I had a dear friend when my daughter was younger. I trusted her. I trusted my daughter would be safe with her. My daughter and I spoke tonight about an event 11 or so years ago that she still remembers well. I had the flu with a high fever. My friend wanted to take my daughter with her to her sister’s farm to enjoy a party. I trusted my daughter would be fine. She was supposed to be home by 10. At midnight I was extremely worried. I finally got a call that my friend wanted to keep my daughter with her at her sister’s house overnight. I said absolutely not. She argued with me about staying. I said no. When my daughter finally got home at 1 am, she had a container of KFCmashed potatoes because apparently my friend forgot to feed her dinner.. As she dropped her off I noticed she was slurring and her eyes were blood shot. My friend was impaired. I was sick with a 103 fever and should have been asleep at 10 but I was in a state of fury at 1 am over the lack of care for my daughter and the danger she put her in. It wasn’t until tonight that my daughter told me the details of that party. My friend had left her alone while she went off with some man. My daughter sat in a corner with the animals there and played with them. It is a miracle that nothing happened to her. From start to finish of that night it is a miracle nothing happened to her.
It is so very hard being a parent. We want to trust our friends. We think we can trust our friends. We want our children to be able to be away from us, have experiences away from us, in safe environments. We set up ground rules for our friends on what we are ok with and what we are not. Sometimes we trust the wrong people. We entrust our child in the wrong person. My parents entrusted me with the wrong people which resulted in countless molestations by countless men. This was my best friend though. So I forgave her. I never left my daughter alone with her again. But I gave her another chance as I didn’t want our friendship to end. I loved her. That was a mistake. Later in our relationship,not much later, her husband locked me in his garage and assaulted me. It was one of the most traumatic experiences I have ever had. And I’ve had a lot. There are times for second chances and there are moments you turn away and never look back. Ignoring my wishes for my daughter should have been a deal breaker. Seems I would have rather had a friend I could not trust than lose someone. I can now say I would rather be alone, as isolating and sad that can be at times, than be with someone who does not respect me or my wishes especially when it comes to my daughter.
I trusted my mother in law that very same year. That was a bad year for us. I trusted her to take my daughter on vacation with her boyfriend at the time. I trusted she would protect my daughter. She put a man first. Nothing happened to my daughter other than a feeling of desperately wanting to go home and feeling like she was trapped there with a very unpleasant and controlling man. It was a miracle nothing happened to her. Once again boundaries were broken and it was shown to me that my wishes for my child would not take priority over someone else’s needs in a man. Which is ironic actually. Whenever I had someone else’s child at my house, in my care, that parents wishes and the protection of that child was THE only thing on my mind.
I think of how vigilant I was with my daughter. Making sleep overs happen over at our house. Having her friends come over here to hang out if I didn’t know their parents. But sometimes you come to a point where you are left with a choice in trusting your child to someone else. I thought multiple times I was trusting the right people and I wasn’t. Even as protective and hyper vigilant as I was, I still sent her off with people that put her in an unsafe unhealthy situation.
This is what I have learned from these experiences: Do you have boundaries and will that other person respect those boundaries even at a cost to themself to protect your child? I did not ask myself that question. I thought best friend equaled trust. Family equals trust. That was not so. Even after it was proven that my boundaries of protection for my daughter were not met, I still gave that person another chance. I made mistakes. I apologized to my daughter for those mistakes.
Parenting is so hard. We try to do the best we can. I have beaten myself up for my daughter having those experiences and nothing even detrimental happened! After living through abuse over and over again myself , I wanted to protect her.
My intention was pure. My intention was good. My intention was to put my daughter first and foremost. I did that.
I only failed because someone else failed me.
Someone else failed to follow through on their promises. And I cannot control other people.. I have done my absolute best for her. Fortunately, I have been able to let go of and walk away from people who brazenly ignore my boundaries. It took some time. But I can now do it. Good parents grow up fast and evolve to be better parents accepting their mistakes and making better choices after.
I wish I could give great words of parenting wisdom as to how to never put your child in harms way. We can instill in our children instinct. We can teach them to tell us the good and the bad and the scary. We can choose to not leave them at someone’s house with people we don’t know. We can even ask that uncle bob or brother joe not come over while our children are there as a precaution. But as soon as our children are out of our sight, we are not in control of what happens any longer. We can just do the best we can. I have done the absolute best I could at the time with the information I was given. I have to forgive myself for being naive. Did my parents really do the best they could? Absolutely not. They still aren’t. Being a good parent means not worrying if you offend someone if it means protecting your child at all cost. They couldn’t do that. I can. It is something I find great solace in. I won’t make the same mistakes again. I have grown as a parent and as a person. In that growth I have accepted that having few friends you know will respect your boundaries is far more priceless than a dozen friends who care more about themselves. We have friends as our children grow so they can have playmates and somewhere along the way we grow as our children grow and realize that having a friend is not ever more important than feeling safe and keeping our kids safe. But like I said, we can’t always predict or control what another person chooses. When we put our trust in someone else with our child we just can’t do it haphazardly. As a parent we can just do our absolute best. Our absolute best has to be enough. I can now say I have done my absolute best, even with a few mishaps along the way. Parenting is hard. But it is equally rewarding. My all your children be safe and may you be surrounded by those who respect your parenting boundaries.