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This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Strangers!

As we approach the holiday of gratitude, here’s a little reminder that “stranger-danger” gets it wrong, and we should be grateful for all the humans looking out for kids.

This video (click here) was sent to Let Grow by Rosalie Witt, an early childhood instructor, consultant, and coach in Connecticut who helped us pass that state’s “Reasonable Childhood Independence” bill this year! It shows a little boy sitting down next to a bunch of different strangers — and what happens next.

Clearly it was not filmed in the U.S. (It seems to be from a publication called Fabiosa, out of Cyprus.) One reason the foreign pedigree is obvious is that the adults do not freak out at the idea of being seen with a child not their own.

But even if it’s not local, it was made here on earth, where it’s nice to remember that most adults are caring. In cultures that don’t automatically distrust any human interactions between adults and kids, the adults can actually follow through on their kind impulses.

And hey — while we were looking for the original video (which was impossible to embed), we found another version that seems to be from Korea. Also great!

And another — with an older student, below. So wonderful. It’s cool how the adults often speak in aphorisms.

So thank you for finding us this happy rabbit hole, Rosalie! We hope that now that Connecticut is a Let Grow state, more kid/adult interactions will be happening again!

And readers, if you’d like YOUR state to pass a Reasonable Childhood Independence law, here’s our legislative toolkit!

2 Responses to This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Strangers!

  1. Mark J Headley November 22, 2023 at 1:33 pm #

    I recently read an ADULT etiquette piece, I believe in the NY Times, insisting it’s wrong to make eye contact w/ strangers. Period. Including adults out and about.

    I fear many IMO appalling problems w/ have raising children are far from insulated to parenting. I noticed big differences traveling to other countries as a young adult some 30, 40 years ago.

  2. Mark Headley November 23, 2023 at 10:52 am #

    On review, I confirmed it was indeed the Times that published this piece.

    “Does Anyone Know How to Behave on the Subway Anymore?”


    Largely not in the wake of the pandemic, decrees Ana Ley, the Times” self-professed “Metro reporter covering transit in New York, focusing on its sprawling network of subways, buses and commuter rail lines as well as the people who ride, operate and repair the system.” She quotes, in turn, decrees from Jay Van Bavel, we’re told a professor at N.Y.U. who specializes in social psychology.

    I spot no authority for their anti-eye contact and other decrees, except they are limited to the subway. My apologies for not making this clear in my initial posting above.

    “The coronavirus also created new rules, such as social distancing”

    “[N]o matter how packed a train is, no one should ever come close to a stranger in a way that makes them uncomfortable.”

    ““It signals that you’re not a nice person,” Mr. Van Bavel said. “You’re not fair, and you welcome or create chaos.””

    I am appalled beyond words at these IMO cruel, presumptuous, baseless dictates. How can adults, much less children, fairly be expected to know what will make a stranger on a crowded train “uncomfortable”? To me, these are the words of a nasty, unfair person. To me, what’s most apt to create “chaos” is their wretched lack of civility. I’ve created no chaos making eye contact with strangers. To the contrary,I have intervened many times to restore order and civility–countering what I regard behavior improperly threatening peaceful, smaller children and adults. On trains and platforms as in schools and other locales. Including pregnant woman I see frequently, violently jostled on platforms, in trains. Why does it not matter at least as much what makes children and adults who prefer eye contact, and more, comfortable? How can I assess this–and who warrants protection–withOUT eye contact. I see no reason to simply march in line to these publishers I consider unfit to decree anything about our behavior.

    How are we supposed to ascertain what makes a person comfortable, uncomfortable, warranting protection withOUT eye contact? without assessing what is happening around you? I will not ceed the subways or other public spaces to antisocial bullies, nasty pontificators.

    Social distancing was a transient public health measure. Not a new rule of etiquette.

    Packed trains may render it impossible to maintain distance. Why the contrary pretense? We should blame a child who is pushed up against another person? Why? That to me is not nice. It’s unfair, welcoming of chaos, bullying.