Should I be nervous about letting my elementary‐school‐age daughter visit a friend’s house? Normally I wouldn’t hesitate to say “yes” since her friend is a sweet and respectful girl. Her father, however, seems overly eager for our daughter to come over. How should we evaluate and respond to this situation? Do you have any advice?
We have a couple of questions for you in return. First, will this “visit” be an overnighter, or is it simply an afternoon play date? This in itself could make a big difference in the way you respond. Where sleepovers are involved, even in what might seem to be the least concerning of situations, we strongly encourage parents to exercise careful due diligence in thoroughly vetting the host family and all planned activities. If you feel even the slightest sense of uneasiness for any reason, we’d urge you to hold off on this until all your concerns have been assuaged.
That leads us to our second question: what exactly do you mean when you say that the friend’s father seems “overly eager”? Has he displayed an inordinate interest in your daughter? Have you detected a lustful gleam in his eye? Or is he on the other hand simply a warm, friendly, hospitable, and demonstrative kind of guy? This is a point you need to pin down a bit more definitively before making up your mind – remembering that healthy Other Adult Relationships (Asset #3) are something that parents should actually support and encourage.
Bottom line: if you have a bad gut feeling about allowing your daughter to spend time with this family you really shouldn’t ignore it. Not that we recommend making snap judgments about people – first impressions can be misleading. Still, you can’t move forward until you’ve settled the matter in your own mind. Why not do a little investigating and find out why you’re so apprehensive about this man? Maybe you could go with your daughter to the friend’s house the first time and spend a couple of hours chatting with her parents while the kids play. Perhaps you could set up a play date in some neutral place, like a park or a playground, as a way of gaining a better handle on the situation. You might even invite the other girl’s parents over for dinner sometime. Say something like, “We’d love to get to know you – our daughters really seem to connect!” If they turn you down, you have your answer. If, on the other hand, you have a chance to make their acquaintance, you’ll probably come out of the experience with a much clearer idea of how to proceed. Your anxieties will either be dispelled or confirmed.
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