I’m a single dad, and my daughter wants to have a sleepover.

I am the single dad of a 12-year-old girl. All of her friends are into having sleepovers for their birthday parties, and she wants one for her birthday this year. I told her didn’t think it was a good idea because other parents might not be comfortable with it, since I am a man alone in our house. She doesn’t understand why this would be a problem, and I have no desire to explain it to her any further. I don’t know what else to say without making her upset or feel weird about something that is, of course, completely innocent. I do know, however, thanks to a very vocal but well-meaning sister-in-law, that mothers sometimes feel uneasy about having a man alone in the house with a group of girls at a sleepover.

What do I tell my daughter? Do I go ahead with the party and tell her some people might not come? Or do I just say no and take her and her friends to a movie, and disappoint her?

Buckle up your dad jeans and hang on to your hat, cowboy, because this is the start of a long, bumpy ride. Three years from now you’re going to be crying into your whiskey and dreaming of the days when your worst problem was that your daughter’s friends’ parents might think you’re a pedophile. I feel bad for you, because it’s not easy to be a single parent, and these teen years are going to kick your ass a little bit. But you seem like you don’t completely have your head up your own ass, and this sensitivity is going to help you immensely.

I’m not making this up–near where I live, a dad was recently convicted of drugging some girls with a milkshake and then molesting them at a sleepover party. So while I’m sure you’re perfectly innocent and have only the best interests of your daughter at heart, I can also understand how other parents might be apprehensive.

Enlist this vocal and well-meaning sister-in-law (how lucky for you to have one of those; they’re usually just vocal) to join the sleepover party, and make sure the other parents all know she’s going to be there. Or if she’s unavailable, ask the parents of your daughter’s best friend to join you in the house overnight, or even hire a babysitter that you might use when you go out of town. Whomever you get, make sure it’s a woman you trust, and as an extra measure of good faith, call or email the other parents–without being creepy about it, please–and let them know you’re going to have a helper for the party. You could even make a joke about it and say all the screaming and laughing over Justin Bieber would give you a migraine, or you don’t know how to make chocolate chip cookies, so you’re getting some backup.

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