“Times Have Changed!” Shriek Parents Afraid to Let Their Kids Outside. But…

Hi Readers — We have all heard from parents who would LIKE to let their kids have the kind of stay-out-till-the-streetlights-come-on childhoods they themselves enjoyed. BUT, say those parents, “Times have changed. It feels so much more dangerous now!”

“Feels” is the operative word. In this essay by Steven Pinker, we learn that we may well be living in the safest times in human history:

This claim, I know, invites skepticism, incredulity, and sometimes anger. We tend to estimate the probability of an event from the ease with which we can recall examples, and scenes of carnage are more likely to be beamed into our homes and burned into our memories than footage of people dying of old age. There will always be enough violent deaths to fill the evening news, so people’s impressions of violence will be disconnected from its actual likelihood.

Sometimes (okay, OFTEN) I get tired of pointing this out: That just because you can say, “Adam Walsh!” or “Jaycee Dugard!” that doesn’t mean that there are MORE children being abducted today than ever before. It’s just easier to NAME them, because we see them so much on TV. Those images get filed away in our heads and when we ask our brains, Google-like, “Is it safe for me to ever let go of my child’s hand?” up pop the most popular stories about that topic, not necessarily the most salient or helpful ones.

So here’s to living in the best of all possible times…despite the worst of all possible stories dominating the media. — L.

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88 Responses to “Times Have Changed!” Shriek Parents Afraid to Let Their Kids Outside. But…

  1. Katie Watson October 3, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    I really like the idea behind Free Range Kids. I’m not a parent (yet, and pets don’t count), and I’m wondering if any parents out there are worried about their child being the next Adam Walsh or Jaycee Dugard? Society places a lot of blame on the parents. I would feel terrible if a child under my care went missing, but I was also raised in a time when I could walk to elementary school by myself. Is the media to blame for the change in thought? If so, how do we enact change in our communities?

  2. Hineata October 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Amen, amen, amen! A few weeks ago I was talking to a 90 year old aunty of mine. She was one of 10 to 12 kids (depends on how you look at the family – Maori in those days, and sometimes today, often raised kids only loosely biologically related). A couple died on the way to adulthood. She herself lost a son in a housefire. Among my generation, so far no one has lost children, or died prematurely themselves.
    In the area where she lived, too, one family lost 18 out of 21 adult members in 3 weeks during the Spanish flu epidemic.

    Long live these ‘dangerous’ times.

  3. FrancesfromCanada October 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    @Hineata – yes. Though people do still lose children prematurely to illness and trauma, it isn’t the norm any more. Hallelujah.

    For me the “feeling” that it is more dangerous now than it was when I was a kid isn’t about “stranger danger”; it’s about traffic. There are more cars on the road and they move faster. The rate of car vs pedestrian deaths is actually up in my city. When I was three I used to ride my trike around the island in our small town cul-de-sac; my boy doesn’t get to do that in my inner city neighborhood . He’ll certainly be older than I was before he gets the amount of freedom I had, but I don’t think I’m being unrealistic about the risk or the unreliability of preschooler judgement.

    Once my kid hits school I’m sure I’ll be worried about things like drugs and gangs. Kidnapping? Not so much.

  4. Kenny M Felder October 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Pinker is one of my big heroes. I’ve read most of his books, and I’m looking forward to diving into the new one. He gave a TED talk on this topic a few years ago: http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html for anyone interested. It’s about 20 minutes long, and one of the most fascinating 20 minutes I’ve ever seen. (Warning: he does have an anti-religious bias that may offend some.)

  5. Dolly October 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Yep even my 84 year old grandmother gave me the old “Times are changed now” line the other day. Really?! All kinds of crazy things happened back in her day that never happened to me but things were safer back then, I don’t think so.

  6. FreeRangeDad? October 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    I hunted (with a rifle or shotgun) at 6, alone. I went swimming with friends in the creek at the same age, unsupervised. I rode my unregistered trail bike everywhere, sans helmet, at 10 (without parental consent or knowledge). I would regularly ride my pushbike an hour to get to a friends place. I won’t let my kids, free range as they are, do any of these things. What’s changed? Me I guess, even though I live in a similar area to where I grew up.
    No real point, Hineata’s comment made me think, that’s all. (Hi Hineata, I grew up outside Murupara in the 60’s and 70’s)

  7. Sarah O October 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    I had a conversation recently with another parent who has older children than mine(hers are school age and mine are a toddler and an infant). She was saying that she *never* lets her kids be anywhere by themselves with an adult who isn’t family. And no sleepovers at another house ever. She used the ‘you never know’ justification. She said that her neighbor is FBI, and he always has ‘stories’ of terrible things happening. Of course he does! His JOB is to deal with that sort of thing. I mentioned that EVERY person I knew who had been molested had been molested either by a family member, or another student at school. Zero strangers in the lot.

  8. Heather G October 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    I think just like every generation thinks their kids popular music is aweful, many also think that the world their kids are growing up in is more dangerous too.

  9. crowjoy October 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Here is something I tell my kids often, especially when they indulge in morose or self-sorry thinking: you can NEVER know what someone else is thinking (about you) (even if they tell you they think xyz) and so if you’re just making things UP you might as well imagine they all think you’re awesome.

    So my response to “you never know” is that’s right! You don’t! So why live your life according to imagined horrors when you can just as easily imagine the world an open, sharing place?

  10. Ann in L.A. October 3, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    I just had this argument this weekend. I told another parent that we let our 9 year old go to a store literally 3 blocks away by himself. She was horrified. The conversation went something like this: “Weren’t you worried?” “Not really…what could have happened?” She sputtered a little, and said he could have been abducted. I told her about only 50 cases of stranger abductions and killings happen each year. She told me it was way more than that, and that that guy on the TV whose son was abducted says, we can’t make them 100% safe but we can try! I pointed out that there was a price for that and kept saying it is safer now than when we were kids. And she kept saying, not at 9!

    I don’t think I got anywhere, except to make her think we’re nuts.

  11. Uly October 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    Ann, you might try with a slightly more accurate statistic – it’s something like 300 stranger abductions yearly. Still very low.

    As far as “that guy on TV”, you might point out that his kid died before most of today’s parents were even born.

  12. Nicolas Martin October 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    I’m not worried about my child being kidnapped by strangers, but by a government agency that doesn’t approve of the way I raise her. Pinker may be right overall, but violence by various levels of American government continues to escalate along with laws regulating consensual and peaceful behaviors.

  13. Ann in L.A. October 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Uly, actually, I have it about right:


    There are about 100-130 stereotypical kidnappings each year, but only in a little over 40% of the cases the child is not recovered alive. That makes it about 50 permanent disappearances/murders per year.

  14. Uly October 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    God, I hate PDFs. *squints*

    That’s pretty helpful, but I’m sure I had my information also from a governmental source. I can’t look it up now, but pester me tomorrow and I’ll try to find it. If they’re in conflict, there’s a problem. Or I’m just remembering totally wrong!

  15. Ellie @ The Mommyist October 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    My daughter is only 3 so she’s too young to be out exploring the world on her own but I do let her play in the backyard alone while I cook dinner or do other mundane tasks around the house. Based on other parents’ horrified reaction when I tell them that I let my child outside unsupervised in her own backyard (I peek out at her often) my biggest fear is that when she is old enough to explore the world on her own she’ll be the only one of her friends who is allowed to do so. What then?

  16. johnpdeever (@johnpdeever) October 4, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    This may be a comment more on Pinker’s original point, but I don’t know how I can think of this time as one of the least violent in history. Despite Americans being more “safe” on an individual level, the United States is channeling more resources into wasteful and harmful military, security, and intelligence operations than any group of people ever in human history. Every $500,000 cruise missile we launched at Libya (and with no congressional approval, sorry Obama still my hero but not re drones killing civilians and extending wars you promised to end) is ten experienced teachers’ annual salaries. And there were 100s of those missiles fired. Here in Ohio our GOP governor and legislature gutted collective bargaining for teachers, firefighters, and police because (I’d argue) so much of our taxpayer money goes to the war machine that none is left for investing in growth.

    If your school is underfunded, it’s because of war and large-scale violent human behavior. Children in the richest country in history go hungry and have no healthcare — because of the war machine. How is that safe and peaceful?

    More germane to Lenore’s posting, maybe, are people are so irrationally frightened about imagined consequences because they feel like all they have left in our culture is violent defense, and fences?

    Have you seen those “If you’re buying tobacco and alcohol, you don’t need foodstamps” things that go around on Facebook, etc.? That’s an indirect form of violence too: wishing to heap more suffering on those who are weaker.

  17. Lollipoplover October 4, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Why is it that the grandparent types seem to be the ones that point out the need to watch our kids at all times and how times are different now?
    We have an older woman in our neighborhood that walks her dog as the kids come home from school. She has lectured the kids (who ride bikes on the sidewalk, after getting approval from our township) about getting off the sidewalk (keeping them off the road keeps them from traffic, their number one threat.) She also yells at them “where’s your mom?”
    When I bike with them, she gives me an earful- some one could steal them (like you? You’re a stranger, why are you talking to my kids?) and especially riding in rain. Yes, it will rain sometimes, but they don’t melt. I asked her why she walks her dog in the rain, isn’t that cruel? One day she warned me about a fox that was spotted near the path they ride. I said the fox better get out of the way, 30 kids may run it over with their bikes. She doesn’t enjoy my humor.

  18. Ann in LA October 4, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    Lollipoplover, I was surprised that my father (at the time about 80) didn’t think we should let our 5-6 year old boy go to the men’s room by himself. He hinted that strange things went on in there.

  19. Skyfire October 4, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    Ellie, I’m worried about that, too. We lived in a very rural area when my daughter was 3, and she was always in the yard, digging in the dirt, running across the field to visit her little friend and play with her goats. I just made sure she asked first. Then we moved to the suburbs when she was 6 and I let her visit the next door neighbor and go to the park by herself (it was on the same block); I got some crap from my neighbors about it. I told them to mind their own business.

    Now she’s ten, and we live in the city, and she walks to school by herself amid all the cars and the noise. She knows what to do to be safe. If her friend’s parents would let them meet her at the park, I’d let her go. I’m afraid of her playing alone there, though not because I think she’ll be kidnapped. I’m afraid of nosy parents thinking it’s their business what my kid does and giving her a hard time about it.

  20. Jynet October 4, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    crowjoy, on October 3, 2011 at 20:57 said:
    Here is something I tell my kids often, especially when they indulge in morose or self-sorry thinking: you can NEVER know what someone else is thinking (about you) (even if they tell you they think xyz) and so if you’re just making things UP you might as well imagine they all think you’re awesome.


    That is really great :)

  21. Lollipoplover October 4, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Ann in LA, did you tell him that HE is considered a stranger in the bathroom when a kid is in there? If you can’t allow a child to toilet in public in their appropriate bathroom, you cause more harm than good. I know a boy who only went in the bathroom with a parent, but as he got older (7) and had to go alone (like in school), he refused to go at all and caused all sorts of health problems. Holding your poops in so long causes anal fisures (which he got), that led to rectal bleeding. Sounds a lot worse than risking a quick pee in the men’s room urinal.

    My Dad warned me when I was teaching the kids (and their friends) how to bike to school that if something happens to one of them, their parents could sue me. I told him then my kids didn’t have very good friends!
    My daughter then asked, “how did you get to school Pop Pop?” He said, he walked. Sometimes, he would tell his Mom that he (and his twin brother) had to stay late after school. They would then walk to the bowling alley and get paid nickels to put the pins back up (before they became automated) and did that until they earned enough money to play a few games of pool at the local Y.
    (Later in life, he bought the table from the Y and restored it beautifully. It was always one of his favorite possessions, and he taught his daughters superb pool skills on that table.)
    My kids remarked how fun that sounded. But times were different then. I guess strange men whizzing bowling balls near small boys isn’t dangerous at all! Playing outside on grass is much, much worse.

  22. Kate October 4, 2011 at 1:32 am #

    When I say, “We live in the safest time in history!” I get the counter-argument, “Yes, that’s because we’re so hyper-vigilant. Imagine if we weren’t!”

    How do you counter that? The argument that we’re safer now BECAUSE of all the helicoptering? That would be helpful. :)

  23. Sharon October 4, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    I am letting my daugther (almost 10) do Girls on the Run. She may be training without direct sight from an adult. I have no doubt that if a group of girls gets lost if will be mine giving directions. Some of the other parents in the school think it is “dangerous” to run a 5K. I think I am giving her some self confidence which will last long after the race.

  24. Neener October 4, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    @ Sarah O: We’ve run into the same problem with sleeping over – out of all the issues I’ve anticipated, this wasn’t even on the list! My daughter has two friends who aren’t allowed to sleep at a friend’s house at all, ever (they’re all 11/12), but their friends are welcome to sleep at theirs. I put up with this for a bit and finally drew the line in the sand: No more unless there’s reciprocation. She said when she asked whether her friends could spend the night, the moms had both told her they didn’t allow their child to sleep elsewhere because they didn’t trust anyone outside their family. When she relayed this, I asked her, so, I should be expected to “trust” them, but they aren’t in turn expected to “trust” me? I’m pretty thick-skinned, but I find that attitude *extremely* offensive. (To be clear, I have no problem with those whose rule is no sleepovers either way…) Any ideas on other ways to handle this type of situation? Besides my “okay, then, screw you too, lady” approach?

  25. Marie October 4, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    Ellie, your daughter can come play with mine. My 2.5 year old plays in our backyard too. Worries my husband some, but he’s slowly getting used to the idea. Considering I allowed our older two to do so at the same age, you’d think he’d be used to it by now.

  26. Dolly October 4, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    All the not trusting someone outside the family stuff makes me laugh. I trust a lot of my friends and their friend’s parents way more than I trust some of my family members. So that is not the case in our house.

  27. Tracy October 4, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    sounds like you made your thoughts clear when telling her she was offering a double standard! Let me say this tho’. Given how few parents reciprocate generally (just in my own circle), I’d welcome the chance to get a break and let her do the work!

  28. Lafe October 4, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    @ Kate: This is a famous logical fallacy (and in my opinion, one that people fall for WAY too readily). Coincidence does not determine causality. In other words, just because two things happen at around the same time does not automatically mean that one is the proven cause of the other.

    When people say that the helicoptering is what is keeping us all safer, ask them how they came to that conclusion. “It just makes sense,” is not a logical answer. There could be many causes: More access to internet porn, advances in antidepressant medications, or perhaps all of those episodes of Law and Order are scaring would-be criminals into more friendly lines of work. You could think up dozens of reasons, all of which also occur at the same time as a lower crime rate — but that doesn’t mean that any one of them caused it. I’ve heard experts interviewed on this subject, and every one of them has said, “We really don’t know why it’s happening.”

    @ Neener: It’s a thorny dilemma, because stopping your child from going over there seems like it punishes the girls, especially the ones living under the cruel thumb of the overprotective mum, and they probably already lose friends over this.

    On the other hand, if it was me, I’d be tempted to stop the sleepovers, but write to them and let them know why. “I feel that my family has shown trust and acceptance towards your family by allowing our daughter to spend time there, but when you proudly refuse to send a child to our house, proclaiming it an unsafe environment, you are being rude, insensitive, and unfair.” Something like that.

    It’s sad. By teaching her daughters not to trust anyone, she’s actually doing psychological damage to them — that’s abuse, not protection. I’d be tempted to tell her that, and say that I can’t allow my daughter to be a witness to child abuse. Then again, her girls might need a good, free-range influence like your daughter, even in small doses and non-reciprocated situations. It’s a hard one to figure out.

  29. Hineata October 4, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    @Freerangedad – You were so lucky, I love it up there – though only been on holidays! We are kind of tied to the city now, as my husband works constructing way larger buildings than you need in rural areas, but I still try and pack the kids off outside as much as possible. I think you’re right, though, it’s us all who’ve changed. I grew up in the Wairarapa and spent most of my freetime outdoors, playing in the bush (and I was one of the shy, nervous, nerdy’ kids – heaven knows what the truly courageous were up to, probably out hunting like you :-) !). Now my mum, who didn’t worry about it at all at the time, freaks if I suggest her grandkids could do with spending the day out in it too!

    P.S. Way off topic, but thought I’d add that some people through-out the ages have always worried too much, I think. My dad was one, and he had us terrified of the old -fashioned manual wool balers, and had us promising that we would never play in one, because if we fell asleep in the thing we could get buried in it, (by the extra fleeces being thrown in on top by unsuspecting sorters). We would then suffocate when it came time to crush the fleeces into shape and sew them up. Number of times I have ever seen one of those things? About three or four, and I am now 45! The first time when I was 10. A simple ‘Keep off the baler’ would have sufficed :-)

  30. Cheryl W October 4, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Sleepovers….well I reserve the right to meet the parents first before any sleep overs. I have been accused of being too sheltering, but there are times when my mom instinct says “don’t trust these people with your kid right now.” (Aside from the time when the girl asking my daughter “to come right now for a sleep over” when big sis two years older is in charge and parents are not home…no, I need to talk to parents first.)

    Things like the mom next door who I would let my daughter sleep over a couple of times. Then mom went back to college. And a bunch of 18-22 year olds started using her place to “crash.” Never knew who was going to be there, they would not curb language in front of kids (my kids don’t need to hear about who they had sex with and all the details…not talking about swear words.) Worst, the mom was letting these people sleep in bed with her daughter. Half of the guys were drunk until noon, when they would start drinking again. Nope, my daughter was not going in the house, and was not sleeping over. According to the mom “I sheltered her.” At 7, I didn’t see it that way. I never saw actual abuse to the girl that would be reportable…but….

    Then the house with the 5 generations of people next door to us now. It just didn’t feel “right.” The boy spent more time at our house than his. Then his mom had her baby, and the baby tested positive for Meth. Um no, my son doesn’t need to be around that kind of stuff. The boy ended up going into foster care, the mom and boyfriend went into treatment. I feel for the little boy and his siblings but they had more people packed into a room than sardines in a can…he doesn’t need to be sleeping there and finding stuff. This was one house where I told the kids to play at my house. It is not a blanket statement to all of my kids friends, just this one.

    Other friends….I trust them enough that I would give them custody of my kids if my husband and I had to (say like, going into the military or such.) They are good people, and I know that they would take good care of my kids and have similar ideas of how to trust other people as I do. Don’t mistrust EVERYONE, but listen to the inner voice that says “maybe just not this one, this time.” Allow the kids to grow, to try, to fail, to learn. They are great people. And I say this about the MAJORITY of the families of the kids my kids are friends with.

  31. Tracy October 4, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    I agree with Cheryl, that inner voice can be discernment. That’s why a gut feeling is something to listen to..

  32. Cheryl W October 4, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    But I will say, I do fall back on the excuse of “we don’t do sleep overs” because the one with “my son has asthma and you smoke” doesn’t work because they say they will open the windows. (They just don’t get it.) I don’t want to be rude to people, but the few times it really has been “I don’t trust you.” I would rather be nice and make excuses than come across as a complete jerk. Besides, I like the kids and want them to play with my kids. It is just the adults who haven’t grown up!

  33. FrancesfromCanada October 4, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    I wonder if the grandparents who worry about things like the men’s room are speaking from personal experience. Flashers and child molesters aren’t new. I’m not suggesting children shouldn’t get to go alone — we are all capable of using our judgement about when it’s time — but the awareness that allows parents to teach them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate interactions with strangers is a good thing.

    I have no data to back me up, but I am suspicious that odd men’s-room happenings might have been more frequent back in the days when no one talked about these things. Nothing like a cloak of silence and a closed door to facilitate bad behaviour.

  34. Christina October 4, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    My most frustrating, head-banging moment to date was when I pointed out to a friend that a lot of the crime stats and whatnot are DOWN from when we were kids and she responded with… “Well, a lot of that is probably because we keep our kids inside more where they’re safe”.

  35. Lisa October 4, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    My “but” isn’t that times have changed, it’s that my kid would be the only one out there! I’m sure my neighbors think I’m insane for letting my 3rd grader walk one block and one house each day to and from the bus stop. I lead Cub Scouts and one dad doesn’t want his kid building a birdhouse with nails, only screws. Another won’t let his kid have gumballs yet because he might choke. I nod and go along, they are the parents, but I’m so not like that. How can I find other parents like myself? This place is a ghost town after school. Nobody is ever out playing and it makes me very, very sad.

  36. Jynet October 4, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Lisa, on October 4, 2011 at 05:45 said:
    Nobody is ever out playing and it makes me very, very sad.

    The only way to change that is to start getting to know all the neighbors.

    Building community.

    I watched a reno show last night and the house they did was part of a block that had “happy hour” every Friday! Hoards of kids running around while the parents were all at one house have a social on the front lawn. Perfect!

  37. oncefallendotcom October 4, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    You’d appreciate the opening to my sequel to my Once Fallen book, Lenore, as I start up by talking about how it was like when I was a kid as opposed to today.

    When I hear names like Walsh and Dugard, I hear CHA-CHING! Big Registry is big bucks. Walsh got half a million just to lobby for the Adamn Walsh Act back in 2006. The NCMEC gets a cut of the funding for the Walsh Act, which they already get over $40 million. Dugard? She got a cool $20 million from Cali plus sweet book and media deals. That’s not enough– now she wants to sue the Federal Government for even more moolah. It is amazing how money changes a person.

    Just look at Mark Lunsford– there is lots of info on his mismanagement of funds from many reliable sources. There is big money in scaring people. All those registries, notifications, civil commitments, GPS, and other laws cost money, you know.

  38. KyohakuKeisanki October 4, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    If someone tells you that all crime has gone down, just tell them there have been more violent video games, so criminals have become satisfied to commit virtual crimes instead of real ones. Makes just about as much sense as the helicopter argument, and the other person might just buy into it. (not to say that’s not actually what has happened lol)

  39. Taradlion October 4, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    I have also experienced the grandparents balking at things I let my kids do (that I would ABSOLUTELY have been allowed to do)…and the “times are different”….

    I know Lenore speaks about the change in media. How these days we hear about every terrible crime involving a child, coast to coast and beyond, not just the extremely rare local tragedy. Here’s a thought, I didn’t actually watch the news “back then” (as a young carefree kid), but my parents and grandparents DID. I know the media has changed, and I have seen it change in the years since I was a young adult, but I didn’t actually experience the change in the news myself, over time. I imagine, if I wad been watching the news for the last 39 years (since my birth) I might actually think the WORLD had changed.

  40. olympia October 4, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Like you, I’m a lot more worried about traffic than kidnappings. I’m wondering if a post couldn’t be made about this? I should note that I live in a small town with busy traffic and shitty sidewalk plowing, along with shitty pedestrian culture in general. I think it would be a lot easier to either live in a city with good pedestrian culture, or in the woods, as I grew up, where traffic was nil and free ranging was pretty rampant. I think the impact of cars on children’s freedom has been pretty epidemic.

  41. Jennifer October 4, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    My son is 7 and is quite tall for his age. Not all public washrooms have a family washroom and those are really intended for smaller children (with the teeny tiny toilets, extra change tables and nursing area). What I usually do is tell him to wait for me at a specific spot until I come out when he is finished. Normally, being male, he comes out first and waits for me. Last week another mother waited with him because he was “too young to be on his own”. He had told her that my mom was in the washroom and will be out in a minute but she didn’t think this was plausible. I politely thanked her for being concerned but that I did ask him to wait for me after we did our business in our respective washrooms. Her reaction was bewilderment. I offered her to check out your website and see that it is perfectly acceptable for a 7 year old boy to use the men’s room while mom is in the ladies’ room. I’m thinking most people would be more upset about him being in the ladies’ room at his age and size!

  42. KD October 4, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    This was one of the reasons that although i didn;t like being a military wife when my husband was active duty, I loved living on a military base, they are pretty free range. We first lived on s side street where the kids were out all the time. If a parent had to run a quick errand, go to a doctor’s appt, needed a babysitter, or just needed a break, you would simply peek into a neighbor;s house and say, “be back in ???” and the kids would keep on playing. We did this back and forth all the time. The older kids would also walk the younger ones to the pool, the store, the playground, wherever. My son was riding down to the creek with his little girlfriend at 9 with just a time to be home. This is definitely lacking in civilian life. We now have to schedule “playdates” unless its the kids on our block and find educational activities for them to play, even at a sleep-over. My oldest daughter is 12 and I had a mom question a sleep-over because the girls sang, danced, watched movies, ate popcorn and played with make-up instead of ummm…I don’t know, read books???? My kids are very academic and do participate in outside activities, but I am a firm believer in letting kids be kids. The world is safer, we are more aware as parents and also know when to NOT allow our children to just run but society has become a place where we as parents feel like we can’t make those decisions a lot of the time for fear that someone else will disagree and create a problem in our famil.

  43. Dolly October 4, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    A childhood without sleepovers just makes me sad. Some of my best memories are when I had sleepovers as a child. We had giant birthday party sleepovers at all the girls houses where 12 girls would be there. It was so much fun and crazy! I had friends sleeping over every weekend pretty much. During the summer we went back and forth from one house to the next house for sleepovers.

    I probably will need to meet the parents first before allowing a sleepover, but once I think everything seems okay I have no problem with that and I have a son with asthma and food allergies. Just send him over with a loaf of bread and a jar of soy butter and he can take care of himself by the time he is old enough for sleepovers.

    I am glad we don’t have little girls…….my husband is very quiet and anti social. I think a lot of people get the wrong idea about him just because he isn’t all smiley and chatty. He is the kindest gentlest man with kids in the whole world, but since he can’t talk football like all the other Dads around here, people kinda think he is weird. I could totally see if we had girls the parents not letting them spend the night. Of course I am smart enough to know that it is the ones that seem perfectly wonderful that you sometimes have to watch out for.

  44. CedricS October 4, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    OnceFallen-Jaycee Dugard is suing the Federal Government because her captor was supposed to be on supervises parole the whole time she was under his ‘tender loving care’. So…..where was the supervision? Anything won from the suit isn’t going to her, anyway, it’s all being donated. If you are going to chuck a stone, at least do a little cursory research, please.

  45. Michelle the Uber Haus Frau October 4, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    I did not read all the comments before typing this. Lollipoplover asked why it always seems to be the grandparent types who say “times of changed”…well, I got a few ideas about that…

    1-Everything is different from how they were raised, each generation thinks the next is going to hell, and honestly, some things are worse. Alot of things are better but they see it as worse do to different morals(e.g. in the 50’s they considered gays to be mentally ill or immoral, not so much anymore).
    2-More spare to time to watch TV
    3-I’ll just flat out say it: plain old fashioned racism. I don’t know about U.S. but for Canada, some parts are expanding more, and getting more immigrants, and we are pretty open for the most the part about other races/cultures, but there are still alot who aren’t, especially the way older folks. Ironic that this will sound prejudice, but from personal experience some of the worst for this is French white Canadians in smaller towns.

  46. Heather G October 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Sharon- My uncle, the 30+ year police veteran, does not think helicoptering is why it’s safer now than when he began. In fact he thinks helicoptering makes kids less safe by raising kids that have no ability to keep themselves safe on their own when they become adults. He says we are safer now because law enforcement (in general, not the yahoos who harass FRKs) has more knowledge and are better able to allocate resources where they are actually needed as well as a resurgence of community building efforts. Back in the day he advised my mom to raise me with scaled independence and risk and raised his own kids that way. Now that I’m a mom he is guiding me the same way. Living in a neighborhood with lots of cops (and a retired FBI agent next door) I see that they raise their kids the same. Talking with them I see they share the same opinions that helicoptering makes our kids less safe.

  47. babs October 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Unfortunately, I am finding myself in the minority in my relatively safe neighborhood. Have come to the conclusion that most people seem to hover over their kids, even well past the age when they could play independently. Like many others here, I am more concerned about traffic than “stranger danger”.

    Kids today seem to be more fearful — why is that? My own daughter, almost 8, gets upset if she cannot find me at a store (I usually leave her in the toy department and tell her I’ll be back shortly, as I’ll be looking at something else), or even at home (I’ll be outside, and she has no idea where I am). She even thinks that we’ll be invaded by “burglars” or other fictitious bogeymen — no way do I tell her this stuff, but I wonder if other adults (when not in my presence) do this? I’ve been encouraging her to be more independent, and we’ve made small strides (she can walk to a neighbor kid’s house without me present). I have yet to send her on her own to play in the park near school (very short distance) — with my luck, I’ll get a call from CPS accusing me of being a negligent parent. (Not that I’m being lazy, but there are times I’d rather she go play by herself, and I can accomplish some tedious task without her having to hang out in the house.) She is an only, and so there is no older sib to assist.

    Speaking of older children: I have a 12 y.o. niece who is capable of sitting for her two younger siblings (ages 6 and 7 1/2) for short periods, but is “too scared” to be in the house at certain times. This is going to be one nation of future wimpy adults!

  48. JenniferM October 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    while reading the comments an old memory came to me… I must have been like 6 it ws the 80s we lived in a duplex with a shared backyard on our side we had a swing set. A new family moved next door and they had a 3 year old that I was playing with on the swing set (my own brothers were 2 and 3 at the time) and we were all out there Well the new kids mom came over asked for my mom and then went on to ask my mom if she would keep an eye on her kid while she ran to the store… I remember thinking back then that it was strange b/c it was the first time we’d ever seen the mom or the kid… but guess mom went to the store made it back and nothing even happened to her kid.

    When i was a kid I slept over at every ones house especially in 4th and 5th grade…. this was about 1994 and nothing ever happened to me…. I even spent the night at a house that I later found out that the mom was a stripper or something… she put us to bed at 9 and then left us home alone all night…. but once again not that i would recommend that I was unharmed.

    When I was small I lived in a neighborhood that was surrounded on 2 sides by a retirement community and the other side had a little store and across a small road from that was a gas station when I was about 5 i remember me and my friend snuck over to the gas station crossed the street bought candy and then told everyone we got it from each others houses. If we did that now I have to think that the gas station would have called DCF right away.

    But yet here I am still alive…. And I have a much younger sister recently after my mom moved to a new neighbor hood I forced my sister outside when I saw a bunch of kids playing and told her not to come back till she had a friend. she found some.

  49. Neener October 4, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Thanks, guys – My rule has always been that I meet the parents AND visit the home before allowing sleepovers, and it blows me away when other parents don’t take me up on my invitations for them to do the same. We’ve had girls dropped at my curb, and the parents’ taillights disappear before we can get out the door to introduce ourselves.

    In the cases of the two girls who aren’t allowed sleepovers, they aren’t allowed ANY – so it’s not just me the parents don’t “trust”. Mine is still allowed to go over and visit any time she likes, just not to sleep over. When her friend asked me why she couldn’t sleep over again, I just told her it was her turn to be our guest. It’s sad, because my daughter had a huge birthday party sleepover with 13 friends (kids everywhere! at night the living room floor looked like Jonestown after the koolaid!) and both these girls had to be picked up at 10pm. So it already ostricizes them somewhat…

  50. Kim October 5, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    I don’t worry about my kids being abducted. I worry about some jack-a** running them down in the street. My curvey street dead ends into a cul-de-sac. The roads are narrow enough that two cars passing each other really need to slow down in order not to hit each other or a mailbox. This doesn’t deter my neighbors from flying down our short road. The common sense rule of “you never know what a kid is going to do, slow down when passing them” seems to have been forgotten. From talking with my friends this seems to be the biggest concern of all of us.

  51. Lihtox October 5, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    @johnpdeever: I read this article recently saying that even war isn’t as bad as it used to be.

    Seems like an interesting extension of what we talk about here: we might be perceiving the world as being more violent than it actually is.

  52. Jynet October 5, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    Another interesting discussion with the author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”


    Sadly for our hopes of reasoning with helicopter parents, he admits that he can’t convince his OWN SISTER that her children are safer now than when they themselves were kids!

    “A small portion of the population is willing to be reasoned with, but when I tell my reasonably intelligent sister that “children are probably safer today than at any time in human history” she scoffs at me as if I am telling her that cigarettes have nothing to do with lung cancer. She is so dismissive she won’t even read the few things I have given her about it, and her attitude is not uncommon.”

  53. Donna October 5, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    I can’t imagine not being allowed sleepovers. As an only child, I loved having other kids spend the night. When I was in elementary school, my best friend and I spent at least one night of every weekend at each others houses.

  54. olympia October 5, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    Kim- it’s not even just the careless drivers who concern me. Even the most conscientious, non-speeding or cell phoning driver is not going to be able to drive perfectly all the time, human error being what it is. This is why I think good sidewalks and frequent crosswalks are so crucial- they help mitigate that human error factor.

  55. Lindsay Cresta October 5, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    I agree that kids should get to be kids but living in New York City I am not sure that things are like they used to be. I didn’t grow up here but my husband did and listening to his stories of hanging out playing ball in the park in Queens until dinner time and playing street hockey and hand ball up the street at a local park under the bridge seems like the good old days. We actually live in the house he grew up in and I could not imagine my kids in the park after dark or under the bridge in the gated parks I think at least for Queens times have changed and I am by no means a helicopter mom I am pretty liberal and would love to say get out and go play come home when it gets dark.

  56. Dolly October 5, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    I am with Kim in that I worry way more about other things than abductions. That is like the last thing on my list. I worry about my kids being bullied if I am not there, them just doing something stupid like lying down in the road or something, a dog attacking them or getting hit by cars. Our neighborhood is safe as one can be I think so I am going to let them play alone when they are old enough and ready. But I can’t say I won’t worry a lot.

    Our subdivision is all families and nice people. Most everyone drives slowly and cautiously past our house and down the road. However one house was bought by a bunch of young guys and they fly up and down the road revving their engines and just being dumbbutts. We don’t have sidewalks but do have yards and grass to walk in and wide streets. Still I have come very close to telling those guys off a couple times for how they drive. We have 3 cops in our neighborhood so I feel this is about as safe as you can get around here.

  57. backroadsem October 5, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    In response to such a parent who would defend the nature of today’s safety on “helicopter parenting”… I would need a trustworthy study showing a significant increase in crimes against children among freerangeish parents as well as a trustworthy study linking helicopter parenting with child safety.

  58. Jenny Islander October 5, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    I worry a lot more about traffic than I do about stranger danger. My MIL, who raised her son in the house he and I live in now, used to give him a sandwich and tell him she didn’t want to see him until dinnertime. There are a lot more cars on the road now, they tend to go faster (to get to the new traffic light before it changes, saving two whole minutes on a 20-minute drive), and we also have to worry about idiots paying more attention to their cellphones than to the kids in the crosswalk. I didn’t let my 7-year-old go downtown alone until I was absolutely certain that she understood traffic safety. Even so, she goes straight to a pre-arranged location and straight back. I sometimes let her 5-year-old sister tag along, but again, no “here’s a sandwich, see you in 5 hours.”

  59. library.momma October 5, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Regarding the NISMART study, I found this particular statistic interesting:

    “Teenagers were by far the most frequent victims
    of both stereotypical kidnappings and nonfamily
    abductions” (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/196467.pdf)

    So, if you think of it in those terms, our children are safer at ages 0 to 12 than when they reach 13. Could it be that teenagers are more likely to behave in riskier behavior than younger children?

  60. Lihtox October 5, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    @Lindsay: You DO have to take your immediate surroundings into account, and some neighborhoods ARE going to be more dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, even though most are less so. As long as you are aware of the ways in which media make us feel less safe, you can fight it off and make your OWN decisions about what is safe and what is not.

    I suppose you could find out for yourself whether your neighborhood has gotten better or worse: look up crime statistics, maybe talk to the police or long-time residents.

  61. Chelsea Vogel October 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    It makes me sad to think things have ‘changed’ so much that it’s no longer safe to let your children have fun and to learn things for themselves. I first started babysitting for my sister when I was 9. When I got older my mother would let me and my younger brother play in the rain. We’d have a blast getting muddy and making leaf boats to float in the drains and she trusted that we were smart enough to come inside when there was lightning. I don’t even get the parents who won’t even trust family with their children. I have a cousin I saw at a house warming party another family member was having who I don’t talk to much, but he trusted me to keep his two children safe when I took them to go frog catching at a nearby pond because we’re family. At family reunions I was always the one watching the children of family I hadn’t seen in a long time and if I was letting them play in the creek, which I was in too, that I would make sure they know what to do and where to step because once more we’re family and you should be able to trust them.

  62. Dolly October 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Chelsea: Since you said you don’t get people that don’t trust family to watch their kids I guess you were referring to me since I said that earlier on this thread. You must be blessed with wonderful family. I have inlaws that hate me so I can’t trust them to be alone around my kids because they might say something bad about me to my children and I can’t have that. I also have a MIL who had to call poison control twice when she was watching her other grandchildren. So she is not to be trusted to watch my kids since she obviously does not know how to childproof or watch kids well enough to keep them out of things that might poison them. I have a father who while his intentions are good, he doesn’t understand things like having to hold a 4 year old’s hand in a crowded busy parking lot. He just walks off and leaves them and expects them to follow him on their own, which they may not do so safely. I have a grandmother that could not be trusted to watch the kids around water since she has a water phobia and even if the kids are drowning would not be able to help them.

    So it must be nice to have family members you can trust. I don’t. I trust my mother and that is about it for actual long term care of my children. I can trust others for watching my kids for a short period of time. And some I can’t trust even for a second. Instead of knocking people who are not as blessed as you are with great family maybe you should just be grateful for your wonderful family you can trust.

  63. maggie October 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    this is off subject but…have you seen this???


  64. pentamom October 6, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    Dolly, I think Chelsea was probably referring to the kind of people who don’t trust family because they don’t trust *anybody* other than themselves. You know from reading some of the things that have been linked here, that there are such people. There was even a post linked from a blog one time about a woman who didn’t trust her own husband alone with the child, even though there was no bad history there — she was just completely paranoid about ever letting anyone have access to her child without her there.

    Or maybe you’re right, and she’s just assuming that family is trustworthy, when they aren’t, always. But I could see someone meaning what I described above, without intending to be critical of people whose situation is different.

    But I would take issue with this:

    “So she is not to be trusted to watch my kids since she obviously does not know how to childproof or watch kids well enough to keep them out of things that might poison them.”

    Lots of perfectly responsible parents have had to call poison control. Kids get into stuff, even when you think you’ve child-proofed or watched them. IT HAPPENS. Now you may have independent reason to think that it’s something your mil did that was irresponsible that led to it, but it’s not fair to say that someone is unfit *just because it happened.*

  65. kiesha October 6, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    My mom took me into the basement once when I was just a little over a year old so she could do laundry. She didn’t realize that my dad hadn’t screwed the cap back on the can of wood primer (or paint thinner, something like that) tightly enough. I toddled over to it, knocked the cap off and basically started huffing the fumes. Almost immediately I stopped breathing.
    My mom ran water over my face to no avail. She called 911 immediately and then ran with me out of the house to the road where the ambulance would come. She was screaming hysterically and a neighbor happened to hear her. He performed mouth to mouth on me and got me breathing before the ambulance showed up.
    If this happened today, I wouldn’t be surprised if I would have been removed from my parents’ care.
    I was talking to my mom the other day and she said, “Well, if you hadn’t been such a nibshit, it would have happened.”

  66. Decemberbaby October 6, 2011 at 2:48 am #

    @ Kiesha – I like your mom’s response :)

  67. Dolly October 6, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    Well its the “Twice” part that gets me. She didn’t learn the first time her grandkids got into something they were not supposed to that she better be more vigilant and childproof better? Things happen, but really we should all learn from our mistakes and if we don’t, then there might be a problem. Both times were cleaners the kids got into. She left cleaning supplies out where the kids could get them on separate occasions. The whole thing was stupid. First of all why clean when your grandkids are over? Do that when they are not there and maybe play with them instead since you only watch them occasionally. Secondly, don’t leave stuff like that out where kids can get them. Common sense.

    However if if she was the most childproofing woman in the world she still would not be trusted with my kids because she hates me and I cannot trust her not to badmouth me in front of my kids. So it is kinda a non issue either way.

  68. Kate October 6, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Ha! I’ve had to call Poison Control twice… about MYSELF. Once because I forgot I had taken my meds, and took them again, and once because I misread the prescription and took the wrong meds.

    I figured it’d be better to be safe than sorry, and I was wholly impressed that I didn’t get the standard, “Go to the hospital” response. The double dose incident, I was home alone house sitting for a friend, and the gal on the other line was like, “The half-life of the meds is in another 4 hours [2:30a]. Give me your address now, and at 2:30a I’ll try calling you. If you don’t respond, I’ll send an ambulance.” Very reassuring and very nice. Plus it saved me a hefty emergency bill (not to mention sleeping time since I had to work the next day). She also gave me very specific symptoms to look for that are attributed to that particular medication.

    Just wanted to say it’s not just for kiddos. PC is also for absentminded adults! :)

  69. Chelsea Vogel October 6, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    pentamon was right Dolly, I didn’t mean to sound critical or anything, but I don’t get the people who just won’t trust anybody with their child. I know I’ve had times where I questioned the trust of my family, we’re a bunch of gossipers and sometimes things get said that are meant to stay quiet. We’re also far from perfect several have had brushes with the law and some aren’t the best parents in the world, but I still love them and hope that the trust I give them is returned.

  70. Dolly October 6, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    That is cool Chelsea. Like I said, I trust my mom with them all the time. And I guess since my stepdad lives there, him too even though I told my mom to try to avoid leaving him alone with them just because he has bad health problems and post traumatic stress disorder, but he helps her out and plays with them.

    I also said I would totally trust MANY of my mom friends with my kids any day. Actually I trust all of my mom friends with my kids. So it is not a trust issue with me so much as a individual problem.

  71. Dolly October 6, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    We called poison control once because there was confusion and hubby gave the kids tylenol and so did I. So they got a double dose by accident. So I called. They said it was fine as long as they don’t get over so many doses per 24 hours. The point being, after that from then on, we no longer administer medicine without letting the other know and checking with each other to avoid double dosing. We learned from our small mistake. As good parents or grandparents should. MIL apparently did not learn her lesson the first time.

  72. ebohlman October 6, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Kate: unfortunately, Poison Control (in the US) is facing serious funding cuts and is having to greatly cut back services. As your experience shows, this is penny-wise and pound-foolish: the result of the cuts is going to be more needless ER visits and increased costs.

  73. Paula Burton October 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Of course its different have a look at this thread full of mothers who insist that because all men at disney are going to molest their boys that its ok for a parent to take 10 – 12 year old boys into the women’s toilets. Hang the fact that women and girls don’t like it it doesn’t matter, never mind there has never been a child attacked in a mens toilet in disney their assumption that all other men and teenage boys are all pedos is all that matters


  74. Dolly October 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Wow I didn’t read that thread, but I am a member at disboards. I haven’t posted there in awhile since we no longer have a Disney trip coming up. I really liked most of the posters there. They get very pissy on threads about taking kids out of school for Disney trips but that is about it.

    Gotta say Disneyworld is probably one of the safest places in the US. They have cameras and security and employees all over the place. It is probably because of that urban legend about the guy kidnapping a kid and dying their hair in a Disney bathroom. Which most Disney bathrooms are crowded so doubt that ever happened.

  75. Kim October 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Keisha – your story made me spit coffee. Glad you are ok. :) I have a friend who swore poison control had a file on her she had to call so many times with her kids. I’ve had to call once (tylenol) and they were so kind and made a follow up call the next day to make sure we were all doing ok.

  76. Kim October 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Keisha – I should have said your mom’s response was funny not the story – that’s scary. I need more coffee I think this morning!

  77. Donna October 7, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    “Well its the “Twice” part that gets me. She didn’t learn the first time her grandkids got into something they were not supposed to that she better be more vigilant and childproof better?”

    So you expect your MIL, who I assume has not had small children residing with her in many years, to live as though she has a toddler in the home? Your MIL no longer has children around 24/7. Most people without children do not live in babyproofed homes.

    My cleaning supplies are under the kitchen sink because I don’t have a baby anymore. My child knows not to drink the Pine Sol and Cascade so I put it where it is most convenient for me. That place is 100% reachable by any toddler who may come into my house and I’m not going to be inconvenienced every day to cater to an occasional small visitor. I can’t guarantee that I would think about my cleaning supplies while visiting with a toddler at my house until said toddler had his hands on them. Babyproofing has been a non-issue at my house for a couple years now so something like moving cleaning supplies out of their regular place may be overlooked.

  78. Dolly October 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Donna: Well if you agree to babysit a toddler than it is your job to think about stuff like that. All you need to do is get a cabinet lock to install on the cleaning cabinet and all is good. It does not matter if you don’t have small kids anymore. If you agree to babysit a small child, it is your job to keep that child safe. We don’t need our stair gate really anymore (barring the fact that I am a spaz and could totally see me falling down the stairs before my kids would lol) but I keep it up because we often host playdates that crawling or little toddlers still attend. I want our house to be safe for our visitors as well as us.

    My mother watches my kids all the time and darn right she childproofed! When they were crawling babies she bought a large kid pen to keep them in when she could not watch them. It was her job to ensure they were safe and she did it. It is not my fault my mother is so much more awesome than my MIL apparently who could not be bothered.

    And not to mention at one point SIL and her kids moved in temporarily with MIL and MIL still did not childproof. So yeah……that blows that argument out of the water.

  79. Donna October 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    Dolly, if I REGULARLY babysat a toddler, I would babyproof. If I occasionally babysit a toddler, I’m not going to install babylocks on all my cabinets (and I have cleaning supplies in the kitchen and both bathrooms). Again, I’m not going to be inconvenienced every day to accommodate an occasional visitor. Nor would I have ever expected anyone else to rearrange their lives because of my child. I would expect them to pick up some small, obvious hazards (those little days of the week pill packs for example) but I don’t expect an occasional babysitter to live as though a toddler resides in her house 24/7. My mother never babyproofed, and I never expected her to, and we lived with her for a short time when my daughter was crawling age and she babysits all the time.

    And MANY people do not babyproof. I would not overly babyproof if my grandchildren moved in with me temporarily either. I would put up some baby gates to keep them out of places that I didn’t want them but I’m not going to install cabinet locks and the like. In fact, THIS is the problem with relying on babyproofing. I never worried about what was in babysitter’s cabinets because my daughter was taught to stay out of cabinets. Unless your SIL’s kids were constantly being injured by things that your MIL refused to deal with, then I don’t see a problem.

  80. Dolly October 8, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    Well the way I see it you have several options. You can babyproof and then not be as vigilant about watching small ones every second of every day (this was the option I chose), or you can watch them constantly and never take your eyes off of them and not babyproof. Or you can not do either of the above and very good chance the child will be injured like in MIL’s case.

    She was not watching her grandchild closely or babyproofing and a child got into something potentially poisonous and poison control was called. Then same thing happened again. MIL babysat every Sat so in my opinion that is more than enough to need to babyproof or at least be more vigilant.

    My mother did not 100% babyproof her house for when my kids came over occasionally either. But she was smart enough to buy a baby pen to put the kids in when she could not watch them. Easy peasy.

  81. Donna October 8, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    I did neither of the above and my child was never injured and poison control was only called once – for a OTC med that I took without thinking when she was about a month old a breast feeding. I’m also a single parent and could not possibly watch my child constantly – I needed to cook, clean, shower, etc. I never had a pen. I did minor babyproofing. I admit that I had a good kid, but training takes you a long way.

  82. Dolly October 8, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Donna: Then you are lucky and blessed with a calm child. With one of those children that get into everything and are very curious and fast that would not have worked.

  83. Kiesha October 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Gotta say, after my incident with the wood primer/paint thinner, my parents STILL didn’t babyproof. I asked them if they ever used anything like cabinet locks or those pads on the edges of a coffee table and they said the only thing they remembered using were the outlet covers.

    The people who watched me (mom, dad, grandparents) employed the finger-smacking technique whenever I tried to get into something that I wasn’t supposed to. It worked out pretty well as I never huffed another can of noxious fumes again.

  84. kiesha October 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Also, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to not have chores. When I was a kid, it was mostly my responsibility to feed and water our outdoor dogs, the rabbits and the chickens. I had to gather the eggs and not break them. I had to help plant, weed and harvest the garden. Saturday mornings were housecleaning day, and my job was usually dusting the whole house.

    Did I hate doing it? Of course! I was a kid and wanted to sleep til noon and then play all day, but since it was just my mom, my dad and me, and my parents both worked full-time jobs out of the house, it was kind of an all-hands-on-deck situation. Stuff just would not have gotten done if we hadn’t all pitched in.

    Doing chores was also how I earned an allowance. Once I got a part-time job in high school, the chores (for the most part– still had to clean up my room and just not be a slob in general) and the allowance both stopped.

  85. Amy October 18, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    I’ve had to struggle about when to let the kids play in our fenced backyard with me in earshot. But I realized it wasn’t my fears I was concerned about it was my neighbors’ fears. So hard to find a good balance in life especially these days with the media highlights of every little home accident – dressers tipping, etc…

  86. Olivia Whitaker August 19, 2012 at 4:37 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.


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