In Which I Allow My Son to be Kidnapped

September 9, 2014 — 37 Comments

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Little Dude is a “walker,” which means he does not require bus transportation to school. His school is, in fact, at the end of my block. Six houses away. 270 steps from the end of my driveway.

I know this because the other day I counted them.

There’s a thin strip of street to cross, which is fervently policed by Gayle, the cheerful blonde Crossing Guard. I live on a quiet, tree-lined block. The only traffic, outside of school arrival and dismissal, is the occasional car belonging to someone who lives in my development.

I’ve walked my kid to and from school every day since kindergarten. Last fall, as he was entering the 4th grade, he begged for the opportunity to walk the 1000 feet himself.

I was torn. In theory, it seemed very safe. In fact, I could stand and observe him walk to the end of the block until he was under the watchful eye of cheery Gayle. It’s probably a 4 minute walk. What could possible go wrong?

Apparently, everything. I have a Facebook page for my civilian, non-blogging friends and family who actually don’t know I even have a blog. I posted. asking for opinions. More than 50 very adamant people weighed in. All but one were convinced that letting my child walk to the end of the block was a potentially life threatening decision, akin to child abuse. Because even in that short span of both time and place, anything could happen.

I decided against letting him walk alone to school. Full disclosure: it wasn’t because all these dogged opinions persuaded me that it was unsafe to do so.

It was because I didn’t want to be judged by the other parents.

I didn’t want to be “that” mom; the one who doesn’t take care of her son correctly. I didn’t want to impact my son’s social life. People where I live are shallow. They’ve just barely learned to accept the fact that I refuse to wear the local suburban mom uniform: Juicy sweat suit, large Louis Vuitton bag, Tory Burch shoes.
(I’m lying about the Tory Burch shoes. I have a shoe addiction so that doesn’t count)

I was afraid I’d be judged as “the mother who doesn’t care if her kid gets kidnapped.” So everyday, I walked him.

After all, (clamored the cacophony of voices on my Facebook page) things are so different today.

When I was a kid, I walked to school everyday, starting in kindergarten. I survived. Well, I got my ass kicked a lot of days. But that was because I grew up an outcast in a predominately black housing project. No kidnapping was involved.

As kids we played outside all day, with no adult supervision. I rode my bike to the library. On summer nights all the kids were outside after dinner until dark, with nary a grownup in sight. You came home when the street lights came on. Or if your mama called for you.

Occasionally, if you heard gunshots.

I’m just keeping it real. It was a nasty, crime-infested housing project.

In 2008, A New York City journalist and mother of 2 named Leonore Skenazy made the controversial decision to allow her 9-year-old to take the subway home from school alone. He begged to, and she felt he was ready to handle the experience. Lenore Skenazy is an Ivy League-educated journalist who has written for several prominent newspapers. I would assume she’s an intelligent person, capable of making a well-informed decision.

She published an article about it and the backlash was intense. It became national news overnight, eventually receiving worldwide coverage. She was verbally annihilated for risking her child’s life. Editorially drawn and quartered for child abuse. Dubbed the “world’s worst mom.”

Was she? She researched statistics to support what she felt was a reasonable and informed decision.

And I agree with her.

I wholeheartedly believe that what has changed most is not the increased risk of kidnapping, but our own psyches. I believe we are a fear based culture. A fear based world, actually, fearful beyond the scope of child rearing. Global fear is the undercarriage of racism, war, homophobia and intolerance of all kinds.

I believe we learn fear. I believe some parents blanket themselves in fear as a cushion of superiority; an indication as to who’s the most careful parent, because being stifling and overbearing is mistaken for valid concern. Fear-based über parenting is the barometer by which we measure the quality of our child rearing.  I also believe that we are inundated with gruesome stories of child abductions and murders which dominate he media, thus blowing out of proportion the real facts around these crimes.

 

I subscribe to the method of parenting whose name Skenazy coined in response to the overwhelming uproar of censure she received. Free range parenting was developed by Skenazy as the antithesis to helicopter parenting.

Helicopter parenting is – well, picture a helicopter hovering a few feet above you, blades rotating furiously. Think about the parents you know who do every little thing for their kids. Helicopter parenting is not just about being “hyper present;” it’s about the wrong kind of presence.

Some parents are like that because they’re neurotic and refuse to allow their children to learn and grow.  And sadly, some women are like that because they feel guilty about the choice they made – a very valid one- to work inside the home as stay at home caregiver. To justify their choice, they perform Herculean acts of parenting so the world understands just how imperative it is that they be home. Little Johnny would die if the crusts weren’t cut off his sandwich. The next thing you know, little Johnny is in college and his mom is calling his professors when he gets a bad grade.

Richard Mullendore, professor at the University of Georgia has an interesting theory regarding the manifestation of helicopter parenting. He blames it on the pervasiveness of cell phones – which he refers to as “the world’s longest umbilical cord.”

Antipodal to helicopter parenting, free range parenting is empowering your child towards independence and allowing them to make mistakes. It’s evaluating the perceived danger of a situation logically and making decisions based on facts. It’s rendering kids susceptible to the lumps and bumps of childhood and raising kids who walk around smart, not scared.

 

With regards to allowing your child to play outside unsupervised, walk to school, etc, what are the facts? Lenore Skenazy referenced statistics she obtained from the Department of Justice.

1. U.S. violent crime rates have plummeted almost 50% since they peaked in 1992.

2. Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1976-2005:

31% were killed by fathers
29% were killed by mothers
23% were killed by male acquaintances
7% were killed by other relatives
3% were killed by strangers

3. Number of children killed each year by family members and acquaintances: About 1000
Number of children abducted in “stereotypical kidnappings” (kidnapped by a stranger for ransom or for sexual purposes and/or transported away) in 1999, the most recent year for which we have statistics: 115.
Number of those children killed by their abductor: About 50.

Murders of children by abductors constitute less than one half of 1% of all murders in America.

Crime rates, in fact, are down. It is only our perception of crime – a fear based perception – that is up.

Interestingly enough, 200,000 kids under 14 are injured every year in car accidents. Doesn’t stop parents from piling 6 of them in a minivan for soccer practice.

I do not want my child unsafe. Nor do I want to make light of the horrific things that can happen to children, to anyone. The instinct to protect our children is biological. I personally morph into scary Mama Bear if I think Little Dude is in any kind of danger.

But I do not want my child growing up fearful. I’ll not have him live a life borne out of the constant onslaught of horror stories brought on by the media – stories whose purpose I question. Are they to inform? Or to quench our appetite for the macabre and disturbing; to confirm that our children are in danger the moment we take them out of the bubble wrap?

 

This year, I did not succumb to societal pressure, nor an anticipated trickle down backlash against my son. Little Dude walks himself to and from school everyday. And no- I do not stand at the door, watching him walk. I kiss him goodbye and sit at my kitchen table, coffee in hand, and take that great leap of faith.

In his book Protecting the Gift, child-safety expert Gavin De Becker explains that compared to a stranger kidnapping, “a child is vastly more likely to have a heart attack, and child heart attacks are so rare that most parents (correctly) never even consider the risk.”

So let all the other mothers in the neighborhood judge me. Maybe they ought to think about that heart attack statistic, and take the artery clogging Ho Hos and potato chips out of their kids lunches, and mind their own damn business.

Would you let your child walk to school alone, or play outside unsupervised? What do you think of what Lenore Skenazy did? Is the world really that much more dangerous than in was when we were growing up?
Talk to me.    I’m listening.

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37 responses to In Which I Allow My Son to be Kidnapped

  1. 

    I let mine play outside unsupervised…but he did have a cell phone so I could call and tell him and tell him when to get the hell home.

    He started coming home alone to an empty house after school at 11. Gasp! Apparently, growing up in the middle of nowhere and having nobody to go to within a mile in case of an emergency was preferable to having him knowing all of our neighbors and the manager of the apartment complex, just in case.

    I would worry that someone would call as a “concerned parent” to some authority and have me checked out “just in case” if he had to walk to school at that age. But it wouldn’t stop me from letting him go.

    Reason 453 why I never fit in with any of the parents at my kid’s schools over the years…and yet he still was able to be quite popular and well liked. 🙂

  2. 

    I don’t have kids but I’d like to think I’d be rational about things like this… though that’s probably wishful thinking.

    There’s all kinds of phenomena that cause people to react irrationally to this kind of thing. Everyone looks to the past with rose tinted glasses, stating that they left their doors unlocked because crime didn’t exist… yet it’s all nonsense.

    It’s also funny when people talk about their childhoods and they’ll often contradict themselves entirely.
    “My mother never let me out of her sight, unlike the dreadful parents of today”
    “Me and my friends would spend all day outdoors playing in the woods; unlike the kids of today, we didn’t need to be mollycoddled.”

    I suggest you go onto Facebook and tell those hysterical harpies that your upper lip is stiffer than theirs.

  3. 

    I asked a person of authority at what age could I leave my daughter home alone to run to the store, mailbox–small shit–you know? I live in a well secured building on a busy street. It takes me 5 minutes to get to the store and back if I catch the lights. He said—TEN!!! TEN???? At ten years old I was babysitting my 8 and 4 year old sisters while my mom brought my older sister to the orthodontist and my dad was dying in the hospital from lung cancer. My mother NEVER walked us to school. We walked the 5 blocks together, lined up in the school yard and walked home with friends. I’m so tired of this overly worried, cookie cutter, don’t do this, don’t do that parenting world. My life is hard enough. If I don’t want to wait for my girl to find her shoes, get her headband and tear her away from the TV so that I can go grab a pack of smokes, I shouldn’t have to. FIVE MINUTES!!! I swear, she ain’t moving from her spot on the couch in that 5 minutes. Sometimes she doesn’t even know I left. Sheesh…

  4. 

    I blame the media – news, TV, movies – for making kidnappings by strangers seem so commonplace. And if Hollywood makes a blockbuster about child heart attacks, then all children will be expected to ride to school and back in an ambulance.

  5. 

    For the first time, my 4th grader has a bus stop (working from home, no daycare). It’s probably as far a walk as Little Dude’s walk. It took me a week to let him walk home from the bus stop alone and nearly a month to let him walk *to* the bus stop alone. He can handle it. I know he can. I just couldn’t handle it at first.

    I’ve also let him play outside at our apartment complex with his friends (and without me). It feels right, but it still scares the hell out of me. I know, logically, the chances are slim anything would happen, but I’ve spent my entire life hearing about the dangers.

    But, I’ve got to give him room to try stuff, make mistakes, and learn to be independent. It ain’t easy, though.

  6. 

    I would let him walk to school. I agree. There are dangers in the world, we can’t change that..but we can also teach our children to not live in fear. Fear has killed more opportunity for me than anything else in my life.

  7. 

    Risk is something people just can’t be rational about. I don’t think it is always about the risk itself. It is about how we think we would look if that one in a million event happened and we didn’t do everything possible to keep it from happening, no matter the cost.

    We recently had a kids sports game cancelled when a thunderstorm was detected many miles away. We could all see it on our weather apps, inching along, but it was nowhere near enough to threaten us. It arrived long after we had all left the area. Nobody wanted to leave, but we had to because somebody decided to make it a rule. I guess it didn’t matter that, even if lightning were to strike in the vicinity, it would pretty certainly hit one of the giant metal towers or fences before going for one of the tiny people scurrying around.

    Nobody is allowed to dive into our community pool unless it is at least 6 feet deep. When they were built, people apparently thought that 4 feet of water was fine, and it is. I’m not sure how many people have actually hit their heads on the bottom and sued their pool for the “unsafe” depth, but it must have happened somewhere.

  8. 

    I think you are the anomaly, not the norm, unfortunately. You and I are pretty close in age, but my kids are a lot older. Letting our kids walk to school was definitely starting to be a faux pas back then (late 90’s) but not in the way the crazy-Pinterest-absorbed-Stepford-Wives are shunning it today. My sister-in-law is my exact age (soon-to-be-48) and has a 6 year old. She is a textbook example of helicopter parenting. This kid’s life is 100% controlled and sanitized. And he’s not alone. This is the new norm. And it makes me sad.

  9. 

    Wow. This should be featured in a national publication… I am SO sharing this on Twitter…
    So, if there are helicopter moms and (I LOVE this!) “free range” moms, what do you call the mom who has to fight with her cling-on son to walk across 1 street (equipped with crosswalk + streetlight) to go buy 2 things at the grocery store WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS HIM? I was THAT mom! I guess I have to Google which fish, lizard or small rodent gives birth to young and then drop-kicks them OUT. Maybe it’s an alligator? LOL
    I was a latch-key kid – walked to and from school by myself of with a neighbor kid the same age. Went home alone, literally with the apartment keys around my neck on a pretty lanyard. We never got taken. That helicopter shit is ridiculous and does NOT result in kids having an ounce of street-smarts. They are doing their children a disservice.

  10. 

    I’d let my kids walk to and from school alone. But I’m evil, so take that with a grain of salt.

  11. 
    fitnessmomwinecountry September 9, 2014 at 11:10 am

    It is a tough one…We live in the quiet “wine country” of northern Ca and we actually live about 4 blocks from the elementary, high and middle school that my kids attend. I have driven them OR walked with them. Our son is in high school and can totally walk, however, his OCD just won’t let him {another story another day}. Our middle school daughter does walk with a group of 6 of her friends and they do that every day. Since it is a group I am okay with that. I would be the parent who would be waiting by the door for sure, because I would be nervous. Cell phones do give {me anyway} a bit of some kind of safety, but you just never know these day. Things sure are not like they used to be. I would walk to and from school with my girlfriend every day growing up in Lake Tahoe and we walked in some heavy wooded areas and even by some creeks. Very interesting topic 🙂

  12. 

    Depends on the age. The twins are 14 so they do most everything unsupervised. C, however, is three, so I’m with him wherever he goes. I try to keep my distance if he’s playing with another kid, but I stay somewhat close to stop him if he decides he needs to run out in the road (he almost got hit by a car the other day despite my cries from my mother for him to stop). So really, it depends on the maturity of the child.

    As for what Lenore Skenazy did, I do not know how safe or unsafe that subway route was, nor her child’s maturity level. Only she did. So I have no way to judge whether what she did was right or wrong. Frankly, if she felt comfortable enough to do it then that’s all that should matter. I don’t understand why people feel the need to viciously attack others who do things they don’t approve of. Mind your business overreacting people.

  13. 

    To me, it depends on the child. My son was independent but easily distracted. Even in 10 steps he might stand in the middle of the street pondering leaves on a tree. I am over-ptotective but I get the free range concept. I may have followed from a distance, especially at first. But I’m not normal, my parents sucked and some bad things happened.

  14. 

    I gave my kids a Leatherman Multi-tool when each turned 8 years old (princess included, actually, she got a Swiss Army Knife)…I’m still copping the backlash for being an irresponsible parent 10 years later. But there’s been no deaths so far, accidental or otherwise. Haters are gonna hate, fear’s gonna fear, I guess. Go you!

  15. 

    Little Dude’s capable in your eyes, and that’s good enough. You’ve weighed the risks and analysed the situation and who CARES what the rest of the neighbourhood thinks? You’re doing what’s right for YOUR family, in YOUR situation.

    I’m gonna start teaching Niece and Neff the route between their house and mine soon, just in case 🙂

  16. 

    Free range parenting. I love this. I drive my kids to school, because paying for a school that celebrates a 1:5 adult:kid ratio in the classroom but then sending them on a bus where anarchy rules behind an aged driver seems nonsensical. (Also, I may have post traumatic stress from riding the school bus in middle school. Like, I literally still have nightmares. So there’s that.) But playing in the woods behind the house with your siblings at ages 4, 5, 5 and 7? That seems reasonable. They have to discover the world somehow. And if someone falls out of a tree and breaks a leg, the other three can theoretically carry them home. Am I right? (You go, free range Mama.)

  17. 

    My wife is one of those professors who gets a call, or more likely an e-mail, when little Johnny gets a bad grade. One time my wife was accused of ruining Christmas for a family because she failed a student. These kids, and their parents are sad and pathetic. Campuses have begun banning parents and allow only limited contact especially in the first week of school. I hate to sound like a grumpy old man but our ability to be unsupervised for most of our childhood fostered independance and gave us an ability to problem solve. I think these skills abeing deminished by what you’ve outlined so eloquently in you post.

  18. 

    I am proud, proud, proud to know you. This makes all the sense in the world to me, and I love you for bringing statistics to it as well as emotion and common sense.

    If we’re afraid of everything, life isn’t even worth living. Most of my best memories are from times I took a little risk. I love the phrase “free range parenting,” too. (Everyone knows children taste better when they’ve been allowed to roam.)

  19. 

    I’m with you 100%. I can remember when i was 11 walking 2 miles through the city, boarding a ferry and crossing to another city, walking another mile to a store, buying some ski gear and then doing it all in reverse. (that was the first time I’d used the ferry on my own). Now, I grew up in a new subdivision at the very edge of the city – only forest beyond. The road was dirt and every family had kids of my age. The school was new and only through the neighbors back yard. We spent most of every clear day playing in the forest or riding our bikes around the school yard (it was the only pavement for miles around).

    I know that times have changed somewhat but I think X is right, we live in a culture of fear. And i honestly think this is done deliberately in order to sell media, sell products, promote adherence to government control (no I’m not an anti-gov’t idiot or a conspiracy theorist – for example our gov’t was adamant that they were going to buy a bunch of F-35’s from the US for our “protection”. these planes are nuts for what we are going to use them for – like they have a single engine when most of our northern borders are hundreds or thousands of miles from any bases – they don’t work for us. the gov’t wanted to do it for political reasons and it meant billions. So they started making speeches about Russian air incursions over the Arctic.They tried to sell us on these planes by creating an atmosphere of fear for political reasons. you guys may not see this much but here – in Canada between Russia and the US- the Russians are always pushing to see how far they can get, its a regular thing up north – no real threat, just games)

    Anyway, it is far safer in this world than it ever was, and yet we fear far more than we ever did (nationally, that is – the international front is not too bad, we can go most anywhere – like Thailand where they have regular wars around the tourists and no traveller ever gets hurt – Ha! love that one) i think it is done deliberately for the benefit of corporate profits , media, gov’t, etc.

    Just my opinion. He’s fine walking to school.

  20. 

    I see many kids walking by themselves up the hill to school; more than a 4 min walk; in our neighborhood. And, I allow my kids to roam around our neighborhood moving from one friend’s house to another. It was always what I hoped for for my kids and I’m convinced that it completely outweighs any little risk of their getting hurt. They are well aware of the warning signs of a stranger trying to lure them into his/her car and they know how to watch out for traffic.
    How long will we mollycoddle them anyway?!

  21. 

    I like a happy ending. Smart girl.

  22. 

    Terrific piece, Samara. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as crime rates have dropped and social media use has risen, so has the perception that we are in constant danger of a serial killer, terrorist or kidnapper. Protecting our children isn’t just about from physical danger while they grow up. It’s also about teaching them to be independent so that they are street smart and socially aware when we’re too old or fat for a helicopter. Parents who hover and never allow their kids to feel disappointment or consequences for decisions made are not doing their children any favors; they are crippling them — and eventually society as a whole.

    Possibly even more than Ariana Grande.

  23. 

    I won’t call the teacher if my child gets a bad grade. Stalk them, stab their tires, rip the flowers out of their garden, and molest their dog, yes, but never call them. I’m a helicopter parent, I admit it. My hand goes WAY up in the air on that one, but then my daughter has no street smarts, and is very shy. I do wish we (me and her other two parents–three others if I could ever get a date) would let her make a few more mistakes–it is the only way to learn, after all. Bein’s that she is the stubbornest person I’ve ever met (the stubbornnest person I’ve ever HEARD of), it’s tough to get her to listen to us, as to what is a smart way to live and what isn’t. So a little extra watching over her is okay, I’d say, but most kids–let ’em walk. It’s a few less minutes on the computer for them.
    You rock.
    The van pic made me LOL, by the way. Especially with the guy there; can’t figure out if he’s “owning” the writing, or mad that someone defaced his ride.

  24. 

    Oh, how I appreciate a well-written and well researched blog post! Interesting AND informative! As a kid, we were allowed to “free range” all over the place – walking to friend’s houses and playing night games was a common thing. When my kids were small and we lived on military bases, I also felt very comfortable letting them roam. However, I get why someone might be more protective – my grandbaby lives in downtown Washington DC and I can’t imagine letting her roam the streets when she is 9 or 10 (not just because of strangers, but also due to traffic). My daughter, who is much more cosmopolitan than I, might think differently.

  25. 

    Right on, Samara. YOU ARE A GOOD MOTHER, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS. You hear me? Little Dude will THANK you one day in the future when he’s one of the few in his generation that will actually DO STUFF.

    My mother-in-law raised my husband and his sister to be afraid of almost everything. I can’t stand it. And neither can my husband, anymore. So we moved 14 hours away to a small town (gasp!) with only one hospital (that’s awful!) and occasional black bear sightings (the horror!), so we can raise our own free-range kids someday (they’re probably going to die! HORRIBLY!!)

    Thank you for this timely piece, as we Buttons have been feeling slightly judged for our choices lately.

  26. 

    My boy walked half a mile to school at six years old. In a safe neighborhood in a city of 300k people.

    Me, I walked a couple of miles to school at age six. Or possibly biked?.
    Parents were teachers at more distant schools and we didn’t have a car so maybe I came home to an empty house each day, or perhaps stayed at school until Mum picked me up.

    At seven years old I walked to the bus stop, took a bus into the bus exchange in the centre of town, then caught another bus to school.

    At eight I bicycled a couple of miles to school. Definitely came home to an empty house.

    As a wrinkly I still cycle a lot, on the same roads that gym-fit young men with big muscles are too scared to ride on. (They drove hand-me-down cars to senior school, after years of mummy carting them to school in SUVs).

    Where are Al Queda when we need them? I wish they would turn up and implement a fatwa against school-run SUVs, bazooka a few of them off the face of the earth.
    Safety my ass.

  27. 

    Totally makes sense. I feel guilty when I let my son go over to the next aisle in Target to look at toys and not because I don’t feel totally fine with him doing it, but the stares and judgementy looks from other people that notice that I’m not right on top of him. This parent shaming in getting ridiculous. Like you said, back in our day, we could ride cross country and stand up in our van with no seat belts and yet somehow, someway we are still here.

  28. 

    I live in a really big european city and kids of that age drive by bike 2-3 blocks through the city from school back home and to activities. Maybe Europe is more relaxed? Kids still play on the street and everybody drives a bike most of the time – to work, to the movies etc.

  29. 

    From 1st through about 7th grade I walked to school. I stopped in the 8th grade because we moved out into the country, about seven miles out, so walking was out of the question then. From 1st through 6th I had to walk, on average about four blocks to school. The last year I had to walk about ten blocks. I did live in a town with a population of 8,000 though, probably closer to 6,000 at that time. If I had kids I think it would depend on where I lived and how far away the school was. I don’t think I’m close enough to a school, and I don’t live in the most caliber apartment complex. I don’t know.

  30. 

    I am glad my kids are older although horrible things can still happen to them while they are at college. 🙂 Cell phones being the longest umbilical cords is brilliant! My son’s roommate has a heli-mom who calls him everyday (they are Juniors in college) and does everything for him. She knows his schedule and what he is doing every minute of the day. My son has told me that he feels bad sometimes because I don’t call him as often. I explained that it was not healthy to do what she is doing. He gets it now. 🙂

  31. 

    Samara, this is so on point. I was raised in a fear-based household and it did me absolutely NO favors. Granted, my family was weird which didn’t help, but restricting kids out of fear is never helpful. Lord knows we can’t control everything. Sure, my future child could be kidnapped. But good god, my sisters were killed in a church parking lot, after having had one of the most restrictive lives imaginable for over a decade. You can’t protect them all the time… at some point you have to let them go.
    Love this… and YOU! ❤

  32. 

    I have almost written this post so many times. I am so fearful of anything happening to my kids. I mean, who isn’t? But I think I have handicapped my older kids. And I did not have them on a leash. But I was still hyper vigilant. I would let them play outside without me but only if I knew where they were at all times. Now that they are 13 and 11, I have to MAKE them leave my house and our yard. I say “Go far, far away. Where I can’t see you. Spread your wings. Go get into trouble.” I actually say all of those things. Often. They aren’t scared they’re just confused by my kicking them out of the nest.

    I also checked out the Free Range Kids website when I was going to write about it and I agree with her. The news made her out to seem like a crack head who didn’t give a shit about her son, but she’s pretty much spot on with her theories. And what about the mom that was arrested for letting her 9 year old play at the park alone? (But shooting an Uzi’s totally ok)

    I think you’re totally right, the world’s not scarier. It’s the stuff we’re being fed and happily gobbling up. If people really want to protect their children they need to start looking in their own families and friends for the predators.

  33. 

    You make some excellent points, Samara. I don’t let my son walk to school…yet. He’s in the 2nd grade and really wants to ride his bike the three blocks to the school, but I’m not quite ready for that, and frankly neither is he. I don’t think he’ll be kidnapped, but he’s careless, and I can see him riding straight into on-coming traffic because he dropped a lego or something.

    I think our culture, our generation, is inundated with information. If our child coughs, we can google search the symptoms, diagnose and treat without really moving from our couches. We were thrown so much information during pregnancy that from the minute we’ve brought these children home, we’ve in our heads been trying to prevent their death from SIDS, choking, suffocating, falling down the stairs…and later, walking to school. We are a fear based society of parents, and you’re right. There aren’t more kidnappers out there than there were when we were kids, but the difference is that our parents allowed us to learn in a more tactile way. We were allowed to ride our bikes to the corner store, to play in the street, etc, as long as we were home by the time the street lights came on, and yes, there were times when a sketchy person came around, but we knew what to do, and we had our buddies there with us to watch our backs. Now, if I let my kid play outside without me, he’ll be alone because all of his buddies are inside with their hands half crammed in a cheese puff bag watching Sponge Bob Square Pants or playing some apocalyptic zombie hunting game rated M for mature.

    I’ve said more than a mouthful, but the bottom line is…rock on with your bad self, and fuck those other moms. Your kid is so much awesomer than theirs and not just cuz his mom is cooler.

  34. 

    I’d add something, but you already have it all, so I’ll just applaud in support of not helicoptering the living hell out of our kids. And I’m guessing some of those other moms (is “juicy” sweat suit a descriptor, or a brand?) are hoping you’ll start a trend too.

    And thank you for helping me retroactively cherish my solo walks to/from school, starting in, I dunno, first grade. Kindergarten? They allowed me time to think and be by myself, essential for the development of a mind. Okeydoke, enough “wisdom” from someone who is guessing. Saludos!

  35. 

    I am totally with you. Teach Little Dude independence, and he will be independent. Teach him to be wary of strangers in vans, and he will be wary of strangers in vans. Do all the work for him and he’ll want you to wipe his ass when he’s 18 and he’ll climb into a stranger’s van looking for Ho-ho’s and skittles. You know what you’re doing, Samara, and don’t need anybody else’s validation for raised eyebrow of disapproval, either.

  36. 

    I live in a little town where most kids walk to school in the mornings or walk home. That is an everyday thing here, yes we worry about them but we all have done it. I used to walk to and from school when I was younger and I would even walk to get my little brother and we would walk home. There is nothing wrong with that, yes we are in a smallish town but that doesn’t mean it could never happen. I do not have children of my own but I have two younger sister’s that I have raised and no they do not walk because it is still a little to far for them. Once the oldest hits 9 or 10 years old then they are permitted to walk alone. The world is not really to much more dangerous it is just what is put into the media and the reactions that it gets.

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  1. Psycho-Mom | The Dragon's Lair - September 9, 2014

    […] just got done reading this post written by Ms. Samara about the joys of parenting her Little Dude and I wanted to respond, but my […]

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