The Onion Nails it AGAIN about Parenting


Almost every time I’m interviewed about “Why rhtisasdba
I Let My 9 Year Old Ride the Subway Alone
” (and he’s 17 now!), the interviewer finally leans over to ask, “But Lenore, how would you have felt if he never came home?”

Since I think the interviewer can pretty much guess how I’d feel, it finally occurred to me that this is not a question — it’s an accusation. “How would you have felt…” is code for, “How come you weren’t thinking about how terrible you’d feel, knowing the role YOU played in this easily preventable tragedy?”

Parents are constantly exhorted not just to imagine the worst possible thing that could happen to their kids if they let them wait in the car/walk to school/sleep on a non-organic mattress. They are also supposed to imagine the guilt that would consume them forever.

Which is a long, super-somber way of saying what the Onion just said so perfectly:

Report: U.S. Parents’ Top Concern Is Child Dying From Something They Could Be Blamed For

WASHINGTON―According to a Pew Research Center report published Tuesday, the number-one worry among mothers and fathers in all parts of the country is their child dying from something they could be blamed for as parents. “When surveyed, the majority of American parents said their single greatest fear was the death of their child, namely from some cause that could ultimately be traced back to them,” the report read in part, before noting that many parents in the U.S. frequently lie awake at night worrying about the unthinkable happening to their son or daughter and causing the public to look upon them as criminally liable for their death…

Read the rest here (darn short). Or tell us about a time you watched anticipatory guilt play out. – L.

Here's God judging Adam. But at least it's not on Facebook. (Courtesy of William Blake)

Here’s God judging Adam. But at least it’s not on Facebook. (Courtesy of William Blake)


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51 Responses to The Onion Nails it AGAIN about Parenting

  1. Rick March 10, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    Forget about “how would you have felt if he never came home?” Ask “how would you feel if he never left home?”

  2. Beth2 March 10, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    Excellent! And when I scrolled down, the post below it was equally awesome:

    “….Initial attempts to subdue the wailing child, which reportedly included presenting her with a bottle and later a stuffed animal, are said to have failed miserably, leading onlookers to conclude that the inept adults lacked even the most basic child-rearing skills……”

    Thank you, Onion!

  3. lollipoplover March 10, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    ” The report found the second-greatest fear among parents was picking up a random phone call and hearing from authorities that charges had been filed against them.”


    This *report* pretty much nails it.

  4. rce March 10, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    I don’t totally agree with this. I do not think that parents are mostly worried about being judged socially, or criminally.

    A couple of years ago, my car was in my driveway, my kids were inside, they started playing (a game they used to do, pretending they were mom and dad) and I let them stay in the car for a while. I was just by the car.
    Suddenly, the gearstick moved, and the car rolled down. By miracle, nothing happened to the kids. The car went down the steep driveway, crossed the road (no cars passing by, miracle!) and ended up in the front neighbors front yard. The car door was half open, hit a tree, causing a lot of damage to the car.
    My thought was not if I could have been blamed or not, but that I was RESPONSIBLE. Yes I was. They were with me and I was responsible.
    It turned out that the gearstick was faulty, and the car manufacturer repaired it for free. So I was not guilty, but I was RESPONSIBLE for them. For me, this was overwhelming, I felt that I had totally misjudged the situation.

  5. MichaelF March 10, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    Another key point: “people saw them as in some way culpable”

    Yup, as long as I can remain mysterious, life is good.

  6. lollipoplover March 10, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    i wish this was an Onion story:

  7. ezym March 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    This proves that anything can happen. The parents shouldn’t be blamed if it wasn’t their fault. Definitely, they are not negligent. The thing is it happened and fate or whatever it is happen as well in rare instances such as this. If a young child is left in a car at a parking lot, yes then I do blame the parents. There is always possibility of kidnapping or even a child dying in a hot car. So, the parents should certainly be aware of this. It is also considered a crime for negligence involving a child’s life.

  8. pentamom March 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    “If a young child is left in a car at a parking lot, yes then I do blame the parents. There is always possibility of kidnapping or even a child dying in a hot car.”

    I really want someone to explain to me how it is more risky with respect to kidnapping, to leave children in a locked car in a public place in broad daylight, than to have them anywhere else. Please?

  9. Workshop March 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    “Fault” is a funny thing.

    See, there are almost no accidents that happen that “just happen.” A meteor striking someone, that is pure chance. But everything else, car crashes and emergency room trips and trees falling on houses, everything else has someone “at fault.” The issue is really “is there any reason to believe that gross negligence led to the problem?”

    If I’m driving and someone hits me, I may have fault for not being aware enough of my surroundings. Sure, the other driver was drunk, but I could have slowed and reduced the injury. I can lock my doors so that the bad guy doesn’t come in and steal my television. I am not “at fault” for either issue, but there are things I can do to reduce my risks.

    Society has taken this idea and turned it up to 11. “If you could have done it, you should have!” It’s the same thinking that leads people to make the most stupid accusation “if it saves just one life . . . .” Heck, I can save lots of lives by banning cars, but it will make life more difficult and cause other people to suffer, like the person who needs to be rushed to a hospital via ambulance.

    People need to reengage the gray matter located between their ears, but that is probably beyond most people’s ability. Emotion rules the day. Logic is a quaint afterthought.

  10. lollipoplover March 10, 2016 at 1:08 pm #


    Or drive with a loaded gun a child can reach!

    But ” If a young child is left in a car at a parking lot, yes then I do blame the parents.”

    So, having a parent with you, no blame, just an accident?
    No parent=Not an accident=blame placed

  11. Kenny Felder March 10, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    This is *so* right on target, and it went straight up on my Facebook page today. We could substitute “schools” for “parents” and it would work just as well.

    I ask people this question all the time. “Mom is going shopping, and six-year-old Johnny says he doesn’t want to go. He would rather stay home and play with his Legos. Should she let him?”

    Of course not! He might be kidnapped! The house might burn down! If she forces him to come along, the only thing that could go wrong is a car accident, right?

    Oops. The car accident is far more likely than the fire or the kidnapping, and just as deadly. If what she really cares about is little Johnny’s safety, she should absolutely leave him at home. But she won’t do that, will she? Because no one would blame her for the car accident (assuming Johnny was buckled in), but they would absolutely blame her for the fire or the kidnapping. Heck, they might blame her for those even if they didn’t happen!

    At the high school where I teach, students routinely drive themselves to and from school. But they are not allowed to drive themselves to and from field trips. Can anyone even pretend that this is about safety rather than liability?

  12. BL March 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    When did The Onion stop doing humor and start doing straight news?

  13. sexhysteria March 10, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Even feminist authors have reported the repeated “I, I, I” in mothers’ narratives of why they parent the way they do.

  14. Emily March 10, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    >>At the high school where I teach, students routinely drive themselves to and from school. But they are not allowed to drive themselves to and from field trips. Can anyone even pretend that this is about safety rather than liability?<<

    Really? What if a student wants to meet the class at the field trip destination, and then leave independently after the field trip, rather than coming to school and then taking the bus, and then busing back to school and going home? Is that allowed? Does it make a difference if there's no car involved, like, say the class is going on a full-day field trip to a museum that happens to be within walking distance of the student's house, while the school isn't? Would it then be permissible for the student to walk to the museum in the morning, meet the class there, and then walk home from the museum after the field trip/school day is finished? Do the rules change after the students reach their 18th birthdays? I know that that made a difference when I was in high school–we had OAC back then (university prep year for advanced-stream students, taken after grade twelve), and so, this happened a lot. Even now, it comes up with grade twelve students whose birthdays fall within the school year. So, my high school had a different set of rules for students who were adults–once you turned eighteen, you could sign yourself in and out of school, write your own notes for absences and illnesses and so forth, and transport yourself to and from field trips. I think there were other freedoms attached to it as well, but I don't really remember. But, the point was, my school didn't believe in treating teenage, near-adult, and legally adult students as infants, and then releasing them into the "wild" of college, university, or the workplace after they graduated, and expecting them to succeed as adults. Actually, some of our privileges were incremental–it was open campus for all students, so we could come and go freely during lunch, and once you had 24 credits (usually by the beginning of grade twelve), you could take six classes per year rather than the full course load of eight. Most of us took three classes per semester in grade twelve and OAC, so we had a spare each semester, because by then, our classes were harder. The "open campus" policy also applied to spares, so the overall effect was, we didn't have to be at school unless we had to be in class, and the school didn't care how we came and went. For example, in grade ten, I went to a friend's house after school one day to shoot a video for English class. I joined her on the school bus, and then my dad picked me up after we were finished. We didn't have to ask permission. I didn't think much of it then, but those experiences teach young people how to make their own arrangements when they become adults, by giving them the opportunity to practice those skills. Without that practice, you end up with students who expect to be hand-held through university.

  15. EricS March 10, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    Lol! It’s the Onion. But some of the things they post actually have merit. Again, it’s always about the parents, and not so much about the children. Making the problem…Parents. Not the world, not the children. Parents. Selfish, self-centered, insecure parents. Thinking first about themselves and what makes themselves feel better, before they think about what is actually best for their children. They have forgotten, that the RIGHT thing to do, is usually the hardest thing to do. So many tend to take the easy route. Avoidance, rather than facing and learning to over come.

  16. EricS March 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    @rce: I would have to concur. It was your responsibility to 1. teach your kids how to be inside a car if left alone. eg. not get all rowdy and stepping all over the front and back seats. And 2. It’s called an emergency/parking brake. Common sense dictates if you have a standard car, use it when parked. Especially on an incline. What happened to you sounds like it was completely preventable. You just had to think first. 😉 But as long as you learned from that experience and have become a better, smarter person and parent.

    Like my pops used to tell me growing up, “no matter how old we get, we are always learning”.

  17. Warren March 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm #


    Come up with just one incident of a hot car death while parents ran an errand. I dare you! Also most kids taken in parking lots are by mistake and quickly found, because the car thief doesn’t want your kid. So hold on tight as to not fall off that high horse of yours.

  18. EricS March 10, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    “I do not think that parents are mostly worried about being judged socially, or criminally.”

    They are. Fear of something happening to oneself, usually overrides many other fears. It’s called self preservation. It’s a biological imperative. But these days, it’s also a product of social conditioning. Especially to insecure people. And there are a lot of insecure people out there who rely on others’ acceptance and recognition, rather than their own self worth. They don’t want to look bad towards others. Or they want to look good towards others. Regardless of how they go about doing it, and who gets hurt in the process.

  19. hineata March 10, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    @Lollipoplover – except for the fact that the woman could have been killed, I thought that was the funniest item on the news today. Feeling very sorry for the child….even though Mum is patently a moron, imagine having that on your conscience, when you’re old enough to realize what you accidentally did.

  20. EricS March 10, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Word, Workshop. Word.

  21. pentamom March 10, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    Emily, the answer is, in most places, no, the kid can’t drive anywhere school-related if he’s officially “at school,” and no, it doesn’t matter if he’s over 18.

    Dumb, yes, but there it is. I had to sign a release for my then 19-year-old son to participate in a senior class activity that involved a slip and slide.

  22. Catherine Caldwell-Harris March 10, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Appreciate Rick’s comment:
    Forget about “how would you have felt if he never came home?” Ask “how would you feel if he never left home?”

    I was recently kind of scared (unusual for me) when my boys abruptly halted our bike ride to scale and climb and jump off a long sloping wall that varied in height from 6 to 15 feet high. But I let them — or rather – I actually couldn’t stop them — I had to just call out to them to be careful and to jump off the low part.

    I don’t see other kids climbing high walls. I laughed the following day when a stranger warned my boys it was dangerous to play on the 4-foot wall by some stairs at the entrance to their school.

    Instead of focusing on the worst thing that could happen if the children to walk on top of a high wall, I focus on: what is the disadvantage of structuring our lives since birth so that (a) the children never get it into their head to throw down their bikes when they see the wall and run to climb it. (b) if they thought of it, they would be afraid to act on it because of the prior history of my parental restrictions and punishments for disobedience (necessary to keep kids from running to do things like climbing walls), (c) if they do run for the wall, what will happen if I race after them, and pull them down? After 40 min of playing on the wall, we went on for another 2 hours of adventures riding our bikes in an empty 5-story parking lot plus other urban spots.

    The negative impact of (a)-(c) is mighty. Far mightier than a trip to the emergency room for a broken leg. Fearful children who wait for me to give permission –?

    I also think about the positive impact of never doing (a)-(c). The positive impact of not acting on the worst fear is: joyful children who run to explore their world, who grew up brave and competent.

    Despite our constant activities doing things that would make other parents white with terror, there hasn’t been a trip to the emergency room or any bones broken, yet. The boys know what they can do and, in my opinion, maintain a good balance between ebullience and caution in the face of actual danger.

  23. Ron Skurat March 10, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    Next up: “Area Boy Bruised on Leg, Blames Dad for Not Teaching Him To Catch Ball Correctly” and “Area Girl Breaks Nail, Blames Mom Just Because, CPS Hearing Wednesday.”

    The Onion is a national treasure. It tells you something about the media that ALL of the shows & websites that try to critique (if you’ll pardon the word) our society are comical in nature. None of the straight shows have the nerve.

  24. Donald P March 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    A little off topic….I just saw a column in our local Gannett paper:

    How to prepare your child for day light savings time.

    Lol. Took my breath away.

  25. lollipoplover March 10, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    @hineata- this article has the mom’s actual Facebook posts about her *beliefs*:

    My favorite comment: “My right to have my child shoot me trumps your right to tell me that it’s a stupid idea.”

    But something like this will be called an *accident* because the parent was with the child. A child *alone* in a car, unharmed and waiting patiently, not that’s a felony. Dipshit mom driving with a loaded gun in the hands of a 4 year-old is an accident and probably won’t get charged, the sad state of parenting *rights* in our country.

  26. Agent0013 March 10, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    I love The Onion. Below this one is another good one about the pros and cons of helicopter parenting.

  27. Yocheved March 10, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    In other news, tonight my daughter took my purse, rode her bike to the store, bought ingredients for dinner and a school baking project (eek, a stove!), and came home safely.

    She’s 12, and it was dark outside.

    How do I “feel” as a parent? I feel like I just won the Olympics!

  28. Resident Iconoclast March 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Well Lenore, you could always respond to such “questions” by pointing out that even sooner, we parents “won’t be coming home, ever.” And then what? What if the kid is so dependent on adult supervision that, at 20-something, he can’t do anything for himself?

    Even better is this one: “Well, Mr. Reporter, is the candidate you voted for in the last Presidential election dialing back the endless wars? That’s the reason a lot of kids ‘don’t come home’ or come home with pieces missing, including their mental health. Often the President is found banging the drums for “gun control,” but handing your kids guns and asking them to risk their lives for piss poor reasons. The government is so intent on keeping children oh-so-safe, but then a bunch of cowards sit in the Congress and bang the drums to send them to get shot at, often defending regimes that aren’t worth their lives….most of the jokers casting these votes didn’t ever serve in the military, so it’s easy for them to push the button anytime. Where would you rather have YOUR kid, riding the bus in New York or driving a Humvee in Iraq?”

  29. Papilio March 10, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    “it finally occurred to me that this is not a question — it’s an accusation.”

    Well that only took you seven years 😛

    @Lollipoplover & Hineata: Heheheh :-E This is the kind of “freedom” that I call “freedumb” 🙂

  30. hineata March 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    @lollipoplover – my favourite response…’the only thing that will stop a bad toddler with a gun is a good toddler with a gun’ – almost sprayed my Weetbix about the table ☺☺.

  31. MichelleB March 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    @ workshop “If I’m driving and someone hits me, I may have fault for not being aware enough of my surroundings. Sure, the other driver was drunk, but I could have slowed and reduced the injury”

    Really? My husband was in a head on collision with a drunk driver who rounded a curve and crossed the center line of the highway. Doing the speed limit, there was no time for him to react. As soon as he saw those headlights and thought to head for the ditch, the two cars hit. Driving an SUV with working airbags reduced his injuries and probably saved his life. Does that mean that he would have been at fault if he was driving a smaller car and died?

    I had a friend tell me I could have avoided an accident where I was stopped at a red light (and had been for at least a full minute) and another car hit me from behind hard enough to injure the drivers in the two cars ahead of mine. The friend had taken a class on defensive driving and was convinced that the drivers of the already stopped cars could all have avoided the accident. (She’d also never been in an accident or had anything randomly bad happen to her.) The woman who hit me blamed her eight year old child for being too loud in the backseat. My friend blamed me. I tend to blame the woman who hit me who, since she didn’t have a license or insurance, shouldn’t have been on the road at all.

    As for the “Parents of Crying Child Must Not Be Any Good”…. I don’t usually like the Onion, but I love that one. We took the kids to the Grand Canyon and hiked a mile or two down the trail. My then-youngest wanted to be carried on my hip. Fine. Then he wanted to be put down. Also fine. I made SO many enemies that day, because every time we rounded a switchback he was screaming that I pick him up or let him down to walk. Nothing I did was going to make him happy. If we’d gone back to the car, he would have been mad about being in the car. Same with back at the campsite, back at home. He was just a cranky kid. But I’m betting that every single parent we passed thought that I should have just picked him up. Or put him down. Whatever was the opposite of what I’d done thirty seconds earlier.

  32. julie5050 March 10, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    I have a dear friend who lost her daughter at age 7. She was participating in an activity designed for people much older than she. But the mom knew her child well and trusted the judgement of her teacher. When the girl died the judgement came at her very harshly. “How could you have…” Why did you… ” … but the one that struck me most was :” A parent should never have to bury a child” —Where is that written? Who says that? Yes it is sad when a child dies… but it is much more sad if the child never really lives…..

  33. James Pollock March 10, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    People place irrational amounts of blame on themselves for things all the time. “If only I would have…” is a seductive line of reasoning, and it’s hard to get out the pattern, even when you (rationally) know better. This is true whether the bad event happened because of random chance, some person’s bad choices, or even outright hostility. And it happens for all sorts of traumatic/stressful events. People who’ve been divorced thinks about “could I have done something different, that would have saved the marriage? Should I have?” People who’ve lost a child or other close loved one can usually see at least point where, had the made a different decision, the outcome would have been different, and then blame themselves for making the choice they did.

    Once you’ve been in that hole, you want to keep other people from ever falling in. Sometimes that’s channelled well, and sometimes it’s not. But it isn’t going to stop.

  34. Donald March 10, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    “Emotion rules the day. Logic is a quaint afterthought.”

    This is the main theme behind my blog. It’s a study of why it’s so. When we understand the ‘why’, we can work on the ‘how’ to correct this problem.

    The ‘why’ is very complicated. It’s taken several pages to explain and I still have a few more to go. However much of the reason is on this page

  35. lollipoplover March 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    @hineata- thanks for that one, I needed a laugh after tonight (and a strong drink!)

    So my 9 yo daughter is biking and playing on the street after school with her little friends when an older boy (13) decides to throw a golf ball at her several times (he missed, repeatedly). My older son was playing basketball with his friends and came inside to report the melee, and when I checked on her she said not to say anything as this boy had terrible aim and missed hitting her several times (fortunately she has her mother’s cat-like reflexes!)

    Well I guess she had enough because she picked up the golf ball and chucked it back at him, hitting him square in the glasses. The dad just stopped by and asked me what I planned “to do” about his son’s broken eye glasses. I said maybe you should teach him not to throw projectiles at young girls repeatedly and expect a positive outcome. Fortunately, there were about 10 kids who came to the defense of my daughter and identified this kid as the aggressor and asked that he stay away from other kids on the street…but still, I HATE dealing with parents who think their kids can do no wrong.

  36. Curiuos March 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    Isn’t guilt a culturally learned response most often evoked by irrational religious standards and sanctions? Just check out Lenore’s picture of a harsh and vindictive deity kicking poor innocent Adam out of Paradise for a sin he did not himself commit. The wife was at fault, remember? Or was it some creepy crawly critter?

    So here we are in 2016, scared our kids will be snatched by a predator on the way home from the subway. Or, a fate worse than death, that they will be caught sexting and wind up on some horrendous list for the rest of their lives.

    And we are as helpless as poor Adam. Our only course of action is to lock them up until their eighteen , or twenty-something, or forty.

    An excellent article in the recent New Yorker (March 14, 2016) by Sarah Stillman called “The List” addresses the problem in great detail and quotes a Minnesota report mapping out reasonable alternatives to parental fear in the form of actions communities can take to protect children by addressing the root causes of violence toward children. The deep roots like societal norms that promote male superiority and sexual entitlement.

  37. James Pollock March 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

    “Just check out Lenore’s picture of a harsh and vindictive deity kicking poor innocent Adam out of Paradise for a sin he did not himself commit. The wife was at fault, remember? Or was it some creepy crawly critter?”

    That’s not even the worst case. Moses and the Israelites wanted out of Egypt. God wanted his people out of Egypt, too. So did He take his people out of Egypt? Heck no! First, he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so He’d be all justified in busting out some plagues He’d been working on. And He turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt just for looking at Him funny.

  38. Warren March 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

    You obviously don’t drive. I respond to numerous accidents each year, and your being more aware of your surroundings line is pure crap.

  39. elizabeth March 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

    James, ive read all three stories. You need to reread the bible. Also, i loved this article. Its funny. If my parents had said no all the time, i wouldnt have experiences that last a lifetime. I went on a school fieldtrip when i was probably nine. It was a day-long trip to chicago. I lived in fort wayne, indiana. If my parents had said, “no too dangerous chicago has high crime blah blah…” I wouldnt have an experience that i loved. I learned how to swim by just doing it. If the pool i was at hadnt had all those stupid, crippling rules, id still be wearing floaties today. I went to a birthday party for the friend of a friend who invited me. Didnt know the girl. I was ten. We went to the pool after cake, ice cream, and presents. My parents trusted my judgement. They still dont trust me with a tennis racket tho lol. My point is that my parents didnt let the rare “what if” scenarios rule their parenting. I was watching my brothers at the playground across the parkinglot at the apartment complex i lived at then at age nine. So it was two grade schoolers, a kindergartener, and a toddler. Yes, we were visible, but we were still by ourselves or with other children with no adult supervision. My parents didnt believe that constant attention and protection would help us. As a result, i learned how to defend myself from bullies. I bit a girl for pulling my pants down once. Well, enough ranting. Just something for the trolls on this blog to think about.

  40. James Pollock March 10, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    “James, ive read all three stories. You need to reread the bible.”

    I don’t see how these are related.

  41. Cassie March 11, 2016 at 2:33 am #

    I’ve got a lot of anxiety issues so I’m always thinking about the “what ifs”, but it so important not to let those rule your life our your child’s. I want an independent kiddo who feels confident doing stuff on her own. Who always knows I’m there for her, but can do her own thing. She’s only almost three, but she can be in the back yard by herself or anywhere in the house with out me.

    I have more anxiety about some one calling the cops on me then I do about any trouble she could potentially get into. Sadly that fear of the cops may keep me from letting her be as free range as I’d like.

    Something could always happen. And plenty of those things are just as likely to happen whether or not the parent is near by.

  42. Shawn D. March 11, 2016 at 7:55 am #

    “Almost every time I’m interviewed about ‘Why I Let My 9 Year Old Ride the Subway Alone’, the interviewer finally leans over to ask, ‘But Lenore, how would you have felt if he never came home?’

    “Since I think the interviewer can pretty much guess how I’d feel, it finally occurred to me that this is not a question — it’s an accusation.”

    That’s called “begging the question,” in which the conclusion is inherent in the premise of the question. NOTE: many folks use the term when they should be using “raising the question” — they’re not the same thing.

  43. Steve S March 11, 2016 at 8:15 am #

    Isn’t guilt a culturally learned response most often evoked by irrational religious standards and sanctions?


    Setting aside the notion that religious standards are irrational, I’d say that most of the guilt associated with parenting revolves around a wide variety of societal norms. Given that we are a social people, gullt is a natural result of this. Combine this with social media, and we are Ina situation where people’s actions can get a lot of attention.

  44. SKL March 11, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    I get that all the time from friends and relatives. One minute they say I’m a good parent, the next minute they imply that I couldn’t care less if my kid were raped, tortured, and murdered. :/

  45. pentamom March 11, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    “I really want someone to explain to me how it is more risky with respect to kidnapping, to leave children in a locked car in a public place in broad daylight, than to have them anywhere else. Please?”

    You know, this wasn’t just a rhetorical question. I really want someone to have a shot at it.

    But whenever and wherever I ask it, no one ever answers it. I wonder why? 😛

  46. Papilio March 11, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    @pentamom: Well there was that idiot “expert” that was pitted against Lenore (why do I always type Lenroe?) in some interview some time last year (?), maybe she would know? She was pretty self-convinced…

  47. Havva March 11, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    Okay @pentamom, I’ll take a shot at it:
    “How it is more risky with respect to kidnapping, to leave children in a locked car in a public place in broad daylight, than to have them anywhere else”?

    My answer:
    Criminals are more than 6,000 time more interested in stealing your car than they are in stealing your kid. Not every criminal notices a kid in the back seat right away. Thus your child is safer from theft if not connected to something that criminals actually want, such as your car.

    Backup Factoids:
    The FBI reports there were an estimated 699,594 motor vehicle thefts nationwide in 2013.
    From stats Lenore previously posted the “number of children abducted in “stereotypical kidnappings” (kidnapped by a stranger for ransom or for sexual purposes and/or transported away) in 1999, the most recent year for which we have statistics: 115.”
    And from ncjrs I find that “NISMART–1 estimated that approximately 3,200–4,600 children qualified for a “legal definition” nonfamily abduction known to police,” Also the range on the at 115 estimate is 60-170.

    So we have stats indicating stranger abductions which are not stereotypical of about 3,140-4,430, and stereotypical ones 60-170. Or about 26-52x more likely to be abducted for non-stereotypical reasons. Now those non-stereotypical kidnappings are probably not all happening incidental to stealing a car. And a locked car, in broad daylight, in a public place, are all modifiers that reduce your risk of car theft. Also the presence of a witness in the car is likely to reduce the risk, assuming the car thief notices the child/witness in time. But considering how vastly more likely it is for someone to want to steal the car than the kid, leaving a kid in the car should logically increase the risk of kidnapping. I don’t know how much car theft accounts for the 26-52x more common non-stereotypical kidnappings. But we do hear about such incidents. And I can’t think of anything else that would result in a stranger abduction, without being a stereotypical kidnapping. That said, there is no evidence that the accidental kidnapping factor really increases the risk of the kid being harmed, as car thieves generally have zero interest in harming kids. More importantly the risk of a car being stolen under the circumstances you described are so low that even if 100% of car thieves were incapable of noticing kids in backseats until after stealing the car, it would still be a sufficiently low risk activity.

  48. pentamom March 11, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

    Havva — that’s a fair shot. Of course, that assumes that your kid is really in danger if a non-violent car thief happens to run off with the kid in the car.

    If he’s a violent guy, he could carjack the car just as easily with you in it.

    Besides, that’s not actually kidnapping. I mean legally it might be, but that’s not the scenario that the person who propounds the theory, has in mind. When people talk about your kids being “kidnapped,” they’re not thinking of someone running off with your car, unconscious that your kids are in it. They’re thinking of someone somehow breaking into a locked car in broad daylight, and removing a child. And that can happen *more* easily in the store, than in the car. It’s easier to rip a kid out of a mother’s arms, than to get it out of a locked car in a public place in daytime.

  49. pentamom March 11, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    Clarification: you did address the unlikelihood of the child being harmed in that situation. Sorry, my mind was going off in a different direction with that.

  50. Emw March 12, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    My child died 31 years ago in a drowning accident, in a foreign country no less. The hardest thing I had to do was to let my other child have the freedom I had as a kid, but I did it. I never bought into the guilt of it. Shit happens, people die, even your own kids sometimes. You just gotta let it go and move on,or it will destroy you.

  51. Donna March 13, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Havva –

    If that number is the grand total of car thefts, your analysis improperly assumes that they are all stranger car thefts. Car theft, like just about every other crime, most commonly occurs between people known to each other. A child, minor or adult, taking a parent’s car while the parent is asleep or not home is most common. It would also include situations where someone borrows a car and keeps it longer than agreed upon. We get a few cases every year where someone “borrowed” a car for an afternoon and still has it weeks later when the police knock on their door to retrieve the car (and arrest them).

    So while stranger car theft is more common than stranger abduction, it certainly isn’t by an order of 6,000 times more common. And the majority of them are from the owner’s residence in the middle of the night (so extremely low likelihood of an accidental abduction) and not from a public place during daylight hours. Those taken from a public place during daylight hours tend to be cars unlocked and running as breaking a car window and hot wiring a car in a busy grocery store parking lot is pretty ballsy.