From what I’ve read — and seen in my own family — the best way to deal with an out-sized fear is to try to confront it, rather than “feed” it by more and more avoidance. And since, as a society, we have come to fear stranger-danger and kidnappings more than almost anything else vis yriaefdbka
a vis our kids, I’m bummed by Dear Abby’s “solution” for the fearful mom below.
Dear Free-Range Kids: This was today’s Dear Abby — see below. I just wanted to know how much of a problem having children snatched from their own beds is? I’m sorry Abby seems to have validated the writer’s concern.
DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I bought our house, having children wasn’t yet on our minds. The master bedroom is at one end of the house; the other two bedrooms are at the opposite end. Two years into our marriage we got a surprise blessing — a baby girl. She’s now 3 and still sleeping in our room in her own toddler bed. She has great sleeping habits, and I don’t think it would affect her to sleep in another room. I am the problem. I can’t bear to have her at the other end of the house. All I can think about are horror stories of babies and small children being snatched from their beds (from the window) while the parents sleep. What if something happens and I don’t wake up? This may seem ridiculous to some, but it’s a real fear for me. Can you offer some advice? — PARANOID MOMMY IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR MOMMY: Baby monitors (and cameras) were invented to allay the fears of parents who sleep apart from their little ones. If that isn’t reassurance enough, consider changing all the sleeping arrangements until your daughter is a bit older. Put her in one of the bedrooms at the other end of the house, and you and your husband take the one next to hers. Have the baby monitor next to your bed so you can hear her if she stirs during the night. You might also consider getting a dog, who would certainly alert you should anyone attempt to enter your home after you and your husband are asleep.
Dear Abby: Lenore here. The other alternative is to remind the mommy that there are fewer than 20 child kidnappings from their homes a year. With 40,000,000 children under age 10, we’re talking odds of 1 in 2,000,000. For comparison, that is twice as UNlikely as tossing heads 20 times in a row. And the baby monitors were invented, I believe, to let parents know when their kids are awake, rather than when their kids are — or aren’t — being stolen from their cribs.
Anyway, all that being said, I don’t think where the child sleeps makes that much of a difference for the child herself, even if she remains in the parents’ room a while longer. There are all sorts of sleeping arrangements in the world, and kids usually turn out fine. I just don’t appreciate treating an irrational fear as rational, thus reinforcing it for all the Dear Abby fans. – L.