Keeping Our Kids Safe
I have a daughter who absolutely LOVES softball. She has made a lot of long lasting friendships on the ball field. One year a new girl moved to town and joined the team. My daughter took to her immediately as she always does. After a practice, the new girl’s mother invited the team for a sleepover. Alarm bells immediately went off in my head! I didn’t know anything about this new family. Where did they live previously? What brought them to our town? What kind of people were they? Did they have the same values and beliefs that my family held? And the list of questions began to add up faster than a ticker tape on Wall Street.
I started asking some of the other parents if they knew anything about this new family. Every parent replied the same, saying they didn’t know much either. I was then curious if the other parents were going to let their children go to the sleepover. I had already made up my mind, that I was not going to let my daughter go to the sleepover. I simply did not have enough information to entrust my child to these “strangers”. I received varying responses from the other parents. All the parents had some reservations. Most of the parents were going to decline the invite and tell the new mother that they already had previous engagements to attend. (Although, they didn’t really.) Some parents were bargaining with one another. They would say, “I’ll let my daughter go, if you send your daughter. There is safety in numbers.” I thought this was insane! I was not going to put my daughter in a position where she might have to fend for herself. Finally I had heard enough. I announced to the other parents that I was going to call the new mother, decline the invite, and explain to her why I was doing so. And that is exactly what I did.
I explained to this new mother that I could not send my daughter for the sleepover because I didn’t know anything about them and I had to get to know them first. I told her that I wasn’t passing negative judgment on her, I just couldn’t make a judgment about her at all. I also informed her that the other parents were also going to decline but that they were not going to be as forthright about the reasons. Without skipping a beat, the new mother asked what she could do so that I could get to know her better. She new that her daughter liked my daughter and wanted them to be able to develop a friendship. I was impressed. We made arrangements to have a cook out together that very same weekend.
After a time, I did come to trust these new parents. We, as parents, developed a friendship as well as our daughters. I still question why the other parents didn’t feel comfortable expressing their concerns and instead were trying to be polite and non-offensive. We have a right to protect our children and keep them safe. I hope that other parents, like these, can feel more confident in exercising that right. When it comes to keeping our kids safe, parents should never feel that their actions to protect their children are inappropriate.