“Do the Right Thing.” Yeah — But What Is It?

Hi nbbdddkber
Readers! Here’s a brilliant note from a gal named Ann:

Dear Free-Range Kids. Here’s a Liberty Mutual ad with the tag line “Do the right thing.” The situation is a mom picking up her two kids from soccer. They’re late and need to get to the airport. But another kid is still sitting on the bench waiting for his dad. It’s almost dusk and the kid is probably 10-12. Should the mom leave him ALONE at the field? Or should she forgo getting to the airport to make sure that the kid isn’t unattended. Guess what the “right thing” is![youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SJb9ZdHkFI]

Right — because calling the dad to make sure he’s on his way would be too sensible. So would leaving the kid there for a few minutes, because that’s what the ring of predators around the field is waiting for you to do. Basically, you should totally capsize your day and leave someone at the airport waiting (or let ’em miss their plane) because otherwise you are a bad person. — Ann


96 Responses to “Do the Right Thing.” Yeah — But What Is It?

  1. flashbaak March 25, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    I don’t see a real problem with this. Isn’t it part of the Free Range philosophy that we all help each other out?

    It looks reasonable to me that this mom may have gone to the airport, picked up the dad, and came back to check on the other boy, who was still sitting there at soccer practice in the dark.

    She didn’t freak out, she just came back and they all hung out so the kid wouldn’t be lonely while waiting for his dad. Is that so bad?

  2. Wilson March 25, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    Where’s the coach?! Usually it’s the coach’s responsibility to make sure all the kids are picked up before taking off. I think a ring of predators could have easily have taken all 3 kids before the Mom showed up.

  3. Joette March 25, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Actually, I really can’t fault this commercial…not because there’s a mythical ring of predators just waiting for the child to be alone, but because something may have happened to seriously delay the person responsible for picking up the child. Granted, in this day and age of cell phones it seems unlikely that all of the adults responsible for the child would be completely out of touch. However, I don’t think we should ever fault associated adults for taking time out to help if help appears to be needed. After all, isn’t that what we WANT? What would have been outrageous in this video is if the Mom in a hurry had called the police instead of taking time out to make sure everything was OK. Presumably the errand at the airport wasn’t SO urgent that the mother in the commercial couldn’t take time out to help. That IS the right thing.

  4. Joe March 25, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    I think you might be overreacting to this ad — I didn’t get the impression that the mom was afraid of OMG PREDATORS. Perhaps it’s just my own biases contributing, but I thought the mom was just keenly aware that, as a kid, waiting by yourself to be picked up is incredibly boring, and she decided to hang out with him.

    Also, I think she says “C’mon guys, your dad’s at the airport!” at the beginning. Dad can probably wait (or catch a cab) without much hassle. It doesn’t strike me as a huge burden, here.

    Besides, isn’t this one of the points of Free Range Parenting — that we don’t need to be as afraid as the media wants us to be, because most people are basically good and will help out without having to be asked?

  5. kacey March 25, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    Well, that entire situation is unrealistic because youth soccer coaches are told never to leave a player alone at the field. Furthermore, coaches are told never to be at the field one-on-one with a player lest they be accused of doing something untoward. In reality, the coach would likely have asked that mom to stay with him & the other player until the boy’s parent arrived. The advice US Youth Soccer gave me was to quit as coach if the parents refused to stay so I would not be alone with the player.

  6. amymay March 25, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    kacey that is the saddest thing I’ve heard all day. Quit instead of being left alone with a kid.

    As far as the commercial goes, I’m glad the mom stayed. If it was my kid I’d appreciate someone staying. Not because of the “impending doom of predators,” but because it gets lonely sitting there alone. And I’d do it for someone else’s kid too.

  7. Diana W March 25, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Yeah, I don’t have a problem with this either even though he was most likely not in danger, he’s still a kid waiting alone and he probably appreciated them waiting with him. I would have waited too probably and possibly let him call his dad to see the ETA.

  8. Kate March 25, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    I’m with those who don’t think the commercial is that bad, although I don’t understand why they don’t just call the kid’s dad to find out what’s going on/offer to take the kid with them.

  9. Mr. Shreck March 25, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Guess I’m just joining the chorus here, but I also don’t see the outrage. The message I get is people pull together and do the right thing out of a sense of community and mutual (ahem) help.

    BTW, this discussion inspired me to look a little more deeply and I found LM is sponsoring something called the Responsibility Project which may be worth a closer look:


    Here’s another commercial from the series, reminiscent of the one a few years ago (from Volkswagen?) with the series of kindnesses from strangers.


    Oh, and I swear I neither work for Liberty Mutual nor own stock. 🙂

  10. Holly March 25, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    I agree with most of the other commentators. I see nothing wrong with the commercial. I would wait too. Not for fear of predators, but because no one likes to be waiting alone in the dark.

  11. jrmiss86 March 25, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    I gotta say, I think you are reading way too much into adds these days. They are t.v. Adds, not the end all be all authority of what people should and shouldn’t do. All they want to do is sell you something. Relax a little.

  12. EricS March 25, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    It’s neither right nor wrong. I probably would’ve stuck around too. Not because I was afraid for the kid, but because I’d feel bad him sitting by himself waiting. I’ve been in that position before, where my dad was picking me up and ran late, or got lost (which he did often). So what would have been a 10 min wait, ended up being 40 min. One time he was so late, I decided to just walk home. It was dark. But that was normal to me, considering me and my friends use to play pass the time when the street lights came on.

    But in this case, if I had to pick someone up at the airport, I would have just got the kid to come in the car, and drop him off at his home on the way to the airport. I would also call his house to let anyone there know that I was taking him home already. If the father hadn’t already left, I’m sure he would’ve appreciated it.

    The only thing I have against this commercial is that they are implying (oh so subtly) of the danger of a child being left alone waiting for his ride.

  13. Jynet March 25, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    As a human being who has been in that situation I wouldn’t leave a child alone. Not because as an ADULT I have any fear of something happening to them, but because as a CHILD I was afraid and didn’t know when/if a grown up was going to come and get me.

    I had no money, not even change for a payphone, and no way to contact anyone and tell them I were I was or what was going on. I was scared and alone at age 10 for about 45 minutes until someone showed up to get me.

    I would NEVER leave a child in that position, heck, I wouldn’t leave an adult in that situation!!

  14. SKL March 25, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    Can’t hear the ad. Did it indicate how much time passed? Because if her kids had just been picked up second to last, how was she so much better than the dad who came last? She could have easily been the last parent there. So I’m a little confused as to what the message is.

    I could complain about many things in this ad, but I won’t because I think it’s reflective of the way people operate nowadays.

    When I was young, kids walked home from their sports events. The sports complex we used was a couple miles away from home. There was no caravan of minivans rushing to pick us up lest we spend one minute on our own. Regardless of how dark it was.

  15. EricS March 25, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    That’s how commercials work. They play on your psyche, to sell you what they have. Two of the most common, effective things that sell services and products…Sex and Fear.

  16. Uly March 25, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    All they want to do is sell you something.

    And what are they selling? And how are they doing it? What OTHER messages are they pushing besides “buy our product”?

    Believe it or not, they pay lots of good money to find the most convincing way to get you to believe them. So isn’t it important to pay attention in case they try to get us to believe something patently absurd?

  17. pentamom March 25, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    There’s nothing in the ad to indicate that the kid isn’t just fine waiting a bit longer, or that there’s any more than “a bit longer” that he’d have to wait. Sure, he’s the last one there, but someone has to be last — that doesn’t necessarily mean ANYBODY is “delayed.”

    I agree we probably shouldn’t get too excited over stuff like this, but I think there is a subtle message being conveyed that a pre-teen kid being left alone anywhere for any length of time is at least a *small* problem that needs some kind of “response,” rather than the logical implication of the fact that if not all the parents arrive at the same time, somebody’s going to be there last. It’s making something into a problem that requires doing *anything,* when there’s no indication that there’s a problem at all, that shows that this partakes of a more helicopter mentality.

    And for those who say maybe the mom went to the airport and then came back to keep the kid company, then where’s Dad in the last shot? Sitting by himself in the car?

  18. Shannon W March 25, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    I don’t have a problem with the ad. If it was an older teenager – perhaps, but not with the kid in video.

    When I was growing up (in the 70’s and 80’s, reasonably free-range), an adult always hung around until all the kids were picked up. This is still necessary, not only because of the unlikely danger of predators, but also because the kid may not have a cell phone or access to a pay phone and may be several miles from home without access to any public transportation.

    I do agree calling the kid’s parents would be the logical next step.

  19. pentamom March 25, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    That said, if there was a reason to think the kid was waiting longer than usual, and was in danger of being fearful or lonely, then sure, call Dad on the cell phone and say we’ll be a few minutes late, and keep the kid company. But the issue with the ad is that there’s an assumption that situation X causes a problem, without any actual information that any genuine problem (significant delay of the other kid’s parent, fearfulness, or loneliness) exists.

  20. Diana W March 25, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    This is an effective ad because it makes us “feel”.
    What are they selling? They are selling insurance and what is the purpose of having insurance? To make you feel safe and responsible for others (namely your family in your absence).
    Again, I say this is an effective ad!

  21. Scott March 25, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    What if these predators want to kidnap the mom as well? Bet they didn’t think of that! It could happen! After all she doesn’t look to be armed. Now all of them are doomed, doomed I say.

  22. Scott March 25, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Oh no! The plane she was planning on taking was hijacked by terrorists and flown into a nuclear reactor! So she narrowly avoided death by radiation explosion, but instead will die by torture from the kidnappers, if the radioactive fallout doesn’t get her first.

  23. Nicole March 25, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    I don’t see it as “OMG- predators!” but more as someone keeping the kid company until dad arrives.

    But maybe that’s because I spent a good portion of my childhood waiting for parents who were late, and would have loved if someone had bothered to sit and talk to me or offer a ride!

  24. EricS March 25, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    @ Nicole: If you look at in your eyes and how you grew up yes. I would think the same. But in this day and age, and how most people think and feel. I’m pretty certain that they are thinking worse case scenario. Which is what this ad is subtly trying to convey. Diana W gets it.

  25. socalledauthor March 25, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    At least the commercial didn’t end with the nearly-inevitable GET AWAY FROM MY CHILD, PERVERT! Though, it was a mom and not a dad helping out the last-to-be-picked up boy.

    @EricS– if a parent tried to give me a ride home after an event, I’d have to have declined. My parents would have been REALLY upset if they’d showed up and found me NOT there (as I was instructed.) This was before cell phones, but I knew I would have to wait. I waited long times for my parents because they were always, always late. I was never “alone and scared”… not even at a young age. What was there to be scared of, sitting at the elementary school after scouts?

  26. Frau_Mahlzahn March 25, 2011 at 6:51 am #


    I mean: What?



    So long,

  27. Graham Charles March 25, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Funny, I didn’t see it that way. They weren’t worried about the kid’s safety, but felt bad for him being left alone, so they hang out with him for a while.

    You can get a little oversensitized with all this free-ranging.

  28. KyohakuKeisanki March 25, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    I see nothing wrong with the commercial either. It simply shows a parent helping a kid who’s alone. If there were other kids around, then I would question the motive of the commercial, as kids pre-1984 were with other kids and without adults a lot. In fact, I think that it could HELP the free-range movement, as it depicts an adult who is not afraid of being labeled a kidnapper.

  29. Frau_Mahlzahn March 25, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    To everyone who doesn’t have a problem with the commercial: where’s the coach? And why does a kid need somebody to keep him company as some insist that’s all the mom’s doing?

    Can’t a kid be bored for a while?

    And suppose something did happen to dad — the mom doesn’t seem too eager to find out…

    Okay, so you are worried — go find the coach. Go call dad. Go do something to find out what’s going on. But just hang out there and wiggle your toes — now, that’s completely stupid behavior portrayed there!

    So long,Corinna

  30. Frau_Mahlzahn March 25, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    @Graham Charles: to hang out with a kid just to keep him/her company while putting off your own plans and have somebody wait for you (who also counts on you) — now that’s completely helicoptering!

    It’s okay for a kid to be bored for a while.

    (Unless of course, you are really worried that something happened to dad — but then you don’t just sit around).

    So long,

  31. Frau_Mahlzahn March 25, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    @kyohakuKeisanki: although the mom is not afraid of being considered a potential kidnapper (yikes that it even came that far to even consider that) — she _is_ a mom who interferes with an other parents decisions.

    If the dad things it’s okay for his son to wait, than it’s okay.

    By hanging out the mom completely questions dad’s authority.

    Nuff said.

  32. Beth March 25, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Does anyone else here think that the kid looks like Ron Weasley? 😀

  33. Becky March 25, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Having been a kid whose mother was constantly late picking me up, I would have been so very grateful for someone to wait with me. No being “bored for a while” won’t kill you, but it’s nice to feel like someone cares.

  34. Jes March 25, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    My husband & I actually had a discussion about this ad the other night & we both sort of felt there was no question about it. She wasn’t turning around so the predators wouldn’t get the kid, he just looked lonely. After all, didn’t she just nonchalantly pick up her own unattended children from the same spot?

    As a latch key kid my my husband was always the last one left at the practice field, or the one who had to walk home alone, and he always felt better when there were others there with him.

    Sorry Lenore, I think you’re the one overreacting on this one.

    p.s. Totally looks like a Weasley.

  35. meghann March 25, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    I actually like this ad, because my mother was *always* late picking me up from activities & I was always the kid waiting, by myself, often in the dark, for a ride home. I would have appreciated so much if someone had ever stayed with me – not because something might have happened to me (nothing ever did) but because it was lonely & it really sucked sitting there for ages waiting to be picked up. I think I’d probably do the same thing as in the ad – again, not because I think there are predators roaming around preying on kids with chronically late parents, but because I was that kid once I remember how much it sucked.

  36. Karen March 25, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Wow – Overreacting here just a bit, in my humble opinion. I think we all need to “pitch in” and help each other out (anyone out there remember ” it takes a village”), and yes, sometimes that means readjusting priorities and/or being inconvenienced. And, in fact, we don’t know the “backstory” of this 32 seconds long commercial – who knows, maybe the mom character tried calling the child’s parent. Seems to me there are far more earth-shattering things to gripe about.

  37. kimelah March 25, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    I think the commercial could have been written differently. Instead of an appointment at an airport, make it something that COULD have been delayed, like… a television show, or something. But then the mother chose something more important: staying with a kid whose parent was late picking them up.

    I’m with the other commenters: the message is the right one, the options, as it was written, were wrong.

  38. Silver Fang March 25, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    I agree with the other people here. I’m sure the kid felt better having someone wait with him. I can imagine how fearful it would be for a young kid to be waiting in the dark for their parents to come get them for over an hour.

  39. Nanci March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Lenore, when I see this ad to me is seems to be just what you are always promoting, community, getting to know and watch out for each other. I don’t see it as the mom being afraid to leave the boy alone, after all her son was there without an adult also. I see a mom that realizes a kid is waiting alone and decides to take a few minutes out of her day to hang with him while waiting for his dad. I imagine if the ad went on it would show the mom using her cell to call the dad if the waiting went on much longer, and then the mom and dad talking and being friendly when he arrives. Taking time to get to know and help others in the community is what I see from the ad.

  40. Casey March 25, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    To those of you who think this was a stretch I think you’re missing part of the point. I don’t find any real problem with the senerio portrayed, but the tag line was the ridiculous part. “Do the right thing”…it wasn’t “be nice to a kid today” or “let’s build community” but “do the RIGHT thing!”

    And what does any of it have to do with insurance? We’re so DEsensitized toward commercials and what is really being sold these days. Then again, if we started complaining about companies manipulating consumers through advertising, we’d never have time to do anything else.

  41. Jen March 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    As a child of perpetually late parents (and all of my activities were well out of range of walking distance), I really appreciated it when another parent waited with me. No, I was never afraid. But it did get lonely, and it was always reassuring that I would have *some* way home if something had come up that my folks couldn’t make it. I actually spent 1 1/2 hours sitting at the field for my softball practice in 3rd grade because my mom was away for the weekend and dad forgot to pick me up. Not really bad parenting, he just assumed I was up the hill at my grandmother’s. It wasn’t until he called her to send me home that he remembered that he was supposed to pick me up (gram had dropped me off earlier in the day). I was eternally grateful to my friend’s mom, who sat and waited until dad finally came along.

    I would have been in trouble, though, if I had gotten a ride from someone else most of the time.The story above was the exception, not the rule. Usually, mom was 10-15 min late. Without a cellphone to let her know someone else was giving me a ride, she would have been livid if she had gotten to wherever and I had been missing.

  42. Aussie Mum March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    What sort of insurance do they want us to buy here? Home, car, personal, life? Insurance against being sued for pain and suffering by leaving the lonely child waiting for his father? Talk about trying to manipulate a guilt trip into the average person. Ring the father for goodness sake and find out where he is. There is no insurance against stupid advertising.

  43. Jennifer March 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    I thought one of the basic tenets of Free-Ranging was that we can trust each other to be looking out for our kids. For all we know, the dad showed up and yelled at the mom for having her arm around his kid – pervy mom! Seriously – it can’t be both ways. Either we can count on each other or we can’t. In this case (I have seen the commercial), I didn’t think the mom was trying to keep away the “ring of perverts” but rather just sitting with a lonely kid who may or may not have had a ride home. Stop picking things apart trying to find the bad. I liked the commercial. And for the record, whether going to the airport or coming home, my husband would have understood.

  44. maaaty March 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    In the long version of the commercial, her SUV gets stolen while it sits there with the lights on and keys in it.

    Also, that music was damn depressing.

  45. Frau_Mahlzahn March 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    @Becky: if somebody waiting with you makes you feel like somebody cares, then there’s probably something wrong in the whole picture… Waiting with you won’t solve that.

    So long,

  46. BeQui March 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Corinna, what’s with all the personal attacks today? Sheesh, try cooling off a little.

  47. Jennifer March 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    I’m with Lenore on this one. I remember waiting for my parents as a kid, sometimes alone and sometimes with others. It seems important to me that kids are independent enough to be fine waiting alone for a parent for a while. Are we really trying to protect kids from getting lonely after sitting for fifteen minutes or a half hour alone? As a kid I would have been playing an elaborate imaginative game in my head, reading a book, or practicing my cartwheels on the grass. And ads like this perpetuate the idea that kids should never be left alone, even if they don’t directly come out and say it.

  48. pentamom March 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    “@Becky: if somebody waiting with you makes you feel like somebody cares, then there’s probably something wrong in the whole picture… Waiting with you won’t solve that.”

    Does everything we do have to solve every problem completely? Or can we just take people’s feelings into consideration and be kind, now and then?

    I agree the waiting was unnecessary and insofar as the commercial sends the message that it was “the right thing to do” it’s not helpful, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the mom who did that was doing something awful. I don’t buy the “undermining Dad’s authority” thing — if somebody’s parenting is seriously undermined by someone being kind to their kid even though the parent didn’t intend that kind of kindness, THAT’s a big picture problem right there.

  49. Jen March 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I’m with the majority here….. I think it’s overreaching on this one.

    I also was almost always the last one from practice, but was also an avid bookworm and always had a book with me. But being alone/almost alone at the soccer fields is a little scarier than other situations because we didn’t have a pay phone at the fields.

    Hanging out with the kid for an extra few minutes isn’t smothering him or protecting him. It just is.

  50. Tuppence March 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    I’m with Frau Malhzahn – “she _is_ a mom who interferes with an other parents decisions” and Jennifer “ads like this perpetuate the idea that kids should never be left alone, even if they don’t directly come out and say it.”

    Another one here who was always. left. waiting. Never scared but sometimes p.o.ed (d’ja ever see that “Simpsons” when Bart is furious after Homer left him waiting so long? I could so relate). I’m surprised that others who’ve had this experience say they would have liked having a parent wait with them. I would have DIED of embarrassment.

    Just like the situ here, you knew (even a kid knows!) people had better things to do, and it would have be “babying” you if they stuck around. I definitely would have felt patronized. I think the patronization in evidence here is the issue. And that’s were this ad butts heads with free ranging.

  51. Frau_Mahlzahn March 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    @BeQui: Sorry, I didn’t mean to personally insult anyone, just getting carried away I guess, ;-).

    So, I’m sorry, no insults intended.

    (But I’m still with Tuppence on the patronizing part)

    So long,

  52. Kokopuff March 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    There’s clearly a time gap…when mom picks kids up, it’s still light out…end scene, nearly dark out. The weird part of this commercial is the end when they are all just sitting there, as though there’s no other option. I have no patience for any of this shit, I’d tell the kid to get his ass in the car, drive him home and that would be the end of that.

    The dad is probably schtupping his mistress somewhere and completely forgot about Dylan.

  53. Uly March 25, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    I’d tell the kid to get his ass in the car, drive him home and that would be the end of that.

    Without informing the parents? That just strikes me as a legitimately bad idea. You’ve all but assured they’ll show up right after you leave, frantic that their child has been missing for HOURS and it’s DARK and they need to call the POLICE!

  54. SKL March 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    I’m with Tuppence – my mom would have given me hell if I’d caused another parent to sit with me by looking needy.

    And as a parent, it bugs me when another adult takes it upon him/herself to decide that my kid is not ready for the independence I’ve allowed her. It kind of assumes that my parenting choice is incompetent and not to be respected. It also robs my kid of the opportuntity to in fact be independent.

    However, I hear the many commenters here whose parents were habitually late picking them up, and I could see how that would suck. I didn’t have that problem since my parents didn’t drive us around, period. If we wanted to participate in something, it needed to be something we could get ourselves to/from. That has its pros and cons. I didn’t get to try out for the citywide chorus I was recommended for. But I did get to independently explore many things and become wise beyond my years in many ways. I think my parents did right by me, but today, with the way cities are laid out, I probably won’t have the choice to do the same by my kids.

  55. Matt L. March 25, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    See, he sounded so forlorn I would totally asked if he minded us keeping him company. Then I would have been hauled to jail for being a male hanging out with a child.

    Maybe I’m the only one who spent some time just waiting for a ride wishing I had someone to talk to. Let me tell you, that time just CRAWLS by.

  56. Joette March 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    But Free Range isn’t abandonment. (Aren’t we constantly singing this refrain the the doubers?) Free Range is about “My child will be OK and if, for some reason my child isn’t OK I trust that a passing adult will lend him a hand.” We don’t see in this commercial how the conversation went between the time she decides to check on the child and the end when they’re sitting together. The OMG BAD camp in this debate seems to be assuming that the mother imposed herself on the child.

    I fear I won’t make many friends here by saying this, but seeing every adult interacting with a child as helicoptering is exactly the same as seeing any adult interacting with a child as possible predator/perv. Nuance is what’s important here, and in this commercial the expression on the child’s face and his body language indicated he was disappointed to be last, maybe a little uneasy or worried about why his dad wasn’t there yet, so the mother stopped to keep him company and make sure his ride showed up.

    I say again, what would have been outrageous is if she’d driven off and called the police to report the child left after the game as abandoned. We know it happens. THAT’S the helicoptering mentality, not “Hey, want me to wait with you?”

  57. jrmiss86 March 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Amen Joette. We don’t need to read into every little thing just to prove a point.

  58. Elissa March 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    I’m with Becky here. As the kid who’s parents were always late to pick them up at extended care after school, its a pretty lonely place to be sitting in the near darkness waiting for a parent after all the other kids had gone home. Even though I had my little brother for company, I am so thankful my teachers stayed with us. No, we weren’t in any danger, no, no one was going to kidnap us even if we were alone. It was the principle of the matter and that we weren’t forgotten.

    Where the coach is in this commercial – I don’t know. But the mom saw that this kid was going to be left alone and decided that that wasn’t right. At the end of the commercial, we see them all out of the car, sitting and talking, and the lights of the car on….that leads me to believe that the kid’s dad wasn’t just seconds or minutes from showing up.

    Also, I find all the comments about cell phones to be interesting considering how the Free Range concept seems to be anti cell phones for kids…especially in the 10-12 year old range as indicated by the “Get a Cell Phone become a Baby” column.

    This is a poor example to pick out as something that Free-Rangers need to rally against. This is what we want…to know that the world is full of good people who will keep an eye out for our kids/keep our kids company/generally interact with our kids in a non predatory way when we are not around.

    I don’t see this any different than an adult taking to a kid traveling alone to keep them company. Why is that bad?

  59. Dragonwolf March 26, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    I’m with Joette, especially, and the others that said that disagree with Lenore on this one.

    What happened to things like “it takes a village” and “random acts of kindness” and just the simple fact that someone decided to keep someone else, who looked lonely, company for a while?

    I’ve seen this commercial several times, as well, and it never once registered as “OMG predators everywhere! Must protect child!”

    If you don’t like people being nice to your lonely kid, and you don’t like them calling the police because they’re alone, how do you expect “random adults” to help the child when s/he’s actually in need of help? And if people can’t even keep a lonely kid company without it somehow being construed as helicoptering, what’s left for a pro-Free Range adult to do? I thought half the point was abolishing the fear of adults interacting with kids. If you’re painting everyone with the same brush, regardless of whether it’s “predator” or “helicopter,” what difference does it make?

    “Seek and you will find” is more than just a Bible saying.

  60. Wayne March 26, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    As a scout leadder and soccer coach in the past, i have this to add.
    1) we were not supposed to leave until the last Child had left

    2) Under no circumstances were we supposed to bring another child into our car to take them home without the consent of the child’s parents/ guardians.

    I did however, make a rule that all parents had to tell one of the leaders that they had their kid.

  61. pentamom March 26, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    “And as a parent, it bugs me when another adult takes it upon him/herself to decide that my kid is not ready for the independence I’ve allowed her. ”

    This is what I don’t get. What if it’s not about the kid having “independence,” but about the mom just *wanting to be nice?*

    Look at it this way — if you saw an older person who looked lonely, and decided to sit there for a few minutes, would you be interfering with the person’s “independence,” or would it be friendly? Why is it so different with kids?

    I get that we don’t want to live in a culture where kids can never be thought to function independently or amuse themselves or be left alone lest they be objects of pity or potential victims of neglect; I don’t get where every interaction between any two people has to be judged on whether it “promotes a kid’s independence” or “harms” it. I get frustrated with parents from every point of view who treat every interaction with their kids by everyone as make or break, whether it’s educational, disciplinary, or social. Why can’t someone just be nice to a kid who looks lonely without it immediately becoming fraught with issues of “independence” or “interfering?” Is a kid’s independence that fragile? Is the Dad’s parental authority that fragile, that interfering with either causes some kind of problem, when that “interference” takes the form of *sitting down and talking to the kid?*

  62. pentamom March 26, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    “I’m with Tuppence – my mom would have given me hell if I’d caused another parent to sit with me by looking needy.”

    Your mom would have blamed you for what someone else thought and did? If she wasn’t there, how would she have known how you “looked?”

  63. Jenne March 26, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    I agree with the majority of commenters who say you are probably overreacting.

    Remember, not everyone lives where — if something happens and they are really delayed– their kid can just walk home or hop on public transit. So, it’s about making sure someone doesn’t get ‘stuck’ where they are.

    So, just like, if you drop an adult friend off at his/her car, it might be ‘the right thing to do’ to wait to be sure the car started, it might be the right thing to do to wait with the kid. *Especially* if the kid him/herself doesn’t have a cell phone.

  64. EricS March 26, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    @ socalledauthor: I was like that too when I was growing up. There were even times when my dad would be so late, I walked home by myself in the dark. Which was normal to me. Me and my siblings used to walk to a skating rink after dinner, which was about a 40 min walk from our place. And back again. Sometimes it would just be me and my bro. I was 10, he was 8. But that was then, this is now. Even though I don’t see anything different, other people do think differently. The commercial clearly shows that the kid knew the mother of his teammates. I would have been cool with catching a ride. I would have just called my dad to tell him I’m catching a ride. Nothing wrong with that.

    @ KyohakuKeisanki: It’s the underlying message that is the problem with the commercial. If she wasn’t afraid of being labeled as a kidnapper, why didn’t she just drive the kid home, instead of sitting there with him. Taking him home would have been a win, win situation for everyone. The kid gets home (not waiting around), his father doesn’t have to make the trip anymore, and the mother gets to the airport on time to pick up her husband. But this commercial implies, that it wouldn’t have been a good thing to take the kid home, so the next best thing is to hold off on her immediate plans and wait with the child. Not because he’d be lonely, but to make sure he’s safe till his dad gets there. That’s the hidden message behind it. I pretty certain that if you ask a helicopter parent about this commercial, they will all make reference to that. You ask FR parents, and they’ll say, it’s nice the mother kept him company so that he’s not by himself. As in bored, and alone.

    @ Kokopuff: lol

    @ Joette: That’s not the issue. No one is going to make a commercial depicting that. That’s not how marketing works. It’s the underlying message, the hidden insinuation that is the issue with this commercial. On the surface, it’s harmless enough. What the insurance company wants is to target the fearful, and the “what if” people. Like I said, the best sellers of products or services are sex and fear. This is fear, in the sense, “never leave a child by themselves, because it’s unsafe, and it’s the right thing to do”. Another right thing to do would have just insisted you take him home, and you’ll call his parents to let them know he’s on his way.

  65. Jenne March 26, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    P.S. Liberty Mutual is my insurance company, so *rolls eyes* I’ve been exposed to a lot of their ‘do the right thing’ ad campaign. The theme seems to be just looking out for one another as decent human beings.
    As far as I can tell, the ‘responsibility project’ and advertising campaign is supposed to subtly make you think of Liberty Mutual as the kind of company that will look out for you the way other decent human beings will. Sort of a much more subtle version of “Like a good neighbor…”

    This is the “responsibility project” website:

  66. Jenny Islander March 26, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    Isn’t that the Weasley kid? Then the correct thing to do is to drive off so that his parents can Apparate in to collect him without worrying about being seen by Muggles.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  67. Elissa March 26, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    @EricS. I think you make a lot of assumptions about this kid’s dad. 1) that he could be reached – maybe he has a job that put him out of touch for a while…which would make sense why he’s late. 2) that he will get home and see his kid there rather than show up at the field and not panic because his kid is missing 3) that taking the kid home is the most convenient thing to do for the mom….what if he lives on the other side of town? Why would you assume that if she just took the kid home she would make it to the airport in time?

    I think she did the most reasonable thing. Sit there, wait a few minutes with the kid, get to know her son’s friends and maybe meet a parent she didn’t know before. Sounds all good to me. Hubby at the airport can wait, take a cab, or drive himself to the airport next time (that’s what happens in my house for my hub’s business travels).

  68. SKL March 26, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    Pentamom, I have nothing against people talking to my kids even when I’ve sent them on an “independent” errand. However, it’s the tone of the commercial that suggests it would be WRONG to let somebody else’s kid be in a place where said kid’s parent decided he could be.

    And yes, my mom would have gotten upset with me, probably because of the way that parents judge each other. We were working-class kids going to a middle-class school. My mom was one of the few who wasn’t a SAHM. My parents had more kids than anyone else at our church/school. So there was a fair amount of judgment pointed at our family on any day of the week. And yes, kids do wheedle things out of other adults and I probably was guilty of it at some time or other. I must have been, because I knew pretty early that I’d better not let that kind of thing happen. If a “concerned adult” like that seemed likely to approach, I would have looked busy and moved in the opposite direction, just to avoid the impression that I “needed help.”

  69. Frau_Mahlzahn March 26, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    ****I don’t see this any different than an adult taking to a kid traveling alone to keep them company. Why is that bad?****

    While it is not bad in itself, I don’t think that in the long run we do our kids a favor by dropping everything we are doing just because a kid might be _inconvenienced_ . That’s a weird message we’d be sending to our kids and, in my opinion, wouldn’t do them any good.

    So long,

  70. Tuppence March 26, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    @SKL — “If a “concerned adult” like that seemed likely to approach, I would have looked busy and moved in the opposite direction, just to avoid the impression that I “needed help.”

    I hear ya. Would have done same. Really a revelation to me to learn here that so many people in that situation back then would have actually LIKED an adult to stick around.

  71. EricS March 26, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    @ Elissa: I’m not making any assumptions about the dad. He could be on his way, he could be late, he could be dead and not coming at all. That’s not the point. The point is the message of the commercial. DON’T LEAVE A CHILD ALONE BECAUSE…. I’m sure you know the rest of the implication. The Insurance company is telling people it’s the “right thing to do” to not let a child wait by himself for his dad. And this is wear the hidden meaning and marketing scheme kicks in. They leave a blank spot that plays on people’s emotions and thoughts. People who aren’t paranoid, will think (as some already here have said), stay with the child because they feel bad he has to sit by himself of however long. Nothing to do with any danger, just feeling bad he’s by himself. Then there’s the other group, which is what the marketing team is trying to reel in. The paranoid types, who will automatically think “stay with the child because it’s unsafe for him to be alone”. Because that is the right thing to do. So by playing on their fears, and their acknowledgment of what they fear is right, they have more trust in a company who feels and thinks the same way they do. Again, it’s all marketing.

    Another example of marketing playing on people’s fears is this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfgHqDYP13Q&feature=player_embedded
    So what if a regular dispenser has germs, it would have no more germs than the faucet it stands beside, or the sink, or the cupboard. Also, you touch the pump to dispense soap on your hands, so even if you touch a germ filled pump, your still washing your hands with soap after wards. So your hands would be no more, or no less clean using a run of the mill soap dispenser and the Lysol one. Except you pay more for the Lysol one. They especially get you on the refills. You have to buy theirs. Whereas with a generic soap dispenser you can buy any refill you choose to. Such is marketing. And marketing/advertising, is an evil, cut throat business. I’ve worked in the industry. Mad Men, not far from the truth. Except these days, you can’t smoke anywhere you want. lol

  72. Elissa March 26, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    @Corrina – WHAT?! How is talking to a kid while they are traveling “dropping every little thing we are doing so they won’t be inconvenienced? If an adult WANTS to talk to a kid – that’s their prerogative and its clearly NOT an inconvenience.

    @EricS – of course its marketing. This is also the same company that has commercials that show people helping each other out. I didn’t think the point of the original post was to comment on the marketing ploy but rather – when the mom sat with the kids, this was anti-free ranging. I suppose it could be perceived as helicopter parenting if you were paranoid, but as most of us on this website aren’t, so I am able to see the nuance of the interaction.

    Also – personally, I would be appreciative of a parent who sat with my kid so they wouldn’t be alone. As I said before, I have been that kid who was left and its a sad place to be. However, I wouldn’t berate a parent who didn’t.

  73. EricS March 26, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    @ Elissa: but that is the point of this blog. If you know that it’s marketing, then you should also know it’s not the commercial itself, but the intention of it. The underlying message of the commercial. Like I said, nothing wrong if you want to sit with a kid while he waits for his father. Which is pretty inefficient and a waste of time when you can just take the kid home. Which isn’t a wrong thing either. It’s the message that’s the problem. The message it’s telling the target people IS anti-FR. If you’ve read my other posts you’d know what that hidden message is, you’d also know that I have been in that situation more than enough times when I was that young, even younger. Back then, no other parents thought of sitting around with me waiting for my ride. I’ve had offers to take me home, but living fairly close, I always declined because my dad was on his way. And if he was late, I had no problems walking home by myself.

    Personally, I would’ve have been appreciative if another parent who’s kids play on the same team as mine, and whom my kid knows well, gave him a left home. In fact, even more appreciative than if they were to just sit there and wait with him. Actually, if my kid told me she offered to take him home, I would have told him, “then why didn’t you go with them? You could have just called me to let me know your catching a ride”. I teach my kids (nieces and nephews) to not only be self-sufficient, but also be efficient. To use their heads. If you can catch a ride with someone of your friends, go for it. I wouldn’t have been upset at all if he took the ride. As long as he called me to let me know. Even if I was on the way.

  74. EricS March 26, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    You can have a commercial filled with people helping out each other, but if the sub-context is that of preying on the fears of people, it’s a bad commercial. Again, with the example of the Lysol soap dispenser, there is nothing wrong with the commercial on the surface; kids having fun, kids playing, mother cool with them outside, kids washing their hands. All that is good. But the sub-context is; there is germs everywhere, germs make you sick, so to avoid getting these germs you shouldn’t touch certain things. But with the Lysol soap dispenser, you don’t have to touch germ filled surfaces. If you understand marketing, you should understand that. And how can targeting people who are fearful of germs and catching “stuff” a good thing? Using their fears to sell your product. That’s like someone pointing a gun to your head and saying give me your money. Definitely an extreme example, but same concept. Still not a good thing.

  75. Michelle the Uber Haus Frau March 26, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Anyone click on the “responsibility” ad in the suggestions? ROFL @ the incompetent adults in the first few seconds.

  76. Christine March 26, 2011 at 7:36 am #


    When I worked retail, and 2 people closed the store at night, we never left the other one sitting there alone. Adults. Coworkers. We'd wait till the other ones ride showed up, or their car started, or whatever.

    Just common courtesy…… or so I thought?

  77. Frau_Mahlzahn March 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    @Elissa: Mom was on her way to the airport, where she had business to do…


  78. pentamom March 27, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    “I hear ya. Would have done same. Really a revelation to me to learn here that so many people in that situation back then would have actually LIKED an adult to stick around.”

    Yeah, people, including kids, are different.

  79. Kimberly March 27, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    @Christine we have the same rule at our “farm”. We never leave without making sure the other person can get out safely. It was so ingrained that my sister made a friend pull over and wait for the last car out when she and some friends had gone to the beach. They waited and waited. Finally sis got out and walked back.

    The friends in the last car were stuck in the sand. It really embarrassed the he man football players that Sis was the only one that knew how to get the car out of the sand. (Having helped our parents do this for perfect strangers at least once a summer.) She had to point out to them that you can put as many boards as you want under the rear tires, it wasn’t going to help the front wheel drive car get traction in the sand till you did the same with the front.

    As for the commercials. Our parents were rarely late picking us up. Dad was a Marine, Mom a scientist – both very precise. When they were late it was because something unforeseen had happened. Like an ammonia truck overturning and part of the city between parents and us closed down. So yes the few times it happened I was comforted by the people who stayed with me, when it happened.

    I’ve also been the teacher with the scared or embarrassed kid – when the parents are an hour late.

  80. buffy March 27, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    Though many posters have agreed that we should all do the right thing, and that it’s lonely to be the last one waiting,and/or the mom was just being nice……remember that a family member is sitting at the airport waiting for her to show up. I suppose one could argue that the airport is “safe” and the empty soccer field isn’t, so it doesn’t matter, but I do question an advertising campaign that implies that “doing the right thing” is ignoring my family’s needs because another kid’s dad is a little late picking him up.

  81. North of 49 March 28, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    WTF if that had been me, I would have been on my own to get to and from the soccer field. Why can’t the kid make his own way home, ffs? Gez.

  82. Dragonwolf March 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    North of 49 – Not everyone is within walking distance of amenities such as the soccer field. In some cases, even if the distance is one that could be walked, the terrain itself might not be walkable.

    For example, I used to live about two miles from the school I attended, but getting there would have required walking a busy four lane highway and busy major road with no sidewalks, or even a reasonable shoulder, including a busy entrance ramp onto an interstate, plus crossing two more busy entrance and exit ramps for said interstate.

    I didn’t like walking that as an adult, and I sure as hell wouldn’t make a 12 or 13 year old traverse it, especially by themselves at dusk (when it can be difficult to see).

    Also, when I was in high school, I lived roughly 20 miles from the school I attended (and subsequently, its sports fields). I wouldn’t expect a kid to walk that, either.

  83. Kokopuff March 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    I was being a smartass-kind of–before, but bottom line, If I know the kid, I’m giving him a ride home. If his dad gets upset that he eventually made a wasted trip, too bad. Sitting and keeping him company is just weird, people. Sorry, just do NOT have the time in my day to do that.

  84. Joette March 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    If I were supposed to be waiting on a ride and I accepted a ride from someone else, my parents would have kicked my @$$. Yes, the world is generally a safe place, but if you’re not where you’re supposed to be, parents worry. I’m amazed that you’re sticking to your position that taking the boy home is the right thing to do. If you don’t have time (or can’t make arrangements to have time) to keep him company, that’s fine. But the LAST thing I’d do is take him home, at least not without speaking with his parents first.

  85. pentamom March 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    buffy, FWIW, some of us long ago established that leaving the Dad hanging at the airport wasn’t “doing the right thing,” but the conversation had kind of diverted into whether sitting with a kid who might have been left alone was *ever* under *any* circumstances even acceptable or whether it was always some kind of inexcusable intrusion into parental authority.

    So it sort of became a separate issue — leaving Dad standing by himself at the airport wasn’t “the right thing,” but sitting with a kid who might have appreciated the company may or may not have been a reasonable thing to do in and of itself.

  86. Jeneen March 29, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    This ad never bothered me…I was raised VERY free range…so much so that my mother would often be hours late to pick me up. She is extremely chatty and would just get caught up and loose track of time. I can’t tell you how many times I sat alone, bored waiting outside the roller rink or YMCA….usually she would come after the place had closed. So it would have been nice to have some company 🙂

  87. Kimberly March 29, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    The debates about taking kids in your cars if the parent is late reminded me of 2 times I was accused of kidnapping my cousins.

    1. I was driving home from HS, my cousin was walking home from JH. The sky was grey – green and busted open with a frog strangler of a storm just as I passed him. I did a U-turn and picked him up. I knew this was going to tick off his Mom, but this was a dangerous thunderstorm. When I pulled up in their driveway, she was spitting nails.Someone had called telling her that someone had pulled cousin into a car and took off. I was spared a lecture from her because lightening hit a tree in the next yard.(We lived across the street from them – she knew my car)

    2. I was home from university. Similar situation, except this was my 1st cousin once removed (His Mom and I are 1st cousins). I’m running an errand and pass cousin as the sky opens up. I honked, turned, and he jumped in. His mom met us in the driveway laughing and told me to come inside. A neighbor had called her to tell her that cousin had just been pulled into a car – but she recognized the description of my car and calmed the woman down.

  88. Elizabeth March 31, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    It’s getting dark in the video. The woman absolutely did the right thing. The coach should replaced. The kid that’s left there should have a cell. It should be brought to the attention of the father that it was neglectful even if it was a mistake. People who do not watch their children are being lazy even if you call it a cute name like “free range” Parents need to accept more responsibility across the board. Even teenagers are not adults and should not be treated as such.

  89. Elizabeth March 31, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    oh and the Dad at the airport is an ADULT and can get himself home. There are these things called cabs. I find it more insulting that the mom in the commercial is viewed as a taxi service. I suppose you would rather that she convey the message to her kid, “aw forget your team mate we’ve got more important errand to run for others”

  90. Beth April 1, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    Elizabeth, please read more on the free-range movement before you condemn us. It is the furthest thing from “lazy” and you insult everyone by calling it that.

  91. Uly April 1, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    Even teenagers are not adults and should not be treated as such.

    An astonishingly recent idea which has little to no historical backing. WHY do Catholics get confirmed at 13 or 14? WHY do Jews have their bar/bat mitzvah at 13? Because that’s the age you’re entering adulthood.

    Teenagers those ages have captained ships, run shops, gone to university, apprenticed for all sorts of jobs, gotten married, written and published books. It’s only recently we’ve decided that they’re still babies.

    There are these things called cabs.

    There is this thing called not having any money. Maybe he can’t afford to pay for a cab, and is depending on a ride to get home. Maybe he had no choice but to fly (say, for his mother’s funeral) and it’s already a huge expense that they can’t afford, and they already can’t swing the cost of car fare.

  92. Dolly April 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    I think you are being too hard on this commercial. Sure his dad might be right along. I know a lot of kids though that have unreliable parents that do forget to pick up their kids or show up way late. One time at a Valentine’s party my mom threw for me when I was 6 the mom dropped the girl off and showed back up to get her 3 hours late. Some parents unfortunately are deadbeats. So I probably would have waited with him too especially if I knew his parents were deadbeats. That is just me though.

  93. Dolly April 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Uty: I think an adult is more capable of waiting on the ride or finding another way home than a 11 year old. Since most people have cell phones now I think we are supposed to assume she called her husband and let him know she would be late because she wanted to wait with the teammate. No biggie. An adult can wait and take care of themselves. Maybe he arranged another ride?

    The point is an adult is going to be fine whereas a child might not be. Kids that age still get scared of the boogey man so you know, no harm in sitting to wait with him.

  94. Uly April 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Kids that age still get scared of the boogey man so you know, no harm in sitting to wait with him.

    Except the boogie man’s not real. The question is this: Was the boy in any danger? And did you have a prior commitment? And, for that matter, did you make any effort to get in touch with the kid’s parents?

  95. Samantha April 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    I don’t know.. i think i would have offered to get ahold of his dad, a ride, or stayed with him. Sure in the back of my mind i’d be worried about him. i’d even think the worst that maybe his dad got in a car accident. I’d also think about how much i’d appreciate another parent looking out for my kid if i was running late.

  96. Crystal April 6, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    @Dolly – “I think an adult is more capable of waiting on the ride or finding another way home than a 11 year old.”

    I take it you didn’t hear about the 9-year-old in NYC taking the subway home all by himself? 🙂 http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/about-2/

    While we can endlessly debate the unknown plot points of this commercial (maybe the dad got in a car crash, maybe the kid would like some company, etc.), I think the major message it’s trying to convey is as the OP states: if you didn’t stop to hang out with this kid, you didn’t do the right thing. It’s kind of smug and condescending.

    They should have also included a tornado in the distance and a pack of wolves closing in to really drive the point home.