My husband has full custody of his daughter. Her mother gets visits twice a month and six weeks in the summer. We just found out that the ex is dropping my step daughter, who is 9, and her sister, who is 8, off at a public pool. I was ticked to find this out and so was my husband. The ex told my husband that there are lifeguards there who keep an eye on them. I feel like the lifeguards are not there to babysit the children. Am I wrong? At what age is it ok to leave the children alone at the pool?
From: New1247, Walla Walla, WA
If children this age were left home alone, it would be considered neglect. Dropping them off at a public pool strikes me as no less egregious. I can certainly understand your concern and I would agree that having a lifeguard "keep an eye on them" is not adequate supervision. Who's in charge when they are not in the water? How long are the girls at the pool? An hour, or five hours? Is it a small neighborhood pool or a large community complex where it's easy to get lost? A short period of time once in a while, if they like it, could promote a sense of independence; hours on end could promote loneliness and even fear. What if one doesn't feel well? What if one has friends and the other doesn't and is left to her own devises? Sisters don't always like to hang out together, even at this age. And for the older one to be responsible for the younger is totally inappropriate at these ages, possibly putting one or both of them in a compromising position from a developmental perspective, that is, for the younger one not feeling safe, and the older feeling overwhelmed.
Sounds like the dad has every reason to have a conversation about this with his ex. (The dad, not you!). Whether he can take it further than that -- that is, to demand better oversight -- depends on the nature of the custody arrangement. I don't think I'm over-reacting when I say that this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
Readers, do you agree? What advice would you offer?
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