Do you ever...let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free-Range Kid! Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe I'll use them in a new book. Here's to common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times!
Why were you installing the hinge covers with the kid in the Maclaren?
Sorry. Logic trying to ruin the humor. I’ll stop.
Aside: I don’t know if you’ve done a column on going “free range” when it comes to the diets of kids these days, but it seems increasingly common for moms to “helecopter” in the food realm, insisting on no sweets, or organic-only fruits and vegetables, or no artificial ingredients, and to argue that things like food dyes, glutten, etc, affect behavior directly (even in the absence of allergies to these ingredients). People often suggest foods I could eliminate from my kids diet (regardless of whether they have tested allergice) in order to make them less active, more compliant, or to aid thier ezcema or whatever. In researching whether I was lazy or normal for not wanting to bother with diet control, I found this article:
I was being humorous, but also serious! Here’s what happened: in order to install the covers, you have to partially collapse the stroller. As soon as I did this, Son comes running over, and starts grabbing at the covers as I’m trying to fasten them. Of course, this means he’s now got his fingers in the unlocked hinges! When I pry him off the stroller, he then went around and tried to climb into the seat, which caused the thing to collapse even more. It was then that I remembered why the hinge covers had been sitting on the table for three weeks and I hadn’t tried to install them before. 🙂 All in all, I think it’s safer if I just throw the covers into a junk drawer.
It aaaall makes sense now 😀
Lenore, please, please do something about the food-helicoptering, as Sky suggested. That topic is driving my bonkers, and not just as a parent but as an everyday human being as well. I know this is a bit off topic of todays (funny!) post, but this food obsession crap has got to stop! I just met a woman last night who came to a ladie’s Christmas Tea and dessert special and refused to eat one single thing. She’s obsessed with gluten and went so far as to say that after one day off of gluten, her children’s behavior problems all went away. I’m not exaggerating either. She really said that and I almost choked on my chocolate-covered oreo.
She also said that the gluten-free diet cured her of stuff (she couldn’t really explain what) that she didn’t even know she had. I couldn’t even bring myself to nod politely. I’m SOOOOO over hearing about how awful our food is.
Anyhoo, sorry to rant! But please, can you shed some light on this phenomenon for us, please!
When my daughter (almost 20) had her first birthday, the mom of one of the invitees insisted that she make the cake to conform to her daughter’s diet. She made poppyseed lemon loaf cake. Now, it was delicious, but not very, well, birthdayey. No frosting, no mushy mess.
The surprise was that little small tummies do not digest poppyseeds. They come out as they went in, and they stick to all the crevicey places a little person has. Like glitter. You know… just keep finding it.
From then on, you don’t eat chocolate, well, sorry you can’t make it.
My youngest child climbed up in a stroller that was parked by the house on a concrete slab. She was very little, less than 1 year old, but extremely active. She stood up and leaned against the handle, the stroller tipped over and her wee fingers got caught between the concrete and the stroller handle, ripping off several of her fingernails, ouch!
Incidentally, finger tips severed at or above the first joint of a child under 11 years of age will regenerate. Thought you’d want to know.
Sky, I don’t avoid artificial additives because they’re bad for me (although I’m sure they are). I avoid them because of two little words: Coal tar. That stuff ain’t fit for human consumption, even if it *does* make raspberry flavored foods inexplicably blue!
And no, I’m not making it up – a lot of food colorings are actually made of coal tar. Blech. If I can’t hypothetically grow it in a garden, I don’t think I want it in my body. It’s just gross.
Wow, that article about the kids in DC is something else.
The position of the DC PD is idiotic. As homeschooler, stuff like that makes me absolutely climb the walls, but it’s also just plain unfair to private school students, or students who may be from outside the city who come in on a day off, or whatever. Heck, do they patrol the Smithsonian and the Mall, looking for families on vacation from Iowa, demanding that the kids show an excuse?
But the reaction of the parents is ridiculous, too. Maybe they’re just looking for a handle to complain about the stupid actions of the police, in which case I’d have some sympathy. But school buses don’t have seatbelts, so this is really a non-issue in itself.
For background reading on the food-helicoptering phenomenon, see the Wikipedia entry on Orthorexia Nervosa and definitely read Steven Bratman’s (he named the phenomenon) original article “Health Food Junkie” (it’s quite amusing as well as informative).
Uly: Some food colorings were initially (I don’t know the current manufacturing processes) synthesized using basic chemicals that were derived from coal tar. But none of the dyes themselves are constituents of coal tar, and none of the constituent compounds of coal tar are present in the dyes. Consequently, the dyes have none of the chemical properties, including toxicological ones, of coal tar itself. It’s similar to the way you don’t want to ingest metallic sodium or gaseous chlorine, but sodium chloride is fine to ingest as long as you don’t overdo it.
If you’re going to be overly concerned about the origin of a foodstuff, remember that, say, lots of organic crops are fertilized with manure, but eating the produce isn’t eating stuff made out of manure (it’s certainly reasonable to consider, for example, the environmental impact of how a food is produced or whether a particular food’s production involves the exploitation of workers; this is different from the essentially magical thinking involved in assuming that the end product has the properties of its building materials).
On the food topic, it’s definitely all about moderation. I care about what I eat and what my daughter eats, but for god’s sake, if she has a cookie or eats some junk sometimes, big deal! It’s not going to kill her. And I actually believe that denying your kids food that they’ll easily find at other people’s houses and out in the world may not help them learn how to moderate their intake when they’re older.
Regarding food helicoptering, I agree – it can go too far. That being said, I do know a handful of kids who after eliminating gluten and wheat from their diet did amost immediately have a profound and life-changing affects. If I had to choose between changing my diet and Ritilin, I could give up the Oreos.
Sky, when I read, “People often suggest foods I could eliminate from my kids diet…in order to make them less active,” my first thought was, “um, yeah, eliminating all suspect foods from their diet would make them VERY MUCH less active, and permanently so!”
I recall a book written back in the early ’80’s or so, in which the author documented foods for which a cancer link had been demonstrated through some study or other. Her conclusion was that there were NO foods that had not been linked to cancer. I’m sure there are lots of lessons to be drawn from that, but my take-away was to conclude that we just gotta live our lives, make some smart choices about eating a balanced diet and all that, but to also enjoy life and enjoy eating, and not, not, not stress about eliminating all nasties from the diet, ‘cos it just isn’t going to happen!
some school buses here in Jax, FL do have seatbelts. My daughters pre-K class uses one for field trips and it ‘s a regular school district bus. We had fun loading 2 and 3 y/o carseats in it. They were lucky enough to have a firefighter dad there to help install the carseats.
I don’t know if you want to refer to it as food helicopter parenting, but I do limit my daughter’s sugar intake when possible. If she has a lot of sweets at school (I don’t know what it is with some teachers rewarding students with candy or cookies, but I find lollipops in her backpack nearly every week) she’ll tell me and if I deem it enough for the day she has to wait for the next day to have non fruit sugar again. Now I just have to get her out of the habit of asking if she can eat in general.
regarding food and Free Range. I thought I would give my kids a little treat one day when nobody was watching. I bought ’em some TWINKIES!
They HATED them! 😦 What is WRONG with kids these days?
I don’t see anything wrong with trying to limit junk food.
Diane- I agree with you about the schools using candy as rewards. That is a newer trend that I wholeheartedly disagree with. No teacher would have ever done anything like that when I went to school. It really pisses me off and I don’t like anyone insinuating that opposing all this junk food is neurotic. Poor dietary habits are real, not imaginary, dangers to health.
Jan – I don’t think anyone’s saying that limiting junk food is bad. Our parents did that. It’s the people that deny their children ANY junk food at all that bothers them. Have any of us died from indulging in a Happy Meal once or twice a month as kids? But what gets me is how childhood obesity and diabetes is blamed solely on junk food, and not the fact that these parents don’t make their children go outside and play to get exercise.
“Sure, Jimmy. You can sit right there in your gaming chair, playing X-Box from the time you get home until you shuffle off to bed, texting your friends and jamming out on your iPod all the while. I’m much more comfortable knowing you’re locked up safe and tight from all those big, bad, shady men out there waiting in the shadows to abduct and molest you. But don’t you DARE take one step towards that Ho-Ho!!”
I don’t know anyone that strict excepting one vegan girl. They are an offbeat family for sure, but what the heck, they are good citizens and have a visible means of support. Haven’t met anyone who can actually pull off being too fanatical about diet, even me, 😆
My high school english teacher gave us lollipops for good writing back in 1982.
Had to work your butt off to get one!
In the late 80s, I had a macrobiotic friend who was super neurotic about food. This is a different one from the poppyseed cake friend. Hey, I live in Northern California… Aaaannyhoo… one year she took her then-4-year-old son out on Halloween. After trick or treating, he was allowed one candy a day. The day she found him tearing his tiny Tootsie Roll into pieces, trying to make it into ‘more than one’, she had an epiphany, and lightened up considerably. From then on, that one day a year (day after Halloween), he could sit, and eat as much of his candy as he wanted. Then it was done. Only the first year did he go totally overboard. He came to his own level of, ‘after about 4 pieces, I feel yucky. So I’ll have 4, and see how I feel later’. Gave him control, and the ability to read his body, and took away the ‘forbidden fruit’ nature of the stuff. He never got to be a sneaker, or a gorger, or anything else that can be negative with food.
And he’s made it to 23 quite healthy. Still primarily macrobiotic/vegan, but no weird food issues.
Of course we all pretty much try to limit the junk food (I would assume), but limiting and forbidding are different. Also, I kind of think some crappy food is kind of like some dirt… We don’t live in a clean world, and if we keep our kids, skin and stomach alike, totally clean, we’re putting them more at risk to get sicker than if they have some exposure to dirt/preservatives/sugar/etc.
‘lived’ in Northern California. No longer there… Midwest and lovin’ it!
I’m shocked that teachers are giving candy to kids. It is not allowed in Texas. I have had 3 kids go home in the last week with letters about rotting teeth. There is a kid in a younger grade (1st or 2nd) and ever visible tooth is silver.
I also have kids with food hording issues from neglect to starvation (now in adoptive or foster homes).
Food as a reward is contrary to my educational philosophy. I don’t give out tickets, I don’t have a treasure box. I have a scale of freedom The class knows were it is and why they gain or loose freedom. The more freedom they have the more open ended the projects less worksheets they have.
Seems “thought for the day” has turned into “food for thought”, or rather “thoughts on food”.
Bad joke. Sorry. Shutting up.
Jan S., giving candy to kids as a reward in school seems new to you because you’re unused to it – it was fairly common when I was growing up if the teacher wanted to do something special rather than give you a sticker or if it was the end of the day Friday. Now they don’t do that and hasten to explain themselves if the kid ever gets candy from any source… at least around here.
Like everything, it seems to be regional what’s old and what’s new.
Ebohlman, it might be irrational, but I still find coal tar super squicky. Manure… not so much. (Although I scrupulously stay off the “lawns” in some parks that are covered with what looks like kitty litter. No poop, but it just looks ew!)
And it’s not that I never ever eat anything with artificial additives, I just prefer to eat real food most of the time. And hey, I can do that, so why not.
I wasn’t talking about limiting junk food. (I do that, and, yes, I agree, they get way too much at school –cupcakes for every one of the 26 birthdays in her class, lollipops for I don’t know what, etc. I don’t think the teachers ever give it out though; it’s parents and other kids.)
I was talking about diet control that involves eliminating entire categories of food even in the absence of an actual, tested medical allergy to that food. i.e. eliminating all foods that use any additives, on the theory that anything unnatural is bad; eliminating all dairy, wheat, and/or gluten in the absence of an actual allergy, etc.
I have met many people in my area who maintain very strict diets for their kids in the absence of allergies based on the anecdotal evidence that it maybe improves their behavior, and it has often been suggested to me that I do the same because my child is very active. I suppose controlling her diet so that she could eat only organic, whole foods without gluten or wheat all the time might change her behavior, but I’m not sure what would be changing her behavior: the food elimination itself, or the death-like grip I would have to place on her life to control her intake and the exclusion of participation she would have to experience at birthday parties, school, etc. It’s tough enough having to cut all nuts and nut oils out of her life for a real allergy. But I think a few people I’ve encountered might think I’m lazy because I refuse to try cutting out all gluten, dies, and other additives from her diet to see if it will make her suddenly stop wanting to skip in line at school or hang upside down from the couch while I read to her.
I’m surprised that Texas is more enlightened about no candy as a reward compared to Washington State, where I live. I really feel its inappropriate to give candy as a reward. It reinforces the idea of sweets as a reward in a nation of budding diabetics. Also, in the case of my children, it went against my express wishes after I informed the teacher my feelings about the practice and asked her to cease it. An otherwise excellent teacher, I don’t know why she felt she had to resort to food bribes for the most mundane accomplishments.
I grew up in Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s and it was unheard of. My mother would have protested, she was health conscious.
Seriously folks, I see the results of diabetes in my line of work as an RN. Type 2 diabetes is very strongly associated with diet and obesity. If you are non-white your risk is even higher. It leads to heart disease, hypertension, kidney failure, peripheral vascular disease, slower healing time, eye problems, infections, the list is endless. These people don’t just suddenly start eating right when they are diagnosed, but they usually stay fat and end up on insulin, because basically they are food addicts. Prevention and laying a good foundation for healthy living is vital.
I hate to see people poo pooing this on this site, as if mothers who want to go against the junkfood tide are somehow neurotic hover mothers. No, they are people who care about avoiding REAL threats to their kids’ health. It’s just as difficult for us socially as it is to go against the safety mom hysteria. There’s a lot of peer pressure to both keep our kids geared up with all the latest safety devices, locked up safely at home, and also go along with the constant stream of junkfood included in every activity that kids are involved in.
A little off topic, but I just got this off of the Phineas And Ferb Wikipedia page.
“due to Future Candace’s tampering with the timestream to finally bust her brothers after all those failed attempts, a new timeline was created after Linda saw the roller coaster Phineas and Ferb created in the first episode. She quickly panicked and called almost every law enforcement agency on the planet to stop her sons from hurting themselves. However, the actions of both Future Candace mixed with Linda’s extreme fear for her sons’ safety led to a sweeping movement of wild paranoia over the safety of children everywhere. The end result was the creation of a dystopian future ruled by Doofenshmirtz, where creativity and imagination are suppressed and children are “child proofed” until adulthood.
I have to reitterate along with the other Anti-food-helicoptering people that I am not against limiting junk food/candy/treats AT ALL. I do it with my kids. There is no candy free-for-all at my house, even on special occassions. Dessert only happens once in awhile and only after they eat dinner. They get real fruit instead of fruit snacks. Get the point?
From what I’ve read, and what I contributed, I think it’s clear that we’re saying we’re against the current trend of hyper-vigilance when it comes to controlling these kid’s diets. I know Celiac disease is real, allergies are real (I’m DEATHLY allergic to shellfish….last time I ate it the paramedics showed up) and sugar isn’t a food group. But completely cutting out whole food groups in the absence of any medically-verified need and not using good ole common sense has a very real potential for creating problems in kid’s perception of food. And that is where our concern lies. Just to be clear.
I concur with the food helicoptering posts. While it’s a good parents responsibility to teach their children about good nutrition, healthful food, and eating treats only in moderation, there are other parents who go completely overboard. I’ve known several families where the children were never allowed so much as a taste of anything with sugar or HFCS or caffeine or … whatever. These are the poor kids who end up coming to gatherings and birthday parties looking on forlornly (and hungrily) because not only can they not have cake, but they can’t have ANYTHING. Or else they come to the party and freak out about the food and start lecturing the other kids about how cake is POISON. (Yes, that happened at a party my son attended).
The great irony is that no matter how healthfully a person or their children eat, both parent and child will die anyway some day. I’d rather have lived a good life with balanced consumption of salad AND chocolate, if it’s all the same to you. I feel really sorry for the children who don’t get that chance.
Sky said “[cutting out whole categories of food] has often been suggested to me that I do the same because my child is very active” I find this really sad Sky. Not just that people make suggestions to follow some totally unproven diet without knowing anything about your kids, but that being very active is seen as something that needs dampening.
I’m sure there are kids who have real medical problems (and yours maybe one of them – I have no idea, but I highly doubt the people making suggestions do either). But it also seems that people forget there is a huge range of normal behavior. Not being average is not the same as having something wrong. And quiet, polite kids are not necessarily on track to being the most well balanced adults.
kherbert, your “scale of freedom” sounds brilliant! I homeschool and am seeing many ways I could use this idea. Thank you!
I just want to chime in my agreement on the food-helicoptering thing as well-described here. Every decent parent agrees that limiting certain things and promoting better things is the right thing to do, but way too many people are taking it to a place where they’re encouraging a dysfunctional relationship with food in their kids, that’s every bit as harmful as compulsive overeating. There is very little food that is “bad for you” in moderation, barring person-specific issues (allergies, etc.) but I hear those words thrown around all the time, as though a single exposure to certain things is going to immediately damage health. And that’s just not so, and sets up false ideas about how food should be handled.
Returning to the topic of STROLLERS:
Instead of a product recall, there should actually be a parental recall for people who can’t use a MaClaren.
If I sound a bit partial it’s because what’s not to love about a stroller that can fit between parked cars in a crowded airport.