I'll have a Mocha Grande with a shot of parental disapproval.

“How About You Raise Your Kids YOUR Way, And I Raise Mine?” — A Starbucks Confrontation

Hi Folks! This post appears on Nicole Roder’s blog. Author Nicole lives in Maryland with her four kids and a fierce Boston terrier, who “protects their home from some ubiquitous danger only she can see.” She called me to ask for a quote, and I wrote later to ask if I could reprint her piece! Yes/yes! Best part is the GREAT LIST of THINGS THAT ARE NOT DANGEROUS  FOR KIDS TO DO, which I have highlighted in red. In fact, all the highlighting is mine. – L.

SOMETIMES YOU JUST WANT TO PUNCH A JUDGMENTAL STRANGER IN THE FACE, by Nicole Roder

The following is an actual scenario that I experienced in real life.

I was sitting with my family in the little cafe area at Target. (Naturally.) My husband was waiting in line at Starbucks, and my four kids, miraculously, were sitting and/or playing quietly while I worked on my grocery list.

A mom and her two young boys were sitting at the table next to us, and at one point I looked up, caught her eye, and smiled. She did not smile back. That should’ve been my first clue that something was wrong with her. Instead, her eyes had a panicky look that said, “Help! I’m being eaten by fire ants and I don’t know how to get them off of me!” For a minute I considered slipping her a note that read, “Just blink twice if you’ve been kidnapped and need the cops.” But then I thought, Nah, those two little boys have at least ten years to go before they’d be capable of kidnapping.

So I went back to my grocery list. A moment later, the fire ant lady called to me. “Excuse me, are you with him?” Her panic-stricken eyes indicated she was referring to my 5-year-old son, Raymond, who was still being remarkably quiet compared to his usual Target behavior.

“Yes,” I said.

“What he’s doing is dangerous. You need to make him stop.” She squeezed her lips together into one, thin line.

I glanced over my shoulder at Raymond again. Had he gotten a hold of a knife or a blow torch since the last time I peeked? It didn’t appear so. He was climbing up and down from a stool over and over again. A clean, 3-foot-high stool, just inches away from his mother.

I crinkled my eyebrows and looked at her like, Are you serious? But she just opened her eyes wider and squeezed her lips tighter.

So I said, “He’s fine.”

Fire ant Lady: I am very uncomfortable with my children seeing this! He’s setting an example for others! This is a public place!

Me: Well, you’re free to take your children somewhere else.

Her: You’re allowing him to climb on a surface that people eat on!

Me: He’s climbing on a stool. People don’t eat off of stools.

Her: I’m sure the staff wouldn’t be happy about this. You’re putting them in danger. I could call someone over!

(Psht. Good luck with that, lady. They love me here.)

Me: You know what? You can raise your children, and I’ll raise mine.

Then she loudly proclaimed to her children that what Raymond was doing was WRONG and DANGEROUS and they were not to follow his example. After that she stomped off in a huff and actually DID complain about me to a woman who works at the Starbucks counter! The employee told me about it, laughing, and said she wanted to hide in the back till that lady left the store.

GOOD GRIEF!!! OK, know all you moms out there have experienced at least one judgmental comment from someone, somewhere. Everyone seems to be an expert on other people’s kids. Amiright, ladies?

As I steamed over my encounter, wishing I’d come up with a more cutting reply than, “You raise your kids and I’ll raise mine,” I wondered: What is it with people who want to tell every parent they see that we’re all doing it wrong? Why can’t they resist criticizing us? Do they really have nothing better to do?

I reached out to Lenore Skenazy, founder of the book, blog and Twitter feed, Free-Range Kids. Here’s what she had to say:

“America has a new favorite spectator sport: parent judging. Almost anything parents do/say/read/give to their kids can and will be interpreted by the masses, usually in the least favorable light possible. It’s as if there’s a lollipop waiting for anyone who can explain how when X did Y to little Ava, it all but assured that Ava will never recover.

“We have been encouraged to turn on our fellow parents by a media that lives to shame, a litigious society that avoids even the mildest of risks, and a general, ungrateful sense of doom and distrust, despite the fact we live in the safest times in human history. The rest of the world and all of human history would LOVE to live in 2017 America, yet we treat it like World War III out there, wondering why anyone would ever trust her kid to walk three houses down to the bus stop.”

And to that I say, “Amen!”

To all my fellow moms out there, can I please ask you for a favor? Can we please all just agree that no matter what we witness another parent doing or not doing, unless we actually see them beating the kid, there’s a good chance it’s not child abuse. The majority of parents are not abusive or neglectful, and I say this as a social worker who spent the first few years of my career in foster care. There are awful parents out there, but it’s more than likely that the woman you see at Target letting her son climb on a stool is not one of them.

And while we’re at it, a child’s parents are the people who are most qualified to judge whether an activity is safe or not.

Here is a short and incomplete list of things that are not dangerous for kids to do.

  1. Wait in the car for 5 minutes while mom runs into the store.

  2. Walk to the bus stop by themselves.

  3. Climb a tree.

  4. Ride a bike.

  5. Eat whatever the heck food their moms want to serve them.

  6. Sleep in a car seat.

  7. Jump on a trampoline.

  8. Run.

  9. Play.

  10. And a zillion other things that will not fit in this blog post.

And if you encounter one of these judgmental strangers like the lady I met at Target, do me a favor. Use the comeback that I SO wish I had thought of while she was standing in front of me: “Oh, don’t worry. He has to do ten more of those to earn his beer and cigarettes. Later I’m going to make him run with scissors.”

I love getting comments from my readers! If you’ve got a judgmental stranger story to tell, please do! Another safe kid activity to add to my list? Send it over! And please, if you’ve got a story about a time that someone could’ve judged you harshly but treated you with kindness instead, I’d really love to hear those. That’s the stuff that warms my heart! – N.R.

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I’ll have a Caffe Mocha with a shot of parental disapproval.

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103 Responses to “How About You Raise Your Kids YOUR Way, And I Raise Mine?” — A Starbucks Confrontation

  1. Mark Roulo March 20, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    “I love getting comments from my readers! If you’ve got a judgmental stranger story to tell, please do! ”

    I do NOT have a story to tell, and my now-16-year-old was raised with a lot of leeway to injure himself. But I am male. I’ve read a bunch of these stories and the participants almost always (or always?) seem to be moms. Do you get very many dad stories of this ilk?

  2. Sara March 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    I saw a baby in a stroller at the grocery store playing with a plastic grocery bag. It wasn’t quite over his head, but it got close sometimes. The mom couldn’t see his face much of the time and was distracted with the shopping, and I thought “what if he dies and it’s my fault?” I did not say anything to her. He’s probably fine, but sometimes I wish I’d said something.

  3. Eric S March 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

    @Mark: I’m pretty sure there are quite a number of fathers out there just like this paranoid mom. But they bit their lips and keep to themselves. Like most guys, they have some ego that they don’t want hurt by sounding like a panicking ninny. Oddly enough, my dad was that guy. My mother was always the one to say, they’re “grown up” (we were around 6-8 years old). “They’re old enough to walk to school on their own”. “They’re old enough to take the public transit”. “They’re old enough to learn on their own”. etc… If it weren’t for my mother, I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today. And I wouldn’t be teaching my kids to be smart and independent. But my father, DID allow us a lot of leeway despite his own fears. But his fears pale in comparison to many today.

  4. Mark Roulo March 20, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    Eric: ” I’m pretty sure there are quite a number of fathers out there just like this paranoid mom.”

    I agree that more men will keep their mouths closed about this. But I also suspect that the men don’t get confronted nearly as much when they are dadding. Not by other men and also not by other moms …

    But maybe the guys just don’t write about it?

  5. Dolly March 20, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    sometimes something does need to be said like the example another person just gave about a baby playing with a plastic bag. So I am not going to say we should always mind our business 100% of the time. But you do need to use your judgement and realize what is worth saying something and what is not.

  6. James Pollock March 20, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    ” Do you get very many dad stories of this ilk?”

    I was also a single parent. I managed to through my child’s complete development cycle without being confronted about my parenting choices. (Except from my (then-childless) sister, who used to ask “why do you let her do that?” a lot. Now she knows why.)

    I don’t know if it’s because these judgmental moms are too afraid to confront a man with that kind of vehemence, or because they just don’t have high expectations for men doing child-rearing generally. Or maybe I’m just lucky, and the people here are not so judgmental in the first place.

  7. Mark Roulo March 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    “… or because they just don’t have high expectations for men doing child-rearing generally”

    I wonder if part of it might also be that men are expected to allow the children to take more risks. Mom’s job is to be protective and Dad’s job is to help/allow the kids to take risks. Dads, for example, are the ones who stereo-typically roughhouse with the kids …

  8. Mark Roulo March 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

    Dolly: “sometimes something does need to be said like the example another person just gave about a baby playing with a plastic bag”

    Agreed. And what I usually say in the (rare) occasions that I feel a need to say something is, “Is this (pointing) okay?” With the correct tone, the question as phrased suggests that (a) the parent might not know what the kid is up to, but (b) that I’m not going to second guess if the parent says “yes.”

  9. MichelleB March 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

    Fire Ant lady is in for a very rude awakening if she expects everyone out in the big wild world to model safe and acceptable behavior for her children. Even if she managed to bully ever other mother out there into following her rules, there are adults using words she won’t want her kids to hear and doing things she doesn’t want them to see. (If she got that freaked out over a stool, I imagine that her standards for safe and acceptable are…nuts?)

  10. Rae Pica March 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    Great piece. But she’s actually wrong about the trampolines. There are ways to avoid injury on tramps, but most parents are unaware of them, which is why tens of thousands of kids end up in emergency rooms as a result of trampoline injuries.

  11. Lucy Kemnitzer March 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    So last year I did talk to a parent about safety. I thought about it for a bit, and decided the fellow was probably a tourist who didn’t know why there were signs all over the sea cliffs telling people not to climb over the fences and down the rocks. He had brought his ten-or-twelve-year-old kid right up to the very edge, and the waves were peaking higher than the cliff. So I told him about the kids we have lost off those cliffs–including two children I knew–and left him to figure it out.

    A few minutes later they were back over the fence and still enjoying the view. I hated being a busybody, and I would never have assumed he was a bad parent–in fact, I think a parent who wants to show his kid the wonders of nature upo close is on to something good–but this was a particular case of imminent, real danger, which he seemed to have not understood.

    But I have seen people freak out about being on the edge of quite low cliffs with nothing but meadow below, or being on the beach when the waves were behaving nicely–I can’t help people’s phobias but they shouldn’t assume everything that creeps them out is an objective danger, or that every parent who is different from them is a danger to the child.

  12. mer March 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    The comeback of beer and smokes is good. Even better if it’s delivered as:

    Lowers voice, lean in and start with
    I shouldn’t be telling you this, but….

  13. John B. March 20, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

    First and foremost, I AM NOT A PARENT AND NEVER WAS A PARENT AND PROBABLY WILL NEVER BE A PARENT but parents who judge and criticize other parents when something negative happens to their kids quite frankly piss me off too.

    The problem is people judge with the benefit of hindsight, something the parents of the children did not have at the time of the incident/tragedy, but they’re totally clueless to that fact. The funny part is that they’ve probably put their own children in that same perceived “danger” countless of times without incident and without ever realizing it, but again, they’re clueless to that fact.

    Basically people need to THINK and use some common sense before opening their mouths!

  14. Lucy Kemnitzer March 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    Oh, and Rae–my child did tear her ACL on a trampoline–on her wedding day. Long after I had relinquished my parental right to interfere…

  15. Workshop March 20, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    I’m happy to hear that the resistance is on the march.

    In a story that’s not judgemental, I was in a small store talking with the owner as his toddler played on the floor. I looked down and saw the little guy pop something into his mouth. Immediately I went into “OMG a toddler!” mode and was halfway to sweeping the object out when his dad realized what happened. No harm, no foul. He was happy I had seen it. A marble-sized piece of clear plastic.

    There’s a level of “watch out for one another” that doesn’t border on the paranoid delusion that we’re all going to be killed in some random accident that will make the 11 o’clock news.

    And I’m all in favor of preparing a good comeback along the lines of “He’s not really my kid, I grabbed him from that young couple over there. They haven’t noticed yet.”

  16. Colin Summers March 20, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    Apparently 92,000 trampoline-related E.R. visits per year, in case anyone was curious about that number.

    I am a stay-at-home dad, so I think I got a little more than the usual advice. Waiting in the grocery line with my ten month old a woman leaned forward and said, “He’s playing with a plastic shopping bag… that is NOT an appropriate toy for a child his age.”

    And out to lunch the following week he was standing on my lap playing with a fork and a person at the next table leaned over and said, “Your son has a fork in his mouth. Those can be sharp.” The two friends I was with were very amused and said, “Now we’re having lunch with ‘The Bad Dad.'”

    It was probably every other week before he could walk, and then a monthly occurrence. Amazing to me how often people were willing to stop their day to say, “Your son is not strapped into the stroller, he could fall out.”

    “It’s okay, I was left in the station wagon outside the Shop-n-Stop WITH THE KEYS IN IT and look at me! I turned out… well, I’m still alive anyhow.” Worst thing that ever happened was to my mother, because my brother thought the funniest thing in the world was to turn the volume on the radio as loud as it would go and see what happened when she turned the ignition key. It never got old for him.

  17. Kristine March 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi there
    Oh boy do I have stories for you but my ultimate knock your socks off is when I had a 15 yr old…YES 15 yr old…tell me how to parent…and then she couldn’t even stop at that but had to of course put it on social media….

    Here it is.
    So I was about to leave a friend’s house who I just finished helping move across town. I stood by the front entrance with the door closed but it had a window…my friend stood facing me also insight of a window…my impatient nearly 5 yr old son decided to wait in the truck… something he often does when I get ready to leave our house for a trip to town…. we were parked on a busy street…but not any more busy then the street we live on where people treat it like a race track…which btw has a playground near by and is in a residential area…yet people still dive 80km/hr on there… so back at my friends street and my 4 nearly 5 yr old goes outside to wait but I had not unlocked the vehicle by the time he reached it…..cleverly he climbed into the box of the truck laid down and smiled at me as if he was about to say come find me mom I’m playing hide and seek….so to him that was fun and rather a safe place to wait…he wasn’t running out on the road he wasn’t playing on the road…no he went to the safest place possible to wait while I rapped up my conversation with my friend all during which we both were watching him from the window…in the mean time….a red car pulls up infront of my parked truck…..at first I thought nothing of it but they sat there and sat there…then finally the passenger side open and a young girl steps out approaches my son and sais something to him…my son got really sad and shy so I opened the front door and said urs ok im right here… the teen girl then started approaching me just to tell me that it’s not safe for my son to be playing on the road…..I said he’s fine it’s ok… she continued to say but it’s not safe I replied well the world isn’t safe…she with a distasteful look went back in the car but still sat there and waited… my friend also a mom of 2 young children just giggled and couldn’t believe what just happened….neither could I but had a feeling that was not it….the car sat there until I came to my vehicle and let my son inside it….about 10 min later when I got home I checked my fb…about die yup there it was a post on our local cheers and jeers page through fb….and it was all about the lady who let her less then 4 yr old son play on a busy street…wow as if telling me to my face was not enough now she has to put it on a public social media page in a small town…well you should of seen the comments this post caused for the whole day….all who know me as a parent defended me all her teen friends attacked me…. I even messaged her politely asking her to remove the post her reply ‘why I didn’t give names and so on’ and that I was a disgrace and an effn retard…she advertised herself as a professional babysitter lol and when parents started saying they would never hire her again after such distasteful attack on a loving parent amazing woman…she finally removed the post…. but it went on all day…
    Lmao thanks for letting me share
    K.T.

  18. momodtwo March 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    @Mark – an interesting study was done (Lenore might know where to find it) in which people were asked to evaluate the risk of varying degrees of parents leaving their kids alone. When the parent was a father, both male and female responders rated each and every activity as being less risky than when the parent was a mother. So, yes, there appears to be a real gender bias in this realm. Unless you’re a Dad. At. A. PARK…. Dads are not allowed at parks.

  19. Dienne March 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    Men get credit for just being around their kids. I was with a friend one time riding the bus about 10:30 at night when a man got on carrying a toddler and holding on to a preschooler. My friend (female) said something like, “I bet he’s a great dad”. I just looked at her like she’d grown another head. “If it were a woman with two small kids,” I pointed out, “you’d be asking what the hell she’s doing out so late with them.”

    But specifically in reference to this story, had the mom told Raymond to get down from there, some mom would be judging her for being too harsh.

  20. Shelli March 20, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    I was at a playground with my 2 kids. I was standing back watching. My then 2 year was going down a short slide head first. This was mild compared to other things she does. Another mom asked her where her mommy was because she was going to fall on her head. My response was “I’m right here and she’s fine.”

  21. LGB March 20, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    On the topic of whether dads have similar confrontations, I do have one to share.

    We are fortunately not the only free-range parents in our apartment complex. On an unseasonably warm day. husband and son went outside to the park area to toss a football. A lot of kids were outside, and one of them was hanging monkey-style from a tree branch.

    Another dad approached my husband and pointed at Tree Monkey: “Ummm, are you seriously going to let him do that? That branch could snap, and he could fall.”

    My husband responded quizzically, “Uh, I dunno. Are YOU going to let him do that?”

    “But that’s your kid . . . ”

    “Um, no. It’s not.”

    Then the nosy neighbor then back-pedaled: “Oh! Oh! Sorry, man!”

    Whew! Display of moral outrage averted!

  22. Will March 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    #1 absolutely wrong. I see this all the time at work. Parents leaving kids in the car is a crime. Above a certain age no. But if they’re under 5 that’s wrong.

  23. M March 20, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    Sometimes you just want to respond with a kindly, concerned look:

    “Have you talked to a therapist about your paranoia and anxiety issues? There are drugs you can take for that now, you know.”

  24. Jess March 20, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    I think the only judgmental comment was when I developed pre-eclampsia during my first pregnancy, and the nurse taking my blood pressure told me I should take better care of myself. Since the shock of that encounter, I’ve readied some amazing comebacks, but I haven’t been criticized since. No one gave me grief for eating sushi while pregnant (although one sushi chef asked if I wanted cooked rolls and said okay when I said no), for letting my toddlers climb the “big kids” play sets, or for anything else that comes to mind. Not even when, as a new mom shopping for groceries, I slipped my 6-month old son in the stroller, turned back to pay, and he fell out the front onto the floor did anyone say a word.

  25. Backroads March 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

    No stories. I’m so glad I live where I live, though I get a kick out of taking my 3-year-old, my girly, princess-loving 3-year-old daughter, to the park. She will climb over everything and anything while kids twice her age have parents hovering over them.

    The risk factor of climbing on a stool made me think of a new word I learned this past weekend: Micromort. This is the scientific word given to measuring risk, particularly a 1-in-a-million chance or dying, which is 1 micromort.

    Look up the stuff. It’s fascinating how many micromorts are assigned to what.

  26. mer March 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    @will:

    Parents leaving kids in the car is a crime.

    Why? State law, Federal law, can you tell us the appropriate section?
    Or is this just your opinion?

  27. lollipoplover March 20, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    My most memorable parenting shaming was last year at one of my daughter’s softball games. I was up late the night before on a work project and completely exhausted…but I was there! My younger daughter(9)was with me and asked to play at the playground with her friends and I of course agreed, everyone sent the littles to the park.

    I opened my folding chair, put my hat and sunglasses on, and took a LOVELY 2 hour nap. The younger daughter came back, didn’t wake me and just took a few dollars from my pocket to get a drink and snack from the snack shack. The daughter playing the game woke me up after the game finished and laughed so hard that I slept through it and then took my money and ran off to get a snack herself with her teammates.
    Life was good.

    Then a glaring, angry mother came over to lecture me on how incredibly sad and dangerous my behavior was and that I was a terrible, terrible mother to not watch the crappy intramural softball game. Huh. I felt GREAT and my kids were pretty darn happy too!

    I told her a really bad lie (I am so not proud of this, but she cornered me!)…that I had just gone through chemo (I DID have a precancerous polyp removed a few weeks prior) and then lectured her that she should NOT JUDGE other parents as she had no idea what people were going through.
    She apologized profusely and sat very, very far away from me for future games. The other parents high-fived me. Seriously, who goes up to people to yell at them for falling asleep?

    Don’t take this crap from anyone. Parents need to stick together and look out for all of our kids as a community, not pick each other apart to feel superior.
    We also need naps. And lots of coffee!

  28. Qute March 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    @Will — No, it ISN’T *absolutely wrong*. While it some places it might be a crime it shouldn’t be. Arresting me and taking me to jail and putting my kid(s) into the system because I left him in the car to go into the gas station to pay for gas is far more traumatic than my kid quietly waiting in the car doing his thing while I run inside.

    We aren’t talking about going out for a four course meal while the child waits outsize in subzero temperatures.

    You said” Above a certain age” what certain age? My kids were all different maturity levels at different ages. Two of them, at 6, I could have left in a car to go inside and pay for gas with problems. The other one would not likely have done anything wrong but could be a bit impetuous and wasn’t worried about a damn thing and I could see deciding he was bored and coming into the gas station to find me. Which in and of itself isn’t a problem but I’d be concerned about so many cars maneuvering around the pumps not seeing him.

    My co-worker has a 10 year old she wouldn’t leave because he hasn’t shown the ability to sit still for five minutes and behave himself without an adult around.

  29. Workshop March 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    “I don’t like it” means “It’s a crime.” Doesn’t everyone realize that?

    By that standard, I should be doing multiple life sentences for making my kids eat broccoli.

    Let’s not have the discussion about how I taught them playing with fire was dangerous, m’kay?

  30. Puzzled March 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

    Will, have you been at a Starbucks lately?

  31. Backroads March 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

    I left my 16-month-old alone in the car for 5 minutes just yesterday. She’s currently alive, having not only survived 5 minutes in a running, air-conditioned car but also the itty-bitty issue of bacterial meningitis last month. My husband and I were out of town for our anniversary and so my parents watched our daughters and took them to church with them. It’s a 3-hour service because we’re those Mormons and we arrived in the middle of it. I was worried about my aforementioned daughter’s nap as they attended a different time than she was used to, so I picked her up from church and stopped at my parents to grab the kiddie stuff. She fell asleep over the one-block drive from the church to my parents’, so yeah, I left her in the car.

  32. Donna March 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    Many years ago my brother and I were walking on a trail in King’s Canyon National Park when we saw a couple kids – 7 to 10 years old would be my guess – chase a baby bear up a hill. It didn’t seem like it should take a great amount of outdoor knowledge to understand that their vacation could come to a rapid and bloody end if the now terrified baby found his mama before the kids got bored with this game, but apparently it does. I did say something to the clearly brain-dead parents who were videoing this to no avail. Luckily we were near the end of the trail and there were two park rangers the in the parking lot who took the situation much more seriously. So basically, yes there are times that you should say something and even escalate your concerns to people with some authority. But there is a huge gulf between playing on a stool and chasing a baby bear.

  33. K March 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    A few ideas…

    Definitively, people are sexist about parental performance. Nothing upsets my husband more than being asked if he is “babysitting” – um, no, he is parenting.

    When traveling once, my son blew through his diaper and soiled his pants. We have three kids and had prepared for a lot of eventualities – but, did not have an extra pair of pants in our carry-on. So, there we were in january, in an airport, with a child wearing a top and only a diaper and shoes from the waist down. When my husband took the other two – people scowled at me, scolded me, and were generally unpleasant about my half-dressed child. When I had the other two, and my husband had a half naked toddler – people grinned knowingly, chuckled, and were generally kind. (as an aside, airports do not sell toddler pants). Why is it funny when my husband is caught short, and poor parenting when I am?

    @Will – leaving a kid under five in the car for a few minutes is not a tragedy. Imagine a sleeping two year old. This kid is not old enough to unbuckle car seat, but old enough to be a handful to carry around fussy and struggling (ours were over 35 lbs by then, and I was expecting another the first two times). I can be in and out in less than three minutes without the kid and over ten minutes of cumbersome struggling with the kid. A fussy toddler and pregnant mom are more at risk in the parking lot than sleeping in a locked car. At least now that they are bigger than I am – no one is judgy about the fact that they hate to go in the store.

  34. John B. March 20, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Well, I’ve got a rather bizarre parent shaming story, not with me but with my niece and her husband. Years ago, my niece and her husband and then 7-year-old son were down at Disney World and waiting in line for one of the amusement rides. My grand nephew was wearing his baseball hat ON BACKWARDS when another parent approached my niece and reprimanded her for allowing her young son to wear his cap on backwards. She claimed it was a characteristic of criminal street gang members to wear baseball hats on their heads backwards and said it was disgusting to see a boy as young as my grand nephew was to wear his hat that way.

    That’s right folks, you can’t make this stuff up!

  35. James Pollock March 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    “Parents leaving kids in the car is a crime.”

    What crime is it?

  36. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

    @Mark I’m glad to hear you don’t have to deal with this! As some other commenters have pointed out, yes, I do think there is a double standard in effect for moms and dads. Sometimes it may work in your favor, other times not. Men are expected to be more rough and physical with children. And some busybody strangers may be too intimidated to speak up to a man, especially if he’s larger than said stranger. And like @James said, unfortunately, SO many people have pretty low expectations for fathers and their capabilities.

    But then there are scenarios where the unsolicited “advice” might get dumped on dads more. @Colin said he’s a SAHD and gets a ton of “advice” from judgmental strangers. (I love the one about the fork in your kid’s mouth! LOL! “Where do you want him to put it? His butt?”) I think there are a lot of moms who feel justified in telling a dad how to raise his kids because they think they obviously know so much more about the subject, what with being female and all.

    Thank you all for all the wonderful comments! You made my day!

  37. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

    @M–Ha! Such a great comeback! I love it!

  38. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    @Sarah and @Dolly–Yes, I do agree that there are times when it is appropriate to point something out to another parent, like the incident with the baby and the plastic bag. There is a difference between scolding another parent for a choice they’re making and informing them about something they might not have seen their child do.

    This is not exactly the same thing, but one time my son hid from me at Target. (Yes, the same boy who was climbing on that infamous stool!) I turned around for a second and he was gone. I looked for him calmly for a few minutes, then I started running up and down the aisles screaming his name. But he was hiding and making sure I couldn’t find him. Soon, all the moms in the store were helping me search. One mom found him and carried him to me. She apologized for grabbing my son, but I said, “Are you kidding? THANK YOU for grabbing my son!”

    Sometimes, it really does take a village. I just wish the village would understand that we’re all supposed to be on the SAME SIDE!

  39. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    @Christine–HO-LY-COW! That’s both hilarious and infuriating that a teenager would think she had the right to speak to you that way! And then to post on social media! I love that you stood your ground, though, and didn’t go get him from the truck just because some 15 yo told you to. Moms really do know best what is right for their kids!

  40. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

    @momodtwo–I think I know which study you’re talking about. Was it this one?http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/08/22/490847797/why-do-we-judge-parents-for-putting-kids-at-perceived-but-unreal-risk

    Fascinating (thought not surprising) findings.

  41. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    @Shelli–love your response! Just shut it down!

  42. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    @Qute–I love your comment so much! I’ve said this same thing many times! Before my kids were born, I was a social worker. I worked in the foster care system for several years. And let me tell you, if you think a child would be better off in the care of the state than in the care of his loving mother who left him in the car for a few minutes, you are absolutely insane. You want to break up a family, traumatize a child, cause them all sorts of legal issues, and completely disrupt everyone’s life just because you disagree with a parenting choice? That’s a serious problem.

    And to the rest of it: yes! yes! yes! All kids mature differently. I started leaving my oldest two alone in the car at around ages 6 and 7, but my third child (yes, Raymond!), is almost 6 and showing absolutely no signs of being anywhere close to ready for that. This is why PARENTS, and not the state or some nosey stranger, should be the people making these decisions. We are the ones who know our children best!

  43. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    @WORKSHOP–My kids often tell me I’m going to jail for making them do homework, so why not broccoli too? LOL!

  44. Emily March 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    >>Men get credit for just being around their kids. I was with a friend one time riding the bus about 10:30 at night when a man got on carrying a toddler and holding on to a preschooler. My friend (female) said something like, “I bet he’s a great dad”. I just looked at her like she’d grown another head. “If it were a woman with two small kids,” I pointed out, “you’d be asking what the hell she’s doing out so late with them.”

    But specifically in reference to this story, had the mom told Raymond to get down from there, some mom would be judging her for being too harsh.<<

    As for the bus story, the answer to "what the hell is that parent doing out so late with the kids?" could easily be, "they got stranded due to a bus screw-up." Seriously, the public transit system here is terrible–buses only run every 30 minutes normally, and every hour in the evenings (after 6 or 6:30 or so), and on Sundays. Buses get delayed by traffic, bad weather, passengers needing assistance (like, a person in a wheelchair, or pushing a stroller, or a person asking for directions), or any number of reasons. If a few of those reasons piled up on top of each other, and/or the father and the kids took the wrong bus and it took more time to get back on track (which could happen if he's not used to taking the bus, or if there was a change in the routes that he didn't know about until it was in effect), then it'd be entirely possible for him to be stuck on public transit at 10:30 p.m. with two small children–in fact, taking public transit with small children is even harder, and might take longer, because they can't run as fast to catch a bus pulling up to a stop as an adult can, or they might have a bathroom emergency that conflicts with the arrival of an infrequently-running bus. So, if I saw an adult of either gender with small children on public transit late at night, I'd feel sorry for them, not slam them for "bad parenting."

  45. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Oh, lollipoplover! I love that reply! And I’m so glad you and your kids still felt good about it after that nasty woman berated you. I don’t know where some people get the nerve!

  46. SKL March 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    I have had a few encounters, but thankfully I don’t remember most of them, LOL.

    One that I do remember: a lady came up in the grocery store and said, “your daughter is standing.” My 1yo was indeed standing on the “seat” part of the cart, where if I’d thrown her off balance by pushing the cart absent-mindedly, she might have fallen on her head on the hard floor. So, that was helpful. I was embarrassed that it had to be said, but thankful.

    Pretty much every other time, it was just annoying, LOL.

    At least once a woman called the cops on me over something on the above “non-dangerous” list. Another time I was told the busybody was afraid I was going to take my child home and abuse her (because I was pissed off at the busybody). Both anecdotes have been told here enough times, though. 🙂

  47. Tami March 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    Right before I read this article, I read an article about how a 4 year old boy died due to getting his hoodie caught on a hanger in a thrift store dressing room and he suffocated. It was a tragic accident, until you read all the comments in the Facebook post blaming the parents for letting their child run around unattended long enough for that to happen. Nevermind that the article was short on those details. As sad and tragic as that accident was, it was still an accident. Who even thinks about that scenario being possible? The parents could have prevented it by making a million different little choices that day. And even then, something else could have happened with the same result.

  48. SKL March 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

    My usual answer to meddlers is, “don’t you remember doing that when you were a kid?”

  49. BL March 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    ‘My usual answer to meddlers is, “don’t you remember doing that when you were a kid?”’

    But Things Are Different Now!(tm)

  50. Melanie March 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    “The rest of the world and all of human history would LOVE to live in 2017 America”. Erm, no. We wouldn’t.

  51. Lindy March 20, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    A concerned mom came up to me to ask if my toddler was wearing sunscreen and I responded by joking, “Actually we use marijuana oil, it’s organic!” She slowly walked away from me.

  52. JulieC March 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    When my younger son was about 2 he found a small dress shirt button (the kind that holds down a button down collar) on the ground and shoved it up his nose (yes, I know, we are also incredibly proud of this accomplishment). When we realized what had happened, we took him to the doctor. He’d shoved it so far up that the usual removal procedure (involving what looked like a giant pair of tweezers!) would not work unless he was sedated. So, a few days later we took him to the highly regarded children’s hospital here for the procedure.

    When he came out of the anesthesia, he started thrashing around. i later found out from several friends in the medical field that this type of reaction is not uncommon in toddlers when coming out of anesthesia. He was thrashing so hard, with unbelievable strength, that it took all my muscle power to keep him from throwing himself off the table and onto the hard floor in the recovery area.

    An older nurse, the only person in the room with us, looked over and said, “you know, in my day when children behaved like that, they got a spanking. But I guess you younger parents don’t believe in that anymore.”

    If I hadn’t been struggling with King Kong at that point I probably would have had a nasty response. But I was so shocked that a nurse in a children’s hospital would say such a thing that I just nodded and kept my grip on my son. She never once offered to help me.

  53. ANDREW KENNEDY March 20, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    Ha! Wish you would have​told HER kids that no, it’s not dangerous!

  54. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    @Lindy–I am SO jealous that you came up with that reply on the spot!

  55. Nicole Roder March 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    @JulieC–Good Lord! From a *nurse*??? There’s no reason for a comment like that from someone who should know better than just plain old meanness.

  56. Jessica March 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    @Melanie

    Do you just stroll around the internet looking for opportunities to insult other peoples’ cultures? Because that seems like an odd way to spend your time.

  57. AMF March 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

    I have had many public parent shaming incidents, but one was from a fella who worked at Home Depot. He loudly asked me in a disgusted voice why I had put my son in a hot pink snow suit. I informed HD Fella that I put my bald daughter in a hot-pink snow suit (it was 29 degrees out). He then tells me that I should get her ears pierced so that people would know she’s a girl!

  58. SanityAnyone? March 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    Walk nearly a mile to Rite Aid with two other sixth graders and buy candy with their lunch money. (Today’s no-school activity.)

  59. test March 20, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    @Jessica If that is insult to different cultures, original quote is insult to pretty much everyone too.

  60. James Pollock March 20, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    “Do you just stroll around the internet looking for opportunities to insult other peoples’ cultures?”

    Actually, that was a RESPONSE TO someone’s taking the opportunity to insult other people’s cultures.

    Let me break it down for you.
    Saying “everyone wants to be an American” is insulting to people who aren’t Americans and feel their culture is just fine the way it is.
    Saying “no, not everyone wants to be an American” is a defense of other people’s cultures.

    (I am an American, and I think our culture is pretty good in most areas, although there’s room for improvement. I wouldn’t want to live in Muslim theocracy, but I wouldn’t want to live in Christian one, either.)

  61. Donna March 20, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    My husband was furious when he found out that I let our daughter, probably 3 or 4 years old at the time, swing in a swing without a seat belt. He about had a heart attach when he heard that she slid down the pole on the park play structure, as a kindergartner.

    And I should never let my son, his step-son, climb a tree, as he could fall and break his arm. I told him, “that’s what medical insurance is for”.

  62. shdd March 20, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    I remember walking around the mall with my daughter and getting stopped saying she is cute but she really needs a little brother. She is well behaved for a two year old but that will change and you will sorry. She is now 15 and I was in a supermarket yesterday and one of the checkers said to me I saw your daughter in here at lunch (her high school has open lunch) and she was one of the few I did not want to discipline. She ordered her food, did not push any senior citizens out of the way, and left the store quickly after paying. I know she did because I would have received a notice from the school if she was late to 5th period.

  63. A Dad March 20, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

    @Donna – Heck, if you spend so much on the health insurance, you might as well use it.
    If you don’t use it, it’s money spent for nothing.

  64. Liz March 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

    This one time, I was in Walmart (without my son) and there was a boy in a cart with his mom throwing a very, very loud tantrum. From the gist of his screaming, it sounded like he wanted something and his mother was refusing to buy it for him. I was mortified for her, and thought to myself “dear Lord that could my kid in a few years!” I gave the mom props for continuing to shop instead of running him out of the store and abandoning her errand.
    Then, of course, another woman goes over to the cart. I thought to myself that if I had approached the woman, I would have put my hand on her shoulder and said “it’s okay, all kids do this.” Instead, the stranger bends down and looks the boy in the face, and in a very loud and yet managing to sound condescending, she asks the boy “Are you OK? Do you need help? Is there something going on?”
    Yes, because kids who scream “NO I WANT THAT ONE! I WANT THAT ONE! I DON’T WANT THIS ONE, I WANT THAT ONE!” are being kidnapped!
    The mom sidestepped her and responded, “he’s fine, he’s just not getting what he wants” and pushed the cart away. She went up to the registers, checked out and left the store, with the boy screaming the entire way.
    That’s a good mom.

  65. donald March 20, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    To play or not to play on a trampoline, that is the question.

    I agree with Lenore that kids should be allowed to play on them. With any decision, you need to weigh up pros vs cons. Cons are easy to collect. Even the real ones are. Collect the statistics and divide it by the sensationalism factor. You’ll still find many injuries that come from trampolines.

    However, collecting the pros takes a bit more insight. Fun isn’t the only benefit. They develop judgment as they learn to play on them safely. Many adults are crippled with indecision when faced with difficult choices. Others, worse yet, make self-destructive choices and repeatedly demonstrate poor judgment. No one is born with good judgment and the ability to make wise decisions. Good judgment and decision-making skills develop from experience combined with reflection. Judgment develops from experience. Good judgment develops from bad experience.

    Fire ant lady may be very proud that she’s preventing her children from getting skinned knees. However, this lack of experience will raise it’s ugly head later in life.

  66. Wish MenWeren't AfraidOfMen March 20, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    Ha ha. I get a lot of surprise reactions from parents about what I let my children do. Lots of snow on the ground out here in New England, but Saturday was sunny and bright. My agile 7 yo, with snow boots, walked on top of the pushed-up barriers of snow in between street and sidewalk. They are craggy. They crunch. They make only be a foot across. He’s uphigh sining and balancing. What fun.

    He walked on plenty that there as tall as he is. A few people had their eyes wide with shock, their mouths open o’s. I just smiled.

    What’s the worse that could happen — a twisted ankle? How does a low probability of an accident compare against the high probability of a frustrated boy who no longer enjoys going on walks with his mom?

  67. CrazyCatLady March 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    I guess the closest that I got to this was when my kids were preschool aged and we lived in CA.

    I was at the park. My daughter, 4, came up to me and asked for some food or something. My son, 2, came over and asked for something. My daughter talked some. I was sitting on the edge of a flower garden that doubled as a bench. A mother with similar aged kids was near me. She told me my kids were so polite and smart…”where do they go to preschool?” My reply was “They don’t. They stay home with me and we do things.”

    The mother slid away from me on the bench, and wouldn’t talk to me any more. I was kind of confused.

    A few days later, I saw a commercial on TV that the state was running. Advertisements with cops saying that kids who don’t go to preschool will end up in jail by the time they were adults. That was when I realized why she had moved away. She hadn’t bothered to ask….we couldn’t afford preschool, and anyway, I worked at one, took several classes on early child hood development and had taught parenting classes to help parents to have realistic expectations for their kids as they age. That program was designed to prevent kids from using drugs later on by establishing good communication early. Oh…the irony! If only she hadn’t judged and had talked to me instead!

  68. hineata March 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    @JulieC – the anaesthesia incident is nuts! I wonder if that nurse was just filling in, and hadn’t spent time in Recovery before, because otherwise she should have known what was happening. My El Sicko was still thrashing around at nine, and has a range of reactions to anaesthetic even now…probably will for life. So do lots of others. You’d think a nurse would get that, wouldn’t you? !

  69. Dave March 20, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    I think the lady in question has other issues – he behavior sounds like that of someone with a borderline personality. I hope she is able to get help, although it probably won’t happen until things go well off the rails.

  70. BL March 20, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady
    “A few days later, I saw a commercial on TV that the state was running. Advertisements with cops saying that kids who don’t go to preschool will end up in jail by the time they were adults.”

    Uh, wow. Just wow. How isolated do you have to be to believe something like that?

    Makes we wonder how many state-sponsored PSAs are just blatant lies. I know I’ve mentioned before a Pennsylvania PSA pushing seat belt use that showed a state cop saying “I’ve never unbuckled a dead person”. A retired state cop of my acquaintance said he had done exactly that quite frequently in his 30-year career.

  71. Amy March 20, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    Here’s one from my mom.

    Circa 1982, I’m 5.

    My mom takes me shopping and i threw a tantrum. So she smacked me on my butt a couple times, buys her items
    and leaves. Outside, I’m crying and she’s giving me a lecture. A old lady actually followed us out of the store, bringing the store cop talking about how my mom was abusing me. My mother calmly explained the situation and the cop took her side, much to the ire of the lady. She then said she forgot something in the store and left. We ( the cop and us) waited for A HOUR for her to return and she never did. My mom asked if we could leave and the cop said go ahead and he went back to work.

  72. Puzzled March 20, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    >>I have had many public parent shaming incidents, but one was from a fella who worked at Home Depot. He loudly asked me in a disgusted voice why I had put my son in a hot pink snow suit. I informed HD Fella that I put my bald daughter in a hot-pink snow suit (it was 29 degrees out). He then tells me that I should get her ears pierced so that people would know she’s a girl!

    Yes, you should design all your parenting choices around helping annoying strangers figure out what pointless thing to lecture you about.

  73. Rachel March 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    I was at a restaurant with my husband and our 5 – 6 month old once, years ago. As we were waiting for our food. I had our son on my lap, playing a bouncy-leg game, probably singing “Trot trot to London…” and at the end, I’d let him dip backwards so he was upside down momentarily. He was laughing madly, giggling and eager to do it again.
    A man was watching us intently and then came over to tell me that a) I had a beautiful son (“thanks, random guy”) and b) I should not do that with my son, it was very dangerous for his next and his brain.
    Um, what?
    I wasn’t swinging him violently. He would go upside down briefly and come back up. He was strong enough to lift his own head. There was no jerky movement or sudden stops and starts. It was a gentle game and he was clearly loving it.
    My husband and I were baffled. But the food came, and we all ate dinner.
    Our son is 10 now, extraordinarily bright, capable and well-balanced. So if we damaged him, we’d be hard pressed to figure out where it had an impact.

  74. donald March 20, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

    When my son was 2 – 5, we’d sometimes have an argument in a store. “WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS TOY”?
    I’d then reply, “BECAUSE I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO NEGLECT YOU FOR A WHILE! I NEED SOME FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT!”

  75. Emily March 20, 2017 at 11:11 pm #

    >>I have had many public parent shaming incidents, but one was from a fella who worked at Home Depot. He loudly asked me in a disgusted voice why I had put my son in a hot pink snow suit. I informed HD Fella that I put my bald daughter in a hot-pink snow suit (it was 29 degrees out). He then tells me that I should get her ears pierced so that people would know she’s a girl!

    Yes, you should design all your parenting choices around helping annoying strangers figure out what pointless thing to lecture you about.<<

    That sounds like a fun game, actually. Let's do it like a story, with each of us doing a part of a day in the life of a "perfect" parent, parenting for the public (even if the kids' actual well-being takes a back seat sometimes). When one person finishes one part of the story, like, say, the morning routine, the next person picks up with the next part of the day. I'll start:

    After gently waking up my children, Thing #1 and Thing #2 (named as such because I want them to decide their genders when they're ready, which may or may not align with biological sex), I guided them through a morning yoga practice, dressed them in vegan, locally sourced, fair-trade clothing, fed them a breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with chia seeds and fruit from the farmer's market, and walked them to the bus stop, while quizzing them on multiplication facts, French verb conjugations, and telling them all about an article I recently read on the Internet about how all screened devices rot children's brains and compel them to worship Satan, but this effect somehow magically wears off at age eighteen. I waited with Thing #1 and Thing #2 at the bus stop until the bus arrived, so as to ensure that they would have door-to-door adult supervision. After all, they're only in grade six.

  76. Angie March 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm #

    No, that was the exact same comment I made to a woman who felt she had to stand outside with my 8 year old son in front of a health food store. She waited there with her kids and proceeded to let me know what I was doing was wrong. We were camping and had our dog with us, it was hot and there was no way the dog could say in the van. So we walked up to the store together, and my son waited out front (for literally like 5 min) while I went in to grab a can of chips we all wanted. Seriously one item. That fast. And she freaked out. But I said the exact same thing, “You raise your kids your way, I’ll raise my kids my way.” I actually said that if we love our kids and are doing our best by them, then we are doing great, and she told me I’m not. Oh and she said I should have left my dog at home (um, I’m camping) I said.

  77. Tramps rock March 21, 2017 at 12:16 am #

    Um….even adults (as the lady said of her daughter did before her wedding day injury) jump on trampolines. So, if it isn’t safe for the child, is it not safe for adults? Asking for an adult friend….who enjoys life like a child.

  78. James Pollock March 21, 2017 at 12:47 am #

    “So, if it isn’t safe for the child, is it not safe for adults?”

    A trampoline is dangerous. But it isn’t some fixed value of danger… like any tool, the danger it creates goes down when the person using it knows what they are doing, and goes up (way up) when it is misused.

    So, if a kid is over at another kid’s house, and there’s a trampoline there, there should probably be adult supervision while the new kid learns how to jump safely.
    Another big source of trampoline injury is adults who seriously misjudge their capabilities. (“Hey, I haven’t been on one of these things since I was a kid. I wonder if I can still do a double backflip?”) Obviously, adult supervision doesn’t help with this. Maybe stay clear of the trampoline after consuming “adult beverages”.
    Then, there’s the stupid, crazy stuff that’s asking for trouble beginning to end (“so I’ll run down the roof, jump to the trampoline, slam-dunk this basketball, and then land in the pool….”) People that get those kind of injuries will find a way to injure themselves, or they will remain lucky, regardless of any attempt at supervision.

    So… if you have kids who will learn the safety rules and follow them when unsupervised, then they don’t need supervision on a trampoline. If you have kids who have the “hey, everybody, look at me!” gene, trampolining may not be in their best interests. The higher the density of kids, the higher the danger to each of them, even if each individually is conscientious.

    As a kid, I wanted one in the backyard, but my parents wouldn’t buy one because I was the type of kid who pushed the the high-jump pads up to the bleachers and jumped off the top. On the other hand, as a parent, I didn’t buy one because my kid was a climber and not a jumper.

  79. Cassie March 21, 2017 at 12:58 am #

    Oh this happened to me the other day… and I wanted to yell “Free range for the win” at them.

    So I was standing around at the park after a sporting event (with people that I was getting to know). I was chatting away ignoring my kids (because they are 5 and 7 and don’t need park supervision) when my 7yo called out “look at me” and I looked at her perched on a guard rail about 12ft in the air*. I gave her a measured response (you know, because I was clearly impressed at her skill and confidence, but I don’t want her ignoring her own limits just to get a crazy reaction from me – and wow why do we overthink everything?).

    Anyhow she climbed down and the two parents near me breathed a sigh of relief and then made a couple of comments about being worried that their own kids (3 and 4yo) would try to copy.

    I bit my tongue but I wanted to tell them that my 7yo was climbing that because she was free-range, because I never overwhelm her with comments of “Be Careful” or shield her from small falls – consequently she has learnt her own limitiations and to judge for herself. Last visit to the park she had seen a boy do this but wasn’t confident, this time she was (but my 5yo just watched in awe).

    I wanted to say that by letting them challenge themselves my kids were really good at judging for themselves what was safe. It is not my job to protect your kids, and you can protect them better by letting them fall a little.

    *This guard rail, above the pretend mine shaft in the right of the picture. http://themummyproject.com/blue-gum-hills-regional-park/

  80. Joseph Galbraith March 21, 2017 at 5:31 am #

    I disagree about “wait in the car 5 minutes while mom is in the store” that gets kids killed. in the wrong weather, wrong situation and wrong circumstance, and in some states, is also illegal.

  81. pentamom March 21, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    “I disagree about “wait in the car 5 minutes while mom is in the store” that gets kids killed. in the wrong weather, wrong situation and wrong circumstance, ”

    Yes it does. However, if you are to worthy of being entrusted with kids in the first place, then a parent should be able to judge the weather and the situation. If it is 50 degrees out and cloudy and the kid is wearing a coat, in a quiet neighborhood where the car is visible from the store, there is no reason the child is in any more danger than she would be playing outside in view of responsible people. And if the child is old enough to play outside unsupervised, then there’s nothing magical about a car that is more dangerous.

    No one’s suggesting that be done without discretion; the point is, using good judgment, that is a perfectly safe and fine thing to do. I wouldn’t do it under most circumstances but I would never say it was equally dangerous under all circumstances and never acceptable.

  82. mer March 21, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    @pentamom:
    “…using good judgment,…”

    You don’t understand that to some folks “your judgment isn’t good enough” because it doesn’t match what they think

  83. SKL March 21, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    Regarding the 5 minutes in a car:

    Everything on this “safe list” and pretty much everything else is dangerous under certain circumstances. That’s why God gave us a brain, right?

    Climbing a tree – well, some trees are overhanging a deep canyon and a kid falling off one of those could die. Therefore climbing any tree is dangerous? How about the age-old practice of letting parents and kids decide if a tree is safe to climb? Same thing with a car.

    There has N.E.V.E.R been a death from any person sitting alone in any stationary car for 5 minutes. (OK maybe if the car was burning or submerged in water.) Prove me wrong. Not by telling me “but the mom could have been abducted out the back door of the store and the kid could have strangled herself in the automatic windows etc.” (those and others have been said to me). That’s a pretty high safety rating – higher than taking a bath or eating lunch or a lot of other things we force kids to do every day.

  84. Beth March 21, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    @JulieC, my son did the button-up-his-nose thing too, but the doctor’s long tweezers got it out. That was his first attempt at mediocre effort that stayed with him throughout the years.

    (And if anyone is wondering, yes this is a joke.)

  85. pentamom March 21, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Well, mer, I DO understand that, but sometimes it’s worth pointing out the error in thinking anyway. 🙂

  86. pentamom March 21, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    The “something terrible could have happened to the mom while she was in the store” argument is hilarious. If something terrible happened to me in a store, I’d much rather have my kid taken out of the car and taken home to my husband by the cops while they take me to the morgue or hunt for my abductor, than have him with me also having something terrible happening to him.

    But also, if you arrange your life around the possibility of being randomly abducted or shot while shopping, you’re either not going to be able to function at all, or you’re actually not doing that and making a very selective argument that actually has no real-world applicability.

  87. Shannan D. March 21, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    Well according to a mother of one of my kids friends I am the worst mom on earth. All because my boys ride their bikes to school. According to her they should be driven so I can make sure they get there because its just not safe. She won’t even let her kids ride the bus because you never know what could happen. Me on the other hand told my boys they had two options to get to school, ride the bus or walk/ride bikes. They chose bikes as walking the 2.1 miles would make them have to get up really early to make it on time. Now I do take them on days the weather is bad but that is a rarity. Was told by this mom how would I feel if something happened, if they got hit by a car or injured. Had to stop myself from joking well that’s one less mouth to feed. They both have phones and know to call me if they need to. This woman went on and on about how dangerous the world is and I should be more cautious and protective. You would think this was about young kids right? Nope my boys were 16 and 18 at the time, a junior and senior in high school. The oldest had been working for 2 years at the point of this conversation and even rode his bike to and from work even at night. I can only imagine what her thoughts are about my 13 year old daughter riding the bus the 1 mile to school. I mean something could happen to her between here and the bus stop i can see from my deck. She would walk but its not allowed due to train tracks and swamp land that has been known to have alligators in it. At the end of the day though I am proud I have strong independent kids and feel sorry for hers who are afraid of their own shadows.

  88. LGB March 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

    @Tami

    “It was a tragic accident, until you read all the comments in the Facebook post blaming the parents for letting their child run around unattended long enough for that to happen. Nevermind that the article was short on those details.”

    Ugh! I can’t stand that! What’s with all of the speculation? Why does our culture WANT to assign blame for every tragedy? Must every tragedy turn into a public-square flogging?

    If you want an example of everybody speculating and jumping to Bad Mommy conclusions, look no further than this blog. I submitted a story about my son nearly getting flattened in a parking lot by an SUV. http://www.freerangekids.com/my-son-nearly-died-because-i-took-him-out-of-the-car/

    As I can largely expect from this blog’s followers, I received mostly support and empathy from commenters. But also watch the implicit assumption unfold that I was letting him run amok in a busy lot, not watching him, etc. Then scroll down for my response.

    What if the situation had ended tragically? I have no doubt that outside of this blog, I would of heard more people satanizing me than sending their condolences. There’s something sociopathic about our culture that way, taking a parent who’s been through hell and making the tragedy even worse with our pettiness, judgmental natures, and mean-spiritedness.

  89. LGB March 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    One of those sentences in my post should have read, “I would HAVE heard . . . ” ((Forehead slap!)) I’m a grammar snob and know better. :-p

  90. Donna March 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    “the kid could have strangled herself in the automatic windows”

    That actually did happen to a kid in my town not too long ago. Mom picked her kids up at the babysitter, loaded them into the car, realized she needed to pay the babysitter and went back in. In less than 5 minutes, toddler hung himself in the car window. He did not die, but suffered substantial brain injury from lack of oxygen. But I have always been opposed to leaving people in cars with the car running anyway so this is not a concern of mine.

  91. Marie Pichaske March 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    Bully – pun intended – for you! Love the beer and cigarettes comment!

  92. SKL March 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    Donna, fair enough if that was an actual possibility (though extremely remote). But when I explained to the haters that my car had *manual* windows (and was off and I had the key with me the whole 2.5 minutes I was gone), they accused me of lying.

    So yeah – even if you have electric windows (which not everyone does) – wee babies can’t get out of their car seats to strangle themselves in the windows, older kids aren’t that stupid, and if your kid is in between, you have the protection of impossibility that comes from shutting off the car and taking the key with you.

    Sigh.

    Freak accidents can happen almost anywhere, doing almost anything. But a locked, stationary car is actually one of the safer places to be unattended for a few minutes.

  93. Richard March 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    I’ll tell about a time I intervened, perhaps unnecessarily.

    I was with my family in Scotland. We visited a castle. While we were there a school group came in, and I would guess the kids were maybe 4th or 5th grade, or whatever the Scottish equivalent is. We were at a part of the castle with some ramparts where medieval Scots would fire arrows onto invading other-Scots. The wall was about 5 to 5.5 feet tall and looked out over a sheer 200 foot drop onto rocks below. It looked kind of like this:

    |\
    | \
    | \
    | \
    | |
    | |
    | |
    _______________| |
    |

    I hope that came out OK. The flat line is the “floor” of the section of castle we were on. Right over the lip of the wall was a slope down to the sheer drop to certain death. There was no ledge on the top, just a slope, maybe 30 degrees.

    One of the kids with the group was very excited, had run to the wall in that I’m-a-child-playing way, and starting climbing. Looking back on it, I think it is unlikely the kid could have gotten up that wall, at least not in the short time before an adult in charge would have intervened. However, by instinct, I grabbed the kid by his backpack and yanked him off. I then told him that it was a huge drop off that wall.

    Maybe it was unnecessary. Maybe it was inappropriate. In my defense, I have an intense fear of heights myself, and a history of projecting that fear of heights onto others. In my further defense, I did not think about it for seconds before doing it. I saw the kid climbing and intervened by instinct, perhaps acting on my own fear of heights.

    As an American, I found it odd how cavalierly Scottish institutions treated heights-based safety hazards. This area, for example, did not have a warning sign about “No Climbing”, no cordoned off area, or anything like you would expect to find here in America. It was like that in a lot of places we went.

  94. Papilio March 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    “The rest of the world (…) would LOVE to live in 2017 America”.

    OK, you got me. I confess. I’ve always secretly dreamed of living in a country where the life expectancy, income equality, minimum wages, OESO scores, World Happiness Report ranking, Child Happiness ranking, Child Safety ranking, the quality of infrastructure and the attention for the environment and climate change are lower, the vacations and maternity leave are shorter and the crime rate, obesity rate, traffic death rate, teen mom rate and incarceration rate are higher, and of course I love that fantastic public SOR! Honestly, I cry myself to sleep every night since our xenophobic, blond, right-wing idiot didn’t win the election, like in America.
    If only I spoke the language.
    (Really, Lenore? I realize this conversation was initially private, but surely you know better?!!)

    @Jessica: were you that high school queen bee that was SHOCKED to learn that not every boy jumped at the chance to date her?

    “I have had many public parent shaming incidents, but one was from a fella who worked at Home Depot. He loudly asked me in a disgusted voice why I had put my son in a hot pink snow suit. I informed HD Fella that I put my bald daughter in a hot-pink snow suit (it was 29 degrees out). He then tells me that I should get her ears pierced so that people would know she’s a girl!”

    Yes, be considerate to all those poor kidnappers out there who are just trying to figure out if your baby is the right gender 😛

  95. Warren March 21, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    I have one standard response for people that express displeasure with anything I am doing.

    “Sounds like a personal problem to me.”

  96. MichelleB March 21, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

    I was in the checkout line yesterday. The woman behind me had a toddler in the child seat of her shopping cart and a slightly older child standing beside her. They were looking at a display, she was talking to both children, doing everything in the world right as far as engaged mommy-ing goes…and the toddler stood up in the seat and the cart shifted. It was one of those heart-stopping moments that we all have by the time our kids get to adulthood, except this mother was close and fast and got her arms around her son. (Or maybe he would’ve plopped back down into the seat…I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.)

    That poor woman was SO terrified. I don’t even think her brain was making the connection yet that her son hadn’t hit the ground and it was all over. There were prayers of thanks and apologies to her son and I don’t even think she heard my reassuring words. I’m hoping she didn’t see the two women in line ahead of me, who looked like they were ready to call child protective services.

    Maybe she could’ve fastened the waist belt. In my experience, those were never enough to restrain a skinny toddler and most carts don’t have them, or the fasteners were missing. Her son will learn to sit still, she’ll stay closer until he does, and it was just one scary moment in a lifetime. Not, this time, an earth-shattering “incident”

  97. Matt March 21, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

    As a father, I’ve never had somebody come up to me and go all judgemental about how I am with my kids. I’d be surprised if another father ever did that. I’ve also made it clear to family and friends that if they see my kids misbehaving, they are free to put a stop to it if I’m not around.

  98. Denise March 22, 2017 at 8:45 am #

    My husband was sick- very sick in fact. The nearest open clinic was in a grocery store. My two daughters had to come with us as I drove. They walked out, the oldest, 5, with their dad, the youngest, 2, with me. She refused to hold my hand but was holding on to my jacket. The oldest was out of vomit range with her dad. A store employee stopped me on the way to the clinic to blast me for not having a firm watch on my kids- after all, they might get hit with a cart or something.

    I called management and asked them why, on the night that my husband was admitted to the hospital, an employee saw him and felt like blasting the mom for not having handcuffs on her kids.

    The district manager called me to reassure me that employee had been dealt with.

  99. Papilio March 22, 2017 at 4:04 pm #

    “The nearest open clinic was in a grocery store.”

    …That sounds like studying law in Costco…

  100. Michelle March 23, 2017 at 9:10 am #

    Regarding #6… An infant sleeping in an *unbuckled* car seat is actually dangerous. Buckled is fine. But unbuckled they can slide down into a position that blocks their airway, and if they can’t lift their head they can suffocate. Simple solution is to just leave them buckled. If they fell asleep that way in the first place, they are comfortable, safe, and you don’t risk waking them. But I’m guessing she’s really referring to the people who freak out about babies being left in car seats, period, because OMG you should be holding your baby every second of the day, how awful to let them sleep when they are clearly comfortable and happy!!

    (FTR, those same people turned around and judged me because I actually preferred to keep my daughter in a baby carrier, because OMG, you’re spoiling her and need to put her down! You can’t win for losing.)

    I don’t know whether moms are judged more than dads, but I can definitely tell you that YOUNG moms are judged more. I was only 19 when I became full-time mom to my very young step-children. I got a constant stream of comments on everything I did. (I’m 35 now, and STILL get judgement about being “too young” to be their mom.) Funnier is that my oldest daughter, who is now 19 herself, has been getting comments for years about her “parenting” of her younger siblings. When she was 17, she was playing with her baby sister at the Children’s Museum, and she got reamed out by a stranger for letting her baby sister play with toys that the other woman’s daughter had just put away. Seriously. Apparently she thought no one else was going to play with the toys now that they’d made everything look nice and neat.

    I also had a friend in high school whose sisters were much older than her. When my friend was a baby (in the early 80s), her teenaged sister was pushing her stroller around the mall when a strange woman stopped and reamed the sister out for “having a baby at your age.”

  101. Michelle March 23, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    @CrazyCatLady,

    “A few days later, I saw a commercial on TV that the state was running. Advertisements with cops saying that kids who don’t go to preschool will end up in jail by the time they were adults.”

    WOW. I used to teach preschool, a fact that I frequently mentioned to people who questioned me about homeschooling when my kids were little, since it seemed to reassure them that I was “qualified.” I didn’t ever mention that when I taught, I had only a high school diploma; I was expected to create my curriculum entirely from scratch, with no guidance, training, supervision or checks to see that I was teaching to any kind of standard; none of the teachers in our school had any kind of accreditation or specific training to teach; and one of the teachers in our school was arrested for STOMPING on the 2yos. (Aside from the physical abuse, all of this is perfectly legal for a private school in Texas.) Just some of the factors that led me to conclude that I could do at least as well teaching my own preschoolers at home.

  102. Beth March 23, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    @Michelle .. “OMG you should be holding your baby every second of the day”

    It’s been a few years, but there were arguments on this very site (in the comment sections) about strollers, and how terrible it was to use a stroller to go for a walk/the mall/the grocery store/tour Washington DC etc. when you could be WEARING your child. Wearing them is so easy and so wonderful and you can do it til they’re really old; so why encase your baby in plastic?

    Sigh.

  103. Aatika Tahir March 24, 2017 at 9:11 am #

    Oh wow this happens every where in the world! We celebrated mother’s day in this part of the world in 21st March and I wrote something similar on my blog, in fact requesting mothers to cut out the judgements and negativity. I will leave the link in case you would like to read.
    http://mymumdiary.com/dear-mothers/