DEAR CHRISTINE: Sleepovers out of the question
I AM A SINGLE FATHER of a 12-year-old daughter who is shared between me and my former wife. My daughter and I are extremely close and she is very open with me.
The court arrangement between her mum and I is that I get her on weekends – from Friday to Sunday night – while she lives with her mother during weekdays.
There have been instances where my former wife and I would exchange our times and dates due to any personal or business commitments.
While we communicate well with each other, my daughter and her mum know I am a strict dad who teaches our daughter moral values, how to care for herself and what to look for in people when choosing friends.
She is an obedient and loving child who has never, ever displayed any kind of disrespect. In fact, I can call her a model child – if ever there was any.
However, one of my strict rules is that she is not allowed to have girlfriends sleep over. When they do visit, I always ensure I am at home to provide the necessary supervision. From my end, sleepovers are out of the question unless she is visiting her grandparents or aunties.
Even then, I am cautious and this does not happen too often. Let’s say it happens once in a blue moon. When she is with her mum, I have no control of what she does, but with me, it is a different ball game.
One of my reasons for being so strict about sleepovers is that in this day and age, men get so easily accused of misconduct with their daughters’ friends. I believe men – especially stepfathers – must be careful there is no possibility of suspicion.
I would be very uncomfortable to have my daughter (who looks very grown up for her age) spend the night at the home of a friend who lived alone with her father, mother’s boyfriend, or even a husband and wife. That’s just me.
I think sleepovers are unnecessary and “over-killed”. They appear to be specially acceptable by parents who claim to want “some time for themselves”, without considering the harm awaiting their children.
I also believe they are primarily used by children who want to get away from their parents to do their own thing – which is usually always bad.
Some of my friends tell me I am cheating my daughter of bonding with friends. Is it wrong for me to protect her, decide what’s best for her at this stage of her life and protect myself from any accusations? On the other hand, do you think I am paranoid?
I think you are doing the right thing in all counts. In fact, you are wise in being cautious. However, do you think your daughter understands your sound, wise judgement?
You have not mentioned a thing about how she feels, only how your friends do. Quite frankly, what they think is up to them. It’s none of their business anyway.
You must lay down the rules in your home and what you say, as long as it is in the best interest of your daughter and it’s “legitimate”, should stand.
With the social environment as it is these days, the use of cellphones and so on, it’s best to be overly protective and not take anything for granted.
Mind you, I am not saying you are overly protective of your daughter, but at her age, you must make decisions which are in your best interest, as well as her best interest.
Trust me, she is not missing out on anything or any childhood ritual that is cast in stone. If she feels the need at any time to have friends sleep over, see if her mum can keep her during those times, more so when it’s a weekend.
These days, it’s best to be safe than sorry. Allay any fears; you’re on the right track.