Dear Abby: Do You Really Want to Validate a Mom’s Baby-Snatching Fears?


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.


My mom is a worst-first thinker, and the media are just fine with that.

Dear Media: My mom is a worst-first thinker. Please stop reinforcing that.


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65 Responses to Dear Abby: Do You Really Want to Validate a Mom’s Baby-Snatching Fears?

  1. sigh November 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I do appreciate you identifying that the way to deal with anxiety is not to “give in” to it and “work with it.” It must be challenged in order for it to abate.

    In this case, the paranoid mom, as she calls herself, is plagued by scary, invasive “what if” thoughts. Because the odds of a stranger climbing in a window to snatch her child is virtually nonexistent, this “what if” is waaaaaaaaay out of synch with reality, and it’s definitely NOT something to “guard against” or “make arrangements for.”

    Compare this to putting the child in a safety restraint in the car. “What if we get into an accident” is a reasonable “what if” thought, and reasonable action can be taken.

    But there is no reasonable response to a hysterically out-of-proportion terror of stranger abduction. There just isn’t. So this woman needs to confront the fact that her fears are not jiving with reality, and challenge those fears, i.e. put the child’s room where it makes logical sense in the house, when the CHILD is ready for it.

    For Abby to suggest otherwise is, indeed, tragic for this mother’s mental health.

  2. Shelly Stow November 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    When you know the statistics, this sort of fear in beyond irrational. The odds of that child being harmed in an automobile accident, even properly placed and buckled in her car seat, are many times higher than being taken from her bed by a stranger through the window, but I wonder if that mom even pauses, once the buckling is done, before backing out of the driveway and driving all over town.

  3. BL November 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    “Two years into our marriage we got a surprise blessing — a baby girl.”

    Surprise? You do know what causes that, don’t you?

    “I can’t bear to have her at the other end of the house.”

    So put her in your bedroom and you and the hubby sleep in hers. Problem solved.

    “You might also consider getting a dog”

    Oh no! What if the dog gets hungry and decides to eat the baby? Get a salamander.

  4. Joanne November 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Validating this mom’s concerns is one thing – all moms worry – it’s part of the job – however, to validate her feelings without also providing factual data/statistics relative to the issue is cruel, especially considering this woman is a 1st time mom with no parenting experience reaching out for guidance and reassurance

    It says a lot that the answer she received blindly validated her fears without any factual data/statistics or suggestion that she share her concerns with and seek advisement fr her child’s Pediatrician or even her child’s or her own Counselor (if there is a Counselor involved, which could be the case if her anxiety is an issue not limited to baby-snatching) – to validate her baby-snatching fear without refering this mom to an educated, trained professional for advisement is remisce – it’s not just validating her fears, it’s validating or, worse, creating fear in others reading the nationally syndicated print & online column (which I’m pretty sure has international readers as well)

    Also noticeably absent were simple suggestions like lock your windows or use child safety bars (had to have these when we lived in Victorian 3 family to prevent window falls – commonly available item) – buy a monitor and abandon Master Bedroom for guest room are lame suggestions that could also create anxiety & fear in their child (not to mention strain the parents marriage, if bunking with their child already hasn’t) – it seems like this mom’s inquiry was not as thoughtfully considered as it should have been

  5. Robert Monroe, Jr. November 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Dear Mommy: Your child is not that special. The odds of her being snatched from her bed are barely nil. Get a grip, stop watching so much sensationalistic TV “news” and, stay away from Planned Parenthood offices…that’s where the real danger is.

  6. Catherine Caldwell-Harris November 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Agree with Lenore. Also, I wish Dr. Abbey could have said something gentle and tactful to the mother to indicate that the mother may be living with unnecessary anxiety and that her fears of her child being harmed are a bigger threat to her child’s future well-being than stranger-danger. The threat is that her child will grow up fearful and will emerge from childhood a timid, not-resilient young woman.

    When I’m roaming around the world with my twin 5-year old boys, people often compliment me on how brave, adventurous, curious, friendly, and out-going they are. On a bus, they were singing. The bus driver called out, bring them up here so I can listen! He then said, “What the world needs are more children like yours.” BUT people also criticize me for not monitoring, hovering, and supervising enough. (Had the police called me on me once, fortunately he saw the big picture, that my kids were thriving, and let me go with a warning.)

  7. fred schueler November 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    “Oh no! What if the dog gets hungry and decides to eat the baby? Get a salamander” – but what if the Salamander is toxic and the child eats it?

  8. Kevin November 30, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    Quoting statistics with NEVER make someone like Paranoid Mommy feel better or change her attitude. You cannot remove, with logic, an idea not put there by logic in the first place.

  9. Diana November 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    It’s the RAISING ARIZONA syndrome. The poor Mom. Abby is really old by now, I think, so with her it’s the LINDBERGH BABY syndrome. Poor Abby!

    Misguided and iil informed!

    But ignorance is treatable!

    The antidote is EDUCATION!


    A class in middle school statistics, fractions, and probability will fix the poor mom and mistaken Abby right up!

  10. Andrea November 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Abby may have considered this one a lost cause. I don’t think there’s enough room in her column to calm the fears of this woman.

  11. That_Susan November 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    I definitely agree that child kidnappings are very unlikely. And, of course, another big fear that’s often mentioned — that of a young child waking up while mom and dad are asleep and going outside on his or her own — is also unlikely to result in any disaster.

    At the same time, I really appreciate your weighing in about it being okay for parents and children to sleep in the same room, too. Because sleep-sharing is another issue that some “experts” try to scare parents about. I realize that in this case, the toddler is in her own bed in the same room, and not actually in the same bed, so no one can try to scare these parents about the extremely unlikely possibility of rolling over and smothering Baby in her sleep — but some will nevertheless try to scare them about it being “unhealthy” because the child might wake up while the parents are making love and be damaged for life, or might never want to sleep alone.

    That latter warning is one I sometimes got when anyone learned that we were letting our girls decide when they wanted to move out of our bed and into their own rooms. My husband and I were both okay with our bedroom continuing to be a “family” room indefinitely, and we’ve never regretted this. I realize that not everyone is okay with this, and that’s okay, too — but I find it rather amusing that our society views sleeping alone as some sort of an objective indicator of health and maturity. It’s funny to me because most young adults make it their goal to find a life partner and spend the rest of their life sleeping with that other person, so why all this focus on “training” children to sleep independently when we hope they’ll be spending most of their adult life sharing sleep with someone else?

    Again, this is not to say that it’s bad for children to sleep in their own rooms — just that, objectively speaking, there’s no NEED for it if everyone’s happy sharing the same room.

  12. BL November 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    “Abby may have considered this one a lost cause.”

    Without people like that, Abby is out of a job.

  13. Papilio November 30, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    “babies and small children being snatched from their beds (from the window) while the parents sleep”

    Aren’t there burglar alarms these days?

  14. EricS November 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Paranoia is perpetual. And ultimately, a choice. As with most fears regarding children, adults tend to pick and choose what they fear (consciously or subconsciously) for them(selves).

  15. Doug November 30, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I swear that if I ever get a genie to grant me a wish, it’ll be for a device that shocks the bejezuz out of people when they try to suspend reality and substitute in their own.

    Not only will it work for the irrationally paranoid, but I suspect the political season would become considerably more entertaining.

  16. Momof8 November 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Dear Abby, Your advice is almost always moronic. Time to call it quits. Twenty years ago.

  17. Warren November 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    I would love, just once, to see one of these celebrity advice givers actually be honest.
    This lady needs therapy, pure and simple. Her paranoia is only going to grow, with the child. We have all seen it.

    Worry and paranoia are not normal, they are emotional, mental and sometimes actually physical medical issues, that can be treated, and should be treated.

    “all moms worry – it’s part of the job “, no all moms and dads don’t worry, and it is certainly not part of the job.

  18. Tabitha November 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    I thought exactly the same thing when I read this from Dear Abby. I was going to write her about this but took the words right out of my mouth.

  19. lollipoplover November 30, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    “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.”

    I love dogs. The reality is that while the dog might alert the family by barking on the rare occasion that you have an intruder, over 4.5 million people were bitten by dogs last year. Of those, 359,223 were CHILDREN. Dear Abby is telling this family to get a guard dog to *protect* the family but this advise puts the family at a much greater risk of having their sweet precious daughter’s face and neck ripped off (66% of injuries to children 4 years and younger are to the head an neck). It’s more likely Cujo will get your daughter than the Hamburglar.

  20. Donna November 30, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    “Abby is really old by now, I think, so with her it’s the LINDBERGH BABY syndrome. Poor Abby!”

    The original Dear Abby died a few years ago and her daughter took over the column many years before that. The current Abby post-dates the Lindbergh baby.

    I don’t view Dear Abby’s response as validating the mother’s fear. There is nothing in Dear Abby’s history for the last 15 years that indicates that she believes that babies are in any real threat of being kidnapped from their beds while their parents sleep. It appears that the mother herself acknowledges that the fear is irrational. Telling someone, especially someone who already somewhat acknowledges that their fear is irrational, that their fear is irrational and they should just not have it, doesn’t actually make the fear go away any more than telling someone who is depressed to just be happy makes their depression go away. While I wish Abby had included a recommendation to seek psychiatric help for this issue as irrational fears likely extend to other portions of parenting, her solutions are good advice in the interim.

  21. Doug November 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    Warren, I disagree, in part, with what you posted.

    I am the father of two boys. One ran into another child on the playground a couple months ago and busted his top incisors. Upon hearing it, and then seeing it, I worried. I still let him go to school the next day, but I worried. When the school called the following day saying he hit them again and there was more blood, I worried more. I knew the worry was irrational; those were baby teeth and due to come out soon anyways. In fact one was already loose.

    Now, I didn’t freak out externally, but internally my body reacted to the stress hormones in a normal way.

    Parents experience fear (worry is a low-grade version of fear). It’s our job, as parents, to face and overcome that worry in order to produce productive, engaged adults.

    Every parent should feel some nervousness when letting their child walk unaccompanied across the neighborhood the first time. And when we finally allow them to drive on their own. It is part of our body’s reaction to the confluence of the unknown meeting the most important thing in our lives.

    The paranoia that accompanies the woman in this story is the problem, as is the really bad advice that maximizes the irrational fear the letter writer is allowing to control her.

  22. Donna November 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    “Worry and paranoia are not normal, they are emotional, mental and sometimes actually physical medical issues, that can be treated, and should be treated.”

    Worry is perfectly normal. It is a basic survival instinct. If we didn’t worry about things, we would dive into every action without thinking. Irrational worry is even normal. I bet most of us have irrational fears, whether we act on them or not.

    Being consumed by worry is not normal. Being unable to recognize irrational worry for what it is and move passed it is not normal. Having your worries impact other people’s ability to function normally is not normal.

  23. Suzie November 30, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    I think Abby was just trying to help the mom from her worry of not hearing her child that far away. I think the dog is an excellent idea. I go to sleep with no worries, knowing my dog would bark her her head off if needed. I never have had a baby moniter and my kids all have survived to adulthood.

  24. Warren November 30, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    I should have been more specific. The kind of worry that these parents go through is not normal, nor is it healthy.

    Yeah if your kid is very late and no word from them, then yeah worry is normal. To worry about them being late before they even leave is not.

  25. Warren November 30, 2015 at 2:20 pm #


    Actually, worrying about things you cannot control or change is not normal nor healthy.

    And no I did not worry about my kids doing anything for the first time, or when they drive now, or when they travel abroad.

    Worrying does nothing. It is not fear at all. Healthy fear keeps us safe. Worry makes us sick.

  26. lollipoplover November 30, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    I cannot relate to this in any way as we had 3 kids in 4 years (probably because we didn’t let any of them sleep in our room). We rotated the kids out of the nursery into other rooms as they got older and independent. They liked having their own rooms and personal spaces for quiet play and sleep.

    I feel bad for this husband.

  27. Bill Jackson November 30, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    It appears that the only way to end this pervasive “impending disaster” mindset is to establish state-operated institutions for the purpose of child-rearing. Shortly after birth, all infants will be committed to these institutions, where they will remain until they have reached adulthood.
    Taxes will have to be raised, however this will free up valuable time for parents to share the minutiae of their existences via social media.

  28. Donna November 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    “Actually, worrying about things you cannot control or change is not normal nor healthy.”

    Sure it is. Again, being consumed by that worry is not normal or healthy – and my guess is that is what you mean – but simply having a passing worry certainly is.

  29. lollipoplover November 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I think worry means different things to different people.

    While I consider myself an extremely laid back person, I did have *worries* or concerns with my children at night time. At first, when they were very little, it was “What if they stopped breathing and become the next SIDs victim?” That went away as they got older but was replaced with the “What if they climb over their crib and break their neck escaping?” worry. Followed by the “What if they climb out of their toddler bed and Vasoline and baby powder their entire room?” worry. Now that they’re teens, I hope they don’t have their phones in their rooms taking photos to be on the sex offender registry for life.

    I’ve never been consumed by these various worries and don’t think they were at all irrational (and I have pictures of the Vasoline-Baby Powder disaster) so I can’t go with those saying she just needs to stop worrying like is always a bad thing.

  30. EricS November 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    I’ve often wondered if “Dear Abby” is still the Dear Abby when I was growing up? Or is it they still use the brand, but a younger person has taken over the replies?

    Then again, I know some parents/grandparents who had the free thinking mentality towards raising kids back in the day. But now, some have fallen prey to the today’s trend of fear and paranoia. Which goes to show, that if you allow yourself to be conditioned, you will eventually stop being who you were and join the myriad of people who’ve become sheeple. lol

  31. Jill November 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    If she’s worried about her special blessing being snatched from her bed ‘from the window” put bars on the window. This will foil Peter Pan and anyone else who likes to swoop in and grabs tots from their beds. It also gets the blessing ready for school, where she will experience lockdowns in a setting that resembles a medium~security prison more than it does an institution of learning.
    Yes, window bars! That’s the ticket!

  32. pentamom November 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    Eric, the current Dear Abby is the daughter of the original. She’s neither as smart nor as witty as the original, with whom I didn’t always agree, and has just about zero ability to see into a letter and determine whether the letter writer’s position is appropriate or credible. Except in really extreme situations, she always takes the writer’s account of facts and assumptions about reality at face value, and responds in terms of them. She almost never challenges the writer’s position. So it’s totally in keeping with her usual mode of operation simply to go with the writer’s fears and address them as though they were valid, instead of helping her rethink her ideas.

  33. Doug November 30, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Warren, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get a call saying your son’s teeth are knocked out isn’t worry?

    I have no worry that my oldest son won’t look both ways when crossing a street, but I still get nervous when my youngest runs out into the street. That is “worry.”

    Dwelling on it is unhealthy, yes, but the feelings that come up are a natural part of parenting. I cannot believe you never had that feeling with your children. Perhaps you have another name for it? It is entirely possible it is a simple disagreement of definition.

  34. Suze November 30, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    At the risk of coming off sounding callous, I had to laugh at this poor Mom who wrote to Dear Abby. She certainly wouldn’t have approved of our son’s sleeping arrangement. When we bought our house, our son was just about to turn 2 and still in a crib. We put him in the master bedroom which was at the back end of the house and took the smallest bedroom which was at the front end of the house. We were perfectly comfortable with this arrangement and my theory on that had zip to do with his ‘safety’ and more to do with the fact that he had more toys and general bedroom items and required the larger room. It never dawned on me to think about the safety factor … he’s grown now and he happens to be here today with me. No one snatched him. Ever. 😉

  35. Rivka333 November 30, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    The number of kids killed by dogs is also 20 a year. So the truly paranoid, while wondering whether or not to follow Abby’s advice about the dog, can debate within themselves: “Do I want a dog to kill my little girl, or do I want a masked stranger to sneak in and kidnap and kill her?”

    Ah, life is full of dilemnas.

  36. Anna November 30, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    “But ignorance is treatable!

    The antidote is EDUCATION! ”

    Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. Irrational fears often can’t be dispelled by better information, since they’re not about reason in the first place.

    I was having a conversation with my mother-in-law the other day, inspired by the dozens of speed-bumps around the local elementary school. We both agreed it was a shame kids walking to school were now at risk of being hit by dropping-off-parents in a hurry. I said nobody dropped kids at school when I was little.

    But then she said, “Of course, it’s a different world out there now.” So I said, “Well, it is, in that people drop their kids off, but how do you mean?”

    Then I find out she believes kids are “snatched” all the time, for instance from their front yards if parents look away for a minute or two. I told her all violent crimes, including those against children, are down since my childhood, and probably also since hers, but because she’d heard some story from a local policeman about how there was a trafficking “ring” that targeted kids from northern Minnesota (where she lives) because they’re blond and blue-eyed, nothing I said made the least impression on her.

  37. Warren November 30, 2015 at 5:05 pm #


    Nope, don’t get that feeling in the pit of my stomach. When I have gotten phone calls about injuries, there is no worry, no fear. Dude, injuries happen. Maybe it is because of broken teeth, one arm, one leg, both shoulders dislocated, numerous stitches, sprains, pulled muscles and two diagnosed concussions, and god knows how many I just brushed off, that I don’t get upset or worried. I handle the situation. Between sports and work and life, been there done it. Injuries are not the end of the world.

    And you changed the conditions. I said that I don’t worry when they did things for the first time, and you changed that to running out into the road. Again, if their is a car headed toward them, yeah then worry, no car then not worried, just pissed.

    Worry gets you nothing. Irrational fears get you nothing.

  38. pentamom November 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    People are different. Some are more worriers than others — Warren is apparently a non-worrier.

    But as long as it doesn’t control you, worry is not abnormal and only moderately unhealthy.

  39. Emily November 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    I have a feeling that Abby does know that the risk of a child being snatched out of her bedroom is minuscule, but if she cited the statistics, then the letter writer might still read “1 in 2,000,000” as “there’s still a chance.” So, she skipped over that, in order to avoid an angry backlash later on from hordes of readers who read/saw a story about a stranger abduction in the news, or even had it happen to their child, or a child they knew. She skipped over all that, and said, “that’s why we have baby monitors,” because that answer was probably more reassuring to the letter writer/well-intentioned but overprotective mother of a small child. I bet the effect will ultimately be the same–parents will put Miss Three to bed in her own room, with the baby monitor on, and will repeat this process every night, until they forget to turn it on, or they turn it on, but the battery dies in the middle of the night and Miss Three wakes up unharmed. Alternatively, maybe they’ll keep using the baby monitor until the child gets old enough to ask for privacy, or they realize on their own that she’s really too old for it. After all, three years old, is just two years away from being old enough to start kindergarten, and Sparks/Daisy Scouts/Rainbows/Gumnuts/whatever the regional equivalent, where the girls invariably participate in sleepovers. So, the baby monitor situation obviously can’t continue forever, but I’m seeing it as a temporary crutch, until Miss Three’s parents eventually realize that they don’t need it.

  40. Backroads November 30, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    On the worrying: Yeah, worrying to a degree is normal and natural. But many a time I’d been asked by my mother how much I worried about my daughter (a toddler), as if putting forth reasonable effort to keep her safe and healthy wasn’t enough–I couldn’t just take care of her, I had to spend excess time worrying about it? Yeah, I think I see what Warren is getting at. There is worrying and then there is worrying.

    On this letter…

    I think someone is missing a prime business opportunity making baby monitors that stop kidnappers.

  41. BL November 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    “Of course, it’s a different world out there now.”

    Still looks like Earth to me.

  42. Cassie November 30, 2015 at 7:17 pm #


    We recently did the same thing. Our 3 bedroom house is now a 1 bedroom house with a TV Room/Study, and a spare room/sewing room.

    The girls are free to go sleep in ‘their’ beds in the spare room, but it is not ‘their’ room. We just all share one bedroom now (Queen bed and two toddler beds).

    I love it! I love not having bedrooms that get messy (Instead they have an enclosed verandah as a playroom, which means dirt from outside does not get tracked through the house). Our house has lots of places to go if you want time to yourself, or if you want to make it your own, but just one room to sleep in.

    I figure as the girls get older and want their own space they will start sleeping in the other bedroom, and that will be when we rearrange the rooms again to give the kids a seperate room again.

    Having said that… that is all a side-bar, not to detract from what the post was actually about.

  43. James Pollock November 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

    The risk of child kidnapping is one that should be respected… it’s real, it can happen, and steps can be taken to substantially reduce the risk. Once those steps have been taken (Install a window lock, install an alarm system if in a high-crime area), move on. In practical terms, the risk of injury from falling out the window is probably higher. Considering how many families don’t have a plan for “what do we do if there’s a fire”, you’d think house fires were as rare as kidnappings.

  44. Jennifer December 1, 2015 at 12:25 am #

    @lollipoplover don’t be too worried about her husband, at least not because they’re room sharing. Our kids slept in our room for as long as they wanted (years) and we managed to have 7 of them…creativity can make things that much more fun 😉

  45. Rook December 1, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    My concern about having the kid at one end of the house and us at the other is how much noise he might make crashing in to everything if he wakes up scared from a bad dream and wants to jump in bed with us for comfort. Because that’s what toddlers do. Not to mention that furniture legs are quite painful when you hit them full force with a toe. Mommy has been very tempted to through various pieces of furniture out into the yard at 3AM. We put nightlights up at various points throughout the house. It has also worked wonders for our own crashing and banging into things during midnight snacks and bathroom trips. I’m not worried about midnight burglars. Our windows are such a pain to get up and down that there is no way a sneak would be able to sneak inside, especially with all the sleep problems us adults have that keep at least one of us awake at all times, and not to mention a territorial house dog who doesn’t like uninvited guests either. She’s a yappy little thing!

  46. Curious December 1, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    Those of us who remember Abigail Van Buren recall her sense of humor and appreciate her able research team. She would not sign off on everything attributed to her these days.
    She was more nuanced.
    Has she has gone on to give advice to the little angels ? Maybe so!
    She was one classy dame!

  47. Warren December 1, 2015 at 10:34 am #


    Nature and breeding has already created baby monitors that prevent kidnappings. They have many names but some of my favorites are German Sheppard Dog, Rotti, Siberian Husky, and well you get the idea.

  48. That_Susan December 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    @Cassie, that’s awesome!

  49. Katie December 1, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    Baby monitors are for babies-not for preschoolers. And please DO NOT GET A DOG, just for security reasons. Dogs have a right to have a family that actually cares about them, not to mention they are a lot of work and if not trained properly can be a nightmare. And usually by the time idiots who get a dog for “security” figure this out they have already decided to send the dog to a shelter where it will likely be sentenced to die.

  50. Emily December 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    @Katie–I agree completely with what you said. Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas, or a child’s birthday, or for “security.” Dogs are family members, and they require a lot of care, and a lot of training so they’ll be pleasant companions. However, the flip side of that is, a lot of dogs who ARE treated well, and trained well, and who are definitely pleasant companions, aren’t good watchdogs. I have a golden retriever, and my house was broken into over the summer. My dog is incredibly sweet and well-behaved, and he loves people–so, he didn’t stop the robbers. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you can adopt a dog, you can install a home security system, or you can do both, but you shouldn’t adopt a dog and expect him or her to BE your home security system.

  51. Emily December 2, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    P.S., I have to admit, the first thing that came to mind when I read this letter was, these poor people probably haven’t had sex in three years, and the wife/mother/letter writer just skips over that like it’s nothing. Their marriage can’t be in great shape at this point.

  52. Liz December 2, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    Every single time my MIL leaves my house she makes me lock our door and demands that I turn on the alarm system. Why? “There are sick people out there who want nothing more than to steal my grandson!” The doors were not locked when she was here. I guess she thinks she’s the kidnapper repellent? My town has never had a stranger kidnapping or murder, ever. When I told her that statistically she is more likely to kidnap him than a stranger, she told me “that’s just not true, there are lots of sick people who take babies!” My son is very, very friendly and loves nothing more than meeting people (he’s a year old), and she told me I needed to stop that now, because it’s dangerous for him to be friendly with strangers in the supermarket, since “someone will take him”… from the cart… where he’s strapped in… a foot away from me… in a crowded store.
    You can’t always make people understand common sense or statistics. For them the boogie man is real and always will be.

  53. pentamom December 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    “I have to admit, the first thing that came to mind when I read this letter was, these poor people probably haven’t had sex in three years, and the wife/mother/letter writer just skips over that like it’s nothing. Their marriage can’t be in great shape at this point.”

    That’s not a fair assumption at all. Many people sleep with their kids in their rooms (all poor people in most countries of the world, in fact) and manage to have sex, and in fact continue to reproduce, under those conditions.

    As an American brought up entirely differently it seems odd-to-unmanageable to me, but I actually know people who have had more kids while their kids shared their room. It’s actually more normal than not across human history and geography.

  54. Beth December 3, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    I come from the past (had my first child in 1986). It sure seems like nothing is private any more, with social networking, sexting, etc….and now we’re supposed to feel great about having sex in front of our kids? Yikes. Glad I’m not a part of that. Though I think if I had to do it over again, I’d still have my kids in their own bedrooms; ack, I didn’t breast feed either!!

  55. James Pollock December 3, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    “It sure seems like nothing is private any more, with social networking, sexting, etc….and now we’re supposed to feel great about having sex in front of our kids?”

    Well, sex-ed should start at home.

    If the kids are sleeping in the master bedroom, that leaves the whole rest of the house for, um, signaling the stork for another delivery. Or there’s the “nooner”, while the kids are at school. If “the kids sleep in the same bedroom” means “so we can’t have sex”, well, you’re just not trying.

  56. Cassie December 4, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    One day our kids will wonder why they were only ever allowed to watch TV on weekend mornings!!

    As others have said, sex changes with children, regardless of where they sleep. The spontaneity is lost when the kids are young and sex must fit into suitable times (no more lunch time quickies!). Even when mine are (were) put to sleep in their own rooms we would be aware that certain times were bad for sex as one of them was apt to wake and interrupt it (and then what do you do… quick finish up, or hold that thought???).

    I say all this because it seems to be the number one concern of anyone that hears a child sleeps in a master bedroom… how do they have sex?!?!? But I ask, how does anyone with a pre-school aged child have sex… or talk on the phone – that is another thing I just cannot do with a young child in the house.

    The answer is that you make a time and a place, a little less spontaneous then prior to kids, but just as often and as exciting. You learn what times work, and what times don’t, and you make full use of them.

    Even before we had kids my husband worked a fly-in-fly-out job, so was only home 3 nights per week… which meant no matter how much either of us felt like sex on the other 4 days it wasn’t possible, and occasionally when we didn’t feel like it on the days he was home we would have to ‘get in the mood’ or not (knowing that it would be another week before we had another shot). Again… why am I saying this…. I guess I want to emphasise that there are plenty of kinds of normal, and relationships can be quite healthy and fulfilled even with boundaries and hurdles in existance.

  57. Beth December 4, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    I never said there weren’t. What I said was that I, personally, would not feel comfortable having sex with my kids in the same room, and I would never think it was a validating of my parenting that my kids wouldn’t have their own rooms but yay I know how to have sex quietly.

  58. Cassie December 4, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    @Beth. My response wasn’t pointed at you in any way. It is a very common and amusing concern (the sex side of things).

    As for the parenting aspect of where a child sleeps. That becomes about personal choice and beliefs. We all think we know the best way to parent, and then we have to overlay that style with what we are actually capable of in our western non-village society. But when we take my method and the method of another intelligent and capable mother… they look different, and then we both look different to a third parent.

    So from a parenting perspective I take the opinion that, where the parents are making intelligent informed choices guided by love, we are all right. Our children will be different, maybe yours will be more this and mine more that… but I theorise that they need to be those things in order to first fit into the norms of our family circle, and second to ensure that society has a diversity of personalities (in extremely simple terms, we need leaders and followers, we need the creative and the regimented, and to have these types we need different types of parents growing and guiding them).

    In short, it is both right to have kids in your bedroom, and right to give them their own rooms. It is also right for people to be aware that possibilities exist outside the norm, so that they feel more comfortable embracing them (ie having a single bedroom felt a bit weird for us when we first discussed it, it was outside the norm, it took a cup of tea and some conversation before we could shake off the social norms and choose what worked for our family and our parenting beliefs).

  59. Claudia December 7, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    And an aeroplane might crash on your house in the night, so maybe you should all sleep in a reinforced bunker?

  60. pentamom December 7, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    “and now we’re supposed to feel great about having sex in front of our kids?”

    Didn’t say you were supposed to feel great about it. Didn’t say you were supposed to feel any way about it, or do it, or think it’s a good idea.

    It’s just that it’s wrong to assume that people always have lousy sex lives if they share a bedroom with their kids. Thousands of years of human history says otherwise. As I said, I can’t really wrap my mind around how it works, nor have I been interested in trying it, but that it can work, is indisputable. And therefore a negative assumption about people’s sex life is unfair.

  61. Katie December 7, 2015 at 1:45 pm #


    By preschool age kids should be learning about boundaries. What do you do? You lock the door and unless they are chocking or on fire you don’t answer it. At that age they are more than ready to start learning the world doesn’t always revolve around their every want the second they want it.

  62. Katie December 7, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    Okay I just noticed the letter writer used the word baby, babies, and toddler. Am I the only one who doesn’t think a three year old is a baby or toddler? This seems to becoming more common-parents treating and calling there preschool age kids toddlers. It is weird to me.

  63. Cassie December 8, 2015 at 6:17 pm #


    I disagree with you almost completely, but mostly with the idea that you declare that my method is wrong, rather than just give an example of why you are happy with you method.

    I will reiterate my previous post… I don’t think there is a ‘wrong’ way to parent, just a way that works with your family, and I honestly believe all of it serves to create a diverse and wonderful society.

    So I don’t tell you to unlock the doors, but neither do you get to tell me to lock them. However I listen with interest to all methods of parenting and glean from them what works best for our family in order to create children that I believe are wonderful….

    Sometimes something that I think is a wonderful trait in a child will be abhorred by another, and likewise I will abhor a trait that they find wonderful. I have no doubt my boundaries are tighter in areas that you think they should be relaxed and vice versa. I don’t think that this is at all wrong, I think it would be worse if we all parented the same and had the exact same boundaries. The world would lack colour.

  64. Cassie December 8, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    I guess I should add as an explanation (and nothing I have said is telling anyone to do anything).

    For my personal belief, night time is the time when the world calms down, and we retreat back into a safe place. For my kids that is being close to me, getting cuddles that last hours if they need it, talking quietly about there day (debriefing) as they go to sleep, and knowing that I am close to them.

    I think (again, just my belief, and I have zero judgement if you believe differently, but don’t tell me I am wrong and have to change my belief) that the day is full of boundaries and rules and difficulties. Struggles that must be overcome, things that must be accomplished in an increasingly independent way. Big emotions that need to be conquered and understood and translated into socially acceptable forms.

    By the end of the day, being close to me is a way for them to release all of that, either through cuddles, or through long conversations or through just feeling safe in my presence. I believe it prepares them for the next day. It is a place of rest and refuge and peace.

    As they get older they will need this refuge less and less and transition into a room of their own, but while they are young (and 6 is still young in my belief) they are welcome to this refuge.

    All my personal beliefs, and I welcome conversation, but not judgement, because I won’t judge anyone else. You make your own choices based on your own beliefs, which I have no doubt are hugely different to mine. But neither of us have a crystal ball, we only have our gut instincts and the body of information we have gleaned from the world around us.

  65. Warner hoh December 9, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    I would give it to my daughter and son to share.