At what point does the adorable friendship between two children become something that may entail more than just friendship.
That was the question on the mind of one Redditor who posted an account of his recent parenting conundrum on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP), known appropriately as concerneddad98 on the site, shared his concerns right in his title for the post.
“AITA for wanting to ban my daughter’s best friend from sleeping over?”
OP kicked off by describing the friendship in question.
“So my daughter has been best friends with a boy we’ll call ‘Max’ since kindergarten.”
“In short, they’re inseparable.”
“Over the years Max has stayed over at our place and my daughter has stayed over at his numerous times, it hasn’t really been an issue while they were younger.”
And OP is down with Max.
“Max is a good kid.”
“He’s respectful, funny, always willing to lend a hand helping with stuff, all round good kid.”
“He’s been a great friend to my daughter as well and a really good influence on her.”
But there was one thought OP couldn’t shake.
“But, that said, they’re thirteen now and I know that they are either at that age or are entering the age where their friendship might grow into something more than friendship.”
“Honestly, I don’t have an issue with that if that is the way things go.”
“Like I said, Max is a good kid.”
“But, that said, due to their age, I feel that its not appropiate for Max to be staying over anymore—or at least staying overnight in the same room as my daughter unchaperoned.”
Eventually, OP voiced those concerns.
“The other night I spoke to my wife about it, thinking that she would be in agreement and that we could then come up with a way of enforcing this with the least amount of backlash from our daughter and without making Max feel like we don’t trust him.”
“Well, it seems that I was wrong and my wife told me that I was being paranoid, controlling, and that I was sexualizing children.”
OP wasn’t buying it.
“I don’t agree with this assessment and it caused my wife and I to have an argument about it.”
“Effectively her argument was that boys and girls can be friends without being attracted to one another (which I agree)…”
“…and that our daughter and Max weren’t old enough to have those thoughts in the first place (which I disagree with).”
“I told my wife I was once 13 and, without getting vulgar, I had those thoughts on a daily basis—as did my friends. But, that said, I do see her point where I might be in the wrong here.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors were pretty evenly divided in their judgments although those voting NTA gave a lot of the same feedback as those voting NAH and YTA.
“‘…entering the age where their friendship might grow into something more than friendship’.”
“Then your daughter has also entered the age where you can speak to her first. In other words, before trying to team up with your wife behind her back.”
“What if your wife were as paranoid as you?”
“Then you guys would’ve just went ahead and totally blindsided both kids.”
“And based on what exactly?”
“Just because they are now a year older than last year. YTA.” ~ VacuumYourRoom
“NTA, just make them camp out in the open living room. Done.” ~ Horror_Question5670
“YTA. It sounds like OP is making a LOT of assumptions based on only his own perspective and experience, reacting with panic and sexphobia, and NOT actually asking any relevant questions that would shed some light on the situation.”
“Most significantly, how does he know if one or both kids are even straight if neither has expressed any romantic interest in anyone before now?”
“They’re 13! Why does OP assume a sleepover with 13 year old life-long best friends is about to turn into an orgy?!”
“‘They’re too young to be having sex!’ in the same breath as ‘the second they’re out of our sight they’ll start having sex!’ is the definition of a sexphobic response.”
“It’s hyper-sexualizing and infantilizing at the same time.” ~ Kathrynlena
“If you are so concerned about this topic then may I suggest having a conversation with your daughter instead of just trying to ban her friend from staying over?”
“Honestly, if you believe your daughter is adult enough to be concerned about this issue, then surely she is adult enough that you can have a conversation with her about what is and is not appropriate.” ~ l3gi0n-1183
“If you do this YTA. My dad did this with my best friend. It was ridiculous. I didn’t even think of him that way.”
“We played Powerpuff girls and caught spiders for fun. That all went away when dad said he couldn’t spend the night anymore. Made my friend feel ostracized and myself feel like I did something bad.”
“It gets worse. I ended up making other friends who were allowed to stay over. Female of course. Nowhere near as innocent as Shaun was.”
“So Powerpuff girls, Pokemon and Bold and the Beautiful turned into Marilyn Manson, lewd photos and smoking. Shaun and I drifted further apart.”
“He ended up being bullied and called ‘pixie’ for being so tiny and not having me around anymore… and I ended up a runaway for a bit due to bad influences. Bad female influences.”
“Don’t do this to your kid. She’s got a good friend and this could backfire terribly. I’m 32 now and always wonder how life would have played out if I didn’t make those bad female friends my father forced on me.” ~ lette07
“You should be having open and honest and respectful conversations with your daughter to know how she feels and what she knows so you don’t have to guess.”
“Spoiler: 13 isn’t a magic number. Kids experience several natural phases of various kinds of sex/gender curiosity.”
“If you are having good communication, this shouldn’t be an issue. Your wife may be more in tune with your daughter.”
“And you are absolutely sexualizing your daughter. You have mentally flipped the switch from child to woman in some way that makes you think sex is a risk now when it wasn’t before because ’13’.”
“OP, you’re NTA but I really encourage you to think through where all these assumptions are coming from and why they are coming out of nowhere now.”
“It’s time to have some conversations with your daughter and remember that she is entering a time where if she feels she will be rejected by you, she will hide her behavior.” ~ rektbuyautocorrekt
“First off, you really shouldn’t make assumptions. You are treating him differently because he is a boy, but you probably wouldn’t do the same thing for a female friend.”
“What if your daughter was gay, would you ban all girls from sleeping over?”
“Instead, establish trust with her. Talk to her about the birds and the bees, about safe sex, and how to identify red flags in a partner.”
“You can’t stop her from having sex if she wants to, banning sleepovers will not do anything, teenagers find ways around it. So, you can either help her know how to be safe, or scare her into thinking she will get in trouble for it and have unsafe sex.”
“This ‘girls and boys can’t be together’ mentality is just outdated and doesn’t help anything.” ~ MainPot
“So…. What’s your plan for the other times she isn’t in your sight? You going to track her? Maybe you should look into cloistering.” ~ PM_yourAcups
“YTA. Stop sexualizing their friendship.
It is possible for two people of different genders to be friends for their entire lives, sharing beds, even *gasp* seeing each other naked and NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.”
“You know what you should do? Listen to your wife. An actual woman who has gone through this.”
“…have a talk with your daughter about healthy relationships, respect, and sex. Talk about safety.”
“Make sure she knows she can ask questions without being humiliated, make sure you have condoms where she can get them, go to a gynecologist and have your daughter speak with a pro.”
“If they want a relationship it will happen whether you let them share a room or not. AND it may happen sooner and not as safely if YOU go putting that idea in their heads.”
“I’m a 38 year old woman who was only friends with guys her entire life. I’m straight. My male friends would routinely sleep in my bed at my parents house after a night out.”
“From our mid teens to late 20’s we would always be together and we would crash at whoever’s house was closest.”
“We ALWAYS shared a bed. We NEVER had sex. Shocking isn’t it?”
“Grow up, you’re still acting like a 13 year old.”
“Do you really feel you are that sh*tty of a parent that after 13 years you’ve taught your kid nothing? If you don’t trust your kid then you obviously doubt your parenting.” ~ TeacherWithOpinions
“At the end of the day you have no idea what your daughter’s sexual orientation is, she might not know yet either. If you’re going to ban boy/girl sleepovers then you also have to ban girl/girl sleepovers for the exact same reason…”
“But I would argue that giving kids the freedom to have sleepovers with any gender means they’re less likely to do anything sexual in public places, bathrooms, movie theatres, etc…
“So yes, I think you are the a-hole in this scenario, sorry!” ~ leeloololly
“ESH. You’ve already been told about the assumptions you’re making and how they’re not great. You’ve already been told that your wife is acting a little naive in regards to how she thinks teenagers are.”
“The ESH judgement is for you two.”
“Max is your daughter’s best friend, someone she’s close to. Suddenly banning him from being in the house for sleepovers isn’t a solution, it’s punishing them both for something they haven’t done.”
“You and your wife need to have a conversation with your daughter about puberty, about being responsible and all that. Answer questions honestly, but gently where necessary.”
“Give her the tools she needs to make sensible decisions, and trust her to be sensible. If you don’t show her trust, she will stop trusting you, and that’s the point where you should be worried.” ~ TheGingerCynic
“I don’t think it’s important whether or not you’re the a**hole. I think it’s more important to get good advice on how to approach this and talk about it.”
“This is one of those things where you could send a lot of unintentional wrong signals to your kid about sex and trust if you’re not careful.” ~ HelixFollower
The central messages from Redditors was these parents need to educate themselves and their daughter about sexuality and safety since both parents appear naive and ill-informed.
And his personal history and unfounded assumptions about both children’s sexuality and gender identity were driving all of this father’s decisions.
Mistrust and assumptions are never a good basis for decisions. Open communication is.