Mom Lets Son, 7, Stay Home Alone 30 Minutes and “The Doctors” Weigh In

Readers — Let’s hear it for Lizzie Heiselt, the MotherRunner eeetsdzrtn
blogger who wrote about letting her son, 7, stay home while she ran an errand. She took heat for the usual “What if…?”s but stayed calm and fantastically poised on The Doctors, a show that sometimes sneers at helicopter parenting and sometimes sneers at Free-Rangers (when I was on, it was the latter).

Clearly, all the good doctors want is good ratings, so at the end of the Lizzie interview they resort to the national pastime of dreaming up fantabulous circumstances to scare her and the audience with. (E.g., “But aren’t you worried that there are creeps are around every corner, assiduously reading mommy blogs. who will now be focused on your son, your apartment building and your errand schedule, so the minute you leave to get the dry cleaning, they could run in and snatch your kid???” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what it boiled down to.  I wonder if The Doctors’ bonuses are tied to coming up with reasons moms should be worried.)

Anyway, I can’t figure out how to embed this particular video, but you can watch it here. And here’s what Heiselt wrote about the experience (boldface mine):

…while I am shocked that my little experiment — testing my son’s maturity in the fairly safe and controlled environment of our own home — was so explosive, I am more surprised at how very little credit we seem to give our children and how little we think they can handle. We seem to think so little of our kids that we don’t even try to prepare them for dangerous situations in which they may find themselves. Instead we assume that the only safe place to be is right by our sides all the time. And the only responsible thing for us to do as parents is to keep them there.

Parenthood, however, is the process of helping someone dependent and somewhat clueless become a capable, confident, informed and independent being. Some of those processes take place subconsciously and without serious thought or effort on our part. Others we must carefully weigh and consider as we decide what our children are ready for and whether the benefits of more autonomy outweigh the possible costs.

Right on. And by the way, this seems like a persuasive argument to make to Free-Range skeptics:

If we are watching our children closely and carefully, we should be able to see when we have an opportunity to step back so that they can step forward. 

I like that statement because it reinforces the truth — that Free-Rangers watch and know their kids just as much as any other parents, but use that knowledge to make their kids more prepared, hence safer. It’s a line of reasoning I’m going to use. – L.

Ah! Now my mom has to appear on The Doctors!

Ah! Now my mom has to appear on The Doctors!


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59 Responses to Mom Lets Son, 7, Stay Home Alone 30 Minutes and “The Doctors” Weigh In

  1. MichaelF September 29, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Oh PUH-leze!! It looks more like the whole problem is that these Dr’s are harping on the face that there are kidnappers and whatnot scouring the internet looking for “real time” information on when kids are home alone and they can just swoop in and take off with a child. Even if this woman has a blog, does anyone really think she is doing this real time? No, it’s AFTER THE FACT!!

    People really need to start turning down the fear and applying some real time risk assessments to life and not the StrawMan Dimension where bad things lurk around every corner, and no matter what the Boogeyman WILL get you. Things don’t happen like that.

  2. Roger the Shrubber September 29, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    I left my well behaved nearly 7-year old home while I went to pick up the wife and older child from a nearby baseball game last week. It was getting near bedtime, one was dressed for bed and enjoying some time with minecraft. It was taking a little longer that expected to get back from the pick-up (approaching 20 min. or so). In front of other people I told my son to get his stuff together, have to get back to your little brother. My wife had no problem with leaving the younger son home, but was furious that I would mention the fact in front of other people, fearing that a ‘concerned citizen’ would report us to the authorities.

  3. gap.runner September 29, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I agree with Michael. How many people actually spend their days sitting on the Internet looking through everyone’s Facebook pages and blog posts to figure out when a kid is home alone? Even if a kidnapper or pedophile scoured the Internet full time, he would still have to be in the right place at the right time to abduct a child who is home alone. What are the odds of that? I would say that a child has a higher chance of being abducted by aliens from another galaxy than by someone who is on the Internet all day.

    People really need to take a step back to think. Even if a local pedophile figured out through reading Facebook, Twitter, or a blog that a child was home alone, there would be a lot of logistics to find and abduct that child. He would have to look up the child’s address, hope he had the right address, get in the car, drive to the child’s house, and then hope that the kid is still home alone. Then he would have to figure out a way into the house to snatch the child. That sounds like an awful lot of work for something that has a low chance of success.

    What can really happen if a child is left alone for an age-appropriate length of time? He will develop some real world skills like: getting his own food when he’s hungry, getting his own drink when he’s thirsty, accomplishing a chore or two, or simply figuring out how to entertain himself.

  4. J- September 29, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I have to chime in that the doctors of “The Doctors” are a bunch of charlatans. Once upon a time, they may have been good doctors; and in private practice they might still very well be. But once they get in front of the camera, the most outlandish BS comes out of their mouths. They are not alone, DR. OZ does the same thing. Apparently nothing makes a MD give up their integrity more than trying for a daytime Emmy. The worst part is, that an MD and a beautiful face makes people believe their every word as a hock unverified “treatments” and fantastical supplement, intercut with a medical freak show and lurid sex described in technical terms.

    The fact that they dove into this subject is beyond the pale (just one of many times). They are no more qualified to to about this than anybody else. What does a plastic surgeon and sex therapist know about the maturity of your 7 year old. Nothing. But damnit! They are going to pontificate.

    Am am glad that DR. OZ got sued by the FDA. I want the FDA to sue the hosts of “The Doctors” and I want a federal court to throw them all in jail for a while. Seriously.

  5. CrazyCatLady September 29, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Actually, Gaprunner, the pedophile WOULD NOT have to look up the address at all. All the pedophile would need to do is call up the mom and say, “Love your blog as always, but if you need me to watch the 7 year old if you need to run longer errands, just let me know and I can come over or he/she can come here.” Most pedophiles are known to the parents, and, if this parent is unlucky enough to know a pedophile, then the pedophile probably already reads the blog, knows the phone number, and probably has visited the house a few times already.

    But this mom has probably already prepared her child for this, by saying that NO ONE is allowed in the house while she is gone, kid or adults.

    And yup, for the others who can’t grasp that the pedophile is probably already known and trusted by them, this is not unusual. A 10 year old friend of my daughter had a guy hitting on her – telling the parents that he was coming over to keep away the bad people and to help her with her homework while they had to work. She would have been safer totally alone.

  6. Alohapami September 29, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Good for her! But it is SO RIDICULOUS that this subject even got air time on a network TV show. I think about stories during the depression when 6 years olds were out fending for themselves and grew to be successful adults. Not that we our kids out there like that, but it speaks to the capacity of our children. In other cultures, kids are adults with adult responsibilities at 13. We are stunting their development and creating cry babies who can’t fend for themselves in the world. With all the focus on STEM in our schools to create kids who are more competitive in the work world, we are on the other hand making them too afraid to get out there and spread their wings.

  7. Cynthia812 September 29, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Roger the Shrubber, sometimes I mention to people that I have a kid at home/ in the car in a very casual way to make it sound normal and no big deal. So far no one has made it A BIG DEAL. I recently discovered that aquaintances allow their 8yo daughter to babysit her 6yo sister for short periods, and I was pleased to hear this. Keep normalizing it.

  8. gap.runner September 29, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Crazy Cat Lady, I know that most kids are molested by people that they know. Pedophiles also take the time to groom their victims before molesting them. It’s not something that happens from a random Internet search. But the perception that a lot of parents in the States have is that there are thousands of pedophiles and kidnappers who spend their days on the Internet for the sole purpose of looking for children to abduct. I was trying to show how ridiculous that way of thinking was by outlining the steps that a random stranger on the Internet would have to go through to try and snatch a child.

  9. TRS September 29, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Did not start until age 8 because that was our County’s guidelines. For me it is not the creepers I was worried about but lack of judgement a child has at that age.

    For that matter I am more worried about the what ifs for my daughters when they are 18 vs. 8. If they don’t have street smarts because mom never allowed them to learn at a younger age they are probably more at risk.

  10. Wendy W September 29, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    We started leaving my daughter for just a few minutes at age 5 or 6. We were a one-car family living on a military base. Hubby usually rode his motorcycle, but of course there were days when we got up in the morning and found it was bad weather. It was a 2mile drive across base and back for me to drop him at work, but base speed limits, especially in the housing areas, are very slow. Taking dd with would have messed up our morning routine, affecting her ability to catch the bus on time. So we would leave her sitting at the table eating her cereal while I made the 10min run across base and back. This decision was heavily dependent on knowing our environment and our child.

    In contrast, my sons were never left home alone even for a few minutes until at least age 8. The boys were WAY too likely to find trouble if left unsupervised. I started leaving them after they had shown their ability to be absorbed by a book or video game to keep them in their seat and not be distracted by every random thought. By that point we lived in a civilian neighborhood full of helicopter busybodies who had already proven their willingness to report us to CPS. My boys also had to be mature enough to trust that they would not inadvertently blab to a neighbor that I ever left them alone.

    Know your kid, know your environment, and make an informed decision. This is called “parenting”. As opposed to the “prison warden of permanent dependents” that is practiced in much of modern society.

  11. lollipoplover September 29, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Holy Paranoia, Batman.

    Thinking that every blog, Facebook post, or *home alone* moment will attract creepers and SPREADING this poison to viewers is so entirely irresponsible journalism. I can’t believe folks still watch this show! What, so now that she did this interview on TV she has to have a security detail and that everyone wants suddenly to kidnap her son? Right…

    “We seem to think so little of our kids that we don’t even try to prepare them for dangerous situations in which they may find themselves. Instead we assume that the only safe place to be is right by our sides all the time.”

    We insult our kids (imagine how her son would feel after watching this interview)and their competency every time we question a 7 year-old staying in a locked residence while a parent is gone for 15 minutes. This is a good parenting practices as it teaches independence and self-sufficiency. And I could slap that Dr.Travis in the face for asking where we draw the line- “Going to Aruba”. It’s an errand and 7 is not a toddler. I’d take the advice of a savvy, confident 7 year-old over these quacks.

    I also hate how these *experts* shamed this poor mother for doing something that every parent does. Why did they even invite her on to share her story if they were going to attack her for broadcasting it and putting her son at *risk*?
    Why don’t they ever present a balance of statistics that show that her son is more likely to meet an untimely death being hit by a car walking to a laundromat than by the Hamburglar stalking Lizzie on bad daytime tv and breaking into her home?

  12. AmyO September 29, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I love that response. Now when someone says the “But what if…” when I let my daughter do something independently, I’m going to say that I’ve been watching her so closely I know she’s ready.

  13. Roger the Shrubber September 29, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Cynthia812: Keep normalizing it.

    I argue with my wife that that is what I am trying to do. She disagrees that it is a pursuit worth the risk.

  14. Neil M. September 29, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Lenore, I remember when you were on this show, one of the hosts said, “I don’t care what the statistics say.” That not only conceded the point you were trying to make, but it reflected that these people don’t base their judgments on anything resembling fact.

    Also, the dude who was worried about predators following Lizzie’s blog is just being silly. Yes, one can dream up any scenario, but that doesn’t mean it’s likely to happen. Sheesh.

  15. Rich Wilson September 29, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    I used to know an artist who would put one glaring ‘error’ in any show he did. There’e be one piece with bad perspective or something. He said it was his gift to the critics. They could not have a review, no matter how positive, that didn’t have one negative point. He felt it was their inner “I know better” that they just couldn’t let go of.

    I don’t think it’s possible to go on a show like this and have the panel say “Great! Love it! Bye!”. They need to be experts, so they have to find something you did wrong so they can support their expertise.

    That was the case here. The ‘mistake’ was trumped up, and he kept blindly pushing it even after it had been completely deflated.

    But hey, he’s the expert.

  16. Roger the Shrubber September 29, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Did not start until age 8 because that was our County’s guidelines.

    I find ‘age based’ guidelines to be ridiculous. As if some magical process occurs on one’s birthday. But doing so defines the infraction, allowing for enforcement. I would trust my 6-year old with many things that would be irresponsible for other’s 10-year olds.

  17. Ann in L.A. September 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    When our boy started preschool, he wouldn’t get out of the car in the drop off line; I had to park and walk him in. One day, I realized that he’d been ready to just be dropped off for about two weeks already, but that *I* liked to walk him in. The next day, we just used the drop off. It took my 2 weeks to realize he was ready.

    Thinking about other situations, I figure we do things for our kids about 20% longer than we should.

  18. Kenny Felder September 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    I would love to see her turn to the Doctors and say “What if I had taken my son with me and then had a horrible car accident? What then?” Every time they attack, come back with that. “What if a drunk driver had rammed my car? What if a semi tipped over on my car? Shouldn’t all mothers leave their children at home when they run errands? If that prevented even one child from dying in a car accident, wouldn’t it be worth it? Shouldn’t we make a law?”

    The punch line–not that these types of people ever care about actual risk–is that death or permanent injury from a car accident is far, far more likely than all the kidnappings and house fires and child-molesting-neighbors put together. If all mothers left their children home when they ran errands, many lives would be saved. (Not that I am actually advocating such a law.)

  19. lollipoplover September 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    @Kenny Felder- Sadly, the shaming has spread to every child accident/death/trauma as preventable, except car accidents. You took you perfectly capable 7 year-old with you to the grocery store? Got in a nasty accident because you were yelling at him for whining about going out again…why-can’t-he-just-stay-home and why won’t you trust him argument that caused you to be distracted while driving. But 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.

    Accidental death, despite our finest advances, still happens. Often. We need to stop the blaming (and shaming) of normal parenting practices and discontinue this myth that parents can prevent every bad thing from happening to our children. I, for one, never received my parenting super power cape (can I get ElastigirL?)

  20. Becky September 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    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.

  21. Roger the Shrubber September 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Becky – I can understand the argument that you believe that your young child cannot be left alone because he will get himself into some trouble and hurt himself. But why do you fear that someone else would harm your child if they were to be left alone? And if you fear that other people are the threat, how does this change when the child turns 10?

    Why would there be such a rule on a military base? Are military bases populated by people who are a threat to children?

  22. pentamom September 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    “People really need to take a step back to think. Even if a local pedophile figured out through reading Facebook, Twitter, or a blog that a child was home alone, there would be a lot of logistics to find and abduct that child. He would have to look up the child’s address, hope he had the right address, get in the car, drive to the child’s house, and then hope that the kid is still home alone. Then he would have to figure out a way into the house to snatch the child. That sounds like an awful lot of work for something that has a low chance of success. ”

    This applies almost as much to the silly “Don’t text your location when you’re out to dinner” or “don’t mention when you’re going on vacation” nonsense. This is only a threat if 1) you’re either dumb enough in the first place to make your entire profile public or you have *actual Facebook friends* who are burglars or 2) people who are not your actual Facebook friends think they know your actions minutely enough to know that a) there’s nobody else who lives in your home who didn’t go with you b) your house is not being house-sat c) you won’t be home in ten minutes anyway.

    Child crimes and burglaries are crimes of opportunity, they are not master plots by people who spend tons of time doing research and are experts at figuring out exactly how long you’ll be gone and just sit around waiting for someone to post “having the great scallopini at Tony’s” so they can go knock over your house. At least, not if you’re not some rich or famous person or have a notable jewel or art collection, in which case you would presumably have this thing called “security.”

  23. Warren September 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    No there is not a lot of time to teach them independance and responsibility. Time goes by far too fast to say something like that.

    Unless of course you are talking about still teaching them at 30, when they are living in your basement.

  24. M September 29, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Statistically, the most likely person to kill a child is a parent of the child.

    The person most likely to kidnap a child is a parent or family member.

    The person most likely to molest or abuse a child is someone trusted by the family, or a family member.

    If you look at it from a purely statistically point of view, a child home alone probably has less chance of being kidnapped, molested, abused, or killed than a child surrounded by family.

  25. Becky September 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Roger- The base has no tolerance for this type of behavior and believes young children should be supervised at all times. The age varies from base to base, but I have never seen anything younger than 10. The rule isn’t really about the kind of people on the military base, it is more about being responsible parents.

    Base Policies

    Home Alone

    Children under 12 years old will not be left alone in government quarters. Children will not be left in the care of anyone less than 13 years old. Children will not be supervised by someone under the age of 17 years old for long periods of time.

    As far as whether or not someone would harm my child if left alone, I know the chances are small but crimes of opportunity do happen. I am just not willing to take a chance with my child. At 10, a child is much more equipped to deal with any scenario that might occur.

  26. lollipoplover September 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    “It is absolutely irresponsible to leave a child age 5,6,7 even 8 at home alone.”

    It is absolutely irresponsible to make blanket statements about ability and maturity based on age alone.

    What is the age that children are magically deemed trustworthy? Parenting requires frequent tests, new experiences, and learning to do things alone. This is not lazy parenting. Raising competent kids requires more effort and teachable moments than keeping junior on a ball and chain.

    Instilling fear in kids is irresponsible.
    I gladly trust my bookworm 8 year-old to obey house rules and stay home while I pick up her brother from soccer practice. This is normal parenting and has been for generations. Why are some trying to enforce leash laws on children who are perfectly capable?

  27. Stacy September 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    I love the focus on the individual abilities and needs of the child. A parent is not being lazy or neglectful, the common insults, when they make a judgment based on their knowledge of their individual child. I can easily name the strengths and weaknesses of each of my children in a home alone situation. Her child sounds much like my middle child, who would have done fine at home alone at that age. I was going to say that I didn’t leave her until age nine, but if I don’t limit it to driving somewhere in the car, I’m sure we went for a walk or two while my quiet little homebody stayed curled up with a book.

  28. Havva September 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    @Roger the Shrubber, I concur that age based guidelines can be pretty ridiculous and I resent to some extent that due to these my daughter will be restricted much longer than I was in my youth. But public opinion is pretty out of whack. (43% of people think it should be illegal for a 12 year old to go to the park on their own. The median age people point to for a kid to play in their own front yard is 10.) Note the poll on Reason if you haven’t seen it already:

    So I have some reluctant appreciation for local CPS saying 8. At least I have a line where my daughter and I will be in the clear despite the fact that it is virtually guaranteed that she will meet someone who disapproves. At the same time, for very short absences from adult company, with help close at hand, I think there is a reason kids once started walking to school on their own at the age of 5. I’ve now watched 4 nieces and nephews reach that age and each one had a lot come together mentally for them right around that age. Between a reduction in impulsive behavior, solid navigation, a clear understanding of what was going on around them, the ability to consistently hold in mind what was hazardous, and the ability to clearly communicate; I can easily see why previous generations trusted kids that age to walk a few blocks to school with friends.

    Lots of places still seem to see something in 5 year olds, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan still expect/allow kindergarteners to walk to school alone. I’ve even seen a Pennsylvania park with a sign setting the age at 5.

    Sure a kid should be older for substantial and frequent time without the ability to run to a parent or other trusted adult. But how society has moved that line from 5 all the way to 10, and 12 in various places baffles me.

  29. Reziac September 29, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    We’re raising a generation of clueless incompetents. Imagine what sort of kids THEY will raise… that’s more scary than anything that “might” happen to a child today.

  30. Dee September 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Can I tell you how much I hate that show. Okay, so my exposure to them is limited to this and when they piled on you about FRK, but seriously, just scan their episode topics. They don’t deserve medical licenses (if they even have them) and what does a medical doctor have to do with deciding to leave your child home alone?

  31. Roger the Shrubber September 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Becky – you are well suited for military life. Obeying orders without question and believing and internalizing every line of bull fed to you.

  32. Karon September 29, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I just had this thought: we’re supposed to protect our kids at all costs, from all possibilities. As we all know, doing so doesn’t teach them how to do it themselves.

    What happens when our kids are the parents who are supposed to be protecting their kids from all bad possibilities, if we haven’t taught our kids how to be safe on their own? Will we, then grandparents, still be on the hook for the safety of our grandchildren?

  33. Nicole September 29, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Thousands of parents every day in other parts of the world lose their young children to illness because they don’t have clean water, or because they are caught in the crossfire of civil war. So why, instead of being aware of the relative ease and safety of our lives in America, are so many of us determined to find phantom danger lurking in every corner? I doubt that at any other time in human history have so many people in one country had so little to be really frightened by on a daily basis. Maybe evolution hasn’t caught up with us, and we just aren’t wired to accept the reality of how good we have it.

  34. E September 29, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    I think the Mom seems completely rational about how and why they decided to leave him home. I don’t think she should be shamed at all.

    The part about sharing on the internet that you are away or out of your house is probably fair game, but not for her specific scenario (since it is NOT in real time). But, I’ll admit that I think it’s been something I think about when we’re traveling. We use a light on a timer, cancel the newspaper, etc — so it’s not super obvious we are gone. But, I’m not sure I have much of an internet footprint to connect the dots anyway.

    I do wonder about that foursquare app where it seems like whereabouts are all right there in one place for someone (I mean, it’s the whole point of the app/website, to say exactly where you are in real-time), but since I don’t use it – have no clue of the ‘openness’ of it.

  35. Karon September 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    To continue the thought, what is it about this generation of parents that somehow makes us better than our predecessors at protecting our kids, that makes us more capable of protecting them from random occurrences? Is this magic power supposed to transfer to our progeny by osmosis?

  36. SOA September 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    I have left my kids alone in the house sleeping while we went over to the next door neighbors house. We even set up a camera in their room so I can check on them by just glancing at the video screen. Kinda like a baby monitor. I did that when they were like 5. I also would just pop over every 15 minutes and peek at them then go back over to their house. It was literally 20 feet from our house so I was actually further away when I go to check the mail.

    I would not leave them alone at 7 to actually like go to the store or something yet. My typical son I could trust in about 2 years or so. My son with autism I really don’t know when I could trust him. They are already telling me though they want to stay home alone when I have to drag them with on boring errands.

    I stayed home alone the first time when I was 9 or 10 I believe while my parents went to a nearby restaurant for brunch. I had the restaurants number if anything happened or could go to neighbors or call police for help. It was fine. I watched tv.

  37. E September 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Good point Karon. And if I sit and think about it. I cannot recall a classmate of mine that suffered from the kind of thing that’s being discussed. I can name classmates that died in car accidents, but I don’t recall any that suffered the kind of tragedy we’re seeing discussed here. I can’t recall any of my children’s classmates suffering in that matter either (they are both post-HS). I can name a number of kids that have been in bad car accidents (some who lost their lives) and some that are suffering from addiction issues.

    Of course, assault and abduction are serious issues, I’m just suggesting that substance abuse issues are probably FAR more common than any of the other stuff that we’re supposed to be afraid of.

  38. Beth September 29, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    “This applies almost as much to the silly “Don’t text your location when you’re out to dinner” or “don’t mention when you’re going on vacation” nonsense.”

    ARGH, I get told this all the time. My response is always “I don’t have any FB friends who are criminals, and I actually *KNOW* all my FB friends, and FB is about sharing info about your life so…I’m gonna do that.”

    What I get in return is usually to stop trusting FB security settings, anyone in the world can read anything I post. And my response to that? “I’m not important enough for anyone who doesn’t know me to care about!”

  39. lollipoplover September 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    The deaths of children I remember growing up:
    My classmate’s younger sister drowning during swim lessons, teen boys struck and killed by a drunk driver, drug overdoses, and suicides. Several suicides.

    In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers. With all of the safety advances and superior parenting knowledge, why can’t we fix THAT? As a responsible parent, I am trying to raise my children to feel empowered and strong, not worthless and helpless. Allowing them to prove how worthy they are of my trust helps foster this stronger mental state.

  40. SKL September 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    I once did some internet research to find out the relative incidence of certain fatal accidents in children. I was really surprised to find that the incidence of all deaths in children is incredibly low, and most of them are from problems the kids are born with (birth defects) or develop (like cancer). When you take out the truly uncontrollable causes of death in children, and then take out the kids who die as passengers in car accidents, you are left with an extremely rare phenomenon, even in the aggregate. Looking at he bare numbers makes fear-mongering seem that much more ridiculous. The fact that we even give it lip service is kind of ridiculous.

  41. SOA September 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm #


    My parents starting leaving me alone regularly during the day about middle school and in the evenings when my mom and Stepfather would go on dates.

    I started babysitting myself in middle school and high school. When I got my drivers license they left me alone over night and sometimes all weekend.

    We always had the phone to call for help and neighbors near by to go to for help and my father lived across town I could call him for help too.

  42. SOA September 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Beth: I agree. If you have 5000 friends on facebook you probably should not announce when you are not home. But if you only have less than 200 like I do and it is all people you know and trust, you really don’t have to worry. My facebook is locked down and no one sees it but friends.

  43. Wendy W September 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Why do military bases have a rule re: age to leave kids alone?
    1. Because making rules to standardize EVERYTHING is how the military operates.
    2. Because one of the biggest issues in military housing is butinsky residents who LOVE to report every little thing that they perceive their neighbors are doing wrong. Drawing a line eliminates a lot of calls. We did know one local butinsky that got herself and her family kicked out of base housing because of her frequent calls to report other’s infractions, so it works both ways.

    Yes, I did worry about a neighbor realizing she was home alone. I did NOT worry about her actually BEING home alone. And since that child is now 28 and we haven’t lived on a base in nearly 15yrs, I’m not really worried about anyone else’s opinion on the matter.

  44. E September 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    @lollipoplover and @SKL — wouldn’t it be refreshing to present “how to raise healthy kids” within that framework? What are real risks…what helps prevent against real risks (drugs, alcohol, safer driving, mental health).

    In our community this week – 2 kids lost their lives as passengers in carpools headed to high schools. It’s too soon to do anything but grieve, but there is some question about the number of kids that were in the cars driven by inexperienced drivers (we do have graduated licenses in this state, it’s possible that at least 1 should not have been driving that many kids). There was a quote from the Hwy Research Center saying that the number of teen passengers was the greatest common denominator in teen crashes.

    Anyway — you get my drift. Talk about things that actually ARE a risk to kids and what real precautions make sense. I realize most of these “you let your kid do what?…” are dealing with smaller children, but let’s talk about actual risk.

  45. Papilio September 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Sooo… I’m just gonna say what I thought when watching Lenore on the Today Show after reading fearmongering about ‘Now they know where your son lives!’: Most rapist creeps are men. Most men are heterosexual non-pedophiles. That mom looks cute.
    Why are they worrying about the KID getting preyed upon?

    @Wendy: “Why do military bases have a rule re: age to leave kids alone?
    1. Because making rules to standardize EVERYTHING is how the military operates.
    2. Because one of the biggest issues in military housing is butinsky residents who LOVE to report every little thing that they perceive their neighbors are doing wrong. Drawing a line eliminates a lot of calls. We did know one local butinsky that got herself and her family kicked out of base housing because of her frequent calls to report other’s infractions, so it works both ways.”

    That is still no reason to pick such ridiculously high ages for everything. They could just state, ‘don’t leave a child at home alone until s/he is at least 7 years old’ and let the parents decide the exact age – that is also drawing a line.

  46. Wendy W September 29, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    Ten is also the age when kids get their own military ID card and are free to shop at base facilities w/o a parent. That age for being home alone may tie in with the rule that no-one is allowed on base w/o either an ID card or an escort. Easier to have an across-the-board age than a variety of ages.

  47. JP Merzetti September 29, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    Says a lot that car accidents are exempt. Shows us where are true values lie. Lets us in on that dirty little secret – that we made this bed, and now have to lie in it.
    Car-dependency pins down our public realm far more than any amount of helicoptering will ever do to any kid.

    And so lousy driving gets the bishop’s blessing.

    You know….I was a pretty hell-raisin’ kinda kid. Lotsa risky business. I’m beginning to think the reason why I survived my childhood was that I was hardly EVER in a car.
    Who’d’a thunk???

  48. pentamom September 29, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Beth, plus, my point is, even if the security settings on FB aren’t totally trustworthy, or you’re careless enough to leave everything public, people who don’t actually know much about you, and just happen across your status saying you’re out to dinner or out of town, have no way of knowing whether there’s someone still at home, how soon you’ll be back, whether you have a security system, or a doberman, or anything worth stealing anyway. To case a house well enough to do a well-thought-out burglary means you’re actually going to have watch it carefully and find out about the house and people’s habits, which means some one-off post on FB about your current location or where you’re going next week provides no additional useful information. I wouldn’t advise actually posting your itinerary and saying, “So, my house will be totally empty, hope the fish don’t get lonely! Gee, I hope my handyman has time to come over and fix the lock on the front door before I leave.” But simply saying “I’m going to France next week” or “Here I am at Pizza Hut” is just not enough to go on.

  49. Nicolas September 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    “Childhood is a prison sentence of 21 years.” — Thomas Szasz

  50. Roger the Shrubber September 30, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    Regarding posting too much information on FB, are you aware that the bumper stickers on your car are also a valuable and even more accessible wealth of information that can be used by a child predator to identify and locate you vulnerable child? I think that this may have already covered on this site, but check out this hypervigilant mom:

  51. E September 30, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    @JP — I wasn’t much of a risk-taker in HS, though I was no saint either. However, the one thing I DID do, was ride in cars with people that drove too fast. We lived in semi-country suburb of a larger city….lots of 2 lane curvy roads. I can honestly remember holding my friend’s hand in the back seat of a car that was FLYING down the road but we never said “hey slow down”. I was actually in an accident where the car I was in lost control and hit a tree. However, it was a small dead tree that just broke when we hit it. It was the only tree on the median in this state. A few years later, another young driver lost control on the same curve and hit a healthy tree. His passenger (a HS classmate) died. 35 years later, I still think about that often.

    The scariest part of parenting is not when you leave a kid at home to go to the store, or walk home from school/bus stop. The scariest part is when they leave your home in the car of a friend or back your own car out of the driveway.

  52. Papilio September 30, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    @Wendy: “Ten is also the age when kids get their own military ID card and are free to shop at base facilities w/o a parent.”

    And why is it ten and not seven? It is not some God-given, set-in-stone rule that dictates it should be ten. Someone, a person, thought children should be restricted all the way up to age ten. That person could pick a lower minimum age and then leave it to the parents.
    I’m actually a bit surprised that children are treated like toddlers for so long at a military base. Dad is off to war (or could be, I guess) and son can’t buy a loaf of bread at 9?
    I must be missing something…

  53. EricS September 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    Being a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or a cop, doesn’t exempt one from being human. And like all humans, we fear or we over come. We use common sense, or we don’t. We get influenced negatively, or positively.

    When things are blown way out of proportion, and there is no legitimate reason for what is being said, other than fear and regurgitation, any authoritative opinion is nullified. I’d rather listen to my 7 year old who says it as he sees it, than some sanctimonious fearful authority, who doesn’t look at the bigger picture. And talks out of their arse of “what if’s”.

    If you believe in “what if’s” then you, by definition should believe in ANYTHING can happen. Whether your kid is asleep in his bed, taking a bath, potty, sitting in a car, walking down the stairs, walking from his room to the bathroom, stepping foot outside, etc… That you MUST, AT ALL TIMES, have your eyes on your kid(s). Because if you take your eyes off of them even for just ONE SECOND, then YOU are a “bad” and “negligent” parent. If you can’t accomplish this until your kids are 18 and older, then you are a hypocrite. And can’t follow your own advise and beliefs.

    You can’t spout off these comments, “But aren’t you worried that there are creeps are around every corner, assiduously reading mommy blogs. who will now be focused on your son, your apartment building and your errand schedule, so the minute you leave to get the dry cleaning, they could run in and snatch your kid???”, then pick and choose what suits YOUR needs better. Either you follow it through, or you don’t. Meaning you use common sense, and realize, you are WRONG in thinking your child is in danger ALL THE TIME. Or you bubble wrap your kids and keep an eye on them 24/7. Anything else, you become a bad parent. 😉

  54. EricS September 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    @Nicole: I don’t think it’s about evolution, unless your referring to “de-evolution”. lol People have just stopped thinking for themselves. And relying on others to the thinking for them. That’s why more and more people heavily rely on technology and the internet for their info. If they read it online, it MUST be true. So they spread it. And like minded people believe what was posted, and they re-post. And so on. Never, ever doing actual research to find out how reliable the information is. Many things on the internet are either embellished, or just not true. But people are too lazy to figure that out for themselves. Now it’s become habit for many. They have been manipulated and conditioned to think the way they do. And most never realize they just got conned. Monkey see, monkey do.

    And because of these “monkeys”, the people who still have and use common sense, get crapped on for doing what is as natural as the sun coming up and setting. So now these smart parents, become fearful that they’ll get in trouble, or go to jail for letting their kids be kids. So they refrain from it. It’s a vicious cycle perpetuated by ignorance. And the need to feel sanctimonious.

  55. EricS September 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    @Ann In LA: What it all boils down to is, it’s mostly to do with how the parents feel. Not how the child feels. Parents fear, and distrust, so they fear and distrust FOR their kids. Even if their kids is more than capable of handling situations on their own. And would rather. That parents want to feel better, and calmer, so they do the things that make THEM feel better and calmer. At the expense of their children’s mental and emotional development.

    Fear makes people do the craziest things. Sometimes so much, they don’t even think about the negative impact it has on their children’s future. THEY just want to feel better.

  56. Wendy W September 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    “And why is it ten and not seven? It is not some God-given, set-in-stone rule that dictates it should be ten…. Dad is off to war (or could be, I guess) and son can’t buy a loaf of bread at 9?
    I must be missing something…”

    You are missing the fact that a military ID card is a very closely protected document. A lost ID card is a big deal. They are a sought-after commodity by identity thieves and other fraud types. I’m sure it has a lot less to do with buying bread and more to do with the fact that most kids are incapable of keeping track of their shoes, much less a small laminated card.

    No matter the exact age chosen there will ALWAYS be kids who could have handled the responsibility earlier, and ones who weren’t ready yet. I grew up military, and raised military kids. I have no problem with 10 as a the official age. In a military community it’s something of a rite of passage to get your ID card, and most kids are excited to finally pass that milestone.

  57. Havva September 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    That is a facinating bit of perspective. So the experience of the US armed forces is that 10 year olds as capable of securing and safely transporting sensitive documentation. And yet half the country thinks 10 year olds are hardly capable of playing in their own front yard. What a disconnect.

  58. TinyTyrantsMom September 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    I think we all realize that what happened to Polly Klass and Danielle Van Dam is every parent’s worst nightmare. But does anyone remember where Polly Danielle, and Elizabeth Smart were abducted from? Their own bedrooms – while their parents were home.
    Life is random and sometimes scary, but you can’t live your life trying to protect yourself from one in a million chances.

  59. KR October 12, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    Not sure how to get a clip posted here, but quotes will do. If Lizzie had aired this clip, I wonder what the responses would have been:

    “You think you can do these things, but you just can’t Nemo!” Marlin shouts to Dory.

    Along the lines of, can’t ride your bike/walk to school, can’t stay home while mom gets groceries, can’t play outside without supervision…etc.

    When parents don’t allow a child to be alone, they (the parents) are essentially saying ‘We don’t trust you kiddo.”