Mum says her children are never allowed to be alone with a man – and the internet is divided
I recently had the chats with a fellow school mum about at what age would it be appropriate to let our children walk home from school by themselves.
Now, bare in mind we live in Dundrum, so although in Dublin, it's far enough out of the city centre for me to consider it a fairly safe and (apart from the shopping centre) residential area.
On the subject of child safety, we also discussed other things, like when would it be OK to leave the kids at home by themselves for a brief period of time, at what age would you reckon they could start preparing dinner and how we stood on the whole sleepover thing – which, at nine, our own little girls have started begging for at fairly regular intervals.
The following day, funny enough, I came across this mum's article on one area where she has her very own rules on keeping her children safe – and to tell you the truth, I found it all a bit extreme.
In a blog post that appeared on Today's Parent, Australian mum Leah McLaren argues that in the interest of keeping her children safe from any type of sexual abuse, she will never let them spend time alone in a room with a man that isn't immediate family.
"Never alone in a room with a male teacher. Or a male doctor. Or a housepainter or a lawyer or birthday party clown. I don’t care if you’re dying of thirst and he’s the coolest, nicest soccer coach in league with a fridge full of ice cold Gatorade. “Grab your teammate and then get your drink from the coach’s office,” I tell my kids. I am honest with them about my rule and the reasons why. Some men are not to be trusted. And frankly, if the coach is a conscientious guy (which he probably is), he’ll know not to invite a kid into a room alone in the first place."
McLaren goes on to explain her exceptions, and how she realises many will disagree with her:
"There are exceptions of course: my husband, and all my kids’ grandfathers and step-grandfather. I also bend the rule for a few men I know really, really well. Like well enough that I’ve observed them over a period of several years and have spent holidays together. Both my brother-in-laws, for instance, gets a pass, as do a couple of my good friends’ husbands. But beyond that? Never alone in a room with a man.
Think that sounds anxious? Hyper-vigilant? Completely whack-a-doo? I disagree and here’s why. Of all the things we fear and guard against as parents child sexual abuse, is, unfortunately, one of the most likely to happen. That’s not being hysterical, but stating a simple fact."
I don't know about you, but while we all want to protect our children, of course, this just all comes across rather extreme to me. And certainly unfair to the absolute vast majority of men on this planet.
The mum-of-two, who says she realises how many will view her rule, explains her stance further:
"I’m aware that my rule is really not fair to the vast majority of men who are not paedophiles or sexual predators and with whom my kids would probably be entirely 100 percent safe alone in a room for days on end. I also understand that taking these sorts of precautions may make life especially tricky for men who choose to work close with small children in caring professions like medicine, teaching or social work—in other words, some of the best and most admirable men around.
However, I believe that ultimately, in this instance, my parental duty to protect my kids trumps my duty as a feminist to treat men and women equally in every scenario, regardless of the risk."
The blog also appeared on Facebook, and let's just say, ther reaction to the post was very mixed:
What do YOU think, mums? Would you ever put this rule in place with your own children? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @herfamilydotie