Dear Happy Cow
On occasion my daughter has mentioned a man who lives near by who, apparently gives the neighbourhood kids sweets from his van. I asked her who this man is, and where he lives and her answers were vague. She said that a boy on our road seemed to know him and often accepted sweets from this man. I advised my daughter not to accept anything from him that I didn't know him and she shouldn't approach anybody in a van whom she doesn't know.
She has mentioned him a few more times and I suppose I was rather dismissive and a little authoritarian as I tried to explain why she should not take sweets from this man even though now a few of her friends appeared to be accepting them. Then the other day, when we were walking home from school she waved to a man in a white van. I asked her who it was and she said, "that is the man who gives out the sweets. He delivers sweets to various shops and if he has any left over he sometimes gives them out to the kids." Again I told her that I didn't want her to take any sweets from him. She became quite irritated with my broken record instructions and asserted that she was going to accept sweets from him, others did and he was a nice man.
When I, again, tried to explain why I didn't want her to do that, I could hear myself struggling with my desperate need to protect my daughter from any potential threat and judging a man I have never met and who by all accounts is OK. I was struggling to explain to her that I found his behaviour potentially threatening but I didn't want her to feel threatened, if that makes sense. I didn't want her to feel scared or worried and I probably didn't want her to know that I was judging this man unfavourably with no evidence whatsoever. That is something I would counsel her against doing. And yet I want to protect her.
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