stop looking at you funny for having green hair?? Too bad, they are. And to you its just hair, its your personal preference, it doesn’t make you a bad person, (to you) a weird person, or anything else offensive…so WHY DO SOME PEOPLE keep looking at you like that??? Because that’s life.
    Being so worked up and upset that other people’s “pathology” or “paranoia” is contagious and making it a reason to be angry THAT sounds like WORST-FIRST thinking!!
    You want understanding, usually you should give it too. You want parents to understand that you’re not a threat, understand that some men are and UNFORTUNATELY for you IT IS THEM (ACTUAL PREDATORS/PERVES) who deserve your anger.
    Would you become enraged at someone for being wary of dogs after being attacked by one?

  180. semperjase February 11, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    “But five tween girls texting and braiding and gossiping and squealing and (let’s be honest, not) sleeping might be beyond my skill set.”

    Then that man is not qualified to be the executive editor of a parenting magazine.

  181. Beth February 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    @Jewel, I think “dog prejudice” is vastly different than gender prejudice. But if you want all the men/boys in your life to be assumed to be pedophiles without any proof that they are, that is up to you.

  182. Otto Henderson February 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Really, Jewel, really?
    So you think that because the staggeringly small amount of men who actually ARE predators should make someone look at ME as a predator?
    You, know, Jewel, some rapists are named Jewel. Did you know that?
    Have you been cleared with the police, Jewel? How do I know YOU’RE not one of them?
    See how stupid that reasoning is, Jewel?

  183. Jewel February 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    @semperjase: “Then that man is not qualified to be the executive editor of a parenting magazine.”

    But you are, right? smh

  184. pentamom February 13, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    “@semperjase: “Then that man is not qualified to be the executive editor of a parenting magazine.”

    But you are, right? smh”

    I don’t think semperjase was claiming to be qualified. This guy is claiming that. And semperjase is right — he’s not.

    Well, sort of. Since “parenting magazine” is pretty much a useless genre, I guess just about anyone could be qualified to edit it. But assuming that the magazine is *supposed* to have some value, then it doesn’t sound like he is. Because he doesn’t even get what a parent’s job is at a sleepover for pre-teen girls — it doesn’t have anything to do with the hair-braiding or the gossip, it’s about being the *parent.*

  185. Jewel February 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    @Beth. I certainly did not say nor indicate that I want any, let alone all, the men and boys in my life to be assumed to be pedophiles. That’s ridiculous, and I’d like to make it clear those are your words not mine. I point out that if someone is uncomfortable with having their child sleep over at a home because it is only a male supervising, then that is their prerogative. You may not like it all you want. The person with that kind of reasoning is entitled to it.
    And if you’ll actually read what I wrote, you will not see me saying that I personally wouldn’t allow my child to sleep over at a single dad’s house. In fact, I would, if I knew that individual and liked them, regardless of their gender. However, if I knew someone who found themselves in the original situation written about, I would not judge them or treat them the way that some of the posters on here are responding to them. It is not right.

  186. Jewel February 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    @Otto: Take a deep breath, buddy.

  187. pentamom February 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    “However, if I knew someone who found themselves in the original situation written about, I would not judge them or treat them the way that some of the posters on here are responding to them. It is not right.”

    Where is the line between judging someone, and pointing out that their reasoning is faulty to the point of being harmful, though? It is wrong to speak unkindly of others, I agree, and I disagree with those who have used unkind language here. (Not that I haven’t been guilty of it myself on occasion, but I do realize I should refrain from it.) But it is absolutely *necessary* to civil society that we criticize other people’s speech and actions if we find them significantly faulty. I don’t mean we have to do it every time, but we’d all be worse off if it was never done at all out of fear of “judging” or simply saying “they’re entitled to their position.”

  188. MyBloodyOpinion (@MyBloodyOpinion) June 20, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I can relate with this perfectly. When our eldest was in preschool, I was doing all of the child raising roles of our daughter as my wife was ill. My daughter wanted to invite friends over from school to her house to play but not one of the parents accepted because the father was running everything. I was told that to my face.

    One mother even said to me that our daughter was welcome to their house but hers to ours until my wife was able to take a role as she doesn’t leave children alone with men. So I asked her if her husband is a pedophile to which I got no response.

  189. Cystic Gal June 23, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    I disagree. When I was a kid, I was not allowed to have sleepovers, period. Late-overs and other alternatives were always allowed. My parents just weren’t comfortable with it for all sorts of reasons. The parent could just call and explain that h/she is not comfortable with sleepovers at all, and offer an alternative. As an adult woman, I don’t often allow myself to be alone with men unless there is a romantic relationship. That is just part of my upbringing. A little boy or girl does not always have the skills to adjust to intense personal situations that come up at a sleepover, whether from a parent or child.

  190. Warren September 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    As the Dad of daughters, and the survivor of more sleepovers than I can count…………the author of the original article should be slapped in the back of the head.

    The reason the majority of sleepovers were at our place, was because of me. That is the way the kids wanted it.

    Early I would be completely interactive, hide and seek, tag, or just sitting on the floor while they styled my hair and applied excessive amounts of makeup, on my face.
    Then I would cook them massive amounts of finger foods and we would make whatever weird desserts we could come up with.

    Then it was usually movie time, and I would retire to my room to watch the game or something.

    Breakfast was homemade waffles with bacon in em, and then they would spend the day with the dog or dogs outside.

    Not that my wife isnt good with em. They just found my energy level more to their liking.

    I take pride in the memories I have provided these kids, and the role model I try to be.

    All it takes is for people like the author, to deny their readers children of similiar memories.

  191. Emily February 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Warren–You sound like an awesome dad, and an awesome sleepover planner, but I just have to ask…..bacon IN the waffles? I’ve heard of people having bacon WITH waffles, but not mixed into the batter. Did you invent this? I’m from Ontario too, and nobody else I know (here, or in Australia) makes waffles that way.


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