06 April 2010

Hidden Danger Or Stupid Mistake?

One of the great strides my niece has made since coming to live with me is her ability to socialize. She has gone from a child who essentially had no friends, to a little social butterfly. Its actually a bit a of a conflict, if anything. Her teacher has commented that she is a too chatty in the classroom. Secretly, this makes me happy. I LOVE that she has friends.

Of course with her having friends, comes new territory for me. I'm new to the "parent" scene. I think there's an entire protocol I'm still trying to catch on to. I'm figuring out the nuances of calling other parents, making sure kids don't run amok at our home and the mess that is logistics (how is so-and-so getting to/from our house? who is bringing you home? do I pick you up?).

Because my niece is an only child, I cherish the time she gets to spend with other kids. Social adaptation and assimilation is critical to a child's development. So I encourage it. Sleepovers, on the other hand are maybe not so necessary? Truth be told I kind of dread them. Because of my niece's history, I will only allow her to have sleepovers at our home, which means no sleep for me. I'm probably being over protective, but I rather err on the side of caution.

Recently she invited a friend to come sleep over, and the friend's mother called me to decline the offer. Her only words were to the affect that she didn't let her child go on sleep overs because due to an issue with her husband, she would never be able to reciprocate, and that wouldn't be fair. I appreciated the honesty and set the conversation aside.

My curiosity, however, was piqued. I've met this friend's parents, and they are genuinely nice people. I've watched their children, and the kids are equally good-natured. But what is up with the husband? The thought hung in the back of my mind. After a week, I got up the nerve to take a look at the Utah Registered Sex Offenders website. I think I had been putting it off, knowing what I would find.

And there it was. The father of my child's friend was right there on the Sex Offenders list, photo and all. OK, I don't want to rush to judgment. I read through his profile. The incident dated 2001, and was limited to a single instance of indecent exposure.

Now I question: is this man some devious villain, a lurking danger? Or is he a man who did something foolish nearly 10 years ago (he would have been abt 22 at the time)? How do you decide? I'm not sure how I feel about this. Above all, I want to protect my child. What is a parent to do in this situation? For now, I make sure both parents are home if my child is at their house, or simply invite their daughter to play at our home.

Dear (few) readers, what do you think? Please comment and let me know your thoughts, how you would act. I'm in need of direction on this one. What are the boundaries of repentance and change? This man is religious (active LDS) and he and his wife are cautious (no sleepovers). Am I overreacting, or should red flags be going up?


  1. Becky I thought what you wrote over and I think you are doing the right thing! Today it is better to have people over to your house , that way you know what is happening. As far as that father is concerned the indecent exposure could have been a college flashing prank or just going to the bathroom in a park it encompasses a lot. His wife is trying to protect him because if a child accused of him of anything his being a registered offender he would be guilty. but to be on the safe side do what you are doing and Chloe will be safe. Chloe is very lucky to have such a loving caring "mom" raising her.

  2. I can see it from both sides. I have a friend whose husband is a sex offender because he happened to pick the wrong 17 year old to fool around with (her parents were in politics and pressed charges)when he was 21. He is a wonderful dad and husband. However, I have a few family members that were either molested by supposed "good" LDS men or teenage boys. (You'd be surprised at the goodie-two-shoes act a perv can put on to get access to a child. You'd most likely never suspect them.) Another one was molested by an older girl at a sleep over. Heath and I do not allow sleepovers. It's too much of a risk--if anything happened, it affects their lives so deeply and so long that forgiving oneself is difficult. I don't think you need to treat him like he's a perv, but I certainly would err on the side of caution and be the supervisor of any playdates (and I know how tiring that can be to always have kids over so I can be the one supervising).

  3. You asked, so here's my 2 cents: you and I were raised in the era of the "sleepover". And, like many other things of our era, EVERYTHING is different now. I lived for the sleepover - with 5 sisters, any of our friends thought that every night was a technically a sleep over at our house. We hosted many, and were guested at many. Because of things that happened at the sleepovers of others, I do not allow my daughters to attend sleepovers. It just doesn't happen and it's a touchy subject with my 10-year old who doesn't really understand my objection and who is also not really old enough to have all the horrid details. That being said, I do not really have an objection to having them at our home. HOWEVER, I do not allow that either for the sole reason of hypocricy: How do I tell a parent that they should trust what happens in my home, but I do not in turn trust what may or may not happen in theirs. It looks bad and it makes me feel worse. I do not take into consideration ANY religious affiliation. As far as I'm concerned (and this might be a bit over-zealous on my part), its the homes my parents trusted the most that I found the most trouble. So, we are all about the "late-overs". Even if I am inconvenienced at 11 pm and have to drive across town to get my kid. But she sleeps in her own bed, alone; and until she is old enough to decide who she can and cannot sleep with, I get to make that decision for her. Wish me luck!

  4. Bb, I'm totally with you on this and agree with the other comments. I've been shocked to learn how many of my friends have children or siblings who were harmed or abused during sleepovers. The big thing around where I live is the "late-night" where the kids stay up til 10:30/11 at someone's house. I agree that it's so much safer.

    With this particular family in question, I would always be very cautious though. I am all about forgiving and being careful not to judge unrighteously, but I sure tend to err on the side of caution. Like somebody already pointed out, he could be on the list for something that was comparitively "innocent", but there are details that are kept off the pages that you just don't want to risk.

    My parents were always of the opinion that they'd rather us have friends over and feel safe than to let us go to other kids' houses and risk stuff happening. Obviously that wasn't ALL the time, but it was the majority of the time. I know you'll be guided by the Spirit because you're totally entitled to inspiration for her! What a great Tia you are! :)

  5. P.S. That is one creepy picture you found for this post! :)

  6. Bebe....I also agree with your decision and the other comments. Don't feel bad...it's along the same lines of "It's not personal, it's just business." At least I think so, it's not like he's a bad guy...you're just being cautious and that my friend is not a bad thing at all.