Highlights Survey: “What Do Your Parents Worry About?” Kids: “Me Getting Kidnapped”

Readers ezkazbkdse
— Tomorrow one of my favorite magazines of all time, Highlights, will unveil the results of its 2013 “State of the Kid” survey. It should be really interesting (and, often, funny). Meantime, here’s a look at the answers to a question I got to suggest for the magazine’s 2011 survey: “What do you think your parents worry about the most?” While a few kids mentioned hard times and family illness, here are some samples of what appeared to be the overwhelming response:

“Me because they love me and sometimes they protect me from bad people.”

“I think my parents worry about my safety. There is so much danger in this world, they need to protect me!”

“That I might get killed.”

“About child abduction.”

“About somebody killing me.”

“I think they would worry about me getting hurt or kidnapped.”

“Losing someone in my family or something bad happening to their child.”

“If I were taken by someone and if I was badly hurt.”

“Me. They worry about me so much that I get worried about my freedom! I’m not allowed anywhere alone! Oh, and they worry alot about money, ’cause of the recession.”

“I think my parents worry about my safety. Sometimes I do not understand it, but I know that that it is for the best.”

Lenore here again: Sometimes I do not understand it, either. Abduction is the rarest of crimes, and yet it is almost omni-present in parents’ thoughts, changing childhood in the process. And so, here at Free-Range Kids we continue to fight the perception that our kids are in constant danger. Once the fog of fear has cleared, kids will be allowed back outside to flourish and play, or even sit under a tree with the latest issue of … 

Maybe parents should look for the hidden PICTURES instead of the hidden DANGERS.

Maybe parents should look for the hidden PICTURES instead of the hidden DANGERS.

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28 Responses to Highlights Survey: “What Do Your Parents Worry About?” Kids: “Me Getting Kidnapped”

  1. anonymous this time October 22, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    If my son had answered this question two years ago, he would have said, “That I will get kidnapped.” But that’s his DAD’S fear, not mine. My fear is that he would be so influenced by the hysteria around him that it would stunt his confidence and competence. Now THAT’S something to be concerned about.

  2. QuicoT October 22, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Nobody worries about the real dangers: obesity, socialization into a sedentary lifestyle, laying the groundwork for heart disease…

  3. Jennine October 22, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    This generation will be a generation consumed by diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. They will also be afraid of everything, not be able to think or do for themselves. Thankfully, the few who are allowed to play outside and are raised with common sense may rise above. I can only pray for my grand children’s generation…. I can’t begin to imagine how things will be in another 20 years.

  4. Jen October 22, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    And here I am, worrying about how I’m going to afford sending my kids to college or my daughter being too lazy to be successful. What an idiot I am.

  5. Warren October 22, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    My kids would answer, “You have to ask my dad. I don’t know what or if he worries about anything.”

    It is bad enough to worry about stupid things. It is even worse to expose your kids to that worry.

  6. Julie October 22, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Did everyone see the infographic that was making the rounds a week or so ago? I liked that it included child abductions.

  7. SKL October 22, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    I wonder what my kids would say if I asked this question.

    One thing that irks me is that having heard “aunties” tell them several times “somebody might steal you” to dissuade them from going somewhere alone, they have started saying it themselves. “Somebody might steal me.” Bah. And if I say, “no, I’m not worried about that” then do they wonder whether I care if they get separated from me? (I have had aunties argue with me in front of my kids about whether I am sending them into danger and either being stupid or uncaring. :/)

  8. Robin from Israel October 22, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    I just asked my kids:

    10 year old girl: me, you worry about me (apparently a generalized general principles worry? she didn’t have any specifics)

    12.5 year old boy: “you worry about the internet, you talked to me about the internet all this afternoon” (Note from Robin: after yet another tragic suicide this week we had a conversation about cyberbullying, consequences of putting things out there on social media, etc.)

  9. JJ October 22, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    SKL I can relate. I don’t like to contridict another adult around my kids and certainly if it keeps happening with someone in particular I can have a conversation with him or her. But what do you do when it comes up out of the blue. The “someone might take you”. Usually I try humor by saying something like “if someone took YOU they would bring you back” with a laugh of course. But then certain relatives think I’m being cruel.

  10. Roger October 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    A casual glance at the math should alleviate fear. The rate of predatory child kidnappings; not the custody kidnappings; reveals, for the infrequent crime, has not increased in 50 years.

  11. John October 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I do not have any kids BUT if I did, I would definitely worry about him or her acquiring a bad attitude about school. So I would get involved in his education and schoolwork and if there was something I didn’t understand about his math homework, I would lower my pride and ask his teacher (or an Engineer at work) to explain it to me so I can better explain it to my child! A child with a pee poor attitude about school I think could be a red flag on how he will prepare himself for life. I would not want a 42-year-old son living with me at home because he doesn’t have any earning power!

    Second of all, I would worry about him (or her) acquiring poor health habits and would do what I can to set a good example. Now I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t worry about him riding his bike to school and accidently pulling out in front of a car. BUT riding his bike and/or walking is something I would encourage him to do for his long term benefit. As far as me worrying about it? I’d either have to get over it OR I’d have to live with it because I would NOT want my kid to be a physical marshmellow!!

    Child abductors and internet predators would be the last thing on my mind. The risk of him getting fat from sitting in front of the computer all day Saturday and Sunday would far exceed that of a pervert conning him to meet at the Burger King restaurant!

  12. Scott Lazarowitz October 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I think our post-9/11 police state has been having a big impact on many people. All we hear about is “national security” this and “terrorist” that, and the propagandists in the media repeat the bureaucrats’ hysteria. I can see how such a constant barrage of hysterics and government-feigned “protectiveness” since 9/11 could influence many young parents. It’s enough to make the most rational person irrational.

  13. SKL October 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    JJ, I do that too. Realistically, nobody else thinks my kids are “all that.” People don’t drive by and think “wow, what an amazing couple of kids, I’d better snatch them for my collection.” However, my kids (who were adopted) sometimes get in moods and start to doubt whether they are precious to *me*, so I’d rather not go there. I just don’t think parents should ever be put in a position to have to defend whether they care enough about their kids, especially in front of the kids. Bah.

  14. Ann October 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Call me an idiot, but losing a child is a primal and normal fear of most mothers, whether to accidents, illness, or abductions. I hope everyone takes a moment to read about Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted 24 years ago today. We are being asked to leave a porch light on for him here in Minnesota. My heart goes out to his mother and family.

  15. Michelle October 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I notice that in this year’s survey, they asked kids if they felt they were safer today than their parents were as kids. The kids seem to feel that they are safer, which is good. Unfortunately, the quote under this result says, “So many kids believe they are safer today. I’m beginning to think that it is our duty to make that belief a reality.”

    The thing is, it IS a reality. My kids ARE safer today than I was in the 80s, or than their dad was in the 70s, and not because they’re locked away at home or padded and bubble-wrapped, because they’re not.

  16. EricS October 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    @ anonymous this time: My fear is the same. My child not having the confidence, know how, and ability to fend for himself. Most of us know we can’t always watch over our kids. And even when we are there to watch over them, we can’t keep an eye on them 100% of the time. My kid is growing up pretty confident, and is learning from what he’s taught about street smarts. But sometimes I get concerned when he asks me why some kids can’t do certain things we allow him to. Or why other parents and teachers teach him the opposite of what we do. And the most concerning part, is when he does what we’ve taught him, but then it’s circumvented by his teachers or other adults. It sometimes confuses him. We tell him to respect his teachers, but if they are telling him to do something differently than what we’ve taught him, to let the teacher know. I don’t mind coming in to support my kid, and explain our common sense and logical, age old, tried and tested rearing. Luckily it hasn’t had to come to that.

  17. EricS October 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    @ Ann: even free range parents have that fear in mind. The only difference is, we don’t let consume us. We don’t let it alter our perception of reality. And we especially don’t allow it to negatively affect our children. As it is widely known, abductions are rare things. Especially when you look at it in the broad scheme of things. If you take the number of children abducted in the world, and divided it by the number of children in the world, you get an extremely low percentage. So low, you have a better chance of winning the lottery…twice…using the same numbers. And most abductions aren’t carried out by strangers. They are committed by someone already known to the child and parents. Including the parents themselves. When we fear something so rare like this and allow it to alter our views of what the world is really like, we only damage and endanger our children more. Like we always say, the best way to protect our children, is to teach them how to protect themselves. Up until the last decade and a half, that’s how most children have been raised since the dawn of man.

  18. SKL October 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    I don’t “worry” about losing my kids. The thought crosses my mind, yes, but more in terms of “what if my child gets terminal cancer.” Basically what if there is something I can’t protect my child from? But here are thousands of things that easily come to mind that have caused kids’ deaths (or serious, permanent injury) without any foul play involved. Congenital diseases, choking, drowning, electrocution, car accidents, house fires, gun accidents, falling on one’s head, sports injuries, dog attacks, getting lost in the woods . . . . Why would kidnapping be any more of a worry than anything else?

    I also sometimes wonder (I won’t say worry) whether I’ll die and leave my kids orphans (again). Actually I think that is a more present fear from any of the other ones listed above. Maybe because they’d have to live with that – the others would be more of a tragedy for me than for them (if that makes sense).

  19. Buffy October 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Ann’s imploring us to read about a 24-year-old tragedy that, in all probability, affected very few of us, reminds me of a discussion awhile back in which Lenore posted “How did “dwelling” on tragedy, or sort of “mentally checking in on it” slip into the pantheon of normal feelings? How did we get so much more sensitive to sad news? It’s as if a layer of skin was peeled off. But somehow this new sensitivity doesn’t make us better people, just more scared and depressed.”

  20. Puzzled October 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d fear them liking school and getting used to all it implies – arbitrary rules, authority figures telling them what to think about, etc. I do have a child I care about as if he were my own and who is a big part of my life. I worry about him not making use of his tremendous gifts because schools have so mistreated him over the years.

  21. Brenna October 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Ann, don’t take this the wrong way, but why? Why not remember all of the other thousands of children who have died prematurely between now and then? Why dwell on one sad case? To make helicopter parents feel better about their decision to hover and stifle their children? Because that’s the only reason I can think of for someone who didn’t know that person to leave a porch light on. To justify your insecurities, and tell yourself you’re doing the right thing by never letting your kids have any independence.

    I do fear for my kids – but not that they’ll be kidnapped. I fear for the world they’ll grow up in, with society so determined to make them “safe” that they won’t be allowed to actually live.

  22. hineata October 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    As I’ve mentioned before, I fear my kids sitting on the sofa at home into their twenties because they can’t find jobs. This is of course just another nonsense fear in that it’s easily solved – if it becomes a problem I’ll just chuck out the sofa :-).

    And there actually is no excuse for people sitting around the house moping because they can’t find work – there is plenty of volunteer work that needs to be done. So that’s my problem solved. So why do I worry about it? I think worry is just a bad habit.

    Seriously, it really is the height of arrogance to assume someone would be desperate enough to want to steal our particular children. Plus of course abduction is extremely rare anyway. Personally I have serious doubts that the Roma couple in Greece actually stole the child they’ve been found with. If she was a ‘wanted’ and looked-after-by-the-parent child, there would have been a hue and cry over her years ago. I just hope the authorities sort the mess out quickly and let her get back to the only family she knows, provided the adults aren’t jailed for their other crimes, of course.

  23. JJ October 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    SKL oh no ! I have to tell you–mine are adopted too. It has crossed my mind that I shouldn’t use that particular joke. But then I do it anyway!

  24. ChicagoDad October 22, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    I asked my kids (3&5). They said “you worry about us whining and crying and fighting”. Well that *is* what I complain to them about most…probably.

    What I really worry about, though, is if they will make good friends. I worry about whether they will have the strength to be good people in tough situations. I worry about the idiots who ignore the stop signs between home and school. And I worry that the future will be a harder, more brutal time and whether my kids will have the resourcefulness they need to cope with it.

  25. Vanessa October 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    I just asked my almost-15-year-old what she thinks I worry about, and she said “Keeping enough food in the house because I really plow through it.”

  26. Vanessa October 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    (that’s in the sense of keeping the shelves stocked, btw, not in the sense of being able to afford it)

  27. SKL October 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    I also sometimes wonder if my kids will be friends with each other after I’m gone. And of course whether they will make good choices on the big things that matter (as adults). And sometimes whether there will be a good enough economy to keep them out of poverty assuming they are willing to work.

  28. Papilio October 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Having to raise my (future) children under current USA, UK or similar circumstances – now that’s a thought that would scare me.