“Why Are You Doing That to Your Child???” (I.e., Making Her Walk)

Hey hfnnberyey
Readers — I’m sorry this visitor experienced America as a nation of buttinskis convinced that kids are in constant peril of snatching or (God forbid) fatigue.  Maybe by the time she comes back, the country  will have changed! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I am Australian and last year I went on a big US trip with my husband and my two girls.  My husband was working while I took the girls around on my own to sightsee and OMG I was told on 3 separate occasions that I was a terrible mother.
The first time was at the airport. My daughter was 3 at the time and had been on a very long flight, so as children do, they run around and my daughter was running up and down a ramp that I could see her on and this American lady was yelling out so everyone could hear saying that I obviously didn’t care about my daughter and that she could get snatched.  I didn’t appreciate her making these claims so I went over and confronted her and she made a bigger deal saying, “Oh that’s the thanks I get for saving your child” and I said, “I know my child’s limits and I can see her”.
It really upset me.  I love my children with all my heart and would never intentionally put them in danger.  Here in Australia I feel that it’s a little more relaxed, or if not, at least people don’t feel the need to come and tell me that I am a terrible parent.
The second occasion was when I was in Macy’s. I was looking through a rack of clothes and my 3 year old daughter was running from me to the glass door at the front of the shop.  I could see her running back and forth and as children are when shopping, they get bored and I was more than happy for her to run around.  But then I had a couple come through the front glass door and the woman yelled out, “Where is your mum, this is terrible” and I looked over at her and put my hand up and motioned for my daughter to come to me.  The couple walked off shaking their heads and then 5 minutes later the woman came back and lectured me that I should be more careful with my child and that anyone could grab her from the glass door of the shop and take her away.  I was annoyed that at her for coming over and judging me and I was upset that this was the second time in our holiday in the US that someone had questioned my parenting.
The third time was when I was at the airport walking to the gate for my trip home.  I had one daughter in the pram and my 3 year old daughter insisted that she wanted to walk (as most 3 year olds do) and it was a bit of a long walk but my daughter seemed to be fine and was not complaining and was just chatting to me on the way to the gate and then another American lady came up beside me and said, “You are walking all this way with your children, it’s a long walk” and I didn’t know what she was getting at, so I just looked at her and smiled and she proceeded to say, “No, its not ok to make your child walk all that way, what’s wrong with putting her in the pram”….. I was shocked into silence.
Here in Australia they are always going on about how there is an obesity epidemic in children and that we should be encouraging our children to be more active, but even besides that point, my daughter didn’t want to sit in the pram and I didn’t even give it a second thought that letting my child walk next to me was a bad thing.
I was really upset after that trip and sometimes wonder whether it is a cultural thing because I never experienced such judgement here in Australia. Sorry about the long email, just needed to tell someone about this.
Kind regards from Oz,

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111 Responses to “Why Are You Doing That to Your Child???” (I.e., Making Her Walk)

  1. Lesly February 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Hellicopter parents cause ADHD!

  2. Wendy February 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Honestly, I’m not worried a child is going to get stolen and I can’t believe how many people lectured her about that. That said, I’d rather not go shopping (in a non-children store/department) and deal with tripping over your running kid.

  3. Earth.W February 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    We don’t bellow at other I don’t think here in Australia but here in Sydney, they sure do helicopter a lot. So many parents will drive their children to the school that is only a five minute walk. When ours are going somewhere and they walk, we’ve had people offer to drive them for us, only to look bewildered when I say; It’s alright. They have legs. They can walk.

  4. Papilio February 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Yes, why on earth would you allow a 3-year-old to get some exercise, especially before a long flight home??? Just imagine the horror if she hadn’t enough energy left to stay awake (and scream…) the whole time!

    Stupid woman.

  5. Ravana February 5, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I think the key word for the first two incidents is “running”. The three year old was running in a crowded area of heavy adult traffic. People don’t care if your kid is snatched. What they don’t want is some toddler to take them out by running into them. They tell you you need to have your kid close to protect the kid instead of saying, “Your brat almost knocked me over.”

    For the third one though, most people in the US are astoundingly lazy. It didn’t used to be this way. In my family the strollers went away when the child reached the age of two. My folks would talk about how you were a BIG boy or girl and only BABIES needed strollers. It was a point of pride to be able to walk like a BIG kid. I still see nothing wrong with taking a five mile walk or a 25 mile hike, but people are shocked when they learn how “far” I have walked and I’ve had them tell me I am a terrible pet owner because I “forced” my high energy dog to walk such terrible distances with me.

  6. Violet February 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Normal children run around. And good parents tell them to stop. This isn’t about being a helicopter parent – it is about manners.

  7. Mysti February 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    I’m sorry you had that horrible experience. Where were you when that happened? The reason I ask is I believe that behavior is more common in larger cities (I may be wrong) But not all Americans are like that. I take my three year old granddaughter with me to the grocery all the time, and I let her help by getting things off the shelf. She mostly gets comments about how adorable she is and what a big helper. We live in a medium size city.

  8. lihtox February 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Not to be overly cynical, but I wonder if “helicopter thinking” is just a perfect excuse to complain, for some people, when what they’re thinking is “Oh how annoying it is when there are children running around all over the place.” No one wants to look crotchety or like they dislike children, and this way they get to complain AND earn kudos for caring about their well-being.

    That’s putting aside the issue of whether their annoyance is justified…it depends on the circumstances. Sometimes I let my toddler roam a bit more than others would like because I know the alternative is a screaming toddler: it’s a fine balancing act sometimes.

  9. Warren February 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    I guess even in the freerange movement, kids are to be seen not heard.
    Wendy, Violet, and Ravana let me be as politically correct as possible, get off your self righteous high horses.

    This mother, and child have done nothing wrong. And yet you will sit in judgement about her child running around.
    Hate to tell you but most of us have kids, unlike you three that have accessories. When I read you comments, all I could think was how arrogant, self centered and downright ignorant you three must be. I could go on and on, but wow, how pathetic you are.

  10. Kimberly Herbert February 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I agree that running is probably the issue in the first 2 situations.

    In the first situation at the airport, I not sure who was in the wrong. It sounds to me like the Letter writer found an ramp area not being used and let her daughter blow off steam. In that case letter writer was OK. If the area was crowded then she should have found another way for her daughter to get so me exercise.

    In Macy’s the Letter Writer was 100% wrong. If her daughter wasn’t able to behave properly (Walk nicely) they needed to leave, most malls around here have some play area. They should have gone to one of those to blow off steam. I’ve been yelled at for letting Jr escape when a kid ran out. Another time a kid ran straight into me and Mom yelled at me for touching her brat.

    The third situation – the woman needed to keep her mouth shut. There are times when warning someone about distance is being a good neighbor. This was not one.

    Example a friend and her Mom were traveling from Los Angeles to Georgetown, Texas. They got to El Paso in the evening. They stopped for dinner and mentioned they planned on continuing to drive to Georgetown. The waiter went to the manager, who came over to speak to them. She explained that it was at least 8 hours to Georgetown – and a good part (6 hours)of that would be on an almost deserted I10 with few very small towns and long stretches of nothing but deer trying to cross the freeway. They decided to stay the night in El Paso. The waiter and manager were not interfering, they were just good neighbors.

  11. Stephanie February 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    Running around at Macy’s probably isn’t the best idea. I’m not a helicopter parent by any means, but really, it’s probably not the best place. I do, however, let my children run at the airport because they need to burn off their energy, but it’s always out of the way where other people aren’t going to get annoyed.

    The last one about the stroller is ridiculous. What 3 year old goes around in a stroller (actually, I do know some)? We haven’t had our daughter in a stroller since she was two. Our younger daughter is almost 2 and hates being in the stroller. We only put her in there to restrain her in places where she could run off.

  12. Rebecca February 5, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    @ Warren- not sure your name-calling is appropriate. Also not sure why you assumed that the 3 people who pointed out that it is not always OK to let your kid run are not parents. I agree that there are times and places for running, and yes I am a parent and let my kid run when there was space and let her walk when she wanted, but would not let her run in a store. It’s OK to teach your kid manners and that there is a time and place for everything. When I am at the grocery store and a kid is racing around , I say, “Be careful you might crash into someone”, I certainly don’t tell the parent the kid might get kidnapped.

  13. Erin February 5, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    I’m so sorry. You met some really rotten Americans. I think you’re doing a great job.

  14. Emily February 5, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Carina, allow me to apologize for these people. Rest assured we’re not all @$$hats here in the US. And thank you for sharing this, we all need to be more aware of how other countries perceive our weird hovering. 🙂

  15. Michelle February 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Wow, Warren, invective much? Since when is it a problem to expect kids, or anyone, to behave themselves in public?

    If it was a grown woman running laps around Macy’s, and I complained about it, would you say that I must think women ought to be at home, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?

    No, it has nothing to do with “seen and not heard,” or treating children as “accessories.” It’s about something that is and always has been part of Free-Range: teaching your kids appropriate behavior for the situation. Running around a store is not appropriate behavior for anyone, of any age.

    It’s a bit more understandable in an airport, when you’re stuck waiting after a long flight, if the area isn’t crowded. People should understand how difficult traveling can be for small children. And regardless, freaking out about the kid getting snatched is a bit over the top. (And being upset because a perfectly happy kid isn’t in the stroller? I don’t even have words for that nonsense.)

  16. ank February 5, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    that’s too bad you had those experiences, but some people just forget what it’s like to have little ones but still are happy to tell you how to do your job! I was at the airport with my girls this past Christmas and fortunately had a better experience. We didn’t have a stroller in the first place, they were each carrying their own suitcase and I was 6 months pregnant, so perhaps people felt more sorry for me than anything else 🙂

  17. ChicagoDad February 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    I 2nd what Emily said. Carina, on behalf of all Americans, I apologize for your bad experience and I hope you will come visit us again. Honestly, most of us were raised to be more hospitable to our guests than that.

    I have been practicing a little speech for strangers who feel the need to give me condescending parenting advice in public. I’ll reply to them, “Thank you dear. I work as a consultant, and I give unsolicited advice to people for a living. I find it is helpful to let them know that you’ve been where they’ve been, just to connect with them a little. Then you complement them for what they were trying to do. Like just now when you said it was too cold to be out in just a sweater, I know that you were just looking out for my kid. Then firmly and respectfully, you need to tell them that they are completely wrong, out of line and need to work harder to do it better in the future. Finally, to end on a good note, you need to give them a little pat and motivate them to do better in the future. I know you’ll take this to heart and keep it in mind when you criticize how other people parent their kids, I mean if you really do care about the kids and want to make a difference”

  18. Mark Roulo February 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    “What 3 year old goes around in a stroller (actually, I do know some)?”

    I have a friend whose child was diagnosed with spinal cancer around age 18 months. He can walk now, but has no feelings in his feet and legs starting about midcalf. When the going gets long, his parents don’t let him walk because as he gets tired he walks “wrong” and can damage his feet (I think this is the right explanation … whatever it is, it is health related).

    They now use a wheelchair rather than a stroller even though the stroller is much more convenient to pack in the car.

    Because they got tired of dealing with comments about how lazy the kid was.

    But they can afford to do this.

    I can imagine less financially well off parents who go with the stroller.

    Is this rare? Yeah, I’m sure it is. But there can be reasons other than over-coddling.

  19. Becky February 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    Warren, Freerange does not necessarily mean without discipline/manners. To me free range means

    1) allowing a child to do age-appropriate behaviors — not hold them back due to factually inappropriate fear
    2) teach the child to adapt and act appropriately for the environment, not expect the environment to adapt to the child (or only take the child to child-friendly environments). If I take my kid to a nice restaurant they need to act differently than they would at Chuck E. Cheese. If the kid cannot behave appropriately they need to be removed from the environment and try a different day or a different age.

    Just as I make it clear to pro-spankers that not spanking does not mean not disciplining, if someone out and about equated Free Range with “run wild” I would correct them. Obviously you’re part of the community so you can define it as you like, but to me having expectations of good manners/behavior shows that I know my child is capable. That’s the opposite of helicopter parenting.

  20. Laura February 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    I’m so embarrassed for us all (in the US) – I can’t believe you encountered that three times! If it’s any consolation, I do the same sorts of things with my three year old son and haven’t had any comments (though possibly a look or two). It’s somewhat understandable that someone might be caught off-guard if they can’t immediately see the parent who’s watching the child, but they should certainly feel plenty reassured once the parent has be seen and *is* clearly watching them.

  21. Krystal February 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    I do think it’s a tad bizarre (actually, I don’t) that all the people said her daughter was going to get taken. Obviously, we are aware of how silly that is base on how infrequently it happens.

    I would have said something though, but just because I think it’s a show of poor manners to let your kid run all over the place, especially in areas not designed for it. It’s incredibly inconsiderate to others in a shared public setting.

  22. Kay February 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    I really think these strangers reprimanding were doing so because of what they said and not that the children are running around but that’s my hunch. So many older people have been impressed by the news, they are very much afraid of the times and think they’ve changed for the worse.

    I also agree with others, I don’t believe in children running around in non-play areas and did not let my boys do it either. I used to wait tables when in college and it would drive me nuts, a kid running around and around a table and me with a tray of food. I’m sorry, but the “kids will be kids” does not fly with me, they need to be taught manners and respect. I also agree with others that if your kid needs a place to burn off some energy the appropriate place needs to be found. At least a place out of the way from others and not in front of a door or busy aisle. Now I’m not sure if the OP’s child was that obtrusive and dashed in front of people so they’d have to stop and move but I’m speaking to the following discussion about this.

    I think ChicagoDad is on the right track. We’ve got to come up with some snappy retorts to the busybodies who think we’re letting our kids get too far away from us or not watched.

    I’m sorry to the OP that she experienced this. Our country is very uptight when it comes to kids’ “safety”.

  23. Andrea February 5, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Carina – Just do what many here in the US do, which is when a buttinski approaches you with their unsolicited opinion, you yell, “Shut up you fat ugly cow!”* And walk away. The people who do this may be seen as low class, but they also get to live their lives without worrying much about what other people think. I think middle class moms struggle with this more because they are raised to polite and that shame is an appropriate means of getting people to “do what they ought,” and can’t really tell people to take their judgment and shove it…

    *In an Australian accent it would sound extra amazing.

  24. Nic February 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Carina you are a good mum. What you allowed your daughter to do was explore and be active, within the boundaries and limits that most rational parents would allow. I agree we all need to be ready for the nay sayers with some snappy retorts, but it doesn’t always flow easily off the tongue when they blindside you.

  25. Warren February 5, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    Sorry, then not accessories. Just a bunch of mothers that are clucking hens.
    Why because the women commenting about the running around are assuming things not mentioned, and not stated. Running does not mean rude, out of control, ill mannered or any other tag you want to give this mother.

    There was nothing inappropriate with this child’s behaviour. Playing on a ramp at the airport, and running from mom to the window and back at Macy’s, not running all over the store. Maybe for a kid from New York it wouldn’t be exciting, but a tourist, sure as hell would be.

    No patience, tolerance or understanding makes you stuck up bitches all of you. No better than the ones in the OP.

  26. Really Bad Mum February 5, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    @ Kay, I have something I always say whenever someone thinks I need them to tell me I will “loose” my child or they will be snatched I just look at them and say
    ” no, I’m not that lucky”
    Some laugh and realise they may have overstepped others are so shocked that I actually said it their stunned mullet reaction gives me a chance to walk away. Or I say
    ” they would give them back after two minutes if they took them”
    Another one I say is when I want the kids to sit sonewhere by themselves or get out of my way is
    ‘Sit over there till someone steals you’

  27. Kristi February 5, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    Wow I can’t even imagine what they would have said about my two year old refusing to ride in the sled and hiking a mile in to where we could sled in the woods and a mile back out to the car. She also hiked all around the area we chose. We live in Colorado and are pretty active. We go slower when we have the kids, but nobody gets carried!

  28. Let Her Eat Dirt February 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    Sounds like she met some unfortunate folks. Not all Americans are like that, for sure (this website proves it!), but there are plenty who have forgotten the importance of letting kids walk.

    Part of the problem is that we rely on strollers way too much — they make our kids soft. Maybe it’s because parents spend so much money on buying the “best” stroller for their kid and now they want to get their money’s worth; maybe it’s because using a stroller is so much more convenient than waiting for a dawdler; maybe it’s because they underestimate their child’s endurance. Whatever the cause, parents plop their kids in them as much as they can for as long as they can. Going to the store? Take the stroller! The park? Stroller! Next door? Stroller! You’ll even see four and five-year-old kids scrunched up in strollers, knees up to their chins like Shaquille O’Neal squashed into a Fiat. Putting your kid in a stroller should be a last resort — she really should hoof it as much as possible.

    Let her Eat Dirt
    A dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  29. Buffy February 5, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Could we PLEASE not let this thread degenerate into full-on stroller-hate? Please?? We get it, those who don’t use strollers are awesome and those that did or do are the complete opposite of awesome, no matter what their reasons are.

  30. Kay February 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    Warren, if the table next to you at the restaurant can understand your conversation then you’re talking too loud. If your kids are running back and forth to a doorway where people enter and exit they’re in the way. It’s called courtesy and I expect my kids, when they venture by themselves outside the home, to conduct themselves in a manner respectful and polite to others. No one is perfect, if they make a mistake they apologize. But not like this other kid who kept running around a table when I was actually dining saying “Excuse Me” every time he squeezed past.

  31. Kay February 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    Really Bad Mum, those are very cute and funny remarks! I’d like to think of something that is funny and might put them in their place a little, too, just because I’m kind of spiteful. I’m at a loss at the moment.

  32. Warren February 5, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    Have you little darlings line up and sing a goodnight song, ala Sound of Music, if you want.

    This child was not out of control, rude, or in the way.
    And what restaurant?

    I was in a discussion about kids and restaurants. And while I agree there is a time and place for kids. I am also sick and tired of all the primadonnas in the world that bitch and whine about noisy kids. If a noisy child can actually ruin your adult experience, then you are in desperate need of therapy, or as my dad would say a good slap in the back of the head.

    All of you are just assuming the kid was running wild.
    The mother does not say anything about running wild, causing problems. So either you all just automatically go to worst first thinking, or you consider this mother to be a liar..which is it? Or are you all just the stereotypical judgemental, gossipy soccer witches, that can only feel good about themselves by talking trash about other moms.
    Your judgements have nothing to do with freerange, so do not play that card. It has everything to do with being hateful, and disgusting.

  33. Andrea February 5, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    I also think it’s a big assumption that a little girl running back and forth in a store is a problem, a sign of rudeness or poor parenting. Some spaces, especially in a big department store or a mall, are a perfect venue for a run-around kid. Only someone who was there could assess whether the running around was a problem or not.

    As for the airport, I do usually keep my kids in line, but only because the airports are lousy with creepy TSA employees and dumb folks afraid of their own shadows. In the airport, I feel it’s necessary to protect my children from the rampant idiocy of the worst-first thinkers, but that’s just my take on it. This mother’s experience actually reminds me of a time last year in an airport terminal when I gave my son, then six, a bag of garbage and asked him to take to the garbage can. He asked where it was, and I pointed to one probably fifty feet away — a little bit of a distance, but in clear sight with not much of a crowd between us. A lady sitting next to us got a little excited and interrupted, pointing to a garbage can I hadn’t noticed that was more like 20 feet away. As he walked away she said, as though she was doing me a favor, “that way he stays closer to you!”

    By the way, people aren’t like this where I live in the US. Kids have quite a bit of freedom up here in Alaska most of the time. When my kids are misbehaving in public they even tend to get compliments about how sassy and full of beans they are! I hope our Aussie friend understands that this is a big country, and that her experience only represents the city and maybe state she visited.

  34. Zackly February 5, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    Also from Australia, I have a 3 year old free range kid. I also get filthy looks from people when I let her walk 20m away from me (within my sight). We even send her on little missions, like go and put our rubbish in the bin – so she’ll walk across the food court and empty our tray of rubbish into the bin. I fully believe that if I gave her $5 and a simple shopping list (eg 3 apples and a bottle of milk) that she’d be able to go into the supermarket, get the required items, queue up at the checkout and complete the transaction on her own. I teach my child about risks, but I don’t want her to be scared of the world.

  35. hineata February 5, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Have certainly found out of the way areas in airports and let my kids, when they were small, run around a little. Long flights are a bugger. But no, kids should not be running in a department store.

    Love the ‘accessories’ comment, though, Warren. Currently my kids are at the drop dead gorgeous stage – not that I’m biased or anything – so I don’t mind using them as accessories (as long as they keep their mouths firmly shut! 🙂 ) but when they were at the age where they needed to be taught not to run around in shops, they were usually so covered in paint or bruises from an active lifestyle that as decorations they were rather lacking….

  36. anonymous this time February 5, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    Fascinating. I expected this comment thread to be nonstop commiseration with this mom (mum) from Australia who got chastised over and over by Americans who wanted her to repent her sin of allowing her child a chance to walk away from her a little bit… or even just walk a little bit.

    I’m a communication consultant. I work sometimes with businesses, and married people, and parents. I teach in schools. What I try to get across is that authenticity is the key to your ability to communicate. People can’t read your mind, so you must make requests. But your request must be something related to something you directly and objectively observe, doable in the present moment, and expressed as a request to support you in achieving something you value.

    In the airport, IF the need is consideration (and not safety, as some have guessed) it could sound like this: “Oh, boy, I can imagine how tough it is to be a preschooler cooped up on a flight for hours! It’s good to see her getting a chance to stretch her legs. I also feel a little concerned, knowing people might be deplaning on that ramp in a few minutes, and I want those travellers to have a clear path. Do you think that railing by the window might be fun for her?”

    In Macy’s, if the need is consideration (and not protection), it could sound similar: “I remember how bored I got when I shopped with my mom! I feel a little concerned seeing her run toward the window and bang into it, and I see a woman looking over here with an angry expression. Is there a way for your girl to have some fun on the floor, next to you?”

    Now, this is starting off with authenticity as the basis. You must say what it is that you REALLY want, you don’t throw out “somebody could snatch her!” if what you really mean is, “Her behaviour is making it hard for me to relax and focus.”

    As a parent, I DO care about the impact my child is having on the people around him or her.

    As a parent, I COULD NOT CARE LESS about someone’s outrageous and unsubstantiated fantasies that my kid is in danger because of what I’m allowing them to do. Unless they say it this way: “I feel so stressed out when I see your kid running that way, out of reach of you. I imagine she’ll be taken away by strangers. I guess I’ve been reading a lot of scary newspaper stories lately. I’m sorry to bother you with my ramblings.” They’ve owned their thinking, they’re not demanding I do something differently, and they’re aware that their thoughts are their thoughts, not necessarily reality.

    Mom from Australia, all I can say is this: these folks sounded like they were blaming you, judging you, shaming you. But what they were really saying was, “HELP! I can’t figure out a way to get my needs met that doesn’t involve making someone else the problem!”

  37. hineata February 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    I do wonder too at times, Warren, if you were taught manners as a youngster.’Bitches’ are female dogs, something I would have assumed you as a self-professed dog owner would know. The term, in the manner you’re using it, is not appropriate for an online discussion.

    Please consider the way you use phrase things. Or we might have to sicc some running toddlers on you…..

  38. Talyn February 5, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s extremely unlikely that an American would say “pram.” I realize this is beside the point, but honestly.

  39. SKL February 5, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    That wouldn’t have happened in the area where I live. At least, not three times. 😛 We have a few busybodies, but most folks are sensible and very few would scold another parent (stranger) unless a child was experiencing actual abuse. (Though it did happen to me once. :P)

    That said, I agree that folks will get concerned about a 3yo running around in an airport or store. I wouldn’t go to some new place and let my 3yo run like that. It’s inconsiderate in a store for sure. In an airport, it would depend on whether it was an area with any traffic and how fast I could grab the kid in case she needed to get out of somebody’s way. I do understand the need to find ways for them to blow off steam, but I don’t arrange it so they inconvenience other people while doing so.

    The stroller comment was obnoxious. I took my kids on long walks in our neighborhood almost as soon as they could toddle, and people would just smile and sometimes marvel at the distance that they could/would walk. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone judge me for getting my kids some exercise.

  40. Warren February 6, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    Sorry hineata you are correct. I have three female dogs, that carry themselves with more class than the women in here that are chastising, judging this mother, under an assumption of the child’s behaviour.

    My manners are just fine thank you very much. Mind you these so called women lost all rights to being treated with manners when they started in on this mother.

  41. Zackly February 6, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    And as for making my child walk. I do. All the time. And much longer distances than through an airport.

    We regularly walk about 3km to see friends. Or I walk while my daughter rides her scooter. I slow down for her, but I will not pick her up.

    She has healthy legs. From 11 months old she chose to walk, even when a stroller was available. I don’t think we’ve even used the stroller since she turned one.

    She carries her own bag, helps carry shopping, makes her own bed (sort of), helps set the table and do other housework that is possible for a 3 year old.

    It’s like the saying “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”. We need to enable and encourage our children to be independent.

  42. Really Bad Mum February 6, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    @ Kay, feel free to use mine lol I have lots eg
    ‘ I refuse to admit their mine till the DNA testing comes back’
    ‘ go find your mother if your going to behave like that’
    ‘ if you think you can do a better job take them’
    ‘ why are you watching my kids anyway? Maybe I should be concerned about your interest in my kids’
    ( not recommended but used on really bad ones) ‘F#*% off, and mind your own business’
    ‘ at least they’re not playing on the highway with a razor blade and plastic bag’

  43. lauren February 6, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    What extra-double kills me is that three separate people had the temerity to openly criticise another human being. If I disagreed with a friend or loved one I would choose a kinder time to say something and NEVER would the phrase “that’s not okay” come out of my mouth! That is reserved for children too young to understand the word “appropriate”, and is still delivered privately. What does it say about a culture that thinks strangers are less worthy of manners than a two-year-old?
    My 16-month old was roaming around a cafe attached to the hardware store the other day, and I had to haul him in a couple of times. When returning with him from his latest foray to the automatic doors (in February, without a coat), a lady just said, “he’s a quick one, huh?”. That kind of comment acknowledges that the child has agency too,, which seems to have been forgotten by those who think kids should be strapped into strollers against their will.

  44. Andy February 6, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    Since when is three years old running up and down ramp bad behaviour? Even the best behaved three years old can not silently sit for hours and they were after flight. Running up and down ramp seem to me like a perfect solution: the kid does not bother other people and blows off steam. Energy is redirected somewhere else.

    Americans complain about American children not being behaved, but if this pass as bad behaviour, then those kids had no chance in the first place. I can keep mu kids behaved, but it is precisely by telling them “run up and down that empty ramp” at key moments.

    Most parents around here do the same.

  45. Andy February 6, 2014 at 4:00 am #

    @Warren My impression is that too many people (on this site too) equate running child with child out of control running wild.

    I guess that if the culture is to keep kids on arms reach at all time and sitting as much as possible, then they can not imagine empty part of airport with empty ramp. Or a wide store where there is no crowd and kid hits nobody. Maybe it is related to general believe that kids should be kept in home and playground and not taken to be mixed with adults.

    Neither they can imagine the kid running while being able to listen parents orders (stop now, enough – come back, do not yell, etc). It is probably because any time they have seen a kid run somewhere not playground the kid was in “not listening doing whatever” mode.

    There is also implied assumption that “parents are doing it wrong”. If the article or post do not describe the situation in all details and leave anything to imagination, people imagine the worst case possible.

    E.g. they imagine ramp full of people and crowded store at most busy hour. It is just worst case thinking again, just in a different form.

  46. Really Bad Mum February 6, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    @ Andy, most kids by the age of 3-4 understand what they are allowed to do, especially if they are doing something that is routine, if shopping they know that they may be allowed to walk ahead to the end of the aisle but not out. Nothing wrong with that. A child doing the same thing but screaming it’s head off is annoying, same as the ones who continually get in people way, I have wanted to smack plenty of kids in the shops and have actually said something to the stupid woman who gave her 3 yr old a whistle at the checkout ( I even whispered to my kid ‘ if that was you, you’d be farting that noise coz I’d knock that whistle down your throat . He laughed and yelled’ shut up ‘ to the kid, ) if you teach your kids to consider others the running, swinging etc is not a problem, but too often the parents of these kids believe their kid is a little darling who the whole world should pander too.

  47. Donna February 6, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Warren – Stop being such a freaking ass. You have no idea whatsoever whether this kid was being obnoxious or not. Insulting people and insisting that you are right and everyone else is wrong when you weren’t there just makes you look like an idiot and your opinion meaningless. I’m with you in the opinion that people are jumping to conclusions but damn you just make it so hard to agree with you about anything because you are such a complete ass.

    Running up and down a ramp at the airport is fine if AND ONLY IF it is an area that is not being used by people. All airports have areas that are not highly used and even the busiest airport in the world can be a virtual ghost town at times. We have no idea when or where this was and cannot determine either way.

    Running in a store may or may not be obnoxious depending on where in the store. That said, my kid was always taught that there is a time and place for everything and a store is not the place to run regardless of whether she was bothering people or not. But to each their own; as long as the kid was not getting in the way, it is not something to get up in arms about.

  48. Donna February 6, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    Andy –

    It is not the culture of worst-first thinking. It is way too much experience with the American sense of entitlement and parents who allow their children to anything and expect the rest of the world to think their little darlings are just so adorable in everything that they do.

    There are an exceedingly high number of parents in America who would allow their children to run up and down crowded airport terminals and through crowded stores. It is not difficult to imagine at all. I don’t think conclusions should be drawn with the information that we have, but I can definitely see where some would get that picture in their head. We’ve all been bumped into, run over, and had to dodge out of control kids while trying to get somewhere on a fairly regular basis.

  49. Dee February 6, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    Carina, so sorry that so many felt they had to butt into your business. I hear the “snatch” fear all the time. We have literally been conditioned to automatically think snatching is a viable possibility at any time. My son turns 12 on Saturday, and I still hear comments from time to time (although it’s lessening thanks to his age – I hope – and because I’ve tried to condition those around me to realize that snatching is not an hourly occurrence). I hope your next trip to America is easier!

  50. Warren February 6, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    There is the difference Donna.

    Those clucking hens in here automatically went worst first and assumed the child was out of control and being a disruption, without being there. So screw them and you for defending them.
    Where on the other hand I read the letter and gave the mom the benefit of the doubt, that she knew what she was doing.

    I get a kick out of how you try to defend worst first thinking as well. Way below you, by the way.

    Yes we have all been bumped into, or whatever. I know I have. But who cares, really the adults these days are such whiners and self centered jerks.
    The only time being bumped is unacceptable, is when they do not excuse themselves for the mistake. Thats manners.
    As a matter of fact, if I didn’t see kids trying to have fun at the airport, or in the mall, or a store, I would wonder what the hell is wrong.

  51. Warren February 6, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    It must be an American thing. Because I never see gangs of out of control, rude kids, pulling stunts, all over the place.
    Maybe we are just better parents up here, or more willing to accept certain levels of activity as normal behaviour.

    Difference between raising your kids and controlling the androids.

  52. Donna February 6, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    “The only time being bumped is unacceptable, is when they do not excuse themselves for the mistake. Thats manners.”

    No, Warren, it is good manners to control your children so that they are not bumping into people to start with. An “I’m sorry” only excuses bumping when the bumping is truly inadvertent and not when the kid is running around not caring who they bump into and in whose way they get.

    The world doesn’t revolve around adults, but it doesn’t revolve around children either. Children do need to be taught that there are certain behaviors that are acceptable and that acceptable behavior differs depending on location. Children are not entitled to play and have fun at the inconvenience of everyone else in the vicinity. Allowing them to do so is poor parenting and bad manners.

    I don’t know whether this mother’s kid was obnoxious or not. Running in stores and airports can be highly obnoxious. It can also be completely fine. I see no real reason to assume one way or another here. Many parents get that kids shouldn’t be allowed to bother other people just because they are kids and this mother could be one. Your comments are proof that many parents don’t see any need to stop their children from being nuisances to others and she could be one of those too. Who knows. She isn’t a regular commenter here so I don’t have the slightest information to determine that.

  53. SKL February 6, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    I do not know whether or not the running on the ramp was bad behavior. There is not enough information given to make that conclusion one way or another. I can imagine situations where I would allow it, and situations when I would not.

    That said, the fact that someone complained to this lady’s face about it suggests that maybe there were circumstances that made it a bad idea. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But surely, working in an airport, this lady has seen lots of little kids and would be used to seeing parents meet their kids’ need to move.

    Also, the fact that she sees nothing wrong with letting her child run back and forth in a department store suggests that she might have different ideas of what’s considerate than I have.

    I’ve traveled with my kids a lot, and I can’t remember any time when anyone chided me or my kids for behavior in an airport or store. And my kids are a lot more free-range than most Americans. Having been told off by 3 different people is probably a very unusual experience. At least two of them involved 3yo running. Maybe in her home country, people are more used to kids running around, but in the USA it is considered bad manners in certain situations. It has nothing to do with child snatchers.

  54. Warren February 6, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    There are two things you have missed.
    1. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this kid was bothering anyone. Yet all these arrogant witches in here assumed the worst. That cannot be disputed. They jumped to worst first thinking, and you made excuses for it.
    2. I never said anyting about running wild. Again jumping to assumptions, in a worst first style.

    You all remind me of the gossipy moms in the park, talking behind peoples backs, trashing them and judging them. Making you somewhere between a slug and that white stuff that gathers in the corners of your mouth when you are overheated, on the evolutionary scale.
    Shameful pathetic excuses for a human being.

    That is a common thread in here. Hardly anyone gives the original poster the benefit of the doubt. Far too often people in here make up things not in evidence to distrust the claim. Far too often we see “There has to be more to the story…..” in here.

    You all have proven just why the states gets away with all the overthetop security crap. None of you trust anyone, you are all jaded, and so full of yourselves at the same time.
    A mother writes in here for support, and a bunch of you jump on her, for something that none of you can prove she did.
    Welcome to America, where you are guilty as shit, because Americans think everyone lies. Pathetic.

  55. Donna February 6, 2014 at 11:53 am #


    If we must discuss the conduct of this mother, let’s see –

    (1)The mother refers to the child as “running around” repeatedly.

    (2) There does appear to be a number of people around at the airport as the mother was embarrassed because “everyone” could hear the woman yell.

    (2) The kid is apparently “running around” (again to quote the mother) in front of the glass door entrance to a store. That is bothersome on may levels. People shouldn’t have to dodge your kid to get into a store.

    I think there is plenty of evidence that the mother was being less than considerate of others at the store. (Not to mention that from a safety standpoint it seems like a really bad idea to leave a preschooler alone at the entrance of a store, especially in a strange country where you don’t know what bright, shiny object will pass by grabbing the attention of your child out the door. I don’t mean snatching. I mean the carriage rolls by). At the airport, it would depend on where the child was. “Running around” at the airport isn’t a problem when few people are around; it is in more crowded places.

    My own personal opinion, which we are all allowed to have but which I would have kept silent about if you weren’t such an ass, of the “running around” aside, I just don’t see why the conversation here had to go there at all. The people were commenting on the child being snatched, not her being a brat. That alone is worthy of note. Regardless of what the child was doing, the fact that people kept talking about snatching is telling about our society.

  56. SKL February 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Warren, I appreciate your concern regarding America’s image as a pathetic nation. I am sure your frequent, positive comments about us will go far toward remedying that situation.

  57. Warren February 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Okay Donna you win. I guess it is a fundamental difference between you and I.

    You go to assuming she is a mother that just allows her child to run wild and bother everyone, and are willing to condemn her for that in a public forum.

    I will give her the benefit of the doubt, that she knew what she was doing, and that her daughter wasn’t going all Lord of the Flies.

    The other difference is cultural. Here we do not have hoards of kids terrorizing the public like you do in the States. How else would you explain that arrogant american cows automatically assume the worst..actually making all of you no better than the woman in the park that question the dad for being there in the next post.

  58. Warren February 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    Oh and how did the issue of running around become the topic………..look at the first batch of comments to see the ratio of those that were blasting the mom.

    Really don’t care how the image of Americans go. It is so tarnished now, I would say it is beyond repair.

  59. Donna February 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    SKL – I actually appreciate Warren’s comments and think they go far to improve America’s image. They show that obnoxious blowhards live everywhere, so America has not cornered the market on them.

  60. Donna February 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Warren – I agree that the others brought it up first. I was with you that they needed to shut up and deal with the main issue. Said that in my first post. But you are just such an unpleasant person that it is impossible to agree with you about anything. Try to agree and you still end up being insulted because you didn’t agree correctly.

  61. Really Bad Mum February 6, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    @ Donna, the people who put their 2 cents worth in did not whinge about the child running around, it was the fact that she allowed her child to be more then 2cm away and not file a missing persons report. The child’s behaviour wasn’t a factor in their attacks on the mother, an unrealistic fear of the child being kidnapped and self righteousness was. The comments to the mother had were not ‘ control your child’ but ‘your child will be snatched’.

    @ warren, you and Donna are arguing over something that was not an issue, yes kids being brats and being noisy when in public is rude and annoying and makes me want to smack other peoples kids, but simple running in a large area without causing trouble is fine as long as the child does not disturb others. Thanks for sticking up for my fellow Aussie, but as for the disagreement between you and Donna, don’t worry she’ll be right mate,

  62. Stacy February 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I don’t know how many people told me I was going to need a double stroller for my kids, who were three years apart. I gave up trying to explain that the oldest stopped riding in the stroller when he was two because he liked to MOVE.

    This reminds me of two times a stranger thought I was a bad parent:
    Once, I was at the uncrowded mall with my two-year-old and she put up a huge fight over leaving the play area because she was over-tired. It wasn’t safe to carry her because she fought hard to get down. Both gentle and more insistent directions to walk with me were leading nowhere. So, I left her and walked about ten feet away. She slowly started following me, and I kept walking while glancing behind me. After only a few seconds, a woman walked up to her, asked me if she was my child, glared at me in disgust, and muttered something about how she could not believe someone would do that. Walk ten feet ahead of her without no one in between us or make her leave the play area?

    Another time, I was traveling in the airport with a baby in a front carrier, a backpack on my back, holding my preschooler’s hand, and dragging a suitcase, while my husband carried a heavy bag and dragged another suitcase with two carseats attached. We reached the escalator and my seven-year-old was scared to step on. We had previously waited in a long line for an elevator so he could avoid an escalator, but we were just too tired. My husband lifted him and put him on the step, and then followed behind. A woman glared at me and said, “I can’t believe what you make your children do.”

  63. SKL February 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    There is a lot of assuming going on in both directions. The fact is that three people in a short time frame made it a point to call this woman out on how her kid was moving around. She assumes that must happen in the US all the time, but no, it does not. Those of us in the US know that it is rare for someone to get up in a stranger’s face about a child walking or running. If it happens 3 times to the same person in a short time, our assumption is that there is some reason other than insanity or bitchiness that caused 3 different people to comment. Warren’s assumption is that because we are not fans of preschoolers running in department stores, we have all kinds of personality disorders and we hate children.

    One might assume that Canadian preschoolers always run around in stores, but I’ve been there enough times to rather doubt it. Or one might assume that people in Canada are generally nasty and loathe Americans, and while I’ve seen some of the latter in other forums, I don’t believe the former is true at all.

    I do think we can all agree that the snatching comments and the pram comment were dumb. Though that assumes there had not been a wave of recent child snatchings in that area ….

  64. Donna February 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Really Bad Mum, I know what the comments were about and agree totally that the people here were out of line to make this an issue about the child’s behavior. My comments directed at Warren were due to the incredible insulting nature of his comments, in general, but particularly in this thread. Most of us here can disagree politely and respectfully. Warren can’t simply disagree that the child was being obnoxious or say that it doesn’t matter; he has to insist in post after post after post that people who view the child’s actions as obnoxious are ignorant, bitches, witches, hateful, disgusting, etc.

    And if you keep insisting to me that you are absolutely right, there is no evidence to the contrary and anyone who disagrees with you is a bitch, I will find evidence to disagree with you.

  65. John February 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    When I was a youngster of 9-years-old back in 1965, I would always caddy for my dad during his weekend golf outings during the summer. His bag was heavy and I remember pulling it up a hill on the first tee and it was hard! Dad was a very fast walker and would always yell at me to keep up. He said keeping up was a trait of a good caddy. My calf muscles ached and my legs were like rubber after the first hole! BUT each time, it became easier and by the end of the summer, pulling that heavy golf bag up a hill was nothing and it gave me some pretty strong legs compared to my friends! But nowadays, somebody somewhere would accuse my dad of child abuse for making me pull that heavy bag. It’s the “children are as fragile as snowflakes” mentality we have here in the USA.

    Much of the obesity epidemic among American kids today has to do with the cyber generation of video and computer games. BUT a good portion of it is the fault of so-called child advocates who cry CHILD ABUSE everytime a parent makes their kid do something physical, even exercise!

  66. Betsy in Michigan February 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Warren, you are very much starting to sound like a troll, and becoming as much a part of the problem of lack of civility as a solution. Please take a deep breath (yoga is great for everyone, almost any time) and remember that we all have differing opinions. If you continue in name calling, no one here will be interested in hearing your opinions anymore.

  67. Really Bad Mum February 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    @donna, but that’s warren, and honestly half the time he is only saying what we are all thinking, I have never had a problem with him even if I disagree, I have said it before, that arguing between ourselves and name calling ( bad sometimes funny warren) doesn’t do the free range message any favours, we all have different ways of expressing our opinions we need to try to ignore the way they are said and concentrate on what they say. You an warren, although sometimes entertaining should just not comment on each other’s posts, we are all adults with the ability of self control just because this is the internet doesn’t mean we can not use it..

  68. Warren February 6, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Betsy, my yoga is calling a spade a spade.

    And if you are the type to automatically assume that a mother is bad, and then chastise her for it, without any evidence whatsover………..then you are indeed a spade, which in this case is bitch.

    Yes I am in your face and not back down, because I have a spine. Not like most in here that thank busybodies to avoid confrontation or hurting their feelings. But the biggest problem is they are hypocrites. They will scream bloody hell over the lady in the next post, that assumed a man was a molestor. But they in this case automatically assumed the mom was in the wrong. Pet peeve. Hypocrites cannot be trusted, for anything, and they are sneaky self centered jerks.

    Oh and about how canadians feel about americans, we’ll be polite to you in person, because it is civil, but do not confuse that with liking or even tolerating you. Since 911, the states have slowly but surely destroyed our opinion of them.

  69. Becky February 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Warren –

    As someone else said, the key word was “running.” Social norms in my area, what I was taught and teach my kids is we don’t run inside, except in a gym, etc. I do not expect young children to determine whether there are too many people around, whether they are annoying the people, etc. It is not appropriate behavior to run inside. The mother said her kid WAS running inside.

    If we’re going to do name-calling, etc. here’s MY stereotype — I generally see more of your norms (“everyone should tolerate whatever my kid fancies because he/she is JUST a KID!”) amongst helicopter parents on the soccer fields yelling at the ref because their precious snowflake got a “bad” call. They think the world should cater to and revolve around their — and all — children, rather than giving their kids the skills to act appropriately and add positively to the world.

    But frankly someone who resorts to calling people who disagree with them “bitches” is not someone who I’m likely to share ideals on good manners and parenting with anyway.

  70. SKL February 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Nobody said the mother was bad or berated her here. We are just saying that maybe the reason 3 people said something to her was because she was letting her child do something annoying.

    No evidence? The mom’s own word is evidence enough that she allowed the child to behave in a store in a way that is annoying in our culture. I’m sure she did not realize this was annoying. I’m sure that I’ve done some annoying things when I’ve traveled to other countries as well. And that doesn’t make me a bad mom either.

    People are just making the point that maybe “your kid will get snatched” was said because it doesn’t sound as bad as “control your unruly child.” Or maybe they really thought the child might get snatched, thanks to Nancy Grace et al.

  71. Kay February 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    John, http://youtu.be/Sy_VzDlSies

    Warren, what part of “Now I’m not sure if the OP’s child was that obtrusive and dashed in front of people so they’d have to stop and move but I’m speaking to the following discussion about this.” did you not understand?

    Talk about Worst First: ”
    Have you little darlings line up and sing a goodnight song, ala Sound of Music, if you want.” Yeesh! I think you have made assumptions as well and are quite nasty about it.

    I don’t remember what restaurant but it made an impression on me. It was a rehearsal dinner and this kid kept going around the table, at least 15 times continuously, saying “Excuse Me” as people had to keep squeezing up to the table to let him past. The first time was fine but it became clear this kid was doing it for entertainment and using “Excuse Me” as if it was okay to keep doing it. I was pretty annoyed with the parents but no, didn’t say anything. No, it’s not okay and no, your kids are not adorable that they were taught “excuse me” when they are still being rude. I always have sympathy with parents that are trying to get their child to behave. I don’t have sympathy with parents that don’t give a crap how they affect others.

    I remember another time when dining with some girlfriends one let her kids run back and forth from our table to the lobby, quite a distance. It was hard to keep my kids under control when they see hers running all around. None of my concern was about child snatching and all about manners in public places. A restaurant is not a park. Think about the employees and how they have to worry about some unpredictable kid running around and the diners don’t want to deal with it either. This was not Dave and Busters or Chuck E. Cheese. You just don’t do those things in polite society.

    And just to be clear WARREN, again, this is a separate comment on children’s behavior in certain public places.

    “Children do need to be taught that there are certain behaviors that are acceptable and that acceptable behavior differs depending on location. Children are not entitled to play and have fun at the inconvenience of everyone else in the vicinity. Allowing them to do so is poor parenting and bad manners.” Thank you, Donna, for saying it well.

  72. Melanie February 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    How bloody rude!

  73. Kay February 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    Really Bad Mum, thanks for more suggestions!

    Although my boys are getting a little too old for the “concern of strangers”, you never know if you have to defend yourself.

  74. anonymous this time February 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    “Maybe in her home country, people are more used to kids running around, but in the USA it is considered bad manners in certain situations. It has nothing to do with child snatchers.”

    Perhaps, in 1957, if this woman had been allowing her kid to run around in the airport, or store, or walk instead of ride in a stroller, the feedback would have been VERY different.

    “Madam, your child is bothering the customers. Please take her outside if she must run around and make noise.”

    “Madam, no running in the terminal. This is to ensure the safety of all passengers.”

    And my guess is that in 1957 there would be no comment on a preschool-aged child walking instead of riding.

    How quickly some have assumed that the bystanders who “intervened” with this woman and her child were valuing consideration more than safety, but figured it was easier to tell her that abduction was a near certainty instead of making a doable request to support their need for consideration.

    My first thought, reading the post, was that it was a very sad commentary on how crazy North America has gotten about “predators.” It didn’t even occur to me that this woman’s child was bothering anyone in a different way, because they didn’t say so.

    “It’s just not right!” and “It’s just not done!” are a constant chorus these days whenever children are allowed some time out of reach, out of sight of caregivers. Why is this woman’s experience different from all of the feedback we get about leaving children in cars by themselves? The same people who call the police when they see a child alone in a car are likely the ones who shout at strangers in airports when they see a child 20 feet away from their parents.

    If they want peace, consideration, and quiet, well, they would be better off asking for actions that support those things, rather than going through the back door of scaring each other about a minuscule possibility of abduction. Do we not trust each other that we care about how we impact those around us? I certainly care. I care about consideration, I don’t care about hysterical fantasies of abduction.

    If my kid is disturbing your peace, TELL ME. If you think I’m doing the “wrong thing” because my child “might get hurt/snatched/disappointed/tired” I’m not so interested. Tell me what you are needing, not what you think.

  75. Larry Kluger February 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    I hope, otherwise, that you had a great trip!

    Unfortunately, half of Americans are below average in common sense. And worse, it’s been proven that stupid people are more sure of themselves than they should be.

    The answer?

    1. Never take it personally, they’re fools. (Well meaning, but that’s no excuse for their foolishness.)
    2. Don’t waste your precious time arguing/explaining things to them. You won’t change their minds. Ever.
    3. Practice the “shark technique” — keep moving. Don’t stop to talk with them, just keep walking.

    Best regards,

  76. SKL February 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Yes, people don’t feel comfortable telling another adult that they should do xyz to make the speaker more comfortable. Perhaps that is a fault of our culture. People get annoyed and they post it on facebook or rant at their friends, or do something passive aggressive, rather than spend 5 seconds actually addressing the problem. Possibly because many people are extremely touchy when being criticized to their face.

    And sometimes I worry that people will take it out on their kids if I say something about the behavior of either the parent or the child. For example, if I see someone berating their kid and I suggest that’s a bit over the top, will the parent yank the kid out of the public eye and smack him down out of sheer frustration? So it would take a lot to get me to say anything at all, and then it would be said very carefully.

    If it were me and I felt someone *really needed* to rein in her kid, I would more likely make a specific positive suggestion and phrase it as, e.g., “would he like to ___?” Or if it’s a safety issue, I might say “just want to make sure you know there is xyz hazard around the corner there.” Maybe that would piss someone off, but sometimes people need to hear things.

  77. anonymous this time February 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    “People get annoyed and they post it on facebook or rant at their friends, or do something passive aggressive, rather than spend 5 seconds actually addressing the problem. Possibly because many people are extremely touchy when being criticized to their face.”

    Ah, but if we can learn to express what it is that we value (that all people value) and make it an invitation to contribute to that lovely stuff instead of phrasing it as a “there’s something WRONG with you / your judgement / your kid,” that’s where the real gold can be discovered.

    People are terrified of confrontation and conflict. They imagine it’s impossible to get what they want by tenderly asking for it in a way that isn’t a demand. They think they must manipulate people, or scare them, or “drop a bomb” and run away.

    It’s challenging for me to be this vulnerable, and I train people to be more authentic. Authenticity can be terrifying, but the payoffs are enormous. Most people believe they’ve “tried it all,” but they haven’t really had the understanding of how to connect in a more genuine way, and step beyond our cultural conditioning of punishing others for “bad behaviour” or silently hoping people will read our minds if we pout or glare at them long enough.

    It might sound “honest” to give someone “a piece of your mind,” but you’re not too likely to be heard if you frame your expressions as blame, criticism, or judgement. Yet we don’t really know how else to do it. Just remember: LEAD WITH THE NEED. Say what you care about. Say what you are seeing / hearing. Make a request (not a demand). Invite that person to contribute to what you care about. See what happens.

    P.S. It REALLY helps if you start out by guessing what the other person values / cares about, and connect with that. We’re much more receptive to hearing about what others want if we’ve already been acknowledged. Connection before correction. Have courage! Try it!

  78. Warren February 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Why does anyone believe they have the right or the need to say anything to a parent? Whether you think it is not safe, or you are annoyed, or you don’t like how the parent is doing something, what gives anyone the right to say anything?

    Basically what it comes down to is people would be alot better off just minding their own business, and keeping their yaps shut.

  79. tamara February 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    to Lenore –

    I think Warren can make his point without calling people bitches. His comments are incredibly nasty and I’m sad that they’re on here in what could otherwise be an interesting discussion/debate.

  80. anonymous this time February 6, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    I’m guessing that Warren has given up on the idea that anybody will understand just how much he cares about certain things unless he uses language that he imagines will get their attention.

    He got their attention, all right, but they’re paying attention to the way he’s describing them, not the passionate advocacy he is asserting for this Australian mother who was given unwanted admonishments.

    I can hear through his “epithets” and “insults” and guess that he cares deeply about respect. Unfortunately, the way he’s expressing that need leaves many of us here longing for that very thing he values so much!

  81. Krystal February 6, 2014 at 11:05 pm #


    I’ve been called a lot of things, but calling me a mother is crossing the line. I do like gossipy soccer witch, because being a WAG would be quite fantastic.

    Keep up the good work.

  82. SKL February 6, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    What gives me the right to say anything? Gosh, I don’t know. Warren, you have a colorful history of saying all kinds of things about parents who don’t do what you think they should be doing (at least online). What gives you the right?

  83. Kay February 7, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    Is Warren the poster child for Canada, based on how he makes his comments here? Hmmm.

    The ironic thing is, to be truthful, my first post was an indirect response to his comments. My mistake, yes, as he thought I was responding to the OP. But he’s such a short fuse, I wanted to make my point but keep it toned down. It was of no matter as we saw the result of that anyway by the blasting.

    However, I feel strongly about public decorum and Warren apparently not so much. And we all suffer for it.

    I think I hear my children stirring and I have to find my whistle now. Bye.

  84. Andy February 7, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    @Becky That is definitely not social nor everywhere. That social norm is reasonable if you can be outside most of time and it is reasonably safe outside. However, that is not really the case of modern world.

    Going out on airport may take 20 minutes and what you will find is likely busy parking lot or side walk next to busy road.

    If the child is bumping into people, I do not see much difference between child outside and inside. It is annoying to those people all the same. Which is why I do not put line outside vs inside, but between a lot of people or not.

    I do not expect small kid to understand my decisions in this regard all the time, I expect him to listen to my decisions about it :). The kid will learn to understand as it will get older.

    Anyway, I believe this is beside the point. First, since she did get comments abroad but not in home, we can assume she is not totally craze and there is difference between cultures.

    Second, if those people through kids are annoying, they should tell so. “I almost bumped him,could they please run elsewhere” or “I’m sorry, they are making too much noise for me,would it be possible to calm them down” are perfectly sensible sentences.

  85. Beth February 7, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    I don’t understand the commenters saying that it’s OK to speak to another parent if it’s a “safety” issue. It seems to me that you’re assuming that you care about that child more than his parent does, and that’s just nuts. You *don’t* love my child more than I do, and if I’ve decided that she can do an activity that I feel is “safe enough”, and it’s not compromising anyone else’s safety, then she can do it without your intervention. I’m the parent.

    And boy, am I tired of “safety” being the buzzword of the millenium.

  86. Warren February 7, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    You do not see a difference between posting comments on a website, and going face to face with a parent?
    One is a discussion, whether heated or not, where comments are expected and asked for. The other is sticking your nose into someone else’s business.

    Now to the core of the problem
    “That said, I’d rather not go shopping (in a non-children store/department) and deal with tripping over your running kid.” …….Wendy the second comment posted.

    “The three year old was running in a crowded area of heavy adult traffic.”…….Ravana the fifth comment posted.

    “Normal children run around. And good parents tell them to stop.”…….Violet the sixth comment posted.

    3 out of the first 6 comments were made by people that made assumptions, and went on attack of this lady’s parenting. That was then followed by people complaining about kids in restaurants, which still baffles me, as we were not talking about dining experiences, but some people cannot let an opportunity to whine.

    Then so many others jumped on the bandwagon.
    Since when does a 3 yr old running automatically mean out of control or all around? So many in here willing to jump down this mother’s throat, instead of giving her the benefit of the doubt is just shameful.

    Kids can run and play in certain public areas without being annoying or a disruption. I see it all the time. If the kids where you live are all out of control primates, well sucks to be you, but not everywhere is like that.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a child playing on a ramp, while mom is busy at the airport. There is no indication that the airport was busy, and none that it was quiet. So unless you are one of those female dogs, a rational person would give the mom the benefit of the doubt.

    The child was not running around Macy’s, she was going from mom to the window and back. Again no indication of how busy the place was. Again any rational person gives mom the benefit of the doubt, and doesn’t jump down her throat.

    Under these circumstances I will be outraged, and come to the defense of the party, against such cruel and spiteful attacks. Yes I am in your face, and no I am not Canada’s spokesperson, but I am someone that does not fear speaking my mind, whether it offends someone or not. You may not like my style,but it has worked for me, for a long time.

    And no, you do not have the right to come up to me infront of my kids and disagree with me, correct me, or lecture me on anything to do with parenting. If you do not like what I am doing, exercise your freedom to walk away. People in general would do better to just keep their mouths shut, and understand that they do not have the right to publicly interfere with someone’s parenting. Now before the hen parade jumps on that. Yes if you see someone beating or killing their kid, do something. If you just don’t agree or like their parenting style, then shut the hell up, and walk away.

  87. SKL February 7, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Warren, yeah, this is a public forum and the posters whom you quoted did not say they would go up and complain to a mom in person.

    And no, most Americans would not.

    And no, we are not used to kids running around in stores or other busy indoor places, because most American parents teach their kids not to. I’m not sure how you come to the conclusion that because we find it inappropriate, that means it must happen constantly here.

    We find it odd that one mother was confronted to her face 3 times in a short time frame, because it is extremely atypical everywhere I’ve been in the USA (and I get around). It hasn’t happened to me 3 times in my entire life (with my own kids, younger siblings, or others I’ve taken around). If I made a post saying that I was in Canada for a week and three different people came up and said I had BO, you’d probably think I needed to attend to my personal hygiene. (And so would I for that matter.) You probably would not conclude that your fellow Canadians are all assholes.

  88. Warren February 7, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Again SKL, where does it say running around, and where does it say the places were busy? If you automatically assume this kid was a disruption, then yes guess what, you classify as a bitch, with issues that need to be addressed. People like you make me sick. Or maybe that is your BO, not sure.

    So by your last comment, it is inappropriate for a child to leave their mother’s side in public, to do so is ill manner, and considered out of control.

    So if the ramp in the airport area was empty, you wouldn’t let your kid play on it? That just makes you controlling, overbearing and a word even I wouldn’t use here.

    Three different people didn’t complain about her child bein rude, ill mannered or out of control. What post were you reading. And I don’t know, do you really smell that bad to offend others? So how does your comaparison work, you smell, but none of the comments made to the mother, were about her child’s behaviour, they were about abduction and making her kid walk.

    And should someone decide to question my parenting to my face they will be told in no uncertain terms to F off. Noone has the right to question someone’s parenting. You don’t like it, shut up, walk away, but you do not have the right to confront that parent. And if you don’t like my answer, and continue the interference, I suggest you duck.

  89. SKL February 7, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Warren, perhaps your medication levels need adjusting. Not sure where else the majority of your comments are coming from.

    Running in Macy’s is not OK. Period.

    The OP clearly says she thinks it is normal for kids to run around while shopping and she, quote, was “more than happy for her to run around” in Macy’s. This is not an ass-umption, it is a quote from the OP herself.

    I would not have said anything about that (to her face) if that was all that was happening. Neither would most Americans. 3 complaints in 1 trip + a parent who clearly thinks it is great for 3yos to “run around” in places not designed for that = raised eyebrows over here. If you don’t like it I really don’t care.

    Obviously we disagree and I’m not sure why you think calling people numerous foul names is going to change a single opinion. People who agree with you are going to start to feel embarrassed to do so.

  90. Warren February 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    SKL, then I hope you have the intelligence to keep your yap shut. Every once in awhile people like you will confront a mom like this, only to find out that people like me are around. Because we will intervene and give you the dressing down of your life.

    And you know what a 3 yr old running from mom to the window and back, whether it be Macy’s or the White House, is not disruptive. It is a kid being a kid, and as long as that kid is not bothering anyone, then yes it acceptable. If you cannot factor in more than just the location, as to whether something is acceptable then you are so messed up it isn’t funny. Time, crowd, location, everything is taken into consideration.
    Let me guess, as a kid your parents gave you the swingset that faced the brick wall, didn’t they? Repeated head trauma is horrible to live with, my sympathy SKL.

  91. John February 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Quote from Warren: “Oh and about how canadians feel about americans…..Since 911, the states have slowly but surely destroyed our opinion of them”

    I realize this is NOT a political forum and Lenore I apologize for this post BUT Warren, I’m very curious to know why Canadians would have a lower opinion of Americans because of 911. Wasn’t it mainly Americans who were attacked unprovokingly along with a few people of other nationalities? Shouldn’t Canadians have a lower opinion of the people who launched the attacks?? What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense and my guess is that a far majority of Canadians do not share your fanatically far-left opinion!

  92. SKL February 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Wait, Warren, what gives you the right to intervene if I decide to tell some mom that her running kid is annoying me? If I don’t have the right to speak up, neither do you. Even though obviously the value of your opinion is 1000x the value of my opinion.

    I’ve said it a dozen times, but I’ll say it again for your benefit. I have never complained to a parent and I never would for this sort of thing. That doesn’t mean the behavior of the parent (in allowing the child to run around in a store) is acceptable.

    I’d say “let’s agree to disagree” but that would be a pipe dream….

  93. SKL February 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    John, I’ve seen other forums where some Canadians are quite hostile to people in the US. I mean, they hate us. I was surprised at first. I won’t go into it here. I also have some good friends who are Canadians. Might be a regional thing, might be a political leanings thing, I don’t know.

  94. Warren February 7, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    John, where did you learn to read? You even copied it, and still got it incorrect. I said since not because of 9/11.

    1. The US took what was once the longest unguarded border in the world, and changed that. Now we face armed guards at every border crossing.
    2. Citizens from both countries used to enjoy fairly easy travel between countries. Some form of photo ID, a couple easy questions, and on your way. Now, passports are a must, interogations are the norm. and hour upon hours in lines, to appease the US paranoia.
    3. At one time there was talk of charging us an entrance fee to cross the border. Guess what you ain’t an amusement park.
    4. Absolutely no respect for our efforts on that horrible day. Not only did we send supplies, manpower, equipment and funds, where do you think all the planes went that were told they couldn’t land in the states.
    5. The general attitude of superiority by your gov’t when dealing with ours.

    Border crossings for travel and recreation is down big time. It is not worth the time or hassle, when in all reality other than cheap booze, the US is actually a second rate country, by comparison.

  95. Warren February 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    I have all the right in the world to intervene. I would be standing up for, coming to the defense of, not attacking like you would be.

    Complaining at someone is alot different than standing up for someone.

    Maybe that is why we don’t agree, you cannot see the difference between apples and oranges.

  96. AnnMarie February 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Yuck to those people who complained. They probably would hate me, too: Once my daughter was able to walk, she walked! In airports, we didn’t even HAVE a stroller. (Or, well, anywhere else, because I hate pushing them.)

  97. tamara February 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Warren – if you would like to hate Americans because of some things that have happened since 9/11 I feel sorry for you. The reason I feel sorry for you is that you would base your opinion of Americans on the actions of just some. If I were to base my opinions of Canadians on what I’ve seen you write in these comments – well – that would be pretty stupid of me, because I would think they’re all judgmental jerks that think they are far superior to everyone else. However – since I’m not stupid – I don’t think you alone represent Canadians.

    As far as the actual topic of this commentary – the ladies commenting in all three situations were just silly or rude. However, and this is a big however – I agree with the other posters here about the Macy’s situation. I do not think she is a “bad mother” for it but I do think she could be more considerate of other people. I have seen so many elderly folks ran into and I’ve seen one waiter actually tripped and take a fall down two stairs as he was carrying a tray full of plates because of little kids running around in restaurants and stores. I’ve been bumped into by kids running around. Luckily I’m pretty quick 😉 and dodge most of the impact. I’ve seen little kids running around and knock things over and break them. So yes – there is a time for running around and playing and a time not to be. The airport ramp situation is really dependent on how busy it was there. The mom doesn’t really state so I’m going to assume that it was probably rather empty and it wouldn’t bug me at all to see her kiddo getting out some excess energy.

    As for having her little one out of the stroller walking – I have NEVER seen anyone comment to a parent about this and I’ve seen plenty of little ones out of their strollers and walking. My little one is 13 now but she often was out of her stroller and walking when she was that age and I NEVER had a single person say anything about it to me. It is a strange coincidence that the mom had these things happen three times. It’s possible – yes – there’s plenty of people that butt into business that has nothing to do with them. But I really don’t think the majority of Americans would have said anything about it.

    so…now that I’ve written a book…..why don’t you try taking a deep breath and calm down a little.

  98. k February 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Last winter, my SIL and I took our kids, four total, to an aircraft museum at Dulles airport. My nephew, 4 at the time, was not listening, tried to run away from his mother, and managed to crash into a woman who had just had knee surgery and hurt her. And when my daughter was an infant, I was holding her in a store when a kid running down the aisle crashed into me from behind and knocked me down. Luckily my baby wasn’t hurt. So no, it’s not ok for kids to run indoors.

    As for strollers, we live in to city and walk everywhere. Both mine used a stroller to age four because by the time we walked from home to the bank, grocery store, playground, library, etc, we’d often walked six or seven miles total and they would get tired and need a ride.

  99. tamara February 7, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    I forgot I have a question : for the third story when the lady got on her case for “making” the child walk – did the woman really say “…what’s wrong with putting her in the pram?” . I’m asking because I didn’t even know what a pram was, but assumed it was some kind of stroller, until reading this. Maybe the woman commenting wasn’t American because as far as I know Americans don’t really use the term ‘pram’. ?? anyways, just curious

  100. Warren February 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    In my line of work I deal with americans alot. By comparison, I have found that americans as a group, are more rude than canadians, less tolerant than canadians, and that they have this attitude that proclaiming to be american makes them special and entitles them to special treatment.

    And yes as we are less than an hour from a border crossing, I deal with more than enough americans. The ones that travel do not help the rest of you at all.

    Now when I have travelled to the south, there is something to be said for southern hospitality. It’s great. But in no way makes up for the ones I deal with weekly.

  101. anonymous this time February 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Since when is “Your child could get snatched!” code for “Your child is bugging me / inconveniencing others / causing a safety or comfort issue for others”?

    That’s a heckuva translation, in my mind. I guess those of us who get confronted by strangers who complain about our decisions to allow our kids to do certain things on their own, including waiting in cars, should have a ready question for those who say, “But they could be snatched!”

    We cock our heads to the side, and say, “So, just to clarify: You’re saying that my child is having a negative impact on your life in this immediate moment, or what they are doing is something you observe to be inconveniencing or harming others or their property?”

    I wouldn’t have made that leap before. But throughout this thread, many are asserting that this woman’s kid was a major pain in the butt for those around her, and their finger-waggings about abduction were simply “code” for “Get your child under control!”

    I’m… surprised. I wouldn’t have expected these responses on this site, and especially not from regulars.

  102. Kay February 7, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    Warren, you keep saying from her mother to the window, it wasn’t just a window, it was a glass door where people were entering and exiting. It gives me the impression you are trying to make it sound better by saying window which indicates other people wouldn’t be coming through.

    Anonymous this time, some here have concluded that is what the other parents meant, not me necessarily, as I know plenty of older adults who have the snatching fears and the OP said the one woman at Macy’s came back to lecture her about it. I was discussing children running in crowds/indoor public places, etc. was a side topic.

  103. baby-paramedic February 8, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    Perhaps also a language thing… “running around” in our local meaning doesn’t mean running necessarily. It just means acting like a normal small child, full of energy.

    And I am inclined to agree with anonymous this time, I wouldn’t make the leap “You child might get abducted” to really mean “Your child is bugging me”.

  104. SKL February 8, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    I agree it sounds illogical to twist “your child might get snatched” into “your child is bugging me.”

    However, kids who are behaving within normal bounds usually aren’t particularly noticed, whether they are glued to their parents’ side or not. In the Macy’s store at least, this child’s behavior was noticed first, and then the person checked to see whether the parent was watching. The stranger said, “where is your mum, this is terrible.” Then for whatever reason, the person came back 5 minutes later. I mean, what would make you even remember the miscellaneous kid you saw 5 minutes ago? Presumably the mom had continued to allow the child to run around up to the door and back. At that point the person had formed an opinion that the parent was not responsible, so she came and “lectured” this mom. From the OP’s description, I get the impression the snatching comment was not the entirety of the lecture. (Again, I would NOT have lectured a mom over this, but the unchecked running around in Macy’s was most probably the reason anything was said at all.)

    And yes, this is full of assumptions. It’s what people do when they try to make sense of something odd.

    I would also note that the mom seems to be paraphrasing what the people actually said. She uses non-US language (“pram” and “mum”) and starts off by saying each of the three people told her she was a “terrible mother,” which is different from the language used as “quotes” later. So I don’t know that the quotes were meant to be actual quotes vs. approximations.

  105. Cassie February 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I took my two daughters shopping yesterday (2yo and 4yo). They decided that all the white tiles were deep snow (we live in Australia, they have never seen snow) and that it was impossible for them to walk on. Most aisles were all white, there was a long passage of blue and red squares along the back of the store.

    I was picking my meat at the back of the store and looked up to see they had jumped all the way to the far side, a good 50m (It is a big supermarket), I could see them, but I was not going to yell across the store for there return (I am a bit too civil to do that), I waved at them, they waved back, and I went back to choosing my meat as they realised they have reached a dead-end and decided to return.

    I trusted their own limits, I knew they wouldn’t get to the end and head down the next aisle (forcing me to chase them around the store so they didn’t get lost), I knew they were exploring distances, and I also knew they were behaving very well (no screaming, whining, complaining, tantruming, not hanging off the trolley, not asking for everything, not pulling things off shelves, not making mine or anyone elses shopping trip difficult).

    They returned at some stage as I indicated I was about to head down an aisle. It posed a problem as the aisle was all white (deep snow!) and they did not want to sink in it. I let them wait on the coloured dots while I went down the few aisles I needed to get things.

    As has begun normal, I received comments from other shoppers. Always positive, always things like “You have two wonderful helpers” (they are usually mostly at my side helping me get things off the shelves).

    Once as I was at the checkout my youngest was being difficult. She crawled under the counter far out of my reach. I asked her to come help me unload the trolley. I picked something out of the trolley, handed it to her, she walked to the conveyor belt, and handed it back to me so I could place it on the belt. She was kept busy and doing the right things. I asked her to go and sit with her sister on a bench outside the store (about 6ft away from me) while I paid. A woman came over to me and told me that she just had to come and tell me how impressed she was with the way I handled my children.

    …I am sure I have a point… oh yes… Free range kids are the best. They learn so much more than I would have a hope of teaching them if I had them both stuck in the trolley.

  106. Cassie February 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Also, and I believe departing from what the OP is describing, but I want to address a common theme in these comments.

    … So what if a kid bumps into you, or causes you to take an extra couple of steps to walk around them. Raally… so what.

    When this happens to me I smile at the child, reassure the mum to stop apologising (why do they always feel the need to apologise like their child has actually harmed me in any way), and then often add “I have children too” as a way of reassuring the parent in a brief sentence that I too understand that this is normal and okay behaviour of children.

    When did we get so bothered, when did it become so much of an issue that our lives have to be absolutely without any kind of outside influence causing us to deviate in any way from what we planned.

    Adults at busy places are just as painful. They stop still right in front of you, they come in groups and make it impossible to get past, they line up in stupid spots, they stop and open luggage or bags right in the walkway…. I have survived every single one of these occurrences.

    A kid bumps into you…. Smile and keep walking…

  107. SKL February 8, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    My kids were 1.5 when they first started pushing their own little shopping carts in the grocery store. (Everyone thought that was adorable.)

    I haven’t used a stroller but 1 time since my oldest was 2. Never got a comment about that.

    My kids are far from perfect, and I’m certain that they have bumped into people at some point. No complaints, though, because the victims see a mom who is trying to teach the kids to act appropriately for the situation.

    Maybe it’s a cultural / regional thing. People around here may be a little uptight about kids being over-indulged.

    Could also be a language issue, as someone above pointed out. Maybe “running around” conjures up different images in different places.

  108. hineata February 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    I find it interesting that on the one hand we want the kind of freedoms for our kids that kids had in the fifties and before, but on the other hand some seem to have a ‘my kid, my rules’ mentality. I think we forget that in the fifties, at least around here anyway, and from what I’ve read about the rest of the world, in most other places too, that children were considered pretty much community property, and if they were acting outside societal norms, almost anyone would feel free to intervene to correct their behavior.

    For example, my father and his brother, primary school aged, were being little %&* ‘as children do’ one night, sitting on a verandah above a shop and throwing firecrackers off onto shoppers below – for an extremely brief period of time, until the local cop hauled them down by their ankles and delivered a swift kick to their rear ends before packing them off home (where you can bet they didn’t tell their old man what they’d been up to!) That is at one of the extreme ends of naughtiness, but behaviours of many sorts below that were dealt with by people other than parents. If children chose to run around in a shop, they would be delivered back to their parents by the ear. Parents, absolutely mortified, would then have left said shop and delivered suitable recompense to the offender’s rear end. I saw this myself multiple times in the seventies, a decade in which I too had lots of freedom – but this was the reverse side of that freedom, the fact that the community was parenting you.

    I think we want ‘rights’ without ‘responsibilities’ sometimes…

  109. Cassie February 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm #


    I have delivered plenty of ‘community parenting’ type reprimands to children, even with my free-range attitudes.

    Once I was at a playground and three high-school aged boys were terrorising the kids. I sent a firm “Oi” in their direction and told them to go find something better to do.

    Once in the pool two kids were beating each other up with pool noodles. No harm of course if it had have been a large pool but being a small squashy pool many of us were getting hit. I went up to them, and firmly told them to stop behaving in that way (I gave the mum a smile, she was standing pool side and struggling to get the children to hear her, she nodded in thanks).

    I think, hope, community parenting still exists when it is needed. However, I would not have went to the mother to complain about these children, I would always simply use a polite but firm method of correction.

    However, the OP did not mention any actions that would require serious community parenting, if a child gets in your way at the airport and you are really that annoyed… then all will come across by simply saying “excuse me” to the child, or even a firmer “this is not the place to play” and keep walking. All much less ridiculous then by-passing the child and directly approaching the parent to complain.

  110. Catherine February 8, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Regrettably Carina isn’t the only australian who’s visited the home ofvthe brave with a child and sworn never to go back. My experience was a while ago now, 1992. I had my 7 year old daughter with me and my hosts were for ever panicking because in open areas she would run ahead ( not far, just not clinging to me like my hosts 3 year old son) and in department stores she would hide in racks if clothes etc. I was astonished at their anxiety.

    But not as Astonished as when the husband of my friend asked in all earnest ess whether his little boy was safe playing a tent with my daughter if whether she might be molesting him.

  111. Kim February 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I would like to apologize on behalf of the normal U.S. parent. These people make it sound like the U.S. is a very unsafe place for children an it is not. I think people have been watching too many Law And Order episodes instead of getting out and doing some walking of there own.