Abducted Girl’s Mom Made Lazy, Selfish Choice (Letter)

Hi hyhieennyk
Readers: This letter made me ill. Simple as that. Until we learn to blame CRIMINALS and not MOMS, we will continue to create a world of blame and fear and good ol’ pitchfork-through-the-heart cruelty. – L. (who did not bother to make any corrections to the writer’s note)

P.S. This note is about the Jessica Ridgeway case, not the tragedy we are hearing of today, in New Jersey.

Dear Free-Range Kids: First and foremost my heart and prayers go out to the family, friends, and community. I am a mother of two children. Daughter is 9 and my son is 7. Just wanted to say and be honest by saying, I am a single working mom who works night shift at my local hospital and then on the weekends as well. My two children have school @ 8:30 in the morning each day. I get home from work by 6:30 am, exhausted and ready to crash. Luckily I have a sitter stay overnight with my children and then leaves once I get home, having a sitter 5 days a week is not cheap by any means.

With all that said, even though I fight so hard the urge to go to bed and pass out, I MAKE the time and EFFORT to pack my kids their lunches for the day and either walk WITH them or drop them off at their schoool, EACH SINGLE day. I do this because honestly I couldnt go to sleep each morning and not knowing and seeing my own children get to their destination and know they are safe and are where they are suppose to be. Also I come home, sleep and set my alarm for 2:30pm and either again, walk to the school or dirve my car and be there to greet and pick up my children @ 3pm, daily. Again I know where my kids are, and are safe and will be getting back home just fine.

Also I have read, the mother’s cell phone was left off in another room, so when Jessica’s school called the mother early on the morning, at 10 am I believe, just 1.5 hours since Jessica got abducted…..but it wasnt until 4pm the mother even became aware that perhaps something was wrong and her daughter might not be safe after all. I know as a mom, especially a single working mom, I have my cell phone always left on and near me, especially during the school days so inacse for this very reason, the school or my kids ever need me during the day, I am there and am reachable for emergencies.

I know a lot of other parents who do the samae thing and for me at least, it is a pretty standard and common sense practive you just do when you are a parent.

I just feel in this sad tragic case, as being in the parent role, there was, im sorry im going to say it, and I know a lot of others are thinking it too but dont want to say it, but LAZINESS, SELFISHNEES, and unresponsible actions taking place by the mother in this case. Again, if she waited to go to sleep for just anoter 45 mins to 1 hour and set her alarm an hour earlier to be with her child, and again this want a 15, 16, or 17 year old young adult, this was a 10 year old, not even in middle school.

I just feel this mother took her daughters best interest ans safety for granted and was being self fish to suit HER NEEDS the best instead of truly her child;s best interest in the end.

Again, i am very sorry for the mother and father, but between the CHOICE of letting her child walk to and from school, when the mother was even home to take the extra time, effort, and use common sense to escort or drop her child off but still CHOOSE not to and all those 6 hours of that day, when Jessica went mising, her mother never answered or checked her cell phone once. Sadly, time is crucial and everything in cases like this one……I respect others views always but this one is mine and hope you can as well. – Amber

150 Responses to Abducted Girl’s Mom Made Lazy, Selfish Choice (Letter)

  1. Beth October 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Wow. The placement of one’s cell phone in the home, whether it’s on/off/low on battery, and how often it’s “checked” is now the measure of a good parent? I truly suck.

  2. Stephanie October 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I’d be awful by the cell phone measure and for having my kids walk to and from school without me despite being home. Nothing lazy or selfish about it. They’re old enough, the independence learned is important, and it’s safer than driving them overall.

  3. Backroadsem October 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    No, it was not a lazy, selfish choice! It was reasonable! What happened to Jessica was a very rare incident. Tragic and horrible, no doubt. But RARE. Who honestly anticipates their children being kidnapped daily?

  4. Selby October 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    I don’t buy your sympathy for a minute; you wrote this letter for no other reason to brag about what a noble, sacrificing mother you are. I’m sure it was born of the terror in your heart of something happening to your kids, and all your attempts to control that, but it was cruel, poorly-worded and in extremely bad taste. You don’t offer your prayers in one breath and then backhand the mother with the next. Furthermore, if your child is abducted during school hours, your being awake, asleep or reachable is not going to make that much difference.

    And since we’re giving opinions, mine is that you’d do better to teach your precious angels to make their own damn lunch.

  5. AA October 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Goodness! Sanctimonious anyone?!? I really can’t believe that somebody would think themselves so stellar of a mother that they should feel justified in tearing another mother down. Parenting is hard – and I think most folks do the best that they can. Instead of spending time writing this spiteful note, perhaps SuperMom could instead find a community organization that needs her help for an hour a week?

  6. Elizabeth October 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Maybe the lazy and selfish choice is to drive a child to school every day. On the day that Jessica Ridgeway was killed, and every day since, an average of 6 children aged 0-14 were killed in a car accident. But those happen every day, so it’s not news.

    What a cruel letter.

  7. Fear less October 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    There is a combination of sexism and fear response here. Sexism: Man abducts and kills child, it must be some woman’s fault. I see this ALL THE TIME. Self soothing as a response to fear: I have my phone charged at all times, therefore this could ever happen to me. I walk my children to school therefore this could never happen to me. It is a way to cope with something horrible. Proper self soothing goes like this: This almost never happens, it was a very, very rare occurrence and it will almost definitely not happen to me.

  8. gretchen October 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    How horribly judgmental of this woman. I am so glad that there are perfect parents out there to show us all how to do it *right*. Anyone who thinks this woman(Jessica’s mom) is not already feeling awful is inhuman and to kick her while she is down is just cruel.

  9. Kelly October 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    I guess by this lady’s I’m a bad mom because I don’t always have my cell phone and I put my kid on the bus instead of driving each morning??

  10. Are we there yet? October 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    I wonder what it’s like to be perfect? To have never made a mistake? Of course, one of the recent rebates reminded is that children of single parents are most likely to go on killing sprees so she has that to look forward to.

    Seriously, though, that’s just a grunt from someone’s amygdala, an unfiltered reaction. These always cite a need for validation (“I know a lot of other people think it but won’t say it”) fronted with bravery. But those remarks aren’t worthy of anyone’s attention. I’m sure the mother of the missing girl has retraced every decision she made. She didn’t do anything to put her child in harm’s way, other than bringing her into the world.

    Fear prevents life, as Our Host reminds us.

  11. Wilson October 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    So, now I’m a lazy and horrible person because I can’t afford a cell phone and force my kids to ride the bus to school on their own. My 6 and 10 yo will be so disappointed in me. Am I too lazy not to let my children dress themselves, watch them go the restroom, help with chores around the house? Maybe I should pre-chew their food on the chance that they might choke and die.

    I feel sorry for your children, Amber, in that they are not getting the joy and important lessons of learning new skills to be independent. At what age will you start that? When they are no longer living under your roof and completely unprepared for the world?

  12. Kas October 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Ugh. This smacks of the same “blame the victim” mentality that plagues rape victims. Jessica and her family were victims, not perpetrators. I’d wager Jessica’s mother is spending plenty of time beating herself up playing the “what if” game as she struggles to come to grips with her grief. The last thing she needs is for people in society to castigate her. Perhaps the real “stranger danger” is the sanctimonious judgement from random people because someone else dares to act differently from themselves.

  13. Will October 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I’m just glad I won’t be living next to this woman when her schedule finally breaks her, because she’s clearly living in a dream world where her needs mean nothing and her kids are everything everything everything.

    Here’s a hint: kids grow up. They need to know that they can handle themselves. You need to handle that. We can argue all we like about the whens and wheres and how olds, but I truly feel for this woman’s kids, because at this rate, they’re going to be 20, and mommy will be driving them to their first real jobs, and she’s going to be exhausted from years of personal neglect and must-protect-the-children thinking, and they’ll all end up in a ravine somewhere because the kids can’t drive and she’ll fall asleep at the wheel. And it will all be because of her SELFLESSNESS and HARD WORK.

    And even if that doesn’t happen, because in 99.9999999% of cases it doesn’t (you know, like the number of cases where kids aren’t kidnapped because they weren’t under direct supervision for 30 minutes), what’s she gonna do when her kids move on? I imagine her coming home at 6:30 in the morning and scrubbing the bathroom with a toothbrush until 9 AM when she will finally allow herself to go to sleep, because she has no idea how to take care of herself other than via her kids.

    Now, I’m going to let my 9 year old walk over to Safeway to get a soda, put my 6 and 4 year olds in the back yard, and take a nap in front of the TV.

  14. Debra October 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    This is just another awful example of victim blaming.
    It’s also a great example of someone pactifying themselves into believing that because they do all these things, nothing can happen to their child. Which is wrong and potentially dangerous if you aren’t teaching your kids to take care of themselves as well. (Which, again, is not a guarantee, just a smart move.)

  15. t October 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Ditto to Selby.

    Sorry, Amber, I’m going to have to call BS on you. You are not a better person or mother than Jessica’s mother. You are simply luckier.

  16. Kat October 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Lady you are an arrogant, ignorant asshole and that is all the breath you are worth.

  17. JLR October 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    @Selby – and perhaps teach them how to spell, and properly construct a sentence as well?

    Honestly, I was home sick from work last week, and heard my phone (on my nightstand, next to the NyQuil, Halls drops & box of tissues) ring 4 times in 3 hours. I finally surfaced when I did have the thought, “Maybe it’s the school trying to reach me” (because if I felt this sick, it wasn’t out of the realm that my 12-year-old had come down with it as well).

    Good lord, clearly my child is going to be the next Lindsay Lohan due to my lack of attention & MAKING her learn how to do things for herself.

    What a b!tc#.

  18. Dave October 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    If she would have just… Where does it end? There are never enough precautions taken to prevent the unpreventable. Hindsight is always 20/20. After each tragedy you can always say, if I had only. But the truth of the matter is you can’t make perfect decisions taking into considerations the actions of evil people. Fortunately and unfortunately life happens. Most of the time for good and on occasion for evil. The parents and the child are the victims in this story. The abdicator is to blame.

  19. Dr. No October 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I’m going to take the opportunity this letter provides to explore something I’ve been musing about lately. Namely, the “I sacrifice everything for my child/ren” is not new, but until recently it took the form of getting and staying married to someone you may not have liked very much — for the sake of the children. What by general consent was “known” to be in the best interest of the child – that parents marry and that marriage remains intact – superseded consideration for the parent’s own personal happiness. And one can assume a good number of parents actually made this sacrifice.

    Isn’t this somehow a similar line of thinking? This writer believes that her personal sacrifice means her children are better off. Her pain must mean their gain. Here it’s not about divorce of course but I suppose if we could turn the clocks back a few decades the mantra would be pretty much identical: What a lazy and selfish person, putting his or her own NEEDS before the best interest of the child and . . . filing for a divorce.

    Funnily enough, this writer says she is a single mother. I wouldn’t venture to say nor do I believe that there is direct relationship, as in single parent=find something else to be a martyr about, but it may be a phenomenon in parenting in general.

    It would seem the NEED that remains constant for parents is to appear to be and to feel themselves selfless where their children are concerned. And ever ready to make painful sacrifices.

  20. Gina October 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Some parents are diligent and bad things still happen, and some parents are truly neglectful and everything turns out fine. The rest of us are somehwere in the middle, with good days and bad days. I have found in life that when I judge someone else’s actions without being in their shoes and having had their experiences, I can be quite harsh. Then inevitably, I find myself in a similar situation and although I don’t necessarily change my opinion, I understand more where the other person was coming from. We judge out of fear of being in a similar circumstances, and when we find blame, those are lame attempts to comfort ourselves that it “can’t” happen to me because I…. (am not lazy/love my child more/ wouldn’t let my child x, y or z; etc.). It can happen to anyone. I am sure this mother is beating up on herself enough because she has to live it every day for the rest of her life. I live in NJ and when I heard about Autumn, my heart went out to her parents for the pain and anguish they must be feeling. I do not wonder what they did wrong. I wonder how on earth will they get through this. So, all I can do is go home today and give each of my kids an extra tight hug, and tell them I love them even more.

  21. Michelle October 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I’m feel sorry for her kids, because they’re going to grow up to be cranky (that’s not the word I wanted to use…) and judgmental like she is. It’s so easy to sit behind the comfort of a computer and say ‘oh I would’ve done this differently,”, but truth be told, you have no idea what’s going to happen from minute to minute in a day, so there’s no way to pre-plan. This person’s “personal sacrifice” means her kids will go to college (if they make it, I see drugs and rebelling in their future…) not knowing basic life skills, and will freak out the first time they have to make a decision on their own.

    And as somebody else pointed out, you might as well stop driving them places since there’s a much LARGER change they’ll get injured/killed in a car accident than abducted and killed by a stranger. Don’t believe me? It’s so insanely easy to find the statistics, go ahead and do a simple web search.

    People like this are exactly why everybody freaks out over everything.

  22. Scott October 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Well I surely fail the cell measurement. I forget mine from time to time and it dies on me about twice a month or so. Not to mention that on Friday afternoon after work it goes in to my back pack, not to be seen again until Monday morning.

    I walk my kids to the bus stop across the road, more for the fact that the school requires it than anything else. My boys (6&7) cross that road to get to their friends house quite often on their days off.

    Amber you sounds very happy with your decisions and I wish you and yours nothing but the best. But to blame the mother in this serves no purpose. Her decision can be analyzed all day long but no one could safely say that it might have changed what happened.

    Just my 2cp

  23. Susie October 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Well, then goodness. Amber my dear- you’re going to think I’m even more lazy and selfish when I tell you that I plan on letting my boy, once he’s in kindergarten, walk himself to school BY HIMSELF almost every day. Why, you ask? It’s less than one block away, and I can very nearly see the front door from my home, that’s why! I’m sorry to not be your level of perfect, or that I don’t distrust my child like you do yours. Maybe if you got that extra smidgen of sleep every day, you’d be less paranoid.

    Gr argh. Women like you make the rest of us look bad.

  24. Dragonwolf October 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    So…I wonder what this woman would say if/when she falls asleep at the wheel while driving her kids to school?

    Or what about that one day that she forgets to charge her phone, or it fails entirely, and it dies an hour after she goes to sleep, and something happens to her child, who was let out of school early?

  25. Violet October 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    There but for the Grace of God go I. . .

  26. Bess October 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Darling, I will take you seriously when you learn how to a) spell, b) construct a sentence, c) learn to proofread, and MOST IMPORTANTLY d) your kid finds the cure for a deadly disease / devotes his or her entire life to making others’ lives better / becomes President / runs a Fortune 500 Company / something else awesome. Until then, I will judge YOU for being so nasty and sanctimonious.

  27. Becky October 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    There is a big difference between sending your child off to school, and mentally or physically abusing your child. There is a big difference between empowering your child to become independent, and not providing the necessities of life. there is a REALLY big difference between going to bed and what that man did to Jessica. Shelby. I suggest you think about what you are saying, and hope and pray that even with all your hovering, that your daughters don’t get snatched up from their bedrooms in the middle of the night, even though you thought you were doing everything right. Go ahead. Live in fear. You’re not helping them one bit. But for God’s sake – get off this poor mother’s back. She is in a world of grief, and your petty comparisons are NOT helpful.

  28. Steph October 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    I am missing something. How does the cell phone actually keep a child from being abducted/killed? Did she try to call? And if she did, does the mom come flying out of the house only to arrive too late?

    I have searched websites and all I can find is they need to kill the guy till he’s dead, make tougher penalties, THERE SHOULD BE A LAW, and all this stuff blaming the mom for not being available, but… what about the rest of us? What can we all do to make our children safer?

    Community. We need everybody to know their neighbors, know the kids, watch out for them, and take care of each other. We need eyes on the street, we need people out walking and we need to send a message to would-be predators that you don’t mess with our community because we are watching each other. We are taking care of each other. Mess with one of us, you mess with us all. In a community like that, you can easily let your child out of the house, because you know your neighbors have got your back, and your kids’.

    Get to know your neighbors. Put your local police department’s dispatch line on your cell phone, and get used to calling them when you see suspicious activity, then let your neighbors know what you’ve seen. If you see a crime in progress, call 911. These predators are no match for a community, but sadly, we don’t have as many of those as we should.

  29. Jennifer October 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Jeez, I don’t even own a cell phone, and neither do my kids. If they’re out without me and need to get a hold of me they ask to borrow a phone. I must be a terrible parent.

  30. Suzy October 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    As if that mom needs any more guilt. I’m sure she’s already run every possible, “If I only… ” through her head and has beaten herself up about it. Shame on you, Amber.

    I wish I could “like” or “+1” or whatever else you call other people’s comments, because so many here have eloquently said what I’m thinking after reading this.

    This letter just disgusts me. As if stories like this need to be cause for pissing contests over who is the “better” parent. You can be the “best” parent in the world (which is impossible, BTW, because of a little thing called subjectivity) and horrible things can still befall your family. Just as you can be the safest driver, and still be in a serious car accident. I feel like I can go on and on on this topic, but should stop. I’m just fuming right now, especially after the news in my state of NJ. For shame, Amber.

  31. ru October 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    I find Amber’s attitude to be the required framework for the institutional thinking that just got 6 scientists in Italy convicted of manslaughter for failing to accurately predict a high-magnitude earthquake.


    I shudder to think that this is not even where this ends. It never ends, unless we stand up and put a stop to it.

  32. C.J. October 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    How about placing the blame on the person responsible, the person who took her.

  33. Steve October 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    This mom obviously doesn’t understand that others don’t measure “being a loving parent” the same way she does. And we know she’s not alone. That’s why this blog exists. It’s a haven for parents who see helicopter fearmongers as hobbling their children’s future.

    We believe a primary way good parents show love to their kids is by teaching them to be self-reliant and independent. The writer of this letter could benefit by reading Lenore’s book and checking the comments here from time to time.

    For parents new to this site, here’s a good introduction to Free Range Parenting:


  34. July October 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    It’s not worth giving this lady any attention for her insensitive, tacky, cruel letter.

  35. gap.runner October 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    If I lived in the States I would be good competition with Lenore for America’s worst mom because I hardly ever have my mobile phone with me.

    Earlier today I had a discussion with a co-worker about child abduction. He said that they are rampant in the States because they are all over the news every week. He even showed me a child abduction site which cited the Lindbergh baby! Mentioning a kidnapping from the 1930s just goes to show how rare child abductions by a stranger are. I showed him a site which showed that only 115 kids are kidnapped and killed in the stereotypical way by strangers each year. Then I said that many more kids are killed in car crashes than by kidnappers. He didn’t believe me, so he found several sites which said that over 2,000 kids in the States are killed in car crashes every year. I thought I had him convinced until he said that you just can’t equate car crash and kidnapping deaths. He also said that I was unfeeling because, “Every 3 days a child gets abducted in the States.” I countered with, “Every day over 6 kids die in car crashes. That’s over 18 times the number who die at the hands of abductors.” Even with the real numbers staring him in the face, my co-worker just wouldn’t believe the concept that a kid has a much higher probability of dying in a car than from being abducted. Now I have a good understanding of the mentality that Lenore is fighting every day.

  36. Caro October 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    It’s really difficult to maintain, and continue to nurture, my belief that most people are good when the odious SanctiMommies like Amber crawl out of the woodwork, spewing their hateful brimstone at times like these.

  37. Havva October 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    What timing, i was just wondering about the progress of the investigation and came across this detailed article about Jessica’s morning.


    Her mother wasn’t a monster for not packing the girl a lunch. She was standing right there with her daughter. Her daughter was sprouting independence, and her mom was supporting her and cheering her on every step of the way. Her whole morning was about that. The mother wasn’t forcing her daughter out. She even checked with another parent to make sure her daughter wouldn’t be walking alone. But she respected her daughter’s independence. It is a horrific tragedy. But we can’t stop every tragedy. Jessica was unfortunate, but overall the life she had gives children the best overall chance of life long health both physical and mental.

    I’ve seen the protective model first hand with a childhood friend. Her parents loved her. They truly, desperately, and with much self sacrifice loved her. But their parenting was ugly, nearly abusive. Whatever her parents said about their reasons, she in due time started hearing. “Your desires don’t matter to us. We think you are simply too incompetent to do anything yourself, so we won’t even try to teach you. We don’t trust you, we will never trust you.” They effectively imprisoned her both with their rules and with the fears they planted in her mind. Eventually as an adult she “ran away,” but she still fights what they did to her mind.

    Criminals belong in jail, children do not.

  38. Beth October 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    @Steph, as a police dispatcher and calltaker, I would suggest one caveat to “call if you see suspicious activity”. Yes, know your neighborhood, but also please come up with an appropriate definition of suspicious. It is not the person walking down the street, minding their own business, that you don’t recognize. And it is even not that person if they happen to be a different race from you. It’s not the car that you don’t recognize, legally parked (maybe your neighbor has a guest?). It’s not the teenager carrying a violin case that “might” contain a weapon. And, as we all know, it’s not the kids playing in the yard while their parent is in the house, or the dad playing a chase game with his daughter as they meander down the sidewalk.

    Calling the police about people living everyday lives is a waste of limited law enforcement resources, and ties up limited dispatch lines (yes, there are a finite number of phone lines – both landline and cell – leading into your local dispatch center). Please call in behavior that is truly suspicious; not behavior that you don’t understand, don’t recognize, or is different from what you would do.

  39. missjanenc October 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    I don’t mean to sound unfeeling about abductions of any kind, but a thought just passed through my mind…there have been quite a few news stories about the diaappearances of college-age women and the first thing that flashed through my mind was if they had been raised as free-rangers. Were they more susceptible to being a victim because they lacked the coping skills to escape (remember the 7 year-old in Walmart who kicked and screamed when some tool tried to grab her?) or, having been raised in a helicopter environment and now on their own, they lacked the savvy to recognize a potentially dangerous situation altogether? As parents the onus is on us to raise our kids to be competent members of society but sometimes things just happen. While a child has died tragically, these are parents who would mourn just as much if she had died in a car accident, fell and hit her head, died of cancer, etc.

  40. Jo October 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Amber really should buy that lottery ticket now, you know,before her luck runs out.
    What a piece of trash.

  41. Kathy Mayes October 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I don’t know what either mom does for a living. Maybe Jessica’s mom has a really physically demanding job, I don’t know. Which is a kid more likely to get hurt, her riding in a car, with her mom falling asleep at the wheel, or her walking to school? I’d bet it would be much more dangerous with an extremely tired Mom… and chances are, if they would have been in an accident, no fuss would have been made, other than the local news calling her a bad mom for driving tired. It was an extremely tragic but RARE circumstance.

  42. Lollipoplover October 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    I think you submitted your letter to the wrong site. Maybe you should have sent it here:


    And while you are at it, maybe you can start a BIG letter campaign to the moms of the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Charles Manson to blame them for their daughter’s death, too. Tell them that maybe if they hadn’t been so LAZY and SELFISH as mothers maybe their children wouldn’t have been killed by serial killers.

    Why, oh why, do we always blame everything on the mother? Isn’t the pain of losing a child enough? Why the passive aggressive mommy war?

  43. @LisaLightnerLL October 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    What’s the weather like up there on that pedestal? Sigh. Parents need to band together and support each other, especially in times of crisis. Not judge and badger.

    I’m glad that *you* have your cell phone taped to your forehead at all times so you don’t miss a crucial call. Just know that you aren’t preventing anything that way….

    I’m glad you can walk your kids to the bus every day, but it’s not an unreasonable expectation as a society, to think that our 10 year olds can do this by themselves.

  44. Uly October 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Rather than simply attacking Amber, poor dear, I thought I’d mention that her note is based on a rather shaky premise, namely that older children are safer than younger ones.

    In fact, though stranger abductions ARE quite rare (that’s WHY we can remember so many of them, because rare things stick out in the mind), we do have some statistics on them. They’re more common in older teens than in younger children. This, of course, makes a strange kind of sense – most rapists and murderers, terrible though they are, are not pedophiles as well.

    Not allowing your child to so much as go to school unattended until she is in her teens pretty much assures that your child will have less practice at a time when she’s (slightly) more vulnerable. (And really, the more you tell your child or imply that everything is dangerous, the less they’ll believe that anything is dangerous.

    Worrying about stranger abductions is a waste of valuable brain space for most of us, but if you MUST do it, you can at least do so accurately.

  45. Megan A October 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    UGH, I JUST had a disagreement with my coworkers over the abduction in NJ and this same issue. Jessica was 10. The girl in NJ was 12. They were both more than old enough to walk themselves to school or a bus stop or a friend’s house.

    I keep trying to explain this to one of my coworkers, but she just totally doesn’t get it. I, and probably her husband and daughter, had to talk her into letting her daughter take gymnastics (at age 4) because she was worried about her getting hurt doing a somersault or cartwheel! She finally relented because her daughter was attempting to teach herself headstands and stuff, and that seemed more dangerous than sending her for classes.

    It’s kind of the same thing – overprotective to the point of detriment. Not teaching your kids life skills and making them independent can totally backfire, just like keeping them out of a class and forcing them to learn (poorly and incorrectly) on their own.

    She thinks I’m crazy for letting my almost 7 year old walk three houses down to the neighbor’s to play or go to the bus stop with them.

  46. mollie October 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    When someone cries “LAZY!” and “SELFISH!” they are probably feeling pretty upset and desperate, and wanting to know that someone is taking responsibility. Maybe she also just wants to be heard.

    It’s a pretty tragic strategy, in this particular case, to want Mom to take responsibility for this girl’s untimely death, and my guess is that nobody is really hearing what is so important to her.

    What this person is probably looking for and wanting more of in her own life and in the world… perhaps responsibility, maybe also safety and well-being for children and all beings… is getting totally lost in the shrill shriek of her blame, judgement, and criticism. When we express what matters to us in that way, nobody gets it. All they hear is the judgement.

    I hear you, Amber. I hear that you want all children to be safe. I hear that you want a sense of responsibility, that others are understanding that the choices that they make affect others in the community, is that right?

    Whose choices are triggering your outrage, that need for responsibility? The mother’s choices, or the person who dismembered this child’s body? Can you see the ways that this mother, in giving her daughter some age-appropriate independence, was supporting the very things you crave: responsibility? Well-being?

    Ah, well, maybe it didn’t work out that day. A mother thinking in terms of the big picture is making decisions each day on the assumption that her child will live to adulthood. And then, sometimes, either illness, accident, or bizarrely unlikely crime scenario cuts that child’s life short, and Mom doesn’t get to find out if her nurturing will bear out and support the growth and joy she envisioned. Was Mom setting out to shorten her own child’s life? Don’t answer that.

    Every one of us makes a guess, in each moment, how best to meet their own needs, and how to contribute to others. Perhaps, Amber, you imagine that by explaining how you do things, you can inspire others to live that way, and that all children will then be safe.

    And yet, children die every day within a couple of feet of their parents, in the car. In my community, on the sidewalk, hit by a truck, walking to school hand in hand, mother and child. Where is the responsibility in that scenario? Is it any more with the mother there than it is in this case of Jessica?

    Sh*t happens. I don’t perceive a stranger abducting my child as any more preventable than a tsunami. My spiritual practice doesn’t involve a cell phone, it involves acceptance, and seeing God in all things, every scenario. Not always easy. But I imagine it’s the path to peace.

    Peace be with you, Amber.

  47. Marybeth October 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    I must admit, I’m having a really hard time trying to figure out why she sent this letter to this site, of all places. Did she think this was a community that would sympathize with her? But I’m also disappointed that you actually printed it. This is obviously a very self-righteous and/or deeply mentally disturbed individual and I’m a little sad that she’s being given the attention she was looking for.

  48. Becky October 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Rather than write a long and nasty response letter, I’ll just say this: Amber I hope nothing ever happens to your children which forces you to have to deal with judgmental people on the internet who think you’re a horrible mother.

  49. @LisaLightnerLL October 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I think it’s also important and relevant to point out that both Polly Klaas and Eliz Smart were abducted from their own beds in their own homes, while siblings slept in the same room and while parents were in the next room. Are those parents just lazy for sleeping, instead of standing guard?

  50. Warren October 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    I have met a few people like this. They are the ones that are always talking to the friends about not having a life, and whatever life they do have, their kids are sucking that out of her.
    If she is a single mother because of divorce, I can see why. And the father should go after custody.

  51. Douglas John Bowen October 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I can’t vouch for certain, but it strikes me that an “Amber”– perhaps the same person — has been a dissenting voice in discussion(s) on this site, arguing that no amount of safety is safe enough.

    She is, of course, entitled to her opinion. But the missive above strikes me as “bait.”

  52. Tsu Dho Nimh October 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    And how save are that incredibly judgemental woman’s children while they are in the car. She’s a sleep-deprived driver, which is about as bad as being drunk.

  53. Cin October 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    This makes me sick, too.

    It was not the mother’s fault Jessica was abducted. Plain and simple.

    And there is nothing negligent about having a cell phone off. For goodness sake, our parents didn’t have cells — by this measure, they would have been negligent every time they stepped away from the land line!

    As for the land line — the school could have called it (not the school’s fault, either. The criminal’s fault!)

    As for walking — well, most of the parents in the world are terribly negligent, then, because outside of N. America, almost every school child on the planet walks themselves to school, or takes public transit, or takes a school bus by themselves.

    The mother who wrote this is telling us more about herself than Jessica’s mom. She’s telling us she believes in magical thinking. “If I just do these symbolic acts, my children will never be harmed and if they are, I can never be blamed. I am too good a mother for this to happen to my angels.”

    Jessica’s mom: your daughters’ death is not your fault. I stand with you. God bless you.

  54. Amanda Matthews October 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    So you barely see your kids because of work, and when you do it’s just to get them ready/drive them to/from school? And then while they’re at school you spend your time writing letters like this? And you expect to be praised for that?

    Having other people (teachers and babysitters) raise your kids is lazy and selfish. Hovering during the few moments you are actually with them, instead of teaching them to be independent is lazy and selfish. Letting your children have a life, even if it is in small bursts such as waling to school, is the opposite of lazy and selfish.

  55. Yan Seiner October 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    9 and 7. Old enough to get some food from the fridge. Old enough to walk on their own (although maybe with the 7 year old they should walk together.)

    The holier than thou attitude is pretty amazing; I wonder how hard she will crash when one of the kids gets hurt?

  56. Michelle October 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    In my circle of acquaintances, I know of a child who died while watching TV (dresser the TV was on fell over and crushed him), while taking a bath, and while sleeping in bed. Clearly those parents who allowed their children to watch TV, bathe, and sleep were awful, selfish, lazy parents!

    I’m clearly a lazy, selfish parent, because as I write this my youngest four children are playing in the backyard ALL BY THEMSELVES! while my oldest two do their chores. Oh, but at least my cell phone is charged and sitting right next to me!

    Amber, you have fallen into a trap of believing that you can prevent anything bad from happening to your children if you just do everything perfectly. The honest truth is that you cannot control every circumstance. You cannot be perfect. And you need to start weighing the downfalls of these protective measures against the actual risks that something bad will happen.

    By staying awake long enough to walk or drive your kids to school, maybe you eliminate the ALREADY VERY SMALL possibility that someone will abduct them on the way to school. It’s worth pointing out that there are still plenty of dangerous things that could (but probably won’t) happen to you and your kids even if you are walking with them, like a mugging, a drive-by shooting, a car careening onto the sidewalk and hitting you, or a lion escaping from the zoo and mauling you. If those things happened, you being there isn’t going to make much of a difference. You probably already recognize that those things COULD happen, but that the likelihood is too small to bother worrying about, right?

    So you eliminate one out of several very improbable dangers. That’s what you gain by walking or driving your kids to school. What do you lose? Well, you deprive your children of the opportunity to grow and develop independence. You teach your children to be afraid of the world around them. You isolate yourself and your children from the community through fear that any “stranger” could be out to get you. If you drive, you deprive your children of exercise, and expose them to the much more likely danger of being involved in a car accident. If you drive while sleep deprived, you expose yourself and your children to the very real danger that you will fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident. You also endanger every single other person on the road, including the children being driven to school, and any children walking to school.

    To be honest, I am terrified of the idea that you routinely drive your children to school while exhausted after working all night. I would really like to know where you live, so I can be sure to keep my children the hell away from you.

  57. Crystal October 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    So many thoughts. First, I love this blog. It is such a pick-me-up during this time of crazy, nasty presidential politics to read logical, sane words by logical, sane people. Secondly, I wish I could “like” amost everyone’s comments before me, especially Mollie’s. Lastly, I truly do not understand the point of this letter. Does Amber think that making Jessica’s mom feel badly will bring Jessica back? Or does she think that she can bully (though she would probably say “inspire”) other parents into mimicking her exact, over-the-top parenting style? I highly doubt one person will read this note and say, “That’s it. She’s right. I’m going to spend all my efforts from now on trying to be like her.” Any insight, Free Rangers?

  58. Donna October 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    “I get home from work by 6:30 am, exhausted and ready to crash. ”
    “With all that said, even though I fight so hard the urge to go to bed and pass out, I MAKE the time and EFFORT to pack my kids their lunches for the day and either walk WITH them or drop them off at their schoool, EACH SINGLE day.”

    So you think your children are SAFER driving to school with you “fight[ing] so hard the urge to go to bed and pass out”? You do understand that tiredness is the leading cause of car accidents? You are putting yourself, your children and everyone else on the roadway at risk by driving while “exhausted and ready to crash.”

    When I went to law school I wanted to be a DA until I interned at the DAs office. The case that changed my mind involved a group of young adults, college students, who did everything we tell young people to do and still something went wrong. They wanted to go out drinking and dancing so they brought along their designated driver, a friend who doesn’t drink alcohol at all. But they stayed out too late and the designated driver, who didn’t consume a drop of alcohol all night, fell asleep while driving, struck another car on the highway, and killed that driver. She was prosecuted for felony vehicular homicide because nothing can be a simple accident anymore. The internship ended before that case finished so I don’t know the result. It was many years ago so I’m fairly sure that she’s out of prison now though.

    But you can continue to be holier-than-thou. Just stay off the roads around my child’s school. Thanks.

  59. Amanda Matthews October 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    @Crystal My guess: She’s unhappy with how little time she spends with her kids, and the fact that she spends that little time hovering, and/or deep down doubts it’s the right thing to do; so, in an effort to make herself feel she is doing the right thing, she must inform everyone doing things differently that they’re doing things wrong.

  60. Adriana October 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    You know I just had a conversation with my kids this morning that I think this woman needs. Judge not or you’ll be judged; Treat others how you want to be treated; He without sin may cast the first stone; Don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, and There but for the grace of god go I. Yes some are biblical but the point is Don’t Judge Others.

    Seriously…. Isn’t being a parent hard enough without other worrying about other parents or people judging us for our decisions?

    If you, Amber, feels that a 10yr old can’t walk to school then fine that’s your rule. That doesn’t mean that someone else is a bad parent for encouraging their child to do so. Yes a terrible thing happened… ONE terrible thing happened to one terrible person that the news talked about.
    Stop judging and stop blaming. The ONLY person to blame is the person that did this horrible thing. No one else.
    Never letting bad things happen is an impossibility. So go out and enjoy life because you never know what tomorrow will bring you.

  61. Zozimus October 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    The casual cruelty of people (esp. on the internet) sometimes makes me so disappointed I actually feel disgusted to share a society with them.

    I’ve noticed a trend, too, about the whole “lazy” meme. It’s infiltrated the highest political levels. That whole 47% meme down in the States recently is part of it. The terrible reaction to the girl who gave birth here in jail in Ontario is part of it. “They’re not perfect, so they deserved it” is the mantra. That kind of sanctimonious cruelty is part of a larger trend away from compassion, reported on many times in recent days.

    We need to start re-educating our kids in empathy from early ages. Otherwise, we get societies where neighbours say “serves you right” when their neighbours’ kids get hurt, or worse, and don’t see that it applies to them too, when they need help and support.

  62. Donna October 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Really Amanda, Amber doesn’t spend any less time with her kids than most parents do. She gets them ready in the morning and drops them off at school – no different than MILLIONS of other parents in the US – and is with them after school until she goes to work. I don’t know what time she goes to work but, if she is home by 6:30a, it is sometime after dinner. I see no difference in being home from 2:30 to 7 with your kids and being home from 5 until bedtime with your kids. I may be home more actual hours with my kid but I am not having much meaningful interaction while she is asleep.

    Even if she is spending less time with her kids than you like spending with yours, attacking a woman for being judgmental while being EXTREMELY judgmental yourself just makes you look foolish.

  63. An October 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    The girl was 10, wasn’t she? I think that’s a reasonable age to be able to walk to school, or the bus stop, or wherever she was walking to, especially since other kids (probably some with their parents) are out walking at the same time. Whatever happened to her could have happened to a 15 year old, an 18 year old, or a 25 year old. If it did, would people also be blaming the mom for it? When is the magic age where you can walk the streets and have absolutely zero chance of being grabbed by a stranger?

  64. Staceyjw October 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    You are a disgusting, horrible person.
    That is al.

  65. Ali October 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    If the mom is at fault, as Amber suggests, then why are there 35 police agencies and the FBI here working their tails off to find the person responsible for killing Jessica? Why not just prosecute the mom and be done with it? Oh, that’s right BECAUSE THE MOM IS COMPLETELY INNOCENT! She had her child taken from her by a monster. It’s the monster that killed Jessica. Why is that so difficult for some people -Amber- to comprehend?

  66. Havva October 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    @An… magic age apparently none. The key must be that you need to be male to be safe. (Though that probably doesn’t work either.) The police have apparently linked the Ridgeway case one of several attempts to abduct adult women in the area.
    I could say sarcastically that “I suppose all adult women need to make sure to never go out with out a man to protect them.” But sadly, fear has probably already driven too many women to live that way. I have had two instances in my life where I sought out help and a terrified woman yelled at me through the locked door to go away. I am not a scary looking person. In fact, full grown, I am 1″ over my state’s requirements for car seat use, and I was just a child the first time I encountered this. But these women were convinced that no one knocking on their door could be innocent. I was the one in trouble at the time, but I felt sorry for them. I knew I would be okay, they are probably still living in a prison of fear.

  67. Donald October 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I found the letter sicking but not surprising.

    That’s because blame and fear hysteria are ‘close relatives’.

    Wherever you find blind fear, blame is usually not very far away.

    They go together like sand and surf, forest and mosquitoes, or $hit and stink.

  68. Kathy October 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    So sad that people feel this way. I can only imagine how terrible Jessica Ridgeway’s mother feels without someone who doesn’t even know her blaming her. Not checking your cell phone every minute certainly has no pertinence to your ability to parent.

  69. Margaret October 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    I have one, how about we place blame on the perpetrator of the heinous crime? Now there’s an idea I can get behind.

  70. Allison October 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    I haven’t read the comments so apologies if I am repeating what others have said. I’m geographically near this case, and I read in our local paper that the mom started by walking with Jessica, then letting her go on her own when they felt ready, etc, because she wanted to be more independent. She used the buddy system- her friend was to meet her only a couple of blocks away. But, this was clearly a predator who had been studying the community looking for a target. There were two attempted abductions in the neighborhood in the spring. In other words, something very, very rare. And, I do think it’s appropriate for schools and parents in our area to be a bit more cautious for now- as long as that doesn’t turn into a new normal.

    Also thought it was interesting that the comment blaming the mom in our local paper got LOTS of down votes.

  71. AW13 October 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Hmmm. My husband and I don’t even own cell phones. So I guess we win the “laziest parents” award!

  72. Warren October 23, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    I wonder what this lady, word used loosely, would think of me.
    When I did my midnite stint, it was during the summer holidays. Would come home, send my wife off to work, my teen was self sufficient and usually had plans with friends. My youngest daughter, 8, would let me grab a couple hours sleep, then would get up and cook, clean, and have time with my kids, before grabbing a couple more hours before going into work.
    It wasn’t uncommon, to come out of my room at around 10am, to find a note on the floor infront of my door. Telling me “Gone to so and so’s”. I would call verify she was there. And get on with my day.

  73. AW13 October 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Now that I’ve read all the comments, I have to agree with what a number of people have said above: this isn’t her mother’s fault. Her mother didn’t do anything wrong. And, sadly, there is nothing anyone can say (or anonymously write) that could make her feel worse than she already does.

    That being said, Amber, grow up. You can’t keep bad things from happening to your children with the magic incantations of “checking the phone” or “driving to school” or “selfishly devoting my life to my children”. You are stunting your children’s growth to make yourself feel better. You are not selfless, you are selfish. There is a difference.

    May your good luck continue. But these sorts of events are determined by luck, not design.

  74. Maegan October 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    This poor woman spends a worry-filled 5 hours a day sleeping. No wonder she isn’t seeing clearly or using spell check.

  75. Library Diva October 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Wait, I’m on Free range Kidds, not STFU Parents, right? Because this would fit well in that blog’s “Sanctimommy” and “Woe Is Mom” categories.Also, because Amber needs to STFU with her sanctimoniousness, judgement and martyrdom.

  76. Mary October 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Of course it isn’t this mother’s fault what happened to her child. But posters on here are becoming just as ridiculous and over the top when you are suggesting she is stunting her 7 and 9 year old’s growth by fixing them lunch and walking them to school – a great way for a working mom to do something for her kids and spend quality time with them.. Or that she is a helicopter mom who is “hobbling her children’s future.” The fact is she sounds like a normal, typical, involved mom. Millions of kids grow up and have grown up like this and are very successful. So even if she was out of line blaming this poor mother, let’s not lose common sense perspective.

  77. Alecta October 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Yeesh, my mom must have been a terrible mother by these standards. Not only did she not get a cellphone until last year (after I turned 20 and had been away at college for over two years – I’m now 21), I didn’t get one until I turned 18 and left high school!

    Not to mention all the “unsafe” free, unsupervised time I spent waiting alone at the bus stop before school and walking to and from it by myself, and biking to the library and grocery store alone, and playing in the woods by myself as a kid, and sledding outside alone, and walking to and from friends houses on my own…

    Oh my, I should be dead, shouldn’t I?

  78. Donna October 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    @ Mary – I think most are responding to Amber’s assertion that she is a BETTER mother and that Jessica Ridgeway’s mother was wrong for not making her child lunch. I make my 7 year old’s lunch every morning because it isn’t worth the battle it would take to get it done on time and I don’t think that going without food all day is a reasonable consequence for not being able to pull everything together on time in 1st grade. I don’t, however, think that people whose 7 year olds (or 10 year olds in Ridgeway’s case) are selfish and lazy for not packing their kid’s lunch.

    I agree that walking your kids to school is not helicopter parenting and hindering your children’s future IF you are doing it to spend time with your kids, get exercise or whatever. That is not why Amber is doing it. She says that specifically. She is doing it because she believes that it is unsafe for children to walk to school on their own. That attitude – that it is unsafe to walk a short distance – gets passed down to kids and does hobble their future.

  79. Donna October 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    On a separate note, I just read an article about the New Jersey case on the cnn website. In reading briefly through the comments, they are all something along the lines of “pedophiles need to be killed” and “the world is too dangerous because it is full of pedophiles.” The article plainly states that no sexual assault occurred and it is believed that she was killed by 2 teenage neighbors for her bike. While the murder of this girl is tragic, it had nothing to do with pedophiles or child molesters.

    People believe what they want to believe. The fact that the article plainly states that the child was not killed by a pedophile does nothing to convince them that she was not killed by a pedophile. They are viewing the situation through their own beliefs rather than the real facts. It is truly bizarre and disheartening.

  80. Michael October 24, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    A few random thoughts upon reading this letter.

    1) How would she possibly have been able to cope with life if she would have had kids before the advent of the cell phone?

    2) She packs her kids lunches (at 7 and 9 yo) and drives her kids on occasion even though she admits to being exhausted and then calls someone else a bad parent?

    3) Most importantly, with her spelling and language usage… at least she’s not homeschooling, thank goodness.

  81. Kimberly October 24, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Huh.. Well, I don’t even have a cell phone, and my kids are 10,8, and 1.5 .. I guess I’m a horrible parent by that determination.

  82. Rvdb October 24, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    There are too many disturbing things about Amber’s letter to address. I agree with every comment above. Wish there was a way to like posts!

    I was very dismayed this morning to read a series of posts in my Facebook feed from NJ friends. Most warned other NJ Mom’s about the changing times and how sad it is that the ever-increasing prevalence of murderers, rapists and kidnappers has forced parents to lock down their children. One even wrote, “WARNING!! Do not let your children out of your sight, EVER! Not even for a second. We must keep our children safe. It’s not a safe world out there anymore!!!!!”. The people writing these posts are intelligent, articulate and thoughtful people so their fear resonates loud and clear.

    Good grief.

  83. Alexia October 24, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    As Lenore said, this writer is blaming the mom and not the criminal. With this line of thinking, there will ALWAYS be something else the parent could have done to prevent such a tragedy. That means every tragedy that ever happens anywhere at anytime is always each one of those parents’ fault. Wow.

  84. Kate October 24, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Not sure what the point of printing this letter on this site was. It’s obviously runs right in the face of what most of the readers here believe in. Just a “let’s discuss how much better we are” opportunity? Certainly didn’t generate discussion beyond abusing the author.

  85. Nic October 24, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    Amber -Perhaps other parents aren’t “saying it” because we don’t believe what you are saying. I really hope your dilligence is absolute so that nothing will “ever” go wrong for you and your children, and that hovering over your children and not giving them skills and freedom doesn’t backfire on them later in life.

  86. Ange October 24, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Oh Dear! Now why is it relevant to attack Amber’s spelling and language skills?

    I think she is not alone in thinking that we personally can control everything that goes on in our children’s lives, and that our devoted attention to every detail will ensure nothing bad happens to them. I certainly remember feeling that way when my children were babies and toddlers. However, eventually I realized that I couldn’t stay on top of everything, and that some things were more important than others (e.g. you can’t leave a baby or a toddler in a bath by themselves but you can let them play outside and get dirty). Therefore I learnt to prioritize what I paid most attention to; I let (indeed, I insisted!) my children made their own lunch when they were in the middle grades of primary school; I let them suffer the consequences of forgetting things that were required at school (e.g. their sunhat, so they had to stay inside instead of playing outside). But I always made sure they were strapped correctly in their car seat, or their pram or stroller. For some things it is not so clear what the best judgment is, and parents will have varying opinions – such as regarding walking to school alone. I did let my children walk home from school, but it was something that we worked up to. I didn’t have a cell phone (mobile) until the eldest child was halfway through her first year at school, and I hardly think that constitutes a dereliction of duty. I have one now, but I certainly don’t have it with me all the time, or even switched on or charged.

    Sometimes bad things happen even when you do your best to protect your children. As much as we may not like to admit it, it is often just bad luck. It’s only by a gradual process, and over a long time that I’ve come to realize this.

  87. Jenna October 24, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    I don’t see sleeping after a long shift at work as selfish or lazy. And no, I don’t keep my phone on all the time nor do I keep it near me all the time, no matter where I am and where my kids are. I don’t know why we think that we need to do that these days. It really, really bothers me when parents are blamed for letting their kids have some responsibility and some CRIMINAL takes advantage of that. It is not the parents’ fault. It is not the child’s fault. It is the fault of the person who committed the horrible crime. End of story.

  88. Christina October 24, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Looks like there is at least one mom blogger out there who plans on continuing to give her kid(s) some independence: http://thestir.cafemom.com/in_the_news/145525/missing_girl_autumn_pasquale_search.

  89. Jennifer October 24, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    By blaming the mother, she is attempting to create a world where HER children could never be harmed. It’s a classic move. Whenever we see a child harmed, murdered, hurt, etc., we immediately look for what WE would have done differently in an attempt to try and comfort ourselves and reassure ourselves that THAT will never happen to US.

    Unfortunately, there is that tiny, tiny, infinitesimal chance that we can do everything “right” and bad things will still happen. The discomfort some people have with that concept makes them lash out in this way. It’s very sad.

  90. SKL October 24, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    I just hope for that letter writer’s sake that nothing terrible ever happens to her kids, because she will certainly blame herself for it. Apparently she believes that she and all moms can control all outcomes for our kids.

    I’m not sure, but my gut tells me God or the universe will punish someone who gratuitously attacks the mother of a dead child.

    And as a single mom myself, I’ve fielded many accusations that my choices are selfish and not in my kids’ best interests. As if anyone knows how much I sacrifice for my kids day in and day out. Jerks.

  91. hineata October 24, 2012 at 5:50 am #

    Wow, how sanctimonius! I am a married mum of three (apart from the extra money and occasional childcare help this entails, I’m not entirely sure that I am any different from a single mum, so not sure why Amber emphasises her ‘single-mumness’), and by this woman’s interpretation I would probably be the worst mum in the world…

    Both times my girls broke bones at kindy and school, my cellphone was unattended in the car,. I have accidentally taken my youngest to school with me when I thought she had a teacher-only day, and had a panicked call from her school when they missed her in the afternoon roll call. My kids have to pack their own lunches. They have walked/ridden to school for years. They have even crashed themselves into various things on the way to school etc and had to repair themselves before carrying on. Is that CYPS I hear knocking on my door?

    The only person to blame for the death of Jessica Ridgeway is the revolting creep who killed her.

  92. Eliza October 24, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I think i must be one of those worst mothers. Not only does my daughter have to make her own lunch, and walk herself half an hour to school and back home, but because i have to leave before my daughter, she needs to do final check of house to make sure everytbing is turned off, pets outside and doors locked. I will admit though i do have the occational what ifs, but these thoughts cant rule my life.

  93. Buffy October 24, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    “WARNING!! Do not let your children out of your sight, EVER! Not even for a second. We must keep our children safe. It’s not a safe world out there anymore!!!!!”.

    I sure wish someone who practices “not even for a second” would explain, in detail, how it works…at night during sleeping hours, when parent or child needs to use the bathroom, school, when household needs require that parent and child be in different rooms of the house……etc.

  94. linvo October 24, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I feel sorry for this woman because only people who feel deeply insecure about their own lives would judge another person this harshly. She is trying to justify her own actions by condemning those who do things differently.

    But whatever psychological issues caused her to write this letter, only a person who can feel no empathy would ever blame a parent for the tragic death of their child.

  95. baby-paramedic October 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    You know what is irresponsible?
    Driving while fatigued.
    Working while fatigued.
    I do not know what this woman does in the hospital, but most hospital workers I would imagine are involved in patient care. I like my colleagues and my health professionals to have had a decent amount of sleep.

  96. Taradlion October 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    I can’t comment on the letter (at least there is nothing I can add after other comments here).

    I will say this, with all the “The world is a different (worse) place than it was when we were growing up”, I often think about cell phones. My kids’ school was almost apoplectic one day when I didn’t answer my phone immediately (they called 4 times in 15 minutes while I was on the subway). The problem? Child bleeding out? No. There was confusion at pick-up time (after school activity had been cancelled) and my daughter was left at school by my caregiver when she picked up my son as scheduled…all straightened out in 30 minutes. My daughter was 9. (She didn’t have an emergency ziplock comfort bag)

    I thought that day about the fact that when I was growing up, my stay at home mom could have been at the grocery store when a call came from school (as she was the day I got the chicken pox and had to hang out with the school nurse). Schools didn’t EXPECT that a parent could be reached at all times (no exceptions). Kids got sick. Kids got hurt. Kids missed the bus. It happened. Kids were fine. Kids didn’t freak out because they couldn’t talk to mommy NOW.

    Only once (kids now 8 and 11), have I turned my ringer back on after an appointment or meeting to see multiple missed calls from my sitter due to a real “emergency”. I listened to the messages and got a sickening feeling hearing that my child (3 years old at the time) had started vomiting and was lethargic. Even if I had not gotten the call, when I didn’t respond, my teenaged sitter had called her mom, who was a nurse, and was about to take my child across the street to the hospital. I called back, rushed home and to the ER (she was admitted with severe vertigo).

    Best part of this sitter, I was her babysitter (for her and her 3 older siblings, when I was 12)….i hope some of her staying calm, had to do with having a good role model!

  97. Yan Seiner October 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    @Ange: “Now why is it relevant to attack Amber’s spelling and language skills?”

    In the words of one of my profs, which I have had occasion to use myself with both my students and my kids:

    If you don’t care how words are spelled, you don’t care what they mean.

    When someone launches a vicious attack on another person, and that attack is full of misspelled words and poor grammar, it demonstrates to me at least that the person making the attack simply does not care about what they are saying.

    In other words, Amber’s letter is just a rant representing her anger at the world, a childish and immature attitude mixed with conceit and self-righteousness, that should be dismissed.

    After all, she does not care what her own words mean, why should we?

  98. Dee October 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    What gets to me about this line of reasoning is when is she going to make that break? If 10 is not old enough, is 12? 14? When exactly do you make that break? How do your kids get to be responsible enough to drive, to date, to anything, if they didn’t have the little things. Or do you let them walk to school on their own at 15, but not drive ’til 18? (Good luck with that.)

    My son is really REALLY clingy. We have been working on his walking to school on his own for a while. He’s not fully there – we walk him part way and he walks himself the rest of the way. But our goal is for him to walk himself. (Nevermind that he’s an incredible dawdler and I worry he’ll never get there because darn! that rock/stick/whatever is so interesting!). But we keep at it and we’ll get there. THAT is what good parents do. They teach their kids how to be independent.

  99. Jules October 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    What is the purpose of this letter? An application of Sancta-mommy of the Year?

  100. Jules October 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    *that would be Sancti-mommy….guess if I use a made-up word, I should spell it correctly, huh?

  101. LeAnn October 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I wonder if she will still be making their lunches and driving them every morning and afternoon when they are 39 and 37.

  102. Mary October 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    “If you don’t care how words are spelled, you don’t care what they mean.”

    My dyslexic husband and two dyslexic children would beg to differ. Try hard as they will – and using the computer’s spell check – unless a third party edits it there will always be grammatical and spelling errors. Let’s not over analyze and judge others – especially when we don’t know their circumstances. I understand you are angry, but two wrongs do not make a right. Same thing goes for all those attacks on her assuming she is never going to let her children go. I know everyone is angry, but really? The fact that she walks her 7 and 9 year olds to school and thinks a 10 year old should be walked does not mean she is going to have children living in her basement when they are 40. Most parents today feel this way and most kids grow up self sufficient and on their own. As much as we like this way of child rearing does not make it the only way that works. I have had many friends over the years that were more protective and their kids ALL turned out great. The point of this blog should not be to condemn everyone who does not feel exactly as we do, but to spread the word that this is an option and we can raise our kids our way and you can raise your kids your way and guess what? They will all most likely turn out fine. If free range parenting was the main secret to successful, independent adults then the poor would be ruling the world right now – since it has been pointed out several times on here that those are the kids most likely to be free range since their parents simply cannot watch them all the time. Yet, we know from experience this is far from the truth. There are many factors that go into raising independent, mature, self sufficient, successful adults, and making their lunches at age 7 or walking with your 9 or 10 year old to school is simply not going to ruin your kids or turn them into bumbling adults who can’t do anything.

  103. Captain America October 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    LeAnn, on October 24th, 2012 at 1:57 pm Said:

    I wonder if she will still be making their lunches and driving them every morning and afternoon when they are 39 and 37.

    Good point!

  104. Jenna October 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Just ran across this: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=22667163&nid=148&title=teenage-brothers-charged-with-killing-nj-girl-12&s_cid=queue-6

    Autumn, the New Jersey girl, was lured into the home of two teenage boys, ages 15 and 17, and then murdered. So I guess now Amber needs to write a letter about how the boys’ parents were not watching them closely enough either.

  105. Lollipoplover October 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    @Mary- I honestly don’t care how Amber raises her children. What I find wrong is that she somehow feels that this random crime is a Parenting Fail. It is far from it.
    What scares the hell out of me is this new vocal group of Surveilance Moms who seem to thing that all child deaths are blameworthy. That everything can be prevented. I agree, some kids who were coddled all their life turn out to be successful adults as do those who are taught to think for themselves at early ages.
    What frightens me is the backlash against moms of crime victims in these child death stories (Jessica, Autumn). Those who blame the death of the NJ girl Autumn, killed by two teenagers over bike parts on lack of supervision. Here is one comment among the many that think this almost 13 year-old girl should not have been riding her bike on a glorious fall day:

    ” I never let my children walk alone, even when they became teenagers. Although they were always well advised of what to do if someone approaches them, sometimes children forget or the person is someone they know well. Don’t take chances with your child’s safety, no matter how much others say you are doing too much. You cannot ever do ‘too much’ when it comes to protecting them. Trust no one. Bring them to adulthood safely. I don’t want to, however, increase the agony of the parents. They are going through something more horrific than anything a parent can experience. They did not grasp the true danger.”

    How are we now defining “adulthood”?

  106. Donna October 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    @Mary – Except helicoptered kids are NOT turning out fine. Spend time on any college campus and you will see that. They have no common sense and can’t think for themselves. They rely on their parents or the school to solve their problems. They make bad choices and put themselves at risk. They expect to be coddled. Heck, there was some major university a couple years ago that made the news because it had hired CROSSING GUARDS for it’s student body. And, more importantly, the student body was okay with that. They didn’t rebel and demand not to be treated like babies. Many thought it a grand idea. The students could function academically at a top university but could not manage to walk across the street by themselves, nor did they have any great desire to do so.

    “They will all most likely turn out fine. If free range parenting was the main secret to successful, independent adults then the poor would be ruling the world right now – ”

    First off, helicopter parenting is a recent phenomenon and people in their 20s have never ruled the world. The mid30-60 year old age-range is still ruling the world. That group DID largely grow up free range.

    There are many reasons that the poor in the US will never rule the world. But the US is not at the top of its game either. There are many countries that are free range. Those countries are doing far better – weathering this deep recession – better than the US.

    I don’t anticipate the US recovering its former glory. Millenials are having a difficult time getting jobs. Some of this is related to more experienced people willing to work for less just to have a job. But a big part of it is that millenials, in general, make bad employees. They are over coddled and think that their poop doesn’t stink. If I were hiring someone right now, barring an exceptional younger candidate, I’d hire a 40 year old over a 25 year old any day. Even if the 40 year old was a career changer who had the exact same experience as the 25 year old. The 40 year old is much more likely to be an independent thinker who doesn’t demand special treatment than the 25 year old.

  107. sylvia_rachel October 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Wow, well, I already knew I’m a bad mom, but apparently I’m an even worse mom than I thought:

    – My 10yo packs her own lunch.
    – And sometimes makes her own breakfast, too.
    – She takes herself to school, on foot and by city bus, and brings herself home again.
    – She has her own set of keys and is responsible for locking the door of our apartment when she leaves in the morning.
    – And since she’s the first one home in the afternoon, she’s on her own for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half (when everyone else had a bad day at work and had to stay late).
    – She is in charge of going down to the corner store to buy a new bag of milk when we run out.
    – She is also allowed to go to any of the neighbourhood parks without a grownup, as long as she tells us where she’s going and is back by the stated time.
    – I don’t even own a cellphone.
    – Or a car.
    – And if we did have a car we STILL wouldn’t drive her to school. Except maybe in a horrible blizzard or something.

    So clearly I am just the WORST POSSIBLE PARENT and DH, who worries slightly more than I do, isn’t much better. Thanks, Amber, for taking the time to catalogue all my sins for me. Now that I know what a terrible parent I am, I will be sure to …

    Um, keep doing pretty much what I’m already doing, because I refuse to let the availability heuristic take over my entire life.

    Has anyone posted this to Passive-Aggressive Notes yet? Seems like a perfect candidate 😉

  108. mysticeye October 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m not going to join this debate though there are a lot of good comments in the merit it. However this letter should not have been posted, this troll should not have been given the attention she desires. Even the spelling issues are likely contrived to get even more attention.

    Do not feed the trolls, and worse do not glorify them and give them the center stage.

    There are plenty of letters with similar messages that could have been chosen to discuss without listing their author or having the author around. That would have started a much better discussion.

  109. Warren October 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I think some here have mistaken what is going on. Mary thinks we are telling this woman what to do. No not really. We are just tired of all the overprotective parents thinking they have the god given right to tell us what to do.
    I honestly don’t care how she raises her kids. They are her problem not mine.
    I do care how I raise mine, and am tired of these self-righteous parents thinking they have the right to judge me, and or call authorities because they believe what I am doing is illegal, just because they don’t like it.

    “Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. Cause we all get judged in the end.” Is what makes good neighbours.

  110. Mary October 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that some parents can inhibit their kids and over coddle them far too long. I’m just saying I have no idea how long Amber plans to do these things for her kids and right now I don’t see them as being harmful. My parents took me to school all through elementary school. I started walking in junior high – 7th grade. Yet I am more than capable of getting around by myself now. My mother made my lunch everyday until I was in high school, I think. She didn’t do it because I wasn’t capable, but just to be nice. Yet today I am more than capable of cooking and making my own lunches and have never struggled in being able to do so. (My mother did teach me cooking as a girl, but just didn’t assign making my own lunches as something I had to do.) So judging by what she told us, the ONLY thing she is doing wrong, in my opinion is harshly judging someone else, which I definitely disagree with. Also, Donna, I think the college thing depends on where you live. My husband works at a large university in the midwest and he doesn’t really come across this problem. (He also used to work at a University in the Eastern US and didn’t run across this problem on any large scale degree. Sure there are a few young adults who have been overly coddled, but most of the young adults he encounters and teaches he says are pretty responsible and self sufficient. Maybe you work at a college where things are different and I’m not saying it can’t be different in different areas. I also think it’s a possibility the media plays up things like this as well as they do stranger danger. They take a few studies and examples that will surely exist everywhere and make it sound like it’s a wide spread phenomenon and that almost all young adults are coddled infants who can’t do anything on their own. Sure there are parents who overly hover and never let their kids do anything on their own until they reach adulthood. But at least in the areas I have lived, this just isn’t true of most parents. Do most of them protect a bit longer than most people on here? Absolutely. But by middle school their kids are spreading their wings more and doing and going places on their own more and more each year. And the results I am seeing are normal young adults who are capable and self sufficient for the most part. Like I said, other areas may have parents who never let them go anywhere or do anything, on their own until adulthood, which is sad, but thankfully I can attest it’s not that way everywhere. 🙂

  111. bmommyx2 October 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    I think I feel sorry for her children, I hope they survive the helicoptering. If the school was really concerned they should have called the police

  112. CrazyCatLady October 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    I never assume that I am the best person in the world. And honestly, I don’t care much about what other people think, I tend to want to think on my own, not be part of a herd.

    I will make my decisions based on what is best for MY family. Which may have very little to do with what is best for a single mom and her needs. I will not judge her, and I don’t want her judging me. And if she chooses to anyhow, well, I could not care less.

    However, if something happened to my kid and this lady said this to me, I would have to deck her. But fortunately, people are generally much politer in person than they are on the internet where they will never actually be identified by the people they are commenting about.

  113. CrazyCatLady October 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    As to the phone thing….why did the school not call the back up number? It is usually a landline, or the other parent. If my school feels it is important enough to reach me, they should try the other numbers as well.

    I live in a spot that does not get cell service. I have a cell phone, but it is for when I am out of the house, getting groceries or such. I expect people to leave a message on my home phone, and then try the cell. Because I may be outside in the barn, with the animals or such and not be able to hear the phone. I do not have the answering box set up on my cell phone on purpose – I can’t check it regularly and I want people to call the land line and leave a message there if needed.

    If they don’t leave a message on the land line, it must not be important.

  114. CrazyCatLady October 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    But, according to this mom, I am lazy and selfish too, I guess. Because, though I bought the house that is best for our needs, I should sell it now so I can get a house that has good cell service so I can be reached no matter what at any time, in 5 different ways.

  115. hineata October 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    About the parents being contactable, though, a big difference between some time like the 70’s and today is that if, say, we’d broken a limb at school, and the school hadn’t been able to get hold of our parents, they would have rung the neighbours, grandparents, the Guide leader down the road – any adult they knew we knew.Gosh, at my school the office lady would probably just have taken us to the doctor herself. And if a kid was dawdling to school, adults in the street would have given the child a hurry-along. These days we aren’t allowed to trust other people with children. Sick, really…..

  116. Mary October 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    A lot of schools just have an automatic type notification when your child misses. (To try and discourage playing hooky.) So it could be she just was counted absent and they made the call, left a message, and didn’t think anything more about it. (Many parents are at work when these calls are made and so they probably didn’t think twice when they got a machine.) I’ve also seen a lot of these types of calls made with automated machines and not real people, so it could have been one of those, as well. If it was a real person, I’m sure they just thought she was sick and maybe at the doctors when they called so they weren’t actively trying to reach the parent out of fear, since you really wouldn’t imagine something so terrible happening. 🙁

  117. Heather Buen - Dallas Single Mom October 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Wow! What was life like when we didn’t have cellphones? That’s a real question because I had to do a speech on it. I’m also a single mom and single mothers sometimes have this NEED to be the perfect parent in order to prove to everyone else they can handle the job. Stems from insecurity. That is the case with this letter and the author of this letter. She is not just doing a disservice to mothers but to single mothers as well. Reason being?!?! I have had this happen to me. My cellphone ran out of battery one day and my ex decided to take our daughter from her daycare with a temporary restraining/court order for trumped up abuse charges(Luckily after 13 days we went to court and the judge quickly realized he was a moron and threw out his case) but the point being, the daycare could not reach me to tell me what happened. Sometimes lapses happen, phone runs out of battery, you forget it at home and they can’t reach you, that is not a reason to believe that something bad has just happened. She does a disservice to moms everywhere with this lack of sensitivity and empathy. That’s why kids are clueless today about how to handle situations because mom is always there hovering over them.

  118. Renee October 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I want to cry, thinking of Jessica’s mother.

    I do agree with the other comments, about the school contacting a 2nd or 3rd number if they can not reach the first. I’m actually the ‘3rd contact’, because I’m a stay at home mom for some of my daughter’s classmates. I live right down the street from the school, so if both parents are stuck at work/unavailable I’m the go-to person.

  119. Havva October 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    While I’m all on board with CrazyCatLady’s recommendation that schools call the backup numbers… I’ve missed a ton of calls since few remember my cell is NOT a primary phone and is rarely near me. However,

    @bmommyx2, I don’t think it serves any purpose to say the school should have called the police. Unexcused absences are an everyday occurrence at schools, there are multiple everyday. And there were multiple at Jessica’s school that day. She is the only one who is dead. How was the school to know, that Jessica’s absence was special? That Jessica’s was the one in a million absence where something HORRIBLE had happened without mom knowing.

    And if we did start making such assumptions…

    How would you like to have the police breaking into your house when you are stuck in the bathroom with stomach flu, or food poisoning or whatever? Or at the hospital from a car accident. Because if every school starts operating off of worst first, they might as well take multiple absence in a family as a possible family murder-suicide. After all there are about 100 children/year killed in murder suicides.

    I was classmates with a victim. I know for a certainty that calling the police wouldn’t have saved my classmate. I doubt it would have saved Jessica. But it would damage the quality of life for everyone. Because who needs the police knocking on (or breaking down) their door. While they are dealing with things a little more important than calling an absence into a school or three.

    And while all my friend, and more so his close friends, felt sick for dismissing his absence for so long… It doesn’t due to fixated on what you could have done to discover the horrible news just that little bit faster.

  120. Ali October 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    They caught the monster that killed Jessica. Guess what, it wasn’t the mom after all!! We all knew that though with one notable exception.

    My kids are now celebrating by taking back their neighborhood. We’re all so glad and thankful to the police and FBI for being so diligent and thorough.

  121. Beth October 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    In our school district, and I’m sure many others, the parents have to call the school if their child will miss school that day (instead of just sending a note with the kid when he returned, like when I was young). I totally understand this, but what I never understood was that I never had to provide any information confirming that I was the actual parent. Surely a kidnapper would know this routine and would call the child in sick himself?

    Hey wait a minute! I just realized that the school is NOT indulging in worst-first thinking. They assume that the parent is the one calling, and that kids aren’t being routinely snatched on the way to school!

  122. Sue October 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    What a relief for your community, Ali. I read the article about it and it sounds like the 17 year old turned himself in with the encouragement of his mother. It sounds like your community really pulled together, as well, with the article talking about high schoolers volunteering to walk younger kids to school. Hopefully now everything can get back to relative normal.

  123. Ange October 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    @Yan Seiner

    I’m afraid that is just your Prof’s opinion – no more than that.

    Although I don’t agree with Amber’s position, I do believe that she has the right to express it, whether with perfect spelling and grammar or not. I have not checked all the responses that disagree with her, but it is more than likely some of them contain spelling errors. I don’t think that invalidates them either.

  124. Naomi Mat October 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    That was barf-inducing. Amber, you need to get off of your high horse!

  125. Havva October 25, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    @Ali, So glad they caught the killer so fast (atleast to those not living it). So glad the kids and joggers are free of his shadow. Jessica’s mom, Sarah, and your community in Westminster sound terrific. I’m glad the kids are celebrating and running free. I hope the connections forged in these dark days carry the community forward to continue being a great place for kids to grow, and learn, and be independent.

  126. Yan Seiner October 25, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    @Havva: well said.

  127. TSmith October 25, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Hi Amber. Troll much??

  128. Renee October 25, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    I was reading the latest,

    “Jessica Ridgeway, 10, disappeared on her way to school on the morning of Oct. 5. After leaving home on foot, she never met up with friends she normally walks to school with at Chelsea Park. The park is about three blocks from her home and about a mile from the school.”


    So it wasn’t like this girl was walking alone, she usually met up with friends as they all went to school. (which is safer) For this to happen would take a psycho-path, who pretty much stalked this poor girl. It doesn’t feel like a crime of opportunity here.

    So what women should never be able to take a jog in the park? We have to be imprisoned by sick teenagers?

  129. CrazyCatLady October 25, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    I was a sickly kid. I remember numerous times laying on the couch in the nurse’s office while they tried to get a hold of a parent. My dad would not come. Even after the divorce, his job was more important. My mom was the one, and she worked doing substitute teaching in another district, so she couldn’t leave right away either. (Have you tried to get a sub for the sub? It is hard.)

    This is contrasted with a neighbor, a single mom. She worked, and generally was the only one in the store during school hours. When her daughter got sick, she told the school to wait a bit while she called some people to come get her daughter, as she was the only one there, and could not close shop (it was a national chain, and people expected it to be open.) The school threatened to call CPS unless she was there in 15 minutes. The bus, which was her transportation, only came ever 2 hours. Luckily, the grandmother was able to get the girl. I probably was next on the list, which I would have gladly done.

    I hate to think what they would have done had she worked over the hill. Many of the “higher class” people did that. It would have been an hour or more.

  130. Suzanne October 25, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I know, Jessica’s case is heartbreaking.

    Still, this past summer in Aurora, Colorado, we had a theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 people injured.

    Are we now being irresponsible to go to the movies?

    My point is that child abductions by strangers are very very rare. And ever rarer is the child murdered. Kidnappings and murders were much more common in the 70s and 80s when it was common for children to walk to school.

  131. Jenn October 25, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    I take offence to this letter as I plan to allow my children to walk home from school next year. My kids finish school at 2:50 and I finish work at 2:30. It is normally a 15 minutes drive but we all know that traffic, bad weather or a problem at work can create delays. We live 1.8 km from the school so we don’t qualify for busing (not that I would want my kids to use it as they are used to walking greater distances). My kids are 6 and 8 years old so we decided to `hire’ a 13 year old from their school to walk them home for a small fee. The 13 year old loves the responsibility (and the cash!) and my kids are learning the route this year while spending time with a great role model. We’re hoping that next year, when the 13 year old goes to high school, that our kids will be that year older and confident that they can walk home from school and be successful. I know there are parents who will judge me, they already do for our arrangement this year, but my children have more to gain walking home than having me race from work every day, potentially causing an accident and raising my stress level.

  132. Uly October 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Oh, Suzanne, people actually did say that.

    Those parents were irresponsible to bring their kids to a midnight premiere, because even during summer vacation with school the next day it’s never okay for kids to be up that late and if they’d been in bed they’d still be alive. You point out that the shooting could’ve just as easily happened at the matinee and you get told “but it didn’t! Hah!” like that’s a logical point.

    Those parents were irresponsible to bring their kids to a premiere because those are only for “freaks in costumes” and people who have fun dressing up in costumes might go crazy at any minute, and see, they’re dead. You point out that many more murders are committed by people without costumes and you get met with silence and a repeat of “only freaks”.

    Those parents were irresponsible to bring their child to this movie because it was violent and of course sooner or later something would happen. You point out that most violent movies are not marred by shootings and get told “Well, it had to happen sooner or later”. You point out that it could’ve easily happened during Toy Story 3 and get told “It couldn’t’ve, because it didn’t”.

    Nevermind that shootings like this are, by definition, totally unpredictable. It was all the parents’ fault. (Oh, and of course, any good parent brings a gun to the theater so they can shoot the random shooter. Let’s see. Dark, crowded theater full of panicked people, including children, running this way and that, lots of smoke in the air, the shooter dressed in protective gear, and somebody was supposed to try to *shoot* him? Without hitting a bystander?)

  133. BMS October 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    I’m another terrible mom who doesn’t carry a cell phone unless I am travelling out of state. I usually don’t even know where the stupid thing is 90% of the time. I work downtown, and I take the train to get there. If there is an emergency, I can’t get there in anything like rapid time – particularly between 11 and 2, when there are next to no trains. So if my kid is bleeding to death, I presume they’d have the sense to call 911. If it’s not life threatening, then, well, they’ll live if they have to be in the nurse’s office for a while. My husband has a cell, but sometimes he doesn’t hear it (man is deaf as a post). He can get home in a half hour, but not any sooner than that. So what do we do to become perfect parents? Both quit our jobs and live in a tent? No, we trust that the world will not end if we can’t be reached 24/7, just like our parents did.

  134. ifsogirl October 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    I am going to say one thing in defense of Amber. As a single mom with shared custody I get limited time with my kids. I also work the afternoon shift and for two of the 3 to 5 days a week I have my kids (rotating schedule) I am at work before they are out of school and they are asleep before I get home. I drive my kids to school because we live too far to walk, but if we lived close enough I would probably walk with them because that is the ONLY time I get to see them that day. I also show up on Wednesdays to have lunch with them as that is our exchange day, dad drops them off in the morning and I’m working that night so can’t pick them up.

    I’d rather see her looking at that time she has with her kids as quality time to bond as opposed to tome she needs to protect her kids from predators.

  135. JFisher October 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    The only person to be blamed is the individual responsible for the crime. Nobody else!

  136. Donna October 25, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    @ Mary –

    I don’t work at a university. I live in a city where the major state university is the largest employer so life revolves around it. The same college town I’ve lived in since I was 12 (minus a few years in CA and now Am. Samoa). I have seen huge changes to the student body over the years.

    Do think large numbers of college students are having mom call professors and are unable to figure out most basic tasks? No. Do I think the onset of adulthood is now universally at least 4 years later than it was when I was a teen? Absolutely. We don’t really expect young adults in college to be adults. They may live away from home but it is more a boarding school mentality than a true adulthood. Mom and dad still call many of the shots and colleges are expected to be more supervising and hand-holding. And the students are okay with all of this because they don’t really want to grow io either.

    And it starts in toddlerhood. EVERYTHING about growing up is being pushed later and later. We’ve gone from sippy cups until 2 to sippy cups until 4. Babysitting at 11 to babysitting at 15. And, yes, this 2000s view that kids are not competent or safe enough to walk to school until middle school when they used to do it in kindergarten is a symptom of this unnatural extension of childhood that babies kids and makes them less competent.

    Do I know if Amber’s kids are going to be incompetent adults who.live in her basement? No. Do I know that they are maturing slower than kids in previous generations? Yes. Do I think that harms them and society? Yes.

  137. Renee October 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    “Do I know if Amber’s kids are going to be incompetent adults who.live in her basement?”

    The basement isn’t safe, so she wouldn’t let it happen.

  138. Amber October 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    I wish this Amber could meet me. I’m almost 36 years old with tremendous anxiety problems due to my overprotective grandmother, and relatives who use this fact against me after my grandmother’s death. Two days after my grandmother died I went to the park with friends ( first time in YEARS going out in 100 degree weather without my grandmother nagging me about heat stroke). However, I screamed down the entire park yelling “Don’t kidnap me! Don’t kidnap me!” at a guy who accidentally opened the unisex restroom stall door because the lock was open. After I came out he twirled his finger by his head to show he thought I was loony. I guess this Amber who has kids will have to handle her paranoid adult kids when they grow up.

  139. Amber October 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    * I meant to say “The lock was broken.”

  140. Sue October 26, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    “And it starts in toddlerhood. EVERYTHING about growing up is being pushed later and later. We’ve gone from sippy cups until 2 to sippy cups until 4. Babysitting at 11 to babysitting at 15.”

    Seriously, Donna? Where do you live? I live in Ohio and here in the midwest everyone I know uses 11 and 12 year old sitters – they tend to take the job more seriously than the older teens sometimes do. 😉 And I’ve never seen a 4 year old with a sippy cup. Maybe the coddling thing is more of a cultural influence in certain areas of the country?

  141. Mary October 26, 2012 at 1:55 am #

    Donna, I never said that where I live kids don’t walk to school until middle school. I simply said that I notice a change where kids are going a lot more places on their own by middle school around here. I see elementary kids walking to school all the time. 🙂

  142. Donna October 26, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    Sue – Where I live, kids are babysitting by about 6, but I live in a 3rd world country. But apparently you don’t read this blog very often. The babysitting thing is a pretty consistent complaint. In fact, do a quick search of the web. Most website about babysitting age state that 13 is the minimum age for babysitting (although a few will concede a responsible 12 year old may be okay). Many say something along the lines of “we don’t recommend hiring anyone under 16.” Most people who commented or answered surveys said 14 or higher. So, 11 and 12 year old babysitting may be happening but it is against the grain these days.

    I couldn’t find that many that advocated leaving children home by themselves, without kids to babysit, until they were between 10-12. And even then only for an hour to so (so not much of a babysitting gig). Personally, I’m fine with a 12 year old babysitter but not one that just stayed home for the first time by herself a week ago.

  143. Sue October 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    I am rather new here, Donna. I do wonder if it is still something happening in certain areas of the country. The typical babysitting classes at the Y are country wide, (as far as I know), for 11 and up. So I assume Ohio can’t be the only place letting kids sit at 11 and 12. It would be interesting to take a poll to see where all the commenters on this site live, sometime. Wit is happening across the country everywhere when it reality if we polled, we might find out that everyone who is on here regularly is from the same 8-10 states because the rest of the states are a bit more relaxed in their parenting theories. Or perhaps it could be a big city mentality versus suburban. (I could see how parents are less likely to let kids roam free in a big city with lots of traffic and tons of people they aren’t familiar with.) It would be interesting to see if there are any patterns, because, like I said, from where I have lived and traveled in the midwest, I am just not seeing the horror stories that I know are happening, but thankfully not here. I still believe it needs to be something we stand up for, or it could spread. I am just thankful parents around here tend to be more relaxed and everyday I see kids playing outside, riding their bikes, walking to school, and enjoying their childhood. I feel sorry for Lenore, who lives in NYC, that it apparently is not like that there.

  144. Sue October 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    I did a quick search and I did not read forums, but just averages and statistics and it seems the average statistical age nationwide for kids to start sitting is 12. Since this is an average, I assume they sometimes start a bit younger and sometimes a bit older. But it does make me think – with relief – that this overprotective coddling is not a huge widespread issue, thankfully, and that hopefully with the work of Lenore we can stop this line of thinking and practice some common sense. 🙂

  145. Amanda Matthews October 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    @Donna “Amber doesn’t spend any less time with her kids than most parents do.”

    Just because “most” people do it doesn’t make it right. I never said she was wrong for being judgmental – I said she’s not going to get the pat on the back she expects for what she does.

  146. Ed November 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    WOW!! Very insensitive. Imagine there are those who do not have a cell phone still. Who do not live in fear everyday and believe that when something like this occurs then they are actually a victim and not at fault. What are we actually losing as a society when all the BAD things are hyped up in the media and most people make a conscious choice to be fearful and raise their children in a smothering environment?

    My prayers and sympathy go out to all families who have suffered cruelty at the hands of evil.

  147. Ellie November 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Jessica’s mother has to live with her grief every day, including her own unavoidable “what if” stage of grief (“what if I had done something differently that morning, that day…”) and then she has to also deal with people such as this woman, who actively blame her for her own daughter’s death. The fact is, we can do everything “perfectly” and things still go wrong, tragedies happen, evil does exist…and we can never fully protect any child, let alone ourselves, from the suffering that can and does happen.

    This woman reminds me of a mother I used to be friends with—we had very different parenting styles. She was like a nuclear helicopter, and I was more the kind to encourage my kids to become independent. She was very judgmental of my (and others’) beliefs that kids should do age-appropriate, developmentally healthy activities on their own. One day I told her the story of an acquaintance who always walked her daughter to school in the city, holding her hand, when one day a car jumped the curb and hit the child, leaving the mom unharmed (fortunately, the child recovered after good medical care and physical therapy). My point was that we can do everything right, and bad things still happen. Her response? She quizzed me about which side of the sidewalk the mother was walking with the child…was the mom on the street side, the better to protect the kid from curb-jumping cars? She said she “always” made sure to have her children walk as far from the street as possible and maybe this mother didn’t do that!

    I should add that this mother was still walking her oldest child to the local high school when the girl was 15…

    I guess my point is, that some people have a real anxiety disorder about being parents and their children’s safety, and by blaming others, it makes them feel better about themselves and their choices. In the end, they are truly harming their own children and sending them the message that the world is filled with hatred and destruction at every turn.

    Jessica’s life was a glory and her death a heartbreak. The circumstances of her death are all the more horrifying because it was such a random and one in a million event. The letter-writer’s smugness (under the guise of sympathy) I believe comes from being neurotic…but that is cold comfort to the person being judged and condemned.

  148. Ellie November 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Jessica’s mother has to live with her grief every day, including her own unavoidable “what if” stage of grief (“what if I had done something differently that morning, that day…”) and then she has to also deal with people such as this woman, who actively blame her for her own daughter’s death. The fact is, we can do everything “perfectly” and things still go wrong, tragedies happen, evil does exist…and we can never fully protect any child, let alone ourselves, from the suffering that can and does happen.

    This woman reminds me of a mother I used to be friends with—we had very different parenting styles. She was like a nuclear helicopter, and I was more the kind to encourage my kids to become independent. She was very judgmental of my (and others’) beliefs that kids should do age-appropriate, developmentally healthy activities on their own. One day I told her the story of an acquaintance who always walked her daughter to school in the city, holding her hand, when one day a car jumped the curb and hit the child, leaving the mom unharmed (fortunately, the child recovered after good medical care and physical therapy). My point was that we can do everything right, and bad things still happen. Her response? She quizzed me about which side of the sidewalk the mother was walking with the child…was the mom on the street side, the better to protect the kid from curb-jumping cars? She said she “always” made sure to have her children walk as far from the street as possible and maybe this mother didn’t do that!

    I should add that this helicopter mother was still walking her oldest child to the local high school when the girl was 15…

    I guess my point is, that some people have a real anxiety disorder about being parents and their children’s safety, and by blaming others, it makes them feel better about themselves and their choices. In the end, they are truly harming their own children and sending them the message that the world is filled with hatred and destruction at every turn.

    Jessica’s life was a glory and her death a heartbreak. The circumstances of her death are all the more horrifying because it was such a random and one in a million event. The letter-writer’s smugness (under the guise of sympathy) I believe comes from being neurotic…but that is cold comfort to the person being judged and condemned.

  149. Warren November 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I wonder if this lady would consider me a bad dad.

    Occassionally I sleep during the day. Being on call, sometimes I am up all night, and have seen stretches approaching 40 hours without sleep. No complaints, just part of the job, and the money is awesome.

    When I do crash though, thermonuclear war can happen and it wouldn’t wake me. I would wake to find a dozen missed calls, the alarm clock buzzing away for an hour.

    You know what, I should just turn myself in, for neglect.

  150. JP November 21, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    “Community. We need everybody to know their neighbors, know the kids, watch out for them, and take care of each other. We need eyes on the street, we need people out walking and we need to send a message to would-be predators that you don’t mess with our community because we are watching each other. We are taking care of each other. Mess with one of us, you mess with us all. In a community like that, you can easily let your child out of the house, because you know your neighbors have got your back, and your kids’ ”

    Yep. Couldn’t agree more, Steph.
    But when the “eyes on the street” are ill-perceived stranger danger, and every household is a stronghold unto itself, then we know we’ve lost our grip.
    Out there in looneyland are gazzillions of good people who can perform this little chore right well and proud, but we’re becoming determined to prevent them.
    It takes good parents – plus a village (not one or the other.)
    Community: know thyself. Rank strangers become infinitely less so when extended the common courtesy of an invitation to participate.
    We are not masquerading at the Ball of the Red Death (nod to Poe) but instead, ordinary folk. Most of us quite capable of redeemed humanity. All to the good.
    Our children thrive within a well managed public realm. Even better. Worth the fuss and fight. You betcha!

    And to the original poster: my tongue goes limp, in failed attempts to express my profound astonishment at your extreme lack of basic humanity. I wonder that you could offer a stale crust to a starving orphan, let alone find within your haunted heart the compassion that particular mother must be in dire need of.
    Shame on you.