How to Shame a Parent

Readers yfbshnifkn
— Here are two comments on the post below this one, about a mom leaving her son, 7, at home for half an hour:

It is absolutely irresponsible to leave a child age 5,6,7 even 8 at home alone. That is just lazy parenting. You leave them because it is not convenient for you to take them. Don’t disguise it by saying I am training my child to be independent or self sufficient. There is plenty of time and many other ways to teach your children responsibility. Wendy W. from someone who has lived the military life for 18 years, the law on base is 10. You cannot leave your child at home unless they are 10! I live by the motto ” I will never give the wrong person the right opportunity ” when it comes to my children the risk does not out weigh the benefit. Take care of your children people. — Becky


The shaming has spread to every child accident/death/trauma as preventable, except car accidents…. We don’t shame driving accidents that lead to death…yet.  Because we can’t use the “Where was the parent?” argument that is so pervasive.  Most of the time, parents are the ones driving the child. Or right there when the accident occurs. — Lollipoplover

Lolliplover nails it: Since we love believing that perfect safety exists only if a parent pays enough attention, we point out the very unlikely dangers that can happen when a parent is away and ignore any dangers that could happen when the parent is present. – L

It's easy! It's fun! Shame a parent today!

It’s easy! It’s fun! Shame a parent today!

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48 Responses to How to Shame a Parent

  1. BL September 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    “Don’t disguise it by saying I am training my child to be independent or self sufficient. There is plenty of time and many other ways to teach your children responsibility.”

    Hmmmm. First of all, independence and self-sufficiency are not the same thing as responsibility (though the concepts are not completely unrelated). The terms of discussion seem to have changed from one sentence to the next.

    Second of all: whichever ones you mean, Becky, start naming them. What are the many other ways and how much time is plenty?

  2. RinLin September 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Have you seen this blog yet? Taught by Finland?

    Finland of course has one of the best educational systems in the world. Their kids also enjoy a lot of independence at home and at school. This entry is particularly interesting in the context of the post

  3. E September 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    It’s not just shaming when something bad happens, it’s shaming (and in some cases charging) parents even when it doesn’t.

    My mother was being critical of both my her adult granddaughter AND the school bus for daring to leave her 5 year old great-granddaughter off the bus when no one was there (I don’t know the details about how far/close from home the stop is). I had to remind her I walked to/from school alone in K. I rode my bike to the town pool when I was not much older. Everyone buys into the fear mongering. I’m sure my 86 yo mother believes the danger — she’s the same person who raised us as FR as there is, and she TRULY believes it’s a more dangerous world.

  4. SKL September 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    I love that you called out the shamers. I hope they are ashamed of their shaming antics.

    Because we anonymous people on the internet, who know nothing about that kid other than his/her age, know much better than his/her mom what is right for the kid. Not only that, we care more than the mom cares.

    The other day I was in a discussion about what I should (not) let my kid do. The conversation ended with “OK fine, if you don’t care what happens to your kid.” Just dumb and rotten on so many levels.

    I left my 7yos home for about a half hour a couple weeks ago. I decided they were ready and gave them instructions etc. It would have been easier to take them with me, but it was time for them to have that experience. I was originally only expecting to be gone 10 or 15 minutes, but there was a line at the post office. I was a little worried that my kids might get scared and go do what I’d told them was a last resort – tell a neighbor there was a problem. It was not easy standing there in that line fighting the urge to go home. Ultimately I completed my errand and went home and my kids did not even realize I’d been gone that long. They were proud and started asking when they could be left home again. Leaving them was the right choice (and perfectly safe).

    Lazy – such an easy word to say, but wouldn’t it be easier to just say nothing at all, like your mom taught you? Or if you must comment, how about “that would not work for my kid at that age.”

  5. ChicagoDad September 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    I don’t know her personally, but it sounds like Becky is a good mom who cares about her kids. God willing, her kids will probably turn out fine even though I personally disagree with her parenting philosophy.

    I don’t mind occasional criticism of my parenting. I might learn something, as long as those who offer criticism do so without being insulting or as long as they don’t have the authority to tear my family apart and incarcerate me.

    There probably are lazy parents out there, but they are the ones who don’t give much thought to parenting–not the ones reading (or writing) parenting blogs and debating parenting philosophies.

  6. librarian September 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    My kid was 6 when I left her home alone for 15 minutes. She was down with cold, laying in bed with a book – and asked for some orange juice. We were all out, so I went to the corner store and got some juice for her. Dragging her outside into wind and drizzle of the New York City winter made no sense at all. It is not “lazy parenting,” it’s weighting your options and going with whatever makes most sense in each specific situation.

  7. K September 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    I am facing more and more adults (college students) that can’t trouble-shoot their way out of a paper bag. Recent excuses:
    “My car broke down and I couldn’t reach my father.”
    “I needed to take my friend to the doctor’s office for a sprained ankle and wait with them there, it took four hours and I missed class.”
    “I ran out of gas and couldn’t reach my mom for help.”
    “My girlfriend broke up with me and I was too upset to do the reading, I need an extension.”
    “I slept through class, can I have a make-up quiz?”
    “I can’t cook, so we keep poptarts for when the campus dining hall is not open.”

    This is not unique to my school or location. These are the new “the dog ate my homework”s.

    The difference? When we were in school none of us would have dreamed that a personal girlfriend issue would be grounds for classroom extensions. Even without a cell phone, we would have known how to solve a broken down car issue. We also would not have needed a friend to miss an entire day of classes to wait for a doctor with us. I was no chef at 19, but I could certainly cook more than a pop-tart.

    Our constant supervision has repercussions.

  8. Me September 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Who cares what the age is on post. I make the rules in my household. Foster kids in my state can’t be left at home for more than an hour until they are 16 and can NEVER be left at home alone after dark. So, if we apply “the rule is” philosophy, we can shame her for leaving one at home at age 10. The rule in my house is that you can stay at home alone when you prove to me that you are responsible enough to do so. For some kids, that may be 6 or 7. For others it may be never.

    Mine is 14. Around age 8, I would leave her at the house long enough to go to the grocery store, gas up the car, pick up a package at the post office, pick up a Rx, take pets to the vet, or go to a doctor’s appointment. I figured she was better off at the house than sitting in a waiting room with sick people. At age 10, I would leave her at home for up to three hours, but only if I were in my town or running an errand the next town over (about 10 minutes away). Now that she is 14, I will allow her to stay at home when school is out for the day even though I work an hour away from the house. She does go to work with me and sleeps on the sofa in my office when she is sick, but that is because that’s what she prefers – she gets pity ice cream from co-workers. 😉

    I remember my parents taking a vacation when I was 13 and my sister was 11 and we stayed at home alone the entire week. Someone came by in the morning and took us to school and we came home with someone else. We had meals we could cook and knew who to call in an emergency. Oh, and emergency pizza money. It was no big deal.

  9. E September 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    @K — I also attribute some ‘bad habits/behavior’ to the over-sharing via social media. It’s my own personal theory and I have nothing to back it up, but if you look at adolescents and teenagers and what they share, it’s drama, even if it’s not. Everything is a big deal…constant “subtweets” that are like bait for someone to ask them why they are feeling [fill in the blank]. I think that social media has widened the peer groups/cliques and all sorts of behaviors you might not have access to are suddenly in your lap. “Word of mouth” used to be literal and slower. Now it’s instantaneous for ‘me’ to know what a kid in a completely different group of friends has done, when and with whom. I could be way off base, but I feel like social apps normalizes behaviors that “in the old days”, some kids would never even be exposed to first hand.

    I know one of my kids has verbalized that sometimes he wishes he grew up in a different time, because all he hears about it how stressed and depressed and whatever kids are (he deleted his twitter account since). Did we even say “stressed out” when I was in high school?

    I DO think that parents are quick to assist and resolve issues, no doubt (I’m probably much more “helpful” than my mother was at same ages), but I also think that everyone’s life experiences are so shared that you start to normalize behavior that really shouldn’t be.

    My stupid little theory.

  10. Tiffany F September 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Seems irrational fears so often outweigh the most common dangers. I’ll never forget the Friday of the tragic SandyHook school shooting. I was heading to the store about an hour after the news broke and would pass the elementary school my boys attended at the time. A mother from our neighborhood pulled out in front of me, as we were leaving our subdivision, forcing me to slam on my breaks. She was driving a large SUV (the 8 seat version) and subsequently was weaving all over the road for the next 1.5 miles on a two lane highway. I passed her as she pulled into the elementary school where all of our kids attended. She was texting (obviously distraught) while driving her toddlers to the school. Later I found out she was going to pick up her school aged kids as she feared for their safety at school. We lived in Washington state, by the way. So, the irrational fear of her kids being in danger at the school led her to endanger herself, her younger children, and others on the road.

  11. stacey September 29, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    “who cares what the age is on post”?

    While I don’t agree with the 10 year old limit/requirement, military members must abide by not only the laws of the land here in the US, but also by the code of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). They must also abide by the laws on post/base because if they do not, they can be court martialled, or penalized in many ways, up to and including being kicked out of the military, losing their job, fines, or imprisonment. The laws of the post/base are set by the commanding officer. They are not suggestions or opinions they are orders. To disobey the laws, are to disobey the orders of the officers appointed over you. Big time trouble. Your house, is not “yours” when you are in the military and live on base.

    Just trying to spread a little understanding about what it is like to be in the military.

  12. Wombat94 September 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    @stacey… thanks for the explanation of the interaction of base regulations with other laws for military members. It is something new that I didn’t know.

    But I would assume that the poster of that original comment would have known those facts and would have realized that the regulations her family is subjected to don’t apply to everyone.

    Instead, what we have is, I think, a pretty good example of the self-centeredness and narcissism that is rampant in our culture. The whole “my way must be best” and “everyone who does something else is inferior” attitude.

    THAT is what drives me nuts.

    Don’t consider me a “lazy” or “bad” parent because i have examined a situation and come to a different conclusion than you have. (that is addressed to the original poster of the comment – not Stacey)

  13. Wendy W September 29, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Breaking an age limit in base housing will not result in a court martial. It will be a warning from the squadron commander or the housing office for the first offense. Repeated offenses would result in the family being kicked out of the military housing, with a bad-boy write-up in the active-duty parent’s file. Not something one wants, but something easily avoided by changing one’s actions after being warned the first time.

  14. Kimberly Herbert September 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    I was 6 and my sister 3 when Mom started letting me stay home alone while she was out during the day. It was the oil embargo. The first time she went to line up for gas she took us. I ended up having an asthma attack and ripping my skin to shreds. I have 2 skin conditions and the Texas heat, magnified by the car (turned off to save gas so no AC)+ what ever was blooming sent me into orbit. It was safer to leave me at home.

    Not having a babysiter when the parents went out on Saturday night- I think I was between 10 – 12 (Sis 6 – 8). We called the neighbors once when a guy wearing a speedo wouldn’t stop riding his bicycle in our front yard and making faces in the window.

  15. Havva September 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    ” There is plenty of time and many other ways to teach your children responsibility. ”

    My mom told me quite the opposite. She was a strict but fair mom when I was little. When I was a teen helicoptering was starting to pick up. My friends were clashing with parents, and I found myself marveling one day at my mom’s relaxed attitude and our open and friendly relationship.

    My mom responded by telling me that, the thing many parents fail to understand is how little time they actually have to raise their children. She told me a parent only has as long as they can overpower the child and reliably outsmart the child to teach the child how to act in the world. After that, she said a parent must move out of that controlling role and trust they did well enough for the child to seek their advice. And so she concluded that our happy relationship was because she was ‘done’ parenting me, and had simply been advising me for some time.

    I also draw from the Montessori idea of ‘sensitive periods’ that the perfect time to teach a child is when they are interested in the topic. That to push before they are ready is fruitless, and to make a child wait diminishes attention to the lesson.

    It was wonderful to be raised by a mother who was ready to ease out of the parent role, and a mother who respected and responded to my developmental moment in time including the development of independence. That is the mothering I loved, and it is the mother I hope to be for my daughter. So I never say “there is plenty of time” when she is reaching for knowledge or independence. Instead I remind myself that this is *her* time.

  16. Emily Morris September 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    “There is plenty of time and many other ways to teach your children responsibility”

    The time thing has been answered, so I will respond to the second part of this statement.

    No, there is no better way to teach a child to do something than to have the child do that thing. That’s why it’s called practice. If I want to teach a kid to add numbers, I am not going to vaguely discuss numbers and be done with it. Nor will I have him recite the alphabet in order to learn addition.

    If you want to teach your child to be responsible enough to stay home, you teach him how to be responsible home alone… and then you have him do it.

    Stop coming up with vague alternatives to the real deal.

  17. Bose in St. Peter MN September 29, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    My mother wasn’t shamed, either, for having her 80+ y/o grandmother babysit 4 of us kids (aged 2-7). And yet, there was a much better probability of my great-grandma having a sudden health crisis than of us being kidnapped. For that matter, if a stranger broke into the house to kidnap one of us, or a fire broke out, or any number of other calamities more likely than a kidnapping, great-grandma may not have heard it from the next room, much less been able to chase or even lift all of us out of danger.

    And yet, all was good. She was pretty debilitated with arthritis for her last quarter century, but still alert (thrilled, actually) for her 100th birthday. And the family has remained largely calamity-free in the decades since, no shame required to keep us in line.

  18. ChicagoDad September 29, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    @Emily Morris: “there is no better way to teach a child to do something than to have the child do that thing”
    ^ love this. So true.

  19. Emily September 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    I left my 7 and 9 year olds home “alone together” today. Yes, technically I could have forced them to sit in the car while I dropped their other brother off at his class. I suppose that would have been “non-lazy-parenting”? Instead, they had a great time playing together, safe at home, having recited the rules I me before I left and being happy and proud that I knew them responsible enough to be left for an hour. Letting a child stay safely at home is something he can be trained to do well and e proud of his independence!

  20. Warren September 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    “He who learns by finding out, is seven fold as smart as he who learns by being told.”

    That goes for everything from telling your kid to look it up in the dictionary, to spending every increasing time alone at home, to whatever the skill be.

  21. Maegan September 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    I feel the independence thing is going to be a big twin payoff for me, too. Honestly, at 18 months they already do kind of take care of each other in little bits. Downstairs while I’m upstairs, for example.

  22. lollipoplover September 29, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    I can honestly say that every bad accident that happened to my children occurred when I was right there.

    The 18 stitches my son got in his head from falling on ice? I was standing 10 feet away. When my oldest cut off the finger tip of my daughter’s finger (with kids safety scissors!)? I was standing over the craft table horrified. I watched my youngest fly over the handlebars of her bike and land with such a thud when she lost control of her bike, I thought she was going to be in a body cast for months (just scrapes and bruises, thankfully).

    There is an understanding with seasoned parents that we are not in control. We have the best intentions, we want them to be safe and healthy, but no one has superhero abilities to prevent bad things from ever happening to our precious children. Call me lazy, call me irresponsible, but my kids have a better safety record going it alone than they do with me and my supervision.

  23. Stacy September 29, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    It’s funny that teaching your kids to be independent and responsible is lazier than just telling them to get in the car and shuttling them everywhere with you. There are actually parents who are lazy and irresponsible, but this is not an example of lazy parenting. We also all make occasional mistakes, but shaming is rarely useful even then. As I have said to my kids when they say something mean about someone else, “Ask yourself why you are saying that. Is it really intended to me helpful, or is just hurtful?” The internet seems to make adults say things they would never say to someone in person. The opinion conveyed in the above message could have been expressed in a thoughtful and kind way, and I would have respected it.

  24. Gina September 29, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Havva: Perfect 🙂

  25. hineata September 29, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    @K – I agree the above ‘shaming letters’ are nonsense, but I am not that convinced that ‘college’ (we would call them uni) students are any worse than previous generations. I went to uni 30 odd years ago, and many of the students then couldn’t cook. One flatload of boys used to hold the three-bar heater over their frypan to cook their sausages. A great friend of mine blew up her flat’s toaster after buttering the bread first, to ‘save time’. (That girl had a huge IQ but all the common sense of mayo). As I’ve stated before, I had to be shown how to use the washing machines, because they were so much more modern than the wringer we’d had at home.

    It was also standard practice as a female to stand looking helpless alongside your car if it happened to break down, and to ring Dad if it needed a tow to another town – can’t remember anyone using towies. Boys who couldn’t fix their own cars would wait for we girls to show up, then run off and hide while we looked helpless for them – it being a fate worse than death then in EnZed, home of the ‘Real Bloke’, to admit you didn’t know anything about cars :-).

    Just my opinion, but I think a wee bit of ‘the next generation is a bunch of babies’ thinking might be going on… 🙂

  26. SOA September 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    I think even free range parents can learn from this message. The comments sections on this very site has a lot of parent shaming from free range parents to/against other free range parents.

    I think the whole issue of parent shaming is not just related to free ranging. It is ingrained in everything.

  27. Emily September 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Also, one small thing–being academically irresponsible doesn’t automatically correlate to being a bad cook. For example, I had a friend who admitted to me that she didn’t like to cook, and could make the basic pasta, canned soup, etc., but that was pretty much it. She was still a good student, though–Dean’s List all four years of university, then graduated with Distinction, if I remember correctly. Meanwhile, I’m fairly good at cooking (when I have the patience for it, anyway), but when I was in university, I wasn’t a remarkable student–I was a B student who put in a reasonable effort, but also made time for extra-curricular activities and friends, and took the occasional mental health day when necessary, but only ever from “classroom” type classes. I’d never skip rehearsal, because that was directly affected by my participation.

  28. Annie September 30, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    So true about the car safety point. And parents are notoriously lax about car seat safety. I figure choosing and using the best child restraints for at travel in no way impacts upon the child’s development or my convenience — for instance the experience of riding in a car is identical whether they are in a harness or not, for instance, yet parents are so keen to move kids RF to FF, from harnessed seat to booster, and then from booster to an adult seat as soon as they hit the minimum ages.

  29. Steve September 30, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Re: Breaking an age limit in base housing…

    It’s been obvious for many years that fear-mongering and political correctness has claimed the “thinking” in the U.S. military.

  30. Donald September 30, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    I’d like to turn the tide in a comical way.

    Earlier I compared unsupervised children as a half eaten Twinkie and a kidnapper as a seagull that will pounce. I’d like to see a video about this Mythbuster style.

    The myth – children are as venerable as a half eaten Twinkie. The test – leave various scraps of food unattended and monitor the average time that a seagull will steal the food. Then, film children playing in a park or walking to the store unsupervised and see if they get stolen.

    Also interview children about the resentment they feel when their mother treats them like food scraps.

  31. Roger the Shrubber September 30, 2014 at 6:56 am #

    SOA: The comments sections on this very site has a lot of parent shaming from free range parents to/against other free range parents.

    Why do you comment here where your constant cries of victimization are met with ridicule and derision?

    I think the whole issue of parent shaming is not just related to free ranging. It is ingrained in everything.

    Quit putting yourself out there as an object of ridicule. If you’d refrain from harping on your struggles in every encounter you have with another person, you’d be surprised how little people care about how you raise your kids.

  32. SOA September 30, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Roger: I will call out hypocrisy when I see it for one thing. The very person quoted above is very guilty of attacking me and other posters on this site.

    So I think my point is very valid. Parents are going to attack other parents no matter what. Even when they are on the same side.

  33. Rachael September 30, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    I believe it is far lazier and more irresponsible to fail to raise our children to be self sufficient and productive in their own lives and as members of society. From a certain perspective, it is a lot more work to properly teach them how to live than it is to take them everywhere and do everything for them.

  34. MichaelF September 30, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    wow…it just hit me. Since we really have nothing to enforce our attitudes on people, or even by the overzealous laws that are hard and timely to enforce, society has settled on the age old tactic of SHAMING.

    Yup. Get out your overalls, your buttons and hooks and head on down to the barn raising folks! If you can’t make it we’ll be sure to SHAME you on into going. Since it’s really the only way to do it nowadays. Just when you think human kind advances, someone slams the car (or buggy) into reverse!

  35. Roger the Shrubber September 30, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    The very person quoted above is very guilty of attacking me…

    Why would you describe anything written on this site that is counter to anything that you have written as an ‘attack’. This is just another manifestation of your sense of victimization. Please get over yourself.

  36. Roger the Shrubber September 30, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Shaming by a person that has no authority over you is only as effective as you allow it to be. So I have no real issue with Becky’s criticism of the decisions I may make in raising my child. I, in turn, criticize the state of fear that she chooses to accept and the level of responsibility and independence that she seems to think is appropriate for the children of other parents. It’s when people like Becky think is is their duty to intervene on my parenting decisions by notifying someone who may have some type of legal authority over me that she becomes a problem worth worrying about.

  37. K2 September 30, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Kids are clearly ready for different things at different ages. The mentally disabled child might not be ready at 10 and the ill-behaved might not be ready at 15. I was left home alone at 7 and lived to tell about it. I think that was the right age for me. I think the schools, government (CPS) and others that deal with the public gear these laws and messages to C- kids. The A/B kids are not allowed to flourish during the years it is appropriate for them to do so. It is actually important that they do flourish as their career choices and other related skills are sometimes honed during outside, unsupervised play. When I was 7 I could cross the street safely unsupervised. I think that the total supervision and kids not learning this at an early age is detrimental in the event that the mother is a few feet away in a parking lot by accident. I see a lot of kids just not look to see if there are any cars moving when they get off the school bus or run across the street to get the mail. Some of them are as old as 10. We are going backwards. Kids are learning the skills to be free range later than they used to. We’ve now done a lot to shame a lot of parents for things that were common or not preventable even in their presence. We’ve made parenting more expensive with Obamacare, the need for safety seats and SUV’s or minivans if the person has 3 children. The country is headed toward 1 child per family because of this shaming and extra safety expense. Our economy is dependent on a large workforce in order to stay strong. We are no longer #1, but even to stay in the top 5 we need to rethink some of this. Typically poor people who can’t afford the SUV are more likely to want the larger family and they can’t do it with the changes we have made as a society. People can’t physically helicopter parent 4 kids. Some don’t even want to. I also think that it’s not always that parents want to be helicopter parents or are overly afraid. Many just don’t want to get into trouble. The private feelings of parents should automatically be assumed to correlate with CPS guidelines.

  38. CrazyCatLady September 30, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Dav Pilkey, author of the “Captain Underpants” books said it best last week in a radio interview about people wanting to ban his books. It went something like this:

    “Imagine me drawing a picture of a woman shaking her finger and saying “I don’t want children to read this!” Now, let me insert the word “my” into it so that it reads “I don’t want MY children reading this!”

    Freerange is as simple as this also. Don’t make/expect restrictions for ALL children, make them for your own. Let other parents parent their own children and keep your opinions to yourself. Only YOU know what is appropriate for your OWN children.

  39. no rest for the weary September 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    “There probably are lazy parents out there, but they are the ones who don’t give much thought to parenting–not the ones reading (or writing) parenting blogs and debating parenting philosophies.”

    It occurs to me, a LOT, that while my parents, born in 1937 and 1939 respectively, did give some thought to parenting philosophies, the issues they grappled with had more to do with having us cave into materialistic peer pressure (everyone has one so why can’t I?). discipline (spanking or no spanking? Do I reason with my child or just say, “because I say so”?), and nutrition (sugar is bad! If we ration it and limit that, and TV, will our kids just go next door to the houses where those things are not limited?).

    I really don’t think my parents ever, EVER consciously thought about whether we would walk to school starting in kindergarten, and they certainly didn’t need to think about it, because they would not have been “called out” for it or had the authorities tell them it wasn’t ok.

    I don’t think my parents ever, EVER consciously thought about whether to leave my 8-year-old brother in charge of babysitting when they would go out for dinner… it was just what they did. They weren’t exploring whether that responsibility would be beneficial to my brother, they just knew he could dial a phone and there wasn’t much that would happen in two hours.

    I guess my point is that yes, my parents were thoughtful about certain things, but I as a parent have been forced to be thoughtful about EVERYTHING because I am having to justify my gut-level, intuitive decision-making and risk-evaluation in matters concerning my kids, and articulate WHY I am doing what I am doing (and sometimes, even this is not enough, and I risk arrest or incarceration if the “authorities” deem the risk I’ve calculated as very small to be very large indeed… not shored up by statistics, but by their own “intuition”).

    I object to how articulate I must be in order to raise my kids. That every single thing I choose for them, whether it’s walking to school unaccompanied or sitting in the car waiting for me, is under public scrutiny, and the tide of public opinion is so weighted against me, for no good reason, that I am on the defensive. Constantly.

    it sucks. I would like more ease and autonomy, thank you. If that makes me a “lazy parent,” well, whatever. I will wear the label. Just leave me the F alone, please.

  40. Jen (P.) September 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    “Freerange is as simple as this also. Don’t make/expect restrictions for ALL children, make them for your own. Let other parents parent their own children and keep your opinions to yourself. Only YOU know what is appropriate for your OWN children.”

    The problem is that too many of the Beckys of the world don’t want you to have the freedom to make those choices for your own family. And their belief that it’s irresponsible to leave your 8 yo home alone for any length of time or to let your child wait in the car or walk to school or whatever seems to have become the prevailing one. That, coupled with an increasing tendency on the part of law enforcement and other government authorities to get involved when parents don’t toe that line, is a scary proposition, in my opinion.

  41. Cynthia812 September 30, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Standing ovation to No rest for the weary. Well said.

  42. SOA September 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    well said Crazycatlady.

  43. Paul September 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    I am Becky’s husband, and an Airman in the USAF. Becky is the fantastic mother of our 4 successful independent children. As the parents of 4, we’ve found that each is different and each finds their path to independence in their own way. We’ve also found that our teaching habits must be as adaptive as our children are different, and that it’s never too late to guide our offspring along the paths that open before them in life.

    In strict contrast, it can easily be too early. We pay attention to the maturity levels of our babies, and try to give them opportunities commensurate with that maturity. Still, children and adults don’t know what they don’t know. The child (and that’s what we are talking about with 6-10 year-olds) deserves opportunities, but doesn’t deserve the consequences of a catastrophic failure that always lurks in the offing.

    Blast my lovely wife if you must. We won’t be back to your blog. Just know that to me, and our children she is the best mom in the world. We couldn’t stand by and let you berate such a lovely successful parent. Good day.

  44. caveat October 1, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Leading cause of death for 5-9 year olds = Accidents*

    Automobile accidents are by far the largest category of deadly accidents for this age group. More than the next 7 types of accident combined.

    So is it safer to take your kids with you or leave them at home?

    *Murder is the 4th leading cause at about 17% the rate of accidents. Most murders in that age group are by family members

  45. caveat October 1, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    “We couldn’t stand by and let you berate such a lovely successful parent.”

    But it’s TOTALLY cool for that “lovely successful parent” to come here and berate other parents??

  46. Roger the Shrubber October 1, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Becky and Paul – Please don’t feel the need for a personal boycott of Free Range Kids. You are precisely the people who can perhaps benefit the most by reading it.

    I’ve reread all the comments here and in the previous post and can find only one that berates another for being a bad parent – Becky’s. No one here accuses Becky of being a bad or lazy parent. No one here insists that Becky should leave her children unattended. What I and others do object to is the belief you share that just because this is how you choose to raise your children, whether because of base policy or personal convictions, anyone who would stray from these guidelines is a lazy and inattentive parent who is placing their children at undue risk.

    Becky and Paul, parent as you wish. I would like to do the same.

  47. Cynthia812 October 1, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    “it’s never too late to guide our offspring along the paths that open before them in life.
    In strict contrast, it can easily be too early.”

    Paul, I would refer you to Havva’s comment above. Also, just a guess, but I would say that in general, parents tend to wait longer than necessary to allow their children to do things independently. As in, far after the child would be capable of doing so. So pointing out that they could push a little sooner is not out of line. Now, when it comes to sports and academics, I would argue the opposite, but that’s another discussion for another day.

  48. Roger the Shrubber October 1, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Paul – as an Airman, I am sure that you are cognizant of the ‘consequences of a catastrophic failure that always lurks in the offing.’ However, the Air Force does not ground its fleet in response to the very real possibility of mechanical failure and human error. Instead, a thorough understanding of the possible modes of failure and probabilities is analyzed. Extensive training of personnel is undertaken which includes an assessment of their individual capabilities – not everyone has the physical and mental attributes to be a fighter pilot. Also, strict preventative maintenance schedules are maintained to reduce the possibility of mechanical failure.

    Now apply this same philosophy to how one may determine when one’s child is ready to meet certain challenges and accept certain responsibilities. Notice how in applying such a philosophy, the exact age of the child does not enter into the equation. Instead, an assessment of the child’s capabilities and the likelihood of possible failure modes is undertaken. We teach our children to correctly respond to the adversities they are likely to encounter and to avoid situations which significantly increase their likelihood of becoming injured. Is the probability of catastrophic failure completely eliminated? Of course not. But we don’t live in a world where such a thing is possible. Many modes of catastrophic failure have nothing to do with the presence of an attentive parent. Many modes of catastrophic failure increase when the child is outside the home, regardless of the presence of an adult.

    I have no reason to believe that you are not fine parents. Why, because I may make a rational decision that my young child is capable of spending short periods of time unsupervised without getting himself hurt (I won’t even address the belief that he is somehow at a significantly increased risk from another person), does your wife feel justified in calling me a lazy and inattentive parent? Were you to do that to my face, don’t expect the polite and reasoned response I have just provided.