That's the response I got from a Facebook friend and via text from another friend when I shared this article on my Facebook page. The headline is, "The Day I Left My Son in the Car" and like most people probably did, I assumed the article was a tragic story about a child who suffered from heat stroke. It was actually quite different, but holy moley, did it make me think. I encourage you to read it and then come back here and compare your thoughts to mine.
The abbreviated version of my thoughts:
We now live in a society where most people believe a child can not be out of your sight for one second, where people think children need constant, total adult supervision. This shift is not rooted in fact. It’s not rooted in any true change. It’s imaginary. It’s rooted in irrational fear. I could not agree more with this comment. The internet enables us to know about a crime in a town on the other side of the country. We couldn't do this before. Of course, information is power, but is too much information fostering irrational fear?
And maybe because we’re both so isolated and so “ambitious” in our parenting, we sabotage ourselves with impossible standards, live with a chronic fear of not measuring up in what’s supposed to be our most important calling. It’s almost as though, in the course of a few decades, we’ve all developed a cultural anxiety disorder around our children.
YES! It's so easy for everyone to find a book or a quote attesting to one parenting style or technique being the "right" way that we are constantly afraid of being called-out for doing it wrong. Or when a problem pops up with our child - "He's throwing tantrums!" "She skipped school!", we'll be so hard on ourselves for something that could very well be out of our control.
I worry that if I let my son play in the alley with the other kids and don’t follow him down because there are already eight responsible adults standing around, I’ll be thought of as the slacker mom who’s not pulling her own. And so I accompany when I probably don’t need to. I supervise and hover and interfere. And at least half of the other parents are probably doing it for exactly the same reason. This is America and parenting is now a competitive sport, just like everything else.
My mom took my son to the park one day and he was playing pretty far away, but she could see him. I'm not sure how the events unfolded, but my mom got a look from another mom indicating disapproval. I admit that I've hovered a little closer than I thought I needed to in cases like these because of what other moms would think of me. Is it a disservice to our children though, if all the other factors tell us it's safe? How many of our parenting decisions are influenced not by what is best for our child but what other parents or society will think of us?