When the Playgroup Mommies Think You’re A Slacker

Hi Readers! Today’s guest blogger is Jen Singer, who is so smart, funny and wise it’s a pleasure to inrtoduce you to each other! She’s got a new book out (don’t we all?): Stop rfttdyrseb
Second-Guessing Yourself: The Toddler Years,
and her blog is fun, too: http://mommasaid.net/ . Here’s her take on playgroup parents with a different worry/scold threshhold:


You’re at your playgroup when another mom jumps up, runs across the room and picks up your toddler, who had just fallen down.

He was not crying.

He was not perilously close to a sharp-edged table or fireplace.

He was not about to toss a breakable tchotchke across the room.

He was just sitting there, and, so were you. But the other mom is not sitting. She is brushing off your toddler, who is not dirty, consoling him and giving you the evil eye, as if to say, “How could you just sit there?”

Welcome to 21st century parenting, where we’re supposed to soften the blow of every little bump and tumble our kids take, where we’re supposed to hover, just in case. Today’s parents have become part roadie, part bodyguard. And no time is the modern pressure to protect more prevalent than when your kids are toddlers.

Naturally, your toddler can’t be a full-fledged Free-Range Kid just yet. If he was, you’d find him wandering down the street, behind the dog and in front of the police. Toddlers, with their newfound mobility and lack of reason, need someone to keep an eye on them pretty much as long as they’re awake.

But sometimes we take our modern concerns for safety a little too far, hence the woman who is now setting your toddler upright, when really, he could have figured it out himself. So what’s a Free Range Momma to do?

  1. Find like-minded friends. Your toddler really doesn’t care much who plays with him. In fact, at this age, he’s into parallel play, which looks a lot like two strangers at a salad bar. Why not make playdates with moms who share your philosophy when it comes to whether or not your son needs to be dusted off from every little bump?
  2. Don’t apologize. If the other mommies wonder why you’re not jumping up every other minute to hover over your toddler, tell them why you think that it’s best that your child – as long as he’s safe – can handle a little adversity. Tell them that you’re trying to raise an independent kid, and it they still don’t get it, see #1.
  3. Refer to milestone charts. If the milestone charts say that your two-year-old is more than ready to carry light items across the room, tell the other moms why you’re not rushing to help him bring you the remote, a stuffed Elmo and a tissue box. He can do it! Really. And you can be a Free-Range Mom.

Jen Singer is the author of “Stop Second-Guessing Yourself – The Toddler Years” (HCI, April 2009).


49 Responses to When the Playgroup Mommies Think You’re A Slacker

  1. Keith Rispin April 2, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    Thanks for that post. It is shockingly true and sad that in todays world kids cannot be kids. I am heartened that there seems to be a growing group of parents who are trying to get back to basics.

    My favourite saying when my kids fall down and for which I get horrified looks is ” A little pain never hurt anyone”


  2. sylvia_rachel April 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Hear, hear! 😀

    Although I remember when my daughter was that age I got it coming and going: if she fell and seemed OK and I didn’t run over to offer assistance, someone would give me the evil eye, but if she really did hurt herself and I went to help her, someone else would tell me that if I’d just left her alone she wouldn’t be making such a fuss. The truth was, though it’s possible there are two-year-olds who wait to start crying after hurting themselves until they see a parent freaking out, mine cried if she was hurt and didn’t cry if she wasn’t hurt, pretty much irrespective of what I did.

    Finding like-minded friends is the most reliable solution to this problem, just as it is when your baby sleeps with you and it seems like all the other mums are Ferberizing their two-month-olds, or when your three-year-old is still nursing at bedtime and your in-laws are telling all their friends how dysfunctional you are …

  3. Julie April 2, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    Well said! I have 2 toddlers, very soon to be 3 babies/toddlers and I hate it when other parents try to parent my kids. I mean, wipe her nose if you must, but there is no way I can get up off the floor at 8 mo pregnant to do it myself. That is why my 16 month old just carries me the kleenex herself- and then throws it in the garbage.

  4. Casey Barton April 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    Here’s a great example: http://www.videosift.com/video/Toddler-tries-newly-installed-wall-hack

    (Ok, the laughing seems a bit cruel, but I know I’ve been guilty of the same…)

  5. Uly April 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    Oh god. SMOCKS.

    My older niece, at two and a half, was perfectly capable of taking a smock off a hook at the BCM, putting it on, and then taking it off and returning it to the hook. All I had to do – and was willing to do! – was velcro and unvelcro it in the back. (If she’d worn it the other way she could’ve done that, but I was happy not to let her know.)

    And every time some busybody would inevitably interfere and do it for her. Frustrated me SO MUCH. Why are you treating her like a baby? I don’t treat YOU like a baby, so please, show me and mine the same respect.

    Same with the falling down. For a while, I took to telling people outright “Leave her alone”, which worked well enough when they saw she wasn’t crying. “Oh… weird, I guess she’s not upset!” No shit she’s not upset, because I don’t treat every stubbed toe like a calamity! Even if they *are* upset my reaction is “Come here if you need a kiss and hug” on the theory that I need to see them stand up to make sure everything really is all right. (And most of the time in between crying and standing they realize that coming to me is too much of a hassle and decide they’re okay after all.)

    I suppose if they couldn’t stand up, that *would* be a problem, but it hasn’t happened yet so I don’t worry about it.

  6. Tana April 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    Ah haaa…a subject near and dear to my heart. Like the time when a stranger pulled their car over in a parking lot to DEMAND of me why my 2 year old wasn’t wearing a hat (it was 55 degrees outside and a little windy), didn’t I know he would get sick? My reply? He hates hats. If he was wearing a hat, you’d have pulled over to ask me what I’d done to make this precious little boy cry. How do you know he’ll get sick? Why would you say such a thing? Are there germs in this parking lot that I’m unaware of? Do YOU have kids? The lady drove away, looking at me like I was completely crazy. My precocious (hatless) son waved goodbye cheerfully.
    Or the people in grocery stores who are very concerned about his well-being as he treats the shopping cart like a jungle gym (he’s very agile and has only fallen once, and then he landed on his feet). I ask them, would you rather I strapped him down and shopped while he sobbed that he wanted out? Would that improve your shopping experience?
    As for falling down, I wait to see how he reacts. If he’s really hurt, he lets me know. If he’s only hurt his pride, I comment, “That couldn’t have felt good, do you want a kiss?” He usually says yes (any excuse for a kiss), comes to me, I kiss him, and he cheers right up and runs off to play with an encouraging, “That’s my tough boy,” from me. I’ve gotten a few funny looks, but the few times someone’s gotten bold enough to glare or say anything, I ask, “Does he look neglected or unhappy to you?” The answer is always no, as I have a highly energetic, healthy, happy son. I’ve never had to elaborate. Like Uly says, if he couldn’t stand up and come to me, I’d treat that differently. So far, his legs and other body parts have always worked just fine.

  7. cagey April 2, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    Bravo. Great post. With my son, I used to say Rub it! in a chirpy voice if he bonked a body part. With my daughter, I say Shake it off! I claim to subscribe to the Lazy Philosophy of Parenting, but truthfully, I just do not want my children to be big crybabies. Even when my children (3.5 yo and 21 months old) are playing a room together and one of them begins crying, I listen for a moment. I judge whether someone actually got HURT and if so, the extent. I really try to stay out of petty arguments over ownership of toys, though.

    It is hard, though. Folks get all Judge Judge over your butt if you let your child out of arm’s reach. We let our children play on our front sidewalk, even if we happen to be up nearer to the house *gasp*. Often, folks walking by make supposedly benign comments such as “where are you parents?” when they know damned good and well that we are THERE. Also, I will never forget one time at the zoo, I only had my son at the time and he was about 18 months old, but I would let him run ahead of me, as long as he was within eyesight, that was fine with me. He loved exploring a bit “on his own” and I enjoyed watching him. One of the moms could not hide her nervousness. But seriously, was a bogeyman going to leap out of the bushes, snatch my kid and head for the exit, which was a good 2 miles away?? Yeah, right. I will admit, this is really hard for me to do now that I have TWO children and it is stressful. I do try to allow them to roam and explore as much as I can but sometimes it is hard if we are in a situation that is chaotic or has many exits.

  8. Annika April 2, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    I want to kiss Jen and all the other commenters on the mouth. (I hope that isn’t too awkward. I’ll brush my teeth first.) My kid is almost three and we’ve never babied him. But people always act like I am neglecting him. I wonder what they’d say if they knew that he likes to be spoon-fed and I don’t mind doing it! Oh, the contradictions.

  9. Michelle April 2, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    I love how you wrote the “part rodie/part body guard”. Some parents make their child the center of everything externally and internally. While internally (I’m talking the heart part) my children have taken center stage, externally it has always been important to me that they understand that there is more in this world than just them. I can hear myself telling them, “My life is important too” or “I also have a life that is not just you, you may be a big part of it but you are not all of it”. I have often gotten the look of scorn when people hear me speak to my children. I am direct and did not speak baby talk to them. I am sure there was never a doubt in their mind that I loved them. Every day we made time for intimate talk or cuddle or massage. The list goes on. But I was a parent too that made rules a boundaries. These boundaries were much wider than many parents but they were there.

  10. Jeanie April 2, 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    The last comment from Michelle was me, it was a mistake. I opened a private blog for a friend and did not realize I was still logged into it when I sent message. I was like “what the *#………..” when I saw it. Sorry to her and to you for the mistake.

  11. Catherine April 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Wonderful post. When my (now 5 years old) sons were toddlers and they’d fall, I’d say something like “come show me” if they started to cry. I’d brush them off and show them how they were fine. I sure got a lot of stink eyes for that one. (I got a lot of stink eyes all around, though, since my boys were born when I was 26 and looked about 19.) But… nowadays when they play soccer, they’re not the ones running off the field, crying, for every little bump and bruise.

  12. Tanya April 2, 2009 at 11:41 pm #

    AWESOME, funny and so TRUE! I’ve found a super playgroup, called the O’Mamas…short for The Other Mothers. We’re all pretty much parenting the Free-Range way…there are almost 50 of us in the North Austin area, and we are supportive and non-judging….our kids play in the mud, get covered in paint, run amok at the park…we sit and chat and watch. When one O’Mama needs to hit the restroom, she knows that her kid/kids will be looked after, but just the way she would do it, left alone to explore their world.

    Everyone needs friends like this! We even get together for Beer 30….sitting on the back porch with a beer while the kids play….I’m sure many moms would be shocked, but that’s why they aren’t O’Mamas ;p

    If you don’t have like minded friends for playgroups…find or create your own on Meetup.com or something. Nothing feels better to not have to worry about your peers judging you when your kid falls down..and actually gets back up all by himself 🙂

  13. Keith Rispin April 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm #

    Sports are great for separating the babied child from the Free Range child. My 10 year old daughter has become a force to be reckoned with on the field and is a joy to watch because she will take a hit, go nose to nose with anyone regardless of size and challenge for the ball.

    This year she even got a goal off of a BIG collision that she was on the losing end of. While everyone gasped and began to rush toward her to console and baby her she got up and popped the ball into the net. The other team was calling foul “we thought she as hurt” they said. She came off the field grinning from ear to ear because of the goal and her effort. I was more proud of her effort but the goal was nice too.

  14. Shannon April 2, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    I love reading this blog, but I have to say that I have never gotten the dirty looks and comments that the other commenters seem to get all the time. Maybe it’s my practice of just cheerfully ignoring everybody around me and doing what I think is best regardless. So I would add #4 above: Don’t care what other people think, especially total strangers.

  15. BMS April 3, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    When my eldest was a toddler, he was running on a playground structure, hit the edge, flipped out end over end, and landed flat on his back. I asked him “Are you hurt?” He grinned, got up and ran off for more. As he was in the process of getting up no less than 3 moms came running up to me: “Oh my GOD! Is he ok???” Umm, in as much as he is running back for more, yeah, I think so.

    This kid has been known to be talking full speed, while running up the stairs, miss a step and face plant, get up, and keep going, without even pausing in his sentence. It takes him less time to recover than it does for the other moms to gasp. I know that if there is blood they will come to me. But otherwise, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of raising resilient kids.

  16. Sandra April 3, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    Annnnd…. reason #563 why I don’t go to playgroups.

  17. Matt April 3, 2009 at 1:09 am #

    Similar to what Catharine said: When I worked as a counselor at a summer day camp we would be in charge of up 30 6-12 year olds. One of the first things the more experienced counselors would teach you is that if you see a kid down and crying, you yell “come here if you’re hurt.” If they were just trying to get attention, they’ll jump up and come running. If they were actually hurt, they wouldn’t move. I never had a kid actually be hurt, thankfully.

  18. SheWhoPicksUpToys April 3, 2009 at 1:35 am #

    My introduction to this sort of things was when my oldest was probably less than two months old. We were shopping, and she was sleeping happily away in her stroller. Unfortunately, she was sleeping happily away with her neck bent at an awkward angle, the way little babies sometimes do. (This was in the old days of “put them down on their sides.”)

    This older man looks into the stroller, and says, “That’s bad for her neck. She shouldn’t sleep that way.” I nodded and kept going. He persisted. “She’s going to hurt her neck.” He wouldn’t let it go.

    Being the easily intimidated, rather die than be confrontational type I am (and probably moreso when I was that much younger) I nudged her a bit to try to adjust her position, so as to get HIM off my back.

    You can guess what happened. Old guy is now happy, baby is now screaming at having been awakened from her happy slumber, and parents are now having to deal with an angry baby in public.

  19. Sra April 3, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    You might wanna change “as long as their awake” to “as long as they’re awake”

  20. Jen Singer April 3, 2009 at 3:34 am #

    Thanks! That’s what I get for speed blogging. Hopefully, Lenore can get to making that fix soon.

    Meanwhile, I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. It seems like we’ve all had our evil eye moments — and then some.

  21. Denise April 3, 2009 at 3:48 am #

    Oh this topic is near and dear to my heart.

    We have six kids…and if I have learned nothing else, it’s that kids will act however you want them act.

    If you want them to whine and cry and need you…they will. If you want them to be demanding and loud and rude…they will. Run to them, coddle them, raise a fuss at every little thing and they will rise to the occasion.

    But, give them some room, let them deal with their minor hurts, let them know you are there and you love them…and you have a happy, healthy, independent little spirit that will brush off the hurt and toddle on their merry way.

    I remember being at the park once with my fourth child. He was 12 or 13 months old and super independent. He climbed up the steps of the slide and went down all by himself. Another parent there with their almost 2 year old was amazed and had never even let their child try it…and of course they were did it all by themselves on the first try.

    But, I do go to play group, and I do get the looks. As I visit with the like-minded moms, the others are frantically chasing after their child and mine…giving me dirty looks the whole time.

    But, I don’t care. The proof is in the pudding and I’d take my kid any day of the week over theirs!

  22. blueraindrop April 3, 2009 at 5:08 am #

    glad to know im not the only one getting this… i once had another parent actually pick up my child (about 3 at the time) at a playground just because she spilled her water bottle. i was watching, but about 15 ft away on a bench, and wasnt too worked up about spilt water… but i sure was about some stranger picking up my child!

  23. Carey April 3, 2009 at 5:45 am #

    Wandering down the street behind the dog? That’s how my dad found me one evening, years ago, when he was coming home from work.

  24. pqelise April 3, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    we are all in the same boat! hope it doesn’t tip!!!

  25. Nicola April 3, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    Oh there are some awesome comments in here!

    When my two kids were in the toddler stage, there was nothing I hated more than the parents that would take it upon themselves to rush over to my kids and hug and coddle them when they were hurt.

    I’d normally, nonchalantly, walk over to them and stand there, letting them finish, then tell my child “go play.” The other parent would give me this exasperated look, to which I normally responded, “If you don’t act like anything is wrong, then you can usually tell when something is really wrong.”

    Response from other parents 90% of the time?


    And man!!! Omama’s sounds like a friggin awesome group! Beer 30 while the kids play? I’d love to join you ladies. You all just need to move to New Mexico! 😀

  26. Keith Rispin April 3, 2009 at 7:49 am #

    I hope Lenore will allow me to share this link. It is a post I did several months ago about not worrying about every bump and bruise. http://www.allaboutbabyshop.com/parenting/?p=35

    It is in line with what has been said here and worth a peek… I think.

  27. Catherine April 3, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    Point 1 is great advice. I managed to hook up with a group of playgroup mums who were not into obsessing over things like ‘craft’ and other ‘stimulating activities’ but would just let the kids do their own thing (eg, playing in the sandpit etc) while we sat around drinking cups of tea and gossiping. We later formed a babysitting coop (along with the dads) as we knew we all had pretty compatible ideas about childcare. I am still friends with some of these women 10 years later. These days we mostly go out together without the kids. 🙂

  28. The Mother April 3, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    The hardest part of parenting is the fact that people WATCH you. And judge you.

    I was joshing with my 13 yo while he took FOREVER to try on a pair of jeans. We were having fun.

    A lady came out of a nearby dressing room and dressed ME down for “belittling” my kid.

    She was very lucky I was in a good mood.

  29. DJ April 3, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    I got harassed at a playground for not sweeping my toddler out of the way of another toddler coming down the slide.

    I carefully explained my philosophy: she is standing in almost knee-deep sand and the toddler coming down the slide is about her size. She will get whacked and it won’t be happy, but it won’t be truly damaging and she will learn to get away from the end of the slide much faster through these natural consequences than from my yapping at her. I was watching and if the child coming down had been much larger than her (therefore possibly truly causing physical damage), I would have moved her out of the way.

    And I was once told by a father: “the reason we are leaving this playground is because of YOUR children.” I asked another nearby parent what I missed and he said best he could figure out is that they thought my 8-year old was modeling bad behavior to their 2-year old by climbing up the outside of the slide cover-thing. He added, “whatever” and “good riddance”.

  30. Amy April 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    I get the evil eye all the time at the playground. One of my kids is a 3yo who is teeny and most people think she is about 12-18 months. She also has a lower limb difference. But she is unbelievably coordinated and very agile. Sometimes when people can’t figure out which mom she belongs to, they’ll actually hover and try to spot her when she’s climbing. Drives me nuts. When they do figure out that she’s mine, they give me the what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you-lady-your-baby-is-climbing-up-the-swing-set look.

    Wish I could find some O’mamas nearby!

  31. Stassja April 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    A great post!

    And I love the conflicting ideas at work here. First, to hover hover hover, but then if you cosleep/breastfeed/attachment parent you are only raising a dependent sniveling child that will never mature and release your apron strings. Logic, most of humanity fails at it. Lol.

  32. Stassja April 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Oh, and I totally have this happen. My son is 20 months, and most other moms get freaked about his skill on chairs and my big non-interest in his climbing on them. They wring their hands as they look between me, still sitting, and the boy, who is happily standing on a kitchen chair, eating snacks off the table. They even ask why I’m not standing nearby as they inch over to hold their hands a few inches from him.

    Easy, because at home this child has been climbing on spinning chairs with WHEELS for months, chairs without arms! and has not killed or severely injured himself yet. In fact, he’s fallen VERY few times, and it’s usually because he’s doing something insane like trying to climb onto a desk from the chair as it spins and knocks him off. This…is not going to happen on a four-footed stationary kitchen chair! He can get up and down with ease. He’s fine, I promise. 🙂

  33. Rob C April 3, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    “mine cried if she was hurt and didn’t cry if she wasn’t hurt, pretty much irrespective of what I did.”

    Mine are the same, so I take my cues from them. If they tell me they’re okay, I give them a “That’s good!” and let them get on with it. If they cry, I go over, help them up, give them a hug, and treat any wounds, then let them get on with it.

    Kids are pretty resilient when we allow them to be.

  34. mj April 3, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    I was lucky in that the only playgroup I’ve ever been involved in actually TAUGHT me this. My own inclination, mostly based on my idea of what the other mothers would think was appropriate, was to rush over to my child when he fell or was knocked down–and since he was the youngest in the group and the last to walk, that happened a lot. Then I noticed that nobody else did that, and that they would ask their kids (from across the room) if they were okay, and pretty much leave it at that. After I quit hovering, somebody said something, but in a nice, welcome-to-the-club kind of way. I miss them so much, since we moved.

    But I blame the magazines for some of this. I actually quit reading Parents because every other month there was an article about “rude” parents in playgroup and how to handle them. One such article gave the label “slacker parents” to the ones who don’t rush over to break up squabbles or follow their kids around making them “share.” Those articles just made me feel angry, and also guilty, since I had committed many of the sins they listed as rude or slackerish. They also made me think judgmental thoughts about others that I hadn’t thought before. So I quit reading Parents and its ilk, and I feel much better. I think they give readers the idea that it’s not just their right, but their responsibility to judge other people’s parenting. Out loud.

  35. Sandra April 3, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    Stassia, it’s not a conflicting idea at all – I am a very “attached parent” (I didn’t know there was a term for it until chat rooms!), meaning I co-sleep, wear my babies in a sling, breastfeed, attend to every single cry at night and during the day, etc.

    The nice thing about this “style” is that it raises MORE independent children. My babies and toddlers and older children know mom is there when they NEED her, enabling them to explore, learn, get hurt, whatever.

    The two have nothing to do with each other. Simply because one is “attached” doesn’t mean one HOVERS. Just wanted to clear that up. I’m proudly attached AND Free Range. Perfect combination, in my opinion. Four kids have survived it, I should know.

  36. SheWhoPicksUpToys April 3, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    Ooooh, sharing, that’s a hot button with me, too. Of course it’s good to teach and model the idea of generosity, and of not hoarding toys, but if you overdo it with sharing, what you get is a culture of kids who think they’re entitled to share in what the other kid is having, every time!

    I can’t say I’ve completely figured this one out myself. It’s more of an observation — as I’ve tried to teach my kids not to hoard and to be generous, what has wound up happening is that this legalistic little kid-culture has grown up where no one’s “allowed” to have something the others don’t have, unless there’s some special reason for it. I think we’re weaning them off of this attitude though. I just see it as a danger that if “sharing” is always the #1 concern in any interaction, kids are just as likely to take away the message that “I always get to have what they’re having,” as “I’m supposed to share my stuff.” And I suppose some parents buy into it, and give you the evil eye if (gasp) you give your kid a cracker without also passing out one for the whole YMCA.

  37. Uly April 4, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    “They wring their hands as they look between me, still sitting, and the boy, who is happily standing on a kitchen chair, eating snacks off the table.”

    My nieces, they never had high chairs or boosters. They were expected to stand on their chair until they were big enough to just sit on their knees. So the younger niece *did* stand on chairs. Cue tons of people asking her to sit, then telling me they were “worried she would fall”. If she doesn’t fall off a grown-up sized chair at home, why would she fall off a kid-sized chair when out?

    Funnily enough, she *did* sometimes fall off those kid-sized chairs (and occasionally our own kitchen chairs) but only when *sitting* on them. She never once has fallen when standing. (I’m still not sure what’s up with that, as a few times she literally just keeled over sideways while sitting and not, you know, making trouble.)

    “It’s more of an observation — as I’ve tried to teach my kids not to hoard and to be generous, what has wound up happening is that this legalistic little kid-culture has grown up where no one’s “allowed” to have something the others don’t have, unless there’s some special reason for it.”

    Ugh, I hate that too. All the time I hear “She’s not sharing! It’s not faaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiir!!!!” Well, it’s perfectly fair. She doesn’t HAVE to share with you, and I wouldn’t either if you were whining at me like that!

  38. Adrienne Johnson April 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    This has been one of my peeves for years. My kids range in age from 14 to 4 and I have always let them explore on their own. I keep an eye open but my hands off unless I have to. 14 years ago, no one really thought my style was strange, but now… I have been in playgrounds where other kids are not allowed to play with mine because i do not hover and keep them from falling face first in the sand. At 14, my son does his own laundry, cooks dinner on Tuesdays (at his request), rides to school on his bike and is the best babysitter you could hope for. He can also clean the bathroom, shake your hand when you meet him and speak to you while looking you in the eye without squirming.

    There are many benefits to not stunting your child’s development by blocking them from doing what they are supposed to do- play, fall, play, scrape a knee, play, not share the ball, play, watch Sponge Bob….. : )

  39. Angeline Duran Piotrowski April 5, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    It is my observation that helicopter parenting is mostly the domain of people with only one child. You simply don’t have the time, or enough eyeballs and arms, to hyper-supervise more than one small child. You pretty quickly realize that learning independence is not only good, it is necessary for the efficient management of the family. All hands on deck!

  40. Sharon April 5, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    It’s a pity all babies can’t be 3rd babies. When my oldest was 2 I was all over her all the time. Now that the 3rd is 2 she is happily playing away in another room, occasionally bringing me pretend food from her pretend kitchen.

  41. sunnymama April 6, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    I hate it when the slide police are at the park. Why can’t they climb up the slide? Today a woman actually said to my son as he walked past a tree, “Mind the tree”. What ???? The forced sharing thing, well we don’t do that. I’m not sharing my handbag because someone likes it either even if they start saying “she’s not sharing”.
    I need to find Free Range Mums to hang out with.

  42. Uly April 6, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Actually, sunnymama, I don’t let my nieces walk up slides, for two reasons:

    1. It’s just not polite at all. Other people at the top are waiting patiently for their turn, and you’re cutting in line. (The fact that you’ll sooner or later get kicked in the face by somebody tired of waiting is incidental)

    2. I hate seeing footprints on slides. Skeeves me the F out. Seriously. That alone is enough for me to not allow them to go up! If I only have one or two irrational rules, that one can be it.

  43. sunnymama April 6, 2009 at 9:42 pm #

    Uli, thanks for your comment to me. I understand that different adults have different theories on slide use. What I am referring to is when all the children using the slide wish to use it to climb up too, as if very often the case (as fun as sliding down and also a skill as valuable to have the opportunity to practice), but the adults won’t allow them, or when there is only one child using the slide and he or she wants to climb up. Why is that impolite?
    As to footprints on the slide, well that concern has never crossed my mind. I guess that I always took it for granted that slides will have feet on them whether going up or down. It’s interesting that you posted about your neice standing on chairs when eating out.

  44. sunnymama April 6, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    Uly, apologies for mis-spelling your name before 🙂 and also mis-spelling niece (oops!). I just wanted to clarify that when I posted my original comment I was a bit cross about a woman yesterday telling my son not to climb up the slide and to mind the tree. This actually took place not at a park but in our own back garden and the woman was a visitor of a neighbour. So that was were I was coming from, but I do think if no-one is currently waiting at the top then climbing up slides in parks is ok too. Thanks for your perspective on slides anyway 🙂

  45. Uly April 7, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Oh. Well, in fairness, if it’s an empty playground OR if all the kids are climbing up (which never happens here – and we’re also assuming a standard slide, I’ll digress in a second) then I grit my teeth and shush. But seriously, I really do hate footprints on slides, and will go wipe them off!

    Feet on slides – fine. Footprints? EW!

    Usually though, the line thing comes into play. We tend not to make it to playgrounds when they’re empty 🙁

    And the woman shouldn’t be telling your kid this sort of thing in his own backyard while you’re there. That’s just… not the same as our normal playground scenario here at all! I’m guessing your slide in your yard isn’t even that tall, either.

    The one thing where NOTHING will convince me to let them go up the slide for SAFETY reasons are really tall slides. There are two in NYC I’m thinking of – one in Battery Park City (Teardrop Park – Lenore, you should check it out, Teardrop Park has NO SAFETY FEATURES WHATSOEVER) and one in Central Park (The Billy Johnson Playground. Anybody planning on doing the touristy bit and stopping by the Central Park Zoo needs to walk on north past that a little and head to this playground with a cardboard box (to go down the slide faster) because it ROCKS) have slides that are pretty steep and something like 30 feet tall, bordered on both sides with rocks. They’re special cases.

    Actually, what I said about Teardrop Park isn’t totally true, it does have *one* safety feature that I quite agree with. Up at the top of the slide there’s some sprinklers. The padding underneath the sprinklers (there’s no padding anywhere else in the playground, just ROCKS) is white instead of black, meaning that your kid can play with his/her shoes off and not risk getting second degree burns. Not that it matters, as that playground is hemmed in by skyscrapers on all sides and never, to my knowledge, gets any sun.

  46. MDTaz April 10, 2009 at 6:11 am #

    Here, here for a sane and smart post. I couldn’t agree more.

  47. Tari April 11, 2009 at 3:43 am #

    Loved the post. Thankfully I think most of the moms in our playgroup are free-ranging it, even if they don’t think of it that way. Mine is a toddler still, so I really appreciate that this post was more applicable for those of us just starting out on the free-reange road. And Sandra–I’m with you-attached doesn’t mean hovering. You put it beautifully.

  48. Vision Therapy Exercises February 27, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    I didn’t think there were any sites with content this good. There sure is a lot of trash out there online. I’ll definitely be back to check out future posts…Thanks


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