Help! My Teen Daughter Woke Up to a Man Tickling Her.

Dear Prudence,

My 13-year-old daughter spent a night this weekend at a girlfriend’s house. I know and like this friend and her parents, and the girls have had sleepovers before. My daughter told her father and me a very disturbing story when she got home. She awoke in the middle of the night to someone tickling her belly and quietly chuckling. She was lying on her side facing the outside of the mattress she was sharing with her friend and says this person was a male with whitish hair crouched down beside the bed. It was dark and she was scared to look at his face. She turned onto her other side and tucked the blanket under her back but felt someone poking her and tugging on the blanket. Then a hand rested briefly on her upper arm—and he left. My daughter eventually fell back asleep. In the morning, she told her friend about this, and the friend said she must have been dreaming. My daughter said no, that she’d heard the floor squeak and noted the time (3:30 a.m.) on her friend’s bedside clock. After my husband picked up my daughter the friend asked her father (who has silver-gray hair), mother, and teenage brother (who has dark hair) about it. The friend texted my daughter that everyone denied such a thing could have happened and the whole family was upset. Then she said her father wanted to talk to my husband (who didn’t really want to have anything to do with this mess). The father and mother called and spoke to the two of us. They said this could not have happened—they’re not that kind of family, etc. They were terrified that word of the alleged incident would damage the father’s reputation. I said that I believed my daughter but that my husband and I weren’t planning to pursue the matter any further. The friend’s parents were relieved and grateful; there was talk about the awkward situations kids sometimes put parents in, about having a drink together sometime. (Of course my daughter will never sleep over there again.) I felt good after the phone call, but now I’m wondering if I let them off too easy—and whether I adequately demonstrated to my daughter that I believed her. For her part, she’s just worried that this has ended her friendship. Do you think I handled this properly?

%d bloggers like this: