A couple of weeks ago a blog post was made on a national news outlet’s website that created some interesting discussion within the stay at home dad forums I visit.
The blog author is Brian Reid, who many at-home-dads view as a bit of a pioneer when it comes to our representation online. He created the Rebel Dad website, which was the first website to compile news for and about stay at home dads. His pet “cause” has been more positive representation of men as primary caregivers and educators in the media, with the belief that positive imagery will encourage more men to be active in children’s lives to the betterment of families and society. So far so good.
Brian published a blog for the Washington Post in which he confessed that while interviewing college kids as perspective Spanish tutors for his elementary aged daughter he had an unspoken requirement.
His unspoken requirement? That the tutor ought to be a woman.
Brian admits in his post that he feels like a bit of a hypocrite- he’s written thousands of blog posts on fatherhood- most with the point that “there is no reason why guys can’t do the childrearing thing as well as women” but admits that it’s different to “defend his days as an at home dad and another to put an elementary-school girl alone with a college guy”.
Now, I’m sure I don’t have to explain his reticence. Although at no point in this blog have I brought up the idea of the potential for some guy to be a sexual predator- any time we talk about men alone with children that idea seems to creep up. Even a dad “famous” for championing the cause of men-as-caregivers is reluctant to have an unknown man spend time alone with his kids.
And I don’t blame him.
I’m not going to dwell on this next point, but it needs to be said.
There are plenty of statistics and news stories out there about children being sexually abused. How often is it a man, even a male member of the family, as the abuser? I believe the statistic is 80%, but you’re welcome to look it up if you need convincing that we traditionally view sexual predators as male.
Now, I certainly would not have a problem with my daughter having a male school teacher or a man-as-authority-figure in any setting where there is some kind of oversight and in a group setting. In fact, I think that men in a classroom setting can command the kind of respect and discipline that can actually help the learning environment. I also believe that positive male role models play an invaluable part in the well being of society as a whole.
In the end Brian ended up selecting a highly qualified and likely safe male Spanish tutor for his daughter. I can’t say that I understand the full situation, but if the tutor is home alone with the child, I absolutely would not have made that same decision. That’s not to say that women can’t or don’t abuse children, but my intuition still tells me to go with a female on this one.
What about you? Would you allow a man to spend one-on-one time with your elementary aged child unsupervised? I believe that every one of us here would obviously take the time to verify the "safeness" of anyone spending alone time with our children, but would you, too, have that nagging doubt?