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Forbidding Your Daughter To Visit A Friend When Only The Dad Is Home

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Dadophobia.

That is what one poster on the NYCDads Facebook page dubbed the fear of leaving children alone with, gasp, a man.

It all started with a question and answer feature in the advice section of Parenting.com:

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 (a Ph.D., a play therapist, mother of three, and founder of Counseling Center at Heritage, in Montgomeryville, PA). 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.

This did not surprise Matt Schneider of the NYC Dads Group, because he feels what he describes as "bias against fathers" all the time. But not surprised is not the same as not upset, so he rewrote the Q&A on the group's website to make his point:

You've accepted a sleepover invite for your son, not realizing that the family is Jewish. 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 Jew supervising an overnighter,' " says Morris, a PhD., play therapist, mother of three, and founder of Counseling Center at Liberty, in Columbiaville, NH. 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.

It's not that Schneider doesn't understand your concerns. "Many people are justifying these feelings because we are trying to do what's best for our children. In a world surrounded with stories of rapists and pedophiles, could we ever live with ourselves if something happened when we let our child stay over at a man's house?" he writes. But statistically the likelihood of a child being in danger from a single man are no greater than that child being in danger from, well, anyone else, and ignoring that logic has dangers of its own, he continues:

Can't we all think back to a time (not that long ago) when "experts" would have advised parents not to allow their children to stay overnight at the home of a Jewish family, or a black family,  because we weren't "comfortable?" Do we still think it's possible for "experts" to advise parents not to allow their children to stay overnight at the home of a gay or lesbian family?

When do we cross the line of "this is about me, not you" thinking being used to justify our actions to "this is about me" thinking as an opportunity to look inwards to address our own biases. None of us can justify to ourselves that it would okay to not let our children have a sleepover at someone's house because they were poor, or handicapped, or a different race or a different religion?

So how would he answer the question? With something like this:

Do you know men that are excellent fathers that would provide a safe, caring, and fun environment for you child," says Schneider, not a PhD, not a play therapist, not a founder of a counseling center, but a father of two. "Perhaps you should take some time to get to know the father before you decide you are uncomfortable.

And you? How would YOU answer the question?