Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mama Cub

I always tell E that he better make good money because our kids will never leave this house. I tell him that they will never be allowed to attend sleepovers and play dates and all of those have to happen at our house. So we better stock up on food, drinks and pool tables.
I say those things to E half kidding, half truthfully.

The truth is: I am scared to let my kids go to other people's homes because I fear everyone to be a pedophile.
You hear the stories on TV, the missing girls, the priests, the kids who fall through the cracks and nobody sees the warning signs. You watch Oprah.
You hear the neighbors, the parents say "I never thought he could be a molester... he was so nice...he was friendly and helpful...a family man and on and on.
Of course what you see on TV isn't a complete representation of the public and doesn't mean every child is being molested by their neighbor, but so many are, and just how many are never, ever reported?

R asked to go over the neighbor's house yesterday to play with the 9 year old girl who lives there. I have no problem with them playing in our backyards where I can see or hear them, but I don't want them in the house.
"What if they go in the house?" I asked E who rolled his eyes at my- his words- overreacting.
Am I overreacting? Isn't it my entire job to protect those children at all costs? If I fail them....well, I cannot even think about that because it is not an option. I will NOT fail them.

I have had talks about their body and how nobody has the right to touch them. I told them that if grownups ask them to keep secrets from their parents then those are bad people and they should and can tell us everything.

How much is too much? When a parent asked if R or L can come over for a play date, what do I say?
"I prefer if all play dates are at our home" sounds pretentious and "I am scared your husband or father is a molester" may be a bit too much.

I wonder if there is such a thing as too cautious or too protective and I am not just talking about helicopter parenting.

I want to know what it is other parents do.
Do you allow your kids to go over close friends homes that you trust? Do you educate your kids and let them go and be kids? What about school friends and neighbors that you don't know much about?


  1. We've always talked to our kids about how if something doesn't seem right or there are things going on in a friend's house that we - mom and dad - would consider dangerous and absolutely not fun, then they need to make whatever excuse is necessary, even if they have to say "My mom and dad wouldn't be happy right now with me," and come home. We've talked about behaviors and how if a friend says things like "Hey! Want to see the gun my parents have!?" to come home immediately.

    We also try to get to know their friends' parents. It's sometimes easier said than done because none of us knows what goes on behind another person's closed door, but my kids know they aren't allowed to go into another person's house without coming to ask first, and then accepting whatever our response is. Granted, that rule is getting a bit harder to enforce now that my oldest son is getting older and dipping toes into the natural level of freedoms he wishes to explore, but we have been known to track him down and call him home if we find out he's not followed our rule there.

    What is nice is that more often than not, within 20 minutes of my oldest going two doors down to play inside his friend's house, they're calling here to see if it's OK if they come to our house to play, and I always say yes. I'd rather have them here where I can keep an eye on things, and it's totally possible to do without seeming like a hovering parent!

  2. Go forth to the FreeRange Kids web site (http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/). Read everything you can. Then pick up the book. It will blow your mind!

    I'm a free-range mom at heart - but only because I've read the statistics about crime (involving children, specifically) and taken it to heart. I've also done some investigation into what the media shows us vs the reality and it's stunning.

    Seriously. The world is WAY safer than you think!

  3. It is your job to protect them, but not to the point where they can't learn, grow and spread their wings.

    When my kids are younger, if I invited a friend from school over whose parents I had not met, I would invite them to come after school and offer the other mom to stay for a drink, snack, etc. That way, if she was uncomfortable, she would have a "way out" and not have to say no, plus it helped me to get to know her a little.

    Now two of my kids are older (finishing 3rd and 6th grade) and I have to trust that they will make some of the decisions necessary when out and about. We do tend to have kids here more than my kids go elsewhere, mainly because they prefer to be here with their friends, but I can't think of anyone they have befriended that I would say "no, you can't go there" about.

    Oh, and having kids at your house, especially a bunch of tween/teen boys does get EXPENSIVE! Man, the amount of food and beverages they go through is amazing!

  4. Violet- is it though? Sometimes I think about just how many sex offenders there are out there (you can check with google) and I think about how not one of them is probably rehabilitated.
    Never mind teachers having sex with kids.
    It still scares me.

    Under the influence- I know kids are expensive and they keep wanting to be fed!


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