“Help! I Want to Have Kids But I Don’t Want to Hover”

Hi Readers! Sometimes I get the kind of note that makes my day/week/month, as did this one. Naturally, it comes with one nagging question, which I am often asked. – L.
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Dear Lenore: Thank you so much for your wonderful book.  I am not (yet) a parent but plan to start a family soon.  I am so glad I picked up your book (I could barely put it down, you made me laugh more than I have laughed in a long time) before I started having kids!
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It caught my eye because after I began working at a public library I noticed a trend among educated parents, and especially my colleagues, to have absolutely no faith whatsoever in their kids.  They would tell me “horror” stories of how their child once wandered out of eye-sight in the woods (headline news in my town is an underage drinking slap on the wrist of a college student, and the opening of a new park for kids to play in).  The child returned home safely and was told they were never ever ever allowed to be that far away again.  Period.
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I have been stunned.  The majority of my childhood was spent alone in the very woods they thought  of with shudders.
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I went home to my husband and said, “I wanted to have kids, but everyone is going to think I’m the worst mom on the planet if I give my kids the freedom I want them to have.”
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When I read your story I realized how petty my fears were.   I’m very glad your son made it home safely, and I’m very glad you took the time to both look into and present the research on safety data.
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My only question is…  Is it possible that abduction rates are low because people are keeping their kids tied to themselves?  I myself find it hard to believe that the world is that much more dangerous than it was when I was a child and believe that we are living, by far, in one of the safest, poshest, most affluent communities and times in the history of the world.  And ultimately believe that God is in control.  But when I was trying to tell a friend (whose mother is an extremist fear-monger who regularly and sincerely coaches her adult and near adult kids on zombie attack response!!!) her first response was, “Well, that’s probably because everyone’s watching out for their kids and not letting them have any freedom.”  That is to say, are the stats impacted by our irrational behavior?  Is this a causal affect on the numbers?
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Regardless, thank you.  When I have kids, I’d be happy to let yours baby-sit mine.  :) – Megan
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Dear Megan (I replied): Thanks for the nice note. As for your question,  ALL violent crime is down, not just crimes against kids – and it’s not like we’re locking up our adults. It’s just a lovely fact that crime is down across the board. Here’s a great piece on why we find the good news so darn hard to accept. And for a cherry on  top, here are the latest stats from the FBI! Savor them! – L. 
Crime rates chart

49 Responses to “Help! I Want to Have Kids But I Don’t Want to Hover”

  1. Hels October 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    My problem is more that I cannot imagine my children growing up in a place where most parents are afraid to let their kids out of their sight, where most school activities are stupid and/or too heavily regulated, where teaching is done to the lowest common denominator… All these factors combine to convince me that however hard I might try, I would never be able to give my children the childhood I would like them to have in this country. So when and if I feel ready to have kids, I will have to find another country to raise them in…

  2. Captain America October 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    You should have 4 kids.

    ONLY children end up with the “Precious, Priceless Prince Complex.” Almost too dainty, too waited-upon. Certainly not left alone!

    Two kids and they still get much hands-on treatment. . . and drowned out by parents and their hustle-bustle each day.

    Three, and you got the whole “triangulation” problem: 2 against 1 dustups.

    Four and the kids make a community of their own. They do things on their own, etc.

    Reading the past notes on this site makes me wonder just how much of the problem really stems from low kid-counts in families. (I’m a total hypocrite here: I married very late, and my wife and I have just one child; her family has fertility issues; we’d love more but damn my waiting on marriage; it doesn’t seem possible!)

    (I DO think a good psychological study should be made of only children; they seem less flexible or adjustable; more easy to damage).

  3. Jenna October 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    I actually wondered that myself at one point but decided that whether or not that is the case, I wasn’t buying into it. Because when I was a kid, mostly through the 80’s, parents weren’t as paranoid and the numbers still weren’t very high.

    I think this also varies from community to community. Where I live, in suburban Utah, you still see kids out of all ages without adults around. Just yesterday I was driving my 4-year-old to her dance class through a neighborhood and saw a 7-year-old girl riding her bike alone, several kids outside playing together, a couple of boys who looked to be about 10 or 11 walking home, or to, cub scouts, and a few others. In just my little neighborhood, it’s not uncommon for the kids, ages 4 to 9, to be outside playing all afternoon on nice days without any adults present. If I were back in my neighborhood in Southern California, I probably wouldn’t see it.

  4. Jenna October 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    @Captain America–That would be an interesting study that I would want to read!

  5. Jenna October 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I just have to add…my kids ride their bikes to school a couple times a week and every time, I’m still nervous about them getting there and back safely. Mostly it’s about the traffic, but a little part inside worries about somebody trying to grab them as well. I really think the odds are in my favor, but there’s that little part that still worries. Although, I’m sure it will be the same their whole lives–when they leave for college, I’ll still worry that they’ll really be okay even though I’ll mostly think they will be. It’s just a parent’s nature to have that concern.

  6. Backroadsem October 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I’ve heard the “we’re just protecing them enough” line, too, and I also don’t buy it. I also live in suburban Utah and always see young children out and about, parentless. If the “protection” line were true, most of those parent-less kids would be abducted and we wouldn’t just be hearing the freak abduction cases. If the world were more dangerous, I’d say the kids that aren’t being overparented would be snatched right and left while those who have mommy/daddy hovering would be safe. Rather, when a tragedy does occur, there doesn’t really seem to be any extreme act on the part of the parent.

  7. Sabine October 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    “It’s not like we’re locking up our adults.”

    Well, we ARE locking up our adults. The US has the largest prison population of any developed nation.

    (Not saying that’s a good thing.)

  8. Kelly October 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    I think we’re starting to see some of the affects of not letting kids grow up. There seems to be so many sad cases of things happening to college kids where they’ve made terrible decisions because that’s the first time they’ve been able to make their own decisions.

  9. Lollipoplover October 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    The problem with modern day parenting is that there are no accidents anymore. Everything can be prevented if children are tethered to their parents all the time. It is all-fault liability at all times.

    But look at household accidents…parents are home with the kids and they still get hurt and die. Every day.
    They still get killed in car crashes even in top-of-the-line safety seats. The safety gate they climbed over only to fall down the stairs….we can never take away risk. It is everywhere.

    You can rationally raise your children and not hover. I speak frankly to my children, “Because I trust your good judgement, I will let you bike to school with your friends”. Let them prove to you that letting them be independent makes them grow into confident, responsible kids that will be future good citizens of their community.

  10. Filioque October 17, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    I agree with Captain America that the shrinking size of families definitely encourages the helicopter mentality. It’s easier, and really probably more natural, to treat children like ming vases when there aren’t as many of them.

    @ Kelly, I’ve definitely seen the affects of not letting kids grow up. In my office we regularly hire new college grads into entry level positions, and oh the stories I can tell….

  11. Michelle October 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I don’t buy the idea that kids are only safer because we keep them under lock and key. Aside from the fact that adults are safer, too, there’s the fact that many children AREN’T tethered to their parents all the time. Lots of lower income families can’t keep their kids supervised all the time; parents who HAVE to work and can’t afford a sitter have no choice but to trust their kids. There are also neglectful parents — think about all those stories we hear whenever a “kids in the library” story comes up, of parents who just drop their kids off and expect the librarians to babysit. (Not free range parents who expect their kids to behave appropriately without supervision, but the parents who think the library is free daycare.) Not to mention that no parent, no matter how paranoid, can really watch their kids ALL THE TIME. Kids wander off and get lost all on their own all the time.

    Consider also that the kids who are out on their own these days are mostly all by themselves (not in a big group of kids, because those other kids aren’t allowed out to play), and that they are often underprivileged or neglected children (just because most “good” parents today believe they are SUPPOSED to keep their kids on a leash all the time), and that children today are not usually taught anything realistic about being safe on their own (because, OMG!, kids should NEVER be left alone!) All of those things would make a kid an easier target — so why aren’t the under privileged kids, the neglected kids, and the lost pampered kids getting constantly abducted every time their parents turn their backs?

  12. AW13 October 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    @Captain America: I wouldn’t assume that only children are inherently less flexible and/or more fragile than any other child. It all depends on the parenting.

    Case in point: I am an only child. All my life (even into adulthood) people express surprise that I am an only child, as I apparently don’t act like one. I was never treated like a princess, nor am I particularly fragile or rigid. (Stubborn, though, I admit.) This is all due to how my parents treated me and the behavior they expected when I was growing up. My husband is primarily an only (2 half sibs, 13 and 15 years younger), and he certainly cannot be considered spoiled by any stretch of the imagination. He is also flexible and not particularly delicate. I can think, offhand, of three people I know, from families of three kids or more, who grew up with the prince/princess syndrome, who are incredibly inflexible, and who are supremely self-centered to top it off. Behavior of this sort is instilled and perpetuated by the parents, not by virtue of the fact that there is only one child.

    Now, I will agree that in families with only children, it is far easier to hover and thus, perpetuate the “child as center of the universe” phenomenon. But that is a correlation, and correlation does not equal causation.

  13. Becky October 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    First, I disagree with Captain America. I am an only child of an only child. I can tell you that both my mother and I grew up very free range. We were often left alone to fend for ourselves, and we never had any siblings to look out for us and babysit. It’s the culture of parenting that’s the issue, not the number of kids.

    I am due with my first child in 3 weeks. If it’s a girl, I’ll be highly tempted to stop at one (it’s worked well for my family so far!). My husband and I know we will raise our children free range and we don’t expect any flak from our familes (who are just as bewildered by the helicopter nature of parents today as we are). But we are afraid of being judged in general for our choices. My husband’s co-workers (all intelligent professionals) talk about how they won’t let their own kids out of their sight and assure him that “he’ll feel differently when its his own kids.” No, no we won’t feel differently. Why would we want to raise our children in a way other than that which turned us into respectable, hard working, self-sufficient adults? I shudder to think what they’d say if we told them we expect the baby to start fencing lessons at 6 and be skiing black diamonds at 8.

    And to those who think that free-range is synonymous with lazy parenting, or just not caring enough about your kids’ safety, I can now definitively say that isn’t the case with us. We’ve done lots to prepare for the future protection of our baby. We’ve gotten the car seats installed and checked. We’ve gotten vaccinated. We educate ourselves about the safety features of every baby item that made its way to our gift registry. We’re intending to be fully-engaged parents that make sensible choices about when our kids are ready to take the next step in parental detachment based upon our kids’ individual maturity, and not on the scare tactics of the news media (we don’t event watch the news).

  14. hineata October 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    @Megan – good luck! Don’t let the people around you put you off – if you stick to your guns vis a vis giving your kids freedom, eventually others will see how beneficial it is and join you. We became trendsetters in a minor way when my girls started their semi-private high-school, (a bit higher decile-wise than the neighbourhood we live in) and the other parents noted how much freedom the girls have.And Captain America is right – have several kids if you possibly can.The two main reasons why my kids have more freedom than their immediate peers is
    that one, they are only a year apart and go lots of places together, and two, they have a big brother who used to take them places, and still does if the place they want to go seems slightly dicey.

    On a similar note regarding crime against children, I was really angry to see in our local chemist the other day an offer (basically advertising) from an insurance company for a free ‘child safety’ pack because ‘800,000 children a year go missing’. Bear in mind, this is New Zealand, with a population of about 4.2 million – I doubt we have more than about a million kids in total. So, that’s a darn lot of the population going missing, and you’d think we would have noticed!

    Of course, the number actually comes from that FBI website Lenore quotes occasionally, and I know actual stranger abductions in the US are something like 150. Actual stranger abduction in this country this year is pretty much running at zero. Actual child deaths at the hands of strangers – two in thirt-plus years. Still very sad, but really, the need for ‘child safety packs’ unrelated to earthquakes in this country – about zero…..

  15. Michelle October 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    PS, I completely disagree with the notion that only children are automatically spoiled. As others have said, it’s about the parenting. Fostering independence in one child is much easier than trying to spoil three or four, yet parents do the latter every day.

    Frankly, saying that you’ll ruin your child by having only one is as ridiculous as the (very rude!) strangers who have tried to tell me that I’m ruining my children’s lives by giving them too many siblings.

  16. Donna October 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    I agree with AW13 on the only child thing. My brother and I are both considered only children (14 years apart so only lived together as children for 4 years). Neither of us would be considered fragile or rigid. My daughter is also an only child. She is the picture if flexibility and adaptability – far beyond my friend’s kids who have siblings. Not many kids could move to an island in the South Pacific without a hitch in their step.

    Her best friend is also an only. She is self-centered, bossy, completely inflexible and a bully (can you tell that I dislike my kid’s best friend?). Her parents let her rule the family. The world revolves around A and A’s demands are met before anyone else’s. They comment on it and have begun to realize what they are doing and what it is creating (sadly I REALLY like the parents of the hated best friend and will lose them if I succeed at ending our daughters’ friendship). It is all about how you raise your kids, not about the number. It is simply easier to spoil an only so more common.

  17. Court October 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    I do agree with Captain America. I’d have to pick a favourite child if I were going to helicopter. It’s impossible with 5. What’s more, I send them outside, they watch out for each other and play really well together.

  18. Yan Seiner October 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Stranger-danger abduction rates are probably about the same as ever; they’ve always been very low, so low as to be statistically insignificant. Yet we treat them like they were the driving force of parenting.

    Keeping your kids tethered to you will do nothing for them; you’re just postponing the inevitable catastrophe.

    Why do college kids drink themselves to death every year during freshman week? Why do high school kids kill themselves driving recklessly? Why do teenage girls get pregnant?

    All of these are due to poor decision making skills by our kids. If you never, ever let your kid make bad decisions, they will just postpone those bad decisions into young adulthood.

    I do somewhat agree with the single child syndrome; when you have one kid it’s easy to make them the center of your universe. When you have 8 kids, it’s hard to even keep count. And I did not take that as a slam against single kids. The percentage of helicopter parents is still pretty small, but they are very influential in the childcare wars. And passing “family protection legislation” is an easy way for a politician to score points.

  19. Heath October 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    @Jenna and @Backroadsem, I have seen several posts on this site from people that live in Utah, who have ALL said that they still see kids playing in their neighborhoods, all the time. I live in Alabama, so I have NO perspective of life in Utah. But why do you think that kids seemingly play outside, on their own, more in Utah? Is it the Western/frontier mentality, the more homogenous religious/demographic population, a better focus on health? I’m just curious, because it makes me want to move to Utah. Ha ha! Also, the neighborhood I grew up in, and that my parents still live in, still has a good amount of kids playing around in the streets, riding bikes, etc. But that neighborhood is upper-lower class/poverty level. My observation has been that it’s mainly upper-middle class/wealthy people who are the biggest helicopter parents. Does anyone else agree?

  20. FBI October 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Violent crime is up for the first time in 20 years. :(
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/17/us/violent-crime/index.html

  21. AW13 October 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    @Heath: I used to teach at a high school that was primarily upper-middle to upper class ses, but there was a growing population of lower income kids. The parents who seemed to cause the most problems for the teachers were the wealthier parents. It isn’t that the lower-income parents weren’t interested in what their kids were doing – most of them were. But there seemed to be a large group of helicopter moms who had quit their jobs to become stay at home moms, and had focused their workplace skill set and all their attention on their kids.

    And I’ve also wondered that about Utah. It sounds like free-range utopia sometimes :)

  22. Jess October 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    @Heath: As another Utah suburbanite, I don’t really know what to tell you. We just have a different, very family-centric culture here. There’s the solidarity of common faith and values that ties the community together. There’s the fact that families are by and large viewed by parents and the community as a genuine responsibility and children are therefore diligently cared for by a large network comprised of neighbors, teachers, spiritual leaders, and relatives. We also have larger families that really make helicoptering while maintaining any kind of sanity an impossibility. There’s really a hodge-podge of different factors that make Utah a fantastic place to raise kids, and the backbone of that is, as Lenore so often says, community involvement.

  23. Donald October 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Every parents wants their child to do well in school. The world is learning that play is education as well. Though play kids learn:

    compromise
    social skills
    how to play fair
    life skills
    self-esteem
    how recover after they make a bad decision
    Confidence

    When a parent bubble wraps their child, they deprive them of an important part of education. That’s the same as only allowing them to go to school until they reach the 9th grade and refusing to allow them any further education!

    Lenore’s book and blog is so popular because the tide is turning.

    When the time comes to allow your kids some freedom, you won’t be scrutinized as bad as parents are now.

    @Yan Seiner

    I love your post

    ……All of these are due to poor decision making skills by our kids. If you never, ever let your kid make bad decisions, they will just postpone those bad decisions into young adulthood……

  24. Gina October 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    HEATH: I totally agree with you. I am an enigma…an Upper Middle Class stay-at-home mom who has FIVE kids (close together) and is completely free-range. The stories I could tell about the other SAHM’s in my community would make a FR’ers head spin. Moms who stressed about homework/projects, moms who were in the car 24/7 to take their kids to lessons, tutoring, sports, etc. Never a free moment for these kids…and heaven-forbid they should get dirty or scraped up.
    Now my kids are mostly grown and I teach preschool in a slightly lower socio-economic community…a WORLD of difference. These kids (for the most part) know how to play, get dirty, figure things out.
    The high school my kids went/go to is in one of Arizona’s highest socio-economic communities. There have been more overdoses, fatal car accidents and other stupid decisions at that high school in the 18 years I’ve lived in this community than at any other high school I’ve ever heard of in anyplace I’ve lived in my entire 54 years. These kids have NO clue how to make a good choice and no idea that bad choices have consequences. And the parents here STILL think I am the one who has no idea how to raise children. Mine have learned to make good choices by being allowed to make them.

  25. BPFH October 18, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    @Gina: I’d say that it’s not so much that your kids have been able to make decisions, but rather that it’s that they’ve had the opportunity to make *bad* decisions–and, presumably, to learn from those bad decisions.

    IMO, if you don’t f*** up, you don’t learn how NOT to f*** up. And if you never get the opportunity to f*** up, well…

  26. Heath October 18, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    Thanks for the responses, @AW13, @Jess, and @Gina! Gina, I grew up in that upper-lower class neighborhood and was the 4th of 4 kids. So my childhood was the ULTIMATE in free-range kid! :) I was allowed to ride my bike anywhere I wanted in a city of over 50K people. My mom or dad never took me to a single baseball or soccer practice in 10+ years of playing. I rode my bike there. I could list a million other things that I could do that most people nowadays wouldn’t allow. But now I have a 2 1/2 year old, and I’m starting to realize how crazy other parents are going to think my wife and I are. We live on the outskirts of a college town that has little to no crime. Yet, one of our neighbors won’t let her 14 year-old son ride his bike in the neighborhood unless she’s at their house!?! Or she’ll drive her 12 year-old daughter down here, if it’s after dark, instead of letting her walk, literally, 200 feet. And she always has the same response as every other parent I talk to. Which is, “Things aren’t the same as they were when we were kids.” And I’m always like, “HOW?!?!!”

  27. Yan Seiner October 18, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    @BPFH:

    Good judgement comes from experience.
    Experience comes from bad judgement.

    Or…..

    You learn from your mistakes. I hope you don’t learn too much today.

    Both of those are standard memes at our house. :)

  28. Gina October 18, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    BPFH: Exactly!!!! I was trying to get that in there, but I started to get long-winded. Yes, my kids are allowed to make bad choices to the point that they will get ANGRY at me for not making the choice for them! LOL

  29. Yan Seiner October 18, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    @Gina: you made me chuckle. My kids wish that we would make their decisions for them too. And not to pick up affer when they screw up. We let them bask in their failure for a while, and then help them pick up the pieces.

  30. Sky October 18, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    “and it’s not like we’re locking up our adults”

    But perhaps they’re locking themselves up…with their kids.

  31. Captain America October 18, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    One thing we had, way back then, was a neat little system cooked up, I think, by the PTA.

    This was a “safe home” sign that was placed in the window: people who agreed to provide safety to any kid who knocked on the door, should Mr. Danger come stalking. . . a yellow cardboard sign with a blue star on it.

    My folks had one in our front window. The notion was that if you were a kid, in some strange neighborhood, and were accosted, you would run to the safe house to get away from the pervert.

  32. Captain America October 18, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    It’s worth chipping in that, back then, the most outrageous thing was Playboy magazine and the entire media was far less graphic. We had absolutely no notion of what a pervert would do if we were forced into his car, “sold into white slavery” was the notion I had, being shipped far away and having to work at somebody’s house.

  33. Donald October 18, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    We all learn from our mistakes. That’s why I’m a %@!**!! genius.

  34. linvo October 18, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    My first thought when I read this post was: “Growing thick skin is the first thing you need to learn as a parent”. Because you don’t want others to influence how you raise your kids, they’re too important for that! And I reckon being a bit of a rebel because your way of parenting is different from the majority is a good lesson for your kids anyway. No one ever forged change without going against the stream at first.

  35. Cynthia812 October 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    All you onlies out there, put your hackles down. No one is saying that all onlies turn out to be brats. Just that in societies with low birth rates, it’s a lot easier to buy into the idea that children need constant supervision. If the average family size is, say, 4-6, it becomes obvious that this is neither necessary nor desirable, probably even to those with fewer children.

    Another demographic thing I think is interesting is the larger percentage of first-borns and onlies in low-fertility societies. I”m a first born, child of two first borns, and married to a first born (kind of funny, considering our average family size is 5 children). We are great people, but socially savvy, we are not. The world needs more middles and babies to keep us first borns from clashing with each other. In fact, I wonder if the changing percentages have a direct effect on the high-stress, performance culture we have going on now. That’s the study I would like to see.

  36. Emily October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    @Captain America–We had a similar system here, called “Block Parents.” It wasn’t just an ad-hoc thing either; there were public service announcments about it on TV, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TItSn9_eOiM&feature=related. At one point, there was even a song, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube. Anyway, my parents got a Block Parent sign, and we were all set to go with it, when the program died a natural death a few weeks or months later, because of rampant bubble-wrapping.

  37. Lollipoplover October 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I want to see the study that shows childhood band aid usage with precentage of adults who had a great childhood.

  38. Cynthia812 October 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m a Mormon and lived in Utah during college. I think another factor is that a lot of neighbors go to church together, and therefore know each other better. I don’t know my neighbors well at all, even after six years, and even though their kids are constantly at my house. We just rarely have anywhere to meet socially.

  39. Amanda Matthews October 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    @Michelle “there’s the fact that many children AREN’T tethered to their parents all the time. Lots of lower income families can’t keep their kids supervised all the time”

    That is exactly what I was going to point out. When I go visit my parents, who live in a low-income neighborhood, there are still tons of unsupervised kids. If I go during school hours, there are unsupervised kids too young to be in school! There is pretty much always an adult or at least an older relative at home, so this isn’t even out of necessity. And this is in a neighborhood that IS actually dangerous (Gary Indiana) in the sense that there are many drug, gang and robbery related shootings and murders. But violence against CHILDREN is very low, purposeful violence (as in they intend to hurt the child, rather than the child accidentally getting in the middle of a gang shooting) against children by strangers is pretty much non-existent, and I couldn’t find any statistics about kidnapping by strangers nor family – which I’m assuming means it is so low it isn’t worth mentioning.

    If the fact that parents were keeping kids close was the cause of the drop in abduction, then we’d see a percentage increase of abductions in kids that are allowed extreme freedom, wouldn’t we? But abductions have gone down across the board, so it has nothing to do with the increase in helicopter parents.

  40. Captain America October 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I like Cynthia’s comment about neighborliness: my parents used to have the neighbors over for drinks in the summertime on the back patio. We kids got to play games in the dark (e.g., kick the can) until about 10 or so.

    I might be very wrong, but it felt as if they were more or less on the same page with us all.

  41. racheleh October 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    I do not like your graphic for the inclusion of the concept of “forcible rape” there is assault as a category and rape as a category, but forcible rape is a distinction meant to draw a line that has negative implications for rape victims. It implies if you were drugged, the victim of incest, or otherwise preyed upon emotionally you were not raped or your pain is less that of someone who got beaten. This is very not true, and I hope you find a better statistical graphic.

  42. Emily October 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    P.S., I forgot to mention, I’m pretty sure that any adult could be a Block Parent, whether or not they were actually a parent. I’m not sure if background checks were required, because all of this happened when I was between six and ten years old, but I’m pretty sure they were, in one form or another.

  43. Yan Seiner October 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    @racheleh: I think the distinction is between “forcible” and “statutory”. All of your examples fall into the “forcible” category. Statutory rape can be consensual but it is still defined as rape by law; eg sex between an 18 year old “adult” and a 16 year old “child”.

  44. Donna October 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    There is nothing in the term “forcible rape” that requires one to be beaten. I’m not sure why some insist on giving it that definition. It simply means sex was against the will of one of the parties – it was forced on her (or possibly him in the more progressive states) in some fashion. No physical force is necessary; just a lack of willing agreement by one of the parties. Those who were drugged and those who never physically fought are included in the term of “forcible rape.”

    The usage is to exclude statutory rape which is, by definition, consensual sex between willing parties. Stat rape is a status crime and not a violent crime and is not included in the analysis of violent crime (unless someone is trying to skew the data).

  45. mysticeye October 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    “Data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in telephone surveys showed”

    Telephone? There are so many things wrong with that statement I don’t know where to start. There is now a very narrow demographic of people who have a land-line, and answer it if they don’t recognize the number, and will actually sit there for a lengthy survey. Telephone surveys are basically meaningless, not to mention who knows how leading the questions were!

    I’m not suggesting that the people who decided to do (or continue to do) this survey had any bad intent but it’s just not the kind of thing that I would hang my hat on. Asking people to recall events in the past is inaccurate enough, and the people who conduct these surveys are usually well aware of it but the media doesn’t discuss it, but telephone? seriously?

  46. cynthia coffey October 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Being a Free Range parent requires thick skin. Almost every time we are out in a public play space (fast food restaurant play area, the zoo, soccer practice) someone finds it necessary to comment on my kids’ behavior. Even when I have glanced around and seen my kids’ behavior does not impact or impede others! Just because my 7 yr old is climbing and jumping and capable, not strapped in a stroller, someone gets their panties in a wad.

  47. Beth October 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    @mysticeye, to what are you referring?

  48. NicoleK October 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Captain America claims

    “ONLY children end up with the “Precious, Priceless Prince Complex.” Almost too dainty, too waited-upon. Certainly not left alone!”

    Actually:

    http://www.babble.com/kid/child-development/one-child-okay-only-child-syndrome/

    Only kids are fine. Why give parents one more thing to worry about that isn’t actually a problem?

  49. Sharon October 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    My 11 year only child had a birthday party recently. Of the ten kids she invited four (including her) were only children. The two children that acted out were not only children. These are kids who do very well in school but the parents decide who they can have as friends, the activities they can do after school, what they can eat, and overhelp them with homework. One of them even climbed onto a table and started screaming. I made her get down so there won’t be copycats. Same two kids one of the mothers yelled at her daughter for not thanking me properly for hosting a party. I wonder what these kdis will be like in high school.