It’s Impossible to be a Parent in Our Hyper-Critical, Hyper-Vigilant, Picky, Panicked Culture


The title of this Time piece, “Parenting sezsiatyek
is Now Officially Impossible
,” made me sit up. It’s so true!  Anything we do as parents can and may be used against us. It’s like living in a totalitarian state — we are not free to raise our kids as we see fit because we are being watched and judged. We make choices based on fear of busybodies and the authorities they can summon by punching three digits into their phone.

This surveillance society has become so normalized that yesterday I was listening to a June 9 episode of Marc Maron’s WTFpodcast a reader alerted me to, where Marc and guest Daniel Clowes are chatting about their slacker ’70s parents. (It’s about 50 minutes in, if you want to hear it.) As they marvel at the freedom they had as kids, and some bad experiences, they agree that this kind of parenting was totally wrong. Unironically they concur, “You don’t let your kid get on the bus at 11 [years old]. Never! I would turn MYSELF into the police.”

Isn’t that phrasing remarkable?  The idea, “Disapprove of a parent? Call 911,” has become so unquestioned, so automatic, that citizens don’t even realize they have been seduced into the role of Stasi.

So in her essay, Time contributor Darlena Cunha writes:

It’s impossible to be a parent in 2016. Living under a viral microscope of social media has all but extinguished any hope parents ever had.

With every move documented in real-time on social media, parents have lost control of the very personal narrative of their real lives. What has for years been a cute story at my family barbecue about the time my mom lost me as a toddler at Disney World would today be a hotly contested debate amid strangers online. These strangers feel they not only have the right to comment and judge all involved, but also to take action, in the form of harassment, badgering, petitions or even phone calls to authorities. There is no such thing as an honest mistake for parents anymore.

Mistakes are treated as crimes because of the fundamental falsehood we’ve swallowed: That kids are extremely fragile and vulnerable. So any moment they are not under our direct surveillance, they are in danger. And what kind of parent puts their kid in danger? Only a monster we must shame and possibly prosecute.

When a child gets lost or hurt, it seems we have forgotten the anguish and intense anxiety the parents go through. It’s as if parents are two-dimensional paper cutouts, either good or bad. Emotional strife has no room on the Internet when blame can be invoked. And that blame can act as a balm, spreading over the masses in a comforting swatch of “this would never happen to me.”

Cunha blames social media, but it’s not just that. It’s a web of cops, judges and CPS employees who believe the same big lie the 911-callers do, that parents who are not supervising their kids’ every moment, either by choice or by accident, have put their kids in peril.  The authorities are ready to jump in not just because they disapprove, but because they truly believe kids can’t survive on their own, even for an hour at the park, or a walk to school.

And so it IS impossible to be a parent…until we insist upon being laws and punishments being grounded in reality instead of hysteria. The reality is that, even unsupervised, our kids are pretty safe. Not perfectly safe — but perfect safety is an illusion. A kid waiting in a car is not perfectly safe, but neither is a kid taken out of the car. A kid playing outside isn’t perfectly safe, but he’s safer, crime wise, than kids were in the ’70s or ’80s.

Absent indisputable and serious abuse or neglect, we must give parents back the right to raise their kids as they see best. This is such a fundamental right, that it is sickening we have to demand it.

We may not be able to stop the Internet shaming. But we must make sure  it stays on Facebook and does not turn normal, loving parents — the type who might even let their 11-year-olds ride the bus — into criminals. – L


And for good measure, I called 911!

And for good measure, I called 911!


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40 Responses to It’s Impossible to be a Parent in Our Hyper-Critical, Hyper-Vigilant, Picky, Panicked Culture

  1. Workshop June 14, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    It’s been said that “Libertarianism happens to people.” A well-meaning business owner deposits $9,999 dollars and then gets his account confiscated because it’s illegal to purposely avoid depositing $10000. He is left wondering what the purpose of the law is, because he’s not trying to break a law; he just didn’t have that extra dollar to deposit.

    I think this is a similar situation. On the internet we can speak our piece from a holier-than-thou perch, and then the unthinkable happens to us. Suddenly we realize that we’re just parents, trying to do our best, and wondering how we became the target of such vitriol.

    Sadly, most of the commenters won’t have the self-awareness to realize that the only way to sit up high is to be a long, painful fall above the ground.

  2. Jessica June 14, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    And again, this really can be seen as laws against the lower socioeconomic classes, because we can’t afford to have our children nannied or in special sports/dance/underwater basket-weaving classes. If I send my kids to school, I’m having them indoctrinated in a special kind of prison; if I homeschool, I’m stunting them socially and probably educationally as well, since if I was smart I would be working. But you have to be home when they are to make sure they have their snack and do their homework and don’t burn the house down.

    It’s really about priorities. If your priority is that your kid make it through their childhood completely unscathed and you’re not on any government ‘list’, then yes, hovering over their every move makes sense. But then, you might find out, like one of my aunts did, that they can be amazing skiers and incredibly smart so they get accepted to the college of their choice, only to find out that they have no idea how to do their laundry or cook a simple meal. If your priority is to raise a well-adjusted child who will survive once you change the locks behind them, then freedom and responsibility is the name of the game. I know it’s been said a thousand times on this sight, but unless the child is being abused or neglected (neglected to mean a substantial lack of food/clothing/shelter), let the parents use their best judgment and parent the way they want.

  3. Donna June 14, 2016 at 11:33 am #

    Parents have always been watched and judge. This is absolutely nothing new. It was just something that was done in the privacy of the judgers own homes. Do you really think your grandmothers weren’t gossiping about the outsider mothers with their friends?

    The difference today is the desire to formally and severely punish everyone who disagrees with you. It pervades every aspect of our lives and is not remotely limited to parenting. The amount of cases that I have that result in my thinking “and even if all that is true, who gives a &^*&^? Why was this even charged?” is astounding. A tragic accident that would have resulted in a traffic citation and years of remorse previously now receives a charge of vehicular homicide too. Another kindergartener kisses your daughter and he needs to be suspended, branded a sexual predator and ordered into therapy. A water gun at school necessitates a year long expulsion. Eat your pop tart into a gun and we might as well just give you the death penalty now.

    I have no idea why we have such a punitive outlook on life today. If the recent election is any indication, we are an extremely angry populous and that probably plays a part.

  4. olympia June 14, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    Jesus Christ, they want you arrested for putting an 11-year-old on a bus? People have lost their minds.

    There’s a saying in AA: “Think the drink all the way through.” Now, I’m not a fan of all things AA, but this saying really resonates with me- I think it applies to all areas of life, not just problem drinking. When raising kids, you can’t just consider their short-term safety; you’ve got to think of their long-term safety as well. A kid who has no idea how to take care of herself is going to be at much greater risk in the long run. Additionally, safety is far from the only thing. Happiness counts too. The ability to form meaningful relationships counts too. And helicopter parenting can damage both these prospects.

    I’ve been meaning to share this story for a while. I was uncertain about sharing it at first, as some would see it as being about a child put at risk by free range parenting. But I’ve come to see it as a lot more than that.

    It was the early 80s. I was 8 or 9, and was at the state fair- small town Vermont -with my parents and siblings. It was the end of the day and the others wanted to watch the horse pull, which I wasn’t into. Fine, my parents said, you can sit in the car and read a book. I happily agreed, and retreated to the back seat.

    Only, not long later, to have a another car crash into the back bumper.

    I was not hurt, not even a little bit. Cars don’t go that fast in the state fair parking lot, even if they do crash into you from time to time. The driver of the crash car was an old man, decidedly a Mr. Magoo type, accompanied by his timid wife. I got out of the car, making my presence known. I don’t remember if I consulted with the couple or not, but one way or another it was decided I should go page my parents. I did so, and met up with a nice guard along the way. He accompanied me back to the car, telling me I was a smart girl and reminded me of his own daughter. He continued to say kind things to me as I recall, even as my parents ran back to the car, mother in tears, everyone distraught and disheveled. And from there, everything went smoothly. Mr. Magoo wrote my father a check for the damage to the car; we all set off for home. My father spoke excitedly to me as he drove, telling me how I would remember this adventure. Much later, it occurred to me that my father was, in addition to being happy that all was well, was probably further pleased that due to my presence, Mr. Magoo hadn’t been able to hit and run.

    Anyway. It’s a small story. I did nothing at all amazing. But this experience has always stayed with me as powerfully positive. I remember how I got to feel competent, and how kind the guard was. Sure I could have been hurt, but the chances for that were slim. Whatever some might say about the risks of free range parenting, I think the bigger risk would have been not having the chance to create this memory.

  5. Backroads June 14, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Olympia, that is a small but cool story.

  6. John June 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    Goodness, this piece is so spot-on…..unfortunately. Every single time there’s an article about a kid who got hurt or killed or lost or whatever, about 7 out of 10 posts on the blog below the article opine about the “irresponsible parents”. I know because I’ll usually go to bat for the parents and I then get slammed down by the other bloggers. Now once in a great while you do hear the voice of reason reminding everybody that most kids hurt themselves at a few points of their childhood and that most parents have lost track of their child during at least one point of their parenting career but, like me, they then get shot down by the righteous as being irresponsible for even saying that.

    Even though I AM NOT A PARENT NOR WILL I EVER BE A PARENT I get soooo sick and tired of people blaming the parents anytime something bad happens to a kid even though they don’t know the family from a hole in the ground or are familiar with the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident. Now, are there times when parents are to blame when something horrible happens to their child? Of course, but now we’re blaming parents for every LITTLE mishap that happens to their kids. I personally would NEVER judge a parent when something bad happens to their child and in most cases I would give the parents the benefit of the doubt. Only in extreme cases would I put 100% responsibility on the parents and then I’d have to know quite a bit about the family and the circumstances surrounding the situation in order to make that judgment.

  7. James Pollock June 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    The other possibility is that some people are just way too oversensitive to criticism. “Oh, noes! Some random strangers on the Internet might think I’m a bad parent! What shall I do? Whatever shall I do?”

    Start by growing a thick enough skin that you don’t care what random Internet strangers think.

  8. A reader June 14, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    You know, when the gorilla incident happened, I immediately thought of an old friend of mine who used to be that little boy. He was a crazy kid who got into all sorts of trouble in the blink of an eye. He was so difficult to control, he was not allowed to go on class trips unless a parent or other designated person came along as a personal chaperone. Of course, we kids thought he was awesome, because he actually DID all the crazy $hit we would have liked to do but never dared. He jumped into the pond at the Temple of Dendur Exhibit at the Met when we were in first grade. It was hilarious for us kids and terribly embarrassing for his mother, but he was removed from the premises by security, his mom had to fill out some paperwork, and we moved on with life. 22-23 years later, this kid is a successful lawyer and his swim at the Met is now a funny story to tell at all the fancy cocktail parties he attends these days. I also believe he’s since visited the Met a few times without incident. Because 22 years ago, there was no social media to crucify him or his mother or the teachers on the field trip or the museum. He was a wild kid who did something stupid, the situation was dealt with, nobody died, and it’s actually pretty funny looking back. I’m sure if this had happened nowadays, someone would have snapped a picture, made it go viral, his mom would have become a national joke and possibly lost her job over it, CPS would have investigated, etc. I don’t like this brave new world where everything we do is now up for public consumption even if we’re not public figures. You laugh until one day it happens to you…

  9. Jessica June 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    Can I just point out that this happens MOSTLY online?

    I had my son at (expensive, suburban, privately-run) swimming class the other day, and all the moms started talking about all their kids’ ER trips. One chipped a tooth, one needed stitches from a fall, one broke a limb. Nobody said “OMG why weren’t you watching them?” Everyone was laughing and commiserating about the trauma of a middle-of-the night ER trip and a screaming toddler.

    Maybe just get off Facebook (where the high and mighty live) and interact in the real world.

  10. Jessica June 14, 2016 at 1:59 pm #


    A lot of “I got judged!!” stories involve a random person rolling their eyes; or an anonymous internet commenter sending a hateful rant; or a lecture from a nosy in-law. I think it’s a basic adult skill to let things roll off your back. (Obviously there are awful public shamings, like the woman with the gorilla, but those are rare.)

  11. James Pollock June 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    It’s not the “I got judged!” complaints… I don’t care any more about what random Internet strangers think about you than I care about what random Internet strangers think about me.

    It’s the “I changed my behavior because of what random strangers might think!” Um, OK, that was YOUR CHOICE to do so.

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of one time when I felt compelled to change something because of something a random person on the Internet told me. (As opposed to people whose opinions I trusted and valued, which is a whole different category from random Internet strangers.) Anyways, it concerned the practice of young women sending racy pictures of themselves to young men. My initial reaction was “Oh, why didn’t we have that when I was a kid? However, the same time I learned it was a common thing rather than a rarity, I also learned that some prosecutors were charging minors for creation and distribution of child pornography for the practice. That meant I had to have a discussion with my daughter. Whether or not she was doing it (I didn’t ask), she learned why I thought it was a good idea to hold off until majority.

  12. Beth June 14, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    @James, maybe gorilla mom thought the same thing (“who cares what internet strangers think?”) until she started getting death threats…..

  13. Robin June 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    People have such short memories of what constitutes normal parenting. I grew up in the suburbs of a mid-sized city in the Midwest in the 1960s as the oldest of three girls. We weren’t allowed bikes until my parents considered us old enough to ride them unsupervised on the street, which was about 8 – 9 years old. But once we had earned that privilege, we were expected to use them to get ourselves to school and in the summer it was not at all unusual for me to go off by myself on a “bike hike”, taking my lunch and exploring the area clear out to the countryside all by myself. As long as I was home by supper, my Mom was happy. I also used to explore the nearby creek with the other neighbourhood kids and we would all be out of sight (and in unknown locations) for hours at a stretch. Our next door neighbours actually used to lock their five kids out of the house every Sat. afternoon for about three hours so they could have some “adult time”!

    It’s been a while since I read Bill Bryson’s memoir “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid”, but if today’s parents want a taste of what my childhood was like, this is the book to read. From memory his Mom wasn’t interested in injuries unless they involved lots of blood or somebody being on fire. And you know what? We all survived to adulthood, everyone of all those neighbourhood kids I hung out with, with zero supervision. Most of us went to college where we didn’t need to have trigger warnings for everything because we’d already worked out how to get along with lots of different people who didn’t all think the way that we did.

  14. John June 14, 2016 at 5:13 pm #


    “Can I just point out that this happens MOSTLY online?”


    You very well could be right Jessica but I certainly hope those parents of kids who chipped their tooth and broke their bones and cut themselves are not the ones who go on the blogs below news articles of kids who hurt themselves badly in some freak accident and criticize the parents for being neglectful and irresponsible.

    Even though these unfounded criticisms of parents mostly happens online, the problem could be that lawmakers, in trying to appease the public, introduce more child protection laws that turn parents into criminals and destroy families all because the mother or the father took their eye off their child for 1 stinking minute when some freak accident occurred!

    THIS is the kind of over reaction that we need to fight!

  15. James Pollock June 14, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    “maybe gorilla mom thought the same thing (“who cares what internet strangers think?”) until she started getting death threats…”

    Maybe. Ignoring threatening blowhards on the Internet is fairly easy, though, the vast majority of cases. It IS true that the worldwide range of the Internet can bring down the world’s two-minute hate onto a person, but nearly everyone who makes threats on the Internet is as dangerous as a wet tissue. People who are actually dangerous don’t tell people about it.

    I went through my child-rearing period not particularly worried about what random strangers thought about it. This did not result in having my offspring taken away from me, or any kind of a police record, or anything. There ARE people who do need to worry… mostly, but not exclusively, bad parents… but at a certain point, fear of CPS turns into something that CPS needs to take an interest in. Won’t take your kids in to the hospital to get their broken bones set because you’re afraid CPS will take your kids? The “no medical treatment” is something that’s legitimately CPS’s business, even if the original injury wasn’t.

    I’m advocating refusing to live in fear… not fear of pedophiles snatching your kid off the street, not fear of CPS, not fear of Internet bullies who talk tough to cover their own insecurity. None of these is worth more than a few minutes, total, of your lifetime. Teach your kids not to go anywhere with strangers unless they know the password, not to talk to police without a parent present to protect their rights, and to tell the Internet bullies where to go, and what they can place in which orifices during the trip. Then worry about things that actually present a danger to you and your kids (and if you ARE one of the parents who legitimately needs to fear CPS, learn, and do, what is necessary to take you (and your kids) out of their purview.)

    The end.

  16. Buffy June 14, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

    I guess I don’t know how anyone can say this is just on the internet, when on this site alone we can read about CPS being involved for the the flimsiest of reasons, police investigations of parents who let their kids walk to and play alone in the park, overzealous school administrators who freak about a gun-shaped pop tart or a *metal* shovel.

    I’m betting the woman in one of the most recent posts, the one who’s on electronic monitoring for leaving her kids in the car where she could see them, wishes internet judgement is all she has to worry about.

  17. James Pollock June 14, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    “I guess I don’t know how anyone can say this is just on the internet”

    It isn’t just on the Internet. But that’s where the fear comes from. The echo chamber of people who share the same concerns, repeating and re-repeating the same stories. “There was this kid who was snatched…”. Yeah. This one kid. “There was this one family where CPS…” yeah. That one family.

    But it isn’t everywhere, all the time. The fear is, but the actuality isn’t. In my entire life, I’ve had exactly two interactions with CPS. in the first, a neighbor was leaving her 4-year-old alone at home while she went to work. CPS was called, they investigated (my interview was about 10 minutes long). Ultimately, the mother had to move in with relatives so she could afford childcare.
    In the other, my soon-to-be-ex-wife made wildly unsubstantiated accusations in court in a desperate attempt to be awarded custody. CPS came, they saw, they reported to the judge that the claims were false, and the judge ruled accordingly. I wasn’t paranoid that they’d come to my house, find a dirty dish in the sink, and decide to take my kid. I was sure they’d come to my house, find it suitable for my child, and report accordingly. I’m not a bad parent, I don’t have substance abuse or mental-health issues, and I’m reasonably affluent.

    So there’s a story. It won’t go viral on FB, because there’s nothing particularly interesting about it, and my story doesn’t really fit with anyone’s social and/or political agenda. But it’s REAL. That’s what reality looks like.

  18. K2 June 14, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

    Not on Facebook. Don’t care about those strangers or what they think, but the person who is a passerby, neighbor, cleaning lady, or other is more of a threat. They know where I am and what I am doing.

  19. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    “They know where I am and what I am doing.”

    Are you doing anything wrong?

  20. Kimberly June 15, 2016 at 1:07 am #

    Well, I hope Marc and Daniel never meet me, because I’ve been putting my daughter on the bus, alone, since the age of 8.

    Course, what they don’t know is that my husband, and her father, drives for the bus. Most of the bus-drivers have been to our home. She’s apart of the accelerated learning program at her school, and every summer, she goes to the local College to take summer science classes there.

    It’s about 30 miles away, and she has to be there at 7:30. So, since the age of 8, (She is now 11), she’s been waking up at 5, hopping on the bus at 6, and then riding all the way to the College, and then getting off at the College, where she has to navigate about a block, across a busy street, to her classroom. Oh. The horror.

    Regardless, I am thankful where I live. I live in a small rural area near Yosemite. My kids are able to walk to school, play until it’s dusk outside, and I really have no fear of it. They are even allowed to take my 4 year old to the park, a mile away, without a cell-phone. I let them go swimming at the local pool during the summer without my supervision, and I even let them (read as, No I won’t give you a ride, you can walk or ride your bike) go to the pool, on their own.

    However, I am attributing this all to the fact of where I live. For example, my town does not even have a police station, or a traffic light. My half-sister who is 14 lives near San Francisco, and she is not ‘allowed’ to do some of the things that my children are able to do and my stepmother wonders why she enjoys staying over so often.

    That is not to say that there are some parents around me that are a bit too helicopter but for the most part, we’re a pretty free-range community. But my daughter does have a friend, who’s mother I have had long talks with, because when she first spent the night she didn’t even know how to make a bowl of cereal or butter her bread (at age 9). Because her mother never let her do anything. We’re working on limits and I’ve convinced her mom to let her walk with the girls to the pool, or the tennis courts and things will be ‘okay’.

    For the naysayers which I am sure I will get that will tell me “oh just wait until you’re stopped by the police’. We are in the process of adopting my daughter’s friend, who is 14. So, my family is under scrutiny, but we don’t let that change how we parent. (This got a little soapbox, and I lost my original point, but eh, go with it).

  21. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 2:01 am #

    Bravo for you, Kimberly.

  22. pentamom June 15, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    “Are you doing anything wrong?”

    The origin of this thread is a post saying that there are people out there who will report you when you are not doing anything wrong, because they believe the not-wrong thing you are doing, is wrong. So your question is irrelevant.

  23. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    “The origin of this thread is a post saying that there are people out there who will report you when you are not doing anything wrong, because they believe the not-wrong thing you are doing, is wrong. So your question is irrelevant.”

    The thrust of my response is that you should not fear people who believe you are doing wrong, if you are not actually doing anything wrong. Were you unable to grasp this idea?

  24. Steve June 15, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    The state wants to take over parenting.

  25. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    “The state wants to take over parenting.”

    I don’t think so, no.

  26. Steve June 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    ‘Nanny state’ needs to be needed. Otherwise theres no reason to have the state so deeply interfering in every day life.

    To achieve this, the state needs to make parents less involved, less relevant in the raising of their own children. In this way the children grow up to really need the ‘Nanny state’; they grow up lacking independence, lacking self control and discipline.

    This results in adults who need an external force to control their lives so that society doesn’t completely fall apart. Small, independent communities and families become impossible because children growing up like this become parents that are totally useless and the state needs to be even more involved in the raising of children.

    Its a self-perpetuating, self-enhancing system.

  27. Donna June 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    “The state wants to take over parenting.”

    No it doesn’t. CPS doesn’t want your kids. They don’t know what to do with half the kids they have half the time. There are simply not hundreds of empty foster homes floating around so that CPS is looking to steal happy, healthy kids to fill them. In fact, the case workers I deal with are regularly working until well into the night trying to find placements for the kids they already have (placements disrupt for many reasons all the time so this is a constant problem). Case workers are not so devoid of things to do that they are wandering around stealing kids from good homes so that they can stay employed. In fact, they often don’t have time to pee all day.

    CPS has major issues. It is a system that is horribly broken in many, many ways. A desire to claim everyone’s kids is simply not one of them.

  28. pentamom June 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    “The thrust of my response is that you should not fear people who believe you are doing wrong, if you are not actually doing anything wrong. Were you unable to grasp this idea?”

    Yes, I grasped it well enough to give a reason why I disagree with it. We have evidence on this very post that there are people who will involve legal authorities when you are not actually doing anything wrong.

    Is that something you should live in constant terror of? No. Does that mean there is absolutely nothing to fear? I don’t see why evidence of the fact that there are people who will act to harm you in a specific way doesn’t constitute something to fear at least to some degree.

  29. pentamom June 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    “The state wants to take over parenting.”

    No it doesn’t. —

    I agree with this. However, it’s apparently also true that there are enough people around who want to involve the state in other people’s parenting beyond reasonable prevention of actual harm, that the CPS “monster” will be unleashed on innocent people with much more frequency than is tolerable. The reason CPS is a “monster” is not that the overworked case workers actually do want your kids placed in overcrowded state custody situations on trumped-up charges, but that once the charges are made, CPS is very inefficient in quickly resolving things intelligently. Call CPS as an institution (not its individual workers) a dumb beast rather than an evil one, but dumb beasts can still harm you.

  30. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    “Yes, I grasped it well enough to give a reason why I disagree with it.”
    Ah. You disagree with it. That’s not what you said. You said it was “irrelevant”, which it is not.
    You’re free to live in fear of having the authorities told that you’re not doing anything wrong, if that is your choice. I chose otherwise.

  31. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    “once the charges are made, CPS is very inefficient in quickly resolving things intelligently.”

    This has not been my experience, as detailed previously.

  32. Steve June 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    You guys really need to read Brave New World. Not least to learn about “Hunt the zipper”.

  33. andy June 15, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    Whether CPS works in an intelligent way or not and whether they are overworked may depend a lot on where you live. America is a big country and these institutions tend to be local. It is perfectly possible for one place to handling too many cases still in reasonable way and another to have overly paranoid workers and too much time.

    Moreover, their attitude and thus whole experience may differ depending on who you are our what impression you make. Out of mainstream or uncharuzmatic person may be treated differently then good looking middle class someone.

  34. James Pollock June 15, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    “Whether CPS works in an intelligent way or not and whether they are overworked may depend a lot on where you live. America is a big country”

    I’m fairly certain that there isn’t a place anywhere in America where the CPS office isn’t understaffed, overworked, short of funding, and unpopular despite providing a critically-needed service. I’m happy to consider specific cases where this might be less true that others, but I’m highly skeptical of them and openly hostile to claims that these conditions aren’t significant and systematic.

    Note that this is not a claim that CPS lacks systematic problems, but those systematic problems it does have flow from A) the fact that they’re understaffed and overworked, and B) the fact that most cases of abuse and neglect are actively concealed. So, for example, because they are understaffed, it is likely that a first investigation is likely the ONLY investigation a family will get. This means that the first investigation is VERY thorough (invasive). The public is very critical of cases where children were harmed and it turns out CPS investigated but did not take action. So, if their gaze falls on you, it’s going to probe you and your habits quite thoroughly, in a way you might not like. It’s obvious to YOU that your kids are not in danger in your care, but the CPS investigator(s) don’t know that until they finish investigating… and they won’t (can’t) just take your word for it.

    The other problem that CPS has is the swinging pendulum. If the most recent story that was in the news was a case where a family was harassed and it turned out there was no reason for CPS to take action, then CPS management will be leery of taking action. If the most recent story in the news was about a child who was harmed by abusive parents, CPS management will err on the side of protecting kids, and may jump at shadows. (Note that in either case, the driver of the problem is public opinion.)

    “Moreover, their attitude and thus whole experience may differ depending on who you are our what impression you make. Out of mainstream or uncharuzmatic person may be treated differently then good looking middle class someone.”
    This true of pretty much every aspect of human society. What alternative are you suggesting?

  35. Donna June 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    “The reason CPS is a “monster” is not that the overworked case workers actually do want your kids placed in overcrowded state custody situations on trumped-up charges, but that once the charges are made, CPS is very inefficient in quickly resolving things intelligently.”

    Except that over the years, we’ve had many examples of CPS being called to investigate people for stupid things. We don’t have many examples of children actually being REMOVED for those stupid things. CPS may not always move quickly, but it does seem that it came to an intelligent resolution in the end in most situations. Parents getting arrested for stupid things seems far, far more common.

    And, even in those situations where the claim is that CPS took their kids for a stupid reason, we never hear the CPS side of the story (because CPS can’t comment no matter how misleading the news report is). In all of my CPS cases, the parents believe themselves to be great parents who are being picked on by CPS. Half are delusional as to why their children are in care. Several are situations where CPS is called out for what I would agree is a stupid reason, but the investigation leads to much bigger problems being uncovered. The parents then insist that the only reason that their kids are in care is that one stupid reason and conveniently fail to mention that they also regularly beat their children with switches and have had 3 prior substantiated physical abuse cases that all closed when the family disappeared in the middle of the case and THAT is why their children are in care.

  36. Kaye June 16, 2016 at 7:29 am #

    I love Germany.
    When my daughter’s 7th grade class has a field trip they are expected to make their own way to the museum and dismissed from there to go home. She’s 12.

  37. Ravana June 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    I caught a thing this morning where the “expert” was telling parents that one way to get their child ready to become independent after high school graduation was to start early. The suggestion for “starting early” was “When your children turn 12 you can allow them to shut their bedroom door.”

    WTF??? When we were four our parents INSISTED that we shut our bedroom door all the way, especially at bedtime. “You aren’t a baby any more. You know how to open the door, so now you need to shut it.”

    I think the best solution is to get rid of these crazy “experts”.

  38. James Pollock June 16, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

    “The suggestion for “starting early” was “When your children turn 12 you can allow them to shut their bedroom door.””

    In my youth, the rules of many houses were that a girl had to leave the door open if there was a boy in the house.

    Later, the rule was that a girl had to leave the door open if there was a computer in the bedroom connected to the Internet.

    Now, most teenagers have a computer that’s connected to the Internet with them at all times.

  39. Claudia June 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    The thing I always find unbelievable is the way people are prepared, on the basis of one parental mistake or even decision that they disagree with, and with no other context, to start suggesting people should lose custody of their children!

    It’s like, guys, you realise that you are saying that it would be better for a child or children to genuinely traumatic experience of even temporary, let alone permanent, separation from their parents than for parents to make an error or do something you wouldn’t do? It’s the height of arrogance and self-righteousness ‘Look how concerned I am for these children! Yes, the world needs to know how upset I am about this more than these children need their parents because my righteousness is so important!’

  40. JP Merzetti June 21, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    Olympia and Donna – agreements all around.
    That is the point, I believe. The entire concept of a reasonably well socially adjusted kid, capable of making easy spot decisions according to common sense – is at the risk of disappearing (for the sake of safety?)
    That’s a lot of dumbing, confounding and confusion – just to kiss an illusion.

    And the anger?……I think that punitive-pushers are slowly turning an already frustrated beyond the grave population into serious punishment-junkies.
    But it’s an interesting question: just why is it that we want to see our fellow humans suffer, so?
    I really don’t believe for a second that it’s because we wish them well….that they will be happy, achieve nirvana, or become one with a correct universe.
    We want to take out our carnivorous desires to make war, symbolic and otherwise, on their unclean souls. (as if anyone ever was, is, or will be…that pure.)

    Ironic, isn’t it? That this um, land of free choice and golden opportunities….that dares to dream the big Dream (that always seems to involve kids somehow) that glorifies the Family in all its exalted holiness – just must kick the dreamers around (in endless and often lucrative ways.)
    Which really is always the rat I smell. Punishment for profit.
    I just don’t believe most professional child-savers would ever volunteer their time, for free.
    (Though the folks who really are capable of loving and respecting kids….often provide that little service for free.)
    How this all works out in generations to come…..handing the good old torch of future posterity and prosperity – is anybody’s guess.