Do you let your child do sleep outs?

I am sure that this subject fills you with dread as much as it does me. Brace yourself, this post does not get any better.

Connor has a select group of friends that he is “allowed” to sleep at.  There are about four friends who sleep over at our house, and he generally is “allowed” to sleep at theirs.  I am not thrilled with the idea of “sleep outs” but I try and roll with them, because you know I am a cool mom and stuff.

Georgia is in grade one, and we are not really ready for her to sleep out.  But with all “rules of parenting” there is always an exception. Georgia has a friend Cara, and that is the only place she is allowed to sleep out at.

Kennith chatted to me a few weeks ago, and he said that he is not comfortable with Georgia sleeping out ANYWHERE and could I please stop agreeing to sleep outs.

Georgia ♥’s Cara. I feel that she would be robbed if she was not allowed to sleep at her home, and I would “awkward” if I asked Cara to sleep here, but Georgia was not allowed to sleep at Cara’s.

Cara has slept at our home a few times. Both girls are 6, and I am sure that we are both the exception to each other – just because the girls are such good friends and I trust Cara’s parents emplicitly, as I hope they trust Kennith and I.

I am always on the alert that I am going to become one of those parents that wrap their child in cotton wool, and can only function if the umbilical cord is in tact, and if their child is not in actual sight they cannot function.

I am a total paranoid freak at heart, but I try to not let this control my children’s lives.  I try.  I fail often, but I try.  So shit that makes my haemorraids leak, I try and smile, and just loosen my g-string a bit.

About two months ago I had asked a friend from school to do a favour for me.  Initially she did some work, but then I did not hear from her again.   I thought I had offended her, and ran over what I had said and done.  I felt uncomfortable to ask again, as she was doing me a favour, and I was sure she was just busy.  I would just wait it out.

She sent me a subsequent note to explain that her daughter’s best friend’s father had been molesting her daughter on sleep overs.  This had happened more than once.

She trusted  the family, and of course they were devastated. They were thrown into Hades and were dealing with the legal and emotional fall out of the issue.

How does one even start to say “how sorry I am for what you are going through and wish I could arrange a kangaroo court to shoot the muther-fucker” – is there a card you can send for that – if so, please do let me know.

I felt like I had been hit in the stomach with a cannon ball, and felt violently ill.  For her.  For her daughter.  For her family.  For me.  I started wondering if it was a case of “when” it would happen to my kids, rather than “if.”

It made me stop and rethink any sleep outs I might have thought were fine.  It made me wonder if I should homeschool {excuse me as I pull sawn off barrel from my cupboard}, and I wondered if I could let my kids out into the world.

Keep them at home, protect them forever!

This morning on CapeTalk they were talking about children who were molested always by “people the family knew well, or family themselves” and my stomach did a heave over.  Like dry apricots on my dashboard heave.

A person came on the line from a Child Abuse Centre and she wanted to motivate how prevalent child abuse was.  And how important it is to address “inappropriate touching” or “someone who makes you uncomfortable” with your child, or toddler, as early as you could – don’t wait, talk about it now.

I dry heaved a bit in my mouth.

Again that phrase of “are we teaching our children not to be raped” rather than “to be comfortable with who they are” – and then I realised that our society is fked – metaphorically and physically.

I am not a big fan of “street justice” as I understand {intellectually} the problem.  But please ask me if I have a problem with every perpetrator of rape/molestation is burnt in the road with a bit of petrol and a bit of a car tyre, and I would be hard pressed to not pull out my petrol card and suggest they put it on my tab.  Hard pressed — really hard pressed.

When I fetched Georgia today I started talking to her about how if anyone touches her in the “places her costume covers” she should tell me, because NO ONE WAS EVER ALLOWED TO TOUCH her in those places.

If anyone said she was bad and had to keep a secret, she must immediately tell me.

If someone said that I would be cross with her, because of something she did or something someone else did, then she must IMMEDIATELY tell me, as I would never be cross with her.

Secrets are not good.

No one – repeat in bold – no one is allowed to touch her in her costume area, no matter what the situation.  She must ALWAYS tell me.

How totally crappy is our world that I am having this conversation  with my six-year-old, because I might not be able to protect her?

I feel sick.  I want to drive heave.  Actually I did a bit.

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28 Comments

  1. Alex aka WHOA MUMMA!

     /  April 1, 2012

    Geez that makes me sick. Sick because I know it’s true and so common and so disgusting and so scared that 1 of my 5 kids may be subject to it.

    Be ready to be sick again – I watched an Oprah episode where a set of twins was molested for years by their older brothers and finally their father when they asked for help. He wanted them to show him what their brothers had done. Awful, awful, awful.

    I think the best thing we can do is make our children trust us. Trust that we are the super hero in their lives and we are there to protect them 100%. Be honest, be involved but also let them off the leash enough that they can grow up and develop their own judgement.

    And Yeh Gads God help the MOFO who tries to mess with my babies – shotgun will be waiting!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 1, 2012

      Cheese and rice, that is a grim story — the twins.
      I really do think there needs to be a wall in each major town, and moms can line up with guns, and shoot convicted rapists/paedos and the like.
      I mean first they need to go through a court of law, with moms as judges/lawyers and jury … but after that line them up and shoot the lot.

      Reply
  2. I feel ill. My stomach is turning. I am a Christian and try to live by “turning the other cheel” but God forgive me, I do not know WHAT I would do if this happened to my child. I have spoken about this to Liam (3) from the time I thought he could understand. And will start with Hannah (almost 2) from TODAY. I will also use the robot analogy, thanks for that tip.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 29, 2012

      The robot analogy is new to me, but I am definitely going to use that for my kids.
      I am pretty sure I may have the more “hunt down and kill” mind set should any one come into play if anyhone came near my child/ren.

      Reply
  3. What Sandi said. Child molestation has always been there – our parents just didn’t talk to us about it or warn us. We were given the “don’t talk to strangers” speel but further than that it was very hush hush!

    I let my kids sleep out but up until recently it was only with parents I knew. Even know they can go BUT I must have met the parents more than driving past them in the school parking lot.

    Kiara doesn’t like sleeping out with new people – so she will go to the sleep over party but call me before they go to bed to collect her. It works fine for us now.

    I feel more at ease now that they are older and can talk, run, scream etc.

    But we do have the chat often about how special their body is and noone must touch it – not even their siblings!

    Reply
  4. This never ever crossed my mind. I am floored! We really do live in a stuffed up world.

    Reply
  5. We all say here “what has the world come to?” but the sad fact is that molestation and peadophilia not only existed when we were kids and before as well, it happened to many young kids who did not have the platform to speak about what had happened to them, mostly abuse was swept swiftly under the carpet… not a new issue in life I’m afraid.

    The good thing is that in today’s age we (I believe) are better prepared for it thanks to social media, blogs, news media etc… we are better prepared to teach our children how to combat and cope with this horrid stuff. (We teach the robot to our kids at Kids Church as well and it works SUPER well)

    Sad that we have to have these talks with our children when they are so young, but better safe than sorry.

    xxx

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 28, 2012

      I have no idea what the answer is — I do think that there is a real problem in “our society” and how we over-sexualise children, how the media often includes very young children doing very adult things, and also added to that, we as parents end up working a lot more hours, so we rely on others to care for our children.

      There is probably a dozen other factors, if not 100 other factors that come in to play.

      That being said, I stick to the thinking that a “paedophile” cannot be re-habilitated (bad spelling) and they should be such an offense to society, that they are outed and pretty much burnt at the stake in the public square.

      Harsh?

      Yes, but I am not sure what else to do with people who abuse children, and really I do not want to know why, and wonder when they will do it again.

      Reply
      • Agreed. Our children are not allowed to just be children anymore cos of social and media “sexual” pressures and imaging. Its very sad.

        If I ever found out someone had molested my child, I would find the biggest gun and shoot the bastard/bastardess but only after pulling their fingernails out of their nail beds one by one and dipping each finger in a bowl of vinegar repeatedly.

        I think the key is to keep our children informed. Keep them alert. Cos in this day and age we have the tools to do so. In the “old” days things like this were not talked about and considered taboo and to be swept under the carpet. In this case I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. I don’t want my child to be scared but he needs to know that his body is just that – HIS!

        Reply
  6. Tania

     /  March 28, 2012

    It happened to me when I was about 4-5 years old. A neighbour. When my parents went out they entrusted our care to a neighbour across the road. The husband never touched my brother but me he did. He even did it infront of his wife, his own children ( also about the ages of myself and my brother ) and my toddler brother. I heard years later after I eventually told my mother, that he died of cancer, …so the wheel does turn …however, I think the experience has definately damaged me.

    Reply
  7. Nisey

     /  March 28, 2012

    It really is crappy but I taught my 3 year old son to wash his own (uncircumsiced) bits so that even I don’t touch them… the idea is that they are completely his own and no one ever ever touches them. Likewise he never ever touches anyone elses. He’s 4 now and he still doesn’t get why but he is quite capable of pulling it back and washing it himself.

    Every now and then I remind him that no one else ever touches it – not granny or grandpa or aunty or uncle or friends because quite frankly the stranger on the street i can protect him from its all the other people in our lives that he’s at risk from.

    Reply
  8. Charlotte aka Scaredmom

     /  March 28, 2012

    2 years ago Amandalynn’s old school had an incident where a teacher was accused, the teacher she was at the previous year! The children in that class are mostly 3 years old. I have been having this talk with Amandalynn since she was about 2. She use to get bladder infection often -still does. Its a family thing. But when we heard of it, she had a very bad bladder infection and my mother actually had the doctor look if there was any signs of molestation. According to him there was nothing. My mother called me to tell me she had the doctor check and before she could tell me there was nothing I was in tears and ready to kill. We had this conversation with Lorelai for the first time last night. Don’t know if she understood it, but it has now been done. I repeat this with Amandalynn at least once a week, so that we are clear on the rules.

    If you ever come across someone burning a rapist in the street, I will donate Petrol and anything else you need. Hannes always says that if someone has to hurt his child, he will kill them and then go to prison with a smile, because then he knows that person cannot touch his child or another child ever again.

    Reply
  9. annie

     /  March 28, 2012

    My daughter was molested at 6 years old, she is now 25. The pain never goes away tho, i still feel like i have been punched in the stomach everytime i read or hear about it. My only consellation? i heard years later he suffered a massive heart attack and died, I pray that he suffered before he died and he burns in hell for all eternity……

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 28, 2012

      Annie, if I prayed I would pray he suffered. I heard a news report this morning about a 64 year old man, who had been molesting a 10 year old girl for the last 9 months. He paid her R4.00 – R6.00 each time to buy her silence. He was charged, and whilst out on bail, he raped the girl again.

      Again, I am not a big fan/advocate of community justice, but in this case, I would happily purchase a large baseball bat, and throw in some snacks for who ever went over there and hit this man until his brains were on the walls.

      I really have absolute no sympathy for the perpetrators, and as a parent, would like them to removed from earth …..

      Reply
      • reluctantmom

         /  March 28, 2012

        And of course I am sorry for you, your daughter,and your family and what they had to go through ……

        Reply
  10. Oh gosh, a moms worst fear. We only allow at very good frinds of ours which I have known the dad for 26 years.

    Reply
  11. Sharon

     /  March 28, 2012

    The sleep over thing freaks me out too! I don’t trust ANYONE with my child. It was only after I became a mother that I realized how my own parents must have worried each time they allowed me to sleep out as a child!
    I have trust issues for sure, I don’t trust ANYONE with Ava and I don’t foresee me allowing her to sleep out anywhere for at least the next decade! 🙂
    But in all seriousness, what a horrible conversation to have to have with your child. I have also started talking to Ava about HER body and about how no-one is allowed to touch HER body! The fact we even have to have these conversations makes me feel sick!

    Reply
  12. Charne

     /  March 28, 2012

    I want to throw up!!

    Reply
  13. joanne

     /  March 28, 2012

    A friend once confided in me that he (at age 9) was molested by his neighbour. When he told his parents, his dad went over the road and beat the guy into ICU. Good on dad, right? Wrong! When molester was released from hospital he headed back home, he used the beating as a guilt ploy over this little boy, kinda like “your dad nearly killed me because of you, you owe me. I thought you loved me, how would you feel if I was actually dead” and two years of frequent abuse followed until molester moved away. (Cape Town, northern subs occurance).

    I don’t know what I would do Sad fact is, parents taking things into their own hands is not helpful to the child, but I also do not believe that our justice system is going to do right by these children and so I can only pray that I will never have to find out how I will react.

    My son (age 7) recently received a talk from the founder of “rapewise” and they have a cute concept that your body is like a robot (traffic light) head is green and ok to be touched. Abdomen is orange and you may, or may not have feelings about being touched there, if you do feel uncomfortable, then speak up (tools given in the talk on how, who, when etc.) and then area below the belly button is the red light and the NO area. Very cute and well received.

    Reply
    • Like the robot analogy – going to use it (I have a 7 and 4 year old and the concept will appeal to them!)

      My parents tought me a song when I was teensy:
      My body’s nobody’s body but mine,
      you have your own body, let me have mine!

      Reply
  14. I can surely understand the need to protect our children, and mine are well-protected. BUT when my fears and concerns inhibit what should be normal childhood experience and growth… well then there’s a problem. i can’t do that to them – somewhere along the line I need to trust in the world around me and I need THEM to trust in the world around them.

    All I can do is have the “costume-type” talk to my boys over and over and over again, so that it becomes intrinsic, in-grown and first nature and that they are able to recognise inappropriate touching, insidious actions, etc.

    I need them to live, grow and experience life to the fullest. And I believe this includes sleepovers.

    PS : Really enjoying your blog – I’m a new reader.

    Reply
    • joanne

       /  March 28, 2012

      Was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Dr John Buswell. Shocking SA based info presented on Child Abuse, sleep overs are a NO NO, at any age (in his opinion, but I do believe he is the expert and don’t know of any other area in my life that I will blindly ignore expert advise, so why do so when it comes to raising my kids). He sited cases where these PREDATORS target and marry women with young children, allowing them to become “step daddy” with a buffet of young victims.

      We live in a crazy, sick, fcked up world and yes paranoia is not going to do our children any good, but nor is letting them sleep out, or cross the road without looking.

      Reply
      • I cannot live like that, I will not live like that, and neither will I raise children who live like that.

        But I ask you – do you let your kids go on playdates, do you let them go home in friend’s cars, do you let them go to birthday parties on their own, sports matches with coaches… the list of opportunistic scenario’s is endless.

        It’s just a different approach, I think. And neither is necessarily better – my general parenting approach is rather than to prevent ‘life’ happening give them the tools they need to ‘deal’. This makes me neither permissive nor neglectful or careless with their safety, in fact I would argue that I am letting them live life to the fullest.

        And this issue (for me) ties into so many other concepts we try to instill in our relationships with our kids – trust, independence, open communication, etc.

        I think this is just one of those personal choices we as parents are custodial in making for our children.

        Reply
  15. Blue

     /  March 28, 2012

    My worst nightmare too. I cannot even think about it, or what I would do to that person – don’t think I would wait for the courts to decide what to do with them….
    I thought I was also too paranoid – my 7 year old girl has had a friend over for a sleepover a few times, but never stayed over at someone elses house. Starting to think I will have to put my foot down and make it a rule. I don’t even drop and go for parties, I always stay. Only once have I done that, as I know the Mom well, the Dad wasn’t there, and there were 10 little girls together, and even then that was after hanging out in the kitchen and making sure she was OK before going. It’s a sad world we live in, but what can you do except be the best parent you can be?

    Reply
    • Blue, just some food for thought… not only Dad’s / men are abusers… I had a friend who was seriously molested by a friends MOM when I was a kid…

      We have to protect our kids from all genders…

      xxx

      Reply
  16. Firstly, let me just say. I felt sick when reading this post. It’s one of my nightmares. I have to physically restrain myself not to beat these said men to a pulp.

    Secondly, 3 of my friends were sexually abused as teenagers. I had lots of friends. 1 by her adopted father. 1 by her best friends father. 1 by her babysitter when she was 6 years old. We are middle income, normal people. All 3 were friends and from the city though. not that makes a difference, but I’d like to just say.

    I know of another incident. A friend of a friend of a friend. Her son was abused as well. (6 years old). (from the shit storm that ensu-ed, it was discovered, that the child, was also abused by a friends father.)

    All of these people lived in Cape Town, PE, Nelspruit, JHB.

    My point…these fuckers are lurking everywhere. You can’t trust anyone.

    p.s as far as I know, none of these above abusers have ever been charged.

    Reply
  17. Oh gaaaawd! Just got that awful sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. With the world gone as crazy as it has, you really really just want to bubble wrap your kids and keep them in boxes marked “fragile” all their lives.

    As unfortunate as it is, we need to impress upon our kids ad nauseum the importance of coming to us if ANYTHING, anything at all has made them uncomfortable in the way someone touched them, looked at them, spoke to them. *sigh* what has the world come to?

    Reply
  1. SAY NO! « Memoirs 4 My Munchkins

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