(cross-posted in Special Needs Parenting)
I have twin sons a month shy of their 15th birthday, although they're only in 7th grade. They were born at 24 weeks and have mild Autism and mild-moderate developmental delays. They attend "regular" school, but most of their friends are other kids who need a Resource teacher, for Autism spectrum or other issues. One of their best friends right now is G., who is in their Resource class, but aside from immaturity and silliness, I'm not clear what his disability is. He and the twins are obnoxious and goofy together, but he strikes me as a basically nice, good kid and I like him.
G. is fixated on having overnights. I'm not opposed to that, per se. I mean, the twins (and, from what I can tell, G.) are on more of a 10-12-year-old maturity level. But the twins are also well into puberty and I feel it's becoming less and less age-appropriate for routine get-togethers with a friend to include spending the night (unless it's something out-of-the-ordinary like going camping, or to somebody's lake house). I enjoyed sleepovers with girlfriends right up through college, but I don't remember male friends having sleepovers with each other much past grade school. Regardless, every single time the boys get together with G., he begs for them to spend the night. (He's an only child, which may factor into it.)
The complication begins with my husband, who has a really bad vibe about G.'s Step-Dad. (G. lives with his Mom and SD.) My husband (who is not the twins' Dad, but has been in their lives since 1st grade) and G.'s SD both chaperoned an overnight camping trip for the class last year. Our 3 boys were in the same cabin, so the 2 men spent plenty of time together. My husband said G.'s SD says really mean, humiliating things to G.- and in front of the other kids. To be clear, my husband's no sensitive, new-age guy. He enjoys exchanging clever, lighthearted insults with male friends and with our boys. He tells the boys things like "walk it off" and "be tough". So, for him to be disturbed by how this other guy talked to his kid is significant, to me. I don't think he just misinterpreted something. According to the twins, G. also describes his SD as mean. I have not personally witnessed this. In fact, I've spent a fair amount of time around G.'s Mom and SD and the more I'm around them, the more I like them!
But it's unusual (perhaps unprecedented) for my husband to have such a negative impression of another parent. And it's more than the mean talk. He thinks G.'s SD is a bully, who feels bigger by picking on a kid with social disadvantages (G. is not only immature, but chubby). My husband's concerned our developmentally-delayed twins would make easy targets - and could be convinced not to tell anyone. He's also concerned such a person might not stop with verbal bullying, if you know what I mean.
Also, it turns out that after meeting his current wife and step-son, this guy fairly quickly dumped his previous life, across the country, and moved here to marry her. He took her maiden name. Which is progressive and all, but it also means no one here (except his wife, I assume) knows what his name was, before. I am not in the habit of looking up the parents of my kids' friends, to see if they have records of child abuse... but even if one wanted to, it'd be impossible, with this guy.
So, what do you think? Thanks to the constant pressure from G. and his parents, my twins are really keyed up about having overnights with him and it's getting more and more awkward, saying no repeatedly. But honestly, the more they press the issue - the parents, I mean - the more I wonder, "Why is it such a big deal to you that my kids sleep at your house, instead of just coming over for a while?"
In my shoes, would you follow your own instincts (I don't really have bad vibes about the SD), or would you respect your husband's concerns and think better safe than sorry? Am I overprotective?
One woman in a house full of men: my soul mate:
... twin sons:
(HS seniors) ... step-son:
(a sophomore) ... our little man:
(a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all