Apparently divorced dads are all pedophiles. At least, that's the assumption a parenting expert makes — and it may point to bigger problems.
In an otherwise unremarkable piece on handling kids' playdates, Parenting.com's Deborah Skolnik writes,
The Sitch: You've accepted a sleepover invite for your daughter, not realizing that only her pal's divorced dad will be home. You're not OK with it. What to do?
The Solution: "Call and say 'I'm sorry, and this is about me and not you, but I just don't feel comfortable with a man supervising an overnighter,' " says Paone. Offer to host the girls at your place instead, if you can, or ask to turn the sleepover into a "late-over," where your daughter stays only till bedtime. In the future, always ask who'll be on duty before you say yes to a sleepover.
To be fair, this advice is only for parents who "aren't okay with" having a dad watch their daughters, and doesn't imply that all parents wouldn't be okay with it. But one "solution" to this problem would be to ask yourself why you don't trust your daughter's friend's dad. If it's because you think he's a bad parent — or you know he's a registered sex offender — then fair enough. But assuming that all dads, when left to their own devices, are potential pedophiles is a pretty depressing way to raise a kid.
As we discussed last year, most studies have found that the majority of child sexual abuse (especially against girls) is committed by men. But the vast majority of men will never abuse a child. And any harm avoidance strategy that paints half the adult population as potential criminals isn't a particularly effective one. Teaching kids that no one has the right to touch them inappropriately — and that they should let mom and dad know immediately if someone does — is important. Teaching them to be afraid of all men just muddies the issue. The lesson — and the precautions — need to be about abuse, not gender.