Cautious, or Crazy?

27 Apr

Sometimes this whole break up thing isn’t so bad. Somedays, I’m meeting new people, enjoying the quiet, working on projects around the house. It’s pretty cool.

Other days, I’m having discussions about how just because you’ve been chatting with someone in another country online for a few months, it doesn’t mean I trust them watching my children if they visit.

No offense, but most of you? I’ve known for years, and I still wouldn’t want you watching my children alone. I don’t necessarily know you, not really. With the exception of a few of you who are near me physically, who I’ve spent actual physical time with and trust (mostly) to not do anything foolish or crazy with my kids, I don’t trust that knowing you online means TRULY knowing you.

Yes the world has changed. Yes, I connect with others online. However-I still firmly believe that you cannot necessarily trust, 100%, someone you have never met in real life. How many times do we hear about people misrepresenting who they are online? Pretending they have dead children for sympathy-stealing photos to create families that aren’t real. How easy is it to be someone or something you aren’t online?

It’s very simple. I tend to be honest-but I’m still not exactly the person I am in reality on this site. If I chat with someone online, even for weeks, they still don’t really know me in terms of my behaviours. I may not disclose all the idiocy that makes up my day to day life. I may leave out the little bits about being on the psych ward. I may omit a number of things because they are not necessarily relevant, and lets me honest, because I don’t want them to force a preconception about me.

End of the day, our online life, the “us” online is NOT absolute or transparent. It’s a facet of us that, while close to who we truly are, is still not the entirety.

So when I’m asked if I’m ok with someone known only online for a matter of months watching my kids, someone who is young, and without children of their own, someone from a completely different continent, and then treated like I’m not “with it” cause I don’t trust my children around a stranger-I become more than a little angry.

This is not about me. This is about my children. This is about a reasonable expectation of their safety. It’s about making a judgment about safety. Could we use the break money wise? YES. I’m not looking forward to a summer of no breaks and Mr. Noodle at this rate. Do I feel comfortable with signing off, at this point, on a stranger watching my kids?

No. I don’t.

The point I can’t seem to make clear, and maybe I am in the wrong, is that online relationships are NOT 100% real. They are friendships sure, and I may feel connections to some people, but they aren’t the same as knowing someone who lives down the street from you, whose house you’ve been in, who you’ve interacted with in everyday situations.  I do not trust most people in normal life, not with my children. So trusting people who I cannot always validate in reality? Scares the ever loving shit out of me.

I was hurt by the real people in my life. I go to many lengths to ensure my children are safe, and this? Feels like I’m holding a door open to any possible scenario happening.

So the question is-am I weird to be so distrustful of online relationships? Do any of you feel that online relationships are just as, if not more so, trustworthy than “reality” relationships? While I know you cannot really know anyone if they want to hide things, I just strongly believe that it’s a LOT easier to do online, and much simpler to protect your motives behind so much technology.

32 Responses to “Cautious, or Crazy?”

  1. Maria April 27, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    No. You are soooo in the right here. I don’t see how any logical, responsible person could argue against you. Mind you, I met my boyfriend (of a year and a half now) online, via Twitter. I trusted him immediately with myself, but it took about 5 months before I was willing to let him meet my girls, and many months beyond that before they were allowed to spend anytime at all with him without me. And even now, he has never watched them any more than taking them outside while I’m inside. I trust him completely, but I’m still obsessively protective. I know he would never, but you never really know, you know?

    I’m not making any sense; I’m totally contradicting myself, LOL.

  2. thordora April 27, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    No, that makes TOTAL sense. And if it is someone local that has had the few months in “real time” I’d be a LOT less worrisome. You can meet awesome people online-BUT, I think you absolutely need some time to judge who they really are.

  3. Jennifer April 27, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    He’s thinking with his dick.

  4. allyo April 27, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    He’s showing a shocking lack of good judgment, one that, were I you, would have me reconsidering my custody arrangement. I think it’s good that you’re doing a reality check, but don’t doubt yourself on this.

    • thordora April 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

      Yeah, I made an appt with legal aid today. It’s gonna take months, but I’ll get there.

  5. Jen April 27, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    Online-trust is not the same sort of trust as in-person trust. And honestly, a few months of in-person trust with someone who does not have kids and/or who you have not personally witnessed with children is not enough for me to leave my kids with that person. I don’t think any reasonable person could consider it overprotective to think it’s a bad idea to leave your kids with someone you have never met in person.

  6. niobe April 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    I don’t trust anyone. Ever. Not even myself.

  7. Cynthia April 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    I wouldn’t do it. She may be a perfectly lovely person who is fantastic with kids, but there is absolutely no way of knowing that without without everyone (ex, you and girls) getting to know her in person. Even then, I’d want references.

    I don’t think you’re being overprotective at all. I’m generally relaxed about Lauren’s safety out in the world, but to trust someone invite someone in to my home to care for her alone? I need to vet that person thoroughly.

  8. Linda April 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    Follow your instincts. I would not EVER leave my kids with someone unknown to me personally. Virtual relationships are no substitution for the real thing. PS. I love the way you write.

  9. Velma April 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    I completely agree with you. Anyone who spends time alone with my kids has to be trustworthy, and that means skills, experience and references. I don’t care if it were a cousin of mine who was staying with us for the summer, I’d *still* need references before handing over care of the kids to that person, much less a foreign internet friend with no background check or childcare experience. And yes, I *do* agree that (despite the breadth and depth of some internet relationships) you absolutely do not base decisions about the health and welfare of your kids on knowing someone on-line. Yikes. Good luck with legal aid – hope it goes faster than you anticipate.

  10. kate April 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    To me, it’s less than this person has been met online more that you have no relationship or knowledge of her yourself. If they’d met in real life and you still hadn’t met her yourself, would you sign up to have her watch your kids for any length of time at all? I would not. Heck, I wouldn’t be comfortable with many people I know and even like in real life watching my kid for more than hour or two.

    • thordora April 28, 2010 at 10:41 am #

      See, at least in real life, I can assume that my ex has exercised good judgement, and I can, theoretically, check up and make a decision. This way, the only decision I can do is meet her when she gets here.

      I admit-the idea of saving a few hundred dollars this summer is compelling, as well as not having to bounce the girls around three houses. BUT…butbutbutbut.

  11. raino April 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    gosh, gosh, gosh.

    no, i would not do it, ever. i admit, that there have been certain folks that i have ‘met’ online that i have felt so so comfortable with and would have been very tempted to meet up with them myself, alone.

    but i would have done so in a very public area, with many many people knowing where i was going and what time i was expected to be home.

    but under no circumstances would i leave my children alone with this person.

    go with you gut. you are right.

    the fact is that some folks are much more trusting (like me) than others are (like my husband) because of circumstances or experiences they have had in their lives. this is what makes us, us.

  12. Kim April 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Hell, I don’t even trust my EX with our son. Not that he’d harm him or anything, but he’s not me, and doesn’t watch like I do. If he were to suggest this sort of thing, oh HELL no. I don’t care if she’s a teacher, or a nurse, or a mom. You don’t know her, he doesn’t really know her. No no no no. You can not replace a child.

  13. Suebob April 28, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    I’m with you on this one, and it is the reason I quit online dating. You know someone better in the first three minutes you meet than you do in a year of online conversing. You have to be there to get someone’s vibe.

    And I think you should date someone for quite a while before you introduce them to your kids. I know it isn’t always practical, but I think kids have a hard time with a long serial string of people that their folks are dating.

  14. thordora April 28, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    Thanks all. For awhile I thought I was overreacting but then realized no, this is a NORMAL reaction to the idea of a stranger being near my kids for long periods of time. Even a new sitter, I can verify in a lot of ways.

    There’s just too many variables that scare me.

    And frankly, being accused of being crazy because this idea pissed me off, and that I should just trust it? Only made it all worse.

  15. Kat1766 April 28, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    I think it’s a perfectly reasonable and rational reaction. As a parent, it’s our job to make sure that their care is entrusted to responsible adults. You can do that when you don’t know the person whether or not it’s IRL or online.
    However, I do think it’s possible to be TOO cautious. Being overprotective can make the world seem so unsafe that a child is afraid to take reasonable risks. It can teach children to distrust their natural instinct for people which might be their best defense. I’m a survivor of molestation by someone my parents trusted to babysit. My parents knew this person a long time. Even with that as my background, I refuse to blanketly distrust people with my children. Some of the people who helped me survive my childhood were in essence strangers.

    • thordora April 28, 2010 at 11:21 am #

      Yeah, that’s where it gets messy. My parents trusted someone wrongly, as did the parents of many of my friends. I try to not be completely insane about it…. But it becomes difficult. I just don’t feel I’m being all that nutty in this case.

      • Kat1766 April 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

        You’re not. Your refusal in this case is perfectly reasonable. It sounds like he is jumping on the chance to get this woman there

  16. Darke April 28, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Would it be any different if you introduced a new sitter? They’re equally unknown to you, if not moreso.

    • thordora April 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

      It would. I can go to a sitter’s house. I can verify how the act with other children. I can call their references, see how they interact with their family. I can take all sorts of precautions with a sitter who is local that I cannot make with someone coming from out of the country.

      Do I still run risks? Yes. But they are a hell of a lot more acceptable than trusting someone no one has actually met in the flesh, whom I cannot verify in any way shape or form. And I can also trust that if something DOES happen with a local sitter, they (likely) will not bolt out of the country.

      I have already run into a situation regarding my children and care that resulted in them being VERY much in danger, and my home and parenting being evaluated social services, despite my misgivings and outright disapproval of the situation. I will NOT do it again.

  17. Alex April 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Its totally understandable that you don’t trust a stranger with your kids, specially when you haven’t even met the person yet, besides nobody will take care of the kids like their parents.

    However i think that you can’t be too scared all the time, i’m not saying “go with the flow and leave them with anybody” but maybe take the chance and meet this person when the time comes, hang with your kids and the person in question and see how everything goes, if it works then good for you, your kids and the money issues. If it doesn’t well its always good to have a back up plan, at the end nobody can make do you anything you don’t want to, besides that i don’t think your ex would like to put your kids in danger, right?

    • thordora April 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

      Absolutely-and that is something I DO fight with-in light of my experiences, how much worry is *too* much worry. However, after having socials services in my house picking at my life after the last fustercluck, and this ask coming so close on the heels of that one, I’m a little amped about it. (Plus-they didn’t even look at their father-just me. So I’m more than a little concerned that any other issues could lead to me losing my kids. )

      I like to think that my ex is a little more trusting than he should be. Perhaps he hasn’t been burned and wounded as much as some, and that allows him to let loose a bit more. I don’t know.

      I would just forever hate both of us if I wasn’t careful enough, and something did happen.

      Stupid parenting. :p

      • Alex April 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

        yeah thats true, some people are more trustful than others, parents are always parents no matter what, thats their job, take care of the kids and be the best they can for them, besides lets add to that the fact the world has changed so much, still there are good people out there i must believe.

        the bottom point, moms will always worry way much more than dads but still none of them try to put kids in danger (from my point of view) just take your time and you always have the last word at the end, you are the mom 😉

        • thordora April 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

          What’s amusing is that I don’t believe the boogeyman is behind every bush-but I also am a firm believer in calculated risk. Most people are good and kind and mean well and all that happy fluffy puppy stuff.

          But it only takes one, and our children are far too freaking awesome to risk.

          Sometimes I think the only thing that has changed is the over thought we put into everything.

  18. Lili April 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    You are absolutely right to be cautious about online relationships. Too often people use the internet to show their best side,fake side, or whatnot. When the “real them” comes out it’s duck and cover time. You are absolutely right to protect your kids by setting proper boundaries concerning internet relationships.

  19. Marcy April 28, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    Absolutely with you in this one, to add my ditto to all of the above.

  20. charmingbitch April 29, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Mmmm I had to sit on this for a day or so because I didn’t want my reaction to seem solely like a personal attack. Turns out, I don’t know if that is possible.

    It doesn’t make you crazy, paranoid, over-protective or anything other than a concerned parent to expect more from a caregiver than being someone who caught daddy’s eye online. There is a reason I don’t leave my (little) kids in the car even for ”just a minute” when I run in the store. Too many unknowns, too many things beyond my control and way too much guilt should something totally preventable occur. This is also why I don’t recruit strangers from strange lands to take care of them in my absence.

  21. Hannah May 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    I’m only catching up now and holy hell, you are in no way crazy, paranoid, overreacting, or anything else.

    And I say this having met some wonderful people online who I consider my dear friends.

    But leaving this woman in charge of your children all summer… no. At this stage of the “relationship”, it’s not significantly different than your ex picking a random stranger off the street.

    And incidentally, you said in one of your comments that if the GF was local you could at least give him the benefit of the doubt for having good judgment?!? Um, why? He picked the last nutter, right? And some of his behaviors both before and after the breakup demonstrated his complete lack of judgment in many cases, right?

    Don’t question yourself. I would never, NEVER agree to this. I’m pretty relaxed generally – left Isaac at a birthday party just this weekend with parents I only know at the “hey, how are you” level of discourse during preschool drop-off – but this goes way over the line.

    • thordora May 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

      At least someone local, I can take reasonable steps to investigate and look in on, review how they live…etc.etc, things I *should* have done with the last lady…and I would like to believe that his judgement locally will be tempered by what happened last time. Little harder to judge over the interwebs.. 🙂

  22. spleeness May 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Shoot, most of the molestations that happen to kids happen from people they know. And that’s KNOW know, as in, visitors, family, friends & neighbors. Online friendships are outside even of that sphere. One can never be too wary, I say. I would worry if someone was NOT this careful about the company they kept for their kids. I’d be the same way too if I had kids.

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