My Kids Are Not Allowed to Play Outside (So Now They Are In the Mobile Home with Me)

Hi Folks — This letter has me  down, but not nearly as down as the writer. When the authorities start to believe the world is worse than it is and hence that kids are less safe than they really are, naturally they see independence as dangerous. Free-Range Kids exists to spread the word that our kids are NOT in constant danger, and parents who believe in their kids are NOT endangering them. They are empowering them. Or at the very least, giving them a childhood. Any advice on how to change the zeitgeist FASTER is appreciated! – L 

Dear Free-Range Kids: I found your site today while searching for the law. Today the police visited my home after one of my neighbors called in about my children being outside alone…in our yard with a home on two sides and six foot fence on the other two sides. The officer said, “Don’t have me called back out.” So now, do I have to go outside with my children every time they go out? I have a chronic illness and sitting outside all day sucks for me. They love being outside. They come in for bathroom breaks, they come in to tattle, they come in to say “I Love You”… they are in and out every 5-10 minutes. I check on them anytime I pass the door, and I lay or sit next to an open window. If I call for them, they come to the door/window and answer as a “check in.” They will literally stay outside from wake up to 9 pm, when I force them to come in, with breaks for the above and for food. They were perfectly safe. I don’t know what to do. :( Do I punish my children and make them stay inside? Or torture myself, putting me in great amounts of pain to sit outside with them all day, every day?  I plan to call CPS tomorrow to see if they can shed any light on the situation.

Lenore here: I suggested the mom not call CPS, lest she alert them to behavior they don’t condone. Call me paranoid, I just keep getting letters from folks who’ve had run-ins with the authorities. So the mom wrote me another letter:

I believe a neighbor was standing on their porch and saw the boys outside. They have been playing outside together for more than a year now. They are not directly supervised as in me sitting outside with them, but I am not sleeping or GONE.  I can’t believe the officer told me he better not have to come back out! I’m incredibly nervous and haven’t allowed them outside to play at all since then. Today my back hurts so bad I can barely go to the bathroom, much less outside to sit with them. I am at a loss on what to do.

I have also had a different police officer tell me that my kids going to the bathroom alone is dangerous. I tried to explain Free-Range parenting and he said he still takes his 11-year-old daughter into the men’s room with him! It’s depressing here :(

The mom and I wrote back and forth some more but the long and short of it is: How dare the auathorities declare kids cannot play outside IN THEIR OWN YARD! It’s like putting them under house arrest! Free-Rangers, all I can say is: please fight on. – L

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158 Responses to My Kids Are Not Allowed to Play Outside (So Now They Are In the Mobile Home with Me)

  1. Jesse August 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    The cop is afraid of perverts so he takes his 11-year-old daughter into the men’s room with him??

    You can’t even try to argue with that “logic”.

    I wish Lenore would post where all these bizarre things are happening so the rest of us can know where not to move to.

  2. Josh S August 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    What state/municipality is this in? Almost all places have the law publicly available. And while it’s not worth it to alert DCFS to your issue, it is probably very worthwhile to be able to quote chapter and verse (ie Section 2, paragraph 1 of the state code says…) to any police officer who might stop by.

    Heck, it might even be worth a call to the local PD to see what their standard is. That probably wouldn’t get escalated to DCFS, and would at least get you something of a straight answer.

    Also, have a chat with your neighbor. Perhaps she doesn’t know that you’re ‘watching’ your kids. If there’s no one to report the ‘bad’ behavior, your problem is likewise solved.

  3. Katie August 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Heh. I was about to write that. 11yo girl in the mens room is kind of creepy to me.

    How old are these kids that they shouldn’t be in the backyard by themselves? I started letting my son out when he was 5, by himself… We were right down the street from the police department in a really nice city. When my daughter was 4 and he was 7, I sent the two of them out. I’d keep a window open to make sure I could hear them and go look for the periodically… but they make so much noise I always knew they were there. 😀

  4. Ms. Herbert August 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    I think forcing an 11 yo into the opposite sex bathroom is boardering on sex abuse.

    When I take my 4.5 yo nephew out – I give him a choice of the ladies or the men’s room. His choice is often based on if the bathroom has a low sink or a step up so he can reach the sink and wash his hands.

  5. Andrew Pollock August 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    The pool where I take my daughter for swim classes has a cut off age of 5 for girls in the men’s changing rooms (and vice versa).

  6. Michelle August 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    I think a call to a sympathetic lawyer would be much better than calling CPS or the police. Something I’ve learned from a decade of homeschooling is that the authorities are often poorly informed on the law and are rarely on the side of parental rights. (For example, if you want to find out how to legally homeschool in your state, the last place you should ask is the local school district.)

    I am also absolutely disgusted by the cop who admits to making his 11yo daughter use the men’s room. I don’t think I could have helped myself telling him just how disgusting I think that is. Let the poor girl use the ladies’!

  7. Claire53 August 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    Geez – seems the cop would think his kid is safer in a room with a bunch of women, than one with a bunch of men!

  8. Jake August 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    If the demented cop continues to take his daughter into the men’s room, she is going to become a very interesting woman.

  9. SKL August 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    It doesn’t mention how old her kids are.

    To me, it sounds like this lady needs to pay a visit to her neighbors so they can get to know her a little. So they know she is in fact home and awake and not oblivious to what her kids are doing. And that she has made a conscious decision that when weather allows, it’s good for her kids to play outside in their safe yard as much as possible.

    Chances are that the neighbor has no issue with kids playing outside, but genuinely wondered if there was anyone home at all or if the person home was actually capable or interested in parenting the kids. I could see that happening if the parent is never seen at all and the kids are pretty young.

    I do think it’s a good idea to know the law and be ready to quote it, although the laws may be unhelpful if they are vague. A call to CPS might be a good idea if it could be done anonymously, just for the mom’s peace of mind.

    If the mom can hardly go to the bathroom, there might be other issues going on. Does she need someone to come over and help out? Are there resources for that? I mean, if you are in that much pain, how is the toilet getting cleaned? How is the garbage getting taken out? Of course if the kids are old enough to help, this would be less of an issue.

  10. Claire53 August 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Crime stats have been decreasing for years and this cop and CPS are just not informed….
    This woman, and others likewise harassed, should read:

    1) Steven Pinker, “Violence Vanquished,” Wall Street Journal Online, September 24, 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904106704576583203589408180.html

    2) “Child abductions are rare, stranger abductions even rarer – Kidnapping makes up less than 2 percent of all violent crimes against juveniles reported to police, with stranger kidnapping being the most uncommon form of reported kidnappings, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.” http://www.wmur.com/news/1566029/detail.html

    3) This site:
    http://www.sosen.org/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=126:the-war-on-sex-offenders-&catid=21:editorials&Itemid=15

    and this quote from above #3 site:”Stranger Abductions of Children Are Rare” – An FBI spokeswoman says, “it may appear there’s a crime wave,” but she says “that’s just not the case.”

  11. Neener August 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Any way we can find out the city? Then we could unleash all sorts of FRK detective work on the OP’s behalf.

    Also agree with her speaking to her neighbor to make them aware she IS at home and monitoring the children…SKL makes a good point that if she’s literally never seen, perhaps that’s why the neighbor is concerned (although a knock on the door before calling the police would have been more sensible). If she can’t get herself over there, send one of the kids with a handwritten note of explanation and invitation to stop by.

  12. AB August 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Is there any sort of Free Range Legal Defense network?

    There should be.

  13. Selby August 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    “don’t make me come back out”

    HUH?!?! Oh god forbid you, a policeman, actually PATROL your community looking for legitimitally suspicious behavior that might endanger the welfare of a child. No, no, instead, you arrange to have all children kept inside or if outside, under constant supervision, so that YOU don’t have to do your job!? I’d call the police captain and say that asshole BETTER be freakin’ out there. My tax dollars pay your salary, I expect to see you on the beat!!!!

  14. Nicky August 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    I would call CPS and ask them if there is a rule about how old kids have to be to play outside alone, without giving your name. That way you can get the info without alerting them to check up on you. I’m afraid that IMO there is some discrimination against people who don’t have much money by CPS, and if this parent lives in a mobile home, she probably falls into the “don’t have much money” category, and wouldd have a harder time with them than some of us. How old are the kids, out of curiosity? And I can’t imagine having an 11-year-old need a bathroom escort, and thinking that’s important enough to have her go in the men’s room. My 10-year-old daughter frequently takes my 3-year-old to the bathroom with her. She IS the escort. Crazy

  15. CrazyCatLady August 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Privacy fencing may be in order. Knowing that most trailer parks do minimum spacing, it may not be a lot of fencing that is needed. She may be able to get some from someone on Freecycle or Craig’s List who is replacing their own. If she has no husband or nearby family to help, perhaps a church or Eagle Scout would be willing to help put it up. This would help if the neighbor is across the street. That way he/she would not be able to see in the yard and see if you are out with them. If you can’t find fencing, plant Scarlet Runner Beans to climb the fence, or a row of corn or sunflowers. Or all of that.

    Yes, she needs to talk to the neighbor. And, position herself next to the window so that she can wave to the neighbor. Take the stance of “I understand you have concerns, can you tell me about them? I have concerns about my kids too, lets see if we can come to an agreement because their health is really important to me.”

    It would also be good to talk to the park manager. See if they have any written rules about child supervision in their own yard in the park. It is a small thing compared to the cops, but it is a place to start. Especially if the park bills itself as family friendly. Which was how I was able to put up higher than normal fencing in my park when I lived in one – told them I was concerned about my two year old getting out the low gate and getting into the busy road two doors away, or the irrigation canal right beside it. Having a higher latch was what was needed. And they agreed.

  16. Freedom for Kids August 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Perhaps the reporter called the police because s/he feels the kids are too noisy. There may be no genuine concern for the children at all!

    CPS has “guidelines”, but those guidelines are not always law.

  17. SKL August 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    If the officer ever does come back, whatever you do, don’t say “you must hate your f*****n job.” Ahem. Cop needs an attitude adjustment, but unfortunately that is unlikely to change.

  18. Julian August 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    I’m an 11 year boy and that’s just B.S.! My mom has allowed me to go anywhere I like around town. That’s how kids should be able to play. Take that from a kid!

    I can’t believe what the police are doing to innocent kids. The world isn’t so dangerous that you can’t play in your own backyard without a parent watching you. What’s next? Will we need a swat team around us when we visit the store?

    P.S. I’m the kid who was stopped by the police last year because I was barefoot in my neighborhood waiting for a friend to come over. I was literally in front of my house. Another crazy thing is, I was well dressed with an Iphone when that happened so I don’t think anyone would think I was living on the streets.

  19. Mike in Virginia August 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    From reading other stories like this, what I gather is that there is no specific law regarding how old children have to be in order to play outside alone. In all cases, it has been the discretion of the police officer or CPS. Actually, CPS doesn’t want the law to be specific, because it takes away their ability to assess the situation on a case by case basis. I agree with that, actually. I think the parents should decide how old their kids need to be based on the maturity of their child. I let my four-year old play outside in the front yard all the time. I didn’t start doing that until he learned the boundaries of how far he is allowed to wander, to stay out of the street and how to come when called. We had to work on it, but once he was consistent in following those rules, I started letting him out front on his own for brief periods of time (usually he comes in on his own within 5-10 minutes and if not, I check on him). I haven’t had a problem yet and don’t expect to. He is about to turn 5. Is it irresponsible of me? I don’t think so, and I don’t expect everyone to agree, but it IS my choice.

    If the police ever try to say anything to me, I think they will meet with a lot of resistance. I will force them (in a nice way) to charge me with something specific, or go away. I don’t expect everyone to be as scrappy as me, though.

  20. Ellen August 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    I agree with Neener. I am willing to write letters to authority figures of the municipality. Let the children play outside, and stop harassing parents. Also, I agree that contacting a lawyer is best, but I can gather that a chronically ill stay at home mom is probably not going to have the funds. I have less than desirable neighbors who once called the police and complained that my children were alone. They were in the yard. When the police came, I explained that my children are allowed in the yard. I also told the officer to warn my neighbor that if she made such a report against me again, I would sue her. He did exactly that. So not all cities are unreasonable.

  21. Jake August 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    True, the crime rate has declined. But not because the main source of violence, drug prohibition, has been abolished, but because the USA has been turned into Prison Nation. Five percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of the world’s prison population. This is nothing to cheer.

  22. Liz Williams August 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    In some states, like Washington state, children in a licensed child care home or center – now have to be “seen and heard” at all times when outside. It used to be see OR hear. Now it’s both. They just changed legislation on it this year. I come from 10 years in the child care field. It will get more and more strict as time and childcare licensing evolves not just for child cares but also for laws that dictate how families should raise their children. (From Liz with Childhood Resource, Facebook page)

  23. jay3fer August 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Unfortunately, I agree with a previous commenter that something else must be going on. I cannot believe authorities would be this paranoid – plus, if the mother is in so much pain, she’s unable to run outside to intervene. I love the idea of kids being free to run & play, but all day every day sounds a bit extreme.

  24. James August 13, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    I saw a girl in the mens room with her daddy the other day and it was disturbing to me. The girl was potty training age and was in pull ups but that was not what was disturbing. The daddy was cleaning her and changing her in the open so every man walking though saw it. Normally when that happens men go into the stall to keep their daughter away from prying eyes. Not saying you will run into a pervert. In reality most men are freaked out like myself and just put their heads down and walk on. I have known many men to take their little girls into the stall but this one did it out in the open. There was stalls available too. I am not opposed to independence but common decency and teaching your children to be decent and not expose themselves to everyone is crucial to raising your children in a moral household.

  25. Mary Alderman August 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    I am not surprised. I was told by my own son that leaving the kids to play outside by themselves when I was in the kitchen (with a whole wall that is mostly a sliding glass door) would get him into trouble with CPS here in Washington State. I was a little shocked by that. I had given them sidewalk chalk and they were happlily coloring the sidewalk leading from my apartment not more than 10 feet from the porch. So I had to call them in and put in a video since I was making lunch and couldn’t leave at that moment. And people wonder why our kids are obese?

  26. Brian August 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    “How dare the auathorities declare kids cannot play outside IN THEIR OWN YARD!”

    No.

    How dare someone not be rich enough to have a house with a private yard? How dare someone have a disease and to be physically unable to helicopter their children? How dare someone let their children learn through unstructured play? Who are these people?

  27. Freedom for Kids August 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    Well, James, a toddler in pull-ups actually does have to go with her father to the men’s room if no female can take her to the ladies room. I think most adult (American) men can handle seeing a baby being changed and washed, even a baby of the opposite sex.

  28. jen August 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    She should call the ACLU! http://www.aclu.org/ Their homepage has a drop-down menu to find local chapters.

  29. Dawn August 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    I notice that a lot of neighbors who don’t have kids themselves ‘hate’ the sounds of kids playing. They find it bothersome, loud, and irrupting to their daily lives. I would imagine this neighbor wants the kids ‘to be quiet’, ‘to be seen and not heard’, and the best way for that to happen is for them to be inside, or have a guardian right beside them to keep them quiet.
    Because we don’t know how old the kids are it is hard to give too much advice. I’m imagining the kids are not 1 and 2 years old?
    Most kids around here play in their inclosed yards alone once they are 2 or 3. And once they are 4 or 5 they are playing unsupervised on our quiet street.
    I’d bake some cookies with the kids and go over and meet the neighbor. Get her to see all of you, speak to the kids and have her see the kids as not just ‘noise makers’, but cute kids.

  30. Violet August 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Someone should call CPS on the cop. What a freak! Exposing his little girl to men peeing in urinals. I am truly freaked out now. Anyway, this woman needs to call a lawyer and the news. What state is she in and how old are the kids?

  31. Violet August 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    James, there is nothing wrong with a naked toddler. Nothing.

  32. Violet August 13, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Oh! Good idea! We need to know where she lives. I am happy to write a letter and to sign my name.

  33. Meagan August 13, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    @James I’m wondering the last time you changed a diaper. In women’s rooms, the changing table is in the handicapped stall about half the time, and out with the sinks (or off to the side) the other half. If there’s no changing table, I’ll change my sons’s diaper outside the stalls, where I have more space. Since we aren’t assuming all men are preditors (right James?) I would likely have done the same thing as that father.

  34. Claire53 August 14, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    @ Jake – True – we ARE Prison Central. Nothing to be proud of or cheer for. But that doesn’t account for why crime is down. Citing this fact implies that criminals recidivate often, but can’t because they are locked away in prison. The lower crime stats mean that the general population who are not in prison are committing fewer crimes. At any rate, if the bad guys are in prison, that should be all the more reason for the public and cops not to cave to myths and fear that crime is one lapse of watching your children away.

  35. Emmanuelle Works August 14, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    If the neighbour was worried and couldn’t think of anything better to do that call the cops, that’s already one problem on her hands. Someone saw my 10year-old son climb on top of our shed once, and got worried, but she rang the bell and told me about it. She didn’t run straight to the cops.

    Talking to a lawyer could help. They’re should be a handbook of what parents are legally allowed to do these days and it should be handed to us at the hospital when the baby is born. So we can shove it into people’s faces when they try to tell how to raise our kids. And so we know what needs to fought.

    She got also really unlucky with the cop who takes his 11y daughter to the men’s bathroom! The guy is nuts. The girl would be better off alone in the women’s bathroom. I can’t imagine his wife being happy with this so either they’re divorced or the guy is also a control freak and abusive husband.

  36. West Coast Girl August 14, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    I have no problem with a female child having her diaper changed in the public part of the men’s bathroom if that’s where the changing table is. But…if this girl is potty-training age, why is she laying down for a diaper change? This is not fostering age-appropriate independence. Have the girl stand up. Also, changing a diaper (with or without a caregiver’s help) in a stall is much more appropriate (once a kid can stand), not because of fear of predators, but because you want kids to make the association between elimination and the toilet.

    But back to the independence issue: a child of potty-training age should be expected to at least *try* to get her underpants or pull-ups on and off by herself, which she can’t really do laying down on a changing table.

    Really, from a free-range point of view, I am just baffled by how many people but kids from 1.5 to 3+ on a changing table.

  37. sky August 14, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    How old are the kids? Is the concern age related? Most CPS guidelines say 8 and up for any long-period, outside, unsupervised play. The other concern may be the all day thing. If they really are out 9-9 with only food and bathroom breaks in the heat of summer, that could be a cause of concern. If they are over 8 and staying hydrated and can easily access you though and there is not something else going on I don’t guess there is a legal leg to stand on.

  38. Lynne Gomez August 14, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    Hi folks! Momma in question here! I’m going to try to speak to a few of the concerns above :)

    First off, the fencing is privacy fencing. However, three homes can see into my yard from their porches as the privacy fencing is only 5 foot. We are prohibited from making other fences. Other people can see my porch from the road as it is high. (Which is how I got in trouble from “management” last year for letting the children play naked in the sprinkler while I cleaned out the shed!! Someone saw the boys climbing the steps! )

    The boys are nearly 5 and nearly 3.

    I can move and do.. often.. though it hurts incredibly on some days. In an emergency I move.. if there was an issue I can get to them. Not saying it won’t hurt.. but I’m not prohibited from moving from the pain. We all know mothers work through the pain.. no matter what, right!? :)

    As for trash going out and the toilets being scrubbed.. I either do it on my “good” days or my husband does it when he can, when he is home. The house isn’t perfect but we do the best we can!

    The boys are absolutely welcome to come into the house at anytime that they wish. THey are not forced to be outside. They have an entire room to themselves to play in as they wish at any time. They just prefer to be outside. Our yard is about 80 feet long by 20-25 feet wide. It’s pretty large as far as yards in this area go… They have toys, sticks, dogs, puppies, water hose, etc to play with outside.. so much more fun then the millions of toys in their inside room I guess lol :) We are pretty relaxed around here and they come in and out at their own will. :) I do sit outside with them about an hour a day or more.. I need the fresh air too. :) So the neighbors do see me.. though I sit in the corner by the porch (on the ground) so I would be impossible to see from the street. It’s the only shade in the yard most of the time. It’s also the only time they are allowed in their little pool (under 60 inches). I fill it, let them play in it, dump it and then go back inside.

    The cop who told me that kids should not go to the bathroom alone was a few months ago. I was disgusted and showed it. I asked him if he knew about “free range parenting” and he admitted he did not. (A friend and I were being chewed out for letting our 4-5 year olds go to the bathroom (that we could see from where we were sitting) alone. It was insane! I could NOT believe it when he said he took his 11 year old DAUGHTER in the mens room!!! :( (We were at a restaurant with a play area and had allowed the older boys to go potty while we supervised the younger children and an officer had an issue of it and gave us his $.02.

    I also had an officer last year tell me that I should just “cover up at the pool to keep the peace” because management had a cow and said there were complaints about me breastfeeding at the pool! He then “corrected” me that the law says I can nurse as long as the areola is not showing.. I had to pull the law up on my laptop and show it to him… he was shocked that it had changed! :( :( (I called the officer to make them aware of another situation in which I was being threatened by another resident due to the pool situation).

    Our area also had a man arrested at the PRIDE parade for open carrying of a firearm in a public park. The “cheat sheet” said it was illegal (the cheat sheet is a book kept at the PD precinct that has all the “basic laws” in it). The man in question filmed the encounter on his phone. He was threatened by an officer, handcuffed and imprisoned. Turns out the laws changed a DECADE ago that open carry is allowed in parks!!!! A DECADE! Our police force is seriously flawed and citizens are paying for it daily! Just think… in my sons 5 years I have had three encounters.. all three anti mom/anti kid. :(

    I am in Colorado Springs, CO. I’m ready to move ASAP! :( I want to move to our own space in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors lol.

  39. Warren August 14, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    After reading most of the replies, I am really worried about our society. Replies with things like talking to the neighbour………..since when do parents have to explain or justify having thier kids play, on the property that the parent owns or rents.
    Also the whole privacy fence issue that was raised…….why do we need a fence, when people should just respect other’s privacy. You don’t like seeing my kids playing in the yard, then don’t look at them. Simple.
    As for the authority mad cop…….should have been told, “Well y’all come back now. Oh and by the way bring a warrant signed by a judge when you do.”
    Laws be damned, other’s opinions stuck where the sun never shines. Our kids are our kids and we should have the right to raise them the way we see fit. Untill more of us start standing up to “officials”, saying to heck with the fallout, things are only going to get worse.
    The more power and authority we let other’s take from us, as parents, the more and more they will take.
    Now, about the 11 yr old daughter being taken into the men’s room…..just wrong on so many levels, and if his superiors learned of his behaviour they may take action themselves.

  40. SKL August 14, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    I don’t find it disturbing that a dad did diaper changing of a girl in the men’s room where other men could see.

    As for the comment about not lying down – well, first of all, I don’t think James said she was lying down – but yeah, I haven’t laid my kids down for a diaper change since before they could walk. I guess it would depend how yucky the child had gotten herself. I agree with the concept that the lying down doesn’t encourage independence. But I tend to be unpopular when it comes to my views on potty independence anyway.

  41. Neener August 14, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    @Warren – Talking to the neighbor was suggested when the thought was raised that perhaps the neighbor called police after seeing the kids (ages unknown to us) outside all day every day and assumed there was no adult nearby at all, due to mom’s health issues keeping her indoors and out of view. Not as an exhortation to the OP to explain or justify herself to the neighbor…more of a head’s up, “yes, I am here, and I am watching them even when you can’t see me, no worries”.

    Also, standing up to officials and saying to heck with the fallout isn’t applicable to every situation, as not everyone can affford to call a lawyer.

    I do agree on the privacy fence suggestion. Might help, but shouldn’t in theory be necessary at all.

  42. wwax August 14, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    I was wondering more if it was a noise complaint more than a child care complaint. Honestly if I lived in a trailer next to two kids that were out playing all day every day during the holidays until 9pm with all the noise that entailed I would go crazy, and lets face it happy kids get loud.

    I work from home and have a family with three kids next door, they make a lot of noise when out playing in their yard, mostly I don’t mind and rather like the sounds of kids playing. If I am feeling off, or have a deadline it can get annoying, but I know they are not there all the time. I live in a house on a double block, in the confines of a trailer park with thin walls, and one of those walls is one of the fences in that proximity I can see the unending noise getting annoying.

    Maybe it would simply entail talking to the neighbour to find out the problem and work out a solution together.

  43. Freedom for Kids August 14, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    I just can’t see how you can change a poopy diaper or pull-up properly without lying a kid down, you know, to keep it from plopping onto the floor–and how the heck do you effectively clean the poop off of the kid when s/he’s standing up?

  44. SKL August 14, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Honestly, if my kids were those ages, I don’t think I’d be upset that the neighbors checked on their safety after seeing them in and out all day without supervision. Depending on how it was handled, I would be glad someone noticed. Sometimes things happen to parents and a well-being check is in order. I think the problem here is (a) the neighbor should have come over and knocked rather than call the police, and (b) the police officer acted like a jerk.

  45. SKL August 14, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Freedom for Kids, it can be done. I used to hold the babies over the toilet even before the pull-up stage (around 12mos in my case), because the message was that poop goes into the toilet. Depending on the size of the kid, it can be easier to clean her butt off if she is actually sitting on the toilet.

  46. missjanenc August 14, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    The responding officer who warned about making a return visit is an idiot who obviously takes his authority too seriously and had to come up with something to say to justify the silly call for service.

    Last time I heard it is not against the law for kids to play in their own yard and nosy neighbors should be told to back off. Frankly, if it were me I’d tell them all to screw themselves and let my kids PLAY. If the kids are clean, fed in their own yard and not killing each other then no laws are being broken and I would have told the cop that too. But then I have a healthy disrespect for a toolbox in a uniform who likes to throw his weight around.

  47. BB August 14, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    I’m sorry, but 2 and 4 is WAY too young to be outside all day unsupervised. I was outraged for you when I thought your children were 8 or 10, but you leave a toddler outside all day long in an unfenced yard with only a 4 year old to supervise him?? No wonder your neighbor called the cops.

  48. Freedom for Kids August 14, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    SKL…interesting. I don’t think I was physically fit enough for that! Plus my bathroom is very small. Anyhoo, I am not sure I understand the free range aspect of handling potty training that way. I think that when they are potty trained–however long that takes–they are done! And then on to newer and bigger adventures! :)

  49. Freedom for Kids August 14, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    BB—The children were in their own fenced-in yard, supervised by their mother through the window.

  50. Sam August 14, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    I feel for this mother. Are we so disconnected from each other that the neighbor can be the anonymous “hero” instead of actually walking over and checking on the children in person? I would have a chat with that neighbor because frankly, her behavior doesn’t strike me as being very neighborly.

    I also wouldn’t say that these children are “unsupervised.” There’s a difference between letting children go nuts with no parent around versus checking in on them regularly. Supervision doesn’t have to mean that the parent is constantly hovering near the child. We’ve all seen plenty of that and know that isn’t exactly great for the child either.

  51. Marion Ros August 14, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    BB, what can happen to them in an enclosed garden what can’t happen in their room?

    Eat snails? Fence-scaling dingo-attack? The Abominable Snowman took a left turn at Albequerque and wanders through the fence, mistakes kids for sno-cones and snacks on them?

    Seriously, it’s an enclosed yard. No pool to drown in, no wild animals to eat them. They could sit in their room and choke on a dinky toy.

  52. Nicky August 14, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    Honestly, I think kids those ages (2 and 4) should have someone outside with them. If they were 4 and 6 I’d even be OK with it, but 4 is too young to keep track of a 2-year-old.

  53. Nicky August 14, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Oh wait, I’m going to reverse myself. Privacy fencing, completley encloseed,and mom can hear the kids, then it’s OK.

  54. Lynne Gomez August 14, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    BB, please go reread. The original states privacy fence, my follow up says privacy fence. The can come in and out of the house at their own free will and are behind a (locked) gate with a privacy fence…

  55. Ann In L.A. August 14, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    Part of our problem is that our perceptions of the past are wrong as well. Before crime began its lovely reduction, we had the crack epidemic. Every night, the “if it bleeds, it leads” media presented tragic stories of kids being killed in their beds or in the street by cross-fire, or drunk punks shooting their guns off for the fun of it accidentally hitting kids. (There was a similar tragic case two years ago on Halloween here in Los Angeles, when a kid in a Spiderman costume was killed in his own back yard by gang members looking for someone to shoot.)

    But–this is the important part–the violence was not happening everywhere. Nice, safe suburban communities were nice, safe suburban communities. There was never much of a crime wave outside the crack-addled districts. That’s the whole point of “community policing.” Instead of policing a little everywhere, the police concentrated in force on those areas that were riddled with crime. If you lived outside the high-crime districts, life remained safe.

    Today, this is even more true. Most crime, especially serious crime, is almost unheard of in most of this country–and always has been.

  56. Sarah (UK). August 14, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    I’m unsure where this woman lives, but if she happens to do so in one of your more liberal states, where you guys still have the right to bear arms well the answer is simple. Tell the cops you were watching them from the window, sat at rest, whilst armed with a 22. Tell them you would have shot to death any pervert (or do gooder, police officer etc) that tried to interfer with their god given right to play and have fun.
    No one in England is allowed to own a gun, any kind of gun, no gun what so ever these days. Which of course means that the type of people you don’t want to have guns, aka the shoot em dead for $5/dissin ya bitch/gotta get into da gang can pick up an illegal gun for peanuts, whilst the people they terrorise, beat, rape, mug and murder have to lay down and give in to these life changing/life ending events. They do so because, in my country there is no such thing as self defence. If you are caught carrying a bladed item in public, that means anything from a 24″ sword to a bog standard, bull head tin opener ,you can, and trust me, will be arrested. If I want to buy a pack of teaspoons I actually have to get permission from the check out lass. And when the skanky, gun toting fuckwad waves his gun around at the checkout, I sleep well at night, knowing full well that when all the fuss has died down, I will still be asked to fess up my age if I want to buy a pack of teaspoons or even, god forbid a pack of razor blades.

  57. MR August 14, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Seriously West Coast Girl, have you ever tried to change a pull up on a toddler who has had a poop accident and then proceeded to sit and fall in it a few times? Depending on the child and also how long they’ve been it, whether they were sitting…the consistency of the poop changes and my 2 year old needs to be laid down to have her poopy pull up changed 1/2 the time, my son EVERYTIME, and my oldest 2 daughters rarely. There is NO WAY you can get a toddlers bum clean and not smelly if they have pooped in their pull up. Instead if insisting the man do it standing, insist the other men get over it.

  58. Warren August 14, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    To Neener,
    Sorry but I disagree wholeheartedly. I in no way need to go to my neighbours and give them the heads up that my kids will be playing outside, taking a crap or eating cookies. And until parents start standing up to the authorities for something they believe in, things will only get worse. We have given the state way too much power, and they have used our fear and weakness to take even more.
    No I am not some anti gov’t radical. If you take a close look at things have gone over the years, we have given up rights, and freedoms to the authorities for what we thought was the greater good. Now they have even more control and this story is the result.
    I will abide by and support an officer in the course of his duties almost unconditionally. As I will most branches of authority. But when it comes to my kids, back the f off. I will raise them the way I see fit and I will fight any and all comers to do so. I am a creature of nature, and just ask Momma Bear what she would do if you messed with her kids.

  59. Becky August 14, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    my heart aches for this lady. and i think the police officer needs to be investigated if he takes his 11-year-old daughter into the bathroom with him. when we’re out, i let josh (my oldest – 8 years old) go into the men’s room alone all the time. i wait patiently outside the door, and he emerges safe and refreshed.

  60. Michelle August 14, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    I wouldn’t let a 2yo and a 4yo play alone in *my* yard, but I allow things in my yard that wouldn’t be safe for an unsupervised toddler – like my teenaged son’s building materials. If the mom in this case is confident that her yard is safe and secure, then I think her judgment should be trusted. Really, that’s the issue. We ought to trust the judgment of other parents unless given a reason not to.

    I still don’t think even an anonymous call to CPS is a good idea, though. I frankly don’t trust *them* to know the law. One of my friends is absolutely convinced that it’s illegal to allow a child younger than 12 to play outside without an adult, because CPS told her so.

  61. West Coast Girl August 14, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    @MR & Freedom for Kids: We routinely change poopy diapers standing up next to the toilet, probably since my son was about a year old (a little older in public places because I don’t let him hold the toilet rim). And my son has super squishy drippy poop. Never had problems getting his butt clean. Takes a lot of wipes, but that’s because he has atypically wet, sticky poop, not because he’s standing (takes just as many wipes laying down).

    So how do I do it? I don’t know what my trick is, other than to tuck the back part of his shirt up, like girls used to do with the fronts of their shirts in the 70s.

    I love Lenore’s idea of plopping the kid on the toilet for poop wiping, but since my son’s entire butt is poopy, it would leave quite a mess on our toilet. And he’s too big for me to hold and clean at the same time.

    I totally agree that the other men shouldn’t have an issue with seeing a naked toddler girl. And I realize that the original poster didn’t *say* that the girl was laying down. I just assumed she was, because if she was standing and there was a free stall, it does seem odd not to go in the stall.

    Mostly I was commenting on how potty independence is a sort of free-range issue for toddlers.

  62. lucy August 14, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    I would seriously love to know what town and state this is in, to do a little research.
    I agree that working with CPS is not the answer. A better bet would be to work with the police department – bottom to top. Until you get answers. I don’t believe that there is any law breaking, more like harassment…

  63. Michelle August 14, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Warren, I agree that we should not need *permission* from the neighbors to let the kids play outside, but part of the Free Range Kids mission is community building. A community where people care about each other and watch out for each other is part of what makes our kids safe when they play outside without us. I like knowing that if something did happen to my kids while playing outside – not even an abduction, but a traffic accident, a snake bite, an encounter with a loose dog, or just getting lost – me neighbors care enough to get involved. (In fact, one of my neighbors intervened on my daughter’s behalf when she was harassed by a jerk cop who didn’t think she should be walking to her friend’s house alone.) Going to meet the neighbors and talking about this can help build that kind of community.

  64. SKL August 14, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Just for clarification, SKL is not Lenore. I could see how that could be assumed, though, from the letters! I’m just some looney parent who has weird ideas on potty training.

    My kids’ nanny balked, too. That’s actually why I had to switch from regular diapers to pull-ups when I hired her. (It was hard to find pull-ups that small.) But by that time, most poops were in the potty anyway.

  65. Freedom for Kids August 14, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    West Coast Girl–Maybe the difference in thoroughly cleaning boys’ vs. girls’ poopy diapers is that there are more nooks and crannies on a girl’s lower body than on a boys. I have two daughters. Lying them down was the only way I could ever see and properly clean everything.

  66. Michelle August 14, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    (And I’m not saying I expect my neighbors to be supervising my kids for me. Just be a community where help can be received if needed.)

  67. Freedom for Kids August 14, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    Lucy—I disagree that the police dept. is the place to look for answers. You need to research the law itself. The police often don’t know what the laws are! I know this from speaking about home schooling with a lawyer who is an education law expert in Connecticut. She not only told me what the education law is, she urged me to look it up and read and research it until I understood it myself. I learned from her, from other home schoolers, and from DCF (Connecticut’s form of CPS) itself that the law is often misunderstood by those who are supposed to be enforcing it. If you know what the law is regarding your issue, you are empowered to stand up against those who would trample on your rights.

  68. jcaritas August 14, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    As the parent of a 5-year-old, I agree with some of you that 2 and 4 are too young to be outside for hours without supervision. I wouldn’t be worried about pedophiles, but kids of those ages have no judgment, and a 4 year old shouldn’t have to live with guilt if something happens to his little brother (and yes, that includes choking).

    Was the OP also saying she felt it was out of line for someone to be arrested for flaunting a weapon at a Pride Parade? Honestly, showing a weapon in that situation seems incredibly intimidating and harassing, no matter what the law says. Do you hate cops so much that this is really the person you want to rally around?

    Often on this board I feel like people (Lenore included) throw their support behind anyone who holds free-range views, even if their judgment is suspect. Is it really “worst-first” thinking to worry about bodily harm to a 2-year-old outside alone from morning to night? Knowing the situation, I certainly feel bad for the OP, but had I been this woman’s neighbor, I would have been concerned about the kids. Perhaps the neighbor just asked the cop to check on the situation — feeling more comfortable with the local police than with a neighbor who’d never reached out. I’m not saying s/he did the right thing, only that s/he’s not necessarily the embodiment of evil some are making her out to be.

    I also try to encourage my daughter’s independence, but must we high five everyone who pushes the limits? It often seems as if people here are casting aspersions on lots of people — cops, concerned neighbors, anyone not free range… I thought we free-rangers were supposed to be trying to see the best in people rather than assume that everyone is out to get us?

  69. Warren August 14, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Michelle,
    I see what you are saying, and for the most part agree. I know my community generally, and know most of the ones with kids better. Just because all the kids roam up and down the road, and in and out of their homes all day long. There is a difference between knowing your neighbours and feeling the need to discuss how I raise my kids, so that they won’t misunderstand.
    Just as there is a difference between coming up to the door and telling me that they saw my child hanging off the power lines and calling the cops because they don’t agree with the freedom I afford my kids.
    You start off on the defensive and you never get out.
    We have one couple on the road nickname Ken and Barbie who feel they should tell us how to do everything from lawncare to kids. I sent them a copy of Montgomery Gentry’s song “What do ya think about that?” for Christmas.

  70. Lynne Gomez August 14, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    Jcaritas, I was stating that the police did not know that the law changed a DECADE ago to make it legal to carry a gun. The man was a participant in the festivities and was approached, harassed, illegally arrested and even one cop even threatened to “kick his @$$”. It’s all on video for the whole world to see. The point was not whether or not he should have had the gun. The point was that he has the legal right to carry it, the police officers didn’t know that he had the right to carry it and he was JAILED for carrying it. Ever heard a cop tell someone “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”? Yea, same/same!

    My kids are not outside 7 days a week, wake up until go to sleep. Three days a week we aren’t even HOME 90% of the day because that’s when I have my appointments, run my errands. One day a week (at least) we have family time and are not home, parts of three other days a week we try to have some family time at least here and there.. but when we are home, they tend to gravitate to outside. Like any kid would. The little one still comes in for naps when he gets tired (usually around three). They come in when they are hungry and I fix them food. They come in when they are thirsty and I give them something to drink. You make it sound like they are thrown outside when their eyes open, door is locked and they aren’t allowed back in until they are ready to fall asleep again…

  71. Jen Connelly August 14, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    @Mary Alderman

    We live in Washington State and my kids play outside all day long by themselves. So do all the other kids in the neighborhood. Anyone aged 5 or older is usually outside in their yards, usually being watched by older siblings or neighbors.

    My 2yo goes out there with them all the time and to the park down the street. The other day one of our 8yo neighbors walked her almost 3yo brother to our house (they live around the corner) to meet the 2yo. The 2yo also plays in our backyard alone all the time. It’s fully fenced and both gates to the front are padlocked (to keep the older kids from leaving them open, they know have to climb over to get in the yard from the front).

    This is completely normal in our town. I always see kids outside alone. Older kids (usually middle school up) are at stores and fast food places on their own. They run errands to pick up groceries and stuff. My older kids (12, almost 11 and almost 10) walk all over town and usually take their 6yo sister. They have no cell phone and I don’t worry much about them. I know they can handle it.

    No one blinks when you see small kids in their front yards or riding bikes on our residential streets (we are a self contained neighborhood, the only people driving around here live here, there’s no other traffic except residential–people going to and from work mostly). And the park is ALWAYS filled with lots of kids and rarely any adults. The only kids with parents around are toddlers and preschoolers. Unless they have older siblings to watch them.

  72. Neener August 14, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    @Michelle – Well said.

    I don’t equate speaking with a neighbor to prevent any future misunderstandings in this instance (with the OP’s very specific and unusual situation and the children’s ages) with giving my rights as a parent away wholesale. Nor do I see how a confrontational attitude toward the police is productive if one can’t afford a lawyer on speed dial. That’s the attitude that probably led the neighbor to think she was doing the right thing by calling the police instead of walking over to knock on the door. While clearly the neighbor and the officer were in the wrong, we can’t expect community unless we also give it, and it has to start somewhere.

  73. West Coast Girl August 14, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    @SKL: Sorry. My bad. I do agree with you on potty independence. I know we are in the minority today.

  74. Stevie Taylor August 14, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Because I have a farm where we sell locally raised (meaning nonUSDA regulated) goods and because my kids (plus whoever else’s kids are over for the day) are playing outside all the time–outside of my direct line of sight, in the pasture with farm animals, climbing over and under barb wire fences, in and out of muddy ponds without life jackets, etc, etc, I have Public Servant Questionaire kept on my computer table. I keep it in the off chance that an officer of a regulatory agency ever stops by to question what we are doing. Could be the state Dept of Ag about the farm stand or CPS responding to calls about children yelling and paying outside in ac cow pasture with no mom in sight.

    There are many public servant questioanires online but my favorite is on Backwoodshome.com ( http://www.backwoodshome.com/columns/psquestionnaire.html ). I am pretty lucky that I live in the country and I have never been questioned for anything. But if I was, I would very politely thank them for their concern, say I appreciate them stopping by but that everything was fine, and then I would produce my paper and ask them to complete the questions with me so that I can make sure I know exactly who they are, what agency they work for, the basis for their interest, etc.

    Institutions tend to intimidate citizens by treating them like they have to answer questions being asked of them, while the institution offers no info in return. Most people, when questioned by an official, will later claim they had no idea what to say or do to assert themselves and stop the intrusive (maybe even illegal) line of questioning without further antagonizing the official. So use the form and stay calm and polite. You cannot force someone to answer the questions. But it will put them on notice that you are not intimidated, that you are intelligent enough to question their legal right to be on your property, it may provide very helpful info for you (i.e. who actually complained on you) if they are willing to answer it, and no official could ever say it was offensive, aggressive or inappropriate (such as saying ”get the F off my property” or ”You must hate your job, you MF”). When done properly, it is just a simple, reasonable, honest request for information. But I bet it would send officials scrambling to get away and I doubt they would be in a hurry to come back.

    Just an idea for Free Range Parents worried about law enforcement or Child Protective Services
    Stevie @ http://www.ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

  75. Warren August 14, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    @Neener-?
    So you are saying to have a good community we all need to go to our neighbours with the following.
    1. You do not need to worry when you see my kids playing in the yard, on a regular basis. They are there with my permission. I am taking care of them.
    2. You do not need to worry if you see my kids riding their bikes. They have my permission. I am taking care of them.
    3. You do not need to worry if you see my kids and so on to cover every situation.
    Cold day in Hell before I start worrying about everyone else’s insecurities and meddling.
    A good community is one where your neighbours will help your kids if they need it, I repeat “NEED”. Otherwise, all you should ever hear is “boy your kids are energetic. Bet if they had their way they would sleep outside.”
    The idea that doing preventative damage control is the way to go is exactly why we are in the spot that we are. By doing this damage control you are essentially saying that other people do have the right to judge or meddle in the way you raise your kids.
    Whether it be us as adults, or our children we all should have the right to do and be as we wish without having to worry about what other people think.
    I will not seek other’s approval, or even understanding. If when you look at me you do not like what you see……..you have every right in the world to keep your mouth shut and look in a different direction.

  76. Havva August 14, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Lynne,

    I think the important thing is to make the case that you are supervising the kids. My county has detailed guidelines and their standard is that the supervising parent needs to be able to “immediately intervene.” It sounds like you provide that level of supervision. The thing is to make sure the cops understand that. If you answer the front door while the kids are in the yard. It may not look that way, particularly with such young kids. While you are answering the door, the supervision is, presumably, broken. After all your youngest hasn’t passed the age that toys warn about kids choking on small parts.

    I see two ways to deal with that, one is to make the kids come in before you move from the back door/window to answer the front door. The other is to go into the backyard and call the cop/visitor around to the gate since you “couldn’t leave the kids unsupervised to answer the front door.”

    At that point you are in a much better position to say. “I take it I have a neighbor who can’t see me watching the kids from just inside the door. I’m sorry my neighbor wasted your time.” Perhaps from there some appropriate request could be made like. “Since I’m sure you can’t tell me who called, could you please tell them that I am in fact here supervising my kids.” or “I don’t know who keeps making these calls [and other anonymous problems]. Is there anything you could do to get this harassment to stop?”

    I’d be careful about arguing for free-range in your state. Colorado unfortunately falls on the protective end of the spectrum (with an odd twist). Like many states there is no outright law sating that a kid below x age can’t be left alone. http://humanservices.mesacounty.us/FCS/template.aspx?id=2091

    But the guidelines (which are likely enforced as though they were law) state:
    “Colorado in general has accepted the age of 12 years as a guideline for when it might be appropriate for a child to be left alone for short periods of time. This standard is based upon the Colorado Child Labor Law, which deems 12 years as the minimum age for employment, for example a babysitter.” http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDHS-ChildYouthFam/CBON/1251617279471

    I’m still scratching my head there. Yesterday the kid can’t sit home alone without risk of setting herself on fire, or whatever. Today the same kid can be expected to protect a toddler with a propensity to cram random objects in their mouth? Excuse me WHAT? What magic makes that possible?

  77. John August 14, 2012 at 4:18 am #

    It’s these type of attitudes that contribute to a generation of fat, sedentary and diabetic children here in America. When my cousin and I were 4-years-old back in 1960, we were always roaming the neighborhood by ourselves and our parents were even considered helicopter parents back then! Today they’d be poster parents for free range.

  78. jcaritas August 14, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    Then in what situation should someone interfere? Should we always turn a blind eye, even if we see a child in (what we think is) potential danger? Must we assume that every parent is doing what they think is right for their child?

  79. Warren August 14, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    jcaritas,
    All it takes is some common sense and some self restaint. The whole idea is to be realistic. I can remember neighbours shouting at me from their yards, “Hey, you’re not looking both ways!”, when I would run out after the frisbee or tennis ball I was playing with the dog with. They didnt call the police on my parents. And that’s community.
    I remember adults asking me in the park, “Your Mom knows you’re down here, right?”
    There was an old widow on the block that owned a Basset Hound, that all the kids played with. She routinely gave us snacks and lunch. And even at the age of 6 or 7 we helped her with heavy lifting. That’s community.
    Calling the cops isn’t community. Judging others isn’t community. Being the lady who lived across the road from Darren and Samantha isn’t community.
    Back in the day if you called the cops on my parents, for me playing in the yard………you might as well move. You would be treated like the dog crap stuck to the bottom of your shoe. No one would ever have anything to do with you. That’s community.

  80. SKL August 14, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    So I think it might be a good idea to go tell Neighbor Lady (in a sweet way of course) that she should feel free to come knock on the door if she ever has any concerns or questions or would like to chat over a cup of tea.

    I do think that the cop need not have been involved, probably. However, I can’t help but wonder why the lady felt that was a better course of action than just knocking. Maybe she tried knocking on another neighbor’s door in a similar situation and it wasn’t pretty.

    On another forum, a member posted a “what would you do” situation where her neighbor appeared to be neglecting her special needs kids. At some point she had gone over there with cookies or something, trying to be neighborly and see if everyone was OK, and she was shouted down and there was something about mean barking dogs etc. Needless to say, that colored her opinion as to whether it was better to call CPS/police when she saw concerning things happening.

  81. LRH August 14, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    jcaritas I am going to chime in with your last post very soon. First I wanted to say, as almost everyone here knows: my kids are 3 and 5 and I leave them outside alone sometimes for 2-odd hours, in a fenced-in area, to play while I’m inside doing what I need to do. Sometimes I periodically check on them, other times, they just play & that’s it. If they were to scream bloody murder, most time I’d hear them, but they haven’t, so I’m not all that worried about it. They love it, and I love it.

    In fact, they’ve been doing this off & on since ages 2 & 4 of LAST year.

    And to answer your question jcaritas, I would say that, regarding what YOUR response to that sort of thing should be–it should be to mind your own damn business, because I can tell you that, what very few neighbors I have (which is almost zero), I don’t spend a single minute caring one iotta what they think of it, because my kids are MY kids, not theirs, and it isn’t their choice to make.

    Is there a point that someone should intervene? Yes, if you see something like that someone smacking their kid with a 2×4 with nails in it, or leaving their child in the car with it 100’F outside, no A/C running and the windows up, or if you see a father putting his hands down his little girl’s pants and fondling her. Short of something like that, yes, mind your own business.

    “Should we assume every parent is doing right by their child?” Short of extreme things like that, you DAMN right you should be. I don’t want some nosy-ass busy-body sticking their nose in my business telling me how to parent my kids, and anyone who would, it would serve them right (not that I would actually do such a thing, just saying) if their nose met the end of the other parent’s fist in a most emphatic fashion.

    Hopefully this woman finds out that the law will allow her to do as she pleases, and the nosy neighbor gets her just desserts. I am with Warren–anyone who would call the cops is nothing but gum on the bottom of my shoe, just plain trash.

    LRH

  82. SKL August 14, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    Well, if the mom had been lying on the floor too sick to move and dying, we’d be hearing about how nobody cared enough to check on this family.

    The OP seemed to imply that these kids were outside nearly all day and their mother was never seen by the neighbors. Then we learn the kids’ ages are 2 and 4. I’m pretty free range and I’ve let my 2yos play outside alone, but not all day long, and not without me ever going out there at all. Somewhat different facts were added later. So I dunno, but there’s a possibility that the neighbor just wanted to make sure the family was OK.

  83. jcaritas August 14, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Cut the rudeness, please — I don’t even know you. I thought this was a civil forum where we could discuss ideas. If someone found my kid in what they thought was a dangerous situation, I’d want them to let me know. If they couldn’t find me, I’d want them to call the cops. Not every cop — and every concerned neighbor — is a jerk out to judge and condemn you; sometimes they’re just trying to do the right thing.

  84. LRH August 14, 2012 at 5:37 am #

    jcaritas I don’t think anyone here is being rude, I am trying not to be. We may be a little “emphatic” in our responses, but if that’s the case, there is a “method to our madness”–we see a trend of different policies, attitudes, and responses on other people’s parts that, taken in aggregate, have had the effect of causing parents to alter their parenting style & retard the freedom they give their children, both due strictly to the threat of misinterpretations of their actions & intentions being thought of as abuse and/or neglect when such isn’t the case. Sometimes we’ve been the victim of such ourselves.

    Through it all, we’re fighting back & advocating for a change whereby good parents are left alone to be the parents we & they want to be, without undue interference from people who sometimes are well-intended but still wrong, and worse, sometimes by people who are being vicious simply because they can.

    No one here is arguing that parental authority should be so absolute that one would be able to lock their kids up in a dog cage during 100’F summer days or 30’F windy days and be untouchable. However, in trying to prevent such tragic & horrible occurrences, combined with a change in attitudes to where childhood things like playing outdoors alone for periods at the right age are now looked at as “negligence” when such wasn’t the case just 20-odd years ago, the pendulum has swung too far to the other extreme, to where if you’re a parent there is too much of this “looking over your shoulder” aspect to your parenting.

    We don’t want that, and not only do we not “want it,” we think it’s proper to push back & fight for our parental authority, and to fight against the evil powers and/or attitudes that would usurp this. A parent SHOULD be able to parent however they please, short of those extreme stories, without having to explain to outsiders, however, well intending they may be, why we’re doing what we’re doing. Parents have the RIGHT to be left alone if they’re doing no wrong, and shouldn’t be compelled to explain every move they make, why they made it, why they didn’t do it the “acceptable” way (that is, having your child indoors all day getting fat eating Twinkies & playing the X-box all day). That is a parent’s RIGHT, without having to explain every little thing because, supposedly, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you should understand the scrutiny, heck you should APPRECIATE it in terms of your child’s safety, and shouldn’t mind the poking & prodding.”

    Sorry, but we DO mind the poking & prodding. The evil monsters notwithstanding, we’re not obligated to explain everytime we fart, burp, go to the bathroom, scratch our nose, all with paperwork that’s been single-space typed, embossed with our signature, and filed with the notary public.

    LRH

  85. Warren August 14, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    LRH,
    Well stated. jcaritas, if you thought I was being rude, you have my apology.
    I just feel that everytime we do not stand firm against those who feel they should tell me how to raise my kids, that we are empowering them to continue doing it.
    I never allowed family to do it, and I sure as hell ain’t letting strangers do it.
    My former Mom in Law tried for years to helicopter my kids. She lost. I was nice about it for awhile, until she refused to listen. Then she routinely received lectures and was asked to go home on occassion.
    That was my kids grandmother, and I wouldn’t give in or go quietly into the night. Do not expect me to do that for cps,cas, police or anyone.
    My kids are my responsiblity and no one else’s.

  86. jcaritas August 14, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    I think there’s a lot of room between keeping your kids inside all day eating Twinkies and watching tv, and letting them play unsupervised all day at age 2 and 4. To me, the whole free range movement involves teaching your kids responsibility and values so that they’re ready to be independent, productive, considerate citizens of the world. I don’t believe that Lenore had in mind a world of feral children — she knew what her son was capable of at age 9 because she had given him manageable doses of freedom from an early age, but had also taught him good judgment and values. For little kids who aren’t taught to share and be good citizens, might makes right.

    There aren’t many people outside of this forum that would think it was appropriate for the OP to let her kids play unsupervised that long, that young, especially when she doesn’t know her neighbors (and therefore might not have other eyes looking out for her). Yet people on this forum seem to think that anything that’s the opposite of “helicopter parenting” must automatically be defended. When you rally behind these somewhat extreme views, IMO, it makes more moderate people who would like to join the movement instead think of us as a bunch of wackos. I felt the same way when reading about the woman with the chalk the other day. Why are we defending her? Who could say she was doing right by her child?

    And yes, I do think your parenting is my business, just as mine is yours. I’m not going to call the cops on you (though I might knock on your door if I thought it was warranted), but if you live in my community, my child will go to school with yours, I’ll share a neighborhood with them, and I would hope that someone has taught them right from wrong.

  87. Lynne Gomez August 14, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Whoa, who said I don’t know ANY of my neighbors? I know several. I don’t know the people on the east side of me at all because we have a fence between us and don’t share a road. I know the family whose home borders my yard, I know the family behind me, the family across the road from me… (I believe it was one of the neighbors to the east that called, anyone else would have come to me.

    Also, Jcaritas, again, you aren’t reading. I have explained that it isn’t all day, every day. I have explained that they come inside frequently and that I sit outside while they play in their pool when weather/my body permit.

    Trust me, if the boys don’t share, I hear it. I can hear nearly every word they say through the window. They come to me often (every 5-10 minutes) with an issue that they need help with (eating, drink, settling a dispute, etc). They are not unsupervised. Nor do they have to “figure it out” on their own. They are DEFINITELY not feral! They are playing outside, in their yard, with their toys, with each other and learning to do something other than sit on their butts and play a video game or watching tv all day. I also don’t need “other eyes” when mine work just fine. They aren’t running the neighborhood, they are inside a fenced in yard.

    Also, don’t worry about the possibility of my kids going to school with yours! No dangers there. My children won’t be attending the cess pool that passes for a public education system in our area.

    Last thing, my children know right from wrong. You are a judgmental person and need to relax and realize that you are reading wrong and reading into things.. which has tried to be explained to you.. but you just don’t want to read it. Sad.

  88. Lollipoplover August 14, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    All children have a right to play outdoors on their property. Period. What is disputed here is the supervision- in this case, it is INDIRECT. Mom is not directly visible but can see them through windows and hear them. At ages 2 and 4, my kids were constantly outside, indirectly supervised. I delayed putting window treatments on my windows so that I had a clear line of vision on them while I got things done inside. If I had to be by their sideconstantly while they made another sandcastle in the sandbox, they might not have dinner that night..
    Good neighbors who have concerns knock on doors and express themselves. Busybodies and Assh@les call police and CPS.

    If I were the mom here, I’d invite Busybody neighbor over for coffee. I would ask neighbor about their childhood and if they had a security detail on them every time they played outside. I would introduce my kids and let neighbor know if they EVER have a concern about them to please contact me directly. Then I would let them know if they ever called the police or CPS on me again I would sue them for defamation of character and all legal bills I incur.

  89. Warren August 14, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    jcaritas,
    I mean this with all due respect. No my parenting is not your business. How I raise my three dogs is not your business. What I do for a living is not your business. Just because someone lives in the same area, that is not permission to meddle or interfere in my personal, business or family affairs.
    The first time you knock on my door, you will be invited in for coffee, and politely told to not worry about my children. If you were to continue knocking on my door about issues you disagree on, you would be politely told to f— off. If that didn’t get my intentions across, you would be warned to stay off my property.
    Anyone that knows me, knows I am one of the nicest guys around. Mess with my family in any manner, and I become that guy that no one wants to mess with.
    And no I do not care about what other people think or say about me. My family loves me, as do many of my friends and I have yet to do anything in my life that would cause me not to look at myself in the mirror.
    My kids are learning that you can be a great person, while remaining strong, assertive and not taking crap from anyone.
    My two daughters have come to me on many occassions and thanked me, for giving them the confidence not to take crap off anyone.
    I am proud of my girls. I have seen them stand up for themselves as well as stand up for others.

  90. LRH August 14, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    I am with Warren obviously. Let me elaborate a bit more.

    My wife & I used to have meetings every 2 weeks with a group of friends at their house. We would let our kids, then not quite 2 & 4, play with other older kids in a separate room while all of us adults talked about rather private, non-child appropriate issues. The female hostess took issue with this when we were doing fine, as well as other things (I would let my wife do the bulk of dealing with the kids while I “mingled” but she was okay with it, especially since during the week I handled the bulk of parenting responsibilities).

    This hostess could not seem to resist preaching about how we handled our business & doing so in a judgmental way that was very meddling & “uppity.” If she was doing so as a friend just talking & sharing ideas, that would’ve been fine, but she was very “meddling” in how she did it.

    As such, we haven’t returned to her house & will not unless she acknowledges she was wrong & apologies. You can share ideas with me as a friend, but once you cross the line & get preachy, I’m done with you.

    So of course I’m not going to be okay with strangers poking around in my business. Who should be okay with it?

    LRH

  91. hineata August 14, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Personally I often let my young ones play outside in the fenced backyard indirectly supervised – small house, with the windows open I could hear everything, and mostly see everything. Thank goodness I had great neighbours, by the sounds of things. Also that it is still considered relatively normal to allow preschoolers (under fives) to play outside ‘alone’ around here. Don’t blame you for wanting to move out to the countryside, Lynne!

    I just wish my kids would still play outside more. Teenagehood and homework seem to be killing their drive…..’sigh’. I seem to need to threaten consequences these days to get them to go down to even the local school for some exercise that’s not directly structured (i.e. they still play sports, but not the loose fun ones they used to play around the neighbourhood.). All the kids their age seem to be the same, all indoors more. That bothers me more than seeing ‘unsupervised’ preschoolers having fun in their own yards. Maybe I should be ringing CYPS about that……but then I’d have to dob my own kids in too!

  92. CrazyCatLady August 14, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Having lived in a mobile home park myself, I see no difference with the kids of ages 2 and 4 play outside in the yard or play in another room while not under direct eye sight. First, as the Lynne points out, most of these mobiles have thin walls. You most certainly can hear everything. Inside and out. And what the neighbors are saying at times too!

    If Lynne wants to call CPS, I suggest using a cell phone or a have a friend call. I am sure that they have caller ID.

    Like others, I live on a fairly large piece of land. I have fences to work on, animals to take care of. I cannot see my kids all the time, nor do I want to. As a child in similar circumstances, I regularly played by myself in the tall grass for hours, out of sight and sound of my mother. My siblings did the same. The fact is, this mother is actually closer to her kids than my parents were to me.

    It sounds like Lynne is doing a great job parenting. She has taught the kids how to listen to their own bodily needs and take appropriate action. They know when to come in to drink, eat and even take naps on their own. (The taking naps on his own is amazing! None of my kids would voluntarily take a nap!) Many kids do not know how to listen to their own bodies, and then end up with heat stroke or such. It sounds like her kids, at a young age, know what to do to stay well, no doubt due to being outside. They have amazing imaginations too – to play for so long without having to be entertained by boob tube or an adult is a great thing. I am sure that homeschooling will go very well too.

  93. lexi August 14, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    I couldn’t explain the free range philosophy and passion to stand up for it any better than LRH, so I won’t even try. I do want to comment on several posts I read that consider it neglect to leave a two-year old alone in the yard. My son has played “alone” in the yard since he was 11 months old. I say “alone” in quotation marks because I suppose to the neighbors who might happen to look into my fenced yard, from their two-story house that hovers behind me, my two year old might seem unnattended. However, I can see him playing from our bedroom window and two of our kitchen windows. When he leaves my sight…and I admit, I actually wait a minute or two for him to reappear, I step outside and call his name. He usually comes when I holler. If not, I will find him in another corner of the yard concentrating on something he finds very fascinating. I do actually imagine that my neighbors may call CPS because they see a barefoot two year old playing “alone” in my yard. But I’m taking my chances. Watching him explore the world while I mop floors and wash dishes inside the house is totally worth it. The ironic thing is that we are not reading stories about parents like me calling cops on neighbors who I darn well know have children, but I haven’t seen their kids outside for several weeks. How is a “concerned” neighbor like me able to assure myself that they haven’t locked their kids in the basement without food or water? I know, I know, their kids are safe and sound playing video games in their cozy living room. Seems to me that we all need to define what neglect really is…and accept the fact that a kid is going to be just fine living with some level of neglect anyway–in fact thrive when neglected in just the right ways.

  94. Lynne Gomez August 14, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Crazy Cat Lady, Thank you :)

    My kids go to bed when they are tired because of how they learned. :) At first, I would put my older one (when it was just him) to bed and then spend 3-4 hours chasing him BACK to bed every 2-3 minutes. It wasn’t relaxing, it wasn’t fun.. I hated bedtime. When he would get tired, he would quit playing with me, lay down on his bed and go to sleep. One night I realized that if I just let him play until he was tired he would go to bed on his own (circa 18 months, he was in a toddler bed). So bedtime became quiet time in his room then he would go to sleep when he was ready. Eventually it was quiet time anywhere in the house and when he was tired he would go get his pillow/blanket, choose a spot and go to sleep. A few times I had to search the house for him and would find him in odd places.. a few times I had to call/text the hubster and tell him to use the back door because there was a child passed out in front of the front door but it worked. When the younger one came along, we just went with this again. When they are tired, they sleep. When they are not tired, they play 😉 It works quite well and is so much less stress on everyone in the house :) Same philosophy for hungry. When they are hungry, they come ask for food and I feed them :) I don’t *normally* make a meal unless someone has expressed hunger… I don’t get hungry by the chime of the clock and I don’t expect them to either 😉 Usually it works pretty well :)

  95. Jenna August 14, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Boy, I’m glad I live where I do. I’m not the only one in our neighborhood who is free range and it’s pretty common to see kids as young as four outside playing without any adults in sight. But usually it’s about three or more kids playing outside all together in someone’s front yard, and that person is usually supervising from inside. My kids are outside ALL the time. They ride bikes around the whole neighborhood and they play with all the other kids in the neighborhood and there usually aren’t parents outside watching them, unless their child is under four. Now, my daughter is four, and I don’t let her go play outside by herself, she has to be with her older brothers, who are six, eight and nine. So if they aren’t home or don’t want to go outside, she can’t either. I will start letting her go out by herself when she gets to be older. But they don’t just stay in front, they play all over–the park across the street, riding bikes around the block, running from house to house playing whatever they play. They wouldn’t be able to play just out front anyway as we don’t have front yards in our neighborhood. Instead, our neighborhood is comprised of “cluster homes” or groups of 4-6 houses who each share a big, common driveway in the front, so no front yard. The back yards are pitiful, hardly big enough for a dog, so the kids play on driveways, on side lawns, and at the main neighborhood park, which is across the street from our house. I hope I never move to an area where people call the cops on each other for letting kids play outside.

  96. Staceyjw August 14, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    PLEASE will someone tell me what’s so different about a privacy fenced yard, attached to the house, compared to an indoor playroom? Where I live the only difference is the roof, as our place doesn’t have installed heat or AC (and it’s rarely needed due to mild weather). So what’s the difference between playing with toys in a yard or in a playroom? If mom/dad/sibling is in another room, it’s irrelevant if the kids are in the yard or the playroom. I honestly cannot believe this is even an argument. A 2 yr old is not helpless, and can be indirectly supervised all day long. Mine just turned 2 on the 9th and he plays in our complexes Playground all day. I have to drag him in to eat! Since it’s open, I cannot leave him alone for more than a few minutes, but since I can see the whole park from our kitchen, I always cook and just check on him. neighbor kids will help if he tries to walk away, they bring him back or let me know. Our 7yr old next door neighbor watches him to make sure he doesn’t run off so I can clean. I do supervise, and always know where he is. But once he is 4 he can go out alone, as do ALL the other kids.

    I actually picked this apartment because when I looked at it, I saw kids from 10 m to 16 yrs all over, no adults in sight. 2-3yr olds ride their little bikes everywhere, alone or with siblings. There’s always adults out, and other kids. It’s an amazing oasis in the helicopter town of Eugene Oregon.

    Why are we so lucky? I guess because where we live is mostly big, Mexican families, working class white families, or any race singles in their 20-30’s. All people that have to be practical and cannot helicopter. This town is full of nut jobs, just not in our apartments.

    If that was me I would kill the neighbor with kindness. I hATE people that are SO concerned they can call cops, but cannot be bothered to ASK the parent themselves. Nothing is ruder.

  97. awombatsweb August 14, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Sad that this stuff happens. How can we encourage parents to let their children free when even the Police are highly paranoid. When parents see Police Officers like this, it only reinforces their fear. I once had a cop tell me that I should be watching my children at all times when they are with me. Ridiculous and impossible.

    As for the cop taking his 11 year old daughter into a men’s toilet, I would think that this would be considered as a possible child sex offense.

  98. Yan Seiner August 14, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I’ve had 4 kids rip the shingles off my house. My two and two friends. 12, 13, 14, and 15. They were ready to work at 6:45AM; it’s been really hot and they figured they’d better get at it before the sun got really hot. They were done by 11 and inside watching movies. Back at it at 6PM for another hour.

    They did this on their own; we didn’t set a time for them.

    All these kids are about as free range as they get; they all work and play outside.

    If we never let our kids explore they will never, ever learn to be functioning adults.

    And no doubt I “endangered” a bunch of kids but they had fun, they did a lot of good work, and they all survived.

    It really is sad that this stuff happens. Kids are tough but we treat them as if they are completely incompetent. Kids can do wonderful things if we let them. But we have to let them from a very early age; a kid given freedom after 18 years of helicoptering won’t be able to function.

  99. bmommyx2 August 14, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    there is nothing about where she lives or the ages of the kids. I for sure wouldn’t call CPS, but I would go to the library or call a councilman’s office or a mayor’s office to find out the exact law

  100. joinedtheeliteclub August 14, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    I am going through a similar situation here. One of my neighbors called on me because of something similiar but with supposedly more. It was a retaliation call. I can’t say more right now. Now the kids can’t go outside unsupervised and we’re living like prisoners in our own house. 65% of calls are retaliation calls. One attorney I spoke to suggested speaking with the neighbor, but after what she said about us in the report: hell no and I’m not parading the kids around.

    Words of advice: DO NOT talk to your neighbor, DO NOT call the department, everything in writing and certified mail, DO NOT open your doors to anyone. They will crucify you for items in the sink, bags of garbage hanging on doors, and other things you would never even see normally. All animal boxes should be in the bathroom. I’ve heard stories of workers coming in through doggie doors and going around to other neighbors to ask questions. DO NOT TRUST. That’s a mistake I made: the nice little old lady. hmpf

  101. kc August 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Well it’s impossible to know what the woman who contacted the police was thinking but in any case she should have walked over to introduce herself and have a chat with you. What is the world coming to these days when neighbours aren’t willing to speak to one another!

    What age can kids play indirectly supervised? I think that depends on the kids themselves. Some are very mature. Others might be uncomfortable being alone or can’t be trusted not to do stupid things. But really that’s something every parent has to decide.

    The problem is that many adults think kids are incompetent or incapable of making decisions, and by raising them as such, many kids do not learn to be independent until much later.

  102. Steve August 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Good news for this mom – but I’m talking about her “illness” and not her kids.

    She might very well find an answer to her physical problems in the book:

    The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders

    by John Sarno, M.D.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Divided-Mind-Epidemic-Disorders/dp/0061174300/

  103. hineata August 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Just remembered that, forget about toddlers, of course as we’ve discussed before it used to be common practice to leave babies outside in the fresh air to nap, as this was considered beneficial. I’ve done it myself, and my mother certainly did….in fact she’d do it any day that wasn’t actually flooding, to such an extent that once while she was visiting my grandmother, I actually got blown over the fence, pram upended etc (our town being windier than Chicago…).

    Thank goodness CYPS didn’t exist then:-).

  104. Katie August 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I’m firmly of the opinion, and myabe, Lenore, you might want to put this in the FR “tenets” somehow, that we free-range parents should memorize and have on hand copies of, the fourth amendment. That would be the one which guarantees against search and seizure without a warrant “particularly describing the persons or things to be siezed”. And in my admittedly amatuer opinion, should protect people from being pestered without specifi law violations to which even the officer can point.

  105. Suzanne August 14, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    I had a neighbor call CPS because my kids were playing outside “unsupervised.” When they came we dicussed the ages of my children and that along with checking on them periodically, we always kept a window open so we could hear them. The CPS worker agreed this was adequate supervision. At the time my youngest was 3 and the oldest was 7. Based on this I don’t think it’s a bad idea for this mom to call CPS and ask them or if there is a seperate Famiy and Children Services office, maybe that would be a better choice, I don’t know. Calling the poilce dept could be a good idea too, if the officers behavior/statements were contrary to local law she could report his conduct and perhaps save other moms from the harassment she received. I agree with others who said it depends on where she lives.

    While I was looking to see if I could find anything helpful about this I came across this link- http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/files/sp-IMNNewslettersummer.pdf I did not see anything in this “bill of rights” that suggests these activites be completed under close adult supervision, IN does seem to support free-range kids. Had to share it with you.

  106. pentamom August 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    I’d be hesitant about the idea of kids that young outside all day by themselves IF it were not clearly stated that they were inside a locked fence.

    Inside a locked fence within sight and sound of a parent cannot in any way be distinguished, safety-wise, from in the next room. What could possibly happen to the 2 year old that would inflict lifelong trauma on the 4 year old that could NOT happen in the bedroom while Mom’s in the kitchen or the living room?

    I just don’t see the problem here. Would I be comfortable with it myself? Probably not. Is there an objective reason to say that it is wrong or dangerous? Can’t see it myself.

  107. Warren August 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I am seeing some of these replies, and the substance worries me. We are not talking about drinking alcohol, driving a car, voting or working full-time……………….we are talking about our kids playing outside!
    Why on earth are we letting some agency and or the police govern when and how we can let our kids play outside?
    Having our children’s play dictated by the government is insane. When did outdoor play become a controlled substance such as booze and smokes. If it is that way then should it not come under the jurisdiction of the ATF?
    Setting age limits on playtime?
    Again I say my children are my responsibility, not anyone else’s and certainly not the gov’ts.

  108. SKL August 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Warren, your last statement may be true, but the fact is that parents do have their kids taken away (or are under the threat of it) and are intimidated by cops. This is the environment we are raising our kids in. It shouldn’t rain on weekends, either, but it does, so what do we as individuals do about it?

    And there are many good reasons to be a bit neighborly. People are much more likely to give a damn about your wellbeing (and your kids’) if they know your good side.

  109. Warren August 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    SKL,
    Yes, I whole heartedly believe in being neighbourly. In my books, being a good neighbour is a balance between being friendly and minding my own business. I am the first one to run across the road and help with heavy lifting, sick cars, or anything. We have road parties, shoot the you know what and it all.
    The flipside is to mind my own business as well. “Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you, ’cause we all get judged in the end.”

    As for the all mighty agencies and police…….well one has to make a hard choice. Stand and fight for what you believe in, or live under their oppression. This is where it gets hard, and I know it sounds cold. But if you are not willing to stand up and fight for what you believe in, then you do not have the right to complain about the injustice or ask other’s to take up the struggle.

    We are not talking about disagreeing about the local poop and scoop law or the speed limit on the interstate. We are talking about raising our children………….the most worthwhile time to stand up and be recognized.

  110. SKL August 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I agree with the idea of taking a stand in general against these laws (which in my area don’t seem to be that much of a problem). But when the official is at your door asking about your children, that’s a different story. I can’t blame parents if they don’t feel terribly brave at that moment. I’ve heard of kids being put in foster homes for no good reason, only to be terribly abused there. I am sure that too is a “rare occurrance,” but I don’t blame parents if they act on that fear (by adjusting some of the more visible practices) when it comes to their own children. The fact is that some of these issues are hills worth dying on,and others are not.

    Some months ago I got fed up with the number of people (friends and strangers) alarmedly informing me that my kids were playing outside (on the sidewalk) near a restaurant we frequent. I decided to stop letting my kids go out there until they get a little older, because I get tired of explaining to each person that I’ve decided they can play out there, no I don’t think they will be snatched, yes they know not to jump in front of a moving vehicle, bla bla bla. I’m sorry if the free range movement feels betrayed, but I don’t want to deal with that every time I go there. Sometimes I just want to enjoy my restaurant experience.

  111. Warren August 15, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    SKL,
    Keeping your kids in now is your choice. Would not be mine.
    Like I have said, the first time they inquire about the kids, it is met with politeness. Continue and they politely get told to piss off.

    And every battle no matter how big or small, is worth fighting, when it comes to my kids.
    Each and every time a parent choose to just comply to avoid confrontation or headaches, we all lose. Compliance is accepting their rules. Give em an inch and they will take a mile. That is why we are in the mess we are in now.
    What kind of a message are we sending kids if we say well I do not agree with this, but I will go along with it.
    We teach them to be walked on. My kids have learned to stand up for themselves, and even at 13 my youngest is great at it.

  112. Erik August 15, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    I just sent an email from my personal email account to the mayor, police chief and the communications of Colorado Springs and copped about 15 news orgs, with a link to this story. I let them know that I would be following this incident and would be following up with the local ACLU office to see if the Mother has any recourse against the police department.

    FYI, not sure if most Americans know this but it is a federal crime for an officer of the law to knowingly misrepresent the law to a citizen.

  113. Donna August 15, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    @ Warren –

    Easy to have your attitude when nobody is actually threatening to arrest YOU and/or take YOUR children away. We can all be oh so brave then.

    The world looks much different when you are actually faced with the likelihood of dire consequences. What exactly have you proved to the world when your children are taken into CPS custody? Or by being arrested, prosecuted and CONVICTED of a crime? How do your children benefit from this?

    The thing you seem to miss is that these laws are extremely broad. Anything can fall under them. And public opinion is NOT on our side. Many people – people who have the power to arrest you, remove your children and people who will be legally judging your actions and determining the fate of your family – truly believe that allowing children to play in the yard unsupervised is neglect worthy of CPS and court interference. They are not just being assholes; they truly believe that they are doing the right thing for the children.

    That doesn’t mean that I think you are wrong for fighting if you believe the potential consequences of the fight are worth it. It does mean that you shouldn’t judge someone for believing that the possibility of jail and foster care, especially when already threatened with those things by people who can make it happen, is too high of a price to pay.

    Nor do I truly believe that you would be a martyr for the cause if really faced with the propect. As a public defender for many years, I’ve watched hundreds of innocent people insist that they will never plea guilty to a crime that they didn’t commit when the case begins. 999 times out of 1000 they all change their mind when push comes to shove and they are actually faced with pleading guilty and going home on probation or going to trial that day because I can’t guarantee anyone a trial victory but I can guarantee with 100% certainty that if you lose, you will go to jail within minutes of the verdict. You may, in fact be the 1 in a thousand but the odds are against it.

  114. Erik August 15, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    If she happens to have a smartphone she should download the ACLU record an officer application, so that next time she has to talk with an officer that she has a record of it. I have this app on all my phones and have installed and taught my children to use it. They have instructions to use it when ever that are approached by someone telling them they are doing something wrong and to stop, including neighbors and police officers. This is to protect them and the other party.

    http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers

  115. LRH August 15, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    Warren I have to say, welcome. I’m not taking your side over anyone else, you understand, we’re all here because we have a passion for allowing our kids the freedom to enjoy a childhood without us going nuts with worries–either supposed dangers to them, or threats to our authority as their parents. Not everyone approaches it or deals with these situations the same, but we still advocate for free-range just the same.

    That said, I do agree, and I’ve said it myself numerous times–a parent’s parental authority should be almost absolute. I should be able to shout to anyone, be it a social worker, police officer, neighbor, in-law, anybody “I appreciate your advice, but I let my kids play outside, and if you don’t like it, find the highest cliff and proceed to bungee-jump without a cord” and not have any worry that there will be anything in the world that’s legal which they can do in response to it. My authority should be almost that absolute and above questioning.

    I stress “almost” because obviously none of us are going to advocate a society where someone is a molester or locks their child in a cage feeding them through the metal bars and there’s nothing that can be done about it. None of us are advocating that it should be that absolute.

    However, short of extremes like this, it SHOULD be (darn near) absolute, no matter what you think of a parent’s style of parenting. As much as I used to hate seeing parents not letting their kids go 2 inches from the shoreline of the lakes or pools and screaming at them at the playground “no running” (what good is a playground if you can’t run at it?), that said, I still, however reluctantly, accept that they have the right to parent their kids as they please. It is NOT my place, nor a cop’s place, to intercede and force our views on someone’s parenting choices, no matter how much we disagree with it.

    Also, yes, if someone is a good friend of mine etc and they, very diplomatically, make a suggestion, I am fine with that. I don’t even mind a total stranger, to a lesser extent, doing this. We as parents need to be open to what other people’s thinking and ideas are, even if all we do is mull on what they’ve told us and nothing more.

    HOWEVER, tone is everything. It is one thing to have good intentions and to be respectful of a parent’s authority while still simply making some nicely-delivered suggestions and thoughts about things. It is another when you persist over & over even after being told “I appreciate your concern, but I got it.” In that case, you now have a situation where there is nothing less than out & out busybodying going on, and that is outrageous enough to warrant a strong and emphatic response.

    The woman in this story should be able to tell her neighbor plain as day “yes, I like to let my kids play outside–don’t like it, go screw yourself” and not have any worry in her mind that any sort of “retaliation” can occur on the part of the neighbor, the cop, ANYBODY. Everyone has different personalities and different levels of energy, and we all reach a point in our lives & in our days where we get tired of fighting and just want to live, no hassles. Even so, this is something very much worth fighting for, and I hope the original poster does just that.

    The WORST thing in the world you can do is give such jerks any hint that they have any ability at all to interfere & effectively cause you to retard your freerange and alter your parenting style based on their meddling.

    LRH

  116. LRH August 15, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    I will say Donna I get what you’re saying & in a lot of ways you are correct. The way I see it, you are delivering facts based on your lawyer experiences and in terms of “how things work in the real world” as it were, you thus know what you are talking about.

    HOWEVER, from a philosophical standpoint, what Warren is getting at–and it’s the same way I feel–a parent should not succumb to such threats & then just do as they’re told (although I do understand what you’re saying in terms of, when your back is to the wall, often-times you’ll go along with the status quo to save your rear-end). A parent shouldn’t approach such matters as “I’ve got to do whatever to keep our family together,” they should approach this with the attitude “I’m the parent, I’m not molesting anyone or locking them in cages, so mind your own business and leave us alone–or take my kids, put them in foster care, and if anything happens to them, it’s on YOU because you are the one that made it happen.”

    People think I’m crazy when I say this, but if it came down to having my kids at home but having to do it the way society thinks I am supposed to, versus having the state take them away but no one is butting their nose into my business–I will take #2 in an instant, and sleep soundly that night. Does that mean I don’t love my kids and wouldn’t be heartbroken? No, not at all, but I recognize this–if I can’t parent my kids as I think they should be, in an almost absolute way, then I’m not really their parents to start with anyway.

    The only reason I would do it as I’m told is simply for the purpose or getting them home, and then moving somewhere else where I won’t have my parental authority interfered with. In a way, that’s exactly what I’ve done–I’ve managed to find a place that’s very private and secluded, and I am not subject to much, if any, questioning, about how I parent my kids. When I’m in public, I’ve learned ways to discipline my kids and handle that sort of business in a way that doesn’t draw attention to us but, at the same time, still causes our children to mind & do as they’re told. I HAVE to, I can’t back down and let them do as they please on account of worrying about interference, because otherwise, the kids get the message–in public, I am more powerful than daddy, because all I have to do is make a scene. They can NEVER think that, or else I’m done for.

    The problem, besides the meddling, is this–the attitude is all too prevalent that “if you love your kids, you’ll do whatever you have to to keep them together.” That’s bullshit. Either I’m the parent, or I’m not. Either the woman is the parent, or she isn’t. Either this woman gets to decide how she raises her kids, or her neighbor does. If her neighbor does, then let HER pay all the daycare, all the food, all the healthcare, all the shelter expenses, all the car-commuting expenses. As long as the poster is doing those things and isn’t signing her rights as mother away, it should be such that she & she ALONE (short of the extremes like molesting or striking your child with a 2×4 embedded with nails) gets to decide EVERYTHING about how she parents her kids. Everything. If she can’t, then frankly this country has absolutely no business judging China or North Korea as being a communist dictatorship, because we now are one ourselves.

    And as for the people interfering–I will disagree with you a little, I think they ARE being assholes. I don’t care what they believe. They’re not the parent, so their beliefs, other than me trying to save my butt (if I assume that stance), is of no relevance to me, nor should it be. As I’ve often-times stated, where it regards our property and our house–I am the law. That may not be how it actually works, but it SHOULD be.

    Again Donna I absolutely understand you’re simply relaying your experiences as a lawyer & telling it like it is, I fully respect you for that. I’m just saying that while it is easier for someone to just do as they’re told to save their butts, and heck I might be no better than anyone else truth be told–still, we need to fight this and not worry about saving our butts so much, the consequences be damned. Anything less is to accept tyranny. Heck we wouldn’t be the US if the founders of this country back in the 1700s had this sort of “candyass” way of a response to their situation.

    LRH

  117. pentamom August 15, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    “if I can’t parent my kids as I think they should be, in an almost absolute way, then I’m not really their parents to start with anyway.”

    Here’s the problem with that line of thinking.

    I absolutely agree it’s important to stand up for the principle of “if I can’t parent as I see fit, I’m not really the parent anyway.”

    However, that is LESS important than what is actually best for the kids. Ultimately, it’s about *them*, not about your parenting rights, isn’t
    it?

    And it is NOT best for your kids to be yanked away from you and put into foster care. It is NOT the best for their childhood and upbringing to be martyred to the principle that if you can’t parent as you see fit, you’re not the parent, so it really doesn’t matter *what actually happens to them.*

    Again, I agree the principle is an important one (not the “really doesn’t matter part, of course) and should not be conceded lightly. But you can’t monkey with other people’s lives over principle like that. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” He was talking about himself. He wasn’t sacrificing his kids, or anyone else’s, on principle. You can choose that for yourself, but not for your kids.

    Unless you think that it’s actually better for your kids to grow up in foster care with all the instability, neglect, loss of parental love, and potential for abuse that goes with that, with the knowledge that their father stood adamantly on principle, because that knowledge is essential to their formation. I could see someone arguing that, but I wouldn’t agree that the outcome would be likely to be at all desirable.

  118. SKL August 15, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    LRH, you sound very black & white, and I tend to allow for a little more gray.

    My kids were adopted, so the whole “disrupt my kid’s custody” may be more of a hot button than it is for some. That’s really a rotten thing to do to a child unless the child is in a seriously bad situation.

    I’m sure there’s a whole other movement for CPS to get its act together. There are so many cases where CPS fails children, taking action too quickly in some cases, and trusting the parents too much in other cases. It’s scary to learn of how many times CPS or cops were called prior to the deaths of abused kids. I’m not prepared to take on that particular battle, but obviously that side issue is going to affect FRK. We don’t raise our kids in a vacuum.

  119. Warren August 15, 2012 at 3:38 am #

    LRH,
    Thanks for the welcome.
    Donna and pentamom,
    So we should just bend over and take it where the sun don’t shine, when threatened by a cop or agency?
    Next you will be telling me I should snap my heels, stand at attention, raise my right arm and hail de fuher.
    My grandfathers and uncles help defeat that maniac, so that we could have the life we do. On that point, if a cop or agency threatened to take away their kids, that cop and or agent would have been lynched by the neighbourhood.
    Donna I do not know where you practice law, but up here no one can remove a child without a court order signed by a judge.
    If a cop or agent tried without a court order, I am within the law to protect my child with all necessary means. That could well mean calling 911 and telling them to send an ambulance for the cop. My kids, my home, my property ……….without a warrant the cop is breaking the law.

    If you want to bury your head in the sand and just hope that some miracle will take place and the world will magically change, go for it. But you have already missed the miracle. Lenore is that miracle. She has brought it to the forefront and the public forum. Now that we realize we are not alone. We now need to grow strong and say enough is enough.

  120. Warren August 15, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    Donna,
    Upon reading you comments again………….you do not know me. Do not doubt my resolve or convictions, even more so when it comes to my children.

  121. LRH August 15, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    pentamom What you’re missing–and I hope I am being respectful with you, I really mean that–is that if someone takes my kids because I don’t go along with something utterly ridiculous, then it’s not my fault. It is the fault of the intervening party that didn’t mind their own business and imposed said ridiculous requirements upon me. So I could easily sleep at night free of guilt if they were taken from me while I stood my ground.

    And, to answer your question–my authority as the parent is that important, you better believe it. If I am being told that I am the one responsible for the welfare of my child financially, to where I could be made to pay child support for a child I have no relationship with even when I try to (it happens, and it’s wrong when it does), then how dare you tell me I have that responsibility but I don’t have the right to raise said child as I see fit. In my view, regardless of what the law says, if I am going to be held responsible for the care & such of a child, then I better have almost absolute say-so over its care & upbringing as well. I know the laws often-times separate the two, and that’s wrong–if you’re going to remove me from my child’s life just because you disagreed with my parenting methods, then YOU figure out how to pay for everything, how to ferry them to & from school, etc.

    YOU made the mess with your interference, not me. The blood is on your hands. To say that it’s my fault if my kids get taken from me because I didn’t concede to their dictatorship is to suggest that if someone came in my house and told me to let them rape me or else they were going to kill me, well it’s my fault they killed me because I didn’t realize that rape was inevitable. Pardon me for trying to kill the SOB and stand up for the freedom not to be raped.

    To me, that principle is a very key part of the very foundation of our society, easily as important as any individual’s life–yes, including my children’s as well. This is one area where I respectfully disagree with Lenore, whom I otherwise, I realize that she has said “having your kids home with you trumps free-range,” and I have to respectfully disagree with her. The right to have your kids home with you trumps EVERYTHING.

    LRH

  122. SKL August 15, 2012 at 4:49 am #

    Well. I’m a damn good sleeper, but I would not be able to sleep at night if my kids were taken. Guilt or no guilt.

    I do agree that we need to fight these things when they happen around us as well as to us.

  123. pentamom August 15, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    LRH, equally respectfully don’t you realize that the primary issue isn’t “whose fault it is” that the kids’ lives get ruined, it’s whether the kids’ lives get ruined at all?

    Somehow spending the rest of my life knowing that my kids lives have been ruined is not really going to be eased by knowing it wasn’t my fault, and it’s SURE AS HECK not going to make rotten lives better FOR THEM. (You might want to look up stats on the outcomes of kids who come up through the foster system versus those raised in an intact family such as yours.)

    Is it really all about your sense of not being at fault, and not at all about the kids themselves?

  124. pentamom August 15, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    BTW, I’m not saying it’s “your fault” if they get taken, but I’m saying that if you are faced with the choice of losing your kids and having their lives seriously messed up, versus holding your tongue and not making a big issue out of some small meddling, it doesn’t help the kids that “you were right.”

  125. LRH August 15, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    SKL I do understand what you’re saying, and to clarify, I probably would toss & turn if my kids were taken in terms of worrying that they were okay, and also in terms of what sort of society we had become to where it was now to where you can’t just be a family not having to look over your shoulder worrying about snitches and meddling outsiders. I just wouldn’t be restless in terms of “what could I have done to prevent this,” because evil is evil, and I wouldn’t be it.

    And pentamom I think I get what you’re saying. What I am saying is (a) it typically doesn’t amount to to one isolated incident of meddling that you can then work out of your lives & then move on. If it did, I’d be fine with “playing the game” to get rid of the outsiders, but the minute I did I’d go right back to doing what I thought was right, to HELL with what the meddling snitches thought, I’d just conceal it if possible or go where I wouldn’t encounter it anymore and (b) also, to me, being right is EVERYTHING. Principle is EVERYTHING. This comes up sometimes when they talk about marital quarrels–would you rather be right, or be happy? I actually will say “right” & that doesn’t mean I’m a jerk or make a mountain out of every molehill, but when you’re right, you’re right–you shouldn’t have to say “I was wrong” if you weren’t just to keep the peace, although I will admit that sometimes you can just say “I’m right but in the interest of peace I’ll just let it go” if the issue is petty enough.

    It’s just that the right of your kids to play outdoors unsupervised, if that’s how you wish to parent, vs having to “helicopter” them–that’s a biggie. We recently vacationed somewhere & I figured the managers of the place we were staying at would mandate that we watch our kids more closely than we typically do at home. They didn’t, and I was delighted at that–still, had they done so, that would’ve been different than it being an ongoing thing, that’s the sort of thing you tend to let go of in a “save face” sort of way. The situation highlighted here is an ongoing thing, and when you’re right, you’re right–it means EVERYTHING.

    LRH

  126. SKL August 15, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    I have been known to fight the powers that be, LOL. So Larry, I do know where you’re coming from. When about 100 people told me that my kid could not enter KG last year no matter how ready she was, because she was 6 days too young, I did not rest until the issue got resolved. There had to be some way, and I was determined to find that way. I suspect more than one person remembers me as a pain in the ass. LOL. But you don’t rest when it comes to doing right by your kids. And yes, there is a limit beyond which I would fight or flee. But not to the point of losing custody.

    As for being right, I’m a woman. What more is there to say?

  127. Warren August 15, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Try this on for size, quite awhile ago the school was not going to admit my daughter into grade 3, because she had not been given the chicken pox shot.
    When I informed them that our family doctor doesn’t endorse that particular shot……they said that doesn’t matter. Policy is policy.
    When our doctor spoke/tore them a new one for trying to dictate how he treats his patients, they changed their tone, and allowed her in.
    Fight for what is right.

  128. Lynne Gomez August 15, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Warren, there are exemptions in every state. Two states are harder to obtain exemptions in but the rest are fairly easy.. get an exemption, turn it in, nothing they can do about it! Sorry you had so much issue! BIG reason I am home schooling.. though I’m sure that someone will turn me in for the kids being truant lol.

  129. pentamom August 15, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    Well, yes, certainly I agree that you stand your ground and fight. It’s just that when it comes down to it, it doesn’t seem to make sense to defend your parental rights by relinquishing them entirely. Standing for your rights I get — standing for them to the point where you lose sight of what the right is there for in the first place (the ability to raise your kids as you see fit, not just the ability to insist that you can), just seems off to me.

  130. Donna August 15, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    “So we should just bend over and take it where the sun don’t shine, when threatened by a cop or agency?”

    No, I’m saying that there are consequences of fighting and you need to understand those consequences and the odds of suffering them before you gamble with your children’s lives. I would hope that you make that decision based on what is in the best interest of your children and not just what is best for you. There seems to be a lot of “nobody is going to tell me what to do with my kids” and not very much “what is best for my children in this situation” in this thread.

    “Donna I do not know where you practice law, but up here no one can remove a child without a court order signed by a judge.”

    And? You do realize that this is not an exceedingly difficult thing for a police officer to get? I never said that anyone should stand by and let a cop or CPS officer just whisk away their child. However, antagonizing police officers absolutely never improves your situation. It is necessary at times but should be avoided when not.

    “Do not doubt my resolve or convictions, even more so when it comes to my children.”

    Great. You may be the unusual person who would stick to their convictions while their kids go to foster care. I have no problem with you making that choice (if made believing it is best for your child and not because you just want to prove a point, everyone else be damned). I have a problem with you saying that that is the choice that EVERYONE should make in every situation.

    I do always laugh when people tell me that, though. I have a hundred people a year say basically that same exact thing to me on our first meeting – and these are people actually charged with a crime and not just running off at the mouth in the abstract. Very few of them follow through. You may indeed be one of that few. I don’t think you can truly KNOW that until actually in the situation.

  131. SKL August 15, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Yeah, it reminds me of all my work friends who said they were going to quit, too, and that would show ’em. I quit, and all of a sudden everyone else needed their job more than they needed to stand up for principles.

    Or as one of my colleagues used to say, “come time for other people to stick their neck out for you, all the sudden everybody got amnesia.”

  132. Nicole August 15, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    OK, one thing that gets me about reading this site is it makes me paranoid.

    I wonder if anyone reads this site and becomes LESS free-range, not because they are worried about the kids getting hurt and more because they are worried about getting arrested.

  133. AW13 August 15, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    This neighbor called the police over a situation that would have been easily resolvable with a quick conversation. Calling the police in this letter writer’s situation was an overreaction. I think that a visit to the letter writer to find out what was going on would have sufficed. I wouldn’t be offended if someone did that to me if they saw this similar situation with my son. I’d appreciate that there was a certain amount of concern for what they perceived as a dangerous situation, and with kids that little, not seeing a parent could be indicative of a dangerous situation. It isn’t in this case – the mom is providing indirect supervision – but I would want to know that someone is home and keeping an eye – or ear – on the little ones. I would not expect the police to show up. And I would be furious if CPS were called (though I know I would jump through whatever hoops they asked me to in order to keep my kiddo at home. I’d hate it, but I’d most definitely do it.)

    A disturbing theme I keep noticing, though, is that CPS can be used for retaliation for a perceived slight or as a way to exact revenge on someone you don’t agree with. This is a horrible misuse of the department’s time and resources, if nothing else, and it takes away from cases of children whose very lives could depend on outside intervention. I don’t agree with everything that other parents do. LRH (I hope that you won’t be offended if I use you for an example) is a strong personality, and I suspect that I would not agree with everything that he does as a parent. And I suspect that he would not agree with everything that I do. But he is not trying to hurt his children. He’s not endangering their lives or their well-being. I would not call CPS on him, and I doubt that he would call them on me. It would be nice if we could bring the FRK ideals to tangible, real life communities. Then perhaps we could avoid situations like this one, in which parents feel as though they are loners taking a stand against the machine. At the very least, we would have a group of like-minded people who live in the same smaller community who could direct parents in these situations to resources that can help them fight the good fight. Maybe we need to start networking in person as well as online :)

  134. Warren August 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Donna,
    You make it sound so easy for an agency to take your kids away. If that is the case where you live, then I would advise you to leave immediately.
    And no it is not easy for an agency or the police to get a court ordered child removal here.
    The reason all of your innocent clients took a plea seems pretty obvious the more you go on. They are scared, and their public defender keeps telling them they should be. When their lawyer tells them they are better off taking the plea, of course they will take it. Fear is one of the most powerful motives in any decision.
    I am not saying that standing up and fighting is for everyone. I am just saying that if you are not willing to stand up, then you do not have the right to ask other’s to do it for you, and you certainly do not have the right to complain.

    Oh, your little dig, that if put in the situation I would back down? Not even a consideration. I would not back down, take the plea, or kiss their ass. I would dump the lawyer that thinks backing down is the right way to go, though.

  135. Warren August 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Lynne,
    I actually never find taking issue with absurd rules and regulations as difficult. When it comes to my kids and their kids and so on, it is a very worthy and satisfying effort.
    I want my kids to know that they can stand up for what is right, and not have to back down just to keep the peace. They also know that their parent’s have their backs, and always will.

  136. Debra August 16, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    It’s interesting that the men seem willing to gamble with their kid’s lives in the name of justice while the women are not willing to go as far as to loose their kids. Maybe it’s just the natural difference between mothers and fathers, LOL. :)

  137. Warren August 16, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    Debra,
    Never noticed the trend, maybe you are onto something. But I still wouldn’t cross Mama Bear, noooooooo way!!!

  138. Debra August 16, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    LOL, very true, Warren. :)

  139. Carolyn Allen Russell August 16, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Oh man. The letter itself was so sad (did the police officer not take the time to hear the mom’s explanation of how she makes sure they’re safe? Could she maybe call the officer’s supervisor to discuss the situation, explain herself, and ask what EXACTLY the law requires from her??) but the part I also found most disturbing was about the man who takes his pre-teen daughter into the men’s room – EW! That is old enough to be awkward for both the daughter AND any men trying to use the urinals in privacy! Bathrooms typically only have one doorway, if you’re waiting outside for what seems like too long, you can always send someone in to make sure your child is okay! Sheesh!

  140. Ali August 16, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Something doesn’t pass the sniff test for me…the kid is 2 years old and spends all day outside ’till 9PM. To me, that’s ragamuffin, not free-range. A 2 year old needs interaction on top of supervision. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the mom is overwhelmed trying to care for herself much less two young children.

    The neighbor, unfortunately, didn’t know how to offer help but wanted to shed light on what she might believe is a bit of a desperate situation. The mom sure needs some help –help taking the kids to the library, making them a nice dinner, taking the kids to the park. Some other kind of stimulation besides playing in a small area for 12 hours a day would also help.

    I’m not seeing this as a free range issue so much as an issue of a very sick mom (as in physical illness, nothing else) with a lot on her plate and something “gave”. In this case the interaction her kids need from a parent seems to be sorely missing. We all might believe kids need to play outside, but at 2 years old it’s about being a parent to the kid. When they get to be 5 ish and older it’s more about playing outside and interacting with friends….unless I’m really missing something here.

  141. Beth August 16, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Ali, did you read any of the several posts by the actual mother in this situation? The child is anything but a ragamuffin, and that was rude.

  142. Warren August 16, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Thank you Beth. A prime example of what I have been saying all along. Too many people are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the police, and the snitch. The comments in here, and on the Dad in Texas are proof of this. Should the parent not be the one getting the benefit of the doubt?
    One of my favorite sayings,”Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. Cause we all get judged in the end.”

  143. Lynne Gomez August 16, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Ali, you are missing something. Please read my previous comments to get what you are missing! :)

  144. CrazyCatLady August 16, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Ali, it is not all day everyday. The mom said it was about 3 days a week. Which is not much over what most kids get on a weekend. Other days they do other things.

  145. Olivia Whitaker August 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I am glad I found this forum, and no doubt, to many of you, I might be labelled as an overprotective parent. I do have fears based in reality because I had bad things happen to me as a child, through no fault of my parents. They thought they could trust certain people, when they shouldn’t have. Still, with my fears, I have tried to find balance between teaching my children safety and awareness, protecting them when they can’t protect themselves, and still allowing them to be children. I have 4 Children, ages 5, 10, 11, and 13. All of my kids have been exceptionally healthy, very rarely get sick, are fit, and are highly intelligent. I have a rule that they must always go somewhere in sets of 2 (the older 3), and the five year old is beginning to spread her wings and can play a close distance to the house if her siblings are with her. I don’t allow my children to spend the night at anyone’s house, and also don’t allow anyone to spend the night here unless I know the parents very well. This is due to my own childhood trauma. I consider myself a somewhat protective parent…. but have had social services called on me twice, the police interrogate me 4 times because apparently I am one of only two families that allows my children to play outside at all in our neighborhood (which is a very safe neighborhood.) Just today, I allowed all four of my children (they were all together) to go play in the field adjacent to my house… I could literally see them outside my kitchen window. My 10 year old ran home to tell my husband and I that a cop had stopped and was interrogating my oldest daughter…. no, this was not after dark, it was at 4pm on a Saturday. So my husband walked out to see what was going on, and the police officer even wrote up a report, stating that the children were left outside unsupervised….. So, since I am new to Virginia, I asked my neighbors if this was a “Virginia” thing. Their response was, “Well, you know it just isn’t safe anymore to allow your kids to play outside.”…. I thought I was overprotective making them carry cellphones to check in every 30 mins, and only allowing them wander off 1/2 of a block…. Seriously? We asked the police if they were doing anything wrong, he said “no they were very respectful kids, I just wanted to make sure they were okay because it was odd seeing them outside unsupervised.” We are not talking toddlers, we’re talking teens, pre-teens and one 5 year old all together

  146. John August 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    You know, this is ALL so very hard to believe. The police questioning parents because their kids, many of which are older than the toddler stage, were playing outside unsupervised? What have we come to in America? I myself do not have any kids but when I was a 4-year-old child back in 1960, my cousin, who was also 4, and I would be roaming about the neighborhood while our moms were inside doing laundry and our dads were at work. Goodness, in Manila, Philippines, you have kids as young as 6 and 7 out on the streets washing car windows. You also see kids, young kids, everywhere in the parks, playing soccer and basketball with not a parent in sight. And believe you me, Manila is not any safer than most cities here in America. It’s interesting that Filipinos migrate to and work in so many other countries around the world and are probably the most adaptable people on earth! By observing their culture when I visit that country and the free range concept they have with THEIR kids, I can certainly understand why. I think that America is slowly but surely turning their kids into a bunch of marshmellows! I really feel bad for parents who want to teach their kids independance, self-reliance and toughness at an early age by letting them experience things but are then inquisitioned by CPS and the police for doing so.

  147. 20sd August 20, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    the cop brings an 11-year-old girl to the mens room and he thinks that is NORMAL? how old does he think she should be to go to the bathroom on her own? 50? whatever age she stops being attractive enough for the perverts? oh wait, the perverts are MORE likely to be in the mens room. what is this guy thinking?

  148. Betsy August 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    From the article: The kids come in from play to say “I love you.”
    Thank is so sweet! Your neighbor is jealous.

  149. Lynne Gomez August 22, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    LOL Betsy, Thank you! :) They do it often :) It’s actually unusual to not hear from them for more than 5 minutes at a time :) They are definitely sweet little guys! :)

  150. Erik August 24, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    I got an email replay back for the Police Department today. Not sure what they have done, if anything but here is what I received.

    “Dear Erik

    Thank you for bring this situation to our attention. We have identified the people involve,
    both the citizen, witness, and employees. We have taken appropriate action to correct
    the situation.

    Lt. Scott Whittington”

  151. Lynne Gomez August 24, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Hmm Erik, I have heard nothing.. Guess we may never know.. I only hope it does not lead to further issues..

  152. Star August 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    This is the problem. It is one thing to totally ignore and unsupervise your kids all day. It’s another to be by the window keeping an eye on them. As I am slowly loosening the reins with my children I have gotten comments that I let the kids play alone outside, and seen the looks of concern while I was watching from the window. HA!

    I think the best bet is a talk with the neighbor. Sounds like the neighbor feels put out for watching the kids, and called the cops. I think communication about the situation could go a long way. Would have been nice if the neighbor had a talk before calling the cops, but oh well. What’s done is done.

    I just had a friend telling me about a horrible situation where she has to watch her neighbor’s older kids all the time “because they are totally unsupervised.” For reference, her kids and like 2 & 3, and she was complaining about a 8 and 10 year old. I’m just kind of like – ??? – just because the parents aren’t constantly supervising them doesn’t mean they don’t care. I have an 8 & 10 year old – a completely different stage of development – they don’t need much supervision. But if you don’t tell them when their kids are misbehaving and bothering your small kids – how are they supposed to know? I’d hope my neighbors would come talk to me in that instance.

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  154. Sara June 12, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    That is so screwed up! im 11 years old, im a girl, and ive been allowed to play outside alone since i was 4 with a 5 year olds supervision, and i would probably get sick if my father took me into the mens room. thats just plain NASTY. now that im 11, im allowed to watch my 3 year old neice play outside so that my sister and mom can relax some. as for that neighbor, ask them why they called the cops on some children playing in their own yard that have been doing it for a while now…i kinda dont want to grow up into this world, its just so screwed up now…

  155. brendan walker June 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    i love to play inside because you get to play computer games, electronics, read books, play with lego, play with toys, paint and drink a lot of soft drink

  156. brendan walker June 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    i love to play inside because you get to play computer games, electronics, read books, play with lego, play with toys, paint and drink a lot of soft drink.

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