Readers! Here’s a follow-up to You’re a Horrible Mother, Part I. Get ready to seethe — and cheer! (And by the way, I am off for a week’s vacation with my family, so the postings may be sparse for the next few days.) — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Almost exactly a year ago – when Lenore published a piece over at ParentDish about a 5 year-old who’d been (purposely, after a discussion with her mother and the children’s librarian) left to play alone in the children’s section of the library for a couple of minutes while the mom went to a different section to get a book – more than 1,000 comments were left in under 24 hours. (She also linked to the piece from this website, and the discussion here, too.) The great majority of the ParentDish comments were exceedingly negative and condemning, with many calling the mother horrible names. Some even went so far as to declare – like the lovely letter writer who just wrote to Lenore – that CPS should take the child away, that the child deserved to be molested (so the mother could see how awful her actions were), or even that the mother herself be KILLED so that the child could be raised by someone else.
I remember it very well because *I* was the mother who left my 5 year-old daughter in the library! I’d told Lenore the story when she’d come to my city to do a book reading/talk. It was absolutely incredible to me to see the viciousness of the comments, to almost literally *feel* the outright hatred aimed at the mom – at ME! – despite the fact that NONE of these complete strangers knew ANYTHING about me as a person or a parent. Even though I was entirely anonymous, it stung.
So, albeit in a very small way, I can relate to Lenore’s experience and I can say that it sucks!
But also? It made me think. It made me re-assess how I DO parent, and made me look more carefully at WHY I parent as I do. And the outcome? I’ve become even more Free-Range! If THAT’S the mentality of others out there – paranoid, terrified, helicopter-ish to the max – then I know I *HAVE* to continue with Free-Range thinking and parenting more than ever, to ensure that my daughters grow up to be confident, strong, and capable, and to look at the world knowing that dangers do NOT lurk around every corner, that most people ARE good, and that they, themselves, are competent.
Were it not for Lenore and this site, I never would have attended that book reading, and my story never would have been published on ParentDish, and I never would have been called a terrible mother by thousands of strangers, and I never would have re-examined my parenting beliefs — and my wonderfully smart, confident, trusting, capable, beautiful, HAPPY children might not have the childhood filled with kid-made sandwiches, scraped knees, hours of unsupervised outdoor play, time “alone” at the library while I look for a book, and more laughs than we can count – that they do.
So Free-Rangers: Keep on keeping on. 🙂 — Emily in Rochester, NY