The purpose of this is not to terrify anyone, but definitely to get parents thinking. As parents we must strive to assess people as individuals when we trust them with the care of our children: not by their job, or their social status, or any other singular thing. My husband and I have been cautious to the extreme when it comes to leaving our kids in the care of other adults. They had not been left in the care of anyone besides a grandparent before my youngest was four years old, and at that point we worked up the courage to leave them with my husband’s best friend for an evening. We obviously trust the man immensely, but when you expose yourself openly to all of the information that is out there you can experience physically difficulty entrusting the safety and well being of your child to other people. When my mother and grandmother wanted to have my daughter stay at a hotel with them for one night I had the first panic attack of my life…physical sickness…and this was my mother and grandmother.
My kids have still not had a sleepover with friends. They have had overnights with family members and with people who are friends of my husband and myself, but never with adults that we do not have a strong relationship with: people whom I know would literally put themselves in harms way to protect a child, exactly the same way that I would. The thing is that you can never know how people live when you don’t know them well. You don’t know exactly who has access to their house, or whether they are the sort of people who pass out early in the evening and let the kids run amuck while a scary uncle has access to the property. A friend of mine was molested by her father for years as a child and he was a protestant pastor. No person is immune to the possibility that they might do bad things to kids for any reason. This is why I believe that it is absolutely vital that people really know exactly whom they are entrusting their children to. Another friend of mine walked in on a man molesting two little girls at a family reunion that she was attending with her boyfriend. She took a golf club to the man, and no one was able to pull her off of him until the police arrived.
There was a case over ten years back where a soccer coach was molesting multiple pre-teen girls, filming it, and putting it up on the internet. The girls had no idea that this was happening, because the man was drugging their beverages before they went to sleep at his house at night. It went on for years and years until finally one girl remembered something and went to her parents…then some of the other girls started remembering things. The man was well respected, revered even, in his community. I cannot even imagine how I would feel if I had allowed something like that to happen to my child. Of course, it is not anyone’s fault but the perpetrator…however, I feel like it is important that I let people know I support their protective instincts over their own children.
Society bullies us on this point. I am very blessed to have my own husband who understands my feelings and supports me in my decisions. He does not belittle me about being overprotective, but I see other people doing it all of the time. My mother in law tried to do it to me before she had recovered from her drug addiction. As if I owed her the affirmation of trusting her with my tiny children when I knew that she may or may not be high while taking care of them. Gratefully, we have finally had that moment because she has been clean for four years now, but it happens in situations that aren’t nearly as extreme as that and people still do not respect a mother, or father’s, wishes. I have a friend who was recently bullied about leaving her newborn with very close family friends who she rationally knew that the child would be perfectly safe with. The problem is that she was just not ready yet, and it really pisses me off that people were pushing her and telling her that she had to do it, and even that it was good for her. We obviously aren’t quite attached or suspicious enough as a society or all of the abuse that is going on would not be happening. Why do we keep bulling parents into letting their kids go to that sleepover with their safety based upon nothing besides the fact that this friend of theirs is in their class?
I apologize to my poor, wonderful, perfect husband, for putting this out there for all to see, but I checked on him continuously when the kids were babies. Not because I don’t trust the man, I trust him with my life…but that friend of mine who was abused by her father…her mother had an injury and could not climb stairs, so her father put all of the kids to bed by himself every night. Her mom always assumed that he was reading to them from the bible. There is absolutely no shame in checking up on anyone, ever, when it comes to the safety of kids. I teach my kids safety and self-defense techniques over and over again, and yet I still know that with everything I have taught them, they would still be sitting ducks if they slept over at that soccer coach’s house. We all have that little voice in our head…I beg you to listen to it when it comes to your kids. Please do not crumble under the societal pressure to leave your children in the care of other people when you do not want to… for whatever reason. And please, please, make sure that you really know how people live and what goes on in their homes before you leave your kids at the mercy of that environment. It is impossible to avoid every single danger in the world completely…but that doesn’t mean that when it comes to our kids that it isn’t important to try.