My 12-year-old daughter wants to have a sleepover with several of her friends. I am a single father. What precautions should I set in place?
Whether you are single or not, the rule my husband has had since our daughters could walk is a good one for any dad, stepdad, or older male in a position of authority with girls.
Here it is: never be alone with a girl who is not your child. It is not about avoiding temptation. If someone is tempted by little girls, they have problems I canít begin to address on Quora. Our daughtersí preschool had this rule for teachers. No teacher could be alone with a child. Ever. I love that rule.
It is about avoiding the appearance of impropriety. Little kids make up stories and misinterpret things. My husband sees his policy as protecting his family.
Tell your daughter to make sure she is always with you when you have to interact with the kids. And when it is bed time, do not enter that bed room. Stand outside if you have to talk to the girls. If you are worried about internet, remove all the devices and lock them up for the night. Somehow, we all managed to have fun at sleepovers without the internet in the dark ages before WiFi. Your daughter and her friends can too.
Make them a bunch of pancakes in the morning, and make sure your daughter comes if you have to drive anyone home. A lot of girls deal with abuse and inappropriate behavior. They donít know how to interact in a healthy way with men as a result.
Donít ever put yourself in a position where someone can misinterpret good intentions. Itís not your fault that the world is filled with creeps. Your job is to always be above reproach or question. Itís too bad this is the way that things are. But failing to acknowledge the reality wonít help you, your daughter, or anyone else.
Edit: I am glad this answer was helpful to s
o many on Quora.
I wanted to clarify something that came up in the comments: I do not believe that false rape and molestation allegations are common. The academic research in this area shows false claims of rape are extremely rare. I do believe that children would be much safer if grownups followed the recommendations in my answer, which I have learned from Quora commenters are used by many organizations that work with children.
I know some men are worried about good intentions being misinterpreted in the age of #MeToo. My answer attempts to provide a solution to calm those worries and to advocate for a social norm that protects kids. If we all worked to avoid situations where kids could be harmed by someone with bad intentions, kids would be safer.